Friday, January 07, 2011

Welcome III Sold

On October 16, 2010, I sailed from Parkers Boat Yard to Newport, Rhode Island with the new owner of Welcome to hand over the steering wheel. It was howling 30-40 from the northwest. We went aground, blew out the main on a double reef, and were soaked through to the bones. Otherwise, it was a nice sail. The pirate who bought the boat is planning a world voyage. Fair winds and following seas to the boat who helped to make a dream come true. Capt Turley

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Land Ho!

We arrived in Newport Friday morning after a fabulous 24 hours of
sailing on a reach with southwest winds. Jay saw our speed hit 8
knots at one point. We passed several fishing boats during the night
and picked up dozens of ships in the shipping channel on the AIS. It
was very exciting to be getting close to our destination. We called
Portland Maine to clear customs and a custom's agent met us at Goat
Island and took our clearance papers from Bermuda. Old Port Marine
gave us a mooring close to Joe and Marge's condominium, and after
tidying the boat, we took the launch to the Bonniecrest dock. The
boat is back in New England after two years away. It was a successful
voyage on many fronts: no storms, no injuries, no major mishaps, the
boat performed perfectly. Welcome will be moored in Provincetown
Harbor for the summer. The boat is up for sale. We have done what we
wanted to do - long distance cruising. If there is another boat in
our future, it will be for a different purpose (crossing the
atlantic?). It has been great fun. We appreciate those who have
joined us vicariously through this blog. May you have fair winds and
following seas.
Team Welcome

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Exiting the Gulf Stream

Greetings from 38 07.129N 069 13.853W. It is 1810 on May 20. We are
225 nautical miles from Newport, RI. Sea temperature is 69.5 and
falling; down from a high of 75 degrees today. Current is 1.2 knots
north, down from 3.5 knots north. Wind right now is 10 knots from the
northeast, after last night's high of around 30 knots. Right now we
are sailing at a comfortable 5 knots and watching the sun set.
Despite the winds from the northeast all night, and the currents
flowing north in the Gulf Stream, the waves in the Gulf Stream never
reached a level which produced much concern or great queasiness.
During the night we switched sail combinations several times to try to
stabilize the heel. At times we were standing almost perpendicular
with our feet on the port side of the cockpit as the wind and the
waves pushed us forward. But, all in all, it has been lovely sailing.
A few boats showed up on the AIS system, but none have been spotted by
us. The front we crossed produced some very light and quick showers,
but it only lasted about 10 hours. The highest winds were when we were
crossing the front. The barometer has risen to 1029, and we expect a
high pressure system to stay with us for the rest of the trip. This
certainly has been the least eventful crossing on record for the crew
of the Welcome.

We did have a chance to ascertain the adequacy of the leak repairs and
are pleased to report that the silicone application appears to have
been a huge success. Full battery replacement addressed our
electrical problems. We still have ice, although the reefer has a lot
of suds in it - somehow dishwashing liquid made its way into the
icebox, and with all the hard sailing, the box is now filled with dish
liquid foam. The weather cloths have been a superb addition - the
cockpit has been much drier than ever before, even as water and waves
soaked the port railing and waves sloshed over the bow.

We will be visiting with Joe and Marge Turley in Newport. The big
question now is when to take the boat from Newport to its Provincetown
base for the summer. The trip is about 75 nautical miles. It could
be a very long day, or consume a whole weekend. DT is debating whether
it should be this weekend or next. Timing is critical for passing
through Cape Cod Canal. Jay flies out of Providence on Sunday. Kel
will make his plans when we land - presumable sometime Friday. While
we do not want to ask for bad luck by concluding too much too soon,
but at some risk we feel inclined to declare that this has been a
sweet (and very long) trip.

Team Welcome.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19, 2009 Entry

It is 1530 on May 19, 2009. We hit the Gulf Stream this morning and
the expected weather front about an hour and a half ago. After more
than 24 hours of motoring in winds of less than 5 knots, a front has
never been more welcome. Even in the Gulf Stream. No rain yet, but
the winds have picked up to 15-20 knots NE, and we are finally sailing
again with all sails without the noise of the iron sail. Our current
position is 36 01.990 N 067 36.931 W. We will probably be in the
Gulf Stream for another 150 nautical miles. It has given us the
opposite of every other crossing - calm seas and little wind. It is a
nonevent - so far. It was piping hot this morning, and we opened the
hatches to cool the cabin. The water temperature fluctuates, but
remains in the low 70s. We have a slight current to the North, but
nothing significant at this time. 367 nm to Newport.

At around 2230 last night, on Kel's watch, the engine stopped cold.
We had drained the fuel tank dry. It took about an hour to refuel,
clean the inevitable mess from fueling at sea, and get running again.
Because we did not try to run the engine prior to refueling, it did
not need to be bled.

Yesterday's quiet gave us an opportunity to cut into a large
watermelon in the cockpit which was purchased in Bermuda. Scrambled
eggs for breakfast this morning. Lots of fluids. Food consumption
increases when there is less rocking, and decreases in high wind.

Team Welcome

Monday, May 18, 2009

35 Hours in Bermuda

Welcome arrived in Bermuda Fridy at 2130 EST after 6 and one half days
at sea and 930 nautical miles. The last two days had us beating
against a northeast wind and strong northeast current. We ran the
engine with the sails up for 27 hours. About ten miles offshore, we
called Bermuda Harbour Radio on international channel 27 for clearance
to enter St. George's Harbour. After ascertaining the number of people
on and the safety equipment and the various offical number associated
with the equipment, we received clearance. In fact, the fellow called
us three separate times to repeat that we remained clear to enter as
we were making a tricky approach to the Town Cut in the dark with the
engine roaring. St. George's Harbour was a welcomed haven of relative
calm. It was filled with more than two hundred visiting sailboats
awaiting the 2009 ARC rally to Europe which starts on May 20. The
authorities left the Customs and Immigration office open for us and
for two other boats that followed us later that evening. It was a
generous and surprising gesture after having endured the
inefficiencies of clearance procedures in the various Caribbean
countries.

We were met at the dock by Bernie, who was expecting us. We had
e-mailed Captain Smoke's Marina in anticipation of our arrival to
reserve a dock space. Bernie is a charming older man who was born on
the island and is as friendly as they come. He did a quick hitch
around the dock post and advised us to keep the motor running - in
case we could not start it again. He must speak from experience. We
staggered off the boat, our bodies still rocking after all that time
at sea. We grabbed counters and walls to steady ourselves. Bermuda
added a form to its usual stack - we had to fill out a health form
declaring that nobody died on the boat while we were at sea, and that
we did not have the plague. We assume that this was yet another
paranoid and bureaucratic response to the swine flu. We also assumed
they were inquiring about human animals, and wisely did not mention
all the dead flying fish.

Docking at Captain Smoke's is always a joy. It is the equivalent to
asking a blind man to thread a needle. We were required to dock bow
in between two boats that seemed to be about five feet apart. Welcome
is 11 feet wide. The whole village appeared on the dock to watch the
fun. The people on the boat to our port got out of bed and onto their
deck to fend off. We know this because the matron was tying a terry
bathrobe around her. Who in their right mind brings a terry bathrobe
onto a small sailboat for a long voyage? HOw do they have the room to
hang bulky bathrobes? The folks to starboard also appeared to defend
their vessel. Bernie shouted unintelligible instructions from the
pier. We made it through the eye of the needle successfully and
without any shouting on board. Our bow plank to land was put in place
and a rug placed under it to limit the damage to our boat. The sloop
to starboard, Brain Waves, was occupied by an internet acquaintance,
Rod Lawrence. His brother-in-law shipped his sailboat from Michigan
to the east coast and he and a few buddies sailed to Bermuda. They
had stayed for a week and were sailing back the next morning. The boat
will then be trucked back to Michigan. Rod had cruised the internet in
preparation for the trip and found our blog last year. He asked for
some advice on the passage and he and I exchanged several e-mails. It
was a delight to finally meet him. The crew of Welcome ate a
delicious Mac and Cheese dinner and shared a bottle of South African
wine. We fell exhausted into our damp sleeping bags on our damp bunks.

