Ch. 11: High Speeds and Hot Temps

“Oh, that’s normal for cats.”

“Too much banging can cause metal fatigue.”

“You should tighten the shrouds.”

“How much?”

“Until it feels right.”

These were some of the varying pieces of advice we were getting when we reached out to folks about our shuddering shrouds on the Freydis.  To this day (primarily because of this experience) I am not a fan of rig tuning.  I don’t like the science behind it (or should I say the lack of science).  It’s like Matthew McConaughey’s “fugazi” from Wolf on Wall Street.

“It’s not on the elemental chart.  It’s not real.”  That’s about what the “proper amount of tension” on rigging feels like to me.  Thankfully, Yannick, with the seemingly endless supply of information he had compiled about his boat, found a very small notation in the back of a manual made by the previous owner of the boat when the rig was replaced in 2012 about the amount of barrel that should be visible in the turnbuckle.  It was the only resource we had that included a non-subjective component.  You know, actual numbers not just “I’m okay, the rig’s okay” feelings.  For that reason, it had my vote.  And Yannick’s as well.  According to the previous owner’s notation, the starboard shroud needed to be tightened until 2.5 more centimeters of thread were exposed in the turnbuckle.  The port shroud needed an additional 3.57 cm of thread.  With heavy PVC tubes that had to be lifted while two others handled the tightening and measuring below (while the boat was still bashing around underway), it was not the easiest of chores but it was do-able.

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With Yannick serving as our Chief Measurer, and Johnny and I awarded the honor of Turnbuckle Turner Nos. 1 and 2 we set to tightening the rig in the early morning hours of June 8th, eleven days into our trans-Atlantic.  I learned a good lesson from Johnny that day too.  I would say he cracked me up, but I think I actually cracked him up.  As we bundled up the tools, a towel and the cotter pins we would need for the job and headed up on deck, Johnny mentioned tying a safety line in case we dropped things.  Good idea I thought and I carefully tied a tiny Dyneema line from the turnbuckle to the new cotter pins we would be putting in once we finished tightening the shrouds.  When Johnny settled in next to me and saw what I had done, he doubled over chuckling and said:

“I meant tie a line to the tools.  We have plenty more cotter pins.  We don’t have more tools.”

Ahhh.  That Johnny.  You can tell he’s been around boats a while.  These were the kinds of simple tips and tricks I was picking up out there.  All part of why I went.


Once we had tightened the shrouds to Yannick’s measurements, the murderous shuddering definitely subsided.  It was so comforting just to hear that sound in particular—such a horrid metallic clanging—stop.  That shrill cry is not something you want to associate with a boat beating its way across the ocean.  Water on hulls.  That’s fine.  Taut sails and crashing waves.  All fine.  Shrouds vibrating themselves to death.  NOT fine.

It seemed about the perfect time to tighten the shrouds, too, as the winds continued to howl through our rig that day, holding steady between 22 and 26 knots.  We knew exactly where there winds were coming from too: Tropical Storm Collins.


As I mentioned, we got incredibly lucky with the weather on that trip.  No matter how much intel, satellite equipment and cautious planning you have or make for an ocean-crossing, a good bit of your fate still falls in the category of “pure luck” because once you shove off with the intent to cross an ocean, you’re exposing yourself to a big open body of water and a boat that doesn’t travel near as fast as storms.  We had been watching TS Collins forming in the Gulf and had actually heard from friends first with the worry that it might be coming toward mine and Phillip’s Niagara 35 back in Pensacola.  *gulp*

Yannick’s going to kill me when he reads this, but I’ll just be honest.  I pleaded with the storm to continue heading west to Texas, or perhaps hook and go east, go across Florida, go anywhere but to our poor little, just re-built boat in Pensacola.  Apparently the storm heard me because that’s exactly what he did.  The Wednesday on that storm tracker chart above is June 8th, when the storm was just starting to make his turn toward the Big Bend of Florida.  We were following it closely out in the Atlantic.  Thankfully, on Andanza, we had fantastic weather intel in the form of a hired weather router, a friend of Yannick’s (who proved equally capable) doing the same, as well as Weather Fax, GRIB files and unlimited Delorme texting available to reach out to anyone on-shore with the ability to follow the storm.  This may sound awful, but it actually became a little tedious trying to respond to everyone who reached out to us then warning us about TS Collins.  Our weather  router kept us on a more southerly route while TS Collins dissipated over head in the Atlantic.  But, Collins sure brought the freaking wind!

It didn’t seem thirty minutes after we’d finished the rig tightening the morning of June 8th that the blow started to creep to 27, 28 and upward.

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Although we had just finished our rather rigorous rig tightening, Yannick instructed the crew to drop the sails down to Reef 2.  I told you it’s never boring out there!  If you think it’s always sitting around, reading, writing, napping.  It is sometimes, but the other days feel like a flurry of projects, one after the other, and you can’t believe it’s time for your night shift already.  This was definitely one of those days.

And, sadly, while we did now have our reefing procedure down (thanks to Yannick and his typed-up, taped-up list at each crew member’s station), we still had so many things to learn about that boat.  I believe every day crossing an ocean will teach you something new about sailing.  However, I also believe every day on passage will teach you something peculiar or particular about that boat (or boats like it).  I am actually grateful that we all made it safely across the ocean so that I can now sit here and merely write and share some of these experiences as lessons learned (as opposed to tragedies) because some of the things we survived out there were just pure luck.  On that day we battled the Barber Hauler and almost lost in a big way.  Our critical lesson learned: Detach the Barber Hauler before reefing.

