Thursday, December 27, 2007

Row ZZ, seats 78 and 79, Pluto Section


"Purchase 2007 season tickets and get priority seating in the new stadium!"
- Nationals advertising campaign throughout the last season

"You were only a season ticket holder for two seasons."
-Excuse given to me to explain why the Nationals seated me here -

I'll make the best of it. I'll bring along a portable TV so that I can see the players. It'll be just like being there.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Froggy frog froggoes


I am at the airport in Martinique. Paid SEVEN EUROS for a stinkin hour of net access. I went straight to the news and Nats home page and let's seeeeee


Whoa. Head rush. OK, welp, that's baseball ... and it's a pretty good trade, bringing in Paul Lo Duca from the Mets. And what's this ... it says here


Deep breaths. Deeeeep breath. Oooook.


Here's some facts about Martinique:

* Although it's clearly in the Caribbean, everybody here thinks they're in downtown France.

* The "French" don't believe in providing a brother with a power outlet anywhere in their airports.

* The "French" think that the word "juice" means "Pepsi".

* There is a funk about the place. Oh merci yes.

* Oh wait, that's me.

Tip of the day: If you feel seasick, try standing up instead of sitting. Here's a little something to help you next time you're feeling a little vomitty on a boat.

I feel shady
Yes I'm sea-shady
If you ever feel shady
when you go out sailing
You don't wanna lose your groceries so
PLEASE stand up
PLEASE stand up


So long, and thanks for all the fish


NOTE: The following was written on Wednesday, the 12th of December. We had dicey sat phone service and have been unable to upload it until now. Today (Saturday the 15th) we are sitting in a crappy French café in Martinique, sipping pepsi and slurping wifi. In a moment, I will get in a taxi bound for Fort De France airport.


I am sitting at the wheel under a sky so pale gray that it's almost white, and I am looking at a slightly darker gray shadow on the horizon. This is land. I saw it at 12:10 local time, but said nothing for a full two minutes in order to be sure it wasn't a low hanging rain cloud. After the cloud remained stationary, I took a long deep breath, turned my head to the deck below, and gave it my very best, "LAAAAAAAAAAAND HO!!!!!" What a glory hound.

Barry came up top and looked through the binocs, "It isn't land, is it? Oh hang on, yes ... yes it is. Damn." Tom and Barry and I had something of an unspoken competition going. Even with St. Lucia in sight, we still have another three hours or so before we step on to terra firma. We must pass just north of the island, then turn from westerly to south-easterly to get into Rodney Bay. The bay is located near nine-o'clock, if the island were a giant Mickey Mouse watch. Our plans are to secure a berth in the bay, be greeted by the same welcoming committee that greets all ARC boats, submit our papers, and then eat. We will dine at Buzz, an open-air restaurant that boasts a vegetarian menu as large as the meat and seafood menu. Although no formal poll has been taken, I would be willing to bet any takers that absolutely no fish will be ordered. Even if we had an appetite for it, there's no chance a restaurant could match the mahi-mahi and tuna we've been feasting on while at sea.

Eighteen days. Eighteen days at sea with these fine men. We have worked together with each one doing a more than their share. I don't want to get all sloshy here. Tom said it well, "this is very special." We will sail from St. Lucia to Martinique tomorrow morning. The crew will spend the weekend on the French island, and I will embark from there to Washington DC, and Home.
Many thanks to all who have followed our run. Extra special thanks to my Ellen for taking the time and effort to post these entries onto Nationals Post for me. I miss you all, and can't wait to SEE YOU SOON.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Crew of the Maverick Dream have arrived on St. Lucia.
I am sure Keith will be posting soon.
Signing off for this run.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Beast not fit for cat nor man. At least there is a picture to prove this fish story!

In most cases, when one of the fishing reels starts spinning wildly, it's either Mark or Louis who grabs it first. Barry has hauled-in one or two, but he's usually in the galley. Tom loves to eat fish, but is perfectly happy to let someone else work out the details of acquisition. Having already made a bird's nest out of one reel of fishing line, I generally step away to avoid annihilating anything else. With that said, I was far and away the closest to the reel when it took off yesterday. As I jumped up to grab the rod, being extra super specially careful not to let it get pulled into the sea, Mark and Louis pulled the giant sock down from the top of the mast and over the big red spinnaker to slow the boat. The consensus was that I was reeling in a pretty good sized dorado. Having only brought in one other dorado, I was in no position to argue. All I knew for certain was that this fish was not nearly as willing to go quietly as the one before. By the time it was fifty meters away, we saw a flash of brilliant green at the surface. Oh yeah, that's a dorado. See how it goes to the top? As someone was speaking this wisdom, the beast plunged straight downward and then away. I mentioned that I didn't want to rush this guy in, as I was worried about breaking the rod.
"Ohhh no. You won't break that rod," Mark said. I nodded and was now 100% certain the rod would snap in half.
I pulled and reeled, pulled and reeled, pulled and reeled. The fish got close enough to the top of the water to see us, and for us to see him, and nobody on either side of this struggle was terribly pleased with the result. This thing had a mouth on it that would have given a British dentist night sweats. After sussing us out, the savage brute made straight for the bottom. I finally got it to the aft steps, and Mark somehow got it onto the low decking - tail first. It was a barracuda, and neither one of us wanted much to do with the business end. Barry pulled the leftover mahi mahi from the fridge and chucked it overboard, "fresh fish tonight, then." For the sake of conversation, we dropped a tape measure on the sea ogre. 1.35 meters. That's 53 inches in English measurement, and in American that's a nickel of high-fives and back slaps all around.
Our victorious troglodyte dance was cut short when Barry appeared from the cabin with a book in hand. "We can't eat that," he said, "we might die."
"What? Okay wait, define 'might'."
Apparently, according to the "book", a barracuda of this size was almost certain to carry with it a toxin called "ciguatera". Little fishies have it in low doses, and the higher you go up the fishy foody chain, the more concentrated the dose becomes. This dinosaur we just winched out of the water didn't spend a whole lot of time looking over its shoulder. The thing was the king boss dictator of the deep. Everything he ate contained some ciguatera, and he held on to all of it. I wasn't about to be convinced just because it was in a book - paperback no less, but then Mark and Louis both said yeah, it'll make you really really sick or even kill you. Mark added that it was particularly deadly to cats. Interesting tidbit, albeit a tad odious and tangental. So the barracuda was committed back to the deep where his neighbors now had a chance to have a go at him for a change. We sailed onward with the spinnaker back up and the winds climbing.
During the night we made great speed under a brilliant and clear sky. One note; Louis reports having seen a very strange thing at about 01:15, St. Lucia time. In the sky high above and to the east of us, there appeared a huge white streak. It was like a falling star, only much larger. Then, the white streak burst open into what looked like a white explosion overhead. It was so bright, it lit up the sails. A moment later, the white streak continued from east to west. Meteorite? Satellite launch? Can you hear me, Major Tom? If any other boats saw this, or if anyone has some information to add, we'd love to hear it. Our position at the time was 14º 20.982N - 056º 25.886W.

After sunup this morning, Louis brought in another large fish. His was a 1.2 meter-long dorado. He didn't make anywhere near the fuss that I made, and his is a completely edible delicacy. The clouds are heavy and almost gray today. The wind remains high at around 23-25 knots, and the waves are often more than five meters high. We are less than 200 miles from St. Lucia, and still hope to make landfall in the late afternoon tomorrow, Wednesday.

and onto some Dutch...
2 mannen van boven de zestig zitten ’s morgens om 6.00 uur op het bovendek de zaak te bespreken. De vorige en de dag van vandaag, hoeveel vis we vangen, wie gaat koken hoe we geslapen hebben etc.De wereld bespreken is er niet bij omdat we daar niets en dan ook niets van weten. Heerlijk!!!
Reuze gezellig en dat bij een wind van 25 knopen of meer. De 2 oude mannen zitten nu meer dan 3 weken aan boord en ze weten al veel van elkaar. Als er wat moet worden gedaan aan de boot of aan de zeilen stampen we met de voeten en komt het jonge volk uit hun bed en doen ze wat ze moeten doen.
Nu om 9.00 uur is de eerste vis, een hele mooie Mahi Mahi, van ongeveer een meter gevangen en is het diner weer voorzien van verse vis. Het fileren en in porties verdelen gaat bijzonder efficiënt. Iedereen heeft een taak. Ze weten dat ik vis hou maar hem zelf pakken is er niet bij.
Gisteren mocht ik even voor de foto een Barracuda van 1.35 meter vasthouden. Dat was wel de laatste voor deze reis.
Morgen komen we om ongeveer 16.00 uur lokale tijd dan is het 21.00 uur Holland dus dan zal ik nog proberen te bellen anders wordt het donderdagochtend 11.00 tot 12.00 uur in de morgen jullie tijd.
Cheers from the almost home crew of Maverick Dream