The morning was filled with laundry, showers, and catching up on
e-mail. Captain Smoke's has upgraded its sole shower and its
electrical system. Hot water was plentiful, and we were not required
to hit a pipe on the roof of the building to get the water running. By
late morning, we were well into the list of chores to be accomplished
on land. Jay's pleas for lunch were ignored. Kel arrived in the early
afternoon. With four of us on board, we were efficient in our work.
Kel has great mechanical skills derived from growing up in rural
Zimbabwe where machines are fixed, not replaced. Cushions were put
out to be cleaned and dried. The water tanks were refilled. We tried
getting the encrusted salt flakes off the deck and canvas. We removed
and replaced the four house batteries. We assigned Kel to the engine
compartment, where we asked him to remove and reinstall the engine
battery not just once, but twice. This was because late in the day,
the four batteries ordered in advance and waiting for us morphed into
five batteries. After the four battery project was finished and the
engine battery replaced with the strongest old battery, we again
replaced the engine cranking battery with a new one. Kel had to
removed the raw water strainer so we could measure the necessary
fittings to install the new strainer, but then once again replaced the
old strainer when the hardware store did not have the necessary parts.
The autohelm was given a shot of grease. Ann was assigned to diagnose
the leak in the forward cabin. She discovered some wetness and rot
forward of the bunk from the anchor well. Silicone was applied to stem
the water splashing from the anchor well and seeping into the forward
cabin. Ann also sealed the chain holes on deck. Jay and DT diagnosed
and cured (we hope) the leak by the aft bunk. We listened to the
fight between a boat owner and a paid crew on a neighboring boat, and
then the crew member disappeared - presumably he stormed away.
Another boat owner sat waiting for paid crew to appear to deliver his
boat to Conneticut without him at a cost of $3,000.

Sometime later in the day, Kel mentioned that Bermuda operates on
Atlantic Standard Time. Much to our surprise, we were running an hour
behind the rest of the island. Off to the grocery store we walked.
With two carts, we searched the small store for appealing items to
fill our carts. We bought a lot of yogurt, cheese, fruit and
beverages. Jay sent us off to a waterfront bar while he arranged
delivery and then set about organizing the food on board. We had a
very nice dinner at the Carriage House, which was the site of DT's
birthday dinner two years ago. No one was concerned about eating too
much since it seemed impossible after barely eating for the prior
seven days.

The next morning, we pushed off from the marina and went to the fuel
dock. Ann resisted the pressure to stay on board and waved goodbye to
us at 0830 EST. We once again received clearance from Bermuda Harbour
Radio - this time to leave. We were in Bermuda 35 hours.

Upon leaving, the wind was NE 10-15 knots. We spent about two hours
getting beyond the reef that surrounds Bermuda and then set off for
Newport, 630 miles away at a heading of 346 degrees. The wind died
around sunset and we are now motoring in less than five knots of wind.
Currents have been quirky. We were accompanied by a fleet of spotted
dolphins for a little while last night. There are a lot of
Man-O-Wars. We have seen a few other sailboats, but no ships. The
early night sky was moonless and filled with stars. Eventually we
hauled in the jibs to quiet the slapping of the sails, but the main
remains up. It is a dry day with chores being sought on deck to take
advantage of the sun and warmth. Appetites are back. We even ate a
hot dinner last night and now sadly out of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Battery replacements have been deemed a success.

OUr position at 1110 on 5/18 is 34 02.133N 066 08.82W. We should hit
the Gulf Stream at little north of 35 degrees and sometime within the
next 24 hours. We are also expecting a weather front tomorrow later
in the day which will bring rain. The Gulf Stream is the widest it has
ever been on our rhumbline. We speculate that it may mean a less
forcefull north current. We will let you know.

Team Welcome

Friday, May 15, 2009

Nearing Bermuda

It is 1216 on May 15, 2009.  Our position is 31 34.444N  064 30.918W.  We are 48 miles south of Bermuda.  Wind is northeast at 20 knots.  Seas are 6'.  It is sunny, with a few clouds.  The barometric pressure has soared to 1025.  Sea temperature has dropped to 71 degrees.  Sleeping at night now requires a sleeping bag. We are wearing heavier clothing during the days and wear foul weather gear on deck.  The canvas and instruments on the boat are encrusted with salt from the spraying sea.
 
Yesterday we refueled at sea and put in 22 gallons of diesel.  Because we have been running the engine so much to recharge the batteries, and now to combat the NE wind, our consumption rose to 3/4 gallon per hour. It is a difficult task to aim the spouts and then lift the 45 pound jetty jugs over the little diesel intake hole without spilling it in a rolling sea.  The other concern is to prevent the breaking waves from also entering the fuel tank and contaminating it all.  The cabin still smells like diesel from all of the fuel we got on our foul weather gear.
 
Shortly after the refueling adventure, we were surrounded by dolphins - most likely bottle nose dolphins.  For a good twenty minutes jumped and raced beside the boat.  There were a lot of smaller fish jumping nearby, so we assume that they were feeding.  Occasionally, a dolphin would leap into the air and travel ten feet before splashing back into the ocean.  They are powerful mammals.  We have also seen Portuguese Man-O-Wars floating nearby.  From a distance, they almost look like plastic but as you near them, you can see the calzone like crest and see the translucent blue and pink tinges.
 
Our destination in Bermuda is Captain Smokes Marina in St. George's Harbor.  The docking situation there is bow in with a plank leading to the boat from shore.  We will have access to shore electricity, a head, showers and water.  The affiliated marine store has promised to have new batteries waiting.  Bernie has promised us the best spot - although we do not think that any spot in the marina is particularly easy given the plank.  We are eager to get there, because all of the bunks are wet, as are the sleeping bags, and we want a chance to dry everything out before we set off on the most difficult leg of the journey across the Gulf Stream.  Certain crew members are also convinced that we are out of food, even though we easily have five days worth of provisions on board.
 
Ann will be leaving us for Seattle.  Kel will be joining us from San Francisco.  We hope to push off on Sunday, although that decision will be based on the weather.  It is unlikely that the blog will be updated until we are back at sea.
 
Team Welcome
 
 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tale of Two Watches

It was the best of watches, followed by the worst of watches.  The evening started off with a star strewn sky with no ambient light disturbing the dazzling show.  Jay watched the moon rise shortly after 11 pm.  All were mesmerized by the cloudless sky and the brilliant show of stars.  There was so little wind that we started the engine.  When DT got off watch at 6 am, she noted some building clouds to the east.  Ten minutes later, Jay, the new watch captain,  was slammed with winds in the 30's and pouring rain.  His light weather foulies were inadequate and water seeped through his clothing. The seas rose and began smashing into the boat and soaking everything in sight.  Water even made its way below and soaked two of the bunks.  The contrast was startling.  We went from wishing that the sailing would continue forever to counting the seconds before we reach land.
 
It is 1605 and we are reporting in form 29 42.324N  64 07.621W.  We are approximately 165 miles from Bermuda.  We are running on a combination of sail and motor.  The main has two reefs and we have the staysail up.  The seas remain rough, but the wind has abated to around 20 knots.  A shift of wind to the northeast has slowed our progress to our destination.  There is a slight current to running to the west.  The only safe position in the cabin is either prone on a bunk or hanging on to the railings.  Needless to say, food consumption has been minimal.  The sun is shining now, and the clouds are gone. We hope that the waves will follow the example of the clouds and disappear.  Stay tuned.  Team Welcome.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nearing Bermuda

Our position is 27 15.006N  63 37.476W.  It is 1358.  Winds remain from the east and are 10-15 knots.  We are 310 mile south of Bermuda.  After an overcast morning, the sky is bright and the air comfortable.  The water temperature is 75.3 degrees.  Watches are getting easier as the wind is steady and not strong.  We have had all three sails up almost all of the way so far.  The triumphs of life are small out here.  We are getting used to the monotony - in a very positive way.  Unfortunately, our good days make for boring blog entries.  Ann cut up the cantaloupe for breakfast - a big event for us.  Mostly, we just chat and read.  Because we have used relatively little water - less than one 40 gallon tank so far, we have been taking short showers.  Washing off the accumulation of lotion and salt is very luxurious. 
 
Last night a 600 foot cargo ship likely bound for the Azores passed less than a mile off of our stern.  While that may seem far away, we can assure you that at sea, it is very close.  We could see its wake in the moon light.  All crew on Welcome watched from the deck as we debated whether to alter course.  We also spotted our first sailboat which turned east after being on a parallel track for several hours at night. 
 
Jay continues to find suicidal flying fish on the deck.  We debate setting up a patrol to try to get them back in the water before they die.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday, May 12

Greetings at 1215 from 24 24.82N  063 10.196W.  It is a lovely day at sea, and the air temperature is lower than it has been, but it is still sleeveless shirts and shorts weather.  Sea temperature is 76 degrees. Wind is 10-15 knots.  The wind has veered slightly south east, making our sail a little more comfortable. Hatches are open in the boat for the first time providing needed ventilation. The crew is even able to read without feeling ill. We are hugging our rhumb line and have 483 miles to go.  We will pass the halfway mark today. There is no way to describe the sailing other than as perfect.
 
We continue to conserve electricity.  The ice in the reefer is gone.  We have run the engine to recharge the batteries 22 hours so far. We just refilled the fuel tank and our consumption is a modest .40 gallons per hour. 
 