For many of you who sail with a Barber Hauler often, this may sound like a very basic proposition.  Common knowledge.  For those of you scratching your head merely at the sight of the word “Barber Hauler” … well, this is why you make trips like that.  To learn critical lessons like this.  Recall the Barber Hauler was a secondary line we ran from the clew of the genny down to the deck to pull the sail outward away from the center of the boat to open up airflow between the genny and the main sail.


Brandon taught us this during our very first sail on the catamaran as he has raced many boats in his days and learned this trick to increase the efficiency of the boat, particularly catamarans where it is often difficult to make good use of the genny due to the boxy shape of the boat.  We had been using the Barber Hauler often on Andanza as it did, visibly, increase the speed of the boat on a close haul.  But, we made a serious mistake when we left it on while bringing the sails down to Reef 2.

Recall in our reef drills, the first step was always to head into the wind so we could furl the genny a bit (so she wouldn’t snap and pop and beat Yannick up at the mast while he handled dropping the main).  Once furled halfway, Phillip would then fall back off and fill her with a little wind while we set to dropping the main.


Here you can see everyone’s respective positions as well: Yannick at the mast, Johnny at the genny winch on port, Phillip at the helm, and me at the winch(es) on starboard.  Here I’m furling the genny while Johnny is easing out the port genny sheet.  This is what we were trying to do when the Barber Hauler incident occurred.

The precautionary genny furl was usually a no-sweat first step and one that we could easily accomplish with both Johnny on port and Phillip at the helm on starboard who were both easing out the tension of the genny sheets while I furled her.  Our wild card this time was the stinking Barber Hauler, which we had fastened to the genny clew on port.  Think of it like a wild, uninhibited bull whip.  We had unclutched the Barber Hauler to allow slack to pull through so the genny could furl but we should have detached it from the clew because as soon as the wind came out of the genny the genny now had a live cracking wire in her hands and she started whipping Yannick at the mast with it and Johnny on port.

Soon after I started to furl, I heard shouts.  I looked to see Yannick holding his head down at the mast with a hand clasped over his right eye.  I looked to Phillip at the helm who was looking to Yannick for instruction, then I looked to Johnny on port and saw it.  The snarling beast that was off its chain.  The Barber Hauler was snapping on the deck, beating the windows, flailing out overboard and coming back again.  Johnny was crunched down near his winch with a guarded hand held over his head.  I cleated the furling line and bolted through the cockpit to try to catch the Barber Hauler as I heard Yannick shout to Phillip: “Fall off!”  Thankfully, even with the Barber snapping at him, Johnny knew to cleat the genny on port as Phillip was about to put the wind in her before he ducked back down.  And don’t think I was heroic.  It was probably dumb of me to try to jump in as the hero and wrestle that line in the whipping wind.  I could have probably been easily injured as well but (by luck yet again) I was able to get a hold of the flailing Barber Hauler, bring it down on the deck and pull and cleat the slack out of him before he could slap anybody else.

When we re-grouped in the cockpit, having only furled the genny a few wraps, we all could see now that Yannick had been popped in the face by the Barber Hauler.  A thick red whelp traveled from the middle of his scalp down to the top of his jawbone on the right side and he said he thought he had blacked out for a couple of seconds when it happened.  But, Johnny had truly got the worst of it.  He lifted his shirt to reveal a clear, puffed up red slash across his mid-section which I’m sure was painful.  But his voice was a little shaky as he rubbed his thumb and told us the line had got caught around his neck at one point and his thumb another.

We were all a little shaken up by the Barber Hauler incident, and were reminded—in a rather stark fashion—that things can go very wrong, very quickly and unexpectedly out there.  Like I said, thankfully all we did was suffer some whelps and learn a lesson.  We got very lucky that day with the Barber Hauler.  But, we still had winds of 27+ and three-quarters of our main sail up.  So, once we shook it off and realized the mistake we had made, we disconnected the Barber Hauler and secured it safely to the deck while we then went through, efficiently and safely, the rest of our reefing procedure to bring the main sail down to Reef 2.  By that time, we were beat, whipped and each of us ready for rest.

With the second reef in the sails, the boat was still bashing along but it was much more manageable and the boat held steady, romping and ripping through waves, everything soggy and moist, but with each of the boat’s primary systems (the sails, the rigging, the auto-pilot, etc.) all performing beautifully as we clicked off miles and days passed in a wet montage.  It was funny the things that would once seem abnormal on shore, now seemed totally normal out there.  Case in point:

Doing laundry with saltwater, a bucket and a clothes line?  Out there, it’s normal!

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Yannick playing dinner-prep D.J.?  NORMAL.


Phillip breaking out arbitrarily in “What shall we do with the drunken sailor?”  NORMAL.


Daily disassembly of random boat parts?  NORMAL.


Finding yourself happy to be awake at sunrise?  NORMAL.


Discovery of unidentifiable black objects in the food bin?  NORMAL.


Discover of unidentifiable “gobbly bits” in the bilge?  NORMAL.

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Annie pairing shorts with rubber boots (and 100% pulling it off I might add)?  NORMAL.


Yannick taking his morning Nespresso in the engine locker?



Yannick actually just told me a couple of weeks ago when he first watched my movie from the trans-at crossing with a friend that his friend said: “It looked like you spent the entire trip in the engine locker.”  To which Yannick replied: “It felt like I did.”

