Saturday, December 29, 2012

DHL - On the same side of the pond!

My watermaker is in Cincinnati. Wow! It has seen more of the world than I have!

Fair winds and following seas.

Christmas Winds

We are experiencing “Christmas Winds.” The weather has turned to be much like we had late in the crossing. Each day we get a smattering of rain. Most of the time it is fairly calm. Then we get a blast of wind in the 30 knot range. The expat locals tell me that this is normal of this time of year. In fact, they say, the winds have been quite mild so far. Even so I have taken to carrying my stuff in a dry bag in the dinghy and each morning I have to bail it out. I am also happy that I am on a mooring ball instead of at anchor.

 

When we came in there were a large number of megayachts. Apparently if you have a big sailboat you put an aircraft warning light on the top of the mast and light the mast itself to show yours is bigger than mine. This is also to give the common folks “spreader envy.” Reboot has only two spreaders, some of the megayachts have five or six. Of course the sailboats, although big, are nothing compared to the big power megayachts. There were rows of 250 foot and larger boats (ships?) med-moored or docked in the numerous marinas. Now almost all of them are gone – apparently to St. Barts for New Years. (You of course knew that one has to be in St. Barts for New Years.) The joke is that the St. Barts harbor is horrible during “Christmas Winds” and the harbormaster throws them all out if the weather gets bad to prevent damage to the harbor. So only the proletariat is left here in St. Maarten. The lagoon is large – before Hurricane Louis there were 1500 boats here. (Aside, the hurricane stalled over the lagoon for 24 hours, only 5 boats survived!)  It has been steadily filling up since our arrival.

 

The thrice daily activity is to go to the yacht club by the bridge and watch the megayahts – crew deployed with huge fenders on each side, bow thruster thrashing – navigate the bridge. It is like going to a NASCAR race. Everyone is really there for the accidents! Such accidents, fortunately, quite rare. Fortunate because if they hit the bridge a lot of boats could be trapped for many months while it was repaired.

 

Yesterday I went to Marigot and climbed the hill to Fort Louis with the Mullins. Built to keep the British and pirates from sacking Marigot (which they did on a regular basis) it shows the value of position in the 19th century. Built on top of a hill with minimal ramparts and only a couple of cannon it commanded all of the entrances into Marigot. The invaders could not shoot back as their guns would not bear up the hill. Strangely the only major action ever fought was totally with muskets, the cannon were never fired. Since the defenders were in a fortified position they took minimal losses while decimating the invading force.

 

Last night Sarah, Chris and Andre came over for dinner on Reboot. I figured that even I could boil some pasta and make an adequate sauce. So of course the propane ran out in the middle of cooking. A minor glitch, we changed to the other propane tank. Actually I was a bit surprised. We left Tenerife with two full propane tanks and I was concerned that we might run out during the transit. The excellent propane management skills of the crew resulted in our arrival still on the first tank. There is propane available here so getting the tank refilled is not a big deal. We had a nice dinner and then nightcaps in the cockpit.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Friday, December 28, 2012

DHL Continues to make me wonder

As some of you know my watermaker was shipped from Switzerland to Tenerife on October 31st. It finally made it to Tenerife after I left on the 16th of November. Since then - working with the customer service people at DHL - we have tried to get it reshipped to St Martin. It was picked up on the 26th of December and shipped to Madrid. Now every day there is a round trip from Madrid to Sint Maarten. So guess where it is now:

28 Dec 12 4:17 AM - Clearance delay - LEIPZIG,GERMANY

Of course it is Germany. That is exactly the wrong way...

The Town Hall in Leipzig - Maybe my watermaker is here!


Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all from our Christmas Dinner on Explorer Island, Simpson Bay Lagoon, St. Maarten. Yes, the company is great, the weather is perfect, the water is crystal clear, the beer is cold and the cheer is warm.
Dinner

Transportation

Our Corner of Paradise

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The French Side (St Marten, Sint Maarten)

Reboot is actually moored on the French side of St. Marten/Sint Maarten as there are no fees for being here. On the Dutch (Netherlands Antilles) side in addition to customs fees there are bridge fees and mooring fees. So most boats that know the financial score end up going to the French side of Simpson Bay Lagoon. In fact Marigot is the nearest town to where Reboot is moored.

That said during the time I have been here I have spent most of my time on land on the Dutch side. Not only does it seem to be more the "party" side of the island but it is also where the chandleries, hardware store, marine trades shops,airport, grocery stores etc. are more prevalent.

This morning I ran Jessica over to Marigot to meet some friends. We stopped to get fuel for the dinghy. Since two stroke engines are the norm here - you can't even find a four stroke dinghy engine to purchase - the fuel docks sell 2 cycle oil by the mix. You pull in, ask for oil for 5 gallons, they hand you a pitcher of oil. Then they set the pump to deliver the 5 gallons. It makes it quite convenient. I realize that fuel prices have gone way up but filling the dinghy for $25 US was a bit of sticker shock.

Last night we had another barbecue on Explorer Island. It was very different in character from the first one where we danced most of the night. Some new Spanish friends who had never been on a boat or in a dinghy joined us. We sat in the almost full moonlight and had a quiet night of conversation and music as Jessica had brought her guitar.

My battery is dying so off to walk a bit of Marigot - its Sunday so most everything will be closed.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Seventeen Fifty-Eight

Late in the trip from Tenerife I walked up to the cockpit. The entire crew, Moira, Sarah and Jessica where there. I said "we will jibe at seventeen fifty-eight. They all acknowledged my statement. As I settled into my normal spot in the cockpit and started telling another of my (typically inane) stories I noticed that Moira was on one winch, Jessica on the other, and Sarah was at the wheel. I thought this a bit strange but continued my tale. Finally one of them said to me: "Is 18:02." I said OK, we will jibe at seventeen fifty-eight. At that point it dawned on everyone that they thought I was talking about time and I was talking about N17 58.0 latitude. Good communication is so hard.

