Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Sandy Howarth points the way as Crosser, on anchor in the harbor, comes to pick me up for an interview and tour of the 90-foot custom Monk-McQueen.
Roberta Williams of Sans Souci gives her parents, John and Nova Heuer, a tour of the harbor at Ponta Delgado.
The Nordhavn 62 Grey Pearl enters the harbor at Ponta Delgado on the island of Sao Miguel.
The sun sets behind the Nordhavn 62 Sans Souci owned by Ken and Roberta Williams.
Que Linda!, a custom 55-footer designed by Steve Seaton, runs down the north side of Pico. Anyone planning a custom boat would do well to study how thoughtfully and tastefully Hal and Linda Wyman created their trawler yacht.
As five larger boats depart for San Miguel further down the Azores archipelago, Joan Kessler shoots as Bruce Kessler stands by the end of the breakwater at Horta.
Tina Jones, cool gloves and all, runs the aft deck of Grey Pearl returning to her slip from bunkering. The mike enables Tina to communicate with husband Braun in the pilothouse of their Nordhavn 62.
Rally advance man Milt Baker, at right, outlines what captains and crews of the larger boats can expect when they arrive in Gibraltar.
Bransom Bean of the Nordhavn 57 Goleen heads to the ops briefing prior to departure for Gibraltar.
Chris Samuelson of Goleenn shares knowledge from his quarter-century of sailing out of Gibraltar with Bill Bane of Satchmo as the departure from Horta nears.
NORDHAVN ATLANTIC RALLY HORTA VISIT COMPLETE
The Nordhavn Atlantic Rally visit to Horta on the island of Faial in the Azores is history, and all 18 yachts are expected to reach Gibraltar on Saturday, June 26. A total of 93 people are traveling aboard the yachts.
Five of the NAR yachts took advantage of good weather and departed Horta ahead of schedule Thursday afternoon, bound for the Azores' largest city, Ponta Delgada, about 140 nautical miles away on the island of Sao Miguel. Chris Samuelson, owner and captain of the Nordhavn 57 Goleen, reported a smooth trip.
It was a perfect passage, said crewmember Georgs Kolesnikovs. An afternoon departure, smooth seas, cocktail hour, and I fixed dinner. After a couple of night watches, we arrived in the morning.
Joining Goleen for the trip were four other NAR Division 1 yachts, the Nordhavn 62s Sans Souci and Grey Pearl, the custom Seaton 55 Que Linda, and the Monk-McQueen 90 Crosser.
Leaving Horta at noon on Saturday were the Division 2 yachts: the Nordhavn 62 Autumn Wind, the Krogen 58 Sea Fox, the Nordhavn 57 Atlantic Escort, the Nordhavn 50s Four Across and Sundog, the Nordhavn 47 Strickly for Fun, the Nordhavn 40 Uno Mas, and the close-knit group of Nordhavn 46s, Egret, Envoy, Satchmo, Stargazer, and World Odd @ Sea.
Remaining in Horta until Sunday is Emeritus. I am leaving in strict accordance with the original schedule, said owner and captain Bob Rothman with his usual wry smile. I'm pretty sure I can find my way to Gibraltar alone!
The good news, according to NAR weather forecaster Walt Hack of Ocean Marine Navigation Inc., is that winds and seas for the passage to Gibraltar are expected to be aft of the beam, just what the trawler crews would like. The bad news is that the winds and seas will likely be a bit higher than anyone would like, averaging 15 to 25 knots and 5 to 7 feet on average.
Boat work occupied many of the captains and crewmembers in Horta. Problems with active fin stabilizer systems were the most common, with eight of the 16 stabilizer-equipped yachts reporting problems of some kind, though most of the did not disable stabilization aboard the yachts. Both American Bow Thruster/TRAC, a rally sponsor, and Naiad sent technicians to Bermuda and Horta at no cost to the crews to help solve problems, and all eight yachts which had stabilizer problems left Horta with their problems resolved--at least they hope so.
Most of the stabilizer problems appear to be the result of either components that were undersized for such heavy-duty ocean-crossing use or system components not properly installed.
The two yachts equipped with paravanes for stabilization, the Nordhavn 46s Stargazer and World Odd @ Sea, reported no problems. The Nordhavn 46 Envoy, equipped with both stabilizers and paravanes, used its paravanes for the 1800-mile passage from Bermuda to Horta and also reported no problems.
Crewmembers spent the past week enjoying Horta and its neighboring island Pico. Aside from working on the yachts, captains and crews sampled Horta's restaurants, took tours by bus, taxi and rental car, and socialized. An all-day tour of Pico sponsored by Pacific Asian Enterprises partner South Coast Marine, with factories in Taiwan and China, was especially popular, starting with a ferry ride across the blustery channel to the Azores' youngest island.