Monday, December 10, 2007

Forget Regret for Egret Egress

ARC Leg1 101207 1200
174 14.39N 54.28W 10:00
We are headed due-west now at around 8 knots with the red spinnaker boldly announcing our approach. We are down to seven 5 liter bottles of fresh mineral water and still eating well, with a menu of fish, rice, long-life milk, juices, a few apples, and frozen or dry foods. We still hope to make Rodney Bay by Wednesday evening. Bella the bird and her boyfriend are no longer with us. It would be nice to leave it at that, but some kind of explanation is deserved and even required.
Mistakes were made:
1) It was assumed that two birds on the boat would be twice as wonderful as one bird on the boat.
2) The two birds were permitted to "fully explore" this strange and wondrous man made island.
3) The two birds were given generous portions of raw fish scraps.
The night air was warm in the cabin, and even with the two overhead hatches fully open it was difficult to find a decent sleeping position. From this vantage point, the lights atop the mast throw a secondary glow that alights the bunk in a blue-green wash. The normal cycle is to sleep a few minutes, overheat, awaken to wave noise on the side of the boat, roll, look at the dim light coming through the hatch, sleep a few minutes more. It's not the stuff of mattress advertising, but when it's what one has, one makes it work. Anything that breaks that cycle is more than a little unwelcome. A precocial seabird repeatedly poking its head and then its tail into the hatch directly over one's face fits the description of a cycle breaker. Eventually, I closed the hatch. The air in the room went still, but the bird could no longer get in.
The seabird made adjustments of his own. After a few peaceful sleep cycles, I opened my eyes and looked up at the hatch to make sure I was looking at sky and not sea. Sky is good, sea means it's time to get in the life raft. What I saw was the bottoms of a bird's feet, feathers, and tail, made enormous by the mast backlighting. Very funny. I'm fairly goodnatured. So I was the butt of a bird's joke. Touche, bird. Goodnight.
After a peaceful early morning watch, I stayed up top and chatted with Barry and Tom. We put the world to rights as a stunning sunrise lit the sky in red, pink, blue, bluer, white, black, and purple. The wind was gaining strength and all signs pointed toward a good day at sea. Tom got up to get some water or something. As he descended the steps, he exclaimed, "Aww horrible, horrible bahhh! Get out you birds!" A couple days ago, Tom kindly inquired as to what we call bird excrement in English, and I immediately supplied the first word that sprung to mind. Despite Barry's protests at the time, Tom seems to have determined that the word is succinct, easy to pronounce, and even sounds like the stuff that is being described. Since then, he has named nearly every surface of the boat in conjunction with that word. While this in itself was adorable, we all recognized that we had a problem.
When Mark arose, he took one look at the mess and announced to the two birds that it just wasn't working out. The seabirds listened politely, but in the end, they disagreed. With shelter, food, fresh water, and a free ticket to ride, it was working out splendidly. Mark was marching around the entire boat with a pole in hand, jabbing it at the two stowaways. Shoo! Get out! The birds lazily spread their wings, circled, and landed at the opposite side of the boat. The Cap'n then marched across the bow and repeated the insults. He even performed an ancient bird riddance dance which involved throwing both feet above his elbows and spinning on his back. Breathtaking, bruising and surprisingly effective, or so it appeared. At last, the two birds flew off and away, disappearing against the gentle sea swells. All was quiet.
Louis said, "You don't really believe those birds are gone for -"
"INCOMING!" And they returned as Hitchcock always knew they would. This had the makings of a project, and five dudes on a boat for two weeks love a project. Without any instruction, we positioned ourselves on all four corners, with a fifth man at the wheel. Some with poking sticks, others clapping hands and yelling OYE OYE. I took the American Cowboy Approach, hurling a bundle of rope at them to allow the end to snap. The object was to keep them flying. LANDING ON THIS BOAT IS NO LONGER AN OPTION, GENTLEMEN. The birds would occasionally squawk at us, "I thought we were cool! We're still cool, right guys?" It was becoming clear that this was not going to be an amicable breakup wherein we all remained Good Friends. Something had to be done before these birds found a good lawyer. Cap'n Mark emerged from his quarters with a homemade slingshot, some cork balls, and a steely glare. He drew back, took aim, cracked his neck, and fired.

Somewhere east of our position a boat is making its way. Two white seabirds are spotted well off in the distance. They look tired and beaten. Poor little birds! Of course you can stay with us! We're delighted to see you. Would you like some food and water? You must be starving so far from land, my goodness! Yes, thank you, the birds say, thank you so much. You're very kind ...

and a little Dutch for you to translate with
De reigers zijn nog steeds aan boord en hebben de boot op een vervelende manier ondergepoept.
We zijn nu op alle mogelijke diervriendelijke manieren aan het proberen het de beesten moeilijk te maken en maar een andere boot op te zoeken.
Maar kennelijk vinden ze dit vliegdekschip nog de meest aantrekkelijke in de buurt.
De spinnaker staat weer op na een zeer vredige, alleen motorgeluid, nacht. Desondanks prima geslapen.
Vandaag hebben we Barry vrij gegeven zodat de Dutch het diner, supper of give at a name mogen klaarmaken.
Het wordt, als er geen verse vis wordt gevangen prima boot eten t.w. spaghetti met tonijn uit blik en een goede saus erbij. De ingrediënten zijn aanwezig.
Verder is het een prima dag met vanmorgen een kleine regenbui en de vooruitzichten zijn goed. Op naar St. Lucia.
cheers from the blessedly birdless crew of Maverick Dream.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Any egrets as land draws nearer?

ARC Leg1 091207 1200
174 14.53N 51.41W 08:00
The rain came and went all day yesterday, accompanied by precious little wind. Cap'n Mark had an engine running to give us some distance, heat the filtered water, and charge up the batteries. We were into the late afternoon doldrums when one of the fishing reels started shrieking. Louis picked it up as I ran up to cut the engine. "The other one is also going!" Mark grabbed the second rod and started reeling it in. Louis pulled a small barracuda out of the water. The fish had been ravaged by something else. Our best two guesses are either a shark tried to get it, or the larger fish that Mark was now fighting saw the hapless 'cuda on the hook and tried to eat it. Failing that, it saw the pink squid lure on our second line an opted to settle. It took a long while for Mark to get the dorado to the boat, and nearly that much again to wrestle it up onto the deck steps. Barry reckons it was just short of one meter in length. It was cleaned by Mark with great efficiency and put into the fridge for Sunday dinner. The smaller barracuda was issued $5.00 and a bus pass and sent off with a stern talking to.

The night was far far better than the previous one, and we all slept well. At 03:30 MDT, it was my watch shift. I sighted the dim green mast light of a small boat as I went up to the helm this morning to take over the watch from Louis. Louis was watching the sea in the other direction, so I had a golden opportunity to spot a boat before he did.
"There's a boat, port side forward. It's just on the horizon," I reported.
Louis did not turn his head, "Yes, it's just in front of that party boat."
I looked back and saw the giant cruise ship for the first time. A thousand lights were blazing on her three decks. "Yes ... right in front of ... the party boat." It looked like an enormous mardis gras float hovering just above the water line. Aside from that though, it was easy to miss.
"There is also another boat in front of us," Louis continued, "it might be the Lilly, maybe somebody new."
I squinted and made out a haze of light far ahead. I was now much more concerned with Elvis' floating wedding cake bearing down on us. "It's going the same way we are. What do I do if it gets any closer?"
"Switch boats."
It turned out that the small sailboat was the one to watch. Deck lights went on, then off, then she turned away, and then she turned hard-right and crossed in front of us. Following another series of confusing lighting changes, the boat headed westward again, along our starboard side. There was a series of flashes. Their crew were taking pictures of the party boat. Those will never come out. That task completed, the sailboat made a hard-left turn and crossed behind us, falling in well behind the cruise ship. Thankfully, Louis had stayed up top during this dance number, but he soon left me with three comfortably far-off boats so that he could grab some sleep.

There is no moon now, and the stars are brilliant in a monumental dome above us. "We are nothing," Tom had said. Sundays are special, so we had the last few eggs in the larder for breakfast, along with toasted bread rolls, butter, jam, and Swiss cheese.

Bella the Ibis is still with us, and as of a couple hours ago, we are now joined by a second Ibis. This one is an as-yet to be named male. He's much more self-assured, and has already inspected the cabin along with Barry's bed. "I'm going to be in trouble when Polly finds out I had a bird in my bed," he observed.
We are now sailing with spinnaker out and mostly blue skies. All is well here. As we draw closer to St. Lucia, we fully expect more sails, whales, and tales.

and of course, we have to finish with a lil bit o dutch:

Er gebeurt elke dag wel iets. Gisteren de meeste tijd regen. lles was doorweekt en na het drogen begon het weer te regenen. Gelukkig zijn we de avond droog ingegaan en bleef het droog.
Ook is er een kleine witte reiger geland en heeft ons niet meer verlaten. Zelfs vandaag als ik dit schrijf is er een 2de bijgekomen. Ze proberen de boot geheel te onderzoeken tot zelfs een zit op het bed van Barry. Waarschijnlijk om zijn eieren te leggen. We noemen de boot nu Loveboat for birds. Na de windstilte hebben we redelijk lang op motor gevaren We willen a.s. woensdag binnen zijn. Ik zal blij zijn weer even te kunnen telefoneren en te internetten. We hebben zoveel te vertellen.
N u schijnt de zon weer volop en varen we op spinnaker, heerlijk met een gangetje van 8 knopen.
Op zondagmorgen hebben we nu de traditie van 2 zachtgekookte eitjes en Keith vind ze fantastisch. Kennelijk kennen ze die niet in Amerika.
En zo gaan we gewoon weer verder met heel leuke kleine dingen groot te maken.

