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.

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 25, 2007 Day 1

237 sailboats circled a tiny area, waiting. Just beyond the well-wishers on the shoreline, a warship to port side and a large yellow buoy to starboard marked the starting line of the 2007 ARC. The racing boats were already full sail, speeding back and forth in the crowd of boats, coming within a few meters of the cruisers as they warmed up. Their crews were intense, shouting, disciplined men dressed in uniform gear. A rainstorm had passed, soaking the crowds onshore. In its wake was a sunny sky and placid sea. At last, a single petard was fired from the warship, and the racers were off. Exactly twenty minutes later, at 13:00, we would be too. Cap'n Mark steered the Maverick Dream toward the commercial port where container ships are loaded and unloaded. The port blocked the wind and provided a safe place to raise the mainsail. We faced directly into what wind there was, and the sail was deployed. Mark then jockeyed us back toward the starting line. All a matter of timing now. Too fast, and we would have to turn and circle around toward the back of the pack. Luck was on our side. As we came near, another petard was fired, and we were off.

As a school of playful dolphins escorted us past the Canary Islands and the coast of Africa, we were greeted by 30 knot winds. Our position put us in line with the white capped waves. Rather than riding up a wave and down the other side, we were surfing. The genaker sail was deployed; a splash of black and orange sail stood out sharply against the white boat, white mainsail, and white jenoa sail at the bow. The sun was smiling. The winds were strong. We were moving fast, topping 17 knots at times - a full ten knots above what Barry might describe as "cooking speed".Louie stood on the platform behind the ship's wheel, a satisfied smile on his face. For the first time in weeks, he said, he was not congested. Tom also looked quite satisfied. Barry and I were very happy to at last be underway, but we had our own problems to resolve. Our speed and position on the waves meant that the boat was coming to the troughs at a diagonal. The starboard side bow would plunge into the water first, then the the boat would right itself. The entire boat would then rock violently to port before coming even. But there was not a lot of coming even.Within the first 180 minutes, we had our first tragedy. The black and orange genaker had flopped listlessly for a only a moment, then a gust filled the sail. The sail, however, was at a strange angle, and a tear developed at the top. Within seconds, the tear had shredded all the way to the bottom. The gennaker was in tatters and destroyed. Our speed did not subside.Not one hour later, as Barry and I struggled to find our legs in the galley, we came to the bottom of a particularly large wave. The starboard bow tucked deeply into the sea, scooping up several hundred gallons of water which washed across the deck. The power of that water forced open one of the port windows atop the deck, and about 15 gallons of the sea made its way into the captain's quarters. Happily, the bed where Barry sleeps was missed, but the water covered blankets, cushions, and a lot of floor. While we cleaned the mess, Louie rigged some exercise weights atop the window, which will keep out the majority of the sea until something else is worked out.Barry faced the near impossibility of preparing food in the galley. I, in turn, face the very-near possibility that I might start yacking and never stop. Like some mythical beast on the stern, I would howl into the night with a gap-jawed cry that would keep away all sea monsters. We each worked hard to stay out in front of our demons, and we emerged somewhat victorious. Barry laid a table of mashed potatoes and cheese, salad, bread, and water. There may have been other things as well; I did not spend much time looking at the food. I was in bed by 20:30, my stomach being rocked to sleep.Tom and Barry took the first night watch, then Mark, then Louie. I awoke around 02:30 and went up top to try to get some sailing lessons from one of the best. Only two other boats were in sight. After Louie left, I watch them like they were mad dogs who might overtake us at any moment. The sails banged around a lot during my 03:30 to 06:00 watch. Mark came up and trimmed them accordingly. We have all had breakfast of Muesli and fruit. Tom has the audacity to attempt to bake a loaf of bread as we continue to hurtle forward into our first full day at sea.More tomorrowcheers from cap'n Mark, skipper Louis, pirate Tom, chef Barry and boat scribe Keithoh..and here's a little something from Tom for those able to read's all Greek to me.