The movement of the catamaran, however?  NOT normal.  At least initially for us monohull sailors.  It was such a strange new feeling.  While the cat does not heel, I will give you that.  It does do this strange four corners type movement that keeps you guessing which way the boat’s going to throw you at any second.  It reminded me of that game we all used to play as kids where you move it right, left, backward, forward, trying to get that little silver ball to fall down through the right hole.  Well, we were the ball, and the boat was having a hell of a good time bouncing us off the walls, down the stairs and into our beds.  You could almost hear her laughing as she did it.  But, it wasn’t miserable.  I actually like the feeling of movement underneath me.  It reminds me we’re going, traveling over a frothy body of blue to a new place.  It’s fun!


The waves, too, were absolutely incredible.  Just when we started making our way east of Bermuda, we saw some of the biggest of the trip.


It reminded me of fire.  Something so natural and mesmerizing that you watched perhaps because of the seemingly inexplicable novelty of it—i.e., what it is exactly that creates a flame and causes it to dance?  What forces move water into mountains and push them toward your boat?  The sheer fact that it is threatening is entrancing.  You want to watch it because it’s beautiful and because you need to keep an eye on it.  The waves in the middle of the Atlantic would loom on the horizon, grow like lumbering hillsides until they appeared taller than the boat on the horizon.  Then, as one neared, Andanza’s stern would rise up.  You would feel her nose start to pitch downward as the wave lifted her high above the ocean.  Sometimes the boat would catch the wave just right and start skidding and careening down the surface, surfing the wave at speeds of 14, 15 and upwards before she lurched into the trough of the wave in front of her.  Other times, she would not catch the gravity of the wave on the front and instead it would roll heavy and foamy beneath her.  Better still, sometimes her hull would toss around and land just right, contacting a wave dead on and causing a wall of water to slap up and swamp the cockpit.


Still I found it fun!  Cool snippet from the Trans-At movie for you here, showing the height of the waves and the moment when I was honored to have witnessed the highest boat speed of the trip.  Can you guess what it was??


Often a wave would grab the stern of the boat, kick her out almost 45, 50 degrees off course and you would sit at the helm, hands poised over the wheel knowing it would be your job to get her back on course if Auto did not do it for you but not 100% confident of your ability to do it.  It was shocking to see the degree of deviations the auto-pilot could correct.  A swift shove off course and he would diligently nose her back onto her heading.  Every time.  Every wave.  It almost created a dangerous sense of nonchalance.  We were definitely spoiled with the auto-pilot.

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Our main concern at that time was making sure he had power.  We were struggling with the generator at the time.  According to the MasterVolt, it was only charging the batteries up to like 60%, then it would trickle off and not put any more juice in.  Many discussions were had about voltage, amps, watts, generator cables, etc.  While I listened, I mostly stayed out of those debates because—pitted next to Johnny, Yannick and Phillip—I certainly was no generator/battery expert.  And, to be honest, even with all of their expertise combined, they seemed to be contradicting one another often.  But, not discussing it (10 out of every 24 hours of the day like the boys did) did not mean that I wasn’t concerned about it.

It was around 11:35 p.m. the night of June 9th and I couldn’t sleep.  My shift didn’t start until midnight and while I usually sank into my berth like a log until the very moment when my relief crew member shook me awake or the alarm on my phone went off, this night I could not quiet my mind.  I kept imagining the batteries were draining down to 10% and suddenly there wasn’t enough juice to power the auto-pilot.  I imagined this would of course happen when someone wasn’t close enough to the helm (or with enough mental clarity, myself included) to turn the wheel in the right direction the moment Auto gave out in order to keep the wind in the sails and the boat on a safe course.  It’s very easy to get disoriented—when you have to run up to the helm and you’re not in tune, at that moment, with the environment and wind direction—and easier than you think to turn the boat in a direction that backwinds the sails or causes a terrible accidental jibe or worse.  I kept imagining this would happen during my 12-2 shift and it was ruining any sleep I thought might be possible in the hours that lead up to that dreaded shift.  I finally just got out about bed around 11:45 p.m. to look, once again, at the percentage on the MasterVolt and confirm it was at least above 10%.  It showed 65% and trickling in.

Yannick was bent over the instruments at the nav station when I staggered behind him, his head hanging like the sad ornament on a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  “I’ve been counting the minutes,” he said as he started to rise to go to sleep.  I thought, for a moment, to protest saying it was only 11:45, not midnight yet, but I knew it wouldn’t do any good anyway.  I wasn’t going to be able to fall back asleep and Yannick needed rest more than anyone.  So, I just let him go.  But then I sat and cursed him as my dreaded two-hour night shift was now a dreaded two hour and fifteen-minute shift and was starting now.  Uhhhhh.  Yannick told me before he went to bed, though, that he didn’t trust the percentage on the MasterVolt.  He did not think it was calibrated correctly because the volts were showing 24.62V (plenty).  Yannick said the the number to watch was the volts.  If they fell under 24.0, then it was time to wake him.  The Captain then stumbled off to bed and the boat was in my charge.  Uhhhhh.

 After thirty minutes of sitting at the nav station below as Yannick had been doing, watching the instruments (particularly the rudder indicator on the auto-pilot instrument showing how far, starboard to port, the auto was truly having to steer the boat) and praying Auto would hold, I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I didn’t care if the wind was blowing, if it was wet and drizzly outside, if it was a little cold.  My mind would not let up unless I was sitting at the helm feeling connected with everything and knowing exactly what I would need to do if Auto gave out.  Bottom line is, I feel safer at the helm.  So, I slugged it out topside and it actually was much better.  It’s like sitting in a passenger seat of a fast, seemingly out-of-control car, or sitting in the driver’s seat, with your hands on the wheel.  I can’t explain it, but it soothed me.

