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.


-

Marine Directory Asia - A useful resource

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