Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Little Note From My Mom

Karen is letting me add to her blog “Grits to Crumpets” at the end of her stay with us this summer.  We have thoroughly enjoyed having Karen and Eric here with us while Alex was sailing across the Atlantic from the US to the UK.  In the future, when I think about this summer, two pictures will always come to me:  Karen, first thing in the morning on her computer (and many times through the day), checking Alex’s progress (Christopher Columbus’ mother, wife and parents-in-law would have been happy to be able to follow his progress on his explorations, I’m sure)

 and Eric in his “office” playing “War Thunder” on his computer.  

In between times, they played badminton, rode bikes, watched and photographed birds at our feeders, swam, flew kites on the beach, walked the beach collecting beach glass, toured Buffalo’s City Hall, entertained friends from GA and Buffalo, hosted David and his family and Ed and his girls, as well as aunts, uncles and cousins from NY, picked cherries for jam, cooked SPAM in honor of the sailors and their provisions, offered tech support to Ron and me, Skyped with Jordi and Alex, Karen upholstered two little chairs and  made a blouse for me from fabric a dear friend had given me many years ago, they traveled to Canada.  They kept busy.
People ask me when we are going to Bury St Edmunds to visit, my answer:  as soon as Ron and I return home to Athens after Labor Day, we’ll begin working with Delta to use those Skymiles that have been accumulating.  We want to see for ourselves where the Meyers/Navarretes live now.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Well, Nani is tucked away in her home marina at Woodbridge.

 Our container of belongings is scheduled to be delivered to the new house next week. Alex goes back to work on Thursday. Bob is also flying home on Thursday and Eric and I fly to England on Friday.
The summer is almost over and I'm moving to England! How did it happen? My stuff is still strewn all over the cottage and I really don't want to think about packing, but I must. On my list of things to do this week: buy an extension cord for the electric chain saw so it can be used in the UK. I'm busy......kind of, not really
but  I'm definitely still enjoying every minute with my family.
Weekend with Aunts and Uncles and cousins.

Kite flying.

Goofing around with Eric.

Watching the sunsets.

And helping my Dad with his new i-phone!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Spam Solidarity Day

I love the caption on this picture from Facebook: people actually ate SPAM!

Here at the cottage we  ate SPAM too, and we actually kind of liked it.
 Definitely the best version was the grilled kabobs with SPAM and pineapple, basted with apricot preserves.

 Actually kind of good.

 Even the kids ate it.

There was also macaroni and cheese with SPAM, which was kind of good too.

Even the adults ate it.

Then of course there is Alan's version of SPAM solidarity, a gorgeous SPAM replica of Nani. Very nice! Tasty, good looking and on a beam reach? or would that be a SPAM reach???

This Just In!

Pirates and SPAM, the perfect combination! More pictures coming soon!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Almost Home

Nani is moving fast toward her home marina! I checked the tracker early this morning to find her still in the Channel 
July 27, 2013

 and then again at 9:30 to find her already on the way up the Deben towards Woodbridge.
July 27, 2013

 That was fast! 
I don't have much news from the guys, just the message from the tracker last night at midnight UK time: 

Approaching Dover Strait. We can see the lights in both the UK and French sides. Night motoring on the Channel tonight. Will cross the Thames Estuary tomorrow.

Alex has been looking forward to seeing the white cliffs of Dover ever since he ran across this video on YouTube

Friday, July 26, 2013

Plan for Today

I spoke with Alex yesterday and they have changed the plan slightly for the next few days. They will leave Brighton this afternoon around 4:00  UK time and travel to the mouth of the Deben river in one shot instead of breaking it into two segments.  Since the area is very tidal and all travel has to be timed correctly, this way they only have to time an entrance to one marina instead of two. Sounds like a good plan. They hope to have Nani in her home port at the Tidemill Yacht Club Marina late Saturday.
When I spoke with him yesterday he was entertaining Eva and her girls onboard with his famous "pork chop spaghetti" and I'm sure they are watching a video or two. Life aboard Nani has gotten back to normal quite quickly!

In the meantime, is everyone gathering their SPAM and planning their SPAM recipes? We have a can sitting in the windowsill  getting ready for the big SPAM solidarity day coming up on Sunday. I'm thinking anything with SPAM and pineapple sounds good.

Spamburger, yum!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

They Made It!