And, my shift actually went quicker because of it.  The winds were finally easing off a bit.  We had shaken out the second reef earlier in the day when the winds dropped below 25, followed by the first reef when they dipped below 20.  While it was still blowing a steady 17-18 during my shift (an amount that would worry me on our Niagara) on the Freydis, with the sails fully up, it was a nice, steady ride.  With reliable winds, the big seas were our main concern and I liked sitting at the helm imagining myself actually steering through those collosal waves (that way if Auto did lose juice I could do it when the time came.)  Little did I know I would get more than my desired share of that experience on this trip.  But, before I knew it, it was nearing 2:00 a.m., the winds were lightening up, Johnny was rousing down below and I was about to hand over the reigns of that bashing boat (one of my favorite feelings) and crash back into my soft, cottony palace of sleep below (another of my favorite feelings).  Life was good.

Until the unmistakeable scent started to seep in.  The smell of burnt plastic in your berth? NOT NORMAL.

It crept into my dreams at first.  I was in a kitchen somewhere scraping an oven.  Then footsteps thundered overhead.  I started to rouse, but I felt so confused.  Where am I?  What’s that smell?  When did we crank?  I blinked my eyes awake to the sight of Yannick, his head careened downward into mine and Phillip’s berth from the hatch overhead, darting his eyes all over the room.  I popped my head out of the hatch, coughed up melted plastic fumes and asked what was going on.  Then Johnny emerged from the engine room on port with the sad state of the muffler in his hands.



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Ch. 8: Carnage at Sea

I watched him in anticipation as Johnny eyed it and swished it around a time or two.  Water dripped from Yannick’s nose onto his forearm as he, too, strained to see.

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Having confirmed the prop was not fouled, Yannick was more curious than anyone as to why the starboard engine had cut out again on the early morning of June 1st.

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“It doesn’t have enough fuel in it,” Johnny said.  Yannick’s head craned back quizzically.

“How do you know?” he asked, locking eyes with Johnny.  This was the same kind of direct stare that often made me second guess whatever I had just told Yannick and start to mumble.  Yannick has a rabid desire for scientific, rational answers.  He needs things to make sense for him logically before he can accept them and move on.  While it is fun to watch this trait play out as he devours another technical manual or draws a diagram for you of how the flaps on an airplane wing work, it can be a little intimidating when his ravenous thirst for logic is directed at you.  At least that was how I felt when he would shift those probing eyes in my direction.


I want YOU to give me answers.  Annie says *gulp*

It didn’t seem they had the same impact on Johnny, though, with his unquestionable knowledge gained from experience.

“I can feel it,” Johnny said simply, circling the fuel in the filter round and around, along with his thoughts on it, likely thinking back on everything he and Yannick had done to the engines in the weeks before we shoved off.  It didn’t take long for the two of them to come to the conclusion that the fuel had been polished (because it had been sitting for the tank during the months of repairs) but that not all of the fuel filters had been replaced afterward.  Another lesson learned.  And, it was pretty impressive to see Yannick whip out a plastic bin with at least ten spare fuel filters (I told you he was pragmatic) and put a new one on.  Once again, we seemed to face a pretty daunting problem—an engine that would not run—and we were able to reach a fairly easy solution, implement it and move on.  I could already tell all of these little “it doesn’t have enough fuel in it” experiences were going to serve Phillip and I well when we set off to sail our own boat across an ocean.

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Within a matter of forty minutes, we went from Captain overboard to check for a fouled prop and a disassembled fuel system to a fully-functioning engine and bagels on the burner all before the start of my 6:00 a.m. shift!

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Once the buzz of the incident fizzled off, Yannick (who had just finished the 4-6) went back to his berth to sleep.  Johnny headed back to get some more rest as well and Phillip began to fiddle in the galley making coffee. I sat, a little tired at the helm, knowing I was about to be there for another three hours and secretly wishing the fuel incident had occurred just an hour or two later as a nice distraction mid-shift.

Does that sound horrible?  Of course it does!  Hoping for some sort of equipment failure just so I could be entertained with repairs during my shift.  Yannick’s going to howl when he reads this.  That’s not quite what I meant.  I never hoped for a failure, but I will admit I did—occasionally, on some lackluster shifts—hope for some sort of occurrence (dolphins at the bow, a ship sighting, some interesting conversation over the radio, very benign things like these) to break up the monotony of my watch.  That’s only because the minute you were relieved from your post a whole world of wondrous activities waited!  You could then read to your heart’s content, cook up an extravagant meal or sit down and write a vivid, gloriously-detailed story, just for the heck of it.  Outside of cleaning the boat and assisting the Captain with his many-a-boat projects (which was rare, Yannick truly took on most of the boat work in solitude, declining assistance often) that’s really what our days out there were filled with and it was heaven!

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It was funny to watch each crew member start to gravitate toward one of the four rotation days they liked better than others.  The 6-9am, 7-10 dinner shift, followed by the 4-6am “sunrise shift” the next day was definitely my favorite.  Sadly, that day was always followed by the stupid 4-hour shift day, which was actually my idea initially.


“We’ll do one long shift each day, right in the middle of the day when everyone is awake so it will help make the shift go quicker,” is what pre-Atlantic Annie thought.  Well … even when everyone is awake, that doesn’t mean they’re really inclined to do anything that makes your four hours at the helm go any quicker, and why should they?  It’s their off-time.  Outside of boat maintenance or other necessary chores, they should be doing whatever the heck they want, whatever helps them relax and best prepare for their next shift.  Oftentimes, you were left to fend for your creative self during that four-hour shift.  I sometimes counted each of the 240 minutes.