Our version of excitement:  A star or satellite or new planet that has sat in the sky 20 degrees off the horizon to port.  A middle of the night inspection of all through hull valves to try to determine why the bilge pump was running so frequently - we concluded that we were not sinking.  Phosphorescent spinning in our wake in the total darkness before the moonrise at 2115.  A mysterious cargo ship overtaking us in the middle of the night.  A leaky water tank seal allowing the MRI mattress to become soaked.  Scrambled eggs for breakfast. Repairs on the cabin door knob.
 
But, we do also have the occasional moment to relax.  Long distance sailing is a combination of terror, boredom, peace and immersion in nature.  It is hard to find this place in our everyday lives.  Team Welcome.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sargasso Sea (Spell Check Please)

We have exited the Caribbean Sea and entered the Sargasso Sea.  The sea temperature has dropped from 82 degrees to 77 degrees.  The unique seaweed which gives the area its name floats around us.  Wind remains easterly 10-15 knots.  The sun is blazing in the sky at 1530.  We are 620 nautical miles from Bermuda at 22 10.042N 062 46.937W.  Water depth is over 19,000 feet deep.
 
We had the most exciting evening yet last night during Jay's watch.  A sudden squall put the boat on its starboard side causing Ann and Donna to race up on deck to help tame the boat.  No one had the opportunity to watch the wind speed, but visibility dropped to 5 feet and it was the strongest wind felt on this voyage. We struggled in the downpour to keep the boat just off the wind as the Genoa was furled using the winch.  The storm passed as quickly as it arrived but left three dripping sailors in its wake. Jay's watch was also marked by the heroic save of a flying fish that was flapping on the deck.
 
The house batteries remain a challenge.  We have limited electrical draws to a minimum.  We are using a handheld GPS, laptops and lights are turned off when not in use, and amperage is watched closely.  Still, we are recharging about 6 out of every 24 hours. The meter shows only a 72% efficiency for the current four batteries.  Despite the constant attempts at proper maintenance of the battery banks, new batteries may be in our future.
 
The days are filled with maintaining hydration, constant administration of sun block, and occasional repairs.  Today we tightened the stuffing box, tracked a short on the Simrad chartplotter, replaced a sump pump switch, and sewed a torn zipper on the dodger.  Luckily, we are well prepared with spare parts and there is little we cannot fix while at sea - except for batteries. DT has spent a lot of time rigging the windvane and studying it.  One of these days, we might even engage its services.
 
The team reports no sea sickness.  Any threat disappeared as the crew stopped taking Stugeron.
 
Satellite communication remains sporadic - we understand that Globalstar lost many satellites and has not been able to replace them as of yet.  We will continue to try to create a blog every day, but it is unlikely we will see or can respond to individual e-mails.  When we get to Bermuda, we should be able to get an internet connection for the day or two we are there and will catch up with individual correspondence. 
 
Team Welcome.
 
 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday, May 10

The winds are still easterly around 20 knots. We are 766 nautical miles from Bermuda.  Our cordinates are 32 22.447N  064 41.024W.  There is a little cloud cover right now, which is a relief from the pounding sun.  Most of the day has been spent napping, on watch, listening to books on tape and having quiet interactions.  All sails are up and there is still a lot of heel, making moving around the cabin difficult.  Reading feels risky.  The batteries seem to drain more quickly than they should.  Jay is advocating a new set once in Bermuda.  It is unpleasant to have to turn on the engine every few hours to recharge.  We are running the navigation equipment, autopilot and refrigeration.  With that consumption, we should only need to recharge once a day.  DT set up the Monitor Wind Vane and will run it during her next watch to see if we can wean ourselves from the autopilot.  Ann made a fruit salad for lunch.  It was a great break from crackers and yogurt.  We have spotted a few cargo ships.  There is an occasional bird, and lots of flying fish.  The weather charts showing that the wind will be diminishing as we reach 25 degrees North.  That will be another two days, and at that point, we may have to motor.  No mutinies, sea sickness or other events to report.  We get no news out here except for our own weather reports.  It is odd to be so removed, and also really nice.  Team Welcome.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Greetings from the Caribbean

Greetings from 17 23.902 North, 061 59.427W.  Our course is a straight 5 degrees to Bermuda.  Total run will be approximately 940 nautical miles.  Right now, we are 90 minutes away from sunset.  Winds are from the east 15-20 knots.  Waves are 5-6 feet.  All sails are up, and we are cruising along on a reach at approximately 6 knots.
We spent the last two nights at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina in Falmouth Harbor.  It is a marina for mega yachts.  We were dwarfed by the breathtaking beauties around us.  Customs and Immigration is a short walk away in English Harbor.  Allegedly, it opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. daily.  There, a captain has to check in with Customs, go to the Immigration desk next to the Customs desk, and then cross the hallway to pay the Port Authority.  You cannot vary this sequence.  The Customs officer did not show up until close to 11 a.m., so the remaining staff sat idle, unable to process the dozens of people who came by in order to be compliant with the law.  When Captain Jay was finally able to meet with the Customs official and move to the next desk, the immigration folks said "Yes?"  He had to explain that he was sent to the immigration desk (next to the Customs desk) and he had no idea why he was there, but hoped that she might know. Do not forget your pen or your money when you check in.  The authorities DO NOT lend pens to beggars trying to fill the proper forms.  Also, forget having any emotions - nice doesn't get you anywhere and anger solves even less.  In order to avoid the wait this morning to check out, we went back to Customs and Immigration yesterday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.  Unfortunately, Customs had closed early - unannounced. 

We were able to take advantage of shore showers yesterday and today.  Despite the lack of hot water, it was wonderful to wash off the buildup of sunblock. We also were able to get some laundry done.

Jay and DT spent yesterday getting fuel, water, additional provisions and engaged in the constant maintenance and repair that defines living on a boat. The stuffing box was leaking, and two of the hose clamps had broken.  Jay married odd sized clamps so that we could manage the three inch span.  Ann came in around 4:30 and it was great to have a reunion on Welcome. Jay bought each of us a shirt with the insignia of the local sailmaker, and we debated whether we should wear the shirts at the same time.  I think the final vote was "too dorky". Ann was kind enough to lug from Seattle a new engine raw water intake filter and a new COB strobe light.  We spent the next two hours fixing and installing both.  The raw water intake filter Jay asked Beth to get was a size too large, and while the larger capacity is irrelevant, the existing engine hoses were too small.  So, the leaking old one was repaired with some underwater expoxy and reinstalled. We had a fine dinner of pizza, which was surprisingly similar to the cheese and crackers we had as an appetizer.  Gourmets we are not.  Everyone slept well.

This morning we went back to English Harbor to clear out, and once again the Customs agent was late for work.  Today he was only 90 minutes late.  Or maybe that is early for him.  Regardless, it does seem ridiculous and delayed our start by a few hours.  Checking into French islands is so much easier.  You just mosey up to a PC terminal and fill in your information - 24/7.  The French understand that they need to get you into their shops and cafes ASAP so you will spend your tourist dollars.

We ate breakfast at an outside bar, bought new hose clamps, spent the remaining Eastern Caribbean dollars at the quick mart, and cast off around 11:30.  We are back on 3 hour watches around the clock.  That rotation will give each individual a different watch series each day.  The crew will be better rested on this leg than on the last.  We are very pleased that Ann agreed to join us at almost the last minute.  She been on other adventures with Welcome, knows the boat well, keeps calm in a crisis, and is a good sailor.  While we do miss Michael, three is a perfect number for this voyage. 