Fair winds and following seas.

What a blast!

The frat party continues…

 

Last night we went to La Bamba for Latin night. Sometimes I forget this is a resort island. By about 10 PM there was a very large crowd at this beach bar, It reminds me of my Navy days in the Norfolk, VA area. There were several officer clubs in the area. One night of each week each club would have a special event. Everyone went to that club that night.  The same is true here. Latin dancing night, Spanish music night, live band night… Everyone cycles through each of the bars.

 

Today we went to the airport to see Moira off. After we got her successfully through the various checkpoints and on her way up the escalator to the departure area we sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart” as she headed up the escalator, It did create quite a stir. If you have watched the Atlantic Crossing video that is what Jessica and Sarah were singing in the last frame.

 

We then went to the “Boat Bar.” The runway here is bounded by the ocean at one side and the lagoon on the other. The Boat Bar sits at what is the normal departure end of the airport. When the planes turn onto the runway they are only about 500 feet from the airport fence.  The tradition is to stand at the fence on the runway centerline. As the airplane turns to line up with the runway all of the spectators wave at the pilots and the passengers in the plane. The pilots wave back (except of course for the Air France pilots because that would be so gauche.) The more brave spectators hold on to the fence as the airplane spools up for takeoff. The rest get the heck out of the way. Since it is a beach the blast from the jet engines blows all sorts of grit and sand all over the spectators.  It is quite a blast of air and heat. Once is enough for most people.

 

Having watched Moira successfully get on her way (they missed the mountain at the end of the runway) we then went to Lagoonies for paella. (Wednesday night is of course paella night at Lagoonies.) Jessica walked me through the preparation and explained the various kinds of paella. This got my juices going and I was not disappointed it was wonderful.

 

We all agreed that we were pretty tired (having sat up in the cockpit until 2 AM last night chatting so we headed back to Reboot for an early night.

 

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The continuous Frat Party

Simpson Bay, Sint Marteen, Netherlands Antilles
We have been here four days and I am already exhausted. The weather is wonderful. The water is warm. We have been drinking, dancing, drinking, swimming, drinking, working on the boat, having a crew steak dinner at the local Argentine steak house, listening to local singers, drinking...

We have met so many great people. Both for fun and those that have been helping me get Reboot sorted out after the passage.

Last night a bunch of us went over by dingy to Exchange Island for a cook out and bonfire.(and drinking and dancing.)

Did I mention drinking?

This life is going to kill me. What a way to go!

Fair winds and following seas.

Atlantic Crossing Video



Fair winds and following seas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Broken Steering

Those of you who have been following know that we lost our steering in the middle of the Atlantic. This morning we took it apart. Here are the photos:



Fair winds and following seas

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Westbound

I discovered today that I have been posting "Atlantic Crossing Eastbound" for the entire trip (since corrected.) For those of you like me who are geographically challenged St. Maarten is West of Tenerife.

LOL

Friday, December 14, 2012

1000 mile to go celebation

In honor of our crossing the line of 1000 NM to go we had a “secret Santa” type exchange.

By Sarah

Roger Roger, Angels acalling, Roger, Roger, over and out
On his white steed they are sailing. Roger plots our ‘True Route.’
Good girl Jess always smiling as she strums her C, G cord, but whatever you do Roger don’t throw that plastic overboard!
Eagle eyed Moira always looking far out to sea. Aye a dolphin, Aye a whale, Aye a fish I do see. With a Cigi in one hand and the knife in the other, soon she’s fished and filleted our delicious Dorado supper.
Random meeting with Sarah saw her the 3rd of this crew. She makes noise on her Danso, she makes better her fish head stew.
Sleeping beauty, XO is his name. Cleaning hair, kissing noses, flying fish is his game.

All have crossed this vast blue … 1000 miles to go more
Now we can cheers with a beer, to this coming new shore
Growing bellies, growing sea legs, we try the jib and jibe dance
Ever ready, Captain Roger … “is there hot water by any chance?”
Leaping quickly to his name “Roger … ROGER!!” it is time
Sailing this way, sailing that way, a Caribbean Island soon we will find.

Sarah (by Roger)


As I walked from the blue cafe,
having just sent the Dutchman away,
I pondered what I was to do,
As I wanted additional crew.

Sarah then walked up to me
and said you are whom I must see,
I am looking for a boat for a ride,
to get to the opposite side.

Don't let my obvious charms distract,
I really know how crew has to act,
I don't have much money you see,
but I'm willing to go please take me.

No matter what tack we are on
This girl always has the clew
Even when it blows seven
She knows for sure what to do.

On the foredeck she handles the pole,
with great skill though Reboot may roll.
Screwdriver in hand we have seen,
She can make Reboot a sailing machine.

Her craft skills have created for me
A memento of volcano Teide
In the kitchen she cooks up a storm,
My coffee she always keeps warm.

On night watch with stars in the sky,
She makes the time seem to fly
And when it comes time to play
She makes all my cares go away.

My story will have to end here,
I feel it is time for a beer.
But wherever Sarah shall roam,
She can always call Reboot her home.

Jessica (by Moira)


Jess is on her way, Hawaii Uni bound
Via the Caribbean, it’s probably the long way round

With a tearful farewell to mama & papa, she boarded sailboat Reboot
Spain was left behind her to take the Atlantic crossing route

Lentils, wasabi, soy sauce and chicken from her mum
She was super optimistic the vegetables would last the run

Dorado were the fish we caught, and Jessie was the stunner
Wielding the hammer on the back deck like a professional hit man killer

Mayonnaise or olive oil that’s the burning question
Who would have thought salad dressing would have been such a bone of contention

XO is the boats second in command, American is his language
But confused when waking Jess in the middle of the night, being berated in Spanish rage

Having the watch following Jess, she tickles me awake
Moira it’s “time” to do your watch and get up on the deck

In Hawaii she will stay amongst the surfer dudes and learn to bend and curl
We wish her all the luck and safe passage to all hat life may unfurl

Moira (Crafts by Jessica)

Jessica made Moira a beautiful dragonfly hair clip and provided a coupon for one massage!