I actually got pretty crafty in finding at least one way to shave this four-hour sentence down when I would ask the Captain, very benignly, very nonchalantly, right at the start of my 12-4: “Yannick, we need to switch time zones today.  Do you want me to handle it?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Yannick would say, his thoughts consumed with yet another diesel engine diagram.


I would walk away with a wicked smile, take my post at the helm at noon and immediately change the clocks to 1:00 p.m.  Muuuhahahaaa.  Sadly, this very peculiar pattern of time changes always occurring very conveniently during Annie’s 12-4 shift was soon discovered by the wily Captain Yannick.  The next time I asked if he wanted me to handle the time change, blinking and batting my doe-like eyes, he went straight to the watch schedule taped on the saloon wall to find, yes, indeed, it was Annie with the 12-4 that day and he replied:

“No,” with a playful grimace.  “I’ll handle it later.”

Dag nabbit!  I did have a good run, though.  Four of the seven time changes we had to make from Florida to France did occur during my four-hour shift.  My God I’m terrible!  Who wants me to crew with them now?


But, I was paying my dues that morning.  Watching the horizon.  Watching Phillip read contentedly in the saloon, counting the minutes.  Then suddenly a match struck and the minutes started to burn.   It was somewhere around 7:30 the morning of June 1st when we heard the first startling whizzz of the fishing reel on the port transom.  Phillip was up and was piddling around in the galley when I heard it at the helm.  My heart started pumping, my eyes darting around the instruments, the engine panel, the chartplotter thinking surely this sound was some kind of alarm that was telling me, as the helmsman, that something was very wrong with the boat.  Your mind (or mine did, at least) went instantly there when a loud noise sounded out.  But, this sound was a good one!  As my frantic thoughts finally stopped swirling and started to come into focus it finally dawned on me.  FishFish on.  The fishing rod!  Then Phillip, far more capable of actual spoken words than me at the moment, shouted it out as he scrambled out of the saloon.


I checked everything at the helm to make sure I could leave my post to help with this awesome new development.  We had a fish on the line!  The line we’d had out for three freaking days now.  “All good here.  FISH ON!” the instruments told me, so I went.  With some tag-team reeling and some creative baptisms-of-rum at sea, we pulled in our first fish of the trip!  A hearty tuna!

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She made a mad bloody mess on the port transom kicking and flailing around until we had her tamed, but boy was she a beauty.  That slick, silver body, contrasted with the rich crimson blood spilling out.  Such a right and proper feeling of carnage!  Often I feel bad for a fish when we catch one and I watch it flip and kick itself to death, but this time, it felt right.  Like we were out there, living on the sea, and this was the bounty she had provided us to keep us fed and motivated and moving along.  I can’t explain it, but I felt like the fish was a gift and I was grateful.

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After an hour spent filleting her and scrubbing the blood off of the transom, my shift was then magically over!  The Distraction Fairy shined down upon me those days.  On days that she didn’t I imagined her a crafty little thing flying above the dodger, hiding from my line of sight, deciding whether I deserved something fun that day or not, like a naughty Tinkerbell.


Obviously I had a lot of time to think about it.

Phillip and I decided to chill the fish filets for a few hours so we could make a huge sushi spread for lunch.  This was one of the those fun moments you had only talked about in the many weeks before we shoved off, when we were discussing fishing equipment, sushi ingredients, and how much fish we might eat during the passage.  Now those visions and predictions were here.  Sitting in the form of four hunky maroon filets in our fridge.  Phillip and I had experimented one evening before the trip making our own sushi at home from fresh tuna bought at Joe Patti’s.  I had never made sushi before but it was really very easy, as long as you have all of the ingredients on hand (most of which keep for weeks except for the cucumber or avocado) and there’s something about home-made sushi that just tastes better.  (Well, assuming you get the rice mixture right–not too much vinegar, not too much sugar.)

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Phillip likes rice on the outside.


I prefer them seaweed out with cream cheese!

The cool thing about making the rolls yourself is you can make them however you want!  And we were about to put that sushi-rolling experience to use making an awesome spicy tuna spread from a fresh fish pulled right out of the Gulf. As with many things I had already experienced in my life—baths, afternoon naps, sushi platters—the version of those things experienced while we were underway crossing an ocean became instantly “the best,” because the sushi platter we all feasted on in the middle of the bright blue Gulf on June 1st was the best of my life.

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I also had another “best of my life” that day.  (Some days out there were full of them.)  Soon after our filling sushi lunch, when the entire crew (except for Yannick who had the 12-4 that day, take that!) was reading and dozing, we were all snapped wide awake when Phillip spotted a pod of dolphins off the port bow, rippling in the water, dipping and jumping and coming our way!  Phillip, Yannick and I all made our way to the bow of the boat and watched as eighteen (by my count at least) bottle-nosed dolphins zipped and played in the glimmering jewel-toned waters of the Gulf.

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I had never seen that many dolphins at one time, all converging, swooping and swishing together.  It’s amazing how agile and aware they are of each other and how quickly they are able to meet up, communicate through clicks and whistles and them swim instantly in sync.  I don’t care how many times I see them, dolphins will always take my breath away and make me sit, jaw dropped, the goofiest grin on my face and stare like a kid at the Wonka factory.  I ran down below to see if Johnny wanted to come up and see the show but it turned out he had the best seat in the house from the escape hatch in his berth, and I caught it all on film!  Friends, I give you a fun little clip I shared with Patrons back in June:

Play Video: “Dolphins at the Bow!”

pat2Another fun project I decided to tackle that day was to try out the OCENS sat service Phillip and I had purchased for the trip.  (Detailed blog post outlining the various services and packages we considered, what we purchased and why HERE.)  And, after some fiddling and holding of the sat phone up to the heavens (seriously), I successfully sent my first email that day from the glassy Gulf of Mexico!

