Tuesday, April 30, 2013

routine day

we are at a point when we have to check the log book to find out how many days have passed since we left. Sometimes, nothing happens significant during the day, like today, no failure of equipment, no health problem or minor injuries, and it becomes difficult to remenber one day to the next.
Today at noon, we were by 26:38 N and 57:58 W. We have covered 644 nautical miles since we left St Martin (which is more than a quarter of the way) and we have 1,637 miles to go to Horta. The most satisfying statistic is the water consumption that remains at an average of 4.6 gallons per day which means that we still have 42 days of water in the tanks.
Last night, Jean-Paul and myself teamed up to produce tuna steaks and rice pilaf. Tonight, the head cook is Karen and she will prepare chicken and possibly mashed potatoes but she keeps it as a surprise..
The weather is incredibly beautiful even if we would hope for a little more wind in a more favourable direction. But we have few clouds, plenty of sunshine (the solar panels love it), a long swell from the NW and maybe 10 knots of wind. If we could have that all the way, I would sign for it immediately as this would get us to the Azores probably on May 12. But I will settle for May 13th.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Quiet day

As we were hoping for, some wind came back this morning at 6 and I wa able de cut the engine. However, Eole, God of the Wind, has been rather avaricious. We are still sailing, but slowly and in the wrong direction. And what I heard today from the Maritime Network based in Quebec that there might be another day of motoring ahead. As usual, we will managed with what we get.
Tonight, as I am writing this (5:28 p.m.) our position is 25:52.4 N and 59:11.4 W. The direct distance to the Azores is now 1,720 nautical miles. We are definitely getting closer.
Today, some minor repairs again. The vertical axis on the lower plate fastened to the mas, which allows the boom vang to rotate with the boom as play in its lower part and makes a horrible noise. For the time being, we solved the problem with a block and tackle between the boom and the tow rail, which relieves the pressure on the boom vang.
Also, the schackle which connect the clew of the main to the traveler on the boom broke. No big deal, just replace the schackle. But I also learned from Jean-Paul that there are other ways these days, like a strap and velcro. The strap goes inside the ring on the clew, then goes around the boom and is kept in place with velcro.
There is also noise coming from the mast as it goes through the deck. We believe that these are the wooden wedges that we put in in addition to the spartite. We will try and see if we can knock them in place with a hammer. Otherwise, I believe that we don't need them anyway and that the Spartite should be enough to keep the mast in place.
Today, we are beginning to get into the time period when doing laundry becomes a need. It is a totally new method for Karen (washing with sea water, rinsing with fresh water), but she did a perfect job. We continue to use a minimum of fresh water, and if we keep using it at the same rate, we would have enough water for 42 more days.
Tonight, tuna steaks and rice pilaf.
But it is time for drinks, I must go. . . . .

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Testing our nerves

We knew from the Grib files and from the weather charts from NOAA that it would happen, but we were not too happy that it ded. Since this morning at 6 o'clock, we are motoring and it looks like we will be motoring for a full solid day. I have enough fuel to motor for about 80 hours, but obviously it is never good to motor too much at the beginning at the crossing as I would like to keep some for later on.
So the whole day, blue sky, the sea like a mirror and we spend time reading and doing small jobs like replacing a line on the wind vane, tightening the stuffing box, refastening the stairs of the companion way. We saw a whale and on AIS a freighter, but too far to actually see it.
Tonight, "boeuf bourguignon" and tagliatelle. We have enough wine to last for another four weeks. So, life is not too bad.
I have aboard with Jean-Paul and excellent racer, and he manages to make the best of very light winds. Although right now, with absolutely no wind, it does not matter, but it was every useful just before the wind died.
I have to go as we are approaching fast drinks hour on Papy Jovial.
Have a good night.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

first posting from Karen

just a note to say that I am now experiencing my longest time at sea! More than three days! I haven't panicked yet which is a good thing there are no stops :)

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good slow day

As a whole, the day was nice today. We had some lack of wind during the night to the point that we had to motor one hour. But generally speaking, the easterly wind stayed at 12 to 15 knots and we had a good day, roughly in the right direction. Since we left St Martin we have covered 277 nautical miles, 144 the first day and 133 today. We are still expecting to fall into a hole with no wind for almost a full day. We shall see. Our position at noon today was 22:21.2 N and 61:50.4 W.
I have made contact yesterday and today with "Le reseau du marin" (the network of the sailor) based in Montreal and I am happy that the SSB works well. If the computer or the sat phone would collapse, we still have that option to communicate with the outside world through short wave radio.
By the way, I have received messages through the email Iridium system that were too large and I could not open them. I know they have been sent but I cannot open them. So, whoever knows our email address at sea and want to send us an email. please use only text, no attachment and the whole size of the message should not exceed 40k.
Tonight, cheese omelette and spaguettis.
Good night to everybody.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

