Ch. 7: Best Shower of My Life

“I wouldn’t go if I couldn’t take a hot shower every day.”

It was my brother who told me this recently.  Sorry, John (if you’re reading this, probably not!), but you did say it and I’m sure you would still stand by it now.  We were talking about the Atlantic-crossing, what it was like for me and whether he would ever want to do something like that and that was his response: “Not if I couldn’t shower every day.”

“You could shower every day,” I huffed back at him, “as long as you used mostly saltwater with just a quick freshwater rinse.”

John looked at me kind of funny.  I think he seriously forgot it’s saltwater out there and that your fresh water supply on a boat is limited.  Understandable as he is my brother.  I forget the order of the cardinal directions sometimes and have to say that “Never Eat Shredded Wheat” ditty to myself to remember.  We’re both well educated but still blondes at heart.

collage

Love you Bro.

“It would have to be a hot shower, though,” John said.  “The water out there is probably super cold.  I would want a comfortable shower.”

“Those were some of the best showers of my life,” I responded, instantly, immediately because it was so true.

Bath2

The second day of the trip, Phillip and I took our first of several showers on the transom of Andanza and it was an incredible experience.  There is no better feeling when you’re sweaty, dirty, oily and all gummed up from a passage to be able to jump overboard and submerge yourself in cool, crisp cleansing water.  As predicted, the wind in the Gulf was virtually non-existent, which sucked for sailing but was great for a Captain-approved intentional man overboard dip!  Phillip and I tied a tow line and jumped in, both of us squealing and shouting “Whoo hoo!” when it was our turn in the water because it just felt so incredible.  I don’t care what the instruments said.  2.9 knots?  Please!  In the water it felt like we were making 10!

Buns

Get your drawers Annie!

Water whisked across my body like a running river, washing all of the dirt and grime away and almost sucking my britches clean off! I had to keep reaching back and snatching them to keep them on.  It was also difficult to pull my legs back underneath me just to get back onto the boat, but it was so much fun!  Phillip and I took turns jumping in, coming back out to soap up, jumping in again to rinse off then helping each other with a warm Solar Shower rinse afterward and I honestly cannot think back on my 34 years and recall a shower I enjoyed more.  I can walk up to a tub, turn on the water and have the same “hot shower” experience everyday and it will be just what John craved: comfortable.  What I cannot have, though, is a crisp, chilly, invigorating saltwater cleanse like I had on the back of Andanza with an endless blue horizon around me in every direction.  That kind of unrepeatable newness is what I crave.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.33.47 AMScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.32.00 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.32.49 AM

The sunrise that morning, our first on the trans-Atlantic passage, was also a moment I will not forget.  We were all kind of shocked that the first sail we raised on the trip was the spinnaker and that we had flown it all through the previous night without a problem.  She was still up and fluttering in the bright morning sun when I rose just after 5:00 a.m. May 30th, to find Phillip in his absolute happy place.  He had made a pot of coffee and was standing in the cockpit just watching the sun rise.  His serenity was infectious, so I just stood next to him and watched too.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.52.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 9.52.49 AM

“Some minutes go slow but the days go fast.”  Andy Schell with 59-North told me this recently when he interviewed me about my first ocean crossing for his “On the Wind” podcast.  (Such an honor!  You know I will let you all know when that comes out!)  Andy said someone had told him that’s what it feels like to cross an ocean and I could not agree more.  That moment with Phillip, our first morning on passage, watching the sun rise, felt so vivid and slow.  I remember the feeling of the cool morning air, my hair dancing and tickling my face, the sight of the spinnaker with sunlight glowing through it.

Sunrise

What I don’t quite remember, though, is the rather large chunk of time from that moment until our shower on the transom some seven, or perhaps eight, hours later and what I did during that time.  Some moments tick by like an eternity but other stretches of time pass by in a blurry succession and all of sudden you can’t believe it’s already Thursday, or June or just 1,000 nautical miles left to go!  Time slows and speeds like an accordion and the song is over before you want it to end.  Andy was right about that.

While the lackluster wind did not make for great sailing, it did make for an absolute beautiful backdrop for the hours of reading, writing and daydreaming the crew did as we motored our way across the glassy Gulf.

IMG_1391

We knew we were going to have to stop in Key West to fuel up at the very least and it appeared—at the rate we were going—we would get there in about three days, although no one was in a rush.

I tried to make myself do some “work writing” (I call it)—the various articles and pieces I write for my legal marketing clients—during those first few days, but to be honest, I found it difficult to make myself do anything that felt like work.  With a beautiful blue backdrop, the smell of salt water all around, water as blue as a sapphire with sun streaks that pierced down for miles, it was hard to force your mind to do anything but relax and reflect.  This is probably one of the aspects of blue water passages people love.  It’s like your mind rejects stress.  It flat out refuses to fret over anything that doesn’t involve your immediate surroundings.

IMG_1525

With each of us having pushed ourselves to our stress-load limits in the days before we shoved off, the crew rested a great deal during those first days on passage.  And I say “the crew” because the Captain, Yannick, remained in boat project mode, every hour, every day of that trip.  Unlike the rest of us, he never slowed down.

IMG_1501 IMG_1502 IMG_1496  IMG_1698 IMG_1701 IMG_1625

And if you think that’s a lot of photos of the Captain working, I laugh at you.  I have at least 103 just of Yannick doing boat projects.  I’ll do a whole montage one day!  It’ll be great.

The only thing the crew focused on, however, was the status of the boat and when our next shift was.  And, for Phillip, what he was going to make us for lunch and dinner!

IMG_1635 IMG_1636

It was tuna pasta with beets for lunch that day.  Thank you Chef Phillip!

My shift that night was ten to midnight.

IMG_1404

I was sitting in the cockpit with Yannick while he was finishing what we all started to call the “dinner shift” (7-10pm).  That was an awesome shift because it usually included the fun entertainment of everyone making and eating dinner and often a movie.  That shift was cake. It seemed it was the 2-4am shift that most folks didn’t care much for.

I was getting ready to take over around 10:00 p.m. when I saw a zip of white flash by in the water.  Perplexed, I craned my head over the side to try to decipher what I saw.  At first it was just darkness, black water.  Then I saw another zip of bubbles, quick and nimble, fast up to the bow and it finally clicked in my mind what I might be seeing.  DolphinsIn phosphorescence.  I nudged Yannick and told him to look.

“They’re all up at the bow!” he said.  “Get your tether.  Let’s go.”

I couldn’t scramble into that thing fast enough.  I was fidgeting and fighting my way into my life vest.  And, I would say I didn’t think to wake Phillip because I knew he was tired and needed to rest up for his midnight to 2am shift, but that’s not true because I wasn’t thinking about Phillip at all!  Not one bit.  There were dolphins at the bow!  And, they were glowing!  And I was going!  Yannick was tapping his foot at the helm waiting for me so we could both go together.  (We were still sticking by our rule that no one was allowed to leave the cockpit to go foreward at night alone.)

The sky was dark.  The moon had been rising around 2:00 a.m. every morning since we set off from Pensacola, leaving often a dark night sky with a barely visible horizon, until the moon would rise a fiery orange on the port beam. Yannick had his head lamp on and lit my way to the bow.  I heard them before I could see them.  The gentle puff of dolphin’s breath, three puffs, at least four, in a matter of seconds, which told me there were many dolphins, and they were everywhere. I could hear them on our starboard side, near the starboard bow, and near the center of the boat where Yannick was already looking over.

I perched on the edge near the port side, my feet dangling over the bow feeling the crisp salt spray from the water and I saw them.  Dolphins.  A dozen at least.  Zipping through the water at seemingly lightning speed from one hull to the next, leaving behind, each time, a trail of glitter.  At least that’s what it looked like.  Their bodies gleamed with phosphorescence, moving so fast they left a sparkling trail behind.  I have never seen such a thing and I believe the only experience that could compare would be this same sight and phenomenon again: Dolphins in phosphorescence.  It was breathtaking.  Inexplicable in its beauty.  These creatures move with such speed in the absolute dark, completely aware of their surroundings, our boat, each other, the entire body of water it seemed. They had no fear. Only joy.  And in the moment, so did I.