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I wrote it ahead of time (it was my first “Atlantic Log” post for Patrons with a picture), so the only time I spent “on the clock” was about four minutes acquiring a signal, inserting the text, uploading the image (recall OCENS has a feature that automatically compresses the photo for you to decrease the upload time) and sending the email.  With a data rate of $1.39/minute under our package that meant roughly $6.00 each time I wanted to send a write-up with a photo, which in my mind was perfectly quick, affordable and worth it to enable me to send followers an up-to-date report and photo while abroad.

My only disappointment was my misunderstanding that the emails could only be sent from my phone so the typing took longer, but when I am forced to write less, my writing is always better.  One of my absolute favorite quotes about writing is from Mark Twain: “I didn’t have time to write something short, so I wrote something long instead.”  This is so true.  It’s easy to babble.  So, the “phone limitation” (as do many things that are initially perceived as a limitation) turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The GRIB service could be useful, too, in that we could download a fairly detailed (wind, wave and current) GRIB file for the region of the Atlantic we were sailing in at the time in about six minutes (so roughly $8.00 each time you downloaded).  Yannick, however, had such great weather service in the form of a hired weather tracker, who analyzed the weather patterns and sent us new coordinates roughly every 24 hours, a friend who did the same (just for fun and who proved to have a keen eye for heavy weather diversion), as well as WeatherFax on the boat, we didn’t really need the additional GRIB service available under our sat phone plan.  But, it’s always good to have a back-up system, so Phillip and I did not regret the purchase.  What we vowed to get next time we head offshore, however, is a Delorme!  That thing was awesome.

Yannick had purchased a Delorme package that allowed for unlimited texting on the iPad via the Delorme app and that service proved to be invaluable, both in terms of seeking out answers or help when dealing with a non-urgent boat, navigation or medical problem and to simply stay connected to friends and family while underway.  Phillip and I will definitely be getting a Delorme for our cruising this winter to Cuba and beyond, for this reason.  We also shared Yannick’s tracker link with Patrons so they could follow us each step of the crossing and message us along the way, and we will do that again with our trip to Cuba as that was a really fun experience to share with close followers, friends and family.  (Get your Delorme ticket now!)


“It’s going to take you two months to cross at this rate!” some of our friends and followers were saying during those sluggish days in the Gulf, when we were motoring bare poles on a sheet of satin, barely making five knots.  And, at that rate, they would be right.  The winds were non-existent in the Gulf.

Even the birds were beating us to Key West.

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Do you see the bird here?

While glassy waters are beautiful, they don’t offer much in the way of sailing.  This crew was ready to get around the tip of Florida, into the frothy waters of the Atlantic and find some stinking wind!  Be careful what you wish for.  Those first few slow days, we all simply counted our blessings that the engines, swapping from one to the other approximately every 10-12 hours, were still chugging us along and kept trucking toward Key West so we could re-fuel and re-provision.

Seeing as we were headed to port for one major supply, the Captain wisely decided to check to see if we needed others.  Which provision comes to mind first?  If you said water, you would be correct!  Yannick enlisted me that afternoon as his trusty water maker mate and I controlled the water maker panel from Johnny’s berth in the port bow while he diverted the product into a separate container so we could taste and test it before sending it into the main tanks.


I watched Yannick sip, smack and frown, sip, smack and frown before he brought the bottle to me and handed it over without saying a word, which did not bode well.  I dutifully tipped it up and repeated Yannick’s sip, smack and frown, just the once.


Sadly, a system that had been making non-salinated 60 parts per million water was now making a salty 290 ppm concoction that wasn’t going to keep anyone happy or hydrated.  We chocked it up to the making of the first batch in the pure, pristine waters (ha!) of Bayou Chico.  Whoops.  Whatever had caused it, though, it was clear we would not be making any potable water on this trip, so in addition to fuel, we also needed to stock up on water (and lots of it) in Key West.


“Land ho!” I shouted when she came into view off the starboard bow, although I’m not even sure what that phrase truly means.  Why the ‘ho’?  ( says it’s used “as a call to attract attention” … I guess that’s fitting for many reasons.)  But, knowing what something really means has never stopped me from saying it.  I can’t tell you the origin of “Whoo Hoo!” but now having watched over a hundred hours of Atlantic-crossing footage, I can confidently tell you I say it too much.  (Movie will be coming out Sep. 22, 2016 on Patreon! I’m allowed to say it this time … Whoo Hoo! : )  It was exciting, though, to see shore emerge on the horizon after our five serene but slow days crossing the Gulf.

The Captain gave the crew two hours to jump ship and run our errands in Key West.  This was no leisure visit.  We were on a mission.  Key West in 3 … 2 … 1 …  GO!



If you all are enjoying this story, I have (soooo many) more!  Become a Patron for an additional weekly post giving you an up-to-date report on mine and Phillip’s current adventures and boat projects and our preparations for sailing “To Cuba and Beyond” (said in a Buzz Lightyear voice) this winter.   A HUGE thanks to my many supporters and followers who make all of this fun sharing possible. patxtra

#76: How To Cross Oceans (My Trans-At Movie Trailer)

What do you need to cross an ocean?  A level-head, an adventurous spirit and a sense of humor!  Exciting news guys!  I have completed the complete, 90+ minute movie from mine and Phillip’s first trans-Atlantic this past June when we crewed aboard a 46′ catamaran from Florida to France.  It was an incredible adventure: 30 days of feats and failures at sea.  I had a daunting amount of footage and photos to sift through when we returned, but I spent a lot of time trying to make a high-quality, realistic, engaging account of what an ocean crossing truly feels like for those of you who may be considering it, or who may be afraid to do it.