Team Welcome

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Antigua

    We are sitting at Antigua Yacht Club Marina, dwarfed by the mega yachts that surround us.  In fact, we are so small, we hope that we will not be noticed tomorrow as they tour the docks to collect the fees.  Our deck sits well below the dock and we have to step up to get to the cement pier.  We were lucky when we came in because there were two small boat owners near us who explained the mystery of how you dock to a pier that has no cleats.  There are chains around the pilings that we used.  Seven fenders are out in an attempt to keep us from smashing into the pier.  We first went to English Harbor, but the Med moorings had DT stymied, so we rounded the corner to Falmouth Harbor.  We had a first hot meal - a terrible mixture of green pasta and bottled sauce. The Argentina wine was awful as well.  It was the best meal so far.
    Tomorrow we check into customs and greet Ann, the crew for the next leg.  We have relatively few chores - fixing the running lights, updating provisions, maybe replacing the engine water strainer with the one Ann is bringing with her in her duffel bag.  She is also bringing a strobe light - the current one has failed.  I am not sure why we are not getting a new battery, but better safe than sorry.
    The ride up from Grenada was hairy at times, but our average speed was 6.1 knots.  The waves were choppy, and towards the end of the day the swells were around 10 feet tall. It is truly exhausting having three hour watches.  Effectively, that means no more than 2.5 hours of sleep at a time.  It is hard to be hungry in these conditions.  We expect to leave here on Saturday and it should be a seven day run to Bermuda - weather permitting.  Ann leaves Bermuda on the 17th.  Kel arrives in Bermuda on the 16th to join us for the Newport leg across the Gulf Stream and through the dreaded Bermuda Triangle. We hope to make Newport Memorial Day weekend to visit with Joe and Marge. Life seems pretty good right now.
    Team Welcome
   

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ahoy

Ahoy - We left Le Phare Bleu Marina in Grenada yesterday at 1500 and traveled at a good clip all night.  We took three hour watches, which are exhausting. We will be very happy to add a third crew memberin Antigua.  Winds today have been easterly 20-30 knots.  Whitecaps abound, and occasionally a big wave soaks the cockpit.  It is quite hot in the cabin, because we cannot open portholes with waves regularly smashing on the deck.  We now have the staysail flying with one reef in the main.  We expect to get to Antigua tomorrow evening, and will be very grateful for a shower. Total run will be about 310 nautical miles.  Not much to report in the food department - it is too rough to cook or eat.  We are trying to stay hydrated. Traffic is scarce. In the last 27 hours we have seen 5 other boats, but none have been sailboats.  We tried to listen to Herb on the radio but we could not make out his voice.  For those of you who have just tuned in, Herb is an Ontario based weather guru who guides sailors throughout the North Atlantic and Caribbean, offering micro weather predictions and an occasional dressing down for the neophytes.  We dare not let him know we are listening for fear he will yell at us.  As you can tell, we finally have the satellite modem up and running, but for how long, we do not know.  Team Welcome reporting in from 16 17.956 N  061 57.155W.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Welcome to Welcome

We arrived in Grenada late Sunday night after a three hour flight from Miami.  The crew member in business class had a wonderful pasta dinner with wine, and an empty seat behind him.  The crew member in coach was unlucky enough to be seated next to a drunk from Sarasota on his way to pick up a boat for a Texas delivery. Cheese and crackers were offered at $4.  In retrospect, the offer of a $150 upgrade seems like a bargain.   Upon arrival, all airport personnel were wearing those white germ masks to avoid Swine Flu from the Miami passengers.  We were met by health officials holding stethoscopes, and had to fill out a card swearing that we did not have symptoms.  I do not know what happened to those unfortunate passengers with sniffles.
The boat was alongside at the dock.  No hatches were open, so it was a little stuffy.  The bilge was full, mostly of fresh water from the mysterious water tank leak. The boat was otherwise in good condition.  DT slept outside, until rain forced her into the MRI berth. 
Monday was filled with projects.  Fixing the oven thermocoupler with the part brought in from the States proved to be a huge job.  It involved drilling the bottom of the stove and a trip to the store to get a 1/8 inch drill bit that actually worked.  The task was finished at 10 pm.  Jay ran the new main halyard.  Our missing dinghy and engine mysteriously appeared.  There was new canvas on the boat and the wood work had all been touched up, so things were looking pretty spiffy.  We spent an hour in town gathering provisions.  We bought an unorganized assortment of cheeses, eggs, milk, gatorade, 60 liters of drinking water, bread, yogurt, mustard, chocolate, tortilla shells, beans, rice, apples, bananas, pineapple, oranges, pasta, crackers, cookies, butter and who knows what else.    Kate had also given us granola, muffin mix and biscotti.  Jay spent several hours storing everything.
Today we are rolling up the dinghy, getting fuel, finishing up last minute tasks, checking out at customs, and taking off for Antigua.  Ann arrives in Antigua on Friday and will accompany us to Bermuda.  Antigua is about 310 nautical miles away - about 2.5 days of sailing.  Winds are easterly 15-20 right now.  We will shoot up the lee side of the Windward Islands - destination, Falmouth Harbor.  We will try to blog using the satellite phone, but the connection is a little iffy, so we may not write again until Friday. 

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Final Photos -Bermuda to Antigua










Saturday, December 01, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

WE MADE IT!

We pulled into Falmouth Harbor, Antigua at approximately 9 a.m. on Thursday, 950 nm from Bermuda, and after 7 days of sailing. Jay dropped DT off at the Antigua Yacht Club to clear Customs. All of the entry instructions clearly indicate that the Master must go ashore to clear, and the crew must stay on board. DT went ashore only because her name is on the title to the boat. Alas, the Customs official sent her scurrying back to the boat to secure Jay's signature in three places. A very long process that cannot be easily accomplished if the folks who need to the sign the documents are required to stay on the boat.

The various marinas in Falmouth Harbor were preparing for the charter boat show. There were incredible mega yachts on the docks and at anchor from all over the world. Paid crew were scrubbing and polishing is an effort to book additional weeks. Their income is tied to the number of weeks the boat is chartered. We were definitely the poor cousins in WELCOME. Because of the boat show, docking options were limited. The only marina that could keep the boat for three weeks was Catamaran Marina, and they offered us a space off of the parking lot without any security. We docked there, but during our stay, we were approached by several people asking to watch our boat for us, and we determined that the amount of foot traffic near the boat did not bode well for a three week stay. Jay contacted Jolly Harbor Marina, on the northwest side of Antigua, and we headed to that port. Despite the fact that we did not finally get settled until nearly 4 p.m. that day, we were glad we made the change. The folks at Jolly Harbor are friendly, and they have set us up with Peter Glasgow, a fellow who will redo the bright work on the boat during the time that it sits in the marina without passengers. North Sails picked up all three sails for repairs. Jay and DT went to the local marine store, which is the best we have seen in the Caribbean. The local supermarket is also excellent. DT walked to the beach for a well deserved swim. We had to tie up bow against the dock, and the stern tied to a post. There are no other boats next to us, and we think that it is a fine spot.

Friday was filled with many many chores, including cleaning the boat, greasing the ram drive for the autopilot, stowing the fuel containers, replacing the staysail furling line, replacing the lines for the lazy jacks, packing, laundry, etc. Jay left for Seattle via San Juan and Orlando on Friday afternoon. DT leaves for Boston on Saturday. Jay and Liza return on the 18th for two weeks, and will sail the boat to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. Donna and Kate will arrive on the boat at the end of January for a tour of the islands in that area. It is likely that the boat will be in Grenada in storage for the summer, and at sea in the Caribbean again next winter. If it gets a lot of use, then this area may offer an indefinite home. If the boat is not used, then, very sadly, it will be sold.

This has been an excellent adventure. We really appreciate the support of those who have read the blog. Knowing of your interest is half the fun. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fair Winds and Following Seas

The winds are 15-20 from the east, and the seas are now set from the northeast. We have shaken out the reef on the main, and are on a reach using the full main and the staysail. Alas, we have no big jib to use. Our pace has slowed to somewhere between 5 and 6 knots, but it still looks like we will land in Antigua within 24 hours. We are 128 miles from Falmouth Harbor, which we believe will offer us the best access to chandleries, provisioning, and historic charm. Our current position is 18 58.5 N 062 08.3 W. The sun is out and this is a perfect sailing day. Our spirits are good as we ready the boat for a few weeks at the dock. This mostly involves sitting in the cockpit and thinking about how to best utilize our time on shore before we head back to our homes.

We hit a few small rain squalls yesterday afternoon. We saw one cargo ship last night before the AIS picked it up. Jay called Trevor in Seattle to trouble shoot, since our expectation is that AIS should alert us to ships that are 30 miles away. It was disconcerting to have it in view before it was picked up by the electronics. Regardless, it posed no danger. Prior to the rising of the moon, the night sky glowed with stars. It is remarkable how many stars one can see without any ambient light. This morning, we saw that our vessel had become the graveyard for two flying fish. Services are at noon.

Team Welcome.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We have made excellent mileage since leaving Bermuda last Thursday. We have only 235 nautical miles left before we arrive in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. We expect to arrive Thursday morning. Our average speed has risen to 5.7 nm, but the last few days in the trade winds have been faster than that. Right now winds are ESE 21-27 knots – a lot lighter than the gale force winds of yesterday. The barometer reads 1018. Our position is 22 05.78N 062 28.59 W. Water temperature is 81.6. We spent much of yesterday below in the cabin trying to stay dry. Today the seas are still sloppy, but not so much as to regularly soak the cockpit. There is little to do in terms of projects – it is just too rough. We can sit in the cockpit, though, and that feels wonderful. Not much to report: one flying fish carcass on deck, no ships or other vessels sighted within the last 24 hours. One cargo ship came up on the AIS, but it was 12 miles away so we could not see it.

One of the delightful things about warm weather cruising is that our only "gear" outside of shorts and shirts are the lifejacket, harness and tether. No long johns or foul weather suits. We have not worn shoes since Bermuda – quite a luxury for us. Of course, hats and sunglasses are necessary, as is sun block.

