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16/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 11; Thru the Nicaraguan Sand Banks; Wednesday; January 15, 2014

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning was a long night. The watch schedule was changed so Joel and myself could be on watch together when we passed thru this treacherous Nicaraguan Sand Bank area just before sun rise, which we did at 6:15 AM. Most of the time the watches are manned by just one crew. Areas like this, landfall's, sail changes, etc., require more than one person to safely handle.Breakfast was a challenge today, as the boat was moving around a lot. More than normal. The boat moves left to right and right to left; but also up and down. Even before the 5 eggs made it to the skillet, it was hard to keep the "yoks from running all over the galley!" Once in the skillet, the gimballed stove was dancing too much. The eggs wanted to escape the frying pan. In order to keep them captive, I. read more...


16/01/2014

Nexus - Reflecting on how precious life is, while surfing the Columbia Basin

We're recovering from the alarming belatednews we received yesterday, that last Friday,our son Scott and his friend Chelsea, slid off a Minnesota highway on black ice, rolled their SUV four times, and walked away from a totaled vehicle with only minor bruises. We're reflecting on the grace of God, that they're still with us, and redoubling our thanks to Him, and our determination to live every day appreciating how precious life is. While deep in reflection last night, we were surfing along in moderate 3-4M waves with 30-34kt sustained winds and gusts over 40kt. We are only flying a single reefed head sail, but averaged 9-10Kts through the night with a peak surf of 19.9kts and many in the 16-19kt range. Beautiful moon all night and beautiful sunrise. WInd and seas are expected to ease. read more...


16/01/2014

Celebrate - Log Day 6 - Ode to the Watch Commander

Celebrate is at 11 08N 76 15W, winds NE 15-18. We had a rolly night, with winds behind pushing us down seas of 2-4 meters. When a big wave comes up behind us, we surf down - sometimes as much as 14 knots! With the wind and waves, Celebrate's "Otto" (the autopilot) was having trouble coping, so we reduced sail to genoa only. Our new pole arrangement is working great, keeping the sail from flapping around as the boat rolls. The other challenge with a rolly boat is keeping coffee cups, and people, upright! Sleeping can also be a challenge.Many of the boats in the fleet use a small device called "Watch Commander". The job of Watch Commander is to alert the person on watch every 15 minutes (the timer is adjustable) with a beeping sound. This makes sure the person on watch is awake and reminds. read more...


15/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 11; Heading for the Nicaraguan Sand Shoals; Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For those that don't know, just because a sail boat moves thru the water at, say 8.5 knots as we did much of today; doesn't mean you're Speed Over Ground (SOG) is the same. Usually it's not. And for most of our trip around the world we will have a helping current, i.e., a current with us that helps us get to where we're going. It's not that way crossing the Caribbean Sea from the western tip of Cuba to Panama. We've had a head current against us as much as 2.5 knots, or as little as 1.2 knots. So when the boat is moving thru the water at 8.5 knots, we may only be making 6.0 knots toward our destination. Bummer. We knew this before we got to this point in our voyage as Joel downloaded the US Navy Current Charts from their web site. Where possible, we'll sail to a favorable current if it's. read more...


Hebe - Day 4 Rats and double rats
Hebe - Day 4 Rats and double rats
15/01/2014

Hebe - Day 4 Rats and double rats

12'11'63N074'13'83WAll that excitement with the Parasailor went a bit wrong at 3am ….the wind got up so we got the big girl's skirt down all hands on deck getting our clipped on lines muddled up with the sail's lines and everything being stuffed into the wardrobe.Unfortunately we then saw that the snuffer ring was damaged, like a big fibreglass loo seat, and perhaps tiny shards may tear the sail, and after her first outing too.We can hopefully get another snuffer in Panama.The wind has steadily increased and we headed for our way point off the coast of Colombia.Since then we have been cracking off down the coast with poled out head sails, and getting faster and faster.P1040540.. read more...


15/01/2014

Flomaida II - 15.01.-3 Tage problemlos leider vorbei!!!