It was a very memorable moment to share with Yannick, as well.  We both looked at each other like two kids at an aquarium, saying nothing, just smiling.  I’m sure he remembers that night.  The glowing pod stayed and zipped along with us for about ten minutes.  When they finally trailed off to the east, their last brilliant streaks fading into dark, Yannick and I slowly made our way back to the cockpit where it was my turn to hold the helm.  I kind of thought Yannick would stay up a little with me to re-live the dolphin moment, but “Goodnight” he said as he made his way down below.

I’m glad my shift that night began with such a lively, invigorating scene because it was a long, slow two hours after that.  The “time accordion” was slowly stretching apart.  I forced myself to stay alert.  Do a walk-about around the cockpit every ten or so minutes.  Look at the instruments.  Check the engine temp.  Without any wind, we had been motoring all day, letting the starboard engine pump us across the Gulf.

No wind! Johnny's view

It was a calm night, but cloudy, which meant no sparkling chop, no horizon.  There is something eerie about motoring straight toward a black sheath.  You’re not entirely confident that you’re not about to slam into something.  It’s hard to look away from the bow.  You have the instinct to keep verifying but each time you do it just stirs your worries anew because you can’t see anything.  Shifts like this, like Andy said, ticked by slowly.  I was always so grateful when a worrisome shift ended to hand over the helm with the glorious, gratifying knowledge that the boat hadn’t struck something and cracked into a hundred pieces during my shift.  That didn’t happen when I was at the helm.  And, I know how awful and selfish that is to say, but it is just the truth.  I also shocked myself at how easily and quickly I could fall into a deep sleep after my night shifts because the tediousness of the worrying had exhausted me so.

The crew was able to fall off into deep slumbering comas often with the mere closing of our eyes.  Johnny slept ten hours a day those first few days.  While all three of the crew members had been working incredibly hard the final weeks before we left to complete work that had to be done or finished ahead of schedule so we could leave the country for six weeks, Phillip and I had been doing that at a desk while Johnny, as a diesel engine mechanic, was doing that often on his feet or hands and knees finishing several rather large engine repairs before he left.  And, he’s 72!  He’s an impressive guy that Johnny.  And, he always held his shift so it didn’t bother anyone at all that he slumbered so much in between during those first few days.  It actually turned out to be a blessing because the next morning we sent him right down in the hole at the crack of dawn.

I heard the rumble of the port engine cranking beneath me in my berth early the morning of May 31st.  Something felt a little off about it as we had been trying to split time between the engines and Yannick had told me the night before he was planning to run the starboard engine until well into the following day.  I thought something might be wrong, but I was also tired and didn’t quite want to wake up yet so I just rolled over.  Then I heard rushed footsteps.  Then Johnny’s voice.  Then I woke.  It was just after 5:00 a.m.  I popped my head out of my hatch on the port-side as Phillip rustled out of bed and I heard Yannick’s report.

In the middle of his 4-6am shift, the starboard engine had shut down again on its own.  No sputter, stutter or puttering out.  It stopped immediately.  Yannick had already checked the oil and other fluid levels, the temp, etc. There were no visible problems in that regard.  He was preparing to go overboard to see if something had fouled the prop as Johnny, still blinking himself awake, starting making his way down into the starboard engine locker.

No wind

“Well, it’s a good thing you got a lot of rest yesterday, Johnny,” Phillip said.  Johnny just smiled and shook his head as he eased down into the hole.

 

Want more HaveWindWillTravel content?  Become a Patron to get our weekly: 1) Pic of the Week, 2) Cuba Prep Update, 3) Trans-At Exclusive and 4) a Sneak Peek of each Friday’s video, as well as free early viewing of my Atlantic-Crossing movie which will be coming out in just a few short weeks!

Pat extra

Posted in Atlantic Crossing | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

#75: How to Get Your Wife to Go Cruising

She is NOT a passenger, she is crew!  There’s no magic secret to getting your wife (husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other) on board with cruising.  She just needs to know the realities and infinite rewards of the lifestyle and want those.  Share those basic philosophies with her first and cruising will become merely the means to your mutual end.  Once she’s on board in principle, get her (comfortably and confidently) on board in practice with sailing lessons and continued training and teaching together.  “Put her behind the helm!” says Linus Wilson.  “Make her retrieve a cushion,” says Pam Wall.  “Get over your fear of crossing an ocean!” says Lazy Gecko Brittany.  And, most importantly: “Remember it is not about the boat or the destination, it is about your shared desires and the more fulfilling life you both want to live together,” says Nick O’Kelly, author of Get Her on Board.

I have worked hard to pull together lots of viewpoints, perspectives and advice from fellow cruisers and trusted sources for you all.  If you are struggling to get your significant other on board with cruising, I hope you find this video as well as the resources and interview below helpful.  Please let me know in a comment or email!

 

Resources:

My complete interview with Nick O’Kelly:  https://youtu.be/TI2EBLqVksc

Nick O’Kelly’s Get Her On Board:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008P4WR68/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav

Book Review: Get Her on Board by Women and Cruising’s Gwen Hamlin:  http://www.womenandcruising.com/blog/2010/06/get-her-on-board-secrets-to-sharing-the-cruising-dream/

Nick O’Kelly’s “6 Mistakes Men Make in Sharing their Sailing Passion”:  http://www.womenandcruising.com/blog/2010/07/6-mistakes-men-make-in-sharing-their-sailing-passion/

Debra Cantrell’s Changing Course: A Woman’s Guide to Choosing the Cruising Life:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0014DBEFC/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav

Many women have told me my first book, Salt of a Sailor, vocalized all of the stupid questions they wanted to ask when learning how to sail but didn’t.  If there’s a chance it can do that for your significant other, pick up a copy on Amazon or email me for a free eCopy: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00T7YGKJU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00T7YGKJU&linkCode=as2&tag=havewcom-20&linkId=3UM4C3FFPWHIBTGM#nav-subnav

Pam Wall Sailing and Cruising Consultant: http://www.pamwall.com

Lazy Gecko Sailing:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwIThXjmw8eBlEfFZLgZ3-g

Women and Cruising:  http://www.womenandcruising.com

Women Who Sail (Facebook Group): https://www.facebook.com/WomenWhoSail/

Beth Leonard’s Voyager’s Handbook:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0072UO1VA/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1#nav-subnav

“How to Convince a Reluctant Partner to Go Cruising” (Catamaran Guru):  http://catamaranguru.com/lifestyle/cruising-resources/300-how-to-convince-a-reluctant-partner-to-go-cruising

 

Interviews:

I also spoke with several women who are wives of some of my most long-time, die-hard male followers and I talked to them about their fears, excitement, hang-ups and worries about going cruising with their mate.  Thank you Elizabeth, Hallie, Kathaleen and Shelly for sharing your thoughts with us:

Elizabeth (and Rob)

10     Picture7

“Let’s start with what makes me nervous.  My fear is that I don’t know a lot right now and something is going to happen to Rob and I will just shut down and not know what to do.  I’m not afraid of the water at all.  I actually enjoy sailing, even when it is a little bit of an uncomfortable ride.  My biggest impediment is just feeling nervous leaving the dock.  Once I am out there, I think I am fine. I sometimes just want to make sure I hold the lines when we leave the dock, and enter a new dock. I can throw the lines once we reach the marina, usually there are many people willing to help, but if no one is around, I need to feel confident, grabbing the line and getting onto the dock and I do not yet.

Rob handles the boat while we are sailing but I need to feel confident in setting the sail, looking at the wind direction, and knowing how those forces are working.  I also want to feel secure that I am not going to fall off the boat if I have to remove a line that is tangled.  I recently had to use the radio when entering the marina in order to learn our dock reservation location and whether the dock was starboard or port side.  I felt very confident doing that and it was empowering.  I think just “going” is what is going to get me over the hump.”

Hallie (and Joe)

Picture3      Picture4

“I think I fall into the rare group of women who were completely on board with and encourage their significant others to become full time live-aboard sailors.  Once I saw Pam Wall’s presentation and understood that circumnavigation was a thing people did I was on board!  I also feel Joe and I fall into another rare category of couples who truly get along and don’t fight … like ever!  We have complete mutual respect for each other and I think that is why I am not hesitant in the least about sailing around the world with him. It is all the other stuff that worries me, i. e. weather, boat condition, my abilities, etc.

