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Exody - June 4th - Portsmouth, Annapolis, New York, Bristol, Newport

Exody completed ARC USA arriving in a grey and damp Portsmouth, Virginia two weeks ago today on Saturday May 21st.Motored most of the last 24 hours to beat the forecast deeper low.Portsmouth is well up the Elizabeth River, home to Uncle Sam's impressive naval fleet and the city of Norfolk across the water. Negotiating the busy shipping lanes that cross over at the entrance to the Chesapeake, we still had a few hours to go after passing over the 13 mile Chesapeake tunnel-bridge.The landscape was low and apparently bleak.Today June 4th we are anchored in a foggy Newport Rhode Island, which feels as busy a sailing venue as the Solent.It is Saturday so there were yacht and dinghy races aplenty and many elegant, classic, excursion sailing boats plying their trade.In the intervening fortnight. read more...


Altair - Altair's lesson learned from the ARC USA

The 2016 ACR USA provided some insight into being prepared and having spares. In past I have operated that the Tri-Color Light was my primary navigation light system and my Navigation light were my backup. We left Tortola, BVI with all lights working. The second day out the tri-light failed so per plan we switched to the Nav lights. A week later we lost the green and stern nav lights. The quick work around was since we were motoring was to turn off the steaming light and turn on the anchor light. This gave us an all round white, equal to a steaming light and stern light.Researched revealed that all the led light that fail were original to the boat, 2003. The red had been replace several years ago. Preparing for the 2017 World ARC, I will be replacing both Navigation light systems. read more...


Starblazer - 25/05/2016 - Bermuda to the USA

We didn't make it 'up at first light' because I failed to start the kitchen timer!I woke up at 0630, early for me, woke John and we started pulling up the anchor at 0700.I don't think that missed hour proved too important.We motor-sailedall day Tuesday until about 0600 Wednesday because the batteries were rather depleted and were badly in need of a good charge.The wind was not very strong but we made our required average of just over 6 knots.The first problem was highlighted in the weather e-mail sent to all the rally boats by WRI at about 0800 ship's local time on Wednesday.A low was developing off Cape Hatteras and was expected to move in an unfriendly ENE to NE direction, crossing our path during the night.WRI suggested that the boats should head towards South Carolina, which was met. read more...


Exody - May 19th - Weather !

Gale force gusts and sustained winds in the upper 20's befell our small ARC USA fleet last night as a low passed through, preceded yesterday with torrential rain and heavy cloud virtually all day.Exody was careering along under double reefed main and less than a treble reefed genny. Nearly close hauled, the south south westerly wind fortunately allowed us to maintain our rhumb line.It was very wet and we found new leaks in our cabin ceiling.As usual the movement down below was relatively gentle and we both slept well on our off watches.However, with that low for a taster, we are now even more keen to make port 300 miles away at the mouth of the Chesapeake before Saturday when the next deeper low forms off Cape Hatteras! Early this morning, the skies cleared, the winds abated and veered. read more...


Free Spirit - Rockin it, Mon!

16 May 2016We left Bahia Mar Marina early this am, in time to catch the 8 am bridge opening.SV Nimble, one of our ARC USA FL Fleet boats is right ahead of us in the bridge queue.We understand that SV Aurelia won't be far behind.SV Altair and SV Karina have already left.SV Big Friskie is remaining behind in FL for a few more days.We basically sailed out into the gulf stream then hung a left.Once we found the current, it was sit back and enjoy the ride.We've had a beautiful day of sailing, sunshine and a gentle wind.We are rocketing up the coast, clocking speeds of 10 and up to 11.6kts!It doesn't get any better than this.We hope it will last long enough to get us home ahead of the next storm front.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Free Spirit - Hail and farewells

14 May 2016It's time to scrub all the salt off Free Spirit and get things back in order following the passage from Tortola.Sadly, reality sets in and it's also time to say good bye to David and Alex, who are flying back home to family, friends, and that 4 lettered word called work.They've been a wonderful crew and we have really enjoyed sailing with them.After fond farewells, we hope our paths will cross again, be it on land or at sea.Our crew for the remainder of the passage home to Virginia flies in today and will join the boat in the am.Tonight is the ARC USA Florida Fleet final dinner, as we gather at a local restaurant to swap passage stories, as well as compare notes and plans from here.Everyone knows to give us a holler when they get to the Chesapeake Roads area for a continuation. read more...