Eigentlich hat es mich schon fast gewundert, dass es drei Tage gut ging,ohne dass sich eine erneute Reparatur ankündigt!Es soll schon Segler gegeben haben, die das Segeln aufgegeben haben, weilsie es leid waren, in diversen Marinas "rumzuhängen" und auf Ersatzteile zuwarten jaja, aber wir lassen uns nicht so schnell unterkriegen!Nach allen Reparaturen, die wir hinter uns haben, inklusive der Pumpe fürden wichtigen Kühlschrank noch morgens vor dem Start am 11.1., dachten wireigentlich,dass nun nichts mehr kaputt gehen kann, besonders weil wir fastalles doppelt haben als back-up. Leider weit gefehlt!Nach der Hälfte eines tollen Segeltages vor der Küste Columbiens mit 30 knachterlichem Wind, sodass selbst die 17 Tonnen schwere Flomaida zu surfenanfängt, macht sich schleichend ein äußerst. read more...


15/01/2014

Firefly - Flying with the fish down the Colombian Coast

No fish caught other than a wayward flying fish landing on deck, we also saw another one impressively jump over the boat and under the The water generator is now back on so our attempts at fishing are suspended for a while. Over the last few days we have been accompanied by thousands (no exaggeration) of the flying variety who fly out of the waves as we sail through them, they appear to fly up wind in shoals just above the surface then dive back into the next wave.When not on watch, eating or asleep (our three main activities) we have been reading the pilot guide for the San Blas islands- we are in forunique experience. The islands, a total of 378, many uninhabitedare part of Panama but independently run by the indigenous and deeply proud Kuna Indians, fortunately with minimal. read more...


15/01/2014

Nexus - Great Sailing Day

With 30kts true wind from astern along with rolling waves, what a beautiful sailing morning! We've rounded the corner of Columbia last night and heading diagonally across the Columbian basin toward San Blas Panama. We know we're in the right area as the large ship traffic is picking up around us. Firefly is nearby as is Celebrate, had a nice chat with Kathy on Celebrate at 330am last night. It's great to have a sense of community around you with the World ARC, I think much more enjoyable than going it alone. All is well, rods are back in the water but no bites yet, even though we're sailing under head sail alone, it's a bit fast for trolling. We need bigger fish... Nexus sailing smoothly at 12 35' N 073 12'W, 09:54 1/15/2014Russ. read more...


15/01/2014

Celebrate - Log Day 5 - All Well (Finally!)

Celebrate is having a happy reach after turning the corner off Columbia during the night. Winds have been consistent from the east around 20kts, and seas have been in the 2-3 meter range, except for the big one this morning that spilled the crews' coffee! Finishing the last of the wonderful fresh papaya and pineapple we bought in St. Lucia, and had a great jambalya for dinner yesterday.Our best news is that our first mate Cathy is finally up and around, after suffering from tummy troubles since our departure from St. Lucia. Charlie and Andy are grateful for the extra watch keeper, leaving a little time to complete our log entries and communicate with family and friends via SSB. As we approach Panama, we are seeing a lot more large ships, thankfully very evident on radar and AIS.Sailing. read more...


15/01/2014

Starblazer - Starblazer 15/01/2014 – Halfway there.

Where is halfway?Is it the midpoint of a straight line drawn between the start and finish lines or half the combined distance of start to waypoint to finish or even half the total distance we will sail?The latter is impossible to calculate because we do not sail in a straight line because the wind will often not allow it.We took the second option, ignoring the fact that we had spent one night going in not quite the right direction after the wind shifted, and reached the point of 589 miles to go at 1503. We were thrilled, 3 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes!Can we continue at this speed?A lot depends on the wind but it is important that we arrive in daylight so, when we are a lot closer, we might have to seriously slow down to avoid a night hove-to.We’ll see.Halfway means a celebration dinner,. read more...


15/01/2014

Flomaida II - 15.Januar 02:00 Uhr Punta Galinas/ Columbianische Küste

Nach herrlichen zwei Tagen segeln und viel körperlicher Arbeit, denn wirhaben alle Segel mal ausprobiert (Genacker, Besan Stag und Parasailor), hatmich doch heute wieder die Seekrankheit erwischt! Die 3-4 m hohen Wellenvon achtern mit 25 kn Windbringen das Schiff zum Surfen und zum Rollen.Ich sollte dann halt nicht die Kühltruhe umschichten, in der ich zu langekopfüber steckte, aber ich wollte unbedingt an die Palette Eier, die ganzunten lagerte. Als ich sie dann hatte, musste Christoph den Küchendienstübernehmen und anstatt einer Frittata machte er eine Dose baked beans aufmit 2 Spiegeleiern drüber. Hab mich dann weiter weggesetzt während desEssens! Nach der bewährten Vomex A und viel Schlaf geht es jetzt wiedergut. Vor uns liegen noch ca 400 sm. Der Vollmond erhellt alles und machtdie. read more...