Social events consumed four of the seven evenings in Horta: a welcome dinner at Horta's Clube Naval featuring folk singers and dancers, a cocktail party hosted by the Azores' director of tourism, a bon voyage party at one of the city's top restaurants, and a bring-your-own pier party, suggested by the crew of Sea Fox.
At the bon voyage party, rally leader and Atlantic Escort captain Jim Leishman handed out awards for the second leg. Among the awards, perhaps the most notable was Captain Bill Smith of Autumn Wind receiving the photo award. He received the award for his compelling sequence of PAE's Justin Zumwalt swimming to the Nordhavn 40 Uno Mas in six-to-eight-foot seas to solve an urgent mechanical problem, then swimming back to Atlantic Escort. It will be a surprise if these pictures are not seen in the yachting press.
One rally participant getting rave review is Dean Wiley, a crewmember aboard Soctt and Mary Flanders' Nordhavn 46 Egret. Dean is the self-appointed photo grunt, and he has colleted hundreds of digital pictures from his own camera and from other rally participants. He picked the favorites and edited them into a slide show that seems to grow daily. It jumps, seemingly without rhyme or reason, between at-sea passages and port visits, people and yachts, sunsets and smiles. And everyone who's seen it absolutely loves it. Maybe it's Rod Stewart's haunting track of Time After Time, which Dean laid over the show, that reached out and grabbed us so completely!
The group has bonded very well now, said Judy Baker. In Fort Lauderdale everyone was so busy that most everyone became friends with only people on the boats near them at Bahia Mar. Bermuda gave everyone a chance to mingle lots more and, of course, the two legs of the trip, with the fun and the problems, have brought all the participants very close. Walking down the pier here in Horta to deliver a message could take a half an hour by the time I stopped, solved a few problems and chatted with everyone along the way.
Tradition dictates that every visiting yacht must leave behind a painted sign in Horta, and Kari Ware, mother hen for the otherwise all-male crew aboard Atlantic Escort, put her artistic talent to the test, designing and painting an exquisite NAR sign. Each rally yacht was invited to paint its name on the sign. Individual painted signs were also left by Strickly for Fun, Emeritus, Egret, Envoy, Satchmo, Four Across, Uno Mas, Autumn Wind, Crosser, Grey Pearl, Goleen, and Stargazer.
Horta Net, offering speedy Internet service, was one of the town's biggest hits with the NAR crews. The eight-station Internet business often had customers waiting while the NAR yachts were in Horta.
Director Bruce Kessler and camera person Joan Kessler waved goodbye and covered the departures from the seawall for the NAR movie which Bruce is directing. Like the rally yachts, Bruce, Joan and the rest of the advance team--Milt Baker, Judy Baker, Amy Zahra and Jenny McCauley Stern--will soon be headed for Gibraltar to make arrangements for the final port visit of the rally.
The Nordhavn Atlantic Rally is expected to conclude with a grand finale party in St. Michael's Cave inside the Rock of Gibraltar on July 4th.
--Milt Baker, Horta, June 19, 2004
TWO YEARS IN BOATING AND ALREADY CROSSING THE ATLANTIC
From Ellen Bane aboard the Nordhavn 46 Satchmo:
Bill has been sending some e-mails about our adventures, but I thought it was time, past time to send my perspective.
We're in the Azores now, the town of Horta on Faial island. That means we've completed about 2/3 of the trip first 900 odd miles (6 days) from Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda, then 1800 odd miles (12 days) from Bermuda to the Azores.
Overriding feeling? Complete amazement that we ever considered doing this, and pinch-me astonishment that we're actually accomplishing this. After all, we only started boating 2 years ago; if it had been left to me Bill and I probably would still be testing our wings in the Chesapeake. Instead, here we are 2/3 of the way to Gibraltar!
There are 4 of us on Satchmo Bill, me, Steve (from Hawaii), and Calvin (from Florida). Steve and Calvin have been terrific crew way, way above anything we could have hoped for. Getting ready to leave Ft. Lauderdale they were putting in 12-14 hours days of hard labor [ditto Bill and me]; they're both experienced and great mechanics; and we're all getting along well even after 5 weeks now on a 46 ft boat.
[Only one problem: they call Bill Skipper or Captain a lot of the time, and he's clearly warming to the title. How will I be able to handle him when they leave and it's just Bill and me again?]