Joe and I have been sailing as a team in small races and regattas and I think that is key, that experience working together to successfully maneuver the boat in tight spaces or difficult situations.  We are mostly a well oiled machine.  I know what he is going to do and he knows what I  am going to do.  We know our roles and know how to do them well.  We also really communicate with each other well and that I believe is key.  We didn’t start out big on a big boat.  We started sailing together on our small 16ft Hobie and on some other smaller sailing dinghy boats through Hoofer’s Sailing Club.  Talking before hand and discussing what were possible scenarios and what we should do if those occur before we get out on the water is also something we do regularly.  Having both of us on the same page for expectations is really important, especially on the Hobie.

My biggest impediment to cruising is definitely my own confidence in my ability to manage the boat if something were to happen to Joe while we are out there.  This one keeps me up at night.  Will I be able to manage the boat and situation if something happens to Joe?  What if he falls off the boat, what if he is sick, what if he dies suddenly??? I have been focusing on these since I fell off our Hobie two years ago and watched Joe struggle in 25knot winds to get back to me.  It felt like 20 minutes but in reality it was only 4.  I then thought, “Oh crap, what if Joe fell off the boat?”  We would have both died and the boat would have sunk.  I had never been at the helm of the boat before because I was always too scared to “drive” the boat.  This summer is when I have been taking the helm and learning about how to steer the boat.  I think for all women who are new to sailing, this is by far the biggest impediment.

The best way, in my opinion, to get over the hump is to take sailing lessons and get out on keel boats as often as possible to get comfortable.  These were the most important steps I can think of that have helped me this summer.  I am still nervous about sailing our Hobie with me at the helm so I have not taken that step yet, but maybe in time.  (It is a really fast sailboat!!)

I know The Voyager’s Handbook goes over some of how to get your mate(wife) on board. I hope these answers help you.  Sailing for me is this freeing/flying experience.  I love being out on the water and not hearing a motor (hopefully).  It is peaceful and exhilarating all at the same time and I have only been out on small inland lakes where we have to tack all the time!  I cannot wait until we can get out on larger water and set the auto-helm and go on the same tack for a day, heck even a few hours would be awesome!”

 

Kathaleen (and Joe)

Picture5    Picture6

“I think my biggest impediment to cruising with Joe is that I have no sailing knowledge or experience, just a passion to try.  I am not worried about what it will take to learn (I’m actually excited to learn!), and I’m confident in our ability to find a way to afford to do it.  The part that worries me is leaving my family (children and grand children) ashore while we travel to faraway places.  What if something happens and I cannot return quickly?  How will I get home?  I also worry about leaving my business to another’s hands.  I’ve scraped this into existence and it’s just barely taking off, what if it fails to thrive?”

 

Shelly (and Lance)

Picture1     Picture2

“Stepping out into the unknown makes me very nervous.  Letting go of my comfort zone and trying something new makes me very hesitant.  Land I am sure of, I know where I am going there are signs everywhere that tell me when to turn where to go.  Ahhh…. but water is wide open you can sail for miles even days with no land in site.  That makes me nervous.

My biggest impediment is that I have no sense of direction what so ever.  Lance is very good with direction and he is a very logical thinker.  I tend to be very emotional and unsure of myself.  But I believe in myself enough to step out there and work together to make this happen.  My biggest fear is getting sea sick to the point that I am unable to do this.  Confidence in myself is going to be key to getting over the hump and making myself get out there and thrive while cruising.  Believing that I can step of the land and let the sea carry me wherever it will.”

 

Our goal is to help more people realize their dream of cruising.  Paramount to that is the ability to share that dream with your best friend and soul mate which is why Phillip and I worked hard to produce this video and help those of you out there who may be struggling to get your significant other “on board” with cruising.  If you have found these tips and resources helpful, please help us help more people like you by supporting our efforts to share the cruising lifestyle on Patreon.

photo-1-1

Posted in Countdown to Cuba, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ch. 6: First Sail of the Trip

Now did that happen at 8:58 a.m.?  8:59? Heck no!  It happened at 9:02.  Right after the start of my shift that morning.  Are there times that I like to hear that piercing elongated beep of the high-temp alarm on the engine?  Sure, right when I’m about to crank the engine and right after I kill it.  Not anywhere in between.  But, that’s what the crew of Andanza heard at 9:02 a.m. May 29th, as we were making our way out into the Gulf.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.49.44 AM

The word “cut” hit my brain first so that’s what I did.

While Johnny only said to “cut it back” when he heard the alarm, alarms freak me out so I kind of jumped at the kill switch.  Phillip looked at me a little funny and I just shrugged.  At least I killed it instead of revving it up or something worse, I thought.  You’re supposed to cut the engine when it overheats, right?

We cranked the port engine to keep us going and Yannick jumped down into the starboard engine locker with Johnny in tow to eyeball everything.  When nothing visibly answered their inquiries, they tore down Yannick’s bed on the starboard side—the first of many, many times Yannick would have to do that on this trip (he got surprisingly good at it!)—and inspected the engine from another angle.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.50.28 AM

Where’s Johnny??

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.21.03 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.50.59 AM

Two hours in and they were greasy.

Phillip and I had dealt with an overheating engine on two occasions previously: 1) where the thermostat was defective and was not opening up completely, and 2) when we (seriously) thought a snail got sucked up against our thru-hull and temporarily blocked the raw water intake.  Seeing no snails around this time I mumbled (very un-confidently I might add) something about the thermostat.  This high-pitch, hard-to-hear tone of my voice was later coined by Yannick as my “recommendation voice.”  We’ll get there.

It was also Johnny’s first instinct to replace the thermostat, so that’s what he did.  The rust-colored coolant they had drained from the engine was then poured back in and we then waited for her to sufficiently cool so we could re-crank the engine to see if she held temp.  While Yannick had many (many!) spares aboard the boat, an entire new coolant system for the engines, he did not.  The crew had a very depressing conversation while waiting for the engine to cool about potentially pulling right back out of the Gulf to order and wait for a new raw water pump to be sent from Italy if that was the problem.  Those darn Italian engines!  No one even wanted to consider it.

Hoping while waiting that the cause was indeed just the thermostat, this sparked a conversation between Yannick, myself and Phillip about the defective thermostat we had once installed on our Niagara and how we discovered it.  The thermostats on these engines are really pretty cool.  It reminds me of those springs they put in people’s arteries to hold them open and prevent clots.  In other words, something that works automatically simply because of its property elements.  Don’t quote me on this (or feel free to offer your two cents in a comment below) but it’s my understanding the thermostat automatically regulates engine temp by using the elemental properties of wax.  Yep, wax.  When wax heats and melts, it expands.  The thermostat capitalizes on this property by relying on the automatic heat=expansion to push on a piston that opens a valve and allows coolant to flow in.  Once the engine starts to cool, the wax contracts, shrinks down and a spring pushes the valve back closed again.

engine_thermostat_parts_with_bypass_valve

See?  I think that’s cool.  It was also nice for Phillip and I to be able to bring some experience to the table by relaying a thermostat-related event that had happened to us and the “thermostat trick” (Annie term) we had learned in the process.  I’ve uploaded the video from this entire starboard engine overheat incident as well as the thermostat trick Phillip and I taught Yannick that day in this week’s Ch. 6 (Patron’s Extra): Thermostat Trick:

pat2

I kind of joked lightheartedly about this in None Such Like It—mine and Phillip’s first passage as delivery crew—when I imagined Kretschmer’s response to a similar situation:

“Orange fluid starts to pour out of the faucet in the head and he’d say: “Oh, that’s nothing, just some compensating fluid for your alternator.  A slight over flow.  I can fix it with a toothpick.”

While the thermostat trick may sound kind of normal to those who have dealt with a defective one.  For someone who has never experienced it, the proposition might sound like a toothpick fix for “compensating fluid.”  I found it almost unbelievable Phillip and I were actually gaining experience by simply being on boats when things broke.

img_3308

Things break on boats?  Noooo …  Of course they do.  So, “while you’re down there” Mitch, fix it!  Ha!

Using the thermostat trick, we found the thermostat Johnny had just taken off the starboard engine on Andanza was not opening all the way, so it was not letting enough coolant in to sufficiently cool the engine.  Put in a new one, whose wax contraption does its job and—voila!—a properly cooling engine.  That was our fix that morning and, thankfully, we seemed to have saved ourselves a potentially costly and time-consuming repair.  I honestly think we kind of collectively willed the starboard engine to just work that afternoon.  And, thankfully, she did!  And she held temp!  Hallelujah!