July 24, 2013
I've been trying to think of a clever title for today's post.  I couldn't come up with anything other than the obvious so I'm just going with that.
Nani and crew made it to the Brighton marina yesterday about 1:15 our time. I spoke with Alex around 6:00 and he sounded great. I called back after he and the crew and his sister Eva and her girls had had  some dinner and he sounded even better!
I never thought he wouldn't make it, but I was VERY happy yesterday when I saw the tracker dot in the marina and  it all kind of sunk in about what a huge accomplishment this is for Alex and the crew. 

It has been a long complicated process these past 3 years of planning the trip, preparing the boat, finding a new job, getting the timing right, starting a new job, putting together a new household for us in Bury St. Edmunds, and (the hardest part of) convincing me that it would all work out just fine.......all I can really find to say is: they made it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Really, Really Close

July 23, 2013

Nani is almost to Brighton! My first check of the tracker this morning shows them between 50 and 60 miles away from port and going 11.6 mph towards the destination, the tide must be with them right now . I talked to Alex briefly yesterday (we are arranging a delivery date for our container) and they are eager to get to Brighton and ready to have a shower as soon as they pass  customs!
The messages from the guys have been short and sweet, all 3 of them were hoping to get cell phone coverage so they can call instead of type.

From David via Tricia first thing this morning:

Went past Poole on my watch at 3:00 am this morning. 43 miles to go, almost 4000 nm sailed. Looking forward to a shower. Love you, David.

and yesterdays message:

It is looking increasingly likely to land in Brighton late tomorrow. It is very foggy in the channel and we have been dodging warships, windfarms, fishing fleets and anything else that aims for us.

Simon will pick me up Thursday morning. Hope I do not get car sick. So far cannot get a mobile signal but we are twenty miles off shore at the moment.

From Bob via Alicia yesterday:

Headed up the English Chanel. Its 2pm local and it is cold. Have a pullover and jacket and stocking hat on. I have a Three 3 UK sim card. Card works but need to add money. Would you got to the website and add 20€ pounds to it.

We are in the chanel but still 10 miles offshore but that will narrow tomorrow so can probably use phone tonight or tomorrow. Hope to be in Brighton tomorrow.

And from Alex yesterday:

We are 111 NM from Brighton and expect to arrive tomorrow evening.

David will get off there. From there we go to Ramsgate Early Friday AM (to catch the tide) and go on to the Deben entrance on Sat.  We could be in the marina Sat or Sun. Depending on conditions at the bar.

Alex's sister Eva and her two girls will meet them at Brighton tonight and celebrate their arrival. I'm so glad they will have a family member to meet them!

In the meantime I've snuck in a short trip to Toronto to visit my cousin. Yesterday she and her husband drove Eric and I on a personalized tour through the city and I snapped some pictures through the sun roof like a good tourist should.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Land Ho!

July 23, 2013
Nani and crew are screaming toward Brighton and things are looking good for a Wednesday arrival. We got several messages from the guys yesterday. 

From David via Tricia:

We are heading the right way now and listening to radio 4. Seas are calm and wind in a great direction and a perfect strength. We will pass the Scillys this afternoon and Lands End tonight. The cricket emails were wonderful thanks. I have been waiting twenty years for this.
 My watch now, hopefully on solid ground soon. Love you.


From Bob via Alicia:

Finally a beam reach. About 20 miles from Scilly Islands so if we needed something we could stop there. Lots of vhf announcements from coast gaurd and fishing fleets, just like Florida. We can get BBC fm stations. Boat is doing 8 knots and we are going with the tide. Have been sailing all day bc of the good wind. Weather very nice most of the day. Clouding up so may get some rain. Was able to use my no rinse stuff and shave today, in fact we all did.  I think we all had on the same clothes for 4 days! At least fri to sun. Was just too rough to want to do much of anything. We really hope this weather and wind holds. Would love to be there by Wed. If we arrive late there will be no customs so technically I can't leave the boat. I'll take my chance and they can deport me if they like. The BBC has been advertising a new immigration program where a van rides around with a PA announcing if you are here illegally please text us at this number and we'll arrange transportation back to your home country. Probably one of the dumbest govt programs I've ever heard of. They've announced all day long about the royal baby.....Love and miss you both. Hopefully weather will stay nice and I can send more emails. Love and miss you heaps.

And from Alex, who as you might be able to tell, is very proud of his boat:

Hi K. We made the Scilly islands. Hope to make Brighton on Wed.
Nani took 5 days of bashing into 20 kts of wind against current and waves in great style!

Talking about great style, I thought you might enjoy some pictures of the original Nani (Alex's mom) who also has great style!
Nani circa 1960- ish

Nani circa 1970-ish

Alex and Nani 2009

Monday, July 22, 2013

What A Difference A Day Makes!