14/01/2014

Hebe - Day 3 There she blows

13'33'62N   068'37'38WHebe is on terrific form loving her new skirt, the Parasailor that we brought out from England in our luggage, thanks to Captain Tim.  The sail is like a parachute with a big envelope in the front to let excess air out, this means you don't have to be trimming all the time.  Rigging it up is seriously complicated and  has a very high faff factor, but once up and we're heading dead downwind she's fantastic and we manage about 8-12 knots. WE think we're ahead of the fleet, well what can you expect with these two young racers on board who have speed in their veins. Still eating the tuna, stir fry last night, James showing his new found culinary skills….stirring.  Then today in sandwiches, delicious.  I am relieved to say the journey so far. read more...


Hebe - Day 3 There she blows
Hebe - Day 3 There she blows
14/01/2014

Firefly - Firefly gone fishing?

On other boats they are boasting of catching 4 feet marlins, and mahi mahi. There has been talk on the radio net about the best coloured lure and whether it has a wiggly eye (whatever that means) We have been slow to take the plunge but feeling slightly inadequate on the hunter gather side,today have joined the club. Paul dusted off the fishing kit purchased with the boat and we cobbled together a line and during a gap in towed power generation (they take up the same area of water) we cast off. No successes yet and no plans for a sushi starter tonight but who knows....We are 50 miles from a way point designed to keep us away from the adverse waves and weather off the Columbian coast. As we approach it the fleet is coming together again. Skyelark of London is just behind and Nexus just. read more...


14/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 10; Clearing Grand Cayman; Monday, January 13, 2014

Mission today was to get by Grand Cayman (to starboard). We did this at 6:15 PM, about 20 miles off the coast. Saw light house light once as we passed, leaving it to starboard (on our right). Next target the Nicaraguan Sand Banks, far east edge. There is a 50 mile 'window' we need to get thru. Once we do that, a right turn and on the way directly, for the first time, to the San Blas Islands. The Hydro Generator, which we put in the water when sailing (versus motoring or motor sailing), has been working great - keeping our boat batteries charged up. Appears to be a small problem involving the lack of a couple of washers, which is causing some noise due to friction when the unit yaws back and forth. Can fix it in Panama. Water Maker sent us an alarm, asking for a filter change. We did so,. read more...


14/01/2014

Sweet Pearl - St.Lucia --> San Blas - Tag 4 - Thunfisch auf dem Tisch

Wir erleben super schöne Segeltage: guter Wind, wenig Regen, viel Sonne und ertragbare Wellen. Das hat uns dann auch verleiht gestern die Angel rauszuwerfen; 3 Stunden später hing ein sicher 8kg schwerer Thunfisch dran. Wannes und ich zogen beide an der Leine um den Dickerchen ins Schiff zu bringen - ein regelrechter Kampf. Abends gabs dann Thunfisch mit Reis bis zum Abwinken und heute wirds Reis mit Thunfisch zum Abwinken geben. Momentan sind wir auf genauem Kurs auf San Blas mit schönen 7 Knoten; wir hoffen dass dies so weitergeht.Wannes, Sandra und ich sind guten Mutes und freuen uns enorm auf San Blas.Ganz liebe Grüsse an alle vor dem PC.Tom. read more...


14/01/2014

Nexus - Asymmetric Experiences

Another good 24hr run for Nexus, but not quite what we had hoped for, however all is well. After a brilliant morning sailing under our small cruising asymetric sail alone, we decided to get some practice furling and unfurling it in moderate winds. We got more experience than we bargained for... our Profurl SPINEX wouldn't grab the top of the sail to begin its top down furling, as we applied more pressure to the halyard and tack the furling spool canted a bit to one side and seems to have cleanly chafed the line around its circumference as we pulled it in, when we released it again the line parted at the base. Fortunately we had another line on the tack which held the sail, but we did look a bit like carnival clowns chasing all of the furling balls around the trampoline before they rolled. read more...


14/01/2014

Starblazer 14/01/2014 – Why do things always happen at night?