Many vessels contacted Herb on the SSB yesterday. One boat was in Trinidad. Another in the Canary Islands. Another in the western Caribbean, closer to the Panama Canal. Our attempts to join the conversation have failed, but it may be due to operator error. We need to get out the instruction booklet. It was quite enjoyable to listen to others describe their positions and to be able to identify their location on the chart. It seems amazing that we can listen to someone thousands of miles away. Thank you Mr. Marconi. One boat who called in was about 40 miles from us, so we did hear the forecast that the trade winds would lighten over night – the prediction was right.

We did not eat much yesterday because of the rough seas. Today, we will continue to try to eat the remainder of the perishables – mostly yogurt and cheese. Maybe we will have a hot meal tonight. We have pasta left and some Trader Joe's Indian food. It is hard to cook as the seas toss the boat, even with the gimbeled stove. It makes crackers quite appealing. It all depends on the weather.

Team Welcome.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Greetings from Nares Abyssal Plain

Noontime. Monday, November 26, 2007. Winds are howling at 30 knots from the East / Northeast, with higher gusts. The swells are large and the seas choppy. Sitting in the cockpit involves frequent douses of sea water. Luckily, the water temperature is a most pleasant 80.1 F. Our main has a single reef in it. The staysail is flying. We blew out the genoa this morning while trying to furl it, so it is out of commission. We are on a beam reach. Position is 23 32.597 N 062 53.865 W. Our moving average speed since leaving Bermuda has increased from 5.2 knots to 5.6 knots. We have seen speeds mostly in the high 6's and low 7's today, with an occasional surprise in the 8's. 390 nm to Antigua. At this rate, Jay will make his flight out on Friday.

Last night we saw another sailboat pass from the east in front of us. We were approximately ½ mile away. It was our third boat sighting on this leg. We have not resolved our battery issues, and were forced to do an early morning recharge after running the autopilot and refrigerator overnight. We have plenty of fuel left, even if we had to motor the rest of the way.

The last few days we have been trying to consume the perishables – refrigerated items and fruit. There will be plenty of non perishables on board for Jay and Liza's Christmas At Sea. We had ravioli last night with a tomato sauce. The midnight and 3 a.m. watches often start with hot tea. For breakfast, we had granola, and used the last of our skim milk. We have long life milk in reserve. Still have plenty of carbs and chocolate on board. We are still operating off of our first 40 gallon tank of onboard water, which may not reflect favorably on hygiene. We drink bottled water.

The boat feels safe and is generally working well. It is harder to read in these conditions, or to really do anything except hold on and rock with the waves. We spend time debating the day and time of our arrival in Antigua and writing the to do list. We have added a visit to the sailmaker to that list. We will put Michael's bottles of wine in the refrigerator prior to our arrival so that we can celebrate when we get there.

Team Welcome.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Smooth Sailing

Greetings from 26 06.331 N 063 30.240 W. We are approximately 400 nautical miles from any land. The sea floor is 18,238 feet below us. Temperature is in the mid 70's and the water temperature is 77.6F. The wind is from the east at less than 10 knots. It is sunny out. Last night the moon was full and the moonlight was bright enough for reading. Everything on deck had a shadow.

In addition to propelling the boat forward, we have been busy with the small tasks of sailing in pleasant weather. Whipping lines, preparing meals (pizza last night and scrambled eggs this morning), cleaning, calculating distances and times, polishing metal, trying to understand the multitude of systems on board. When not napping or fixing things, we read old magazines or listen to our Ipods. Jay filled his Ipod with books on tape – his criterion was any book over 20 hours long. Right now he is listening to the Count of Monte Cristo (48 hours). DT's Ipod has saved NPR segments and missed "This American Life" programs.

We are now getting our weather from Herb on the SSB. At 3:40 each day, boats north and south of Bermuda, and some off the coast of Africa, check in giving the vessel name. Shortly before 4:00 pm, Herb comes on and acknowledges all boats who have checked in and then speaks with each captain in sequence of where the boat is located, advising the captain of the weather to be expected over the next 24 hours given location and speed. It is quite phenomenal. We have checked in twice. Both times we have been ignored in the roll call. We do not know if our transmission is faulty or we have in some way not abided by the rules of Herb. Interacting with him has all of the mystery and ceremony of appointing a new pope. We are clearly not cardinals. There are blessed boats within 200 miles so we can extrapolate. It appears that we will miss the front that is sweeping north of us and sail right into the NE trade winds tomorrow.

We have been carefully measuring and experimenting with our fuel consumption. If we run our engine at 2000 RPMs, it appears that we can limit our diesel fuel use to less than one-half gallon per hour. This is very exciting because even if we run out of wind, we have enough fuel to get us to Antigua. While we are motoring now, most of yesterday was spent under sail – all three sails powering us. Winds were 10-15 from the SW. It was quiet and wonderful. Starting tomorrow, if the weather prediction is right, we can turn off the motor for the rest of the trip. The peace of sailing offshore in these conditions has no parallel. It is pure joy.

Team Welcome.


 

    

Friday, November 23, 2007

MILK RUN

On Wednesday night we checked out at Customs and Immigration, promising to be gone before the office opened in the morning, which is "usually between 7:30 and 8AM when the first official shows up." We left Bermuda Thanksgiving morning at 8:00 and returned by 9:00. The enthusiasm about being on deck and setting sail was marked by losing the main halyard. It swung wildly before settling for a half dozen turns around the backstay just out of the reach of Jay and the 10' boat hook. Once we returned to St. George's Harbour and set anchor, Donna scrambled to the end of the boom and grabbed it. Actual departure and checkout with Bermuda Harbor Radio was more like 9:30.

Our weather gurus suggested a Thursday afternoon departure to allow the seas to calm a little. However, Welcome handled the 9 -15' seas easily and took advantage of the 20-25 knot NW wind. By the time our evening watches arrived, it had waned to 10 knots, and by midnight, we were motoring. As this is being written, the wind remains elusive. The swells give us big lifts from which to see the horizon, but the smaller waves on the swells have calmed. Here is the weather prediction issued on Wednesday from Dane Clark:

WEATHER OUTLOOK:

LOOKS LIKE A GOOD WEATHER WINDOW FOR YOUR TRIP TO

ANTIGUA.   FOR TOMORROW, NORTHWEST WINDS WILL STILL BE BRISK EARLY BUT SHOULD DECREASE IN THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING BECOMING LIGHT WESTERLY FRIDAY AND ON INTO THE WEEKEND.  AS YOU PASS THROUGH THE BERMUDA RIDGE POSITION, EXPECT WINDS TO BE LIGHT LATE IN THE WEEKEND AND THEN START EASTERLY FOR A DAY OR SO BEFORE SETTING UP INTO NORMAL MODERATE NORTHEAST TRADES.  THESE MODERATE NORTHEAST TROPICAL TRADE WINDS ARE EXPECTED FOR THE REMAINDER OF YOUR TRIP TO THE ISLANDS.


 

FORECASTS FOR YOUR EXPECTED POSTIONS:

11/22 – WINDS NORTHWEST 15-22 KTS.  SEAS 6-9 FEET.  WINDS AND SEAS DECREASING LATE

11/23 – WINDS WESTERLY 10-16 KTS.  SEAS 3-5 FEET

11/24 – WINDS WESTERLY LESS THAN 15 KTS.  SEAS 2-4 FEET.

11/25 – WINDS VARIABLE LESS THAN 10 KTS.  SEAS 1-3 FEET

11/26 – WINDS BECOMING EASTERLY 10-16 KTS.  SEAS 2-3 FEET

11/27 – WINDS EAST NORTHEAST 16-23 KTS.  SEAS 4-6 FEET. 

11/28 – WINDS NORTHEASTERLY 17-24 KTS.  SEAS 5-7 FEET.

11/29 – WINDS NORTHEASTERLY 18-25 KTS.  SEAS 6-8 FEET.  


 

After years of hearing about "SouthBound II Herb" a weather expert that offers free and legendarily accurate advice in the Caribbean from Ontario via the SSB, we finally heard him loud and clear. We were elated that the recently installed SSB radio and reinstalled SSB 23 foot antenna worked so well. Today at 3:45 we will attempt to do our first check in with Herb. More to follow on this topic.

We are now at 30 19.497 N 064 12.930 W waiting for those westerly winds. We have gone 126 miles since leaving, and have another 802 to go before arriving in Jolly Harbor, Antigua. The temperature is mid 70's, it is a sunny day, and the barometer is steady at 1019. Our bearing is 186 degrees magnetic. Water temperature is 76.1 F. We feel some sense of urgency about getting to our destination since we both have plane reservations. We have to average 115 miles per day in order to catch our flights.