It seemed the Wind Gods were proud of our will power as the breeze started to freshen in the early afternoon and we hoisted the spinnaker.  It was actually Brandon who had encouraged us initially, during one of our very first test sails on the Freydis out in Pensacola Bay, to raise the spinnaker with his famous: “Alright, time to fly the chute!”  I’m not sure why, exactly, Phillip and I haven’t been more inclined to fly the spinnaker on our boat—having owned her three years now and never raising the chute once—but I believe, after hoisting it on Yannick’s boat and seeing how truly simple and easy it can be, Phillip and I will be far more inclined to do so on the Niagara when the winds are right.  It was nice Brandon had encouraged us to raise it with him on the Freydis, though, so the Andanza crew could all get a good feel for the process of raising it, unfurling it and furling it back up before we set off on this passage because the crew was all smiles and elbow nudges as we confidently pulled the spinnaker out, raised it up and began to unfurl her.

Spinnaker

I’m not sure there is anything more beautiful on a boat than a spinnaker flying.  There’s just something magical about it: sheer canvas filled with possibility and potential.  The billowing green, white and red filled me with the same kind of child-like awe I had when I saw an entire horizon of spinnakers during the Abacos Regatta I did in 2015.  So many colors, vibrant in the sun.

apin

 

“I never would have thought,” Phillip laid a hand on my shoulder as we both stood at the bow of the boat just watching the spinnaker.  “That would have been the first sail we would raise on this trip.”

A true sailor, that man.  I love him for the way he sees things.  The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, but Phillip—of course—saw it that way.  It was true.  While technically, we did sail over to Ft. McRee for the “last hoorah” sendoff with friends the night before, for Phillip and I, this trip (as does any voyage from Pensacola) had not truly begun until we headed out the Pensacola Pass and started to lose sight of the shore.  Then we’re not just day-sailing.  We’re not just tacking back and forth for fun in Pensacola Bay.  We are GOING.  And the first sail we hoisted to get us to France was the spinnaker—the big, billowing, green, white and red spinnaker.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.54.56 AM

That was a pretty cool feeling.  We made decent time that day too, around 5-6 knots with a nice breeze on our stern.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.52.54 AM

Once we were settled into passage, making good way, our very next mission was to have a safety briefing with the crew.  Yannick called us all into the cockpit, had us bring each of our respective ditch bags up and we went through to account for and discuss use of all of our respective GPSs, flares, the EPIRB, etc. and how best to respond to emergencies.  We also talked about how to stop bleeding and treat wounds, cuts or other significant injuries like fractures, how to respond to a fire aboard, radio for help, etc.  Yannick had a great resource he used to make sure he had covered all of the necessary safety topics:

safety

http://www.safetics.fr

book2

I tried to find an English version … sorry.  It seems only French and Italian at this time.

Yannick also set off a “man overboard” on the chart plotter and it was shocking to see how quickly the boat and the “man” separated.  If you needed any motivation to move slowly and cautiously on deck, set off your MOB and watch “yourself” get immediately swept away.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.54.28 AM

With that minor major chore done, the crew was officially on passage, on schedule and free otherwise to fill the time as they pleased.  It was around 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon.  I remember it vividly.  It’s the same feeling I usually feel when Phillip and I leave our dock and head out into Pensacola Bay and the sails have been raised and trimmed, the lines in the cockpit cleaned up, we’re on a steady tack—at least for the next foreseeable amount of time—and you realize time is yours.  You are sailing.  The boat is handling everything and you are free to do whatever you want to do.  I often just sit and stare at the horizon and the water swishing by the hull for a few minutes doing nothing other than that.  Just appreciating the movement of the boat and looking out.

looking out

And, while it is always an incredibly freeing feeling when Phillip and I are just headed out on our Niagara for a day sail or over to the anchorage for the weekend, the feeling now was magnified.  Because now I was going much further.  Now I might not see land again for thirty days.  The next time I did, it might be France!  All of those realizations fell down on me like feathers and I closed my eyes and let them brush by and pile around me, then I sunk into the soft pillow of my own freedom.  My shift having ended at noon, I wasn’t on again until 2:00 a.m. so I had plenty of time to just soak it all in.

arros

I laid on the trampoline, closed my eyes and let the sun seep through my eyelids and listened to the hulls cutting through the water.  That was the moment the passage truly began for me.

 

IMG_1155

I opened a book I had been reading off and on for the last three months—one I had enjoyed but had always struggled to make myself sit down and open again.  What with all the important things I could clack around and conquer on the computer when I had a solid, pumping wifi signal, why sit back and read when I could be productive, right?  It’s hard sometimes, when work is so available to make it go away.  Well, now I had no signal.  I had no internet and all of my work, at least for the next foreseeable amount of time, was done.  All of those hours Phillip and I had spent the past month clacking away on our computers late into the evenings, working on Saturdays, working on Yannick’s boat, our boat, all of it allowed me now to open a book and with the gentle background of babbling water underneath me, just read.  I read for three straight hours that afternoon, completely enthralled in the story.  I read mostly every day all day those first days on passage.

read

I could have worked some then, writing content for clients, editing photos, making movies, but I didn’t.  I just read and finished a book, in two days, that I had been struggling to read for three months: Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival (on recommendation of Brittany from WindTraveler – thank you Brittany!).  It was glorious.

“Steaks,” Phillip said, snapping me out of the mini carnival that afternoon on the tramp.  “We definitely have to do the steaks tonight.”  We had so many provisions on board, the decision of what we should have for dinner was often difficult, but I knew he had hit the nail on the head with this one.  Grilling out on the starboard transom and enjoying a group dinner in the cockpit was something we wouldn’t always be able to enjoy when the weather turned snotty or the winds and temps were too cold, so although a glassy Gulf did not offer much in the way of speed, it did offer a spectacular calm setting for a gourmet meal of grilled steaks in the cockpit.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.55.26 AM Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.55.42 AM  sunset

Yannick put on some French music to really get us in the mood and the crew cheersed “Sonte!” to our first night on passage and watched as the chute continued to remain taut and full and pulling us along at 5 knots further and further away from shore.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.57.28 AM

The crew decided to leave the chute up for the night as the wind prediction was so low.  The sail actually billowing too much and requiring a crew roust in the middle of the night to furl and pack her away was actually a bigger concern than being overpowered.  We were expecting some very lackluster winds in the Gulf for the next few days.  I almost couldn’t believe as I laid down in mine and Phillip’s berth that I would be waking up in a few hours to hold my first night shift on Andanza.  The thought of being alone at the helm, in complete and total control of the boat, was—to be honest—a little frightening but also exhilarating.  Often some of my favorite moments on passage with Phillip had been during my night shifts.

“Here I go!” I whispered to Phillip as I left him snuggled down in the warm covers and stepped out of my cabin at 1:45 a.m. to get ready for my shift.  Before going to bed, Phillip and I had made sure all of our “night gear” (our life jackets, head lamps, our EPIRB, a flashlight, etc.) was readily accessible in our locker by the stairs so we could easily don and doff by our berth.  A surge of excitement pumped through me as I started suiting up.  This is really happening.

I found Johnny smiling up at the helm.  At what?  I don’t know.  It could be a million things: just the fact that we were out there, making way to France, or because it was his first night shift, too, or maybe he had just heard a dolphin or … anything.  An inexplicable smile was not an uncommon sight on that boat.  We had a brief chat about the conditions and how his shift went.  “It’s nice out here,” Johnny said as he headed down below to rest.

The wind was holding at a nice 10 knots on the starboard stern and the chute was moving us along slow and steady.  That was all I really needed to know to take over.  The auto-pilot was doing all the work, the batteries had got a lot of juice from the solar panels all day, so the boat was totally self-sustained for the time being as long as the wind and auto-pilot held.  Those were the two things I really needed to monitor.  Otherwise, it was sit, listen and enjoy the night air.

The wind was cool but not cold.  I was wearing a light fleece and leaning out from the helm so I could feel the wind on my face, hear the water dancing lazily against the hull and see the faint starlight on each chop.  The stars that night were so crisp, each one a startling white contrast against the vast black of the sky.  It was actually easy to lose focus on the instruments with a free open gallery spread in every direction above you.  They managed to keep pulling me back, though, with a gently billowing sail and light, finicky winds all throughout my shift.  While a steady ten knots of breeze on the starboard stern holds the chute just fine, when the winds would sink down to eight knots, then seven, the big, ethereal chute would billow and luff and threaten to collapse.