First of all, Happy Birthday to our nephew Paul. I remembered without Facebook to remind me! We are currently about 100 miles north of the Dutch islands of Curacao and Bonaire, over 400 miles from St Lucia, making good speed towards our waypoint where we’ll alter course towards the San Blas islands.The early hours of Monday were interesting, feel free to interpret that as you wish! As I have said before, we try to avoid any work on the foredeck during the hours of darkness but sometimes you have no choice. Halfway through my second off watch, at about 0330, John woke me up because he needed to go forward. He didn’t actually need my help but he also doesn’t break rules. At night Rule1 - lifejacket and safety tether hooked on at all times, you hook on before you come up the companionway. read more...


13/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 9; Easting under Cuba; Sunday, January 12, 2014

Great sun rise at around 7:15 AM. A large yellow/orange orb rising out of the sea on the starboard (right) bow. No matter how many sun rises you see, you never tire of the effect it has on you due to its beauty and the fact that it signals that the night watches are now over. The 'big' job today was to figure out how many gallons of diesel we were burning while motor sailing. This is accomplished by filling the main fuel tank with diesel from extra, spare jerry jugs stored on deck. The answer was about what we expected; .579 gallons per hour. With that consumption, we can motor, if we had to, almost 900 miles - about the distance from Panama to the Galapagos. Brian Fox. read more...


13/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 8; Southern Cross; Saturday, January 11, 2014

While coming on watch at 6:00 AM to relieve Darlene, who was on the 3:00 AM to 6:00 AM watch, it was pointed out to her where the Southern Cross was. For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, our polar constellation reference is the Big Dipper and North Star. The Southern Cross fulfills the same function in the southern hemisphere, and is only visible once you get as far south as Cuba. We were so close to the Cuban shoreline you could smell wood burning stoves or brush fires easily. We were about 2 miles north of the reef line. The wind was light at 8 knots, but we had a favorable current helping us along. To our starboard were a set of Traffic Separation Zones, that ships must us in congested waters of the world. Sail boats like ours are prohibited from sailing in such a zone. read more...


13/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 7; Full Speed Ahead to Western Tip of Cuba; Friday, January 10, 2914

Today was one of those days that remind you why you sail. Good wind and weather; and great boat speed. Just after sun rise we saw something seen only once before, a motor vessel listed as "Under Way Sailing" on the boat Automatic Identification System (AIS). It was an oil derrick ship, the Stena Forth. Very cool.Noticed this morning that our port running light fixture had 'left the boat.' Apparently the near gale we were in the other day weakened the fitting and it fell off the boat a couple of days after the blow. Go figure.Brian Fox. read more...


13/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 6; The Big Crab Trap Wrap; Thursday, January 9, 2014

Must have miss-labeled yesterday's log day and date. Oops.The day was spent purchasing and installing 2 new 8D House Batteries for the boat. The 2 AGM's got fried. Not sure how. We replaced them with 8 D Flooded batteries. A new roller furling line which had developed a soon to be fatal problem was replaced, also. Departed Key West at 7:50 PM. At 11:40 PM while motor sailing in light air just south of the Marquesas Islands and 25 miles west of Key West, the prop got the mother of all crab trap wraps! We anchored in 42 feet of water and in went Joel Heyne. Forty-five minutes later, and after breaking one (very expensive) filet knife; dulling 2 other seriated knives; and finally ending with a 6 inch hack saw blade (not the hack saw, just the blade), the prop was freed. The water. read more...


13/01/2014

Firefly - Moonlit night watches

Sailing down wind has been a delight while on deck with clear skies, an almost full moon and a sparkling sea. As a bonus we had some dolphins join us for a while. Down below Paul has had to draw the curtains to keep out the moonlight and its a bit rolly so sleep off watch can be hard to find.The blissful night was disturbed at dawn with a sudden wind and rain squall that pushed the wind up by 25 knots for a short period, the highest wind speed was 45 knots. We have have also been sailing through lots of debris, mostly wood, which we suspect was washed out into sea during the recent storms on land.Our long range radio (SSB) has been working well (the courses Paul and Peter took last year are paying off) and we have been speaking to the rest of the fleet twice a day on a radio net. All the. read more...


