Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seafaring Lily

Lily, my seafaring musical and artistic daughter, who just had a birthday yesterday, has just sent a YouTube video with a terrific sea shanty. Enjoy!
sea shanty

Nov 30 learning the ropes

There are many expressions that come directly from sailing. They will make good titles for pages, as apropos. Such as the one above. I am getting the hang of this but it is remarkable how the same things done on the same boat can seem more or less a big deal depending on the perspective of the moment. This is the part where repetition just has to be the order of the day. I do enjoy the new outlook on everything, and new appreciation for how much the nautical side of existence on this planet has shaped so much of the human conditioned reactions to things; for this I will just have to find examples, which will happen.
Yesterday, we went to Tobago and enjoyed snorkeling, and I got some amazing driftwood which will be a challenge to stow, as I want to make mobiles as I used to do in college as a hobby, and haven't done since. I have read my second cs Forrester book, I am for some reason, very interested in naval history. This area is rife with the most bloodthirsty happenings, which I will elaborate on later.
Also saw two dolphins and hope to figure out how to add pics of that. I got one where they were both jumping and one with a face, eyes, and blowhole. Not bad for an action shot!
Today we went to White Sand Bay and hung out with all the depraved party people until it got old watching people acting like they were having the time of their lives, but on show. Sometimes I want to retreat to the boat and just hang onto some privacy, even here in wonderland. I still feel extremely territorial, even though there is less of it to sit inside. My territorial imperative is still fully functional; I even watched a white heron that had been perched on the boat while we were away, as though he were being impertinent, but that's because he could have left a deposit which some swabby will have to clean off the deck.

Nov. 20th Thursday

today feels uncomfortable; it was our first day exploring the island. Bob said we were piss poor at planning. I don't agree with that, but it wasn't enjoyable as I had hoped. I didn't like the feeling that I was intruding on the island but I feel as though I don't belong. There has to be the component of race being part of the issue, and it isn't easy to see how that can be overcome. Just something to be aware of. The white folks are not so friendly either; I guess you just have to have a thinck hide and be a bullishly in your face friendly as Tom is; he seems to get people to smile anyway.
I am learning more about the area and it seems like a nice idea to go exploring, but I hope that it isn't one long disappointment after another. My expectations are not in sync with the reality here--right now it feels like one long pub crawl, doling out the money as we go. this won't be much fun if it is just about drinking. It makes me want to go make a dark and stormy just thinking about it.
Bob is in a sour mood. It's affecting me, and it's hard not to take it personally. It is natural to come down after a big high. The first night I felt like I was in free-fall--so dazed and lightheaded. Now it is settling in, but in a discomfiting way. This is all transition, I know. Pretty soon we will be off adventuring, but right now, I just feel like holing up with a book and escaping. Guess that is natural.
Also, I don't feel all that qualified to write about this adventure, since there are so many other people who are self appointed experts. I don't even have a clue what would be interesting. I just am having an inner voyage at the moment and it happens to be surrounded by lovely scenery. So I don't feel I have the right to my emotions. Tomorrow will be another day--that's good.