We do watches on a rotating schedule 4 hours during the day (0800 to 2000) and 2 hours during the night (2000 to 0800). With 4 people, watches aren't a burden at all, and during off hours there's an extravagance of time to sleep, read, listen to CD's, talk, or just watch the ocean.
The 18 boats in the NAR [Nordhavn Atlantic Rally] travel in 2 different groups the 6 or 7 bigger boats are in the fast group, and the 11 or 12 smaller ones (like us) are in the slow group (a name which we object to mightily we prefer the feisty group). Our group always leaves a day or two ahead, then the fast group catches up and passes us (often out of visual or even radar range maybe to avoid taunting us?), and arrives a day ahead of us. The advantage is that when we arrive in port, their horns are blaring, flags are waving, and we feel like heroes!
Bill and I have never traveled with even one other boat, so I was a little concerned about . . . well . . . boats running into each other. [How would that be for dark irony?] In practice, we spread out at least a nautical mile, and especially at night seeing the twinkling lights of the other boats is a huge comfort, almost cozy.
Included in our group are two escortNordhavn's, sort of mother ducks who make sure the ducklings are OK Autumn Wind (a 62 ft owned/captained by good friends) and Atlantic Escort (a 57 ft captained by Jim Leishmen, the vice-pres of Nordhavn). Scattered among the boats are a doctor, numerous crack mechanical and electronic guys, a couple of EMT's, and several journalists from boating magazines.
OK, turning to my #1 concern seasickness. [There are 2 bad things about seasickness feeling like you want to die and then realizing you're not going to.] Cross fingers, I think I've hit on a winning strategy. Until this trip I'd never tried the skin patches (scolopamine). MAGIC STUFF. To be extra safe, when the weather starts getting worse, I add a demon wrist watch thing that sends an electric pulse up your fingers. If the waves get really big, I add a dose of stugeron (also magic). I like to think of it as layering my defenses.
So far, I was sick only during the first couple of days out of Florida. I've been queasy a few other times, but nothing bad. Other strategies in bad weather I sleep (a lot!) in the center hall in the lowest part of the boat, and I don't cook. [The latter strategy is also highly recommended as a lifestyle.]
Quick take on the Ft. Lauderdale to Bermuda trip (May 16-22) the first 24-36 hours I was throwing up or about to (awful weather, big waves on the nose, nervous, excited, scared), the two middle days were two of my best days at sea EVER (sea like a mirror, went swimming in 15,000 feet, all's right with the world), and the last two days were fairly good (big waves, but following so the ride wasn't too bad). Thrilling to see Bermuda appear on the horizon, on course, on schedule!
Longer take on the Bermuda to Azores leg (May 30-June 11) first of all, 12 days is too long. They need to shorten that distance . . . somehow! I mean, 1800+ miles ridiculous! The first few days were OK, more or less chilly and drizzly, moderate seas, but OK. The weather improved and around the 6th day June 5 to be exact we hit the halfway point across the Atlantic, circled the wagons, and went swimming.
On Satchmo we broke our usual dry-boat routine and celebrated with a champagne-steak dinner, complete with balloons and streamers. From there it was all downhill: by June 9 or so, we had gusts up to 45 knots, and bigger and bigger and bigger seas. Yikes! They were mostly following seas (a good thing), but sometimes it looked like a wall of water behind us. You'd look out and the other boats would disappear in a trough, and then we would, and back and forth. I don't know how big they were (12 ft+, I heard), but whatever, they sure had my attention. I never felt unsafe (these boats take it in stride), but I do know our speed-over-ground (usually 7 or 8 knots at best) sometimes read 10.5 coming down a wave. Call me crazy, but isn't that basically surfing?
Normally (hah when exactly is THAT?) in May and June there are big areas between Bermuda and the Azores that are (to quote a certain captain I know) a millpond, becalmed by the famed Azorean Highs. We never saw it. The whole trip was also unusually cold I wore jeans and sweaters most of the way. On the bright side, we had a beautiful full moon, had a lot of company from dolphins playing in our bow waves, AND I never was seasick.
Funny event sometime in the middle part of the trip, Bill and I were sleeping in our forward stateroom with the overhead hatch open nice weather and around dawn I woke up for my next watch, sat up in bed, and was eyeball to eyeball with a dead flying fish on our covers. Seems it took an unfortunate leap during the night, dropped through the open hatch, and perished.
Twelve days was a long-g-g time. What's for dinner? took on huge significance. We did OK some respectable meals, including fish Bill caught. The four of us took turns cooking, though I guess I did about half of the dinners. Some of the other boats had incredible meals e.g., Beef Wellington. For me, maybe in some other life.