13/01/2014

Nexus - Asymmetric Fun with Fish

A beautiful evening, night and morning sail for the crew of NEXUS! We have our smaller 80% asymmetric flying high and given it's higher wind strength, we were able to fly it through the night to make good time. Great sunset and starry night early, followed by building clouds and isolated large showers, but no severe wind gusts, made for interesting sailing. Somehow Sheldon managed to steer between the storms and keep the asymmetric flying at the same time on his watch, I think he's part wizard!We had one strike on the fishing line this morning while we were hosting the radio net, but it got itself offbefore we could set the hook...I like fish that chase 8+kt lures...here fishy fishy...Russ on NEXUS at 13 35N 67 03W. read more...


Starblazer - 13-1-2014 - Hitch-hiker
Starblazer - 13-1-2014 - Hitch-hiker
13/01/2014

Starblazer 13/01/2014 – Making progress

Our fantastic start and good average speed until about midnight on Saturday, together with the fact that we are double handed and try to avoid sail changes in the dark, conspired to send us tumbling down the leaderboard! Let me explain.Just before we started our overnight watch system we decided it would be prudent to roll away some of the genoa because we were charging along and, whilst comfortable with 15-18 knots of wind, were worried it might increase overnight.In fact it slowly dropped to 10 knots by about 0600 when we were forced to unroll the sail again.An additional  consideration was the direction, not quite what we wanted, but we were unable to sail straight downwind without poling out the genoa.During the radio net it became obvious only a few boats were further east. read more...


13/01/2014

Starblazer - 12/01/14 – The adventure begins!

Perhaps a better title should be ‘The adventure continues’ because the previous 6 months have all been an adventure, however from noon yesterday we are sailing in unknown waters.We had a fantastic start, crossing the line with only about 7 or 8 boats ahead of us.The first part of the course was a brisk reach down to a turning mark off Castries, about 2 miles away.I think we surprised Rally Control on the police launch when we turned in about 9th or 10th position, after all we are rated as the slowest boat on this leg! To be honest, we surprised ourselves being ready on the start line on time, let alone getting it right.The past week has been very busy, a mixture of work and play, but busy.Our safety inspection on Monday threw up a problem with the EPIRB, an essential bit of safety. read more...


13/01/2014

Flomaida II - up up and away am 11.01.2014

Nach einem sehr gelungenen Start in Rodney Bay/ Saint Lucia bei traumhaftemWetter schwante mir schon,dass die Tour bis zu den San Blas Inseln(1100 sm!) seglerisch nur etwas für absolute Freaks und Hartgesottene ist.Der Wind ist konstant bei guten 25 Knoten, was sehr schön sein kann, ABERer kommt von hinten!! Die teilweise hohen und kurzen Kreuzwellen bringenunser Schiff extrem zum Geigen und meinen Magen zum Rebellieren. Es liegenja "nur" 7 Tage und Nächte vor uns, da schleicht sich dann ganz leise dochmal wieder der Gedanke ein, warum mache ich das eigentlich auch nochfreiwillig. Heute ist für mich definitiv das Ziel wichtiger als derWeg.Jeder Gang nach unten oder an Deck zum Segelverändern ist ein totalerKraftakt, weil die seitlichen Wellen und die 2-3 m hohen Wellen von hintendas. read more...


12/01/2014

Firefly - 25k on the clock

Firefly will have covered about 170 miles during her first 24 hours of the World ARC. As noted in the previous log, Firefly had a great start on the leg to San Blas. The rally start line was set up so that there was a broad reach part way down the Island of St Lucia, then off Castries the committee boat was rounded and the next 'mark' of the course is the finish just east of the Islands of San Blas, about 1100 miles away. San Blas is about 80 miles east of Panama and we will have about a week to explore the area before heading to Panama to await our transit, scheduled for 30th January.At 0900 local time this morning the fleet had a radio net using SSB. This seemed to go well with most of the 32 boats calling in 'loud and clear'. The fleet reported their positions during the net and it. read more...


12/01/2014

Skyelark of London - Day 1

Skyelark World ARC 2014/15 BlogDay 1 / 12 Jan 201432? 52.525 N, 64? 04.125 W... And they're off!The horn sounded at exactly 12:00 on the 11th, and 32 boats were off on Leg 1 of the World ARC, headed for the unspoiled Caribbean islands known as the San Blas Islands, a group on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal.After graciously allowing all but one or two boats to cross the start line ahead of us, Skyelark has now assumed a good position, trailing only a couple boats toward our first waypoint, a northern edge of Venezuela which we will round - at a distance respectful of the strong swells in the area - and aim for the San Blas Islands, which are slightly more south of our current course of approximately 267?.We`re making about 8 Knots on our headsail alone and the seas are slight. read more...