Nov. 7 1:27 am For a spell

it is not an easy night to settle down, and not for the usual anxieties. There is a wreck positioned solidly in the waters off St. George's, Bermuda, not 50 yards from where I rock on a mooring in Calypso, my 40 foot sailing vessel, just bought this last July, with three other crew mates. That much rust makes one mindful of time; I have none to waste.
It is a full moon tonight, which accounts for some things, although it is invisible due to an expected incoming blow. That damned blow: it made a weakling of my weather router, the woman I hired to decipher the winds and tell me where and when to navigate this beautiful custom built sailboat. One cannot be too overcautious, even though the first owner and builder told me none has ever come to trouble for being too cautious. That is the tune an obsessive-compulsive plays, and though he may be right, I don't have the luxury of endless time. I am paying the captain and crewmate/navigator dearly, as we peg along, every day mattering to my dwindling budget.
It's also not truly possible not to play the tourist, as this is my first trip to Bermuda, my first experience overnight in any boat, my first blue water cruise, my first time as an owner going on my boat's delivery to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola, specifically; Jost Van Dyke, to be exactly accurate. I am becoming more accurate, and more exacting. I find I cannot use my classic woman's tools of persuasion, entreaty, or apologetic wheedling; I must state my case as these men would expect of any other person in charge. This is not the easiest thing to do when I feel so over my comfort level on so many accounts, but even writing here to myself, I see I cannot appeal to my own timidity. I must stand up, timorous as that feels internally, and disregard the discomforts as would any man, intent on impressing his fellow shipmates.
For I have made a commitment--a marriage, really, to this boat, named for the nymph-goddess who seduced Odysseus for 7 years to linger with her, forgetting his cares and responsibilities, cleaving to him though he was not hers and was meant for a different destiny. She could only claim him for the length of her spell on him, for a spell.
I don't have the discomfort of feeling spellbound, because I can't accept that this boat, into which I have poured the whole of my fortune and destiny, is a seduction only. I am not prepared to believe that-fate would not be that cruel, cruel though I am learning she can be. Fate can be kind, since it can be arbitrary.
It can be what I intend, too, I hope. Do not the great men tell us that everything hinges on the inherent will that inspires the beginning of any endeavor? This undertaking has noble undertones for me, ones I want to know. I want to understand myself, for myself, just how much fierce drive and will I can extract in this phase of my life, so that I may be enabled to not only sail this ship to wherever I intend, but to grow into the person who can be confident in the expertise required to be successful. To become self-sufficient--that is what I have told people who have asked what this is about for me.
Dennis, our first mate, has said that he has advanced his skills for pride in achievement. It is his challenge to have a stern inner task master. My own has a mission orientation, my self-tasker wants me to be able to rise up and regain lost ground. There is a ground that gives way when a woman ages, and no matter how well I learned the art of gardening and design, the land eroded steadily under me as I could not easily bend, or pry, or dig, or hammer my fingers into the soil. I had to relinquish those exuberences, and let the seasons ravage my cultivated acreages.
I am talking about my face, now, and my body, not just my joints and muscles. I feel the imperative of climbing onto the boat with every push forward equating to a pushback against more loss of ground; I reason that if I voluntarily relinquish ALL ground, and come aboard a vessel held by water alone, that I may also become fluid, and follow my natural direction into the sea, the currents, the deep turbulences of myself, and maybe find a way to reconcile to them, for they seem as unknowable now as they have ever been for me.
I am a stranger to myself, and so strangeness can become me, can become what I can't explain, can just make me over into a creature that accepts it's own quixocity.
It is better not to know, in a world that has gone to hell the week I left the country of my origin, when it can so lose itself that it succumbs to tyranny and turns itself over to the evil tyrants. Elections are best left in my wake. Lot's wife's transmogrification into a pillar of salt is my image-lesson. I could see myself becoming salty and tearful, but not here, now, not yet, and maybe not ever. I would like to venture into lands where remorse and apprehension are simply unsupportable, and are shed, like lobster shells, and sink into the drink. I want to rise able in all things, so may I  do just that. May I manage, and in my managing, may I prove an achievement, for in 58 years of life, small steps have not gotten me to the place where my life NOW can supersede the regretful omissions and commissions in my life which drag me back.
They say that this is for lack of love;  maybe, and if so, may I not so lack in love for my own self that I am never able to overcome a lack of action when its time has come--as mine did this summer when I jumped off the highest high dive of all, and left for parts unknown. Not alone, though, thank heaven for Bob, who has accompanied me and who chooses to share this experience. Thank God for that, and for the others, and for this boat, and for all the ways life has enabled me to take this excursion. I will find out what I am to do; that's the easy part, since what I am to do immediately is to stay alive.

Nov. 4 12:49 am. Up late for a swabby.