Spider Hunt 2013

Reboot is participating in “Spider Hunt 2013” (my name for it) by providing a platform for biodiversity research in the Caribbean. Their web site is at http://www.islandbiogeography.org/index.html The tentative sailing schedule is:

 

Saint Martin 1/13-1/16

Anguilla 1/18-1/22

Saint Barts 1/24-1/27

Saba 1/30-2/2

Statia 2/4-2/7

St Kitts 2/8-2/17

Nevis 2/8-2/17

Barbuda 2/19-2/22

Antigua 2/24-2/27

Montserrat 3/2-3/5

Guadeloupe 3/7-3/15

Dominica 3/17-3/20

Martinique 3/23-3/27

Saint Lucia 3/29-4/3

St Vincent & Grenadines 4/5-4/17

Grenada 4/18-4/22

Barbados 4/25-4/28

BVI 5/2-5/16

USVI 5/16-5/30

Turks & Caicos 6/5-6/15

 

In addition the researchers will be doing outreach programs in several of the ports of call. If you see us give us a call on Channel 16!

 

Fair winds and following seas

 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 13, 2012

As of 0434 UTC at anchor, Simpson Bay, St. Martin, France
All is well.
Voyage summary to follow later today.

--

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 12, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 18 11.041
W 061 31.485
C 280T S 7.0 Knots
89.3 NM to go, 152.7 NM last 24 hours, 2686.7 NM on track
Wind NE @ 25 - 30 Knots; Waves NE @ 10 - 12 feet

We had rain showers again last night and this morning. Sometimes we get gusts with the rain, sometimes not so it keeps us pretty much awake in case we have to trim. The days are then hot and sticky. We can't open the hatches as Reboot ships a wave every once in a while. The only one who so far has not been doused from head to toe is XO. The rest of us have had our unexpected full body bath. At least it keeps the cockpit floor clean.

We continue at good speed and are looking forward to making landfall.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

INMARSAT ISatPhone Pro Data Service (Field Test)

I used my ISatPhone Pro in conjunction with the SPSMail application during the 2776 NM transit from Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) Spain to St. Martin in the Caribbean.

ISatPhone Pro:
I have mixed emotions about the ISatPhone. Pro. We were at a very low Latitude so I expected the signal strength from the satellite to be quite strong. In fact it was no different than further North. I guess when the satellite is in geosynchronous orbit (if I remember right about 22,500 miles up) a few thousand extra miles don't matter much.
Three drawbacks:
(1) The antenna is very directional. On a rolling sailboat this means you need to hold the phone in your hand and compensate for the roll. I spent a lot of money on dropped calls until I figured this out.
(2) The phone seemed to be very affected by moisture in the atmosphere. Whenever there were clouds (and there were a lot of them) it was difficult to maintain a connection.
(3)  It is difficult to read the telephone (and in my case also my computer) "outside with a clear view of the sky" during daytime hours. I ended up only making the connection at night so I could see what was going on.

SPSMall Data Service
I used the console application that was provided. It was less intuitive then I thought. Once I read the instructions I did a lot better. Some of it takes getting used to. For example the "sent" folder contains messages that are queued up for the next data connection but have not actually been "sent." Copy, Cut and Paste are disabled most of the time which is annoying.  Whatever you do don't delete orphans in the queue! These are the messages that have been partly received or partly sent. If you delete the queue you lose all of those messages. Since they are already in the "sent" folder you think they have been sent but they haven't. Not good. Spent a bunch of money learning that too! It is worth taking the time to explore the various "utilities." I discovered a nice interface for getting GRIB files. I pretty much ignored the "Web Fetch" utility until I discovered a very nice catalog of weather pages that are most useful to boats at sea. I believe it is an interfac
e to the "Saildocs" service.

Summary
I have used "Airmail" in conjunction with "Winlink.org" for many years. When close to shore it works quite well. In the middle of the ocean it is much less reliable. Despite the drawbacks noted I was glad that I had invested in the ISatPhone Pro and the SPSMail Data Service. It provided one more link for Captain and Crew to our shore based support and loved ones.

Satellite Phone Store
A special mention to Filip Kvasny – Sales Manager at the Satellite Phone Store (HYPERLINK "http://www.satellitephonestore.com/" http://www.satellitephonestore.com) In spite of me giving him totally incorrect information and then complaining that he had not done what I asked he figured out that I had my head up my a^&*^&, fixed my problem, and did it all with good grace. So Bravo Zulu as we say in the Navy. Or, thank you Filip as we say as civilians. If you are looking to purchase a phone or other equipment, an email service for your phone, and/or air time I would recommend the good folks at the Satellite Phone Store.

Fair winds and following seas

(Posted with the ISatPhone Pro utilizing the SPS-Mail data service.)


--

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 11, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 17 57.955
W 058 50.306
C 271T S 6.4 Knots
242 NM to go, 154 NM Last 24 hours, 2534 on track

We revisited the weather of our departure last night. We had rain squalls most of the night. Winds got up into the 30 to 35 knot range in the squalls. Then the wind would die. We reefed and shook out reefs about 7 or 8 times. Finally we accepted that we would go a little slower during the lulls.

We all have arrival fever. The big question on board is "are we there yet daddy?" Followed of course by "I have to go potty", "I am hungry" and the classic "stop hitting me" to the nearest sibling.