PS from Mark: I am just composing the emails, getting them etc and I sit here on the couch inside with one of the white birds on the cockpit table literally within arm's reach. Very brave birds..:-)

cheers from the birds and people on board Maverick Dream

Saturday, December 08, 2007

White bird on a winter's day in the rain.

ARC Leg1 081207 1200
174 15.10N 48.49W 00:00
When the clouds broke this morning, a small, white seabird made a direct flight for our decks. She circled once and aborted the attempted landing upon the slippery stainless steel rail. She circled again and made for the solar panels behind the wheel. Good enough. She plunked her scrawny frame down and eyed Louis and me. We were big and looked like predators and we were only a few feet away. Who cares? She was tired, and she seemed to know we were too.
All of us had spent the past 15 hours doing battle with the elements. The rain started around dinner time. Barry, who is amazing, had prepared curried beef, curried vegetables, and rice. Louis was watching yet another dark cloud behind us. Most of these potentially threatening clouds had missed us until now. I asked him if he'd rather eat up top and he said yes. The table had been moved indoors, "just in case we got some rain". I brought a plate to the skipper, and the rest of us sat down to eat inside. The mainsail was full and it was too late to discuss dropping it or even putting a reef in it. The winds were already around 20 knots.

The black cloud did not miss us, and it brought with it winds of 40 knots and a swimming poolful of rain. Louis loved the curry. He tried to eat it while steering the boat. The sails would break, or even the mast, if too much wind caught them on the wrong side. He put the plate down on the deck and concentrated on the wind, the sails, the waves, and that plate of curry which was now hydroplaning away and back to him. Tom went up to check on his son and rescued the food. Then Mark went up to help, but there wasn't much that could be done. Just steer the boat and concentrate.
After the winds died down again, Louis came in and professed his love of the curry to the chef. Through the night the rain and wind stayed with us. For its own entertainment, the wind would shift from westerly to southerly to northerly and even occasionally head on. In the early morning hours, thunder and lightning joined the party. On several nights, I've seen lightning behind us, or to one side or the other. Last night, the lightning was simultaneously in front, behind, to our south, and directly above us. The sky came right down and planted a messy kiss on the sea, right when we were attempting to cross from upper to lower lip.

By the time the sun rose, we were all wet and tired. No one had slept at all. After lying in my bunk and staring at the car wash-like conditions pummeling the escape hatch above me, I went up top again. Louis was at the wheel once more, and the two of us watched the same storm cloud pass over us and dump torrents of rain no fewer than four times. It crossed from stern to bow, then the wind reversed itself and it crossed from bow to stern. Then it repeated that gimmick. Our storm jackets had long-since forfeited their duties. It was as if we were wearing sponge coats.

Finally, around 10:00, the clouds parted and a bright blue sky clocked in late and pretended it had been there all along. From the direction of St. Lucia, 700 miles way, the white bird appeared. It looked like a WWI fighter plane stumbling its way back home after a long and damaging night mission. We have named her Bella. I wondered how many other boats saw the same storm. How many exhausted crews are nursing themselves back this morning. Tom is a brilliant and thoughtful man. It must be frustrating for him to try to express what are obviously complex ideas in a foreign language. His English vocabulary grows daily, and he manages very well. This morning, he said, "We are running a marathon. That was a big hill. The rest of the way ... good." We came through with no damage. We hope the same for all the other ARC boats.
and over to Tom...apparently we have a good following in Holland via the Maverick Dream website...

Voordat iedereen gaat denken dat dit reisje een groot plezier is wil nu dan de keerzijde even belichten.
Gisteren tegen 19.00 uur kwamen donkere wolken op ons af die eruitzagen van veel wind en regen.
Nu dat klopt elk uur minstens een felle regenbui en af en toe windvlagen van 40 knopen. Onze eerste wacht begon om 20.00 uur tot 22.00 uur. Barry en ik zaten klaar.
Regelmatig kwam Mark even boven om bij te sturen om de harde windvlagen te verwerken.
We varen praktisch voor de wind en dan is het erg lastig als er bij een van de windvlagen de wind uit een andere hoek komt. Louis en hij gaan dan met de autopilot de golfen en windrichtingen verwerken in een zo prettig mogelijke vaart. Wel is het voordeel van veel wind ook dat de snelheid behoorlijk toeneemt. De ochtendwacht was tot 8.00 uur redelijk rustig maar gelukkig kwam Louis op tijd boven om de wacht over te nemen.
Daarna even een licht ontbijt en weer gaan slapen omdat de afgelopen nacht zeer lawaaierig en rumoerig was waardoor van slapen niets terecht kwam.
Nu is het 10.00 uur en Louis staat nog steeds boven met veel regen.
Ik zal hem maar eens gaan bezoeken. Zeker weet ik dat hij het allemaal prachtig vindt. De hele dag loopt hij met een grote grijns op zijn gezicht.
Tot morgen.
cheers from the drying out crew on maverick dream

Friday, December 07, 2007

Wind Puffs of 50 Buttons

ARC Leg1 071207 1200
174 15.53N 45.57W 00:00

The sea was flat and the sun was throwing off its first hints about how intense it intended to be in the Caribbean. The boat was quiet late afternoon yesterday as I lounged on the seat at the wheel. Suddenly, Cap'n Mark popped up from the lower deck and jerked me loose from my internal revelry. He was looking behind us, "Yep, there it is. A severe storm warning was just issued, and we're right on the front edge of it." I sat up just as the winds increased and watched the wind gauge cruise from 10 knots to 16-18. All at once the whole crew was on alert and in action, stowing water jugs and cushions, organizing storm gear, reeling in fishing lines, and battening the hatches.

The skies over us were robin's egg blue, but the dark ones that had suddenly appeared behind and to our south had all our attention. The sea began to roll and as the wind increased to 25-28 knots, the tops of the waves were clipped off and blowing ahead. The main sail was already down, and now Louis was rigging a rope around the boom and cinching up the fabric. The genoa sail, which opens as if it were the last paper towel on a roll that is positioned vertically, was rolled-up slightly in order to take some of the stress off of the usual pressure points. As we maintained a vigil up top to see what the fates would bring us, a whale was spotted well off the starboard side deck. It seemed as though the creature was rather enjoying the change in circumstances, as it rose up out of the sea and flopped back down onto the frothing white caps. Time and again it performed these acrobatics as we played the part of enthralled audience. The black clouds were obviously dropping a lot of rain into the sea behind us. It would be a crap shoot as to whether they would roll over us or push off toward the northwest before reaching our little pin point on the chart. Over the next few minutes, we all watched as the weather dice were thrown. They came up sevens. The rain passed just behind us before advancing, but we reaped the benefits in strong winds and surf. The storm gear was shelved, within easy reach, and Barry carried on with his dinner plans consisting of egg noodle pasta, tomato sauce, and grated cheese. With the winds howling onto the aft deck dining table, we ate quickly, lest the pasta be transformed into a cold rubber ball.
Mark said to us, "You've now experienced Force 7 winds." Had we? Dear me. What will my neighbors and Barry's breakfast club members at the Brecon Leisure Center say? Not to mention Tom's friends at the piano workshop. Ah well ... let them all talk. After the dark clouds, we continued with winds tickling 30 knots and waves around three or four meters high until the wee early morning hours.

By sunrise things had calmed considerably, affording us the chance to make repairs to the system that heats water on the boat. Since this involved the engine in the generator, it gave us license to try out our mechanic's mouths. The problem centered around the !!#$@&* pump. The #@!! impeller had busted and a piece of it was stuck in the @!&%#$% intake system. To make matters worse, we had the replacement part, but the °Ë@$7!!s no longer include the required gasket so we couldn't close it all back up. Normally, one of us would just run down to the parts store and spend the buck-twenty on a new gasket, but Pep Boys has yet to open a store near our current location. After #@&^%! - about and trying to piece together some kind on compromise, Louis remembered that he had purchased a tube of gasket sealant back in Tenerife. Out-#@^&&%#-standing! The instructions on the tube were in Portuguese, but we got by ok and the generator is currently humming like a ~^%$#@*&!.

Our projections are now for an arrival in St. Lucia on Wednesday afternoon. If we can maintain an average speed of 6.5 knots, we'll be there in time to dine out. Note to my Ellen: I'll attempt to call your mobile phone this evening to see if you had any luck finding me a plane ticket home. I miss you.
We're all having a good time on the high seas, or a high time on the good seas. As we get closer to St. Lucia, we are seeing a few more boats. We came within 10 miles of the boat Lilly, but could not see her. We know they were to our south only because Mark spoke with the American captain on the VHF. Mark told him that we had an American on board too, and perhaps our American will talk American with them in St. Lucia. "Marvelous," I thought, "maybe we can all go out for Chinese." We continue to roll along on a heading of 2601Ž4 or so. The waves are directly behind us and raising us up about 3 meters before we gently skid downward into the next trough. I am not positive, but it looks like tonight will feature a new moon. The past few nights, the stars have been phenomenal, with shooting stars mixed in. With the prospect of a very dark night and billions of stars, I'm looking forward to tonight's graveyard shift for the watch.