This is as good a place to start as any. I have reached the part of the passage where the novelty has worn off.
I am sitting gingerly on my rear, having created a nastbruise across my backside, while tying to move a foot in a heavily heeled cabin in our boat.
She is called Calypso and I expect that this 'boat bite' may be a reminder to take great care in everything I do, since a fraction of a second of losing a grounded footing can mean disaster.
It is a rather foul mood day for me, even the sun is shining and I am 'living the dream', as so many people have reminded. They don't know that you can have your time completely absorbed by the vital necessities of life: eat, sleep, wash face, stand watch. My butt hurts wicked hard, or as they say in Kennebunkport where I lived: 'whikit had'. Pain does wake you up and out of romance and euphoria. The chagrin you feel, being vulnerable like that, can make you hesitant; fortunately, I had already got a 'road bite' or a 'fence bite' while riding a mini-bike and sliding into a fence. That time, the same as this time, I haven't really managed to nurse my wounded psyche, because there is simply not enough time. I can write or I can whine. We will see how long I can manage to do both.
When got into Bemuda from Falmouth Maine, leaving the 24 Oct. 2014, and making it into Ordnance Island to Bermuda Customs by 8 pm November first. There was a severe squall which our other companion boat, the Cimmarron, owned by Captain Rick Smith, got caught in, just 14 miles away north of us. We saw lightening flash--they endured three days of being hove-to in 40 knots wind and waves gusting to 65 feet. Smith said that he had never, in 50 years of sailing, ever seen any waves that high.
The routers failed to mention this to  us.
There were three young adults on board with about the same skill set as I have sailing-wise, and they were a treat to behold when their boat finally came into harbor three nights later. Bob, my beau, spotted them as we were sitting at the White Horse Tavern drinking the requisite 'dark and stormy' they are famous for.
We saw the Dockyard, having biked and then taking the ferry from Hamilton, where we returned later and brought fresh provisions on board from Hamilton's marketplace. Just about twice what things cost state-side, by the way.
We saw a window of time to travel in Bermuda going to Tortola so we left at 1 pm on Nov. 4, as the locals were using their dunking chair to tame a Revolutionary era wench, a  ritual performed continually for the tourists in the town square. We were right on dockside across the sidewalk from the large model of the early ship captained by George Somer; a little walk across the bridge, and there on one side is the tavern and on the other the stocks and stool. Ah, the good old days, when women never misbehaved!
I did met a few other women who were under sail, one of them named Kitty. She had steered 82 straight hours, piloting the boat while her man friend and captain Nigel lay unable to move on the floor of the kitchen, having fallen off the ladder and straight down into the galley--a trick I was soon to repeat. Their boat, Adesso, unlike them, sustained minimal damage, and their owner flew down to Bermuda to ascertain the next step. I found out after we left that he tried to woo our captain away from us with a promise of more money! Which would have left us high and dry in Bermuda.
After sailing all day in following seas, and gaining 65 nautical miles southward, the router warned us that we were heading into peril, in the most uncertain terms. We duly headed back to find this was not necessarily the case. It did give us a chance to get hooked up with Chris Parker, a well-regarded router.
Also, we downloaded a software package called weather net and grib explorer, so that we could get maps by satellite phone that were in compressed files and would be less likely to stop transmitting mid-download. It was complicated to get them but now we have them, I am sure they will prove useful in the future.
We were able to regroup with the Cimarron and we ended up leaving together at noon on November 8. We didn't stay together long as we were more rushed for time at this point, with our crewmate Dennis needing to be back by November 18. Cimarron had less fuel capacity than us and had to be more sparing with it.
It turns out that we had to beat weather most of the way, motoring hard while we did long tacks, not the best weather conditions, and then hit a three day doldrum after having broken our fresh water pump.
This meant we had to avoid using the motor and our battery power, including lights, watermaking and refrigeration, and ended up sailing into Soper's Hole, Tortola, with five minutes only worth of motoring, in the dark. We made landfall at 11:55 pm. It was challenging to make sure we got the mooring the first time so we wouldn't have to remanuever with the engine overheating, but we were okay and clinked many a glass in relief on board that night!

Nov. 1st

--Nov 1st
Halloween was scary for a bit, as we were tacking back and forth, trying to make headway. Our starboard tack didn't gain any distance so we had to get all we could off our port tack. Going into Bermuda, 2014, after some insurance companies wouldn't carry us because of bad history insuring to BDA. Luckily we are fully insured, and for a brief while in this long slog into port we made storm preparations by getting out our trisail and going over procedure; also I called Emma, left an email to let her know that she should keep the phone near her in the event of a call from the coast guard as she is our first contact.
Anne Lynch, Nick Nicholson, and Susan Genett were all in contact, helping us decide the course and to make ground contact in harbor.
 NOw we are heavily keeled as we have been all this trip just about; but I managed to get a pot pie into the oven. Last night I discovered that the coconut oil that had been living in the microwave above the oven had a loose jjar, which had leaked behind the oven and onto the floor, akin a royal slippery mess. Bob helped me some and we will have to leave the rest until we hit water that is safe to move around the boat in.

 at 11:35 am we are 17.2 miles to Bermuda, however we will have to tack back and forth so it will not be until 3pm to 4pm before we can get into the town cut
btw 200
long lat 32 39.719/64 36.589
waves 5 to 7
wind around 18
wind direction ssw

Cant wait to hit the White Horse Tavern and order a dark and stormy with my tired but high spirited crewmates.