Fair winds and following seas

--

Monday, December 10, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 10,2o12

Noon (UTC) Position
N 17 38.243
W 056 10.187
C 275T S 7.3 Knots
387 NM to go, 160 NM last 24 (a new Reboot record), 2389 NM on track
Waves 8 - 12 Feet NNE

Sarah had to wrassle down XO last night. We got three flying fish on the deck and he brought one back to the cockpit. We got it away before he could make a mess. Then we took a wave over the side and XO decided he didn't want to wade out along the rail for the other two. I did, and they went overboard. I got the evil look from XO!

The easterly trades seem to have finally filled in. The days are similar - good wind (about 20 knots) night and day. Heavy cloud cover around sunrise and sunset - sometimes some light rain. The rest of the time clear. At night, even though it is 77 degrees the constant wind and spray make us dress much more warmly.

Yesterday we sighted a sail. It turned out to be "Spirit." They are part of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) out of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. As fate would have it they passed withing .2 nautical miles of our stern. "Roger's Angels", as the gals on board have taken to calling themselves got on the VHF and chatted it up with the fellow on watch on Spirit. He is from Cornwall, England. He pointed out that he was a qualified skipper, 38 years old, about 70 kilos, had lots of cold beer and he was "looking to breed."

Fair winds and following seas

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 9, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 17 23.831
W 053 23.188
C 260T S 7.5 Knots
547 NM to go, 156 NM last 24 hours (a new Reboot record!, 2229 NM on track
(Day 22)

A record breaking run in the last 24 hours. The waves have picked up and the wind is a little more gusty so we have cranked in the jib just a small bit (we are at about 95% of the 135% jib.) Ride is much better and autopilot is not working as hard. With the wind aft of the beam its either a double reefed main or the jib as the main blankets the jib. It is much easier to tend the jib with varying conditions so we go with it most of the time.

XO scared us all last night when he went after a flying fish on the rail. He was very close to the edge and we are rolling about +25 degrees to -25 degrees in the ocean swell. But he was sure footed enough to bring it back to Moria. The classic fight ensued but she got the fish before he could take it below and hide it.

We will change the boat time again today to UTC -4 as we have passed W 52 30.0. This is Atlantic time, the same time zone as St. Martin.

Fair winds and following seas.


--

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 8, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 54.640
W 050 42.743
C 280T S 6.5 Knots
703 NM to to, 2073 NM on track, 137 NM last 24 hours (A record this trip)

We obviously made very good time the last 24 hours. Winds have picked up and slowly veered to the Northeast. This is a great direction for making progress. The waves are still on the beam so we are rolling a bit but they will shift over time more to the stern also.

Still experiencing lots of clouds and occasional rain so we are still on electricity conservation. In fact we ran the engine for an hour last night as we are not quite charging as much from the solar panels as we are using each day.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Friday, December 7, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 7, 2012

On Pearl Harbor day out thoughts and prayers go out to all active, reserve, and retired military and their families.
Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 44.960
W 048 20.311
C 280T S 5.6 Knots
840 NM to go

An interesting 24 hours. After our early morning swim call we experienced ever so slowly building and veering winds. We had a great lunch with a bottle of wine to celebrate breaking the 1000 mile to go mark yesterday. As the evening wore on the winds continued to increase. we went from a full main and jib by stages to a double reefed main and 50% jib. We were tooling along at 6.5 to 7.3 knots most of the night. In the morning the wind veered further so that the main was blanketing the jib. We dropped the main only to have the wind move forward again onto the beam. We are now running with just the jib, the wind is veering again, so pretty soon we will be going back to the whisker pole.

The weather has been crazy. We get periods of clear skies followed by overcast and everything in between. So we always have to be alert for a sudden increase in wind due to a rain squall.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 6, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 47.903
W 046 31.729
C 240T S 1.9 Knots
948 NM to go

A varied 24 hours. We had good wind part of the time but it was from the SE. Over the course of the night it has veered to the NE. During the early morning we had a succession of rain showers come through. When it was not raining there was no wind. We had Reboot pointed at 240T and were drifting at 175T! In other words we were going backwards. This morning we took advantage of the lack of wind to all take a swim and wash up for out 1000 mile to go party this afternoon. We are all hoping that the wind will fill in and we will get going again soon.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 5, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 43.751
W 045 16.160
C 280T S 4.5 Knts
1015 NM to go, 120 NM last 24, 1763 NM on track

Quiet day. Closing in on 1000 NM to go. Jessica played the guitar during her watch last night under the stars.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 4, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 21.04
W 043 13.587
C 290T S 7.2 Knots
1135 NM to go, 119 NM last 24, 1643 NM traveled on track

We did very well the last 24 hours. This is particularly gratifying after so many days of not being able to break 100 NM. The sun has been out for the last couple of days so the daytime is getting hot (82F as I speak.) At night we often get light rain showers on and off. For the first time we are seeing Sirrus (fair weather) clouds mixed in the the cumulus that we have had all along.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Monday, December 3, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 3, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 16 00.427
W 041 38.198
C 275T S 4.6 Knots
1254 NM to go

This morning during very light winds we took down the sails and Sarah and Jessica went body surfing off the stern of Reboot. We were doing about 1.2 knots from the wave action so they got a nice tow. They also took advantage of being in the water to wash their hair. Lots of fun. We have started celestial navigation practice, tonight we will try and take our first star sights.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, December 2, 2012

Noon (UTC) position
N 16 07.145
W 039 36.715
C 260 T S 6.1 Knts
1343 NM to St. Martin

Our destination (other than the Caribbean) is up in the air. We will make landfall somewhere between St. Martin and Martinique. At the moment the winds are favoring Martinique. The plan is for Reboot to be in St. Martin for Christmas and New Years.