And some more Dutch for you fellow Netherlanders...

De verwachting is dat we woensdag in de late middag aankomen wanneer we genoeg wind in de zeilen houden.
De ontvangstceremonie op St. Lucia heeft iets met Rum te maken dus we moeten niet te vroeg aankomen.
Gisteren werd er een waarschuwing in het noordelijke gedeelte afgegeven van windvlagen van 50 knopen.
Voor alle zekerheid maar alles in gereedheid gebracht om snel te kunnen reven en alles goed vast te zetten.
De zeilpakken, de reddinglijnen en zwemvesten klaargelegd en maar afwachten. Er kwamen wel donkere wolken aan en de wind wakkerde goed aan maar boven de 30 knopen is het nauwelijks gekomen.
Wel was er weer even reuring op de boot.
De golfen waren inmiddels redelijk ruig en toen zagen we op zo'n 800 meter naast ons een grote staartvin uit het water komen en er weer induiken dat gebeurde een aantal keren. 4 vn ons waren ervan overtuigd dat het een walvis was. Louis was een iets andere mening toegedaan. Hij dacht aan een grote vis die acrobatiek liet zien.
Maar hier konden onze ervaringen met het zien van natuurfilms op National Geografic ons niet van de wijs brengen.
Vanmorgen is er een kleine reparatie uitgevoerd aan de generator.
Er miste een klein onderdeeltje maar vijf heel nuchtere kerels hebben het geklaard zodat alles weer naar tevredenheid werkt.
Zo direct gaan Barry en ik pannenkoeken bakken waar we allemaal veel trek in hebben.
en de rug van Louis is weer helemaal bruin.

Cheers from the surfing crew onboard Maverick Dream

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Keith's Curiosity Unleashed Again

This morning, I faced down the keeper of my cryptonite, my archest of enemies. This morning I summoned all my strength and character and went head-to-head with The Head. Until this day my mind and body were held hostage by this tiny, taunting, chamber of torture. Not so today. No sir. Today would be different. The seas were somewhat flat, and we were on a steady course. All crew were quietly occupied about our vessel as I lay in my bed, contemplating the plumbing. Perhaps you've never taken the time to think about plumbing on a boat. You're obviously a very busy person with a lot of work to do. If you find a bit of time, to paraphrase Jesus, consider the loo. Boat plumbing is but a distant relative of house plumbing. There is neither a fresh water supply pipe coming in, nor a septic field or sewer pipes going out. I lay still in my bed, fighting back the queasiness, as I envisioned the pipes and their workflow. I have a pretty clear understanding of plumbing on terra firma, so naturally it was truly bothering me that the same thing, when applied to a boat, was an unresolved riddle. I listened to the whir of a pump which is stowed only 8 inches beneath my matress. What is it pumping? Steady man, steady. At last, I sat up, stared at the door to the head, and uttered the quote that Kevin Costner uses to make the roaring noise of Yankee Stadium go away in For Love of the Game: "Clear the area". My mind became something like an empty lobby - only more Zen-like. I went in. After my eyes got accustomed to the light, I opened covers, turned valves on and off, and even disconnected a few things. After thirty minutes of battle, I emerged from the head a hard-worn but victorious hero. I had overcome the head's evil spells and clutched firmly to the confidence given to a man who knows in his heart as well as his head exactly where the poop goes.
Above deck, nobody seemed to take notice of my newfound shimmer and swagger. Tom read a book about angels, or maybe, the English. The title was written out in Dutch, of all things, so there's really no way to be certain. Louis hung laundry on the small clothesline on the aft deck. Mark watched a movie. The wind and sea paid no mind as they gently nudged us onward. The fishing lines have been out all day, but even the fish seem to be distracted and noncommittal today. Barry was looking at the waters and lazily scanning the horizon.
"When you write your journal today, Keith, would you please send my love to Polly? And Andy, Joey, Stephanie, and Ben. It's really the only way to get through to them out here. I can't send a postcard."
"Of course I will, Barry." I announced in a confident, victorious tone.
"What else are you going to write about? There's not been a lot happening today."
Not been a lot happening? Was he serious? Could he really not see that I was a changed man? Was he truly blind to the fact that I had defeated no lesser a villain than The Head? If this were professional wrestling, I'd be clutching a giant gold belt in my gorgeous, shining white teeth. If this were science, I'd win the Nobel prize! If this were the Tennessee State Fair, I'd be Miss Tuscalusa pinning a blue ribbon on the fattest damn pig you've ever seen! Not a lot happening? I had a sudden impulse to grab Barry's arm and escort him down below to see The Battlefield, but I couldn't because Mark was blocking the path and looking concerned.
"Whatsa matter?" I asked him.
"Not sure ... the tank that holds the desalinized water is really low, and it was full yesterday. Also, there's a bunch of water in the hull. I think something might be leaking somewhere."
"I ... see," I said, as I mentally reviewed the various valves, filters, and whatnots that I had been twisting and banging on, "well ... good luck."
So the point is, there's not been a lot happening today. Not a whole lot to write about. It has been very quiet, as I will continue to be.

p.s. - we never spoke.

and over to the Dutch side...
Nu begrijp ik waarom veel mensen het prettig vinden te gaan cruisen.
Je voortreffelijke eten en drinken op tijd, af en toe een beetje gokken,(Rummicup) de was wordt voor je gedaan tot zelfs het wasgoed opgehangen (Louis). Het enige wat er tegenover staat is om af en toe op de bok te moeten zitten en zelfs dat is geen straf. O ja en de vaatwas doen want dat kun je de chefkok toch niet aandoen.
U hoort het al hier gaat alles naar wens alleen je vrouw zal er bij moeten zijn.
Er gebeurt op dit moment niets bijzonders om verder over te vertellen.
Keith zal wel weer iets uit zijn duim zuigen om het log vol te krijgen.
Er is namelijk een prijs voor wie de leukste, gekste, meest bijzondere weblog instuurt. Volgens hebben we daar zeker recht op.
yo to all our dawgs hanging out there checkin' out the 'dream (or something to that effect).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dutch Christmas on board Maverick Dream

"Five pounds sterling to the first man who spots a sail," Barry threw down the challenge to Tom early yesterday morning. All day the two men scanned the horizon, but nothing was seen. Only the flying fish, which we have taken to calling "Flish", occasionally interrupted the calm waters. Barry blamed Tom's failing eyesight and old age, while Tom helpfully reminded his senior friend to take his pills. The fact remained that we were in a section of water all our own, and would stay that way for some time. Later, Cap'n Mark decided to fire up one of our diesel engines and let it push us along for a while. The engine charged the batteries, heated the water, and gave us a little distance on a day with nearly no wind.

As the day slowly went amber and turned to evening, it was Louis who first spotted the sail. The £5 pound bounty was abandoned with a compromise agreement that Barry would buy Tom a sandwich and beer at Gatwick on their return home.

On our starboard side, another catamaran had appeared. It was the Wakamizu. We had spoken with their Japanese crew in Las Palmas before setting sail. The Wakamizu was moving southwest at 210 degrees, and crossed about 100 meters in front of our bow. Mark spoke with the captain over VHF radio. They were following what little wind there was and would cut sharply westward on the latitude of St. Lucia. They were running a dark boat; only the instruments and a bow and stern light were using battery power. Their generator was not working, so a single engine ran in neutral in order to charge the batteries. As the Wakamizu passed, Tom and I watched it from the helm. The sun was nearly gone, and the sky glowed rose and yellow as their sail and a single twinkle of light continued away from us and toward the horizon again. The similarities and contrasts were striking. On a giant, empty stretch of ocean, two boats crossed paths. Each boat had twin hulls, white fiberglass bodies, and small crews. One sailed southward with a muted and dark interior. The other hummed, fully lit, with fajitas being prepared in the galley and Happy Feet blaring over the interior speakers and showing on the DVD. I felt as though our deck looked like the Las Vegas Strip, with a chorus line of high-kicking ladies across the bow, slot machines and lounge singers across the port side, and an oom-pah band in the dinghy.

Today is December 5th; the day all the children in the Netherlands awake to find their wooden shoes filled with presents from St. Nick. Since two of our five man crew are former children of Holland, we have tried to maintain the St. Nick Day tradition as much as possible. Having no clogs onboard, we had to improvise a bit. We set a pair of flip flops upon the deck. At first, we thought that the good saint had passed us by. While no gifts were found, we did discover the plastic container that served as our cookie jar had been surreptitiously knocked over in the night. Maybe it was the wind from last night's squall, or perhaps St. Nick had indeed stopped by, but doesn't favor stale Fig Newtons and mini-choco-chip cookies. Nonetheless, Barry whipped up a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

We ate it after lunch as our own small salute to the saint and in honor of two of Holland's finest exports, Tom and Louis. Suddenly, as if called forth by our gesture, before our very eyes, from out of nowhere, with a grand entrance, the great saint appeared before us!

