Friday, May 27, 2011

Oh, the Peaceful Chesapeake!

Gary, Sherry, Bob and Dennis
We have said good-bye to our crew and the other sailors in Hampton, VA. We spent the night at the Hampton Yacht Club and had dinner with Bob and Pixie (from the Caribbean 1500 days) and Gary and Linda Kay and her father. I was really ready for someone else to cook a meal for me! And I had been anticipating a crab cake for several days! Mission accomplished again!

After a very quiet and peaceful (as in not rocking or listening to waves slapping the stern), Dennis and I slipped away from the dock early in the morning and began our trip north on the Chesapeake Bay alone. Once again the wind - what there was of it - was on the nose so the engine was humming again. While extra crew is essential on a crossing, it was nice having the boat to ourselves again. Of course, he was on the phone working most of the way up the bay. As soon as he was in cell phone range, the Captain was back to work!

I am comfortable enough to navigate and sail the boat while he is down below working. It amazed me with how confident I felt on the bay compared with last year. Then everything seemed to be an unknown. While we have learned so much, we both know we have so much more to learn - and that the learning should never cease. With our increased knowledge and comfort level, the whole trip was more enjoyable.

Another beautiful new day!
There is only one place we know of to anchor on the way up the western side of the bay: Little Bay in Fleet Bay. It is about a day's trip from both Hampton and Herrington Harbor. So we tucked in there for the night expecting a storm and a rocky night. The storm went northeast, we had a beautiful sunset and a wonderful smooth night of sleep!

The sunrise was beautiful as we pulled out of the anchorage for a long day of motoring - again! It is about 11 hours to Herrington Harbor.

The blimp was very close to us.
Again we encountered Navy games - complete with hovering helicopters, fighter planes, ships of all sizes and a blimp! I felt like we were their target. The blimp was flying very low in the sky and actually rose to clear our 65 foot mast as it passed right in front of us. Since we can only get into Herrington Harbor at high tide due to our seven foot draft, we were timing our arrival for the 7:20 PM tide. The extra challenge at this time of night is looking into the sun while trying to spot the unlighted buoys!

Entering Herrington Harbor, Tracy's Landing: At Last!
Once we finally tied up at the dock, I was so overwhelmed with emotion that it surprised me. I still don't know if it was exhaustion, a let down or sheer amazement at myself for have completing 3000 miles of sailing!

I never doubted that I could do it. Of course, I knew Dennis could! I just didn't think this kind of trip would have come so soon in my learning curve! It was a real sense of accomplishment! And my final docking maneuver was perfect as Trillium gently slid along side C Dock. (I set a goal to be excellent at docking the boat after watching Erick Reickert handle S/V Escapade on our sail with them. He is so slick at it!)

There we were: back where we started. Ready to party. The worst part was that there was no one there with whom to celebrate! So we went out to dinner, had a toast to ourselves and I had another crab cake! Then we collapsed into bed and slept 10 hours!

After two and a half days of cleaning and closing her up, Trillium is going on the hard for the summer. 
Why is it that the laundry is never done-
even on the boat!
We have a long list of improvements and repairs to do before the next adventure. Putting her away is like packing up the cottage each fall: wash and bag all bedding, empty lockers, insect repellent, etc.
We also have a busy summer with family weddings, birthdays, and graduations so we won't be sailing until the fall. We will be traveling to California for two weddings and to Chicago for a graduation. Time to golf, too. And the cottage. And most importantly, with the grandchildren!

All in all, what an adventure. Life is good!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mission Accomplished: We Made It!

The sunrises and sunsets are the best!
I can't believe we have actually completed 3,000 miles of sailing in the past seven months! A year ago it seemed like a wild dream of Dennis'. And I was going to "tough up" and participate in this adventure. As it turns out, I really like living on Trillium. Aside from some rough weather, life aboard is good!

Once we finally left Bermuda, we had good weather for the first two days. We also finally got to sail some distance. It was great not to hear the engine. One of the things I love about sailing is the special quietness: just the wind and the water passing by the sails and hull. And the beautiful sky - day and night.