Free Spirit - Surfing USA

13 May 2016Another quiet night without much wind to speak of.We're continuing to motor and eagerly anticipating hitting the gulf stream as we feel the need for speed.We're determined to make it in tonight, preferably with daylight.About 10 am we added 10 gallons of diesel to the tank from the jerry cans on the rail.We were cooking right along until about 1230 when the block on the second reef clew gave way.Fortunately we were able to quickly replace it with a spare without losing too much time.By 1400 we were surfing the gulf stream, clocking 10.9 kts speed over ground… yeehaw!The skyline of Miami is on the horizon and our excitement continues to build.We know we're making it in tonight!!!!We just missed the 1830 bridge opening, so had to circle and wait until the next opening at. read more...


Exody - May 17th: Bound for the Chesapeake

It is midnight and the three quarter moon is filtering through the cloud cover - it's pattern just like an inverted rippled sand beach.The canopy masks the stars but an aircraft trail, straight as an arrow crosses, the sky and the moonlight reflects off the sea. One hundred miles out from Bermuda, Exody is goosewinging downwind rarely reaching five knots in less than ten knots of wind with a half knot adverse current.It seems too good a sail to spoil with the engine but too slow to reach port before a forecast weather system lands late Saturday!I am hanging my hopes on an imminent veer and increase in wind.Thirty six boats left St George's - thirty on ARC Europe for the Azores with a formal race start at 11.00, the other six in their own time on ARC USA. Pure Elegance and Viva left last. read more...


Exody - May 15th: Blowy in Bermuda

It's Sunday lunchtime - the torrential rain and blustery westerly winds are abating and we may get out to be tourists.We are one of a dozen boats rafted up choc-a-bloc in the St George's Town Dock. It is a picture postcard little town with quaint historic buildings, a town crier. All roofs here like ribbed icing on a cake- kept pristine as water collectors.We arrived two days ago, motoring in most of the last 100 miles.The narrow 'Town Cut' is big enough for cruise ships but felt constrained to us.Queued then tied up at the customs dock for straightforward clearance then a very short hop to the town dock.Soon discovered the well sorted Yacht Services facility with internet, cafes and quite the highest quality toilets we have seen anywhere.Sadly no showers but that's maybe because we can. read more...


Starblazer - 16/05/2016 - Bermuda

We did eventually reach Bermuda in the very early hours of Saturday after a very frustrating passage.It was frustrating for numerous reasons: the winds were too light to sail by for about three days; the water pump generously shared the engine cooling water with the oil (again); the replacement water pump didn't want to share its water with the cooling system; the water maker decided to stop pumping water through the membranes in less than 10 minutes.For the last 42 hours we motored at 2000 revs and, though the water pump wasn't putting much water through the system, the temperature readings at various points in the system remained acceptable.Yards from the Customs dock the overheat alarm went off!The engine overheated when the revs were very low.Surprisingly the Customs and Immigration. read more...


Exody - May 12th: Gunning and Ghosting, Chill in the Air

It is 21.00 and the last of the sunset has not long disappeared, the moon now bright, the skies clear and the seas flat. Heard this before?Just 70 miles out from Bermuda, we are ghosting along at around four knots with the light south easterly breeze.Although progress is slow and we want to optimise our very short three night stopover in Bermuda, it seems a shame to 'gun' the engine and spoil the magical peace.We are feeling chilled having dug out and recharged our old ipods to deliver sweet music over dinner of Frittata! At the 09.00 daily radio net which Exody hosted this morning, we reported 20.5 hours motoring out of the previous 24, but the wind has since picked up allowing us to sail off and on today.Once again at daybreak, we had three boats in sight, Zython, Here & Now and. read more...


Free Spirit - Amazing how we spring to life

12 May 2016We had another beautiful night underway, cruising off the northern coast of Cuba.We had decent wind and were sailing until about 6am when the wind died.We turned the motor on and put the pedal to the medal as we are close enough and have plenty of fuel to reach our destination.Cruising up the Old Bahamas Channel is very civilized, as islands and reefs on either side break up the waves to provide fairly calm waters.Talk on the passage has turned to the subject of boats, with Mike and David tempting Alex with visions of his future boats.Alex has his notebook out and is carefully making notes.I think we have a future Caribbean 1500 skipper in the making.This afternoon's Ladies Chat featured a special guest, Mrs. Doubtfire, with an analysis of the Gulf Stream and strategies for. read more...


Aurelia - Aurelia Trip Day 6

After a couple of days of really good sailing we reached the entrance tothe Old Bahama Channel, just North of Cuba, around 12.30am this morning. TheSpinnaker had been up for the past 14hrs constant but we now had to move on to acloser reach.  Lots of boats around , sailing, Tankers & a US Navy shipall coming up on the AIS as being dangerously close. We just needed to be extravigilant being night time.   We are now through the Channel & moved on to a more Northerly course aswe pass the Great Bahama Bank headed for the Straits of Florida & then PortEverglades. We hope to pick up some good speed once we enter the northerlycurrent of the Gulf Stream which could add 3 or 4knts to our boat speed inplaces.   For a change on board Sandy made the porridge this morning. read more...