sleepy day

Last night after dinner, se started to cross a large area of thunderstorms with lots of rain, wind up to 30 knots, heavy seas, all that as we are sailing on close haul, with two reefs in the main and two rurns of the genoa. It was rather uncomfortable and nobody slept well all night. The weather started to improve significantly this morning around 10, and since, everybody is catching up on sleep.
Ahead of us, the weather charts show a large area with no wind. It is still about 300 nautical miles ahead of us, and I am hoping that the situation will change and that we will be able to sail, even slowly. We have enough fuel to motor for about 300 nautical miles but we are still 2000 miles away from our destination and we should be careful not to waste any fuel.
If the weather stays the same, which is highly unlikely, we would arrive in the Azores around May 13th in the morning. More than any other trip, a crossing of the Atlantic from west to east depends very much on whether you can get favorable winds.
Tonight, corned beef hash and cauliflower sauce bechamel.
Hopefully, by tomorrow Karen who has trouble sleeping will be rested enough to write a posting for the blog.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

First night

We left St Martin at 10 this morning with beautiful conditions. Around 10 knots of wind in the nose, which is the best possible as if we had the wind with us we would not move.
We had again an electronic scare, with the sat phone not working. I spent the best part of two hours trying to figure it out and finally almost gave up by installing an Edgeport serial to USB driver and it worked.
Tonight, Karen is cooking brussels sprouts and steaks. Beautiful night with full moon. The seas are flat for me, a little bit to rough for Karen, but she is doing great.
If you don't hear from us, that will mean that we are having additional electonic problems. However, if you see our position moving, it means we are OK but just we might lose all means of communication.
To cut it short, we are doing very well and enjoying this first night at sea.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In St Martin and Saint Maarten

Probably the longest time spent in one island since we left the Bahamas, and there is very little to say about it. Nothing so nice to look at that you would "wow" it. But it has a lot to offer for a boat preparing to cross the Atlantic, including contractors who don't mind taking you out for a ride.
At some point, after a few electric abnormalities, the freezer stopped working, I called those contractors, called Ener-Tech and when they showed up, I told them that the person who takes care of my refrigeration needs in Norfolk had assured me that compressors rarely gave up and he advised me to carry a spare controlling module. They ignored what I had told them, jumped to the conclusion that it had to be the compressor and proceeded to change it. It is only when they realized that the new compressor was not working either that they asked me for my new module, and then the compressor worked fine. They also tested (too late as it was already out) the old compressor, which worked fine with the new controller.
I have a feeling that this was staged and that they wanted to corner me into buying a new compressor. After negociations, they gave me the new compressor for half price, but in fact, I did not even know if that compressor was a new one. Conclusion, if you go to St Martin, or Saint Maarten and you have a refrigeration problem, do not call Ener-Tech.
The  other thing about this island is that you need to check both sides on price and availability before you make a purchase. The price of Diesel on the french side is 1.34 euro per litre, eqivalent to 6.6 US dollar per US Gallon. On the dutch side, we paid 4.64 US dollar per US Gallon. With that difference, we filled up the tank of the boat by carrying 5 gal jerrycan to the dutch side.
For provisionning, we did both. A lot of food product are better and less expensive on the big super market on the french side. But some products were only available on the dutch side.
In terms of tourism, the island is not really beautiful, but it has quite a few very nice beaches and we did visit a few of them. And I am told that it is a very good island for snorkeling and diving.
But at the end of the day, today Wednesday April 24th, we are ready to go and we will leave tomorrow morning with the  Azores as our destination. Jean-Paul has now been with us for one week, was already familiar with Papy Jovial when he arrived, and he will make the crossing a lot more comfortable for me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

to St Martin

The trip to Barbuda was uneventful and the anchorage there wonderful. But be careful. Do not anchor on the west coast of the island but in the south in a place called Cocoa Point Beach. The anchorage is very calm and not crowded (we were only five boats) and the beach is beautiful. There is little life on the island so do not expect an internet connection unless you can get the code from the Resort on the beach. We had drnks on the cat next to us before an early dinner, as we had 60 miles to go the next day to St Barthelemy.
St Barth was very crowded because of a sailing week with the participation of the biggest racing sailboats that you can imagine. A wonderful show. We were very lucky to see them just after the start sail by us before disappearing behind the island.
The anchorage is sparkled with private mooring buoys wich is a very bad combination. Actually, I anchored too close to an unoccupied mooring and when we left, I found a 30 feet piece of line wrapped around the anchor. Fortunatly, it was easy to clear and we had no problems, but it could have been a chain or a cable and that would have been a completely different story.
The  anchorage itself, in front of "Anse a Corossol" was a little rolly because of the traffic and also some swell that had found its way in. We did not go ashore so there is nothing I can say about St Barth.
After two nights, we sailed to nearby St Martin and tied up at Marina Fort Louis, a brand new marina, with adequate facilities but wrong policies. Among other things, even for paying boaters, for 1.5 Euro (US$ 2.00) your are entitled to a 5 minutes shower with no hot water. Fortunately, Papy Jovial has free warm showers.
We will stay more than 10 days here, including welcoming Jean-Paul, who is going to sail with us to Europe.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

another week in cyber hell

The Devils Bridge - Antigua

WindMill in Antigua

And here we go again ! Having reformatted one of the two hard drives apparently did not solve the problem. But I could not figure out what was wrong and I kept formatting and reformatting the same drive, with the same result. Immediately after I finished, everything was working well. And then, either a few hours after or next morning, it crashed again. Sometimes, it would not restart. Sometimes, I could not restart MaxSea.