I hate to say it frightened me a little, but it did.  I knew if the winds were not holding strong enough to justify keeping the spinnaker up, I was to wake the Captain and suggest we drop the sail.  The crew would then be roused and we would drop her.  Nothing to it.  But, what if the wind were to die fairly suddenly and the spinnaker flopped and flailed at the forestay, caught on something and got snagged.  The spinnaker sometimes seems, to me, like a fragile silk sheet up there—just waiting to go astray, drag her beautiful body across something treacherous and sharp and rip a horrid hole in her center.  And I was sure, each time the winds dropped below eight knots, that was going to happen on my shift.  But, as soon as that thought entered my mind, the wind would puff back up to ten or so and she would hold steady another fifteen minutes before torturing me with these types of nagging hypotheticals again.  It was a beautiful shift, mesmerizing yes, but also tiresome worrying over the delicate spinnaker like that.  I’m sure I did it to myself, but it’s not like you can just turn it off.  Plus, the worrying kept me alert so I indulged it a bit and sat in awe that we were really flying the chute overnight, our first night on passage.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 8.58.15 AM

Phillip seemed to share my sentiment when he came up ten minutes early for his 4:00 a.m. shift and looked first thing out at the green, glowing canvas in front of us shaking his head a bit in disbelief.  I just smiled back at him, knowing exactly how cool this trip felt so far.

IMG_1553

Video extras from our passage are available each week on Patreon with free access as well to my complete Atlantic-Crossing movie once it’s complete.  It’s almost 90 minutes now about I’m about 80% done.  Whew!  Editing, editing, editing …  Thanks to my many followers and supporters who make this all possible.  Get inspired and get on board!

Posted in Atlantic Crossing, Sail Skills | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boat #9: 1985 Niagara 35

That’s right.  It’s our very own s/v Plaintiff’s Rest, post re-rig, re-fit and repairs.  I will also show you each of the features on our boat that Phillip and I believe make it a great cruising vessel from engine access to batteries to the sump box and more.  If any of you out there are boat-shopping right now, I hope this video will help you understand why we chose the boat we did and what features and systems you may want to look for in a good cruising boat.  If there are any modifications or upgrades that you see in this video and want to know more about it, be sure to “search” (right hand tool bar on this page) for a post on it on the blog.  I’ve done a write-up or video on just about everything.  If you don’t find the info you are looking for, shoot me an email and I will be happy to answer as best I can.  Happy Boat Shopping!

Posted in Boat Projects, Boat Tours, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ch. 5: Shoving Off!

How much experience do you need to cross the Atlantic Ocean?

That is honestly one of the questions that flitted through my mind as we pushed away from the dock in the morning heat, May 28, 2016.  That and “Happy birthday to you.”  That was playing in my mind as well.  (Are you singing it now?  You’re welcome.)  I turned 34 that day and I couldn’t think of one (much less 34!) reasons why I should NOT be going on this trip.  We were about to sail to France.  Sail.  I could not get my mind wrapped around it.  Every time I mentioned the trip to friends or family I would say “When we land in France … ” and I would have to stop myself, back up, and say “When we dock in France” and instantly I would envision Kate Winslet walking up to the gallant, towering Titanic.

1465381892-kate-winslet-rose-titanic

Because those are the kinds of boats that “dock” in France, right?

Well, not this time.  We were going on a 46-foot boat with a virgin crew to an ocean-crossing.  While everyone has to have a first time, it’s probably a little uncommon for four sailors to embark on their first crossing together but we were.  While Johnny had about thirty years sailing experience under his belt, many passages in the Gulf, around the Bahamas as well as one solo voyage to Jamaica, he had never crossed an ocean.  Phillip and I had crossed the Gulf several times before (well, to be honest, I’ve been told hugging the shore doesn’t even count as crossing) but a six-week trip to the Florida Keys and back on our Niagara was the longest voyage we could boast.  While Yannick had sailed Andanza with a hired captain from Martinique up to Pensacola when he purchased the boat in 2015, that was his only blue water passage on the boat and it was still not across an ocean.  Would stepping on this boat for this voyage frighten some of you?

IMG_1358

To be honest, that collective limitation did not worry me.  No matter how much experience you have, if you get stuck in a storm or the boat is compromised beyond repair, a hundred ocean crossings under your belt may not save you.  Truthfully, what worried me the most, was my own personal lack of knowledge of the boat, i.e., how best to handle her, how her systems operated and how they should be maintained, repaired and rigged, and most importantly, how to sail her because I didn’t feel like I really knew how to do that all that well.  Yet.  That was the thought that made my heart race.  An emergency occurring.  The crew needing me to do something, the right thing, to help save the boat or lives, and I would not know the right thing, or perhaps anything, to do to help get the boat and the crew through the situation.  I feared paralysis brought on by ignorance.  I still feel to this day the answer to that question—How much experience do you need to cross an ocean?—is none.  Obviously because we all did it without any, so while it may be helpful, it is not a necessity.  What you really need, in my humble opinion, after good mental and physical health is (in this order): luck, a level head, patience and an eagerness to learn: the boat, the seas, the stars and from your mistakes.  Oh, and a sense of humor.  You need a sense of humor.

After that, you shove off.  That’s what we did.  And somehow we made it.

We woke to a fiery sunrise on Andanza the morning of May 28th.

13316991_899803776797412_9159782657306573636_o

It was crazy to think we would be leaving the dock that day actually headed for France.

13320635_899803783464078_5549541210902692172_o

Crew morale was incredibly high, thankfully, as I forced them all to gear up (in the middle of May heat) in our foul weather gear for a “Thank You West Marine!” crew photo.

wm

See?  Totally worth it.

It was hot, though.  After five minutes of sweating, the crew was about ready to kill me.

IMG_1338

We all were sporting next to nothing under those heat lockers.

IMG_1343

Farmer John style:

IMG_1345

IMG_1326

To be honest, I can’t quite remember what brought on this strange pose.  I think I called him Ronald McDonald in his red-and-yellow ensemble and there was some mention of a hamburger craving.  That’s all I remember.  That Yannick.  He’s a funny one.  And, I’ll know exactly what he’s thinking as he reads this:

That bit was re-enacted (too) many times during the passage.

It was a quick doffing and donning of our foul weather gear, though.  We stripped and stowed those away as they would likely not be needed anytime soon in the hot, muggy Gulf and prepared to shove off, although we would not be heading out into the Gulf that day.  Why no Gulf, you ask?  Brandon and his wife, Christine, that’s why and an alcohol-induced cajoling the night before at our little farewell party at the dock.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.11.13 PM

pic

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.12.22 PM

I mentioned there was alcohol … 

While Brandon and Christine had the best of intentions talking us into spending one night on anchor at everyone’s favorite anchorage—Ft. McRee—for the stated purpose of “a good night’s rest” before the passage and one last “check of the systems,” mine and Phillip’s lawyer sides saw right through them.   We all knew what they really wanted was to have one last hoorah on the hook before we sailed across the Atlantic.