We have had a good 24 hours. The wind has filled in again so we are making progress. We had some heavy and then light rain overnight. This morning Moira made a pancake breakfast - it was a treat.

Fair winds and following seas.


-

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wheel Steering

Well, plan B actually worked so we have wheel steering again. Since we are holding it together with hose clamps we will use it as little as possible.

Fair winds and following seas
--

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 30. 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 17 38.153
W 036 27.484
C 230T S 4.5 Knts
1514 NM to go (now measured to St. Martin (new destination)

Quiet 24 hours. We are heading more south to avoid storms in our previous track. We have been ultraconservative with the sails so as to avoid the last minute reefing exercises of the previous night. Pretty day today, more sun and warmth then we have seen in a while.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 29, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 19 02.196
W 035 08.049
C 240T S 6.5
1549 NM to Go

It has been an eventful 24 hours. We have had:
Squalls with winds to 35 knots,
Catastrophic failure of our wheel steering (and the vane steering that depends on it,)
Failure of the shackle that holds the main sheet to the traveler,
A poetry reading
(But not in that order...)

We lost the wheel steering to a pressed in part in the Edson steering that failed. We took it apart this morning and determined that we could not repair it at sea. This leaves us with two of our four redundant and separate steering systems: the Autohelm autopilot and the emergency tiller. So we continue on our merry way!
The icing on the cake was when the main sheet came free from the traveler. This was a simple fix. It required finding a new shackle and replacing the broken one. Fortunately we had a spare that worked on board.

The crew is well and accepting that some things break and we have sufficient backup systems to continue. It is been continuously overcast and we are all hoping for a decent couple of days of sunshine.

Fair winds and following seas.



--

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 28, 2012

Noon (UTC) position
N 19 27.716
W 033 29,565
C 205T S 6.5 Knts
1671 NM to go, 111 NM last 24 hours

We tacked and are heading much more South. Wave action is still an issue, we do a lot of rolling. In the last 12 hours the waves have moderated from 8-10 to 5-7 feet so we are rolling a bit less. With light winds the sails flog when we roll so we are giving up a little on course to keep the sails full. According to the GRIB files we will be heading into even lighter winds in the next day or two.

We keep getting light rain every once in a while and mostly overcast skies. Air temperature keeps rising, most nights the cockpit is comfortable but not warm.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 27. 2012

Noon (UTC) position
N 20 14.916
W 031 42.257
C 280T S 5.0 Knts
1782 NM to go, 123 NM last 24 hours

Lots of light rain last night. We have been giving up a bit of our south progress due to 10 foot waves rocking the boat. It has been overcast at least half of every day. In the afternoon the panels are obscured by the sails That has put a big crimp in the solar panel electricity production. Fortunately we can sail without any power at all. We do use some but are very careful. Hopefully we will get a few days of clear skies.

We are making good progress and have dropped into an easy routine appropriate for an ocean passage.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Monday, November 26, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 26, 2012

Noon (UTC) Position
N 20 55.167
W 029 37.328
C 255T S 6.0
1905 NM to go

Some light rain overnight but the winds have been holding up. We did 127 NM in the last 24 hours. That has been our best run yet.

After several days of overcast we are finally getting some bright sunshine. It is doing great things for the solar panels.

Fair winds and following seas...

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 25, 2012

Noon Position
N 21 32.260
W 027 23.834
C 240T S 5.0 Knots
2031 NM to go, 97 MN on track last 24 hours

We caught another fish today. Watching the three ladies (the crew) land it and clean it is a joy to behold. They don't even talk to each other. They have each worked out their role in the past three days. How cool is that?

Some light rain last night. Pretty strong winds and then they died for about 4 hours. Between the short days, the low arc of the sun, and the consistent overcast we have been on electricity rationing. This morning we ran the engine for 2 hours just to bring them back up into a comfortable operating range.

Jessica got to talk to her Mom and Dad last night, first by satellite phone and then by ham radio. I think they were all very excited. It was fun to just watch her glow in pleasure.

The weather is getting slowly warmer. With the warmth has come a lot of moisture, hence the clouds. It has gotten pretty sticky some pasts of the day. We still have at least another 180 NM to go South, I expect it will get warmer still.

Fair winds and following seas.



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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 24, 2012

Noon Position:
N 22 37.963
W 026 01.640
C 220T S 5.0 Knots
2128 NM to go

We continue to have light winds. Running with the asymmetric at night is difficult even with the moon so we have accepted going a little slower and running on the jib. Most of the time we are at about 150 degrees relative so when Reboot rolls in the waves it keeps trying to gibe. We only made about 80 nautical miles yesterday, well off our expected pace of 120 NM per day. The GRIB files indicate that we should be getting some stronger winds in the next couple of days. I hope so.

The crew are amazing. They have learned Reboot quickly. With the light winds we are doing a lot of sail changes. I just say we are going to do a change and everyone grabs a task and gets it done. They also seem to like each other, frequently the watch stander will have a companion for conversation and company. In addition, (as a male I need to point out that) they cook great food and for the third day in a row they have caught a fish! We are eating well. I am actually concerned that I may gain weight on the passage.

Fair winds and following seas

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, November 23, 2012

Noon Position:
N 23 07.514
W 024 48.359
C 245T S 3.5 Knots

We continue to be plagued by very light winds. Yesterday we did manage to get 97 NM closer to Martinique with a lot of sail changes and hand steering. Fortunately I have a crew of three so we have been able to spread the load. I am sure I would be going nuts if I was alone.

We caught a dorado for the second day in a row today. It is nice to have fresh fish. I hope that as our land bought stores of fresh food run out we will be able to continue to catch fresh fish.

Fair winds and following seas.