As we headed west, we were joined by schools of dolphins on several occasions. We tried our hand - half heartedly - at fishing. Actually, I was glad we did not catch anything as I was trying to use up the food in the freezer. Last fall I had too much food at the end of the trip, so I worked at improving my provisioning skills on the way home. There were just a couple of meals left at the end of the trip this time. I am so tired of sandwiches - making them, eating them ...

Here it comes!
The weather was not a problem except on two occasions. A huge storm popped up quickly and caused us to go into action quickly to reduce the sails and start the engine. The second time was when we were crossing the Gulf Stream. From a distance you can see the line of weather over the stream. It is quite interesting. Since warm southerly water is meeting cold northerly water, you can expect both turbulence on the water and in the sky in this area.

After the first storm, we lost the wind and had to go back to motoring. I know understand the statistic: for every day of sailing, you spend seven not sailing (motoring, anchoring, at the dock, etc.). This sure turned out to be true on this trip. The return trip was more like a "delivery" rather than a sailing trip. I guess that is what we were doing: delivering Trillium back to the boatyard in the US.

We crossed the Gulf Stream in eight hours of daylight. The only way we could tell we were in it was from the water temperature. It went from 67 degrees to 76 degrees as we moved through it. Then it cooled off again on the other side. The Atlantic Cup Rally had given us a good printout of the stream showing its flow and the eddies. As a result, we charted a course to ride the westerly eddies into the heart of the stream just north of Cape Hatteras. This allowed the stream to carry us north toward the opening to the Chesapeake Bay. I learned a lot of strategy from Gary during this part of the crossing. My job was to navigate using the chart plotter to keep us on the right course. (Once we were at the dock, the Immigration officer complimented us on our boat handling as he was impressed that we made it across the stream in such a short time!)
Navy games make entering the bay a challenge!
 Once across the stream, our next challenge was navigating though heavy vessel traffic approaching the east coast. We saw more vessels than anywhere on the entire trip and even played "dodge 'em" with one freigher in the night. That was an interesting experience that again offered several learning opportunities! When a big one is coming at you, it is not the time to debate whether or not we are on a collision course!

Seeing the bouys marking the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay was a welcoming site! Even from there it is still five hours to the dock in Hampton Roads. The Navy was out in full force with live fire training going on around us. I think they had every kind of vessel and flying machine in their inventory in action! They kept reminding us that we must keep our distance from their vessels - as if I was going to sail right up to them to say "hello!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Homeward Bound - At Last!

Living at a 15-20 degree angle!
It is finally departure day and we are heading west!  We are leaving on Saturday morning with four other boats going to Virginia. The rest of the fleet is headed to various ports in New England. I will miss our new friends, but plan to reconnect with some next fall in the Caribbean 1500 Rally back to the BVI.
The weather reports are mixed. Some forecasters say little wind (more “driving” in the future) and others suggest strong winds and storms. It will depend on what is in the area in which we will be sailing. I sure hope we don’t have to motor all the way to Hampton! I am tired of hearing the engine.
Sunset through the rain.
As it turns out, all of the weather reports have been correct. We have seen it all: flat water, ten foot swells, 40 knot gusts, driving rain, sunny skies, beautiful sunsets, full moon … It has been a Mother Nature smorgasbord! The crossing of the Gulf Stream will be the biggest weather challenge.
We had several schools of dolphins swim along with us and play in our bow wake. It is fun to watch them as they lunge out of the water in pairs and dive back in like synchronized swimmers. There was a dozen or so each time swimming back and forth under the bow, then running alongside. This went on for 30-40 minutes. I tried to get a photo but could never get them out of the water!
A couple of the nights have been extremely rough. I am physically tired from being rolled back and forth across my bunk. It is also physically exhausting to maintain your balance and posture whether sitting or standing when it is rough. I did not get many bruises this time so I have learned something from the trip south!
We saw a couple of freighters and a cruise ship. Other than that, we had the ocean to ourselves with the dolphins and an occasional stray bird that would come along. We did not have any luck fishing, but then we did not put a lot of effort into it either.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Things To Do - And Not - In Bermuda

I love the bagpipes!