We did too!  So, it was settled.  One night at McRee, then we would be off.  While we knew we would not be headed out into the Pensacola Pass that day, it was strange to think it might be our last sighting of Andanza next to a U.S. dock.

dock

Brandon was planning on bringing his boat out for the night as well, a Gulf Star 45, s/v 5 O’Clock.  With all of the work he had put into Yannick’s boat at the yard, all of the time he had spent helping us all prepare for the passage, an evening on the water with he and his family truly seemed like the perfect send-off.  Plus, I (selfishly) could also not imagine a better way to spend my birthday!  Yes, remember it was still my birthday!  There were so many cool things about that day.  One being a sail-by farewell from two of our other local fellow cruisers: our broker, Kevin, aboard his Pearson 36 Cutter and Andrew, aboard his Sabre 34.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.16.55 PM

The crew had a very fun sail from the Navy Base to Ft. McRee with a few of Yannick’s French friends aboard (who were very cute I might add).  It was the first time all four of us were on the boat, sailing away from Pensacola and we were all prickling with energy.  I think Phillip put it best when he said:

Okay, so maybe we were going to have to drop it just for the night while on anchor, but that was all.  Just one night.  And, it was very fun being the celebrities at the anchorage.  Phillip and I spend so many weekends there that we had two, three, four dinghies, if not more, pull up, filled to the brim with our cruising buddies, wanting to say “Bon Voyage!”  It was humbling to see how excited and invested our friends were in the trip.  They were all planning to follow us on the Delorme and it really was cool to know they would be here, doing what we would normally be doing every weekend during that month, while Phillip and I were moving each day across the ocean toward France. And, getting to say goodbye on the water was really where Phillip and I feel truly at home, so there was something special about that.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.15.12 PM

I was also really touched by the things Yannick’s wife, Clothilde, had left aboard the boat specifically for my birthday celebration: a super scrumptious hazelnut coffee cake that she made, as well as birthday candles and party favors.  It was funny to watch Yannick scrambling around looking for them when it came time to blow out the candles.  He did find one rather large candle, which he sunk down into the frosting and that I noted was quite _______.  (If you have a word you think is fitting here, leave in a comment below and check out this week’s Patron’s video extra: “Birthday Trivia”)

new

To be honest, though, I hated to say it, but I told Christine toward the evening, that Phillip and I were so itching to go, to get out there on blue water, that the hours honestly kind of started to slow down for us.  All of the crew kept looking out past the beach toward the Gulf, craving that offshore, nothing-but-blue-horizon feeling of being on an offshore passage.  We were ready to take the plunge!

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 3.41.42 PM

It was tough to sleep that night we were all so excited.  Rum helped, though.  The stories told that evening on Brandon’s boat I can hardly recall.  I doubt he does either. But it was a fantastic night with friends, warm hugs and good cheer.

IMG_1368 IMG_1375 IMG_1371 IMG_1370

When I started to stir in bed the next morning and realized this (yes, finally THIS) was the day we would be truly headed out the pass and offshore, I didn’t care what time it was.  I ripped my eyes open and nudged Phillip.  “This is it,” I said.  He was awake in seconds, nodding and smiling.  “I know,” he said, tickling with the same excitement.  We were leaving today!

And, early too.  The entire crew was awake before 6:00 a.m., brewing coffee and talking about the weather.  The seas looked calm in the Gulf so Yannick plugged in a placeholder coordinate outside of Key West and that was that.  We had our first leg of the trip plugged in.  It was actually really cool to think this time Phillip and I headed offshore we would just be going, non-stop.  While we love to coastal cruise and check out all of the neat inlets, ports and harbors along the coastline, we love to be underway too, so the thought that we were about to leave Pensacola Bay and not set our sights on Port St. Joe, or Clearwater, or Tarpon Springs or anything north of the Keys was truly exciting.  Phillip and I had no clue whether we were going to like this—long offshore travel—we had an instinct, and it turned out to be right, but at the time, we had no idea.  But that was the whole point of going.

The crew of s/v Andanza weighed anchor that morning and made our way through the North Cut on our way to Pensacola Pass around 6:45 a.m.  We had one last surprise visit from another local cruising group (thank you Bridgette, Tom and Karen!) via dinghy on our way out the channel.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 3.39.44 PM

They circled around us shouting “Bon Voyage!” and snapping photos.  It was such a cool moment, such a proud moment, to know we had worked so hard to get here and we were doing something many wished they could, wished they had, wish they still will, and I was right there, not one day into 34 and I was doing it, with my best friend beside me.

13301306_902868229824300_1639919668775614652_o

Hearts were beating and sighs were heaved as the rookie ocean crew motored our way out the Pensacola Pass.  We had a great time spotting the last bits of land.  Johnny watched Portofino disappear on the horizon.  Phillip threw out the fishing line.  And then … (notice anything suspect here?)

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 5.18.33 PM

The starboard engine shut down.

I think Video Annie summed it up best.  This was literally two hours into our trip:

“The adventure begins!”

Posted in Atlantic Crossing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2nd Gift of Cruising Winners: Hallie and Joe!

We’re giving it away! Our second Gift of Cruising, a 6-day bareboat charter course through Lanier Sailing Academy in Pensacola, Florida goes to lucky Patron Hallie Heuser (pronounced “High-zer” she let me know) and her awesome boyfriend Joe.

hallietn

We’ve got a fun message from Hallie & Joe that they sent to us for when they come this October from Madison, WI down to Pensacola, FL for the Lanier course and a day-sail on the one and only s/v Plaintiff’s Rest (yowza!) as well as a fun video Hallie made for Joe from when they got their boat (a Hobie 16), fixed it up and took it out for their first sail. Enjoy!

Thanks to my many Patrons for making this possible and who are currently helping me select my next Gift of Cruising so, like Joe said, Phillip and I can share our excitement for sailing and inspire more people to get out there and do it, too. Get inspired and get on board on Patreon.

Posted in Gift of Cruising, Videos | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ch. 4: Paris Panties and Provisioning Tips

I guess we should talk about the really important stuff before we get to the panties.

Fuel:

While there were many, many critical provisions we needed to stock on the boat, fuel was one of the first items to come up during our initial crew briefings at Yannick’s house.  If your goal is to get the boat across the pond without stopping, there are only two ways that can happen: wind or fuel.

yann

Andanza carries 90 gallons of fuel, which sounds like a lot but considering the distance we needed to cover (4,600 nautical miles), it would not really get us that far.  Yannick had calculated an approximate consumption rate of 0.5 gallons an hour per engine, running at about 1,800 RPMs, which he had determined was the optimal, most efficient range for the engines.  He also found running both engines at the same time only added 0.5 knots in speed for double the fuel consumption, so he had decided we should only run one engine at a time as needed.  (Know there is some debate out there as to whether this puts unnecessary strain on the propulsion system.  What?  Boat owners with differing opinions?  No way!  Yannick researched it and made an executive decision that the decrease in fuel consumption was justified over the potential strain on the sail drives.)   Running only one engine at a time translated to roughly 180 hours of tank burning time which would carry us about 1,000 nautical miles purely motoring.  The plan was to bring aboard additional Jerry jugs of fuel, each jug giving us an approximate additional 10 hours of motoring, with the amount of jugs TBD considering the additional weight they would bring aboard.

IMG_1177

We eventually decided on 11 jugs, stored in the foreward starboard bow.  That locker is massive.  I can stand up in it!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.04.21 AM Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.04.39 AM

The funny thing is, as Yannick and Phillip both pointed out, you cannot possibly bring enough fuel to motor across the entire ocean.  The boat could not carry it all (and likely could not move with that much added weight).  So, once you decide to go anyway, the risk is really the same whether you have 50 gallons, or 90 or 150.  We simply brought an amount we thought would help “fill the gaps” when we would have to motor sail or just motor because the wind was not behaving.  The plan was to sail as often as we could.

 

Water:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.39.17 AM

The catamaran has a 100 gallon water tank on the boat.  While that sounds like a lot, it also is not much when you consider the washing, cooking, cleaning, and bathing you have to do with that same water, in addition to just drinking it.  The boat also had a water maker but we weren’t really sure how well it would work, how much water it would produce and whether that water would even be drinkable.  Brandon and Yannick worked on the water maker while Andanza was in the yard and it was reportedly working well, although we all were a little leery about testing it.  (To be blunt about it, no one wanted to get the sh%ts!)

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.21.11 AM

Yannick reported to us during the weeks before shove-off that the water maker was working and producing about 3/4 gallon per minute.  Quite a bit.  He bought a water tester to see how many parts per million (meaning dissolved solids … could be salt, could be fish poop or oil, who knows) and we tested the second batch he made during our first sail on the boat in Pensacola Bay.  Yannick told us the first batch registered at 290 ppm and this second batch was now at 66, which is very low.  However, we still made him do the actual drinking first.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.20.53 AM

Phillip couldn’t make it out with us the first time we went out on the catamaran (remember all of that pesky work stuff we were doing to get ready to leave the country) and I told him about the water testing when I got home.  His first question: “Where was the first batch made?”  Knowing zip about water makers at the time and thinking nothing of it, I told him: “Bayou Chico.”  Ruh-roh.  Phillip was definitely worried that the filthy water from the bayou had been run through the water maker and we learned later the maker should only be used when you’re in the cleanest water possible.  (The Atlantic Ocean would be a great place to start!)  But, it seemed to be working fine at the time (Yannick had not yet reported any sh%ts) and it was likely whatever water it made could at least be used for cleaning, bathing, etc.  (Another small worry was the fact that the water maker fed straight into the main water tank.  Meaning, if the water it made was contaminated, it could spoil our entire supply.  For this reason, Yannick always diverted the initial production into a separate gallon for testing before he let it run into the main tank.)