The VHF radio got a workout roll call twice a day, and endless chatter among the boats on matters great and small. Sometimes problem solving a mechanical problem, sometimes discussing weather, daily Chick Chat at 1400, even Twenty Questions one day [I initiated it realized that I Spy game had no potential].
Not everything was routinewe had our share of high drama. During the first leg there were some pesky problems on some of the boats. When we got to Bermuda, most of the big supplier/sponsors (Lugger engines, Alaska Diesel generators, Naiad stabilizers, etc) flew in mechanics and spare parts to repair or doublecheck the boats. Amazing!--hardly the average boating experiencebut none of these companies wanted any unfavorable press.
On the second leg, the problems got really dramatic. It began with the watermaker on one boat failing, so mother duck Atlantic Escort ran a garden hose from its tanks to resupply the other boat. Incredibly, they were able to do the same with extra fuel for Uno Mas, the smallest boat (40 ft) in the fleet. [Not a garden hose, though, of course.] Next came a few stabilizer and VHF problems.
Then, on the next to last day, when the weather got so bad, Uno Mas did a 45 degree roll, took on a bunch of water, and lost its electricity long story.
Then around midnight, our following escort boat, Autumn Wind, got its propeller fouled [on rope debris in the water, it turned out], and had to switch over to its 4-knot wing engine. Atlantic Escort, at the head of the fleet, turned around and was on its way to help Autumn Wind when OUR BOAT Satchmo suddenly had the main engine die. Just quit running! [I was in bed, and incredibly slept through this part.] Bill started the 4-knot wing engine, and in 5 minutes it died, too! [Me, fully awake now; dead quiet from the engine room, boat rocking and rolling, dishes clattering in the cabinets, Bill and crew grabbing tool bags, etc.] Bill radioed Atlantic Escort, and then with our crew tried to figure out what was wrong. Obviously it was a fuel issue, and the suspicion was a clog in the fuel lines from contaminated fuel. [Me, realizing we're dead in the water, out in the middle of the ocean, decided the only rational thing to do was to pull the covers over my head and pretend this wasn't happening.] In short order, the problem was discovered: a fuel valve had been turned wrong a simple human error by a crewmember [NOT ME] [at least, not THIS time, that was another trip]. The main engine fired up, we pointed the bow east again, and happily headed to the Azores. Happiest of all was our mother duck Atlantic Escort.
Arriving in Horta, Azores and jumping on the dock was delirious everyone hugging everyone, cheering, toasts and more toasts. Maybe that great feeling is what they mean by the Azorean High!
Some other miscellaneous stuff:
I'm amazed, really, at how big and lonely the ocean is. In the whole 2700 miles so far, we've only seen a handful of freighters and tankers, and only one sailboat. On the first leg, we did get a funny VHF radio message from a sailboat, very hesitant, hailing that big group of boats, or is my radar wrong? He didn't know what to make of us, so decided to pass us way to stern.
We haven't seen much sealife either. Sighted whales a couple of days, and there were the ever present flying fish. Dolphins sometimes. Seagulls FAR from land do they sleep floating on the water? Very few fish have been caught are we just lousy fishermen or is this part of the ocean dead?
On each leg, our crewmember Steve has been throwing over 150+ wine bottles with messages in them. He visits the local schools and has the children write the messages great project. He's been doing this for years, and bottles turn up as much as 7 years later on far distant shores.
XM Radio (you know, subscription satellite radio 160 channels) worked as far as three days EAST of Bermuda. This past winter, it worked as far as the Dominican Republic. I miss sharing a night watch with Larry King on CNN.
The Azores are absolutely beautiful mountainous/volcanic peaks and lush green farmland sort of a combination of Ireland and Hawaii. Wonderfully friendly people. Example Santos, who runs a laundry service and collected our sheets and towels on Saturday, went fishing on Sunday and gave me 7 fish to cook for dinner. Delicious!
In port, the days are full and the nights are full of parties. Daytime, there's the endless boat maintenance/repair/cleaning work, and tours to take, and food shopping to do, and just walking around soaking it all in. At night, there are 2 or 3 official/organized parties during the week for the whole fleet, plus dinners out with friends, dinners in with friends, and spur of the moment parties til the wee hours. Monday night after dinner on Satchmo, people started dropping by, and soon there were 18 people on board that's a record for this boat. Bill and I had to get people to spread out when we started listing to port!