 The first wives support group was in full swing yesterday as all the messages from the guys were coming in describing the last 4 days of high seas, seasickness and their frustration with the lack of progress towards the destination. It's been great to have Tricia, Cheryl and Alicia to commiserate with knowing they are going through the same emotions I am and are just as eager to have the crew make landfall as I am.
Thanks ladies!

About 1:00 Alicia heard form Bob and we all breathed a sigh of relief since things were starting to look better:

Quick email. Been very rough last 48 hrs. A little better now. I dont think any of us has eaten much since lunch Sat. Just ate a freeze dried meal. We are motoring now. Hopefully can continue. Swells overpowered the motor so we've had to sail mostly in wrong direction but about 1 mile per hour to target vmg. So speed was 4.5 but vmg was 1 or less. Now vmg 2 with 379 miles to Brighton. A French sailboat that looked like the Sail magazine "best around bouies boat" at Charleston tacked on the horizon and closed in on us at 7 knots, then tacked behind and I think he was going to sail beside us until he realized he couldn't go that slow. He radioed and asked if we could call his family bc they were late and the sat phone was down. We called and left a msg, they promptly called back and we told them the boat would be in La Rochelle France in 72 hrs and to please relay to the crew family. We radioed the skipper that the msg went thru and he was gone in a flash. Got to go, it's too hard using tablet. Love you and pp. 

and then this from David via Tricia:

After a very heavy night we are finaly seeing the seas and weather subside. We are now beginning to edge our way east towards the Scillies and then the channel and Brighton. Movement on the boat is much easier now, but we will probably experience those thunderstorms later.

Hope all is good with you, take care


This morning I checked the tracker and realized what a huge difference a day makes. They are so close now and headed right into the channel! 
July 22, 2013
And then an hour later I looked again and saw the tracker message (you can click on the image to make it larger and read the message)
July 22, 2013
I'm imagining they must be having a huge breakfast of SPAM and chicken broth (sounds like that is mostly what is left onboard!) and dreaming about showers and beer. 

Luckily for me we had a cute kid invasion here at the cottage this past weekend to help keep me distracted! My cousin was visiting with his wife and 2 boys. We played with monster trucks and scooters just like the good old days when Jordi and Eric were little and had a great weekend.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Always Look On The Bright Side

I just can't resist posting this video of one of Alex's favorite songs right now reminding us to look on the bright side of a predicted change in wind forecast! Enjoy!


July 21, 2013

The news from the crew is frustration. Even the tracker looks frustrated and confused by their lack of  progress towards the Channel. I got a short message from Alex this morning with a request for Alan to send them current weather predictions:

Britain is pushing us back. 4 days fighting 20kts from our destination. Wind is OK but the seas are quite big and push  us back making progress to windward very difficult. Can't motor against these seas.

On the bright side, we expect a wind change today that will allow us to sail or motor East. We hope to make Brighton on Wednesday depending on conditions.

For all you sailors out there, here is the weather forecast Alan sent back to the crew: looks promising!
British Isles
Where you are at 50 N, 10W
decreasing to 15 knts by 1200 then lighter to 10 knts from ESE by 1500.  By 2100, wind South at 5 knts, after midnight wind 5 knots from SW.
Unfortunately wave height remains 2 - 3 Ft against you till at lease 1800.

English Channel section
Sunday 0600: 20 Knts East moderating to 15 knts ESE by 1500, Wind drops further to 10 knts and shifts to SE by 1800 near mouth of channel, still easterly further up channel
Monday 0000 wind 5 knots or less from South at mouth, light and variable Portland to Solent

And this from David via Tricia this morning:

Even bigger seas and wind now. Hopefully decrease later. Met a french racing boat today. They wanted us to pass on a message which we did. They were in a race and late, they wanted to let their families know all is okay.

Brighton is still a long way away.

So while Nani and crew are not loving the high seas and wind, Eric is loving the windy days and the waves here on Lake Erie.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Le Weekend

July 20, 2013

I'm taking the optimistic view of things again today, looking at the tracker and seeing how far Nani has come thus far, from this perspective, she is so close to her destination!