12/01/2014

Nexus - NEXUS First full day on World ARC 2014

What a brilliant 24 hours since the start of WorldARC 2014. The WARC team did a fabulous job organizing social and preparatory events as well as looking after us in general. We've had the opportunity to meet quite a few new friends through the social events, which I'm sure will be lifelong friends soon. What an wonderfully diverse group of sailors, both professionally and culturally. Its amazing how the common denominator of sailing seems to create compatibility across many countries and languages. The official start was a beautiful spectacle, great weather and 32 boats sailing in formation. The sendoff from the staff and people of St Lucia was special. Our first 18 hours of downwind sailing was by head sail alone, to slow to boat down for fishing. We caught a beautiful yellowfin tuna. read more...


12/01/2014

Sweet Pearl - St.Lucia --> San Blas - Tag 2 - Und wir sind weg!

Gestern gings los. Um Punkt 12:06 haben wir die Startlinie in der Bucht von Rodney Bay überquert - nicht als einer der ersten Schiffe, aber deshalb mit einem schönen Überblick über die Flotte. Nach der Startlinie gings nach Castries, ab wo wir dann endlich nach Westen (oder windabhängig für uns eher nach Nordwesten) Richtung Kolumbien segeln konnten um dann später nach San Blas (eine Inselkette vor Panama, die atemberaubend sein soll, was wir überprüfen wollen;-)) abzubiegen. Der Tag gestern war wunderschön und die Crew, d.h. Sandra, Wannes aus Belgien, der auf der Reise, nach Peru für seine Benevolatarbeit ist und ich haben es Richtung genossen. Auch die Nacht mit Sternenhimmel, der wegen des hellen Mondes nicht alles von sich preis gab, war sehr angenehm. Nach der ersten grossen. read more...


12/01/2014

Starblazer 12/01/14 – The adventure begins!

Perhaps a better title should be ‘The adventure continues’ because the previous 6 months have all been an adventure, however from noon yesterday we are sailing in unknown waters. We had a fantastic start, crossing the line with only about 7 or 8 boats ahead of us. The first part of the course was a brisk reach down to a turning mark off Castries, about 2 miles away. I think we surprised Rally Control on the police launch when we turned in about 9th or 10th position, after all we are rated as the slowest boat on this leg! To be honest, we surprised ourselves being ready on the start line on time, let alone getting it right.The past week has been very busy, a mixture of work and play, but busy. Our safety inspection on Monday threw up a problem with the EPIRB, an essential bit of safety. read more...


Hebe - Day 2 First catch
Hebe - Day 2  First catch
12/01/2014

Hebe - Day 2 First catch

13'49'98N064'50'45WSunday 12th JanuaryIts jolly hot, the sun is shining remorselessly from a cloudless sky, I'm in a complete sweat the entire time and dreaming about a nice frosty walk with the dogs.  As Harry reminds me its gonna get hotter as we'll be on the equator soon….. James hasn't managed to sleep much in the Burns Unit and is in the saloon with a cold flannel.Well we all forgot about the midday heat when the reel when screaming out the back, all hands on deck, slow the boat down, get those sails in we've got a fish. Andrew and I were so excited we made a hash of slowing the boat down by which time our catch had taken nearly all the line. After ages taking it in turns to wind this thing in and losing the gaff hook over board, we managed to land a tuna.What a beautiful. read more...


11/01/2014

Firefly - Back at sea

At noon local time we officially started the World Arc. The starting line was in Rodney Bay just outside the marina. Wewere reminded at the briefings that this is a rally and not a race yet at noon our competitive streak kicked in and we hit the startingline with the gun. In fact there was a little wager placed whether we would be first over the line or get there too early. Fortunately there will be a beer waiting for us when we arrive!We are now 7 hours into our voyage making good progress down wind towards the San Blas islands surfing at 7 to 8 knots. Susie cooked a delicious prawn curry for supper and into our first night watche sequence for a while. We are still in contact with most of the rally fleet and holding our own against some faster boats.Sadly we said farewell to Jane on the. read more...


10/01/2014

Hebe - Off we go AGAIN !