  • Zielsroerselen van TomJe weet niet waar je aan begint om 16 tot 18 dagen aan boord te gaan voor een oversteek zonder land te zien.Wat ik denk is een belangrijke voorwaarde is kan de bemanning door één deur met elkaar en is de boot wel comfortabel genoeg.De start van een week voor de start met elkaar te zijn was een goede test.Op de avond van de 25 ste gingen we de 1ste wachten draaien met als supervisors Mark en Louis voor de aanpassingen aan zeilvoering en koers.Ook die test hebben we goed doorstaan. De ochtendwacht van 6.00 uur tot 8.00 uur is het mooiste want dan komt de zon op.Morgen gaan we verder


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hasta Luego, Gran Canaria


Young sailors preparing Optimist sailboats

Every Saturday at the Real Club Nautico in Las Palmas, a children's sailing club comes to learn to sail . They are taught how to rig their Optimist boats, how to navigate, and what to do if there is trouble. Then, they push their little boats into the sea, and give it all a try.

So long, pavement.

As of today, there will be no cafés. The sidewalk lottery ticket sellers will be no more. The sidewalks themselves will be a memory. As of today, there will be no internet. Who sang that song? The answer will have to come from somewhere other than Google. No more popping down to the local mercado for a loaf of bread, a cup of espresso, or perhaps 400 hams on the hoof.

We have taken the Maverick Dream out to sea to test the sails, the generator, the instruments. On the way back in to port, we put diesel in her tanks, but very few hours will be spent running the two Volvo engines. The engines will not be used at all to power us forward; only to recharge the massive batteries and heat water. This crossing will be made with strong tradewinds at our backs and sails aloft.

This morning as the sun rose, we caught a glimpse of what our next two to three weeks will look like. Five guys, from very different backgrounds, in a fiberglass tub. The Maverick Dream is as long as four parallel parking spaces. A luxury of space, to be sure. There are many, many smaller boats; monohulls of less than 10 meters making the journey with us.

As we pull away from the dock in the morning, and line up for the Grand Start, we say goodbye to land and all its connotations. Our world will dramatically shrink, and the importance of good manners will be clear.

While we are at sea, I will keep a daily journal and log our position. If you would like to follow our progress, you can. Our position will be posted daily in this space, as well as on the official ARC site. You can track us using Google Earth as well. There will be a lot fewer pictures. While at sea, we will only upload one image a day, using the satellite phone.

The decks are swabbed. Everything is stowed. What little clothing we have is cleaned. We've stolen our last hot showers at the pool locker room. Are we ready to set sail? Yes, we are. Today, we are all Optimists.

Buena Mar.

Weather Outlook for the Start
High pressure is intensifying to the west of Biscay near 45N 25W, and a small area of low pressure is over N Africa moving to the east. This is giving us a moderate to strong N to NE’ly flow. This will continue for the next 24 hours, moderating Sunday morning.

The air is unstable making the occasional shower likely. A band of rain is expected to cross the Canary Islands during tonight.

Today the wind will be N-NE force 4 to 5 occasionally 6 with the chance of showers and some sunshine. The temperature is expected to reach 25-27C depending on the number of showers that we get.

On Sunday the wind will be N-NE force 4-5 occasionally 6 easing during the afternoon, however there will be a significant acceleration zone near the south of the island.

Barometer reading at Las Palmas airport at 0830 : 1020mb


Friday, November 23, 2007

Tick Tock


As we draw ever closer to the launch date of Sunday at 13:00 hours (GMT), the local stores, boat shops, and repair shops are becoming more and more frenetic. 250 or so boats with crews from one person to 10 or even 12 are flying the ARC flag. A large number of these sailors do not speak Spanish or English. Conversations in stores often begin in halting Español.
"¿Ehhhh uhhh habla Ingles?"
"Mmmmmno. Eh, un poquito, para ... no."
Then the dancing begins. The two attempt to pantomime the particulars.

"Very impressive, but I'm still not going out with you."

Yesterday, we hit the Corte Ingles grocery store again to purchase fruits, vegetables, frozen vegetables, and meat. We bought a huge piece of beef that cost around £100.00. The butcher kept asking, "¿Todo?". Si, todo.

Last night, around 21:30, all that stuff was delivered to the boat. We are now heaving with food and water. As the trek across the Atlantic progresses, the boat will get lighter and the crew heavier.

Gettin' all carnivorous

This morning there was more scurrying around the island. Skipper Louie and I exchanged dirty jokes in a tackle shop while they repaired our main fishin' pole. We also found holistic meds for his stubborn sinusitis (thank you, Ellen, for the recommendations), and continued to try to kill the life raft issue by using shuttle diplomacy between the ARC offices and the Ino.