This video discusses some of my own personal fears in signing up for the passage, some advice I received from Andy Schell with 59-North, and includes the “Official Trailer” for the movie that will be coming out this September!  All Patrons will get a free early viewing so BECOME A PATRON to get your ticket to view (as well as access to all of my other cool Patrons-only content)!  The movie will also be available for rent on Vimeo in October so everyone can watch.  Stay tuned here for updates on the release of the movie and my podcast interview with Andy Schell!  Very exciting.  I’m all fidgety about it!  : )

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.


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.


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!


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.

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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.

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“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.


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.


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.


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.

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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!

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

My shift that night was ten to midnight.


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.


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Ch. 4: Paris Panties and Provisioning Tips

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


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.


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.


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

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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.



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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!)

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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.

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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.

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Ditch Bags:


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.

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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.


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.

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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:


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.


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!


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


Clothing and Gear:


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.


This is where I found my infamous Paris Panties!


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!

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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:


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:


Beef wellington:


Arugula, pear & blue cheese salad:


Stuffed bell pepper:


Braised short ribs:


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.


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!


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.

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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.

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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.


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.”

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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.


We stocked every cubby!


Inside the fridge:


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:

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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:


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!!

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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!

Ch. 3: Boat Projects and Participation Trophies

This was Yannick again, distinctly pointing out my “American ways,” as he called them.

One really cool thing I like about being around different types of people, particularly people who grew up in different countries with entirely different cultures and principles, is that it takes me out of my normalcy.  It reminds I am not normal.  Yannick is not normal.  There is no “normal.”  There are only people, who think and want and act—often in a way that is very different from me—and I can either judge those people and avoid them, or make new friends and learn from them.


Like these two handsome gents: Enrique from Portugal and Sandré from Norway whom we met in the Azores.  Great guys!

What I was learning from Yannick at the outset were some of the funny little things I do because I grew up doing them, hearing them and saying them.  Let’s see if this one rings a bell for you:

“Good job.”

Do you find yourself saying this often to people?  Who and why and do you find it is often when they have merely completed the job but not done a very “good job” at all?

In preparing for the Atlantic-crossing, Yannick, Phillip, Johnny and I all had many, many jobs to do.  First and foremost our focus was on the boat and getting it sealed up, the mast up and the new sails on, and the propulsion system working again.  This “good job” conversation with Yannick arose out of one of the very first jobs we ever did on the boat together: sealing the new windows on the Freydis.  One of the very first things you want your boat to be before you set off in it to cross the pond is water-tight, or if not, at least taking on water only at a rate that is slower than your bilge pumps.  With the Freydis missing five of its seven primary windows not three weeks before we were set to cast off, sealing the new windows on was definitely a priority.

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I joked during this footage that “It’s just a pass-through, see?” as I demonstrated handing items through the gigantic hole on the side of the boat.  “You want cookies?  You want milk?” I mimicked.  Yannick laughed and replied: “You want thunderstorm?”  Well played.

Getting these windows sealed on correctly required a team effort, though.

a team

Many hours were spent scraping the old sealant off of the surface so the new sealant would adhere and frames were then built to hold the weight of the new window in place for the team “drop.”  The new windows were pre-bent to fit the curve of the boat but several were bent far more than they needed to be, which meant they had to be pressure-forced to adhere to the boat.  This required a unique system of wood and human wedges (patent-pending) to ensure the window did not try to stubbornly bend itself back off of the boat while sealing.

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That was merely the sealing of said windows, however, not the caulking.

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Boats are such fun!

If I have not mentioned this before, I hate caulking.  When Phillip and I replaced the four large windows in the saloon on our boat (a chore that earned the title “Worst Project of the Re-Fit” for a reason), the caulking was one of the worst parts.  It is such a finicky, fine-tune chore that requires just the right pressure from the caulk gun and a gentle steady swipe of the finger afterward (when there is nothing gentle or steady about my fingers).  Screw either of those up and you’ve got a crappy bead that will be hell to fix, particularly if it has dried to any degree.  Trust me, there are several crappy runs on the windows on our Niagara that I’ve tried to hide—with little success—with curtains.  Caulking is just not my talent.

Apparently, it turns out, it’s not one of Yannick’s innate skills either.  He, Phillip and I had just spent a very hot hour on Andanza one afternoon back in May carefully taping the perimeter around each window so Yannick could run a bead of caulk.  He did so and did a pretty bang-up job applying the caulk, but we all made a grave mistake.  We let the caulk dry too long before we pulled the tape, and we all watched in horror as Yannick’s nice caulk bead was now stretching, tearing and ripping out in huge chunks.  It looked awful.  Like a kindergartner had installed the windows on the boat, although none of us would admit it.  Yannick sat hunched over his work in silence, frowning, letting sweat roll into his squinted eyes.

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The further I stepped back from it, it started to look better so I tried to console him.

“Good job,” I said taking off my gloves.

Yannick shook his head slowly, keeping his eyes on his crappy work and said to me.  “No, it wasn’t.  I hate when you guys do that.  Don’t tell me I did a ‘good job’ when I f&*cked up.”