This is the milk run of the voyage. Things on board feel easy. We can read underway and appetites have returned. We had enchiladas for dinner last night with basmati rice, and Kate / Liza's granola for breakfast. We settled on two 3 hours watches each at night time, with a more informal watch arrangement during the day. It seems like it will work, although many naps will be in order. Michael picked the wrong time to leave – he would have enjoyed this leg.

Projects on the boat are easier. The halyard was the first event of the leg. Less than an hour after we turned off the engine, we noticed that our battery voltage was 11.v. While we still had some contact with cell towers off of Bermuda, Jay consulted numerous times with Randy. With step-by-step diagnosis and suggestions for remedies, Randy helped solve the problem and shed a bright light were there had previously been only a dim bulb. We carry five large batteries on board, three of which put out 115 amps each, and two brand new ones which put out 105 amps each. We recently replaced the isolator, and our rudimentary analysis indicates that both the alternator and the AC charger are working. In port we wired a 12v plug at the nav-station to run the laptop. With less need for AC power, we decided to forgo use of the inverter since that seems to consume a lot of power. With our autopilot engaged and the minimum electronics running, we consume approximately 10 amps per hour. On the first leg, we also ran an inverter, more lights, more frequent refrigeration and were more casual about running additional and, sometimes duplicative, electronics. However, we were forced to recharge the batteries a lot on the voyage down, which contributed to our fuel woes. Randy suggested that maximum electronic consumption might cost more than a quarter gallon of fuel per engine hour due to the drag of the alternator on the engine.

Of the five batteries, two are stored together under the aft port berth and labeled "Bank 1." Two more are stored forward under the starboard mid-ship berth and labeled "Bank 2." The fifth is the battery linked to starting the engine. We have two battery switches – one switch is tied to the windlass and is always on. It was installed by Randy. The second switch has four possible selections: Off, 1, ALL, and 2. After a series of trials and four years, we have finally discovered that "1" turns on the starting battery, and while you can run all power off of it, you should not. It should be left alone and only used to start the engine. "All" brings in all five batteries to be used to start the engine and/or run the other electrical needs on the boat. "2" puts only the four batteries in Banks 1 and 2 into operation. This selection can also be used to start the engine if the engine battery has gone dead. We had been using "1" thinking it was Bank 1 and the starting battery was not involved. This turns out to be incorrect, and we will now run on Bank 2. Assuming that we can fully recharge the batteries, we think we may have solved our problem. It was a "duh" moment. Thank you for your help, Randy.

In Bermuda while trying to diagnose some of our battery problems we discovered that of the six cells on each battery, one of the six on a new battery was dry. DT bemoaned the fact that she was not in a position to return it to West Marine. Batteries run $165 and weigh around 70 pounds each. We refilled the cell. It ran dry again. We pulled the battery from the bank and saw that sometime during installation, the bottom corner was compromised –probably from maneuvering it into place. Using some sort of magical underwater epoxy known as Eurobond, we mixed the putty and sealed the hole from which small wet tears of battery acid were leaking. Within 30 minutes it was as hard as the original plastic. We refilled the cell. This morning, it remains full. Victory at sea.

The AIS system on the PC has been set up to emit an slightly alarm if a boat carrying the AIS transmission system reaches within 10 miles or 30 minutes of us. It went off for the first time today. This was very exciting, since at the time of the alarm we could not see the boat or pick it up on the radar screen. It was a 525 foot cargo ship bound for Casablanca. When it was within about 7 miles we could finally see it with our eyes.

Life is good. Team Welcome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Abandoning Ship at Captain Smokes
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Repairs underway






Self-steering



More repairs












We will miss you, Michael
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Customs dock in Bermuda



Fall City Pharmacy


Nutrition


Unexpected inflation
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Cold weather for DT



Our lucky charm



Michael - too late to back out



DT at the helm
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Bermuda

We drifted into St. George's Harbour, Bermuda, at 5 a.m. on Monday, November 19, 2007. The last thirty miles had taken 20 hours. We talked to Bermuda Harbour Radio earlier in the day and arranged to have a commercial tow on stand by in the event that the wind kicked up and we ran out of our last precious liters of fuel. When we made the last required radio check for permission to enter around 4 a.m., we were told that we would have to drift offshore for the remainder of the night until the tow operation opened in the morning. We decided to take our chances on the engine, knowing that in the light winds, if we lost power, we could simply turn around and sail off to wait for the tow. Five miles outside of the harbor, we ran the engine. It purred and never sputtered. We kept it at a very low RPM for the final few miles. We dropped anchor in the pitch dark quarantine area known as Powder Hole. Sleep never felt so good.

Around 9 a.m., we cautiously motored over to the Customs Dock. Our friend Bernie, from Cap't Smoke's Marina, met us and directed us to a berth. The customs officer immediately directed us to another. Local politics played out while we used the final fumes of our fuel. While checking in, a crew came in behind us. One of the members had forgotten his passport. His jokes about his Costco card being proof of his citizenship only irritated the Customs official. He was ordered to stay on his boat until his passport could be sent to him. Given that you now need a passport to return to the US, it was a display of American arrogance that made us cringe. As we looked over to the nearby fuel dock, we saw a huge backhoe digging. The Shell station was gone. There is no longer a fuel dock in St. George's Harbour!

Jay eyed the several full fuel jugs on the deck of the Swan 47 tied behind us. He asked for the captain, and requested that he allow us to purchase 5 gallons. Happily he quickly agreed, but stated that the $50 offered was probably much more than the fuel was worth. Later we learned that it was close to market price on the island. We left the dock relieved to have temporarily solved our diesel problem.

Bow first into Captain Smokes. Many dock lines to keep us in place. A long gangplank sitting on our bowsprit separates us from land. Towels and mats litter the sea floor below. The day became a whirlwind of tasks – all of us operating on 3 hours of sleep. Repair the bilge pump. Re install the SSB antenna. Clean the sea water intake filter for the engine. Showers! Check weather. Track down Globalstar technical services and find out the source of our satellite frustrations. Diagnose the wiring for the broken stern light. Top off the batteries. Get laundry done. Repair a port hole that refused to close tightly. Check engine fluids. Bring the fuel containers back and forth to the gas station to fill the tank and the jerry jugs. Purchase four additional 5 gallon fuel containers. Fill the water tanks. Bring a 12v plug to the navigation station. Provision. Clean the refrigerator. Find an insurance company that will insure the boat once it reaches our destination.

Michael left Welcome yesterday – with a mixture of relief and regret. He treated us to a lovely dinner the night before at the finest restaurant in this tiny village. We already miss his good humor, warmth and help. Last night, we ate dinner with a couple from the UK via New York who lost their mast in the same storm that hit us. In huge seas they were forced to cut their stays, running rigging, and sails to get their broken mast and attached boom away from the boat so as to prevent it from puncturing the hull. They were taking a year off to sail, and were in surprisingly good humor. We asked about safety gear. Luckily, a week before the trip, they bought the same rigging cutters that sit in our locker. They had decided to forgo the expense of a life raft, thinking that it was unnecessary. They were obviously right – this time. They are sitting at the dock – the boat naked without its mast, boom and sails. The current project is trying to track down a new mast and figure out how to refit the boat to continue their journey.

Checking into the weather charts and the wisdom of fellow sailors, we saw a huge front coming with seas predicted to be above 30 feet. We decided to sit tight until its passage, although we definitely need to make up mileage on our next leg. Jay has a plane ticket out on November 30, and Donna leaves December 1, both from Antigua. Cast off is tomorrow morning – Thanksgiving Day in the US. We have 930 miles to go. We are catching up on sleep and food and showers.

Rested, relieved and happy, Team Welcome

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paddling to Bermuda

Paddling to Bermuda would be faster than this sailing trip. We are now at 32 52.852 N 64 41.309 W. About 30 miles from St Georges Harbor in Bermuda. It is around 12:30 in the afternoon, Atlantic Standard Time. The barometer has climbed steadily to 1024 from the low a few days ago. Water temp 74.8 F. Our heading 190 degrees. Unfortunately, our speed is 1.95 knots. Wind speed varies from 2 to 8 knots, wandering unsteadily NW to NE. We remain eager to get to Bermuda. The only reason we haven't turned the engine on is that it died yesterday as we were charging the batteries. The engine went dead. A little cough. Gone. On Michael's watch. We spent most of the day addressing various engine issues. Jay essentially rebuilt the fuel pump, replaced the fuel filter, bled the air from the engine, and cleaned the fuel water separator. There is no easy way on this boat to tell how much fuel is in the tank without taking up the table and floor boards. When we last filled the 37 gallon tank, we kept 2 gallons in reserve. Generally, the fuel consumption is 8/10ths of a gallon an hour. It seemed impossible that after 31 engine hours we would be on empty. But, we were. Jay and Michael carefully poured the last two gallons into the tank as waves sloshed on the deck. We ran the engine for ten minutes before killing it. We need to keep the fuel in reserve to make the entrance through Town Cut in Bermuda. Consequently, we have stopped using the batteries except for the most essential tasks, like the compass light. Bank 2 is being kept in reserve. Volts on battery bank 1 have fallen to 9.7. Refrigeration is gone and our cold food smells a little sour. We cannot use the auto pilot. We ran the Monitor Windvane for half the day, but the light winds on our stern made it unreliable. We now hand steer. It is very tiring and boring. We cannot recharge dead ipods to keep us awake. Michael had the last watch of the night and woke us to his cursing as the main sail jibed for the 100th time under his "guidance."