Starblazer - 12/05/2016 – The revenge of the engine water pumps.

We must have seriously annoyed the Norse God, Volvo!No sooner had I written that the engine was running well, it decided to cause us further grief. During Tuesday afternoon John decided to check the fresh water cooling reservoir and the oil levels, he’d meant to do it on Monday but forgot.The water reservoir was almost full, thankfully.The pipework is push fit pieces that go in various different directions and they do tend to leak, according to the Volvo engineer in Cape Town. The oil level was a different matter, the dip stick showed too much oil (about twice as much as there should be!) with the tell-tale grey emulsion evident, a sign that water had got into the oil.It was too late to start dismantling the water pump and draining the oil, that was yesterday’s job.We first encountered. read more...


Free Spirit - Sunshine and more sunshine

11 May 2016We had a beautiful evening last night.The sky was littered with stars and the moon was in her glory.The nightly lightening was in the far distance and the squalls were reduced to a light sprinkle.The waves have settled down and we're enjoying a very civilized passage off the coast of Cuba.The sun came up on schedule this morning and everyone is working on a tan.David fixed a big farm breakfast for the guys with plenty of protein this morning.With dinner leftovers for lunch, bellies are full.The fishing line is out again today, but no hits yet.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Exody - May 11th: New Moon, Procession, Doldrums

It is nearly midnight and for the second night in a row the bright new moon is setting in the west under a clear starlit sky.Tonight I can see the lights of three yachts heading north, last night there was a procession of five ARC yachts all appearing evenly spaced.It must be something about the psychology of a heading of 000 True, or the minuteness of Bermuda as a target that keeps us all so close to the same track! It has not happened anywhere else so consistently on our rally travels.Exody was creaming along at around 7 knots on a close to beam reach with a 12- 14 knot trade wind through the night, the wind easing as another sunny day dawned, earlier yet again than the day before - I detected first light not long after four in the morning. Downloading the position report, there were. read more...


Free Spirit - Cruising Along

10 May 2016We're cruising along off the coast of Haiti now.Last night we had our usual laser light show with lightening in the distance, but fortunately nothing up close and personal.We had our share of squalls as well, accompanied by wind shifts, gusts to 34 kts, and copious amounts of rain.Makes you appreciate the cockpit enclosure when on watch.Everyone is settling in and finally able to catch a decent amount of z's when off watch.Amazing how some good shut eye will change your perspective on life.Once again we are wing on wing and progressing according to schedule.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Exody - May 10th: halfway to Bermuda- savouring the Trades

The skies are clear, the quiet seas are blue and the trade winds are still gently blowing as Exody reaches directly north at just over six knots.Cabin temperature is 28 degrees - the same as London today. This is sailing as it should be - and as it has been for a fair amount of our twenty two month, 30,000 mile plus trip away from home waters, mostly in trade wind belts.Now we are eking out the last of the trade wind pleasures since, all too soon, we will begin to experience the North Atlantic westerlies and weather systems. But not before an expected windless stretch through the doldrums.We passed the halfway point to Bermuda this morning with our three day's runs to noon since the start on Saturday 7th being 136, 150 and 151 nautical miles. The passage has been unusually busy with. read more...


Exody - May 7th - "Contestants its time to plate up!"

The Masterchef analogy, coined by Steven of Adagio at the bar last night, is a great one to describe the fear, tension, anticipation and excitement in the final run up to the start of an ocean passage!Forty four boats are assembled at Nanny Cay, Tortola, for the passage to USA or Europe via Bermuda including a handful heading straight for Florida. For Exody, it will be about six days at sea.It is nearly two months since we completed our last ocean passage in Grenada. So, just like a potentially fine meal, the ingredients are together- fuel, provisions, water - but some of the detail stuff has not quite been done and 'presentation' leaves a little to be desired. Just check the storage gloryhole that Exody's forecabin has become since the crew moved out in April, the dust everywhere after. read more...


Starblazer - 10/05/2016 – BVI and onwards towards Bermuda

Thursday and Friday in Nanny Cay passed in a blur of activity: safety check, washing, cleaning the log impeller, haircut for me (the best one in over two years!), shopping, farewell dinner, skippers’ briefing, ‘Happy Hours’ and a final BBQ.The start was at midday on Saturday with nearly 40 boats on the start line though the Florida bound group had left earlier as they were taking a different route out of the Virgin Islands.We were within the first 6 or 7 boats to cross the line, brilliant for us!Shortly after the start the huge Advanced 80 came powering past us at probably more than twice our speed, and we were doing well.That’s the last we saw of them.The wind freshened as we reached the western end of Great Thatch Island and needed to gybe.We copied several boats ahead of us and tacked. read more...