--

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound, Wednesday November 21, 2012

Sixth day out.
Noon Position
N 23 47.656
W 021T 23.263
C 265 S 6.0 Knots

We have been plagued by light winds ever since leaving Tenerife. Last night the winds finally filled in and let us steer the course we want. We had a bit of rain last night. Having a full crew has resulted in many sail changes. We now use the asymmetric when the wind gets light. This has been keeping up our speed but does not help us when we are trying to go dead down wind.
It being winter the solar panels are not putting out anywhere near the charge that they do in the summertime, even as far south as we are. We have been in an energy conservation mode. Fortunately Reboot can sail with very minimal power – just enough to run the GPS to give us location, course and speed.
Temperature has been all over the place, from sun bathing to wrapped in coats against the wind. We are looking forward to the warmer climes further south.
Fair winds and following seas

Monday, November 19, 2012

Atlantic Crossing Westbound - Monday, November 19, 2012

Fourth day out – first post
Noon position
N 25 36.760
W 019 36.252
Made good 255 Nm on track, 2523 Nm to go (At departure 2778)
Crew: XO, Moira, Sarah, Jessica

We have been plagued by very light winds. We are about 100 Nm behind and 40 Nm East of our intended track. Wave action has kept Reboot rolling making it very hard to steer our intended course.

Our Marine Mammal spotter (Moira) has already spotted two pilot whales and possibly two sperm whales. We were visited last night by several pantropical spotted dolphins. They played around in our wake for a while. We were all delighted but I think Jess won the prize for being the happiest.

We are trolling but no luck yet. We took the old line off the trolling rig and replaced it with a new line. Of course it got all snarled up while we were trying to change it out. Great crew building exercise for about 1 hour until we got it all sorted out. Next time we will do it differently.

We have had good radio contact with Fred (W3ZU) and Bill (KI4MMZ.) The ham contest this weekend made it a bit difficult but we were able to file position reports.

We left the water maker behind somewhere on its grand tour of Europe. As we were pulling out of Santa Cruz de Tenerife we go a call that they might be able to deliver it by this coming Friday. I am glad we just bit the bullet and departed.

Fair winds and following seas

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Getting Ready to depart Tenerife

The Crew
We hope to depart for Martinique tomorrow.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food Shopping

Today we went food shopping for the transit - 4 people - estimated 25 days. 750 €. Four "trolleys" full of food. Fortunately the store delivered right to the boat so we were saved trucking everything down the dock. Now if the water maker would just arrive. Of course there is a strike in Spain...

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The float switch (again)

I have been working my way through Reboot's systems in preparation for our departure. Once again I checked the bilge. Unfortunately the float switch that Rob and I had repaired failed to work. Taking it apart we discovered that it had rusted to the point of failure. A walk to the boat store, 50 € and 1/2 hour in the bilge corrected the problem.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


To celebrate my one year anniversary of heart surgery Lysann Hofmann and Moira Moore took me to Burger King for a double whopper. I passed on the cheese as I am a recovering heart patient. Ah, the American experience in Spain!

Fair winds and following seas.


Pretty Faces

Rob (my temporary crew) and I have been laughing about how in every photograph of a boat in a magazine there is always one or more bikini clad lass in prominent view. Since Reboot is right at the entrance to the marina we get to see every boat that comes in. For some reason they are all crewed by old men. So it is treat to share a picture that does some justice to the magazines.

Jessica and Lysann
Meet Jessica (part of my temporary crew) and Lysann (from the catamaran Bounty across the way. I took this picture while on a walk and shopping trip in Santa Cruz.

Pretty Girls.

Fair winds and following seas.

Bikini, Marshall Islands

We have a new 110 foot cutter rigged sailboat visiting Marina Santa Cruz. See http://www.totosailing.com/ I did not recognize the flag so I asked the crew. It is home ported in Bikini, Marshall Islands. (In the US a documented vessel can pick anywhere in the United States for a home port.) The owner obviously has a sense of humor. For more on the Marshall Islands and Bikini see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_Atoll

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Playing in Poo (3)

The saga continues. We continued to explore why the aft head fills with water even with the sea inlet closed. Obviously it is back flow from the hose to the tank.But the tank is empty. Well, no, it turns out that the tank is full - right to the brim. Surprise!

I spent some time on the Catalina 42 owners web site exploring this problem. It turns out that holding tanks not pumping completely out is not unique to Reboot. The plumbing is such that if the deck clean out is open the macerator pump pulls in a lot of air from the deck clean out and can't get a good suction on the tank. We had left the clean outs loose to make it easier to add water to clean the tank. So we closed them up tight and pumped the tank out. We will see if this helps.

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I've got it, I've got it

XO

Jessica arrives

Jessica at the top!

Jessica arrived and we put her to work threading the second spinnaker halyard. It was her first trip to the top!
The view from below

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Inmarsat ISatphone Pro Data Service

ISatPhone Pro
Prior to leaving to cross the Atlantic I purchased an Inmarsat ISatPhone Pro from the Satellite Phone Store for emergency use. I used a prepaid plan and since the more minutes you purchase the longer they last before they expire I bought enough minutes to get a one year duration. After a few months I realized that I was not using up any of my minutes so I started to use the phone occasionally to call my sons.

While in Horta, Azores I installed the drivers for the telephone on my computer. One of the drivers converts the phone into a modem that runs at 2400 bps. This is very slow. Ancient, like me. Consider that the Hayes "Smartmodem" modem of early dial up fame (1987) was a 9600 bps modem. (Technical aside, the Hayes command set "AT" is still used as the standard for most all modems.)

Now consider that the normal setting to render color on your screen is 32 bit color. So we can transmit 75 pixels per second. At 1024 x 768 screen we are dealing with 786432 pixels! The good news is that web sites don't actually transmit all those pixels. They transmit a script that tells your computer how to "render" the page. The script is actually much more compact with one exception - every picture rendered has to be transmitted over the connection.The good news is that the pictures are compressed too so not all the pixels have to be transmitted. However, the end result is still 20 to 40 minutes to render a single web page. How is that for slow?