We also lost the SSB antenna yesterday. Jay had to stand on the railing to get it wrapped and under control before it damaged the sail. It was explained to me hat cruising means fixing the boat in different ports around the world. Appetites are increasing. Michael made us a good dinner last night of pasta and butter – the first warm meal that we have eaten together since the first night.

Today is the first day we are fully out of foul weather gear. Some are even wearing shorts. The air temperature is comfortable. We tried flying the asymmetrical genoa, but had little luck with it due to the fluky winds. The hours have become a blur. We are hot bunking, meaning that there are only two beds available, and you sleep on whatever bunk is available. Initially, we used our assigned pillows and sleeping bags. Now, after a watch, we just use whatever pillow and sleeping bag is open on the free bunk.

It looks like our landing will be late tonight. We will not be allowed on shore until after we clear Customs in the morning. We cannot read or respond to e-mails until after we get to an internet cafe. Anyone who is expecting a call, please know that it will not be until Monday. The good sailing vessel Welcome floats like a cork, and that our safety is not in any way diminished by the engine and battery problems. This is a sailing boat, and it does well. We work on convincing Michael that the second leg of this trip will be more fun. We hope that Ann will meet us at Capt. Smokes, as promised. We have a lot of repairs to do before taking off for Antigua on Tuesday. Despite the many challenges, all is well.

Team Welcome.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Squirrel and the Hummer

Friday, November 16, 2007. Team Welcome reporting from 35 55.844N 65 22.031W. 3:00 pm. The winds are NW around 30 knots. This is the lowest we have seen in 24 hours. Last night, the winds were sustained at 55 knots from the SW. Hard to tell how high the seas were last night. The only analogy I could think of is asking a squirrel to estimate the height of the Hummer about to hit it. At some point, it just doesn't matter. We eased off of the rhumb line to lessen the slamming into the waves. We made all of about 6 miles towards are destination overnight. Between the driving rain and the crashing seas, it was impossible to stay dry inside the cabin or in the cockpit. A screaming front finally came through mid day. The barometer dropped to 981. The wind abruptly turned west and then northwest, allowing us to continue in the general direction of Bermuda. If you are not on watch, you are prone in the cabin. Food consumption today so far: Jay has had a yogurt. Michael has had a single biscotti. I pigged out and had three biscotti and an apple. Jay asked how it is possible that people who go on cruises gain weight.

Michael has been quite seasick and my guess is that he will never set foot on a boat again, not even a ferry to P-town. He joined the wrong leg of this voyage, the next should be considerably better. The only positive thing we can say about this storm is that at least we were out of the Gulf Stream. While the waves were big, they were spaced so as to not threaten to roll us. The weather service and charts did forecast the front, but not the strength. The forecast for the remainder of the journey to Bermuda is for lighter winds. Why am I doing this again?

We very much look forward to Bermuda. We expect to arrive on Sunday. We have been blown way off course because of the SW winds, so our arrival is a day late. Michael flies home on Tuesday, and we will cast off for Antigua. Jay's client gave him a glass eye to ward off evil spirits and bad things. It is hanging from the overhead hatch. We will ask it kindly for a gentle journey forward.

DT for Team Welcome.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beyond the Gulf Stream

We exited the south wall of the Gulf Stream this morning. Seas have continued to be rough, and choppy, and the waves are 7 – 10'. Last night, our SE wind went to SW, which is perfect for a crossing, although gusts into the low 40s resulted in a very sloppy ride. We are way off of our agreed waypoints, being unable to fight the current in the direction we wanted, and being unwilling to tack. Unbelievably, the Gulf Stream gave us a push of 4 knots at some points, making our speed over ground an astonishing 9.3 nm while our water speed was in the 5s and 6s. That current pushed us off course, and we are waiting for the predicted wind shift to the NW to get back on course. The other significant feature of the Gulf Stream is the water temperature. You can tell you are in the Stream when the temperature rises. We saw 77.2 degrees last night, but it is now back to 73 degrees. The seaweed of the Sargasso Sea floats around us.

At noon on 11/15/2007 our position is 36 53.811 N, 66 31.200 W. Our bearing to Bermuda is 178 degrees, but our course is approximately 160 degrees due to the wind. Winds remain in the upper 20s and the seas unsettled. Walking in the cabin requires careful thinking and three appendages always touching a solid surface. We are 290 miles from the customs dock in Bermuda.

We have had less equipment failure this time. Something is jamming the intake of the bilge pump, and it can't be diagnosed until we are settled somewhere. The current to the stern light has failed, and the wire needs to be traced. Another dock side job. Smaller issues have been handled in route – the steering wheel fell off on Michael's watch, but a wrench and a little locktite fixed that. As we were on deck yesterday, his life jacket cartridge opened and his jacket blew up around him. It was pretty funny to see him with big cheeks. The inevitable line wrapped around the radar reflector was untangled. Our use of the inverter and the autopilot seems to drain the new batteries faster than expected. That is on the "think about" list.

Food consumption remains minimal. Crackers, nuts, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, occasional fruit and homemade biscotti as snacks have become the meals. Except for the first night out when we enjoyed a hearty soup by Kate, there have been no hot or joint meals. Queasy stomachs prevent much eating. Jay has memorized the nutritional information of each product and tallies up his caloric intake – to what end I am uncertain.

I remain extremely frustrated by our internet connection, and have spent hours each day trying to get messages – in or out. My priority remains getting the weather charts, sending the blog, and then e-mail. Globalstar is supposed to have good coverage in this area, but our experience is that 90% of the satellites must be broken. There are two other providers, but none as cheap. Given an annual fee of $800, my expectations are apparently too high. I will catch up with folks in Bermuda when we have access to internet cafes.

DT and Team Welcome.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sailing for a Cure to Seasickness

It is 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2007. We are 9 miles from our first waypoint in a warm eddy. We hope to use the clockwise current to pick up some speed. Right now, there is a ½ knot current against us. Winds are light from the SE. Our bearing is 161 M. Barometric pressure is rising at 1017. The sea temperature has risen to 61 F. Latitude is 39 01.865 N. Longitude is 067 53.057W. Our boat speed is 5.5 knots with the engine running at 2500 rpms. We just used our spare jerry jugs to refill the 37 gallon fuel tank. We topped off with 28 gallons of diesel making our consumption 8/10ths of a gallon per hour. We have enough fuel on board for approximately 50 hours of steaming. We have been sailing on and off, but the winds have been variable and often light. Until this morning, the seas have been rough. We did not post a blog yesterday because of the rough seas. Michael and Jay were seriously sick, and I woke with a day long piercing headache which prevented me from looking at a screen. All of us spent as much of the day as possible sleeping. It was raining and damp and cold. Sea sickness is an immobilizing illness. Jay, who is usually so eager to tidy things on deck and in the cabin, did not even have the energy to haul in a flapping jib sheet right next to him. Sail changes seem like daunting marathons. Michael managed to eat a single cracker – that was his consumption for the whole day – excluding some beverages and sea sickness drugs. Jay and I had just a little more than that. It was hard being in the cabin without being prone. At one point I had to pull my sleeping bag tightly over my head to try to block out the noise of someone violently retching. Any focus on the noise, and I would have been gone too. Today, everyone is feeling much, much better.

Our first night out, the temperature was in the 30s. We took three hour watches, and by the end of each watch, the person coming off watch would dive into a sleeping bag with foulies on just trying to warm up. Last night it was probably in the high 40s to low 50s. A little more tolerable. Today, we are very grateful for the sun and clear skies. We have all shed our foul weather jackets, but remain in long johns and fleece and boots. Gloves and hats are off for the first time. Once we reach our waypoint, we will head a little more to the SW. Winds are predicted to increase this afternoon as we enter the stream.