Free Spirit - Winging it

9 May 2016Our fishing efforts yesterday left us empty handed, so we had to settle for spaghetti for dinner.Then the wind shifted on us and we had a rather bumpy night with lots of lightening in the distance, but no drenching squalls in our neck of the woods.Fortunately it's settled down and we're winging it past the Dominican Republic… sailing wing on wing and making decent speed.We're amusing ourselves with knot tying practice and solving the world's problems.. read more...


Free Spirit - Mothers' Day at Sea

8 May 2016We were doing great until about 1 am when the wind died and we had to start motoring.Then the squalls came through and put on quite the light show while dousing us with rain.We were very thankful when we safely put all the lightening behind us.With dawn came a new day that brought sunshine, though no wind to speak of.We celebrated last night's catch by having wahoo and grilled pineapple for breakfast.The line is out again and we'll see what we can do.If all else fails, we'll have spaghetti for dinner tonight.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Free Spirit - And we're off!

7 May 2016Mike made a quick trip in to town to clear customs, and we headed to sea about 9 am.It's a beautiful day for sailing with lots of sunshine and 20 kts of wind.We're excited to finally pull away from the dock and be on our way.Free Spirit is having a nice downwind run with just the genoa.We enjoyed jerk chicken for dinner and just as we were prepping for the evening, we got our first hit on the fishing line.We landed a 36 inch wahoo and made short work of him.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Free Spirit - In the Ready Position

6 May 2016Free Spirit has been scrubbed, equipment tuned, gear stowed, and provisions loaded.We have been in Nanny Cay getting ready for the passage home.Trying to make sure we've anticipated and planned for all possibilities.There's always the nagging question of what am I forgetting, but looks like we've got the bases covered.Our safety inspection is complete, skipper's briefing with final instructions attended, and rally office cleared.One of our crew is already aboard.David is a very bright, outgoing type and expert sailor.Alex, our other crew member should arrive tonight.He's the enthusiastic young man who made the passage down with us.We are delighted to have good crew for the passage.Andrea & Mikesv Free Spirit. read more...


Starblazer - Nanny Cay - BVI

There should be a blog or two around. Starblazer or WorldCruising Club.  Try ARC USA, they may have moved our posts from World ARC.Finally arrived in North Sound Virgin Gorda and entered and anchored under sail.  As usual the engine was overheating and being kept for emergencies.Now in Nanny Cay which is our ARC USA departure port on the 7th.Spent part of the last week and most of today chasing through the seawater cooling system.Impeller-good, impeller turns-good, heat exchanger blocked by impeller parts?-good, oil cooler blocked by impeller parts?-good, syphon stop blocked-good, pipework-good.  WTH??Give in and replace the water seal in the spare seawater pump.  Fitted spare and works well now with lots of cooling water.  I can only picture that on the other. read more...


Exody - May 2nd - Countdown to ARC USA

Anchored in Long Bay, Virgin Gorda, we are sheltering from the persistent rain under a grey sky but pleased to have found a beach anchorage to ourselves in the BVI, the destination apparently most heavily populated in the world with charter boats! It is a delightful archipelago that I first visited briefly in 1980 when nearby Tortola was the agreed delivery/handover point for my first sailing yacht purchase. We now have just five days to go until the beginning of ARC USA.This will take us from here to Portsmouth, near Norfolk Virginia via Bermuda. Since completing World ARC on 9th April, just over three weeks ago, we both took time for flying family 'pitstops' to the UK and Trinidad respectively - quite a culture - (and for me a climate) -shock.Back on board Exody at Rodney Bay St Lucia. read more...


Starblazer - 01/05/2016 - Famous Last Words!

Sorry, this is a lot longer than intended.We did not pass Guadaloupe within 10 or 11 hours as previously guessed!It took us nearly 12 hours to reach the northern tip of Dominica, about 35 miles from our position at 0200.The first hour we averaged 6.9 knots, the second hour a little less, then the wind started to disappear.Our speed dropped until we were drifting at 1.8 knots.I steered while John laboured away in the engine room, coming up for a large glass of cold water at regular intervals.We eventually ran the engine for a few hours to charge the batteries before the overheat alarm went off.Problem still not solved!Our intended track was to turn north between Guadaloupe and Montserrat which would then give us a better angle on the wind for Sint Maarten.Following this route would have. read more...