So what good is a 2400 bps modem on a satellite telephone? What you can do is transmit small amounts of text in a reasonable time. Thus, email works. One can use email to download Grib data (for example from Saildocs.)

Enough theory - how do I actually make it work?  What you need is a telephone number for your phone to call. There are three options:

Option 1 - Connect to Inmarsat

See http://www.satellitephonestore.com/files/docs/products/isatphoneprodataconnection.pdf for step by step instructions. The down side is that you are making a dial up network connection and your computer will do all its uploads and downloads (like automatic updates of your software) while connected. This can lead to quite a lot of minutes.

Option 2 - Use an dedicated (payed) email connection service

I use SPSMail. This is a dedicated service for email.that includes an email address and several options for managing your mail.

Option 3 - Connect to your Internet service provider

Some internet service providers give you a dial telephone number to use "on the road."  Setting up a dial up connection to your provider will also work.

A note: Passage Weather provides a link for "the bandwidth impaired."  Do not confuse "bandwidth impaired" with "bandwidth nonexistent." I have been told that the Passage Weather download takes 30 to 40 minutes on an ISatPhone Pro.

Fair winds and following seas.


Friday, November 2, 2012

It never rains in California (Tenerife)


"Seems it never rains in southern California

Seems I've often heard that kind of talk before

It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn ya?

It pours, man, it pours"

(Mamas and The Papas)

Hello from sunny Tenerife where it only rains in February. Well, not quite. For about the last week and a half it has rained every day. Like other volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean there are always clouds at some point in the day over the Canaries. Normally we get some light mist from the clouds. We have been experiencing steady downpours of several hours at a time. There is a lot of airborne dust here, some of which blows in from Africa. With the steady rain it has been coming down and making quite a mess. We have not gone swimming as the water is just ugly.

Last night Rob and I went drinking with a group of Netherlanders from the boat next to Urs and Isabelle. It seemed that every time we wanted to head home we were stuck in a bar in a downpour. Of course the only solution was to have another beer. I have a splitting headache this morning! Not only that but we decided to walk back in the rain so I got totally soaked. Actually we did not decide, the bars closed for the night so there was no place to go.

Fair winds and following seas.

Halloween shore side (Hurricane Sandy)

Ridgewood, New Jersey

Most cruisers have a shore side support system to receive mail and so forth. In my case it is my older brother Al and his wife of many years Sally. They live in Ridgewood, NJ north and west of New York City.

His Halloween report:

"Hi:

Here’s a different take on Halloween for your blog.  While you were partying in Tenerife, we were experiencing a different kind of evening.  Yes, the tree is resting on the house.  Yes, we have no power.  Yes, we will have no power for quite a long time.

 This storm came on the exact anniversary of a freak early season snowstorm last year that left us without power for three days.  Three days and counting, now.

 We do have a generator, but gasoline is tight because the power outages are very widespread and few stations have power.  We run to warm the house in the morning, shut down and then run at sundown to re-warm the house and provide light in the evening.  One neighbor has their fridge hooked up to our machine and another is running a space heater from it.  Lights on at 7:00, off at 10:30, on at 5:30, off at 9:30.

 Happy Halloween."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at Cafe Atlantico

The Group
Yesterday was Halloween. Cafe Atlantico had a Halloween party. What this really meant was that they had live music and some decorations. Moria, Rob and I had Chinese food and then headed down to Atlantico where we were met by Isabella, Urs, and Ingran. The band was actually pretty good for a change. More interesting was watching the Tenerife "in crowd" all show up. There were about 100 of them and they all knew each other.

Costumes were very scarce but there were a few. I was surprised that no one (except for Isabella and me) was dancing. Urs told me that the Spanish  love to dance and are quite good at it. It was not in evidence last night.

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Moira arrives

Moira
Moria successfully completed her trip from Scotland to always sunny Tenerife (where it has been raining steady since she arrived.) We are now only waiting for Jessica and we will be fully crewed for the transit. Moria was a good sport, after two days of travel she managed to stay awake all day and even joined us for our evening sundowner on Urs & Isabelle's boat. Considering that our evening sundowner starts at about 8 PM and ends at midnight it was quite a trick!

Fair winds and following seas.

Monday, October 29, 2012

HMS Bounty Replica apparently lost

As reported by the USCG the replica ship HMS Bounty was abandoned by its crew in Hurricane Sandy

The story as reported (so far) by Fox News:

http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2012/10/29/coast-guard-monitoring-tall-ship-in-distress-off-north-carolina-with-17-aboard/

Update - apparently 14 crew rescued, two missing, the ship apparently sank :

http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2012/10/29/coast-guard-monitoring-tall-ship-in-distress-off-north-carolina-with-17-aboard/

What is curious is that they say 17 souls were on board, yet they have only accounted for 16.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Epsilon and Zeta

With Sandy booming up the East Coast an amazing memory of hurricanes past by xkcd.

http://xkcd.com/1126/

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Yesterday I took the ARMAS (Naviera Armas) from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. (50.50 € round trip) Las Palmas is the departure point for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), an annual sailing rally from the Canaries to the Caribbean. I have been very curious about the ARC so I thought it would be fun to go over and take a look.

The outbound trip was pretty much as expected, that is to say boring. I had not taken my laptop as I didn't want to carry the weight. As it turns out the ferries have internet so I could have amused myself for the 2 3/4 hour trip. I did have a cheap novel and passed the time reading. I was surprised that at both ends the ferry took on a pilot, apparently the Canary Pilots have a strong union!