Greetings from St Lucia, after a week's busy preparation filling the coffers with water, food and fuel and getting Hebe's sail wardrobe organised, she has 3 colourful sails now which gives us a lot of choice as we sail down wind…..its now downwind all the way to Australia, we are ready for the gun tomorrow at noon.   We've got gifts to give the islanders….Salisbury Cathedral T towels though we have now discovered what they really need is reading glasses! Der ! So a stock up in Panama City. Hebe has been fussing as usual she's had so much attention spent on her looks with a polished hull gleaming but 2 days ago she decided to crash her satellite communication system. The iridium dome is kerput, this means we will be off air until Panama when a new dome is being Fedexed out. read more...


Hebe - Off we go AGAIN !
Hebe - Off we go AGAIN !
10/01/2014

Firefly - All set for the start of the World Arc

After a great trip down the Eastern Caribbean over Christmas and New Year, we have now been in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia for 4 days. We have benefited from a number of good briefings from the rally organizers World Cruising .Firefly has been checked overthoroughly by us and the WC team so we are almost ready to go. Over a rum punch or two we have met many of our fellow participantswho come from 15 countries . Firefly is fully laden with food and Susie has been making flapjacks! The start of our adventure is at 12.00 local time tomorrow when we say farewell to Jane on the dock and Firefly heads West across the Caribbean to the remote (and reportedly beautiful)San Blas islands part of Panama. This should take us around 6 days and after leisurely cruising the islands we will head for. read more...


Hebe - Day 1 Bang goes the gun
Hebe - Day 1  Bang goes the gun
10/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 6, Heading to Key West for Repairs; Thursday, January 9, 2014

At 10:30 AM, after determining that the weather forecast called for 20 knots of wind and 5 to 7 foot seas between the Dry Tortugas and KeyWest, we decided to weigh anchor and head to Key West to buy and replace our 2 8D House Batteries, each weighing about 160 pounds. Not really sure how both of these batteries got ruined, as they're only 6 months old. Two hours into this trip, we realized that the weather forecast was wrong. We had winds up to 32 knots and 10 foot seas on the port bow, all the way to Key West. We arrived there at 11:00 AM. The entire trip was a slugfest and wouldn't have been possible without a Dodger to shield us from the water. It was Monday all over again. We thought the gale was gone. We tied up at the Galleon Marina at 11:00 AM, plugged in the electric shore power. read more...


10/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 5; Stuck in the Dry Tortugas; Wednesday, January 8,2 014

It's a dreary day. Low clouds, wind still in the upper 20,s; and the fishing fleet swinging with us. Even though we're anchored, the navigation system is on so that we can set an anchor alarm. If the boat drags anchor beyond a certain radius that we set, an alarm will sound. It sounds occasionally, not because we're dragging anchor, but because are swing arc is changing as the wind direction changes.The fast catamarans and sea planes that come every day to the Dry Tortugas from Key West, 70 nautical miles away, didn't come today. No surprise there. The day was spent reading, looking at weather faxes, and after dinner, watching the latest Star Trek movie, Into Darkness. Lights out 10:30 PM.. read more...


10/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 4; Waiting for the Weather to Clear; Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No sun today. Still swinging and bouncing at anchor. Wind still howling. Wind speed still up. Blowing 28 knots this morning. Sounds higher in gusts, but no one on board will volunteer to go into the cockpit to check. I can't figure out why. Only 1 boat in and out of the anchorage has left. A fishing boat in the afternoon. Bound for Cuba? In the 50's. Cold. The day was spent receiving weather faxes; sending and receiving email; reading; writing boat logs; and waiting to get under way. The plan is to weigh anchor Thursday morning en route to the Yucatan Straight, crossing the Gulf Stream (not fun) and turning left at the western tip of Cuba (yeah!), leaving the Gulf of Mexico behind and entering the Caribbean Sea. Before turning south for Panama we need to go east to Longitude 79 (San Blas. read more...