English Harbour
In the meantime, we went from Les Saintes to Riviere Sens marina in Guadeloupe, near Basse Terre, then we moved on to Deshaies were we anchored in a lovely place and stayed two nights, then on to Antigua at Jolly Harbour marina, still with a computer on its last leg.
In Nelson's Dockyard
Finally, in Jolly Harbour, I decided to risk it all and reformat the other drive where I had kept everything going although it worked only just for MaxSea.
This time, apparently, everything worked fine and I am writing this posting on that computer. I can't do photos yet as I am afraid to add anything to the  hard drive. But there are photos and I will add them from the netbook.

TallShip _ Les Saintes
Nothing of any significance happened between Les Saintes and Antigua (Jolly Harbour marina). Marina Riviere Sens was as bad as it was when we left a few weeks back. Dirty restrooms and no internet connection. Fortunately, we were not there during a week-end, so no loud music during the night.
Deshaies proved to be a wonderful anchorage and I would recommend it to any one. It is a very nice little town, with plenty  of shops  and restaurants and the anchorage is very quiet with good holding. I am sure
 that would not be the case with winds from the west, but this would be rather unusual.
From Desahies, we sailed to Jolly harbour marina in Antigua. We rented a car for two days and visited most of what is to be seen in the island, including Nelson's Dockyard which is loaded with history. We have enjoyed thoroughly our time here, but I am not sure we want to come back unless we had a fat bank account.
We shall be leaving tomorrow Thursday April 11 (first round of the Masters), headed for Barbuda where we will anchor for the night and then sail to Saint Bart, hoping to find a spot in the only marina there.
Internet might be hard to come by, at least until we get to St Martin.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Les Saintes and the wind

I thought that we were in for a few days of calm, and that we were going to be able to relax and enjoy the Easter Week-End. But Eole had decided otherwise, and the whole week-end we had to deal with fresh winds which made getting in and out of the dinghy a little challenging. The moorings there have an aluminum eye way too low, almost out of reach for Karen or even me. So, the game was to try and keep the boat steady while attempting to get a line through the loop, then get it on the other side of the eye with a boat hook, hope there is enough length to get it back on the boat and tie it up somewhere while the boat settles down. We succeeded on the second attempt, which was not too bad, considering how everybody else was doing.
After that, came the drill of putting the dinghy in the water, and then putting the engine on the dinghy with a constant 2 feet chop and the boat rolling quite a bit. This took time and energy and we were exhausted once this was done.
Then we went ashore, but since I could not remember the place, we could not find a decent dinghy dock and we chose to take the dinghy to an apparently empty beach. We pulled it out of reach for the rising tide, and went to town to register with the harbour master and look at what was available. We had lunch there, on the water and I thought that there was a better location for the dinghy not far from that restaurant. After that, going back to the dinghy, we found it blocked behind a row of small sailing dinghies that people were preparing for a kids sailing school. Not easy to drag our dinghy back to the water. So, when we went back ashore for dinner, Ie took the dinghy to the other spot near the restaurant, at first wondering why people were looking at us with much interest, until we touched rocks with the prop of the dinghy, fortunately with no damage.
We had a wonderful dinner in a restaurant with a very unusual and pleasant setting, with almost each table on a different level, and a "rainforest" like decor, with plants and birds.
We then dinghied back to the boat for a night of rolling and pitching not very pleasant.
The next day, we had become wiser and had found the dinghy dock hidden behind the ferry dock, and that's where we went to take care of laundry and visit the place.
We came back late morning to the boat, as we knew that Jean and his nephew Christophe were arriving early afternoon on the Amel Saintorin that Jean just bought in Martinique and took to Guadeloupe to recertify his life raft.
After drnks on Papy Jovial, we went ashore, this time for a Moroccoan style dinner, couscous with lamb, merguez and chicken. Very pleasant evening.
Once again, the night was not the best that it could have been, with some choppy waters coming in from the north.
The next day, we did basically a repeat of the previous day, this time having dinner at a very nice restaurant on the water and on the west side of the harbour.
Jean and Christophe will leave for Dominica after one more day in Les Saintes, and we will leave tomorrow morning for marina Riviere Sens which is only 12 miles away from Les Saintes. But not without experiencing a little more of the chop and roll.