The port at Las Palmas is larger than Santa Cruz and very industrial. The ferry dock in Santa Cruz is about 1/4 mile from Reboot and 1/4 mile from downtown Santa Cruz. When we arrived in Las Palmas I expected the same. We docked in the middle of nowhere. There were a bus waiting to take us to the other Naviera Armas facility which is much closer to the downtown area. I expected to be met by a potential Caribbean crew member but when I got to the facility I was told that she had gone to the Parque Santa Catalina to meet me. I found the parque (in the words of the local promoters "the crossroads of the world.) but was unable to find the person I expected to meet. My search was not made easier by the thousands of cruise ship tourists who had apparently just arrived that morning.

After waiting for a bit I decided to walk down to the marina. It, like Marina Santa Cruz, is quite a long walk from the downtown area. The marina is right next to a beach. In front of the beach is an anchorage area. I decided that I preferred the marina at Santa Cruz. First, there are no finger piers so everyone is "Med" moored. The boats are packed in like sardines - any motion on one will be transmitted all the way down the pontoon. Second, the pontoons seem much closer together making docking and getting underway more difficult. Finally, the bathrooms are a lot further away for almost everyone. No a good thing for an urgent need in the night! The anchorage was already quite full, more than a month before the ARC. I was told but could not confirm that in order to make room for new boats after one had been on a dock for some time period they sent you off to the anchorage. Not my idea of a good time. I really could not judge but my impression is that the water is not as clean as in Santa Cruz. On the positive side there is a long strip of marina stores and providers right at the marina.

There was little evidence of the ARC other than the boat flags so I did what all good cruisers do - headed for the bar. There are several, I chose the most central, the "Sailors Bar" (catchy title.) Link: Sailors bar. I ordered a beer and a pizza from Carlos only to find that I had to wait 40 minutes until food service was available. Carlos and I agreed that I could pass the time drinking beer. The pizza arrived and I (apparently) decided to wear the first piece on the front of my white shirt! Cleaning myself as best I could I continued to eat (with my mouth.) A few minutes later I discovered that the bar had free internet. I checked my mail and discovered that the person I was supposed to meet was looking for me so Carlos was kind enough to send a text for me. While waiting a French/Hungarian couple I had meet looking for crew positions recognized me and joined me. A bit later the potential crew member and her local friend showed up. We all had a great conversation.

After a bit I decided to take off and wander around Las Palmas. I ended up in the Elder Museum, a beautiful hands on science museum. I  had a great time walking around pushing all the buttons.

I walked back to the ARMAS dock. We were loaded into the bus for the trip back to the dock and the bus would not start. After a short delay a second bus arrived and off we went.

I was on deck during the ferry departure from Las Palmas and as luck would have it met the second engineer. She was off duty (she had the midnight to 6 AM "cold iron" watch) and we started to chat. Her English was quite good and she told me that it was a treat to practice speaking it. I told her that I lived on a sailboat and was retired US Navy. She asked me if I would like a tour. I said of course. She excused herself and when she came back told me that the Captain would be delighted to show me the Bridge and that she had permission to take me to her domain - the engine room. So off we went. The bridge was very large and very modern. The first officer walked me through all the controls as we slid down the side of Gran Canaria on the way to Tenerife. The bridge is about 60 feet in the air so as soon as we rounded the point we could see Tenerife in the distance. I was then invited by the Captain to dine with the crew. How very nice. Off then to the engine spaces. Most of the equipment was familiar, the big difference from my personal experience was the level of computer control and monitoring. We then went to dinner and voilà, we were back in Tenerife. What a great way to pass the trip back. So I was off to bed after a nice day.

Fair winds and following seas.






Friday, October 26, 2012

Andrea gets conched

Andrea
When Andrea, her cousin and I went to the beach she and I went for a walk. I discovered that she has a real love of sea shells but had never seen a conch. So I dug down deep in Reboot and found one that I had brought up SCUBA diving. I think you can see from the smile she was pleased to add it to her collection.

Fair winds and following seas.

At least this time it wasn't Spain

October is a big month for me. As I pointed out last year it contains five of my favorite historical events. Two  were yesterday. See http://blog.sailboatreboot.com/2011/10/answers-2-3-favorite-historical-events.html I did not post as I had regressed into "computer guy" mode. First I was working with the marina to get their wireless running better. Then I was helping another cruiser get his "Sailmail" program to run. It was frustrating. We were able to get it running on his primary computer but not his backup. So at least he will have access as long as the main computer continues to work.

(For those curious, the other two favorite historical events were the birth of my sons. Way to go, Diane!)

Fair winds and following seas.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Playing in Poo (2)


Rob's Clean Head
Today was another playing in “Poo” day. I continued to work on cleaning the bow holding tank. Rob (Kuijten) was not so lucky. The aft head that he has been using refused to flush. After taking apart the electric flushing system he discovered that the switch had rusted and was no longer working. After a quick consultation we decided it was safe to bypass the switch and use the panel switch. The only problem with this solution was that there is a manual valve that controls “wet bowl” or “dry bowl.”  Turning the control while also turning on the panel switch would take someone with 10 foot arms. We agreed that if we could set it in the “web bowl” position it would be OK. With some random parts and a great deal of creativity Rob came up with a solution that not only held the switch in the proper position but can be removed in a minute or two.

After finally being able to flush the toilet Rob proceeded to give the head “a clean sweep fore and aft.” Actually, I think he spent a couple of hours cleaning and sanitizing the head from top to bottom. It really looks great! The picture tells all.

XO playing mouse with Rob
Rob and XO have become great friends. When we sit in the cockpit XO takes up residence on top of the dodger and hangs out. Every once in a while he will stick a paw over or make a noise. Rob loves to play with him or just pick him up and pet him. So XO now has two staff instead of just one.

Fair winds and following seas.

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