Many thanks are in order for Polly in Malta, who helped track down paperwork in the UK for the aforementioned life raft. Cap'n Mark worked that issue from Las Palmas. A new wrinkle has arisen from the probability that the good ship Ino may be taking-on a fifth crew member. If this indeed happens, they will need their 6 man raft back and we will need to look elsewhere for a boat with four or fewer and a raft for five or more.

Quite frankly, this reporter doesn't have a list of achievements for Barry and Tom, as I was trudging around the city all morning. I know, though, that they have been non-stop as well. Tonight, for the first time since our chef arrived, we will dine out. The Cap'n and his bride are attending a soiree, and the rest of us want to save the food onboard for the trip. THE TRIP! We are 44 hours away from The Crossing.

Weather for Las Palmas 20 November 2007 There is a complex area of low pressure that extends from the UK to Portugal and west to Madeira where there is a small depression. This will give us an unstable south westerly airstream with the chance of rain and showers. During today the wind will be SW force 4-5 offshore, although we are sheltered in the port of Las Palmas, where the wind will be lighter and more variable. The temperature will reach 25C during today feeling colder in showers. The wind will stay from the SW until late tomorrow when it will veer to the west then northwest as the tail end of a cold front passes over the Canary Islands. The outlook for the start is for a moderate north-easterly trade wind.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Scavengers and Pilgrims


Editor's note: Portions of this entry were written on Wednesday, and continued on Thursday. Sorry for the confusing timeline.

Wednesday, 21 November:

06:30 - Awoke to go for a swim in the local pool before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

07:30 - Exhausted, but feeling "oh-so alive", we trudged back to the cat for a quick bowl of cereal and coffee before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

08:00 - Realized we were in need of bread, fishing lead weights, 80 lb. line, non-slip stuff for the countertop, rubbing alcohol, and nylon washers. Headed out on foot to hunt and gather before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

09:00 - Returned to the boat to find Mark and Louie had set-off to make purchase of one (1) 70 meter length of Extra Special Rope before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

09:00 to 10:00 - Tidied up and cleaned stuff before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

10:00 Realizing a morning sail was not going to happen, we made plans for an afternoon sail. Went back wifi hotspot to chat with Ellen, whom I miss terribly and my little Rosellen, the best 10 year old in the world.

AFTERNOON - Zhenya and Galina come aboard and begin preparing a simple Russian lunch of fish and vegetables to eat before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

15:00 - Lunch is ready, galley is trashed. We eat, clean up, and chat amicably before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

16:00 - Discussions begin regarding the methodology needed to replace the rope that is used to hoist the mainsail. The existing rope looked pretty good, but not great. A new rope is expensive, but an earlier debate deemed it a necessary expenditure. This debate seems to happen time and again on the boat. It's a cost/benefit analysis, but the side that supports replacement always holds a trump card.

*The rope that is there will probably last through this run, and can be replaced after.
*The rope is very expensive.
*If the existing rope fails, we lose the main sail. We could do a repair at sea, but that is risky.
*TRUMP CARD: Is it worth the cost to ensure our safety?

It was agreed that this would be done before we headed out to sea for a trial run.

17:00 - We ain't going out today.

The mast is about 20 meters high. Louie took the lead job of harnessing up and being hoisted aloft. Mark was lead ground guy. The rest of us played supporting roles and pointed out to Louie that he should "take care" and "be careful" and "take care".

Louie stepped into the harness, tied a bowline knot from a rope already attached to a block atop the mast, tied the new rope on to his harness, and we used the electric winch to hoist him aloft. Tom fed new rope up as the harness rose and made sure it stayed clear of hazards. Once he was at the top, Louie replaced the existing spreader pin in the pulley up top and did some regular maintenance. Next he tied the new rope to the end of the old rope. From below, we waited for Mark's direction to heave-ho. We pulled the old rope down through the center of the metal mast, and in so doing, also pulled the new rope up.

The Flying Dutchman

"I should change these pants ..."

The operation was an elegant success. When Louie was back safely on-deck, we gave manly nods all around. After the new rope was fed through the jammer thingy that locks it down tight, we discovered another problem. One of the jammer thingies was busted. It is spring-loaded, and the spring had given out. Dear oh dear.