Being tied up here next to the Town Square has given us a good view of tourist entertainment. In addition to the daily dunking of the town shrew (apparently not a wench as I earlier stated) and harassment of the town drunk (a tourist grabbed out of the crowd), there was a musical event one evening. Since I love the bagpipes, it was a real treat to see the performance. However, there was a moment that was not too politically correct!
There were several dignitaries seated in front of a special seating area to watch this performance. Unfortuantely, Gary and I did not see this set up as we tried to cut through to get to the boat. They had the whole street blocked off so we thought we would just cut close to the Town Hall and walk along the shops to get around it all.

Opps! We are in the wrong place!

Wrong! I suddenly realized we were standing dead center behind the Mayor (we think he was the one with the gold braided sash across his chest – unless it was the governor!)  and whoever it was dressed in a fancy uniform. The bagpipers came marching toward the men so we were caught there. Then the marching band came marching in. I wanted to disappear into the bushes, but there weren’t any!
I suggested we sprint on across until I noticed a bench of men in uniform directly in my path! Once both bands were playing, we made a dash back from where we came and tried to blend into the crowd. Since we could not get to the boat, we stood there for over an hour watching the performance. It was well worth it, but I wish we had not become part of it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Preparing for the Next Leg

Preparing for the big blow!

The big storm never hit Bermuda, but then it wasn’t supposed to. Its fury was in the middle of the path across the Atlantic that would have caused the fleet to ride out a gale (34-47 knots of wind on the Beaufort Scale). It has turned north and east so the boats going to the Chesapeake Bay will leave early Saturday morning. There are only five boats going there; the rest of the fleet is going to various ports in New England. We will be in SSB radio contact with the fleet as we cross. However, I am not sure how clear the channels will be once we all start to go our separate ways.
Gary, Brent and Dennis preparing for the crossing to USA

Dennis arrived back on the boat Thursday evening and brought a new crew member with him. Brent is from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. It will be helpful to have another person for the night watch schedule. Friday was spent getting the boat ready for the next leg, checking out with Bermuda Customs and attending the Skippers’ Meeting to get the final weather briefing.
I cleaned the refrigerator and restocked the provisions. Another trip to the grocery store! It seems to average $40 per brown shopping bag – and that is without buying meat or alcoholic beverages. The bread in the bilge locker had started to mold so it was time! to shop.

Dennis flying high!

Dennis had his first trip up the mast in a bosun’s chair. Gary was going to go up to untangle the Atlantic Cup Rally flag, but since we have never experienced this process, I wanted to see how it is done should I need to raise Dennis in the air at a future date. Taking him up is relatively easy. Letting him down gently will be more of a challenge for me – hopefully not for him! I think the electric winch will become his best friend!

Friday night will be the final (one of many) rum tasting parties at the St. George’s Dingy & Sports Club. The local rum suppliers just love it when the sailors get stranded here! It will also be our time to say “until we meet again” to many new friends. The cruising world is relatively small so even though spread across the world people stay connected via email, Skype and blogs. (We need to learn to Skype! Being without a phone has not been fun.) We will miss many of our new friends, but we’ll continue to follow them as they carry on their cruising adventures. We are already looking forward to seeing them in Hampton, VA next October as we prepare for the Caribbean 1500 Rally to Tortola again.
We will have set sail by the time you read this. You can continue to track us on the website. It has undergone some changes recently since the World Cruising Club has taken it over and is adding it to their main website. Don’t be surprised when it says World Cruising Club at the top. Just look for Boat Positions and find Trillium at the end of the alphabetical list.
We are planning to be in Virginia on Wednesday. Then two more days up the Chesapeake Bay to Tracy's Landing, MD and we will call it a day! Until then, wish us fair winds. We will see some of you soon. (Can’t wait to get out the golf clubs!)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Moving Again - To Another Dock!

It’s moving day again. We have been hanging on the old cruise liner dock, but just received notice that a “government” ship is coming in so we all have to leave the dock and find a new place to anchor or tie up. Since the ARC Europe group is starting to arrive, there are very few places to tie up. Fortunately for me, the wonderful Atlantic Cup Rally staff is taking care of the details for me. They have been a godsend. I can't thank them enough for all of the caring concern and assistance.