There was also the possibility that the main 100-gallon tank could be contaminated somehow, or that it could crack and leak out.  After fuel, water was our most important provision on the boat.  We wanted to stock as much water as possible (considering space and weight) to carry us across the ocean.  Yannick bought 15 cases (36 water bottles each) of water for the trip and Phillip and I packed the bilges of the boat with a total of 540 water bottles.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.19.12 AM Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 11.17.46 AM water

 

Ditch Bags:

IMG_0899

Each crew member was responsible for packing his or her own ditch bag with the usual supplies (life jackets, GPS, flares, emergency food and water, etc.)  We would also each be bringing our own hydrostatic life jackets with tethers to clip into the jack lines.

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 9.02.34 AM

Yannick’s boat was equipped with an EPIRB for the vessel (located near the nav station below) and he also had a beacon on his life jacket that would sound an MOB alarm if Yannick fell overboard.  Phillip and I brought our own personal EPIRB to keep with us when we were on night watch in case one of us fell over.  Yannick also had a green laser light on his jacket that could be seen from (I can’t really remember) like twenty miles or something.  For intentional overboard, Phillip and I brought an old wet suit that would be donated to the boat in case anyone had to go overboard (to un-foul the prop for example) and Yannick had a dry suit as well.

We also had many haling devices.

9763779284784035824

Yannick testing the Delorme’s capabilities in flight.  It tracked him the entire way!

Counting everyone’s individual cell phones, hand-held GPSs, iPads and such as well as the two chart plotters on the boat and other electronics (Delorme, sat phone, etc.), Yannick predicted we would have approximately 15 GPS devices on the boat.  Needless to say, PLENTY.  While a ditch of the boat was not something anyone really thought would happen, we had to plan for the possibility.  I can assure you there were many, many discussions about ditch gear.  And, with the life raft having arrived (just days before we were set to leave), if in fact the moment did come, we would now be ditching the boat in much better shape.

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 12.16.41 PM

There she is!

To be honest, our primary concern was significant injury to a crew member (think illness, broken bone or infection) or a man overboard.  There were also many discussions about everyone’s respective first aid experience, known procedures, and the proper response and duty of all crew members if a man fell overboard.  Yannick explained many times (likely because he had to, the electronics on his boat are dizzying) how to set off the MOB alarm on the chart plotter and what each crew member should do to safely retrieve the fallen crew member and get him (okay, or her!) back on board.  Our primary defense to injury and emergencies was what Yannick continually referred to as “discipline.”  This included:

  1. Moving around the boat slowly and with caution;
  2. Clipping in at night or in rough seas;
  3. Never leaving the cockpit alone during a night shift;
  4. Monitoring and timely responding to health problems (fevers, infections, malaise, etc.).

We also discussed the known possibility that catamarans, because they do not heel, can get unknowingly overpowered with too much wind on the beam.  This was discussed and it was decided we would always put a first reef in at 20 knots of wind, a second reef at 25, and a third reef at 30.  The crew agreed we would also always reef at sunset.  Sailing cautiously and conservatively was another huge part of our safety plan.

 

First Aid:

IMG_0869

Let’s just say we had way, waaaay too much medical crap on the boat.  Yannick had a fantastic supply of antibiotics, which was one of our top concerns.  Johnny, having been a paramedic in a previous life, also had great wound care and suture kits to supply.  Phillip and I cleaned out all of our band-aids, bandages, Neosporin, Ibuprofen, etc. from Plaintiff’s Rest and contributed that.  And, we brought many varieties of seasickness prevention.

IMG_0871

While neither Johnny, Phillip Yannick nor myself were prone to seasickness (thank goodness because once we shoved off for France, we were looking at 30+ days at sea), many folks had told Phillip and I that the motion of the catamaran is just “different” and that it’s possible for people who do not get seasick on a monohull to get seasick on a catamaran.  So, we were prepared.

I hope as you’re reading through this, you’re starting to get a sense of how much planning really goes into making a passage like this.  Yannick was good at delegating items like this (i.e., rounding up everyone’s first aid gear and making a combined, non-duplicative kit for the boat) to each of us so no efforts were wasted.  Phillip and I were responsible for preparing the boat’s first aid kit as well as food-planning for the passage.  Phillip specifically requested this task as it had already been decided among the crew that he would serve as Andanza‘s head chef for the passage.  (You recall Yannick’s “gut it and put soy sauce on it” approach.)  I worked on the watch schedule, the window sealing and inventorying the boat while Yannick and Johnny completed the work on the starboard sail drive once the parts arrived from Italy.  Hooray!

IMG_4337

We all had many, many jobs to do during those tumultuous two weeks before departure.

 

Clothing and Gear:

IMG_1188

Phillip and I found it a little difficult to pack for this trip for two reasons: 1) we needed clothes for extremely hot conditions (think bikinis in the Gulf of Mexico), potentially very cold conditions (spitting rain in the North Atlantic) as well as a few somewhat stylish pieces for France and 2) we needed to be able to fly home with only two checked bags.  Our goal was to bring many things with us on the trip that could be shed (meaning thrown away, used as rags, or donated to good will) once we got to France so our packing for the flight home would be minimal. This proved even more difficult as most of our carry-home luggage was already going to be filled with items we needed to bring back–i.e., our foul-weather gear, life jackets, tethers, electronics (sat phone), etc.

For me, the clothing items that proved to be the most comfortable and useful were wool socks, long johns and anything synthetic or quick-dry.  I will never set off on a long off-shore passage again with as much cotton as we brought for this crossing.  It never (ever!) dried completely.  Our plan to bring clothing that could be discarded once we got to shore was good, in theory, but it put us at a disadvantage in that most of the clothes we already had that we were willing to part with once we got to France were cotton and many of the items we purchased were cotton (because they’re cheaper).  I now know why high-performance gear is more expensive … because it performs.  Phillip and I did have a great time, however, watching the Wal-Martians for a bit and picking up a lot of cheap, throw-away goodies and toiletries for the trip.

IMG_0857

This is where I found my infamous Paris Panties!

IMG_0854

Seriously, they had little Eiffel Towers and other Paris icons on them.  Some even said “Bon Voyage.”  How friggin’ perfect?!

Another really cool item we had was a complete set of Third Reef foul weather gear (jackets, bibs and boots) for the entire crew donated by West Marine.  You can tell I was a little too excited when I made the pick-up at the store.  It was a very generous offering and the gear proved to be perfect for our cold, wet days and nights in the north Atlantic!

IMG_1282 IMG_1278 IMG_1303

 

FOOD!

Now for the really important stuff.  FOOD.  As you’ve seen from our initial briefing with Yannick, we quickly learned he is decidedly not a “foodie,” so Phillip was quick to step in to  fill the role of head chef for the passage and handle the planning for food.  While the boat did have a rather large fridge (with a small icebox) as well as a separate, almost as large, freezer, Phillip continually warned me: “You have to expect they might go out.”  Brandon had actually told us a fun story of a trip he made from Bermuda to New York where the freezer went out in the first few days and he and the crew had to eat meat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, before it spoiled.  “It was SPAM after that,” he said.  *gulp*

I wasn’t nearly as concerned about the canned goods conundrum as Phillip was. I’m a bit like Yannick in that, if it was me, I’d be fine opening a can every day, eating out of it and drinking the veggie juice after!  Proof:

12916139_870821739695616_1973652783706482966_o

Phillip, however, is a bit more gourmet.  And for good darn reason.  The man is an exceptional cook.  I am grateful and honored every evening he cooks us up a feast better than I have had at any fine-dining restaurant.  These are, seriously, just a few of his at-home creations:

Chicken Bryan:

IMG_5688

Beef wellington:

IMG_5995

Arugula, pear & blue cheese salad:

IMG_6502

Stuffed bell pepper:

IMG_6499

Braised short ribs:

IMG_6148

For this, reason, Phillip was definitely gunning to be in charge of the food.  He spent a lot of time planning the meals and preparing the grocery list for the passage.  His plan was to get about a week’s worth of good, fresh stuff we could eat in the beginning before it spoiled.  The second week, we would be defrosting things we froze (pork, ground beef, shrimp, etc.) as well as cooking up the last of the hearty vegetables – cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, etc.  Once the perishable goods were gone, it was on to the canned goods as well as non-refrigerated eggs, UHT milk, sardines and the infamous Spam (which actually is quite gourmet these days as part of a pineapple slider!).  This was Phillip’s list of planned meals.

meals

I have included a link for Phillip’s complete shopping list for the passage in this week’s Patreon post, “Phillip’s Provision List,” which includes food, safety gear and other equipment needed for the trip.