When we passed by George's Bank, fishing vessels were around us. Last night as we crossed the continental shelf, we saw only one fishing boat and a large cargo ship. Both were approximately 2 miles away. It is unlikely that we will see more than one or two more boats before we hit Bermuda. Jay installed an AIS receiver which pulls signals from the VHF antenna and translates ship information onto our PC. Every vessel larger than 60 or 65 feet is required to have an AIS transmitter which tells nearby vessels its registration number, and if the captain has entered it, vessel name, length, width, draft, type and destination. Even if the information has not been entered, the PC will calculate whether you are on a collision course, the heading and speed of the nearby vessel, and the time and place of the closest point of course intersection. It is an amazing tool, and gives much more information than the radar. We have had it on constantly, and it gives us some more ease at night understanding whether we are on a collision course with nearby boats.

The fact that the AIS is working has been balanced by the failing satellite system used to get e-mails and internet access. We can occasionally get a signal, but it tends to be fleeting. Please do not worry if we do not respond to e-mails. The onboard dial up satellite modem is a challenge that requires patience – which is occasionally unavailable. We will do a better job with the blog – I hope.

Cheers from Team Welcome.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cast Off – Monday, 11/12/2007 @0738

We are off of Race Point on the back side of Cape Cod. Our current position 42.06.60 N 70.01.601 W with a course of 162 degrees. Water temperature is 42.6 F. Barometer is steady at 1022.0. Counting the 220 miles from our first waypoint in the Gulf Stream. About a day and a half before we grab the clockwise current of a warm eddy and then into the northeast surge of that defining Atlantic current. Instead of bear markets, health care emergencies and court calendars, our focus is the rhythm of the waves, the power of the wind, and the magnetic fields of the earth. It feels elemental and wonderful and enormously frightening to have arrived at this moment.

Yesterday was a rush of groceries and last minute repairs. We dodged other shoppers at Trader Joe's and left with two full carts. At Star, we managed to limit our catch to one large cart, which included 20 gallon containers of spring water, 18 bottles of Gatorade, two large boxes of Cheese-zits, hot chocolate and other essentials. At Whole Foods, we filled two hand baskets of the finer items, including coffee, fruit, tea, refried beans, pita chips, potatoes, carrots, pepper, and onion. Jay stowed the food while Michael installed repaired screens, installed a new dome light over the galley, and built a mahogany battery box hold down for Bank 1. I installed the new isolator for the two battery banks. We made it back to Cambridge for a wonderful dinner by Kate. Kate also made us biscotti, and soup for the trip, as well as a huge batch of granola to replace the bag Liza made which was devoured by our youngest dog. Leaving suitcases open in our house is always a mistake.

Michael called George this morning as Kate made us scones. Anyone lucky enough to get one of her scones would wonder why we would leave the warmth and sweet smell of the house. But, we were too far into this to back out. We threatened to hide Michael's keys, worrying that as the most recent member of the crew, he might slip away. Happily (for Jay and DT) he is here. We spotted two spouts from nearby whales off of Province town. The daylight is slowly fading. We have not agreed on our watch schedule, only that we will run three hour shifts. We are suited up in our foul weather gear for warmth. We expect to use it for rain tomorrow. So far, we have motored. The wind has been too light to sail. We have 30 extra gallons of fuel on board this trip for a total of 67. It should give us 100 hours of motoring. But this is a sailing trip, and we look forward to the silence when we can shut the iron sail off.

Best to all from Team Welcome.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Another Adventure

Forgetting how miserable these sailing trips can be, I decided over the summer to sail the boat south. This time, the destination is Antigua, with a later transit to St. Lucia. Hurricane season prevents a departure during warmer weather, so we now sit waiting for a weather window to Bermuda. Michael and Ann had other pressing matters. Just my brother Jay and I are going to make this trip. We both feel nauseous. We intended to leave today, November 10, 2007, but our weather routing service, Dane and Jenifer Clark, predicted 50-60 knot winds over the Gulf Stream, with higher gusts, and all northerly. Having been tossed there before, we humbly decided to wait for permission to go. They predicted we would have to wait until Tuesday or Wednesday. We went by car to Truro for the weekend, needing a break from the work on the damp boat and being assured of a few extra days of warmth before cast off.

Mid day, I called Dane, and he declared that Monday is our departure window. Things have suddenly sped up. We need to provision the food and beverages, and I need to pack. Jay has been in his civvies since he arrived on Tuesday. He is already packed. Michael called and e-mailed several times. He sounded miserable. At 2 p.m. he lost his senses and declared he was coming with us for the first leg! Flights from Bermuda are available, and work seemed less pressing than the adventure. Hooray! There could not be better news. Not only is he a perfect companion on any voyage, but three people on board makes the voyage a lot safer. I couldn't get insurance for a two person voyage – that is a measure of the danger. With Michael on board, we will be able to sleep more than 3 hours at a time, and if there is an overboard situation, we are more likely to retrieve someone with two hauling him in. Our nausea has lifted. I am sure it will be back as the time to leave nears. I will check in again after we leave on Monday. Donna T

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dolphin

This is one of the many dolphins who raced us and played in our wake. This one is an Atlantic White-Sided Dolphin.

Navigation Aide

On our last day, this young wren accepted a free ride.

It was a cold and foggy day.

Fog was not our favorite weather condition.

McGrenra in Charge

Swarthy sailor with glamorous legs.

Muffins

Proof that I really did make muffins!

View at Night

During the second leg, we did not have a moon. The view from the cockpit while on watch was quite limited. We mostly tended to the sails, and kept an eye out for the lights of other boats.

Capt'n Turley

Storm Jib

This is the storm jib, really just a sliver of a sail. The orange has radar reflecting properties.

Post Bermuda


At the beginning of the second leg out of Bermuda, we had sun and cooler temperatures.

Sunset

I know, I know, landscape photos are boring, but this is an example of the boring landscape we encountered when not in fog.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

We are home!

We entered Boston Harbor in the early afternoon of May 31, after traveling 1610 nautical miles from the British Virgin Islands.  We were ensconced in fog since we left the whales, and motored the final 24 hours in relatively calm seas.  The temperature hovered in the forties overnight, and we wore triple layers on our watches.  We did not escape the fog until we passed Deer Island, and found Boston to be basking in Summer weather.  Harbor seals and birds greeted our arrival, with one young wren landing on our boat and hopping into the cabin for a half hour rest.  It seemed lost as it later hovered over the water trying to decide whether to settle.  We were concerned that we were taking it from the plush environs of Cohasset to the grit of East Boston.  Do birds have accents?

In order to clear customs, we were instructed by officials in Portland, Maine to meet an officer from the Department of Homeland Security at Boston Yacht Haven.  Boston Yacht Haven is the monstrosity built by Les Marino at the end of Commercial Wharf.  After Marino’s death, it was sold to a new owner. The marina contracts with the government to permit government mandated docking and boarding to take place on its docks.  The Nicholas Cage look-alike officer was quite friendly, and asked to see our passports. He did not examine our water jugs to make certain that they contained only water, nor did he come on board to look for terrorists.  In fact, when I tried to hand him the contraband fruit and vegetables, he instructed us to eat them on board.  After we passed the rigorous examination, he said I needed to check into the office at the marina.  I asked why, since we were not staying there.  He just shrugged and said that the management probably wants us to fill out paperwork.  When I got there, the marina manager demanded a $75 docking fee for the 5 minutes of government required business.  Maybe Dick Cheney purchased the marina.  I refused to pay and we cast off.  As I write this late at night on Tuesday, I have not yet been arrested, but I suspect that my phones will soon be tapped.

We went over to Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina operating on diesel fumes.  Slip E8 will be the home of Welcome III until the boat is pulled for the winter.  We sat on the dock, stunned at what we had done.  Thank you Michael – we did this because of your willingness to fight sea sickness and fog to make our way home.

For me, this marks both the end and the beginning.  I have always wanted to sail offshore, occasionally harboring insane thoughts about sailing full time for a few years.  This trip to and from the Virgin Islands was the reachable part of that dream.  I started planning this many years ago as I read about and admired sturdy offshore sailboats.  I had partners in these dreams with my father and brother, who were not only interested in sailboats, but encouraged me as I reached.  In April of 2004, I located the boat that met my criteria.  I spent the next year and one half determining what sort of voyage was possible, and then equipping the boat and planning with those who agreed to be part of the offshore sailing. Of equal importance were those whose onshore support allowed me to take the time away from my life and obligations.  In particular, this would not have been possible without the loving encouragement of Kate, who was hugely relieved that she did not have to be part of it.  She had to do double duty at home, including walking the dogs when it was my turn.  My law partner Paul tended to both his and my clients in my absence.  My business partner Johanna continued to attempt to extract milk from the dry cow.  

I have been able to achieve an important personal goal.  The boat trip was not around the world, but it met my desire to be a successful offshore sailor.  I learned a tremendous amount about sailing, offshore passage making, and myself.  I have achieved something personally meaningful, and can now begin planning new challenges.  I now know that if I reach, and am flexible, good things happen.