Dunking the Town Wench is a daily tourist event right
next to me! She kept asking me to come and save her.
They have secured a place for me to raft up to two other boats at the Town Dock. This is a great location since it is in a busy area and I am not off somewhere by myself. It is also close to the public restrooms, the grocery store and restaurants. 

The town square is very active and full of tourists and entertainment so it is not as peaceful as other places, but I feel safe here. And the Customs & Immigration dock is next door so there are cameras watching the area. This is the center of the tourist area with a daily program and music right beside my new spot. There is a reenactment of old punishment traditions every day at noon. I just sit on the deck and watch the show! 

You can see we are packed in there.

Rafting up was a new experience! I had to coast into a narrow area, passing boats on either side of me and then pull in front of S/V Mowari and “parallel park” this 48.5’ vessel next to a big beautiful black-hulled Alden. Backing out of here is going to be a nightmare, but we are out of the wind and waves.

I ran the generator again before walking over a mile up the hill to St. George's Dingy and Sports Club for the Skipper's Meeting. At least the Internet is working again so I can connect with Dennis. He just let me know he found a new crew member so we are going to have four of us again. That will make the trip home easier. If we leave on Saturday, Gary will be able to go with us. He has to be home by Wednesday.

Good things do come out of challenging events. The whole Rally community has come together to help each other with repairs, moving, dingy transportation, etc. It has been a great opportunity to get to know the other sailors. I have made new friends and hopefully we will all connect as we sail around the favorite areas for cruisers.

Sherry, Han from Ottawa, Nirit from Israel & Patti from Texas

Last night several of us were invited aboard S/V Magnetic Sky, a 70' Hylas, for a dinner party. It is a beautiful boat with a full time Captain and First Mate (the Captain's wife, who is also a watercolor artist). The owners, Ray and Susan are from Toronto and were gracious hosts.

We all brought an appetizer and Susan prepared a Jamaican fish dish with coconut rice. Then topped it off with the best gingerbread and fresh pineapple. Susan learned the recipe for the fish from her family's longtime Jamaican domestic helper - who is more of a family member than employee.                                                                               
Susan & Ray on S/V Magnetic Sky from Toronto

The whole crew of Magnetic Sky has been so helpful to me. From lending me a hand when "walking the plank" at St. George's club to climbing over the giant tires to get on and off the pier, they are always right there to lend a hand. What a super group of people!

Actually, all of these yachtsmen are special. It is a group of people who have stepped out of the box and are doing things about which others only talk! I am priveldged to be part of this! 

The rain is starting to blow in sideways, so it is time to brace ourselves for the brunt of it. The walk back to the boat after the rum tasting party will be rather wet!                                                                                                                 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ARC Staffer Nick at Bermuda Radio

One of the most interesting things we did while in Bermuda was a visit to the Bermuda Radio station. This is the control center for vessel traffic, weather, radio announcements, security for the island, search and rescue, after hours airport operations, etc. It is one of the finest facilities in the world. You name it, they coordinate the resulting actions even though Bermuda does not have a Coast Guard or Navy to supply the manpower and equipment.

From their perch on top of the hill in an old fortress, they can see everything that goes on around the island in a 40 mile radius. So the drug runners eight miles off the coast were caught in the act! It is extremely important as the whole island is surrounded by reefs and boats can only enter in specific locations.

There are several computers that track all vessels. When a vessel is about 30 miles out, it is to contact Bermuda Radio by VHF radio and give their name and location. Then the "blip" on the screen is given a name and they follow you into the harbour. They will guide you in if needed. This turned out to be very helpful to us.

We arrived in the area just before midnight last Friday. The entrance to the Town Cut is very challenging as it intersects with the channel taken by the cruise ships. As a result, the area is congested with red buoy lights. I was below deck on the chart plotter and a walkie-talkie directing the crew. Since I could not see what they were seeing, I did not realize how confusing it was above.

All I could see was the screen and the direction we were traveling. The further they steered us off course, the more I yelled "turn to port" over and over. Finally, I stood in the companionway and hollered, "What is it about "port" (left) you don't understand?!?" I could see us going up the cruise ship channel and getting near an area of 1-2 meters of water with a rocky bottom in our path if they turned in the wrong place.

This is what Bermuda Radio sees from its perch on the hill.

Next I saw Trillium turning around the other way - to starboard. Just then Bermuda Radio called us to see what was going on. Fortunately, the crew saw S/V Magnetic Sky coming up behind and decided to let them go through the channel and Town Cut first. Then we followed them in. Thank you Magnetic Sky!

At the time, it was alarming not to know where to go. Afterwards, we had many good laughs about "port."

I was surprised to see only one person manning the whole operation on the week-end and at night. I guess there is not as much traffic then as during the week days. During high traffic areas and hurricanes, other staffers are on duty. They even sleep on the floor in sleeping bags to keep up with the round-the-clock demands.

They also coordinate efforts with the various Coast Guard stations on the east coast of the USA. In the photo at the right, we are looking at the map of the areas covered by joint services. The gentleman in the navy shirt is the officer on duty.

It was very interesting to see the technology and meet the "voice" at the other end of the VHF radio. In my experience, the professionals talk too fast and often have an accent so it is difficult to pick up every thing they are saying. I have also noticed the Navy or Coast Guard voices in the Chesapeake Bay speak too fast to understand - at least for us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Lull Before the Storm

The weather forecast for today is suggesting the winds and storm should hit us this afternoon. Fortunately I am in the northwest corner of St. George’s Harbour against the wall so I should not be blown into anything. I have been told it will get very lumpy and the fenders will make a lot of squeaking sounds - and the black marks from the huge tires will clean off the hull! My lines are secure as far as I can tell. Andy from the staff just came by to check on me.

Thankfully, Gary had a change of heart – and plans. He cancelled his flight for today. I do appreciate it since he is a volunteer and has no obligation to stay. I had made up my mind that I would be okay if he left, but we still need him to sail with us once the storm passes. Hopefully, Dennis is making some effort to get another crew member from the list of volunteers. I have posted a notice: Crew Needed  Good Food! And the Rally knows I am in need of at least one more crew member.

Communications is the biggest problem since I cannot get an Internet connection. I was able to use my 3G cell phone connection (at the cost of $50 for just over an hour!) yesterday, but I can’t even get on it today. I did use the satellite phone last night to call Dennis and let him know what was happening here. Needless to say, I was exasperated by the time I reached him! This has become more than I bargained for! So far, no tears here.

Gary protecting the lines from the rough concrete wall.
 I have the generator running to charge the batteries. Now I just need to figure out how to turn it off so I don’t screw it up! I remembered to put a “load” on it while running. Dennis' "how to" book is very helpful and I have been very observant, asking many questions whenever he worked on something. It is paying off.

The other concern I have is the capacity of the holding tanks. Since we are an ocean going boat, they are very small (16 gallons each) with the standard practice of returning organic waste to nature. (If you know what I mean!) There are no restrooms or showers nearby so it takes a walk to the center of town to find the public restrooms. Not exactly worth a trip in the middle of the night! And of course, you cannot discharge within 3 miles of land.

The clouds are forming and the wind is starting to pick up so I expect we will be seeing weather soon. The boat is starting to rock a lot. Gary has gone sightseeing while I wait for the generator to finish the charge. It is a good day to do some cooking for the second leg of the passage. Broccoli cheddar soup sounds good! Maybe some chili, too. I will use a very deep pot to contain the hot stuff!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Stuck in Bermuda - Alone!

The Crew before they all bailed on me!
Here we are waiting out a big storm that is forming in the Atlantic between Bermuda and the East Coast. It looks like we are going to be here at least until Saturday if this gale does what is expected. At this time, no one knows where it will track. Even if it goes north of Bermuda, the winds and sea will be high with huge swells. Not exactly what I would want to experience!

Dennis’ office is in need of his magic so he is flying home today. It was a major effort just getting an Internet connection to find a flight. I finally got a Delta flight through Boston to get him home this evening. He is scheduled to return Thursday night – assuming the storm is not centered here which would reroute him to???

Jeff is leaving the boat today to fly home to tend to his stomach upset. Hopefully it is nothing serious. They say sea sickness is an issue of mind over matter. But I can tell you that when you have it on your mind, it doesn’t matter what they say – you feel it! The more you think about NOT getting sea sick, the worse you feel. It is really hard to manage the mind when your stomach is suggesting otherwise!

Gary sprung one on me: he booked a flight home for Tuesday! I was really upset that he did not even discuss it with me first. I am trying not to panic about how to handle 48.5 feet of boat alone in a storm! I can do most things needed, but doing them alone in bad conditions terrifies me. I did not sign up for this test at this time!

Conditions are starting to deteriotate!
 We have to move off the dock at the St. George’s Dingy and Sports Club as the 30-35 knot winds will slam us against it. (We already sustained some gel coat damage during the storm a few nights ago.) The suggestion is to anchor out. I don’t want to be alone on an anchor in the middle of the harbour in these conditions, plus I don’t have a dingy readily available so I will be “boat bound.”  If the anchor were to drag, I would be challenged to reset it to avoid hitting another boat or the reefs or a wall! Fine time to have the whole crew bail on me!

I have prevailed on a couple of local business women here. After telling them my dilemma, they helped me find a place to tie up at Penno’s Wharf. I am secure on the wall with everything tied down and bumpered as best I can. Since there is no electricity here, I will have to figure out how to run the generator to keep the food cold. Dennis has a “how to” note book so I should be able to do it.

The great thing about being part of the Rally is that there are many sailors ready to lend me a hand. The crews of Magnetic Sky, Skitterygustest, Madrugada and Namaste have been supportive. And of course, the World Cruising Club staff has been sooooo helpful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Driving to Bermuda!

Yup! That's right: Driving!

Trillium at Start of 2011 Atlantic Cup Rally
What do you do when you are sailing North and  the wind is out of the North? You "drive", as in motoring. Do you have any idea how long it takes to "drive" from Tortola to Bermuda at an average of 6.5 knots per  hour? Well, I'll tell you: from noon on Sunday until midnight on Friday!

                                                                                                At the beginning of the Atlantic Cup Rally, we had nice winds down Sir Francis Drake's channel and out into the Atlantic. We were able to sail for two days with decent winds. The winds lightened up and since Trillium needs at least 13 - 15 knots to really move along, we did some motor sailing. Then the wind shifted to straight out of the North - right down our rhumb line. Not only that, it started blowing 18 - 25 knots. Just what we need to really sail, but not on our nose! And so we continued "driving" to Bermuda - all the way!

It was a little like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disney World: up, down, around, jerk left, jerk right, fly off the bunk and meet it on the way down! The weather itself has been very comfortable with partially cloudy skies to protect us from the sun. We have only had a couple of squalls. It has just been the Northerly winds!

Sea sickness takes its toll on Jeff

We did have a sea sickness issue. I had about 18 hours of it, but Jeff has been sick the whole trip. Since it is lasting so long, it may be something more serious. He is going to see a doctor when we get to Bermuda. The picture shows how he spends most of the time when he is out of his bunk! It has not been pleasant for him. Jeff will probably leave us in Bermuda and fly home.

That will create a dilemma as we will be short-handed with only three of us to do the watches day and night. But the risk of Jeff staying and getting worse is not an option. It could be an appendix or some other abdominal issue. Having recently observed the US Coast Guard demonstration of an at-sea rescue, we don't want to take a chance. What I saw at the Safety-at-Sea Seminar tells me you don't want a helicopter rescue on the water even in calm seas! Now we will have to figure out how to deal with the loss of crew.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Things Do Go "Clunk" In The Night!

The Trillium Crew: Jeff, Gary, Sherry & Dennis
Trillium is not racing in the Rally. We are part of the Open Class. The Open Class crossed the Start Line after the racing group. We quickly caught up with and passed some of them. Then it became very interesting as boats started blocking each others' wind and cutting them off at the turns. It was quite fun to watch, but a little nerve-racking to be in the middle of it!

Life on board was pleasant for the first two days as we sailed North. Then the hum of the motor became annoying as it was a 24/7 drum. Watch shifts were working well - even though Jeff was ill, he took his turn at the 3-6 AM watch.

Functioning as the Galley Manager became more difficult as the winds got stronger and clocked around to the North-Northeast. At times I needed someone to hold the pans on the gimbled stove while I managed other tasks in the galley. It became a real juggling act for both cooking and eating. But dinner was served!