Then it was time to go grocery shopping …  Holy crap did we go shopping!

IMG_1230

Yannick met us at the Commissary on the Navy Base in Pensacola so we could get boat-loads (no pun intended) of large quantities of food at a good price.  Phillip divvied the list up among us.  I had three pages of canned goods, pasta, crackers and snacks to get. Yannick was sent to produce, while Phillip dove into dairy and meat.  Shoppers eyed me strangely as I filled my cart with multiple 12-can packs of canned peas, corn, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, carrots, tuna and more.  I ran into Yannick somewhere near the Velveeta and it looked like he was pushing a bush around the Commissary.  His cart was brimming with leafy greens, carrots, cabbage and bags of apples and oranges.  He called it his “barge” and then he ran it straight into a 5-Hour Energy display and sent those little cocaine-filled energy bullets rolling everywhere.  We had accumulated four “barges” by then and were definitely turning heads all over the store.

IMG_1224 IMG_1226 IMG_1221

Things only got more comical after that.  As we pushed our four carts (‘scuse me, barges) toward the check-out lane, people started to stack up behind us, pointing, whispering, then finally asking us what the heck we needed all those groceries for.  It was fun to tell them: “Because we’re sailing across the Atlantic!”  We were all so proud!  Thankfully our checkout girl was phenomenal and she started zipping us right through.  “No bags,” said Yannick.

IMG_1232 IMG_1233

After the 5-Hour Energy incident, several floor managers had come out to help “escort” us through the check-out process, which was probably a good call.  As our goods were ooching along the conveyor belt toward the cash register a shoe-boxed size carton of grape tomatoes got the bump, crashed to the floor and sent little red balls rolling everywhere.  While Yannick and I scrambled to pick them up, a manager worked to finish unloading my cart and he dropped a half-gallon size bottle of Dawn on my foot where it ended it’s life after in a goopy puddle on the floor.

IMG_1240

I swear I can’t make this stuff up.  There he is with a handful of Dawn-soaked paper towels cleaning it up!  Better put out a “Wet Floor” sign, sir.  We’re lawyers you know.

It’s a good thing Yannick was moving back to France, because I don’t think they’d want to see him in there again.  That was wild.  I’m surprised we were able to cram all of the Commissary crap into Yannick’s Explorer but somehow we did.  Yannick called his technique “pyramiding.”

IMG_1245 IMG_1244

I thought the tailpipe was going to drag.  Buying all of the food and getting it in and out of the Explorer proved to be the easy part, however.  Once we got it all onto the boat, trying to figure out where in the world it should all go turned out to be the real puzzle.

IMG_1135

We stocked every cubby!

IMG_1248

Inside the fridge:

IMG_1246

We wanted to try, as best we could, to stock items according to frequency of use while being sensitive to location on the boat (i.e., moisture or potential for breakage or spilling), while also trying, as best we could, to inventory the items so we could somehow find them later.  This had to occur within about about an hour and a half’s time before the boat needed to be cleaned up so we could finish other projects, actually move aboard and have the boat presentable enough to host a little farewell party at the dock.  At the time the boat looked like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.12.56 PM

This was just days before we shoved off.  With the time constraints, I will say we did not stock that boat as well as we should have and we paid for it during the passage with the loss of some produce and the occasional discovery of a molded unidentifiable object in a dark corner of the boat.  Friends, don’t let moldy unidentified objects happen to YOU.  In hopes of helping prevent that, I have included below some offshore provisioning tips (some earned from our very own lessons learned aboard ANDANZA) in case any of you are planning for an offshore passage soon.  (I hope so!)

Provisioning Tips:

1.  Discard all boxes and any unnecessary packaging.  Put as many things as you can in Ziplock bags (often double-bagged).  I found it useful to tear off the instructions and put them in the bag with the food for identification as well as instructions for cooking.

2.  Do not stow “breakables” in hidden or sloshing lockers.  If there is a chance the container could roll, puncture or spill, try to stow it somewhere visible or packed in such a way as to prevent collision and rupture.

3.  You do not have to refrigerate as many items as you think.  We bought several containers of UHT milk (Annie loves her Grape Nuts in the morning) and refrigerated only as needed.  We also had cartons of never-before-refrigerated eggs that will keep for weeks if turned over once every week.  Also, many vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, cabbage, etc.) and condiments (mayo can stay out as long as the utensil used is always clean as well as butter) do not have to be refrigerated.  Many people simply throw them in the fridge out of habit.  And, little tip on the un-refrigerated eggs: If you’re worried they may have turned, put them through the “float test.”  Submerge the questionable egg in water.  If it sinks to the bottom, you’re good to go.  If it floats, toss it out.

4.  Stow onions and bananas separately.  They tend to accelerate the ripening of any fruits and vegetables near them.

5.  Watch out for the “frozen tundra” around the portion of the fridge that is a freezer.  We had many produce items (carrots, zucchini, etc.) get pushed too close to the small box freezer in the fridge and we lost them to freezing.  We found packaged cheeses and meats survived the freeze just fine.  Beer also worked as a great freezer buffer.

6.  High calorie/protein snacks serve you better than candies and sugar.  If you’re heading up on deck for your night watch or to handle something that may require energy for hours, peanuts, peanut butter and protein or energy bars were a good idea to grab on the way out.  We stocked a lot of Nature Vally granola bars, peanut butter crackers, nuts as well as peanut butter and Nutella for this reason.

7.  Mesh bags or hammocks are best for fruits and vegetables.  It keeps them dry and visible (great to both remind you to eat them and make sure they’re not “turning”).  We lost a bag of oranges because I stowed them in a dark locker and we all forgot about them.  You don’t want to know what they looked (and felt like) upon discovery …

8.  If you have time, write the name of the canned good in Sharpie on its top.  This makes it much easier to see when searching a large locker for a single type of canned good.

9.  Freeze as much meat as you can.  Yannick’s wife made us a huge batch of frozen pulled pork which was fantastic to pull out every 4-5 days and make for lunch or dinner.  All we had to do was thaw, heat and add BBQ sauce.  We also had a good bit of shrimp in the freezer as well as two pork loins as well as ground turkey and beef.  Oh, and bread.  Bread was one of the most quickly-consumed items, but it was still hard to keep up with the growing mold on a damp boat.  Freeze as much bread as you can for longevity.

10.  Stow away some treats for special occasions.  We had some frozen peanut butter M&Ms (my favorite!) that Yannick’s wife tucked away for my birthday, home-made pepper jelly that was poured over cream cheese for Johnny’s birthday, as well some nice cheeses and a bottle or two of wine that we saved for certain milestones or celebratory-worthy events (like making it to the Azores!).  “Pop!” went the champagne after we docked.  Little culinary boosts like this are great for crew morale.

I also welcome any additional tips you all may have for best packing and preserving food for long offshore passages.  Please share them in a comment below.

One of the best things I believe we were able to accomplish while stowing away all of those goods, was creation of a complete inventory list, documenting how many cans or boxes of what went where.  It is a lot of work in the beginning to tediously document all of those items, but well worth it while you are voyaging and looking for that one stupid can of sardines!  I typed it up that night (I believe it was around midnight May 26th), Phillip printed at the office the next day before we officially moved onto the boat (May 27th) and it served as our official, incredibly helpful “Inventory List” for the entire passage.  I have included a link for that as well in this week’s Patreon post.  Here is a sample from one of our largest (and only one of what ended up being 14 total) food lockers on the boat:

shelf

So, provisioning …. whew.  Done.

Are you tired yet?  We were!  But, we were running on French fumes and Atlantic-crossing adrenaline.  Who’s ready to sail to France?  Next week, we shove off!!

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.52.06 PM

Thank Patron, Carl (aka “Chief Corrao”) for the shove here.  My Patrons make all of this fun adventure sharing possible.  Get Inspired & Get on Board!

Posted in Atlantic Crossing, Provisioning | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments