Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun, Sun and Celebrations!

Here is our crew at the Awards Celebration. I am still
shocked that we placed third. I thought we would be last!
Well our crew cleans up nicely! You should see us during the passage when water is at a premium and showers are a luxury or non-existent! I cheated and washed my hair twice. It was for the sake of those having to look at me! At least that was my excuse. I must say one doesn't ever look pretty on a passage.

The first few nights you sleep in your pajamas, then you just crash in your clothes! Who even cares at that point.Then you realize you have been wearing the same clothes for three days! And you still don't care.You just want to see land and find the showers in the marina.

To humor ourselves, we kept saying we were looking forward to milkshakes at Nanny Cay and mango colattas at Mulligan's. Whenever we were too warm or too tired, one of us would bring up the treats waiting at the other end - including the rum punch handed to us upon arrival before Customs lets us off the boat! It doesn't matter that it might be 6 am when the punch arrives!

We were trying to go east, but you can see how far to
the west we were being set. There was little we could do
Even though our ride was fast on a southbound track, you can see how far off the rhumb line (blue in photo) we were being set to the west (red line). For a while it seemed like we would never get east of Puerto Rico. There was little we could do to make a move to the east with the strong ENE winds continuing so blow hard. When we had a calm day we motored as much easterly as we could while still moving south.

The best part of the Rally experience is meeting new friends
and having good conversations and a lot of laughter!
Many of the men in the Rally supported Tortola's Movember Fund Raiser by growing mustaches. There was a contest for the best one. Dennis did not win - and neither did Antoine from Nexus. Russ, owner of Nexus, and Stuart and Ron on Trillium already wore mustaches regularly so unless they shave them off, they are not qualified in the contest. Of course, they did not shave!

Laurie and Russ will be sailing in the World ARC on their beautiful 60' catamaran, Nexus. However, they will get to each destination days ahead of us! We told them to hold an anchorage for us! HA HA.

Laurie and Russ of Nexus will be sailing in the World ARC too!
Much to our surprise, Laurie grew up in Essexville, MI. Dennis is from Saginaw and I am from Alma. What a small world! The other funny thing that happened was meeting the crew of S/V Andromeda on the dock in Portsmouth. Steve and Joan lived about four blocks from us in Grosse Pointe Farms, but we had never met. All of us sold our homes to go sailing! I had been told that another GPF couple had set sail from Lake St. Clair, but I did not know them. And there they are!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Just Another Day on the Ocean!

Getting ready to leave Portsmouth, VA on
"new" home. This is where we live now!
After three days of gale force winds blowing us too far west, we encountered the calms. The next three days were beautiful sunny ones, but the water flat enough for water skiing! As we motored, the crew had a more relaxing time at the helm and in their bunks. It actually allowed us to catch up on sleep that had been lost when people were extending their watches to help the next person on watch in the rough weather.

Interestingly enough, no one wanted to fish on this trip even though there was a fishing contest. I cooked many meals in my new pressure cooker so the crew ate well: roast beef, beef stew, chicken korma with basmati rice, and even a whole chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy! This time I only cooked it for 8 minutes and it came out beautifully. And of course, my beloved Corn Chowder was a hit again. I guess my menu was a success as there were never any leftovers!
The guys were impressed with the 8 minute chicken!

We did have a problem with our communications as the USB cord for our satellite phone separated at the pin end so we could not download weather or email. That left us a little short on information but we were able to listen to the daily weather report during morning role call. Another little issue came up with the SSB (single side band) radio: when  on 6C frequency, the autopilot would disengage each time I would transmit a response. That made it challenging for the helmsman while I was doing my net controller duty some of the days. It was a real surprise when it first happened in the 30+ knot winds!

Dennis keeping an eye on things one calm day.
One night we had a little scare as our batteries started overheating and were giving off awful fumes. I knew there was a problem when Dennis directed us to prepare the abandon ship bag and get the life raft ready to deploy if necessary. We were all in our life jackets and ready to go. I was so glad we did not have to as it was pitch black. There was no moon that night so it would have been a real challenge to leave the boat. Our rule is only abandon ship when you have to step up to the life raft or if there is an uncontrollable fire.

Skipperette with Flat Stanley at the wheel coming around
Tortola to Nanny Cay Marina.
We made it down to Tortola, BVI in good time and even came in third in our group. That was a surprise since we had been so far west of the rhumb line. It must have been because a lot of boats just gave up on finishing - just get there and get some sleep was the attitude. It is great to be back to our southern home! You know you are home when the bartenders remember you from two years ago!

So you all enjoy the chilly winds and oncoming snow while we sip our Pain Killers and Bushwackers by the pool. We will be thinking of you! Wish you were here.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Wild Ride Down to the BVI!

Tom up the mast at the Start Line! Not the
right way to start off on a long rally!

The 2013 Caribbean 1500 Rally was scheduled to leave Portsmouth, VA on Sunday, November 3, but oncoming bad weather caused an early departure on Saturday afternoon. I really was not ready, but you go when the boat goes! Murphy,s Laws continued to haunt us as we made our way to Tortola, BVI.

When we got out to the Start Line and put up our sail - because you must sail across the line - we had a problem: the main sail twisted in the track and folded over on itself! We sailed across the line with it 3/4 up and then immediately got out of the way of others to work on it. After some contemplation by all, Tom volunteered to go up the mast and see if he could untangle the mess. Fortunately, he was able to straighten it out.

We then got under way following the fleet that was leaving the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay. That was the beginning of our game of "catch the fleet" that continued for days. We made good time getting across a very wide Gulf Stream, shooting between two eddies and catching a ride on one of them.

All was looking good and then came three days of gale force winds out of the north-northeast. This was not good. Although we were sailing very fast (9-11 knots) we were being set to the west. Our southbound progress went well, however, we ended up 142 nm west of our rhumb line! It looked like we had decided to go to the Bahamas. That would not have been a good thing as S/V Trillium has a 7' draft and most of the Bahamas presents dangerous conditions for us - especially at night and in high seas.

Former Crew Bob and Pixie once again gave us the warm
southern welcome and loaned us their car!

After three days of being pounded, we had three days of calm -as in no wind. Time for the Iron Jenny! It was warm and sunny. The dolphins came out to play with Trillium twice. The stars were spectacular! Tom taught me about the constellation Orion that was right over us each night. No one seemed fired up to fish so we didn't. I don't have room in the freezer for fish anyway.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Reality Has Set In

We have done it! We moved out of the house at midnight last Thursday. Actually a day late! The past three weeks have been sheer hell. Let's just say that at least 17 of Murphy's Laws came into play at various points. We slept on the floor for about four hours a night for a week. The Internet got cutoff when the new owner scheduled his installation so I couldn't take care of banking, address changes, etc.

The real problem was once again the stuff! I had been giving piles of stuff away every other week all summer and still had too much. After the movers made two trips to the storage warehouse and we had an estate sale, we ended up with a self store locker for the rest. I don't even know what is in it anymore. The whole ordeal was overwhelming and exhausting.

The final straw was when we about to leave the house to sleep at Heather's before an early flight to Annapolis, Dennis discovered that his passport and immunization papers were locked in the storage locker -and it was closed until 9:00 AM. Our flight was at 8:05 AM! We were on it without the passport. Fortunately, our friend Richard had said let him know if he could help while we were gone. Well little did he know how soon he would be called into service. The passport is now on the boat. Thanks RLB!

Fortunately one of our great crew members, Ron, got to the boat two days ahead of and was busy getting her ready. I brought too much stuff (there is that word again) and am having a terrible time stowing it all. Think about it: going from a walk-in closet and eight drawers to a 12" hanging locker and three 12" drawers for your clothes! I am shoving things in every little nook I can find.

We could write a book of what not to do. We are where we are and ready to sail around the world for the next three years. Our new address is at Pointe aux Barques, MI when we return. Dennis retired yesterday so there are many new adventures ahead. Life is good!