09/01/2014

BriZo - Downwind, Colombian Coast guard and Cheryl Cole - 7th Jan 2014 (St Lucia to San Blas passage)

With enough Marmite on board for 7 months we slipped lines Saturday late afternoon at Rodney Bay, St Lucia where BriZo had been during our return over Christmas and out into a Caribbean Sea evening. Pat and I would now be sailing for the next 6 days and nights 1200nm directly to the isolated San Blas islands, just off the Panama Canal entrance at Colon. We are sorry to leave before the main WCC World ARC event starts but after 5 weeks of prep since BriZo’s re-launch in Antigua the draw to get back to sea is irresistible and we have friends already in San Blas.For a cruiser, this is exhilarating downwind sailing, 20 knot+ winds to F7, a ‘white sail’ rig setup that allows the Autopilot to steer hour after hour down the swells, averaging over 200nm miles sailed on each of three days so far.. read more...


08/01/2014

American Spirit II - Day 3; Here Come's the Gale!; January 6, 2014

We spent a pleasant night at anchor Sunday night/Monday morning; and got a lot accomplished during the daytime hours waiting at anchor in the Dry Tortugas for the gale to arrive. Once the sun got up a ways, it got warm quickly. Actually, it was hot. This IS Florida. The cabin out of the sun was actually cooler than being outside in the sun with no wind. The proverbial calm before the storm. The fun part of the day began at 3:40 PM, when we got our first taste of what was to come. A light rain and a few low clouds started to form. That all changed abruptly at 4:00 PM, when the full fury of the gale hit us. It's onset was very quick, and in no time it was blowing over 30 knots. The highest speed we saw on our instruments was 36 knots, but it was much higher than that in the gusts.. read more...


06/01/2014

American Spirit II - Arrived in the Dry Tortugas; January 5, 2014

Late Sunday night just before midnight we entered the National Park called the Dry Tortugas, home of the largest masonry structure (Ft. Jefferson) in the Western Hemisphere and about 90 mile from Havana, Cuba. Yes, it IS larger than even the Pentagon; and even has a moat around it. The anchorage was deserted, an indication of the 2 gales (one having just passed by a few days earlier, and the other coming) impacting the Florida and international boating community. The anchorage at Garden Key,directly across from Ft. Jefferson, was empty. First time we've ever seen that in over 30 years. The anchorage was the last port of call for the USS Maine, a battleship that went to Havana, Cuba after leaving the Dry Tortugas and was blown up and sank, helping to start the Spanish-American War. Also,. read more...


06/01/2014

American Spirit II - We're Under Way!; January 4, 2014

After 1 1/2 years of planning and preparation we're under way! After a rousing party put together and spearheaded by Janet Fox at the Boca Ciega Yacht Club in Gulfport, Florida; and boat 'tours' conducted by the crew ,we departed on schedule at 3:00 PM en route to our first stop in the Dry Tortugas to wait for a large weather system (Gale) to blow thru Monday night/Tuesday morning. This will be the second of two giant weather systems that will impact the start of our trip; systems so big and unusual that we normally only get one every 2 or 3 years in the Florida winter. Getting 2 such systems within one week of each other is very unusual and a bit unlucky on our part. Our weather this winter until then has been above normal, with December about 10 degrees above normal. Our departure was. read more...


06/01/2014

Firefly - Three days in Martinique

After our eventful New Year in Portsmouth we headed down the west coast of Dominica to the capital, Rosseau.We were all thrilled to be joined on the trip by a pod of at least 10 dolphins surfing Firefly's bow wave.We had an action packed 24 hours in Rosseau including a walk up through the botanical gardens to yet another cannon emplacement on a great vantage point and a guided tour into the rainforests in the heart of the island. Our local Domincan guide, Craig, took us up to the Trafalgar Falls where we luxuriated in a geothermally heated sulphur pool. We then went to the Titou gorge for a decidedly chilly swim through a narrow gap in the rocks to the waterfall, it was absolutely stunning! Craig was also able to give us a detailed account of the current social and political situation in. read more...


02/01/2014

Firefly - Happy New Year

After all the preparation and distance we've already traveled it's very exciting to know that we are now, at last, in the year we are undertaking the World ARC... Having had a great few days exploring the Ilses des Saintes (perhaps the Scilly Isles of the Leeward Islands), we have now arrived in Dominica.This is one of the wet and therefore very green islands - covered in rainforest and boasting 365 rivers (competition for Antigua's 365 beaches?). The rain is not really a problem - the locals call it liquid sunshine - no sooner have the heavens opened than the sun is out again.Our landfall in Dominica on New Year's Eve was Portsmouth (to Susie's relief, nothing like it's UK counterpart). As we approached the town, the second largest settlement of the island, we entered Prince Rupert Bay. read more...



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