Then it happened! Just before midnight when Dennis and I were on watch, there was a loud clunk, bang, thud or ... in the engine! We shut it down and started checking the engine room. On restarting it, we noticed a strong vibration so we kept the rpms low and continued on course. The next day we contacted Roger at Free State Yachts in Maryland on the satellite phone to get suggestions for solving the problem. We thought it was a clutch or some mechanical part. He thought we may have something around the propeller. There was no way I was going to let Dennis dive under the boat in 8' seas 400 miles from land!

At one point, Dennis asked Jeff to check the engine exhaust output. Since he wasn't sure where to look, he looked in the "wrong" place. Actually it turned out to be the right place because he spotted a long green streamer flowing out behind the stern! Once again we shut down the engine and started pulling in this green "monster."  We had caught a large polypropylene fish net!

It had been wrapped around the prop and the line cutters had done a number on it (probably the vibration we were feeling). And it was hung up on the skeg rudder. Once we had it aboard, the vibration stopped and the engine hummed. The wheel was easier to turn.

Life was good - again! And on we went - "driving" to Bermuda!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

And We're Off!

So long, Nanny Cay, until we meet again in November!
The provisions are prepared and stowed. The tanks are full. The sails are rigged and ready. The crew is on deck and ready to cast off. We are about to move to the START line for the Atlantic Cup Rally to Bermuda. You can follow us at where you click on Boat Positions. 

It hasn't exactly been easy getting ready:
  1. Holiday: Good Friday
  2. Holiday: Easter Sunday
  3. Holiday: Easter Monday
  4. Holiday: Friday the Prince got married!
Holy holiday! You couldn't get anything done around here! And when we did manage to move forward on things, there were multiple bait-and-switch, added tariffs, and anything else where they could screw us! Obviously I have been a little P-O-ed! I will share that in a future post.

Jeff, Dennis & Gary at Captain Mulligan's (nothing to do with golf!)
We have a new crew for the return trip: Gary and Jeff. It will be a new learning experience for us as each brings different skills to the team. Gary is a very experienced sailor and has sailed the Caribbean 1500 and Atlantic Cup multiple times. And the best thing is that he knows how to get in and out of Bermuda. It is a rather challenging entrance. Jeff was a first-timer in the 2010 Caribbean 1500, but he does a lot of ocean racing. Hopefully we will learn more about sail trim from him.

The winds look favorable for the first day: 15-20 knots out of the east - the wonderful Trade Winds. The seas are projected to be 6'-8'. That should move Trillium right along at a comfortable speed on a starboard tack for a day or two. Earlier it looked like we were going to hit the lulls. It was suggested that we may be motoring for the last two days into St. George's Harbour on Bermuda. Now they are suggesting that we will get some gusts into the high 20's and some squalls. So who knows until you get there!
From Bermuda to the Chesapeake Bay: The more
"feathers," the stronger the winds. Red is not good!

There is a storm brewing between Bermuda and the Chesapeake Bay so we will hold in Bermuda until it passes and then make a run for the East Coast. We still have a lot to learn about weather and reading the various reports, gribs and charts, but we are improving with each trip. Experience has been a good - and relatively gentle - teacher. We check the weather on a site called We will check the weather again in Bermuda. In addition, we receive daily email weather reports via our satellite phone each day. And we are in communication with the fleet once a day on the SSB (single side band radio).

See the Gulf Stream snaking around the ocean!
And then there is the Gulf Stream! If you have never looked at how it meanders and twists and turns up the East Coast, check it out online at the weather link above. It looks very gnarly right now so it will be an interesting passage across it later in the trip. You can see from the arrows that it flows in multiple directions and at different speeds in each area. Our challenge will be to figure out the best place to cross so we don't get pushed in the wrong direction. If you are only traveling 6-7 knots and the stream is traveling 2-3 knots against you, it can be a very slow trip in some rough waters. The graphic shows you what it looks like currently. It will change slightly by the time we get there in 8-10 days.

As in the past, we will be out of communication range for several days while at sea. (Some of you have said: you do see land all of the way, don't you? And the answer is: NO. We are several hundred miles from land most of the time!)