There isn't a lot of news to report, but we do have a short message from Bob via Alicia:

Seas are still choppy but not as bad. I could eat below but couldn't hang out. Put a patch on last  night. We were hoping to be in Brighton this weekend but looks more like Wednesday now. Had white rice with onions and chopped hotdogs. Tried to get Alex to pan fry some spam.   So we have spam and about 12 quarts of chicken broth in the cardboard quarts. Saw a whale yesterday. Several hundred yards away but watched it with binocs. Saw a bigger one today but it was hard to see in the chop. Alex tacked boat last night and thought he heard one blow and splash as he was tacking. Was dark so couldn't tell. We finally have a moon! It sets around 230 and sun begins to add visibility around 4. Sun sets in the northwest and rises in northeast. It's because we are much further north. Still some twilight at 10 pm or so. Keep me posted on what's going on there. Love and miss you, Bob  

Tricia talked to David yesterday and relayed the fact that Bob rescued him with some extra teabags, but now the milk supply is running low. David does seem to be always on the edge of a tea crisis and there has been talk of scrambling some jets for a flyover to drop the necessary supplies. Sounds like they'll be having chicken broth with SPAM for lunch, and dinner and lunch again......they better get to Brighton soon or morale may seriously crumble!

Things are quiet at the cottage during the  heat wave and we've all been moping around complaining about the heat like good Northerners. I'm still trying to get the perfect picture of the birds at the bird feeder.  Yes, I'm very busy doing big, important things this summer!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Creeping A Bit Closer

July 19, 2013
Things look much the same for Nani and crew. They are creeping closer but still have the wind dead against them. I got a message from Alex early this morning:

Wind is still exactly from where we want to go...

Wind strength is good. Yesterday we were beating with 20 kts across the deck (~17 true) and she did admirably. She will self steer to windward for hours. We have not touched the wheel since yesterday.

We have very lumpy seas (wind against current), but hardly a drop of spray in the cockpit. In any other boat we would be drenched.

So it's all good, but very fustrating beating about in tacks when the destination is so close. If the weather doesn't get worse we hope to be in Brighton by Wednesday. If it worsens or we run low on fuel we may put in at Plymouth.

From Brighton we'll go to Ramsgate (80 NM), spend the night and then on to the Deben entrance and Woodbridge (another 70 NM).  

And this from David via Tricia yesterday:

Well, we are 300 miles from the Scilly Isles and making very slow progress. The wind is blowing exactly from where we are going to, at this rate it could take another week to get in. It is getting a tad bit annoying being so close to the channel but not getting any nearer I am not sure where we will end up now.

I've attached a short video here from the "Keep Turning Left" series about the Deben river where we will keep Nani when she reaches England. She will be at the Tidemill Yacht Club, the marina mentioned about 15 minutes into the video.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Airplane Travel Sounding Really Good Right About Now

I got up this morning, put on my water for tea and checked the tracker as usual. It looked like the guys were turning around to go back home!
July 18, 2013
Upon closer inspection it became clear the wind was against them again as they are tacking back and forth.
At least they made it past the Porcupine Plane. (Wherever that is!)
They are zig zagging past  the Pendragon Escarpment. (Whatever that is!)
 As per Bob's message, they are just 300 miles until land can be sighted, but oy vey this portion of the trip looks tough. Then I just checked in again and and saw the message on the tracker:
Right about now I'm really glad I chose airplane travel to get me over to England!
Come on boys, you can do it! You are in the home stretch!

This from Bob yesterday via Alicia:

Hey , Hope all is well and the rain has stopped. We're sailing along headed toward Brighton just 597 to there and about 300 till we see land. Saw several fishing boats. Our AIS alarm goes off until we are past them. Can't figure out how to make it stop so it sucks for the person in the aft berth. All fishing boats. Not sure what they are fishing for but gives us something to look for. AIS picks them up at 15 miles but they have to get under 5 to see them but still entertainment. Started to see airline traffic overhead yesterday. Weird that you can watch the sky night after night and not see a plane. Nothing too exciting going on. Been cooler. At night longjohns , hat, and foul weather gear. Durring day a tshirt and longjohn type top and pants. Feels good in sun but wind is cool. Can't complain about the weather. One plus is this boat is very dry. If you remember most of the boats in the BVIs and the spray coming into the dodger or on you in the cockpit especially someone on leeward side. We've had seas just as big or bigger with no spray in the cockpit. I think Tootsie would be a much wetter ride. We would have to wear foulies all the time which would get old. Good to see the difference especially as we look at what kind of boat we want in the future. Real big difference between this and what a beneteau, hunter, jeanue would do.  I've got the 9 to 12 then can sleep to 6. I had the 3 to 6 am last night. That is a good night watch because the sun starts to come up after 430. So I can sleep in advance and then after that watch. I slept until almost time for my next watch at noon today. I won't go to bed before my 9 to midnite. Love and miss you both. Tell pete pete to give you a kiss for me. Love Bob

Don't forget to gather your Spam recipes! July 28th is just around the corner......