Oct 30

Since my last entry we have had an adventure or two: me our Captain, Tom Searles, on Friday, set sail on Saturday out of Falmouth, fueled Calypso up at Portland Harbor, met another boat, the Cimarron, Captained by Rick Smith and took off at 6pm making it to Sandwich Marina the next day, meeting Dennis McKay, our crew and his wife Sue, at mid-day, ate lunch at the Pilot House there, then went through the CC Canal, trying to go further but bobbing too heavily with low speed and turned in at Pocasset Harbor.
Next day, Sunday,  we had a lively ride to Cuttyhunk and waited out the 25 knot winds there.
Left, passing No Man's Land and our last look at land on Monday Oct 27, as we headed to Bermuda in lovely weather, seeing great  a great sunset and even a green flash. Tuesday we saw the Queen Mary 2 and other ships going into NY Harbor at evening time around 6 pm, and we have a video of me hailing them on the radio and receiving replies!
Dolphins with their youngsters were spotted the next day, Tuesday and flying fish and possibly tune as we hit a Gulf Stream Eddy and tried to stay West of it but once it got us it shot us Eastward, where we have been close hauled all night and today.
Last night, Wednesday evening was pretty put cloudier. A flying fish 6 inched jumped on board and the Captain threw it back in. Waves and winds were high, the sea rising, as we crossed the Gulf Stream and came out pretty quickly. The Robertson autopilot briefly gave out last night and we hove to, until Tom and Bob were able to let the jib out and get our course back on.
This morning, Thursday, we woke to being near our latitude setting but off to the East on longitude by about 50 nautical miles, and as we are going up to 5 nm an hour with our speed over ground, we don't plan to hit our next waypoint, with distance to destination (DTD) of 214 nm until Saturday.
It is a bright sunny day but no one slept too well; it became impossible to sleep in the vberth with all the bouncing so I took Dennis' berth on the port settee and he too the starboard side when he came in from his watch.
We have had good meals and digestion is good, stomachs are still strong and spirits are high, with some singing and joking again this morning with us all eating oatmeal and drinking coffee in the cockpit.


Saturday, November 29, 2014

before we set off...Oct. 22, 2014

--Oct 22, 2014
as we are planning to go around the world, we will need to depend on ourselves and each other. Bob's the man for the job, I'm the woman. We are not lazy, as we have been busy creating a beautiful new home out of a neglected property; it is done now and we see our moment to move on. They say never to waste the moment, so we have jumped in headlong, and I am glad we have.
What I bring to the seas is largely unknown to me at present. My land life has been fulfilling, but my kids are grown and flown, with one returning to the nest to take it over, and it is time for me to begin yet again, and recreate myself. I am more than ready; it is what I've been doing all my life, and it seems a sufficient backdrop to this next grand undertaking.

This begins the official offshore blog!

This begins the official offshore blog! Having been reassured by my sister KK that she wanted to hear about our adventures, so she could live the dream vicariously, it is my duty to write. She said we could have fun 90% of the time and write about it 10%.
She is a most sensible sister and I will begin forthwith and phthalate.
Nothing is hasty here, actually. One possible exception is the rate of pouring painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar by Mic and other crew. This picture shows the crowd is is busy quenching: (once I learn how to post, save this idea).
 It is crammed with people of all stripes of bikini bathing suits, most look good, so figure this is a young crowd, except for their parents who trail behind, taking pictures.
This is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. At Christmas, and New Years, it terms with hundreds of boats.
Already, the stern anchors thrown onto the beach are only a few feet from the water line, and the lack of blockage means people wade in or dinghy onto the beach, hence the name' Soggy' dollar.
More later, casting off.