In a couple of days Sat, June 19th we leave for Gibraltar. [That's Thomas' 21st birthday; I HOPE we can reach him on our satellite phone.] It's 1100+ miles, and has been expected to be the hardest part of the Atlantic trip. Arrival date, Sat. June 26. Cross fingers that the good weather we should have gotten on Leg 2 will find us on this last part. Love, Ellen On M/Y Satchmo
R & R IN THE AZORES
From Tina Jones aboard the Nordhavn 62 Grey Pearl
After 9-1/2 days at sea, we landed on the lovely island of Faial almost a week ago and, honestly, I don't know where the time goes!
We took a tour of the island and although the island is dominated by its central caldeira and nearby highest point of 3400 ft, you're not really aware of this, travelling around the island past its pretty villages, lush pastures and vigorous hedgerows. Known as the Blue Island because of the abundant hydrangeas and I mean amazingly abundant - the island is quite spectacular this time of year.
Picturesque Horta has long been a major port of the Azores and the marina is a major tourist attraction. Over a 1,000 boats, mostly sail put in each year for repairs and supplies as they make the Atlantic crossing. Currently, most of the Nordhavns are tied up at the docks close together but, for a few days we enjoyed the company of some fiesty Spaniards on our port side...Frenchmen across the way and, a group of Americans who sailed from Newport arrived yesterday. I could tell they had just arrived - they had that familiar look in their eyes and were anxious to know where the nearest pub was.
History is everywhere among the streets and old buildings, and always across the channel is the great cone of Pico. Pico, only 5 miles away from Faial , the most distinctive of all the Azorean islands, takes its name from the volcanic peak, which rises 7700 ft above sea level and dominates not only its own island but all that surrounds it. We have a stunning view here from the marina and dramatically, sometimes only the peak the peak is visible, while the lower island remains shrouded in mist.
One final note about Horta marina...from early cave painting(I'm guessin') to modern graffiti, man seems to fulfill a primeval urge in leaving his mark for posterity, a permanent record for all to see that he has passed that way. Nowhere is this popular art form more alive then here in the port of Horta! No one is quite sure when or who started this pictorial record of his boat and ocean passage but, there are thousands of paintings throughout the old & new marina walls, sidewalks, along the trash bins - everywhere! The artistic talent latent in the sailing community is quite impressive.
Of course, sailors are notoriously superstitious and legend has it that it is unlucky to set sail w/o recording your name on the Horta wall. So Auntie and I did our part and bought paint and brushes - paint store conveniently close to port :-) and, Jose, our navigator and artiste came up with a lovely design and painted our 3'x4' painting! Braun did his part...he stayed in the engine room growling.
As for crew, regretably, Mort, our bluewater sailor left just a day or so after arriving to Horta to meet Allyson in Lisbon - can't blame him...but, he did say he liked the cook's food - so, he's always welcome back. Aunt June leaves this Friday, 18th - she's been an awesome crew member and can hold her own quite well - we'll miss her very much. Her sister, my Mom, who is helping out on the last leg to Gibraltar arrived this morning and is settling in and from where I'm sitting I can hear her & her sis giggling off the back - no worries. Jose, our "rock" is doing great, getting more of that deep Cuban tan by the day and missin' his two favorite gals back home:-) Steve Kellenberger arrives from San Fran. on Friday to help us out to "Gib" as they say...another blue water sailor who hands down will have travelled the farthest to join us. We got Steve re-routed to meet us in Sao Miguel - another Azorean island we wanted to visit before shoving off for Gibraltar next Mon. That passage will be roughfully 5/6 days - 1100 nmiles...piece of cake (i hope).
Braun & I are doing great...were reminded often of how lucky we are to be here & to have friends and family support us in our far fetched dreams! The Nordhavn Rally has been very well planned and if we've been a little remiss in our writing its likely b/c we have all these new found friends that we're makin' history with and boy oh boy are there some stories out there! We're so glad that Ken Williams of SanSouci has been so good about keeping his website updated...believe me, if I had a cook and Capt.for hire on board I could find the time to write easily!
Next stop - Gibraltar!! Tina & Braun Jones
MORE ABOUT FRANCE
From Nick Morgan, the owner of a Krogen 39 on the Chesapeake, in response to my earlier post about a travel advisory for Americans visiting France:
This is a true story!
After creating the world, God was approached by his angels who said that when he created Europe, he had made a mistake.
"What!?!", exclaimed God. "Me - make a mistake - ridiculous!".
Whereupon the angels pointed out that He had been too generous with France, relative to the other European countries. "You gave France ports on the Atlantic and the Med, you gave her wonderful beaches to the south, great rivers throughout the country, mountains to the north, and of course, the great wine growing regions", the angels pointed out.
God thought for a moment and then agreed. So, to even things out, he gave France the Frenchman.
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