Sunday, June 30, 2013

More News From the Crew on Sunday

Two new messages from Alex today:
Becalmed! Motoring slowly. May have two days of this. This afternoon we may go swimming.
And then:
Stopped for a swim.  Amazing water color! Blue like the hull, but more brilliant. Great! Boat batteries are charged. Saw dolphins.Plenty of fuel left. 

News From the Crew

I finally talked to Alex yesterday on the Satellite phone and he sounded good, but tired. I had planned on nagging him about not communicating more and  more often, but he has been so busy keeping up with everything on the boat while not sleeping that I didn't have the heart. 

They have had quite a few minor repairs to do, and the computer onboard is not working, so when not sleeping or sailing, Alex and crew have been working on repairs and keeping everything on board ship shape. 

Cheryl forwarded me an e-mail from Alan that describes very well the pace of things on Nani for the past few days, I've copied it here:

We are keeping 3 hour watches but they rotate each day by the fact that there are 8 watches per day and only 3 crew.  Last night my watch was 1500-1800, 0000-0300 and 0900-1200.  I was on my midnight watch.  David was asleep in the v-berth, Alex had just turned in in the quarter berth and talking in the cabin might disturb sleep - something more precious than a good meal. We rotate bunks depending on the watch. David started the night in the v-berth and me in the quarter.  When my watch started, Alex retired to the quarter bearth.  When I woke David up for his watch, I turned in for more sleep in the v-berth.  Works well enough but since my gear is in a locker in the quarter cabin and Alex's is in the v-berth, you have to plan ahead for what you will need overnight.  We keep our foul weather gear in a large hanging locker and harnesses by the companionway.  Most nights I wear the bottoms and a windbreaker - sometimes a warm shirt underneath. For a while I was wearing a watch cap and gloves but it's getting a little warmer. We usually get a heavy dew at night and everything is damp.  We don't leave the cockpit without being clipped on and usually require someone else to be alert for a splash.

Waves moderated somewhat yesterday and we had a great night and early morning of sailing.  I came on watch at 0000 gmt and was greeted by a sky full of stars and a wake full of bioluminescence.  the moon rose at about 0200 and was straight off the bow making easy steering.  we are hand steering a lot rather than use the autopilot to save battery power.  we are trying to log as many miles as we can - the wind is forecast to drop tonight and we will motorsail if possible.  We are still over 600 miles out and don't have fuel to motor the rest of the way.  I will be scanning the weather charts to see if we are going to get a break but we are sailing into the famed Azores High.

Meals have been going well. For the most part we've been alternating dinner prep and bfst and lunch are catch as catch can.  Alex fixed boiled potatoes with frozen veg mixes in last night, in did the chicken curry the night before.  I prepared the sauce, then divided it, sautéed the chicken and added it to one pot while adding Tuna to David's (as he requested.  (Curried tuna doesn't sound good but he said it was gorgeous - a common expression of his.  I used Uncle Ben's rice to save having to cook rice on the stove top in a pitching sea that made standing a challenge.  I had opened the hatch above the galley for some needed breeze but a wave ended that.  I don't think the curry was too salty as a result.

Our course as you can probably see on the tracker is up and down.  We debate sailing the Great Circle route because it is the shortest vs sailing north or south of the line in hopes of better wind and waves.  Being able to download the weather files to my ipad has been great.  While we can't really alter our position much more than 50 miles or so north or south, it does help us plan where we should be and what to expect.  Traditionally, the wind should be out of the west and we should be broad reaching or running. Once the wind filled in, it has been south or southwest we have been on stbd tack the entire time and either beating or close reaching.  As a result we are living on a heal that obviously varies with wind speed.  There is no way to flatten the boat other than reef.  There is no traveller.  Add in big waves from the beam or forward or aft quarter and you can get some lively motion. In general Nani has great manners, the deck stays relatively dry, pounds rarely, and tracks pretty well unless the seas are quartering and then it's a lively time on the helm.

We have been hand steering a good bit - the auto pilot works well and we use it during meals or when you've got to leave the helm.  It uses a lot of power and combined with the power demands of the refrig, instruments, and radar, we slowly empty the batteries even though they are huge compared to Paragon's.  We are using the tow generator - it can produce 5 amps when we are sailing fast - that's not enough to keep up with the fridge but it slows the "bleed" of power.  It has been a source of some activity - first installing and wiring it while under way, then, when Alex decided it might not be working, and unplugged it to test while it was running - a bad thing, we had to retrieve it (requires either stopping the boat or putting a funnel on to the tow line to block water to the propeller.  The next day we spent time testing and diagnosing the problem.  Another day, we tried using the Honda generator to add power to the batteries - it was noisy, smelly and didn't do much.  When we went to put it away, the plug to the tow generator came loose and overheated - melting the plug and wires - next day - rewire.

There is always a lot to work on.  Yesterday we replaced three slides on the mainsail that had chafed or broken in the pounding seas.  This involved lowering the sail and stitching new slugs on using webbing while sitting on the foredeck in still rough seas.  David kept the boat motoring into the seas and wind to try to lessen the motion.  That was followed by the tow generator rewire.  Alex re did it three times to get it right - all made more difficult by cramped work space and incessant rollling.

As a crew, things are good -we work together well, generally laugh, and have a good time.  We'll see what happens when the beer runs out, though it is rumored that there is a missing case of PBR somewhere in the boat. Nani has tons of storage, we have food and stuff spread out everywhere - sometimes trying to remember where we stored things is the biggest challenge,

I haven't been as studious as I expected.  I have not felt like reading or writing.  I have not taken the sextant out either though I plan to once we start motoring tomorrow - hopefully it will be clear enough for some sights. Part of it is the motion of the boat.  The Stugeron made me a little fuzzy but I haven't taken any in awhile.- we think we are over sea sickness - the fact that I've been typing this email for an hour in the cabin is good testament.  It could also be sleep deprivation.  While we sleep a good bit, our schedules are always changing and the weather, motion, and effort it takes to do something takes a toll.

All in all a good trip.  Lots of time to sit and think, talk, and mostly sit.

and from David via Tricia:

We are into some calmer weather now and the large seas have dissipated. It is not much fun sleeping on the ceiling occasionally. In the V berth I was getting bounced but as you can imagine I still slept well. I am on a good watch pattern today, I am on from 9:00pm to midnight and then can sleep until 6:00am. Last night I was on the 3:00am to 6:00am. We only have 700 miles to got to Horta so we maybe there by the 4th. That would be good.

We had some repairs to do to the mainsail yesterday and the towing generator but otherwise we are all holding up. We ate some of the emergency food during the rough weather and it was not too bad. I may make tuna pasta tonight.

I must get back to the wheel now as we have to hand steer or the autopilot takes to much power and the fridge will not work.

Meanwhile back at the cottage, the rain has cleared out and Eric made a new acquaintance named Manual. You may have met Manual before, his last name is Labor.*
*I'd like to thank my Uncle Ray for a lifetime of bad (I mean good) jokes such as that one.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Big Storm

Tricia and I each got a brief message regarding some rough weather the guys sailed through a couple of days ago.

From David via Tricia:
Yes we had some pretty significant weather overnight. Boat was good and we all pulled together. Waves were huge. Settled down a bit now and we are making good headway. 966nm to Horta. I had a double fried egg sandwich for breakfast as I was hungry. I am back on watch in two hours then again at midnight, nine your time.

Getting a bit bored of living at 45 degrees and then being thrown across the cabin every two minutes. But not really, we are sailing well.

DeLorme InReach message from Alex:
Nobody seasick, waves big but not scary. Luckily no bad storms so far. Today we fixed some broken sail slides, all good. 753M to go! 

Tricia shared her e-mail with me before I heard from Alex, and I had a feeling he would downplay the weather. He probably even queued up the Monty Python song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" for whoever was on watch during the night. (Yes, he has actually done that) but at least the storm wasn't bad enough to break the eggs in the fridge, now that would have been a tragedy!  I can't wait to hear more details about everything, I'm hoping that I can Skype with Alex when he gets to Horta.

The news from the cottage is: RAIN. We've had 3 days of rain and everything is soggy. The bright side of the rain is that it is making the flowers and garden lush and wonderful.

Friday, June 28, 2013

No News Is Good News

I don't have any news from the crew to report, so I am assuming that no news is good news. One thing is for sure: the guys are out in the middle of the ocean! 

Meanwhile back at the cottage, we are busying ourselves with cherry picking and cherry jam making. Well, to be honest, Mom, Eric and I picked 20 lbs of cherries and then she did all the rest of the work.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

News From the Crew

We have several ways to communicate with the guys, so Cheryl, Tricia and I have been sharing the messages as they come in. It is a good thing for me because Alex's 140 character messages aren't giving me much detail! I've excerpted some of the communication here.

From Alex:
Hey K! Did you buy spagetty pasta?  Do you know where it may be? 

From David via Tricia:

Good Morning,

After two very fast sailing days we have very little wind but huge rolling seas. The boat is rolling from one side to the other, luckily I have my sea legs. The continual routine of getting up every six hours is tiring us down a little but we all slept well off watch last night despite the rolling and banging of everything. It is funny to be at the helm alone at 3:00 am in the middle of nowhere fighting with the swells and trying to drink cup of soup without spilling.

I am on watch at the moment but there is quite a lot of fog so I am letting the radar do the looking.

We are almost halfway to the Azores and making good time.

From Alan via Cheryl on June 24 before they caught the wind:

This morning, the ocean was flatter than the lake.  We've seen a good bit of marine life - whales, dolphins, sharks, jelly fish, rigged a trolling line yesterday and caught a 2' tuna but it shook the hook before we could get it on board.  I could not bring a gaff with me so it will be a challenge for anything much larger.  At least we know they are out there. Glad I brought some extra rum to subdue them once boated.

We've seen a fair amount of shipping, lots of fishing boats as we crossed  George's Banks, now mostly container ships.  David had to take evasive action last night to avoid one.  We have an AIS receiver but many of these ships don't keep their transponders on (though commercial ships are supposed to).  In a couple of cases, they turned on their AIS when they got within 3 miles.  I think the fishermen don't use theirs because they don't want their competition to know their spots.  We have radar and it has been a valuable tool.  I am amazed that we are still picking up USCG vhf transmissions from the States.
As you have probably seen, our track has varied north and south - our original plan was to sail SE and cross the Gulf Stream then head east at 39 degrees N latitude but the wind doesn't support that.  Grib files we've downloaded via sat phone show better wind north so we have sailed up to the Great Circle course - shortest distance to Horta and a bit further north than we'd originally planned.  It's been pleasant during the day - 70's and sunny.  Nights have been mostly clear and cool - long pants, foulies (oil skins according to David), Glad I brought gloves and a watch cap.  We've had some fog but mostly a heavy dew.  Water is cold - about 61F.  Set a bucket in the sun to let it warm up before a bath on Friday.  We are not going to cross the Gulf Stream on this course until much later when it is weaker and less organized. We are now keeping Universal Coordinated time (Greenwich Time) on board.  We won't adjust our clocks as we sail east.  A little strange at first since it is a 4 hour difference in time.  We are keeping 3 hour watches.  Works well - allows a decent amount of rest (6 hours off).  With 3 of us it means that we stand watches at different times each day so no one gets stuck with the graveyard watch all the time.
We are being frugal with water and should have plenty with the extra water in jugs.  We've been eating well - we have more than enough.  Probably only need to add some fresh things, bread, and beer in the azores.  Spam stored below the floor boards is safe for now. 

I'll share more messages as they come in!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

News From the Crew June 25th

Latest message from Alex via the DeLorme tracker:
Trucking right along @ 8kts.  First squall last night on my watch. 25kts wind and rain. Boat is doing great! Nice&sunny now.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Us

June 24, 1988

Meet the Crew: David Lewis

David and his wife Tricia
David is a relative newcomer to the Lake Lanier scene, we met him about 2 years ago when he moved his boat to “J” Dock at Sunrise Cove Marina. He and Alex quickly became friends and spent many hours  arguing ( I mean discussing) European politics and anything  related to sailing. When Alex was looking for crew David was a perfect choice because of his extensive sailing experience and especially his experience sailing in the Bay of Biscay which portends to be the most unpredictable leg of the trip.

David was born in England but lived in Hong Kong from the ages of 13 -17  when he discovered his life long love of sailing. He has travelled extensively through Europe and Asia, and lived in Italy for a couple of years in the early 90‘s.
In England he owned a Swan 57 named "Scaramouche" 
 and in 2006 he sailed her from Portugal to Wales. The picture below was taken right before a big storm hit, let's hope we don't have any of those kinds of pictures from this trip......
awaiting  the  storm
Most of his life he has worked as an engineer in the silicon chip industry. Before coming to the US he was a co-founder of one of the UK’s biggest start-up companies, which has become a worldwide leader in the silicon wafer reclaim services. He now spends his time as a foreign exchange trader.
playing for the Swansea team in 2006
Aside from sailing, David loves  Cricket, (he spent some time trying to convince Eric and I about the virtues of cricket, but we were both helpless cases) cooking and spending time with his dog “Brownie” also known as the “Best Dog in the World”.
Best picture of dog ears in the world!

So that's the crew for the first leg of the journey! When Nani reaches the Azores, Alan will hop off and Bob Watkins will hop on for the second leg, we'll meet Bob later.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

News From the Crew

The news from the crew is: NO WIND. They have had very little sailing since they left Block Island and have been motoring or motor sailing for the past 4 days. They are staying a little farther north than anticipated hoping to catch as much wind as possible.

Let's all hope for wind today so they can make it to the Azores on schedule.

I got an e-mail from Alan yesterday via the Satellite phone with a very important question, I've copied it here: 

Hi Karen,
We are eating well thanks to your detailed and generous  provisioning. Biggest challenge is finding things.  Any chance you can recall where we stashed tuna and salmon? There is some in the bilge but we kept some out somewhere.  Thanks.

Seems I hid the food too well when we were stowing it onboard. We stashed food everywhere! Behind the mast, behind the settees, under the V Berth, under the quarter berth, in the bilge (see the picture) and in the usual spots in the kitchen and fridge. There is plenty of food, it seems the problem is finding the right can or package when needed, oops!

 Alex also mentioned that Alan and David have been fishing for tuna and caught one but it got away. They must be craving tuna. I hope they find some soon......on board or overboard, whatever is easiest.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Meet the Crew: Alan Shedd

Alan racing the Barefoot open 2012
Alan fell in love with sailing in High School and not been without a boat since. We met Alan and his wife Cheryl  about 5 years ago at a sailing event on Lake Lanier, they have a beautiful Morgan 38 sailboat named Paragon that they have been sailing on the lake for many  years. 
You could say that  wind power is sort of a theme for Alan. He’s had a lifelong interest in alternative energy sources, especially solar but also wind. When he is not hanging out around boats or fixing something on a boat or riding his motorcycle or walking his 5 big dogs, he’s Director of Residential and Commercial Energy Programs for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives where he provides support and information for electric co-operatives. I happen to know he also gets to spend some time “driving” Touchstone’s hot air balloon once a year,  not a bad gig!
Hanging out on Nani
Alan and Cheryl crossed the Pacific in 1990 on a Beneteau 38, so this is not his first rodeo! He brings years of sailing experience to the table and an engineer’s problem solving mentality making him the perfect crew member. I’m sleeping well at night knowing that between Alan, Alex and David they can fix anything that might break on the boat. As an added bonus he knows how to make bread just using beer and flour. What more could anyone ask for?
We are not men, we are DEVO
 The fact that he likes wearing funky red hats is simply a bonus.
no comment!

Next we'll meet Sir David Lewis.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet the Crew: Alex Navarrete

Last week when I sent out the link to the blog with my first hurried entry, I got a lot of e-mail responses from everyone encouraging me to update it often. I’ll be trying to get at least 2 updates a week posted as I get info from the guys via the Satellite phone. 

One friend suggested that I do a “Meet the Crew” post, since she didn’t know any of the crew members besides Alex, and I thought that was a great idea! Here goes, we’ll start with Alex just for fun.

 Alex Navarrete: Fearless Captain (seen here on Lake Lanier with Eric)
Alex and Eric
 Most of you already know Alex and know of his passion for sailing ever since he was a little boy pretending the balcony of his apartment overlooking the Mediterranean was a boat and could take him anywhere he wanted to go in the world.
circa 1974-ish
 He’s been preparing for this journey for a solid 5 years ever since we bought our Freedom 40 and named her “Nani”. Preparations included new sails, new electronics and just recently a new engine with infinite other trips to West Marine and catalog orders for spare parts and small upgrades to the boat in between.  (Susan Chretien’s favorite saying applies here: BOAT really stands for “break out another thousand”).  
Nani on Lake Lanier
Preparing the boat for the trip was just one piece of the puzzle though, he has been looking for the job in Europe that would allow us to move back across the pond for about 3 years. Moving home to Spain was first choice, but with the economic crisis at it’s worst, Alex shifted gears and started looking in the UK about a year ago, and got a job this year in January. That is when preparations really kicked into high gear. He negotiated time off during the optimal crossing season, gathered his crew and bought lots of SPAM for the trip. 
Alex, David and Alan
OK, not really, that was Bob who bought all the SPAM, we’ll meet him later. He'll be joining the crew for the second leg of the journey.

Fun fact about Alex: he is a self taught Digger y Doo player. He does the frustrated rhinoceros sound quite well. 

what can I say?

Tomorrow you’ll meet Alan Shed, Fearless First Mate.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Alex and crew are ready for departure! First stop: Block Island. More details coming soon, we are busy with last minute details and last minute beers.