He brought greetings to all, clarified a few facts that we had somewhat misconstrued, and gave us all gifts of chocolate. Then, in a flash, before we were even sure he was here, he was gone. Tom was in the head and missed the whole thing. If you are unfamiliar with the tradition of St. Nick's Day, the crew of the Maverick Dream highly recommend the briefing on the subject in Esquire magazine, under the title, "Six to Eight Black Men", by David Sedaris. I would hot link it for you, but I am on a boat, hoisting sails and such. Surely it would not be too much trouble for you to, you know, find it on Amazon or Google it or something. I mean, come on. You're already reading this when you should probably be doing something important. Take a moment.

We all received the best gift we could have gotten, as winds have returned to the trades and we are flying the main and the genoa sails and pointing directly at our destination. In 24 hours, the waves have gone from nil to four and five meters high. We are riding high and somewhat dry. The fresh fruit is no longer that, and we are choking down as much as possible to avoid chucking it overboard in the coming hours. Our capable chef compulsively counts and recounts our stock of food and water, and we have every confidence that he will find a way to make tinned and frozen foods downright tasty over the final week. Ever since the waves have gone directly behind us, my outlook has brightened markedly. As long as I don't spend too much time indoors, my stomach is happy to be a sailor.

Another little ditty for your delectation:

Five guys in a boat, all from different nations
fishing outside when most would have stayed in
Five guys in a boat, with no confrontations
most likely down to the lack of fair maidens

and a message from our Dutch correspondent:

Tijdens een, helaas, kort telefoontje met Annemieke werd me duidelijk dat er veel reacties zijn gegeven in het gastenboek van de website van waarvoor onze hartelijke dank.

Helaas kunnen we website aan boord niet bekijken zodat we geen reacties kunnen geven. Zo gauw we aankomen en een internet verbinding hebben dan zullen we dat alsnog doen.

Alle communicatie met de rest van de wereld verloopt via 2 punten t.w. de Worldcruising organisatie die onze weblog bekijkt en die weersberichten en standen terug stuurt. Daarnaast wordt de website door de moeder van Mark aangepast met onze berichten. Als je deze verstuurt naar hun is vaak al een kwartier van de 20 minuten tijd, die via sataliettelefoon beschikbaar is, voorbij.

Heb nog even geduld.

Gisteren voor het eerst in enige dagen weer contact gehad met een andere deelnemer aan de Rally. Ook een Lagoon passeerde ons met een veel zuidelijker koers. Hier zaten Japanners aan boord die we hebben verteld dat we tussen de middag sushi hadden gegeten met verse Tonijn. Tevens verteld dat we er 2 hadden gevangen en er een, helaas wegens ruimte gebrek, weer hebben teruggegeven aan de zee. Je kunt je voorstellen wat de Japanners hiervan vonden.

De wind was zeer matig de afgelopen nacht waardoor we maar af en toe hebben op de motor hebben gevaren.

Nu is de wind weer 15 tot 20 knopen en gaan we weer volop vooruit naar het einddoel.

Tot morgen

cheers from the stuffed to the gills crew on Maverick Dream

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Good Night's Sleep Followed by a Swim

As the sun set last evening, five guys on a boat finished their tuna steaks and held animated discussions in an effort to not only predict the atmospheric conditions during the coming night, but also to determine the precise appropriate action to take in response. Barry began the debate by going over old business.

"Are we going to spend another sleepless night with that mainsail banging? Every half a minute, just as I fade off to something like restful slumber, it goes 'SLAM', and for what? There wasn't even any wind last night."

"It wouldn't go 'SLAM', if the sails were kept trim," Mark said, looking straight at me.

"Trim it however you like," I was affronted, "If there's 2 knots of wind, the sail is gonna 'SLAM' every single time we rock back from a wave."

"What about flying the spinnaker?" someone interjected.

"Only if the wind is directly behind us. Besides, there is the busted pulley we have to consider."

"Oh yes, the busted pulley ... "

"What wind? There was no wind! At one point we were moving backward."

"That doesn't mean we'll get the same tonight."

Oh my, what a gaggle. On and on it went, until Barry called for a vote, in the manner of lying on the bench to drift off to the same acrimonious half-sleep that had been sustaining him for days. In the end, we left the mainsail and the genoa sail up until night fell, at which time the mainsail was dropped. Thereafter, the boat rocked placidly and moved forward only as swiftly as the current. All of us, including Barry, slept like newborn kittens on a floating island in a sea of satin which, had we been able to find the edge, we would have tucked in neatly at four corners and left a mint chocolate kitty treat on the pillow clouds before us. Tom and Barry both said the boat talked to them last night. While there were no conversations going in my bunk, I must admit that I could at least hear her breathing.

By morning, we were all 14 year old boys on a raft again. After the sun rose and we had a hasty breakfast of pears and cereals, the water around us was still flat and the wind nonexistent. Tom, Mark, and Louis determined that it was high time to take advantage of our fifty kilometers wide, four kilometers deep, members only swimming pool. The safety cables were pulled back at the aft steps and two ropes were deployed behind the boat. Within moments, Tom was in the water and making appreciative Chewbacca noises and hanging on to a knot in one of the ropes. Louis, in high style, made a running full-circle flip into the drink, and quickly swam under the boat and out of sight. Barry and I played the part of a team of mother hens, asking if Louis had a hold on one of the ropes and if Tom was alright and so on. I would have gone in, but you see I'd just had my hair done. When Tom finally removed himself, it was Mark's turn to demonstrate complete disregard for the dangers of the deep. He mugged for the camera and did a pirouette into the salt water.

Last night with the sail down, and the night before as well, we made very slow progress. As the sun warms the air, the winds pick up, and we go into the afternoon confident that we will make up some distance. There are, after all, still 1,400 miles to go. Even though Barry insists it is Wednesday, it is indeed only Tuesday. We all want to get to St. Lucia, and onwards to our various distinations. Barry misses his Polly and the little restaurant down the street where he insists they must give him his own table. Tom is looking forward to getting back to the Netherlands and his wife and life. Mark will reunite with Zhenya in Europe. Louis is already making plans to take the boat through the Panama Canal and across the even-larger ocean to Australia. I want to see the Shire again and my little hobbit home. Not a moment goes by that I am not thinking of Ellen and Ro. Every day I read the note my little one tucked into my duffle. But as long as we're here, in this most remote spot on Earth, where the fish fly and there are still no sails or whales on the horizon, we're going to have a little fun.

And a little tidbit from the flying Dutchman (till he hit the water anyway)

Na het dagprogramma van gisteren wil ik even in het kort vertellen wat ons vannacht en vanmorgen overkwam gisteren viel de wind weg, wat bekend was via de weersberichten en is er een kleine vergadering belegt over wat te doen. Nu om het geklapper van het grootzeil te verminderen is dat naar beneden gehaald en alleen op de Genua verder gevaren met zoÕn knoop of 3. In de morgen was iedereen vroeg wakker omdat we gisteren de tijd hebben verzet, 2 uur terug, Voor 9.00 uur hebben Louis, Mark en ik een duik genomen in de Atlantic waar het ongeveer 4000 meter diep is. Het is heerlijk om elke 2 dagen een douche te nemen maar dit is helemaal speciaal.
Zo zijn we weer een dag verder, de hengels weer uit en op naar St. Lucia.

Cheers from the slightly soggy crew on Maverick Dream

Monday, December 03, 2007

Today's Daily Special is Tuna and Tipsy Cake

WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!! The reel on one of our two fishing poles was turning faster than a zydeco dancer at a hurricane party. Louis grabbed the line while the boat was brought around. We could all tell from the sound that this was a big fish. Our regular practice has been to reel in the other line when we have a fish, but this was not possible. The other line had also started screaming as something big pulled it down and away. Now Mark had the second rod and was next to Louis as they played two fish at once. Within minutes, the dinner menu had changed from spaghetti to seared tuna steaks. The mood of the crew was boosted palpably until we came to the realization that we actually had too much fish. The smaller of the two fish had to be thrown back, as we had no room to freeze it. None of us felt good about the decision. The fish was obviously dead, but we knew it was the only real option that we had. Louis was sullen, "I don't like it. We will have bad fishing luck now because of this." Maybe so. We shall see. Bless us, Neptune, for we have sinned.

Up until today, we have been running on a schedule that is based on the clocks back in Las Palmas - Greenwich Mean Time. As we run westward, our watches have increasingly been in conflict with the sun. While the first night watch may have been scheduled to begin, there was still far too much daylight. By the time the early morning watch was over, it was still the middle of the night. It was a problem, and some kind of action was required. Last night the Cap'n and crew held an informal galley meeting to try and figure this out. The first order of business was to disregard any and all of the time-based norms established over the centuries by the Druids, the Mayans, and all those physicists. Instead, we used models. "Awright ... my hand is earth, see, and this cup is the sun ... " In time, it was decided that we would on this day institute Maverick Dream Time. At high noon, we would move our watches backward by two hours. Or is it forward? Let's see; if my hand is the sun, and my knee is Earth ... yes. We move the clocks back. We chose to move time during the day, rather than at night, for two reasons. The first reason being that a long day at sea is unquestionably better than a long night at sea. The second and more important reason was that we had the power to change the time any time we wanted to, and that's very, very cool. While most of us were drunk with power, changing over to Maverick Dream Time was not a unanimously agreed upon decision.
Tom was downright hostile to the notion. It offended his sensibilities. Only a moment ago, he pointed at his watch and declared to me, "It is the time."
I pointed at the sun and said, "There's no way we're 25 minutes away from high noon."
"You Americans ..."
"Man on the moon, Tom."
"You think you know everything."
"Say Tom, what time was it when Holland put a man on the moon?"
If you are reading this, there can be no doubt that you are either a contemplative and learned individual or a Google robot spider. Either way, it has probably already occurred to you that a two hour time change between the Canary Islands and St. Lucia is not the end-all answer to our problems. Unbeknownst to Tom, we will buy back another two hours a few days from now and even then we will be off by one hour upon reaching our destination. We are watching him closely for telltale signs that it is all too much for him. It's almost time for lunch. Perhaps we will spend our new-found two hours dining in a leisurely manner on the fresh sushi that Mark is making with the tuna. We will raise a toast to the fish we kept and to the one we had to sacrifice. We will raise our bowls of Tipsy Cake that Barry made using no less than half a bottle of sherry. Perhaps this will appease Neptune. Time will tell.

And a lil bit o' dutch:
Dagindeling Tom op 3 december 2007
5.40 uur opstaan
6.00 tot 9.00 uur wachtzitten
9.00 tot 11.00 uur ontbijten meestal iets uit een groot pak zoals Kellog’s slapen douchen of opfrissen
11.00 tot 13.00 uur logboek schrijven veel fruit eten
13.00 tot 14.00 uur lunch ditmaal suchi met advocado en komkommer en natuurlijk de tonijn rauw
14.00 tot 19.00 uur spelletjes Rummicup de stand is nu Mark 3, Tom 3, Keith 1 en Louis 0. Op de bok zitten en af en toe een slaapje doen
19.00 tot 20.00 uur diner Sla met rare gebakken tonijn.
Daarna afwassen
20.00 tot 22.00 uur wachtzitten op de bok
22.00 tot 5.40 uur slapen
Alles is zo eenvoudig
Till tomorrow

chow from all the ravenous crew on Maverick Dream. Tuna steaks, tuna sushi, tuna bake, tuna pasta, tuna......

Sunday, December 02, 2007

They Are Losing It! What will they do next?

ARC Leg1 021207 1200
174 19.30N 33.35W 00:00

Barry: We need a new oven.
Louis: We need a new oven ...
Barry: yeahhhhh that one is useless.
Louis: Maybe if we get one with a DVD player it will be cheaper.
Barry: Yeah ...
Louis: I can't get past a spot in uhhh .. Laura Croft Anniversary Edition ... and Grand Theft Auto.
Barry: That oven, no matter what I do it burns everything.
Louis: I keep looking at those sheets hanging to dry and blowing in the wind and I am thinking of Marilyn Monroe.
Barry: You're daft.
Louis: I think I'm getting uhhhhh ... a leetle bit loopy. (singing) Happy birthday, Meester President ...

We are exactly one week at sea, and I think we're all getting a leetle bit loopy. Either absolutely nothing is happening, or something has gone terribly wrong and we're working through the chaos. It's like war, except nobody is shooting at us; except the flying fish. Early this morning, just before the sun, Barry and Tom were ruthlessly attacked by one. They sat together at the helm, chatting amicably about why the Dutch are superior to the English and why, in turn, the Brits are therefore altogether better than the Dutch when suddenly Barry heard a crash. He checked the sails and the rigging. Everything looked ok. While he took a visual inventory for damages, Tom spied the culprit. It was an attack flying fish with a lot of initiative. It had exited the Atlantic and flown all the way up to the wheel in the center-top of our craft. Tom pointed it out to Barry, and Barry began to laugh. Then Tom started laughing, and the two of them laughed like asylum inmates for far too long a period. They then hatched a plot to drop the fetid thing through a hatch and onto Louis as he slept. It seemed the perfect crime and it almost came to pass, until Tom came to the realization that he sleeps in the same bed that Louis was occupying at the time. Damn ye, fates!

The longer we are surrounded by water, water everywhere, the more intriguing even the smallest distraction. By the time we make St. Lucia, we'll have completely disassembled the galley in an effort to fix the oven, 200 of the worst movies ever produced will have been mindlessly viewed, and we'll be playing croquet with an onion, some fishing line, and some poor unsuspecting sea creature. Happy one week anniversary, ARC participants.

And over to our Dutch correspondent, Tom...

Het is net een TGV veel geluid en snel.
Hij gaat maar door. Af en toe een donkere wolk met soms wat regen en veel zonneschijn.
In de ochtendwacht, het was nog behoorlijk donker, werden we opgeschrikt door een luid gespetter op het bovendek, dat zo’n 3 meter boven de waterlijn is, door een vliegende vis die vlak voor het instrumentarium terechtkwam. Verschrikkelijk gelachen. Gelukkig hoefden we hem niet overboord te helpen want hij spatterde en wipte zichzelf weer terug in het water. Het is een lelijke vis met vleugels die zo lang zijn als hun romp, gemiddeld 15 tot 25 cm.
Vannacht had ik een droom dat ik zeilde door de straten van Reeuwijk met een catamaran.
Annemieke en ik durfden niet de plassen op te gaan want daar stond een behoorlijke golfslag. We hadden alleen een lange regenjas aan. Zal de zeemansgekte nu al bij mij aan het doorslaan zijn? Als je ziet hoe hoog hier de golven af en toe zijn en verder niets te zien.
Gisteren voor het eerst in dagen een groot Containerschip gezien op zo’n 10 mijl afstand.
Morgen gewoon weer verder.
Cheers from the almost loopy crew on board Maverick Dream.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


ARC Leg1 011207 1200
174 20.43N 30.54W 00:00

We have found our way to the trade winds. We made a ceremony out of moving the dining table from inside to the aft deck. It is now warm enough to eat outside, and nobody is happier about that than my stomach. Last night, we dined in high style on dorado, mashed potatoes, and peas. Cap'n Mark declared that it would be smooth sailing from here on out, with the wind and the waves at our backs. Cap'n Mark is a dirty, filthy, no-good liar.
Near the end of our luxurious meal, the winds changed and the waves tested us. At one point, Louis came very close to having everything on the table moved to his lap. We spent the night on a heading of 290 degrees. If we stayed on that track, we would make landfall in Boston, or maybe Halifax. The only options the winds gave us were to head more northerly, at 290 degrees, or due south. Hellooooo Rio. Mark and Louis chose the northerly direction because we could get more speed. Barry's argument, that going at a high rate of speed in the wrong direction just makes you more wrong, faster, fell on deaf ears. The only real difficulty with this heading was the question of comfort. Our little boat was once again thrashed by waves coming at us from the starboard side. Trying to sleep in our bunks was like trying to sleep inside a giant clothes washer.
During the day, it's a different matter. The sea is relatively calm, and the sun is shining. We do, in fact, have the steady 20 knot westerly trade winds pushing us ever-closer to St. Lucia. Right now, flying fish are jumping all around the boat and blue skies prevail. We've just finished eating lunch and everybody is retiring to their chill-out spots. Barry, who did not sleep last night because of the waves, is kipping on the aft deck. Tom is in his quarters, also sleeping. Mark is inside, headphones on, watching yet another really bad B movie. Louis and I are up top.
We are half a day ahead of where the Maverick Dream was during last year's ARC. In spite of the challenges of existing on a tiny chunk of fiberglass atop an endless expanse of ocean, we are all well. Nobody has seen another boat in the past two days. In spite of Polly's reports back on our position, I choose to believe they are all behind us.

And now a bit from esteemed Dutch writer Tom Witteveen...
Al 3 dagen geen boot in onze omgeving gehad.
Overdag veel zon en een wind van 20 tot 25 knopen.
We hebben de spinnaker naar beneden gehaald omdat er een katrol boven in de mast het had begeven. De spinnaker kan nog wel gebruikt worden maar de verwachting voor de afgelopen nacht was hardere wind.
Gisteravond hebben we de gevangen vis gegeten. Ik denk dat een foto van de dinertafel bij de site wordt gezet. Ik kan niet zien wat er allemaal op de site wordt gezet dus kunnen er nog wel eens overlappingen zijn waarvoor excuus.
We zijn nu aan de 7de dag bezig en de verwachting is dat we de 11de of 12de december aankomen. We zullen dan niet lang op St. Lucia blijven want Mark wil ons nog Martinique laten zien die er vlakbij ligt.
De stemming is prima en iedereen voelt zich prima.
Wij hopen dat alles goed gaat bij jullie. Het wereldgebeuren gaat compleet an ons voorbij. We krijgen alleen wat berichten via mail van Mark en natuurlijk de berichten van de organisatie.Zo hoorden we ook van een groot jacht in de race waarbij iemand 2 de graadsbrandwonden had.
Cheers from everyone on Maverick Dream.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Addendum

For those of you who would like to know, here is our Keith's current location.
Now that doesn't look so far away does it?

ARC Leg1 301107 1200
174 21.40N 27.55W 00:00

The day leading up to that hellish night had been wonderful. Barry made crepes for lunch, and demonstrated his flipping skills and sea legs. We were surrounded by scores of dolphins, who came charging at us in hopes of finding a new playmate or a pancake. I can think of no other wild animal whom I would welcome so readily as they charged at us. Monarch butterflies, maybe ... but they don't really charge, do they?

Oh yes; and I caught my first Dorado. The reel started spinning, and Tom said, "Fish! FISH!" This, of course is a Dutch phrase which means, "I happen to know that the one who reels in the fish must also clean the fish". With technical assistance from Barry, I did just that, and there was fish on the table for dinner.

Sadly, the next day was lost for your scribe, dear reader. Anyone who drinks three cups of coffee a day knows the cold turkey misery that occurs when you skip two days. The java monkey will abide one missed day, but may the good lord help you on day two. On day two, the Java Monkey playfully jumps on your chest and kicks you in the head. Here in the vast expanses of the Atlantic, he made fast friends with a thousand Sea Monkeys. It was this unholy alliance that descended upon me at 04:00, during my watch. They had all lurked quietly like unruly pre-schoolers on a time-out, until a squall kicked up behind us and rocked and pushed our boat faster and faster into the inky darkness.

Cap'n Mark awoke and came up to the wheel when he heard the tell-tale sounds of his boat rapidly gaining speed. We both eyed the squall as it spun around behind us, and watched the compass and wind direction readings. Meanwhile, 1,001 monkeys kicked and pulled and laughed at their luck. For two hours this went on; the wind shifts, the instruments, the monkeys, and the lurching. All spinning around me, like Dorothy in the twister scene of the Wizard of Oz - if Dorothy had eaten clams and liver with tequila the night before. By 05:30, it was apparent who would win this tug-of-war for my well being. I explained to Mark that I may need for him to completely take over my watch, as I had a bit of a problem.

"Stomach," I managed as I jumped down the steps and lay prostrate on the deck, looking down at the aft steps. Demons come OUT! There was an exorcism, and I was born again, if only for a moment. I walked back up top and explained that I felt so much better and thank goodness that's over and all is well now and perhaps I'll have a lie-down for a moment.

I awoke nine hours later and forced myself to go in the head and shave. I immediately lay back down on the aft-most seats. Louis calls it The Puking Couch.

This fine morning has been much kinder. Blue skies with puffy clouds. Barry says Polly calls them Sit-upon Clouds. We are frequently visited by flying fish. They look like with moths fluttering just above the water. They emerge, fly for about 25 meters, then plunge back in the ocean. Sometimes, instead of plunging back in, one will run across the waves on its tail fin. Seriously. I don't blame you if you don't believe it. It's the weirdest thing I've seen since high school. But that is what they do.

This morning Mark and Louis have each caught a Dorado. Dinner plans are made, and nothing is coming out of the freezer. We had a good sized Tuna on the line, so Louis picked up the reel while Mark and I ran to the bow to take down the sail. With a 25 knot wind speed, we were unable to bring in the spinnaker. The tuna got away, but in our sail struggle we discovered a superior positioning. It now flies higher, and we are moving 1.5 knots faster. Hang on Polly! Hang on Ellen! Your men are coming for ya. We do miss our sweethearts. Especially in my seasick misery, there was a gaping maw of malaise over the emptiness where my wife and kids and life are supposed to be. The fever has broken now. The gut pains are gone. The sun is shining. When we get home, there will be joyful reunions, Christmas, and stories. Lots and lots of stories.


Crapper, oh crapper
I hate you so much
Your chemical stench
makes my gut muscles clutch

You lurk below decks
you never come look for me
you know you can't lose
I will come back eventually

Crapper, oh crapper
I now understand
it is you who has made me
a once a day man

What sadistic mind
thought to build you below?
all around, open space
where we'd happily go

Crapper, damn crapper
you are the most cursed
no gas station $#!7hole
could knock you from first


De voorlaatste nacht was heel helder op af en toe een donkere wolk met wat regen na.

Zeker in het begin van de avond zag je onnoemelijk veel sterren, zo veel dat je met een boek over de sterren in de hand kon je nog geen beslissing maken welk sterrenbeeld het zou kunnen was. Gisteravond precies hetzelfde ook mede omdat de maan niet in ons beeld was. Vanmorgen echter zag je alleen nog de belangrijke sterren waardoor we nu 2 vaste punten hebben kunnen bepalen. We hebben de Bettelgeuze en de Dolfijn. Hiermee gaan we vanavond verder.

Ook vandaag weer 2 vissen gevangen die we vanavond eten. Louis heeft helaas een tonijn niet kunnen binnenhalen omdat we de boot niet langzamer konden laten varen. Regelmatig komen de vliegende vissen langs naast elke dag al een poosje de dolfijnen.

Volgens Mark hebben we nu de Tradewinds,een constante Nood-Ooster wind van 15 tot 20 knopen. We vliegen over het water.

Vandaag weer vers brood tussen de middag. Ons leven is goed.


De crew van de Maverick Dream

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This is Cap'n Mark writing today, since our boat scribe Keith has been feeling a bit under the weather (only a tad seasick and now getting better) and has been sleeping all day, now spread out on the back deck along with the chef (see picture. Note open mouth of chef just waiting for insertion of carrot or suchlike).

We've been running under our red spinnaker alone for more than the last 24 hours now, with the occasional windy and rainy squalls coming through at 25 knots, praying that it holds up (north sails says it is good for up to 25 knots apparent wind). Our speed increases to 10 knots when this happens, but mostly we are pottering along at a leisurely 6 to 7 knots with 15 knots of wind. Showed the crew how to use the automatic heading function of the autopilot, since we want the wind directly behind us at all times. If not for that we would be constantly changing course manually to adjust. Heading ranges between 220 and 260 degrees.

Dinner was great last night...stir fry with chicken, and a whole baked dorado stuffed with lemons as well. Keith caught that (see picture), although he was loath to kiss it. He also learned how to clean it as well. We aren't short of food yet. When we do run out, we can always eat Tom. Anything tastes good with ketchup.

Had a huge school of dolphins again, but so far no whales. Last year we had a 30 foot whale surfing down the waves alongside us for 3 days. Thinking perhaps he could mate with 2 upside down whales?

Chatted again with Talulah Ruby, who were ahead of us by 12 miles..grrr..I thought we would catch them up during the fast sprints in squalls, but no...they slipped over the horizon again when we slowed down in the aftermath. Now as I look out the window there is a boat with a red and white spinnaker. Wonder who they are. Have to call on the VHF and see.

Thanks for sms messages from friends and family, nice to get them. Till tomorrow, but as always a postscript in Dutch. One of these days I shall find out what he is writing.

Op dit moment zeilen we met de spinnaker pal voor de wind van ongeveer 13 knopen met een snelheid van 5.7.
Het is nu erg gemakkelijk omdat ook de windcontrol aangezet is. Wanneer de wind draait, b.v. vanwege een bui in de buurt, dan slaat het alarm aan en druk je een knopje in zodat de boot automatisch weer voor de wind gaat zeilen.
Ondanks golfslag en toch de geluiden van een varende en af en toe zeer snel varende boot kunnen Louis en ik uitstekend slapen. Wij hebben geen problemen. Je weet niet hoe snel een dag om is aan boord. Je doet heel weinig maar de tijd vliegt. Van vliegende vissen heel veel dolfijnen praten over eten en gezellig keutelen.
Zelfs het douchen is heerlijk.
Het boek pak ik ook regelmatig om ergens op een rustig plekje wat te lezen.
Jullie zien nu hoe mooi het is om aan boord te zijn.
Á demand.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

ARC Day 3

ARC Leg1 281107 1200
174 24.28N 23.19W 00:00

"I am not so proud of this one." Louis eyed the mahi mahi he had reeled in from the fishing pole mounted to the aft deck. Granted, it was half the size of the beast he hauled in last week, but it was large enough to afford five portions at dinner time. As soon as the reel had started singing, Mark had the boat hove-to. Louis hauled in the 100 meters of line in quick fashion. Once in the net, it was only moments later that Barry had the fish cleaned and in the refrigerator. Such agility and grace has not been seen at anytime since then.

As the afternoon wore on yesterday, the winds got tricky again. The sails would puff to life, then deflate completely, and snap full again. Three times, at least, the gennaker sail did this and got momentarily hung-up on the large, round radar which is mounted to the mast. Each time this happened, one of us would make a slight course adjustment, and the sail would free itself and go back into its natural position. The mood was light as we sang The Irish Rover and made jokes about each other's countries. The gennaker flopped behind the radar again. The course adjustment was again made, but the sail remained stuck. By the time it freed itself, it was too late. It snapped back into place, but then immediately made a terrible tearing sound as we watched our second and last gennaker form a horizontal tear all the way across. After Louis and I wrestled the remnants to the deck and stuffed it into a bag to stow it away, we all sat quietly. Mark was philosophical. "These things happen," was all he said.
The loss of the gennaker sail was not catastrophic for us, though it may well slow us down a bit. We still have two sails aloft and hope they last the journey. It was more of a sobering event that reminds us how quickly things can go awry at sea. I now know exactly what it means to have something "take the wind out of your sails".
Overnight, the wind died down again and we maintained a more westerly course for the sake of comfort while the crew slept. When I went to the bridge to take the wheel for my 03:30 watch, Louis pointed out a couple of boats on the far horizon and said it would be quite a boring shift. I made myself busy by tidying the ropes and singing to myself as I watched the two boats slip out of view. The moon was covered by clouds and the night got darker.
At 05:05 I noted a green light far off our port side and back a bit. It was so far off that the light was fuzzy as it mingled with the seascape. Ten minutes later, the green light was a bit brighter, indicating that the boat was drawing closer and on a slightly more northerly course. I mused over how long it would take for our boats to intersect. At 05:30, I saw a red light beside the green light. This meant that the boat was now facing us. I thumped three times with my foot to wake the captain. This is our signal that he is needed. My thumping was too quiet, so I thumped again. The boat was now clearly drawing closer. I hopped down the steps and into the main cabin.
"HUHWHA," came the reply.
"There is a boat approaching. It's coming from ..."
"I see it," he said as he sat up looking out the window.
In the time it took to get back up to the wheel, the boat had come to within 30 meters of us. It was a beautiful large yacht with two masts running alongside us. They probably wanted to see our ARC number. Five minutes later, their crew grew tired of toying with us and pulled away, crossing our bow and heading northwest.
Tom and Louis just laughed when I told them about it later. "Ya, that's ok," Louis said, "terrorize the night shift ... it's fun. I would do the same thing."

We are now tacking southerly again as the wind is more cooperative. Our chart thus far is almost exactly the same path as last year's ARC trek. I'll be home as soon as I can, Ellen. Our estimated time of arrival into St. Lucia is the 12th of December, but don't write it in stone. Sails rip. "These things happen"."

bye from the violently insane crew aboard Maverick Dream...but a last aside in Dutch:
De stemming is uitstekend ondanks het verlies van de 2de gennaker. Op dit moment zitten Barry en Keith boven en Louis en Mark in de salon een film te bekijken.
De wind de afgelopen nacht was matig waardoor we wat aan afstand hebben ingeboet. Nu proberen we dat weer goed te maken. Heel belangrijke momenten zijn wanneer de lijn van de hengel vanzelf begint te lopen dan zit er een vis aan. Iedereen gaat dan rennen de een pakt de hengel een ander het net en de rest gaat de boot langzamer laten varen. Zo even zaten er 2 vissen van 50 cm aan de lijn die ze beiden hebben teruggegooid. Prachtige vissen maar niet groot genoeg. Kleine die dingen maken de dag zo nog leuker. Gisteren had Louis nog een vis die we als lunch gebruikt hebben. Overheerlijk! De meer technische dingen schrijft Keith in het log.
Till tomorrow.

NOT an Authorized ARC Post

Ahoy, Maties! Pirate blogger here. It is 2 am and I am counting the ways we miss Keith (alias Daddy).One of the many things that that seafaring man of the house does when he is here on land is play Tooth Fairy. This is something which cannot be postponed. I had the duty when it was easy, when little Rosie-Posie would sweetly announce that she was putting a tooth out for the fairy. It would be next to her pillow in a nice little box labeled "Tooth Fairy" with a picture of a tooth in case there was any doubt. The exchange was easy then and did not even have to be done in the middle of the night. I could go in around 10 or 11 make the exchange and go to bed. The last few teeth replaced by some exotic sort of coin took the fairy an eternity. I usually thought, "What on earth is that man doing? What is taking him so long? There is no baseball this time of year!"

First, let me say, I am not "stealth-mommy". I made noise rummaging around in the garage, looking in an old cabinet where I remembered putting some two dollar bills, the closest thing I had to exotic money. Next, the stairs creaked. I tiptoed into Ro's room only to trip on something strategically placed in the way. I thought it was some sort of booby trap, but it turned out to be the vacuum we did not put away after cleaning up a recent hampster cage disaster. She had mentioned wanting a net to try and catch the fairy. That would take a big net, dear. Anyway, I approached the bed and she started talking! EEE-GADS! It turns out she is just a sleep talker like her Dad. Whew! Then Cleo growled. She does not sleep talk. I could hear the strangle hold tighten around her neck. She silenced. I slowly reached under the pillow.....and touched a hand. OH NO!!! But that sweet child did not awaken. At this point, Cleo started barking in earnest and I chickened out and sort of aborted the mission. I tucked the money under the edge of the pillow. I did not retrieve the tiny sample bottle of Scope, empty except for one small baby tooth,
one of the last. Just one more sign that our little one is growing up entirely too fast. Boy will I be glad when that man comes home (where he belongs.) Did I say that? Ellen, still not the boat scribe, just holding down the fort.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Day 2 Present Day

After a lackluster night with very little wind, we have had a much better morning. We spent the overnight doing 4 and 5 knots with wind speeds around 10 or 11 knots. Around 03:30, as I came to take over the watch, Louie was highly bothered to see a boat to our starboard moving in and overtaking us. We are not racing, but we do have our pride. At the time, we were sailing with mainsail out toward port and the gennaker out to starboard. That is; the older, bright red gennaker, not the black and orange gennaker that was torn on day one. As the other boat gained, Louie was forced by competitive nature to make a sail change. We moved the gennaker to the port side and changed our course from 270 degrees to 255. This put the wind, what little there was of it, behind and to the right of us. I have learned that this is the wind direction that catamarans like best. The only problem was, instead of aiming straight for St. Lucia, we were now pointing at the Bahamas. We have plenty of distance ahead of us to correct our course.

After the sun rose, the winds were a little more kind. After several more scene changes with the sails, we are currently moving comfortably at around 9 to 11 knots, with winds around 18. The mainsail, spinnaker, and gennaker are all full.

Around 09:00, we had guests. A large school of dolphins surrounded us. Mark ignored my warnings that these looked like bloodthirsty killer dolphins. They had him fooled into believing they were the playful, cuddly sort. Mark lay on his stomach at the bow and hung down with his hand in the water. The dolphins responded by drawing closer and swimming on their sides to get a better look. I continued filming, in order to document the impending catastrophe for the $10,000.00 prize on America's Funniest Home Videos. Tom was speaking in non-stop Dutch. Probably saying some pagan death prayer, who knows? Who knows.

"They're sizing you up! They do that just before they move in. They're a vicious pack of sea-dogs!" Mark was ignoring my warnings and cooing baby talk to them. "We gotta get a bigger boat," I mumbled. Luck was on his side, as the mob spied something even more delicious somewhere down below the watery depths. In a moment, they melded back into the sea. They were gone. I watched the waters warily. " ... we gotta get a bigger boat ... "

We are now living quite comfortably, with the waves coming toward us from the stern instead of the starboard side. Mark spoke to the good ship Xenia via VHF radio yesterday. They contacted us to ask who we were and scold us for having the unmitigated impertinence of being in front of them. The Xenia is a very fast Swan 46, and Mark had trouble keeping his humility in check. At this moment, have the Talulah Ruby in sight as they pass behind us on a course of 255 degrees. As I write, we are running at 8.5 knots. The children onboard the Talulah Ruby are urging their captain to overtake us, but their speed is currently 6.5 knots. Their captain reports one child and one adult with seasickness, and he is prudently maintaining 6.5 knots. I imagine the kids who are not seasick are ... less than understanding. EAT OUR WAKE SPRAY, PUNKS! I mean that only in the nicest possible way.

Barry is keeping us well fed. Spaghetti bolognese for dinner last night. Porridge for breakfast. He has become quite adept at running the galley as it teeters and totters. If it were up to me, we'd be eating uncooked rice for every meal. Hats off to Barry.

And words from our Dutch crew , Louis and his father Tom
Weer een berichtje van Louis en Tom
Na een goede wacht zonder problemen voor allen hebben we vanmorgen al weer het een en ander meegemaakt. Alle kleine dingen worden belangrijk.
Louis had een kleine dorade aan de haak maar die vond het niet leuk om opgehaald te worden dus die vertok maar weer. Na een wisseling van gennaker naar spinaker toch maar weer terug naar gennaker omdat dat deze meer snelheid geeft en stabieler is. Er zijn nu 2 boten in de buurt waar we contact mee hebben via de marifoon. Een kwam een beetje te dicht bij dus hebben we maar 3 zeilen opgezet en gaan we weer volop.
Ook een leuke ontmoeting met dolfijnen gehad die behoorlijk lang in de buurt bleven. Je kon ze voorop de punt bijna aanraken.
Hasta maÀana

cheers from the well fed crew (and surprisingly not sea sick)
mark, louie, barry, tom and keith

Something Fishy Going On Out There....Early This Morning

Well, I know I am not supposed to be writing here, but what is he (Keith) going to do? It will be weeks before he even knows that I have pirated his blog. I was worried that you, his faithful readers, would be concerned that there has been no new news. According to the "Fleet Viewer", our sailors have not moved an inch, which is impossible without being able to anchor. Upon closer inspection, it looks more serious than that. I have been to the website just now and it appears as though the ARC boats are time traveling. If you look at the posted date, the boats are now in the year 2080. I wonder what it is like there. I wonder if they can get back to 2007. As soon as I have something new, I will share it. Ellen, not the boat scribe.