Thursday, 22 November:

*The jammer that is there will probably last through this run, and can be replaced after.
*The jammer is very expensive.
*If the existing jammer fails, we lose the use of it. We could do a repair at sea, but that is risky.
*TRUMP CARD: Is it worth the cost to ensure our safety?

As I write, it is completely disassembled and we are en route to the parts shop.

The Jammer Thingy

Just the first delivery

In the galley, our chef is also very busy. The galley was full of cooking tools and foods that were useless for an Atlantic crossing. Barry has stowed the bread maker, numerous pots and pans, and many many leftover foods have been tossed. Barry has also overseen provisioning for the trip. A local grocery here caters to boats and will deliver to the dock. We received the first delivery of non-perishables earlier this week. On Wednesday, we took delivery again - this time for semi-perishables. We will get a last delivery on Friday or Saturday for fruits and vegetables and anything else that spoils. In all, Barry estimates that we are carrying 1,000 pounds of food. We are also carrying about 835 pounds of water - 100 liters (26ish gallons). As we use the water, we will refill the plastic 5 liter bottles from the tap. The boat has a water filtration system that makes sea water potable. It doesn't taste good - it's quite briny - but if we were to run out of spring water, we will still be ok.

Mark food.

While in the marina, we are being wildly wasteful with our water, food, and power consumption. Once the sails go up, a lot more thought is required. For example, we will rarely open the tiny freezer. If we catch a fish, it will be put in the fridge first, then the freezer. Putting a fish directly into the freezer would have the effect of warming everything else inside, and making the system have to work very hard to cool it back to freezing. In fact, we will try to always do the best thing; Eat it before it has a chance to figure out where it all went wrong.

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S.. Hello with much love to David, Kelly, Keith, Emily, Rosellen, and most importantly among these most important people, my Ellen. They are all gathering at my home for a feast and to give thanks for all the great gifts we have. Even though I am not there, my heart is. They are the ones who support me while I am off on this wonderful adventure. For you, my family, I am most thankful. You make me proud in the way you take care of each other ... and me. A storm moved through this morning. It will be afternoon before we head out to sea for a trial run.

Ellen. And some handsome guy who isn't me. Hey, what the HELL!??!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ALL HOPE IS LOST! oh wait ... no ... it's ok. Sorry.


Today the officials of ARC told Cap'n Mark that we could not sail unless we got a new, larger life raft. The one onboard now is certified to carry four Desperate Souls. ARC cleverly pointed out that we have five potentially desperate souls. Our argument was strong; we could easily fit five on the raft if needed, and our route is so well-traveled, we would not have to wait all that long before being scooped out of the briny deep.

ARC were not impressed.

Forgetting for a moment that a new life raft would cost around £4,000.00 pound sterling (that's around $78,860,093.92 dollars - U.S.), the more damning fact is that we could not purchase one in time. We had a very real problem.

Salvation happened a few hours later. Jim, the captain of the British monohull "Ino" most graciously agreed to trade his 6-person life raft for our 4-person, since he has a crew of four. When we arrive in St. Lucia, we will trade back. If not for this, we would have been in trouble. Safety in numbers, even before we head out to sea!

As it stands now, we could actually carry one extra person in our life raft. Therefore, if the boat sinks and we are forced to get in the life raft, we could still pluck one other even-more desperate soul out of the sea. Heroes! That's us. How could someone be an even more desperate soul? Perhaps they had been watching Bee Movie and they jumped.

It's been repeatedly stated, by many a seasoned sailor, that it is better in an emergency to stay with the real boat if at all possible. Dudley, a crewman on the Ino, put it best when he said, "One should never step down to get into a life raft; only up."

1st runner-up in the quotes department was that guy in that movie who mumbled repeatedly, "never gitoutta the boat ...never gitoutta the boat ... " Of course, if memory serves, I believe that he had just been attacked by a "F***** tiger".

This morning, Barry, Tom, and Keith walked to a nearby bakery for fresh bread.

After which, we crossed the street for a cup of espresso. While it was quite good, Barry is not used to the strong stuff. He finished his, but I don't think he enjoyed it like we did. He said it was too much, but Tom said he needed it in order to turn into a pirate.

Please don't mention to Tom's wife that he is a pirate.