I told you I liked that guy.  It seems in France, according to Yannick at least, they don’t give out near as many participation trophies.  Yannick was cracking Phillip and I up talking about how much it surprised him when the Navy flight instructors here in the states would tell their students “good job,” after they completely botched a mission.  Yannick said all he could muster was: “Well, you started the engine well.”

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With Yannick, it’s all about effective and efficient communication.  Here we’re testing out the I-kid-you-not “Marriage Savers” that we used to ensure good communication from bow to helm while docking and de-docking during the voyage.

It was also some time during the windows project in early May, that Phillip’s case which had been set for trial in June settled and—after speaking with his partners who graciously supported his desire to make this trip—he officially decided he could come.  While we all believed that would likely occur once I had signed up for the passage, it wasn’t for sure and I cannot tell you the wave of excitement that rushed over me when I knew it was finally official.  Phillip, my companion, my best friend, the only person I hate to spend a day without, would be coming on this incredible life-changing trip with me.


The only other “person” I was sad wouldn’t be coming was our beautiful Niagara.  Sorry girl.


Frankly, one of mine and Phillip’s only hesitations in making this trip once it was determined schedules would allow, was leaving our boat behind during a time when a hurricane could potentially strike.  Having just splashed back in late March, we had tried to squeeze as much time as possible on her every weekend in April before we got too swamped with Atlantic preparations in May so another good portion of our time in the weeks before shoving off was also spent cleaning all perishable goods off of our boat, stripping her down in case a storm came and preparing a detailed instructions sheet for a friend who we had lined up to check on her periodically while we were away and, if necessary (you hate to think about it, but you have to plan!) move her to our haul-out location in case a hurricane did come to Pensacola.

It was almost staggering to think of the 100 other office and administrative things we needed to take care of before leaving the country for six weeks but however long our “to-do” list was, Yannick’s was three times longer.  It was impossible to even fathom what those weeks were like for Yannick as he bore the brunt of the boat projects while simultaneously planning and coordinating his family’s safe passage (including a dog!) to France and their living arrangements once they got there as well as the packing up of his entire house and the shipment of all their belongings in a container ship to Roscoff.  With an estimated arrival date in France of June 27th, we were literally racing his container ship across the pond.


While Johnny, Phillip and I were scrambling to get our own personal work and home situations squared away, Yannick was also saddled with the bigger chore of ensuring the boat had everything necessary for 30+ days of safe and comfortable passage for four people.  Text messages flew back and forth among us during those weeks about dishes, towels, toilet paper, water, propane, matches, first aid supplies and, for some reason, Reese’s peanut butter cups became a matter of high importance.  Oh, and we still didn’t have a life raft.  Have I mentioned the life raft?


The one on Andanza was no longer certified so Yannick was tasked with the decision to try and have it re-certified or order a new one and whether or not the new one would arrive via shipment before our expected departure date was still in question.  In the meantime, the joke was this would serve us just as well:


Needless to say May was an absolute whirlwind.  It was an incredibly stressful couple of weeks but I can honestly say we all did an actual “good job” getting the windows on the boat the second week of May, stepping the mast one week before our departure date as well as getting the boat out a couple of times for some test sails around Pensacola Bay.

At first she’s down … 

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Then she goes up!

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Video “Sealed, Stepped and Sailing Again” covering our window project, re-step and first sail on the catamaran published on Patreon May 28, 2016.

While we all had been hoping to have a free weekend to take the boat offshore or even sailing overnight so we could “shake down” a few systems, with all of our hectic schedules and scheduled projects yet to be completed on the boat, time simply did not allow it.  The Gulf of Mexico was going to be our shakedown.  We all predicted those first 4-5 days would be the ones to truly test us and, in a way, they were.  For the engines at least.  As far as the sailing went, from our first outings on the Freydis, Phillip and I could tell the catamaran definitely sailed differently than our monohull.  The mainsail was massive with enormous stiff battens that took a lot of wind to pop taut.  It was also hard to angle the Genny like we would on our monohull to most effectively harness the wind because the Genny sheets run back almost directly to the boom.  See here:


I know, super gratuitous shot of Phillip in his Third Reef Gear.  This lawyer gig doesn’t work out, I think he’s got one helluva shot as a marine apparel model.  Thank you again West Marine!

One thing Brandon taught us while we were out sailing and testing systems in Pensacola Bay was how to set up a “Barber hauler” to counter-act this.  Don’t ask me why they call it that, because I have no clue.  (If any of you know, feel free to share in a comment below!)  But, we used the Barber hauler to help pull the sail away from the center of the boat to improve our sail shape and gain speed.  This calls for another gratuitous shot.  See here:

barber hauler

We were also dealing with this little novelty—Arthur.


Arthur is the line that controls the rotating mast on Andanza.  Yes, a rotating mast.  While there are many features on the boat that were new and intriguing to me, the rotating mast was probably one of the highest on that list.  I still recall what Brandon told us about it when Phillip and I were asking him about the boat in preparation for the crossing:

“Does it have a third reef in the main?” we asked Brandon, recalling that was something John Kretschmer had mentioned was one of the first things he would recommend to consider when rigging a boat for an ocean crossing.

“It has a fourth,” said Brandon, which in and of itself would be surprising, but I saw Brandon’s little smirk when he said it so I knew there was something more to it.  That Brandon, he’s a smart one and he loves boats.  You can tell when a particular feature on a boat excites him.

Silence fell between us.  I knew Brandon was holding something back but he was looking down at what he was doing, smiling to himself, waiting for us to ask the right question.

“Alright, Brandon,” I caved.  “What’s with the fourth reef?”

“It’s not in the main,” Brandon said, raising his eyes to us.  “It’s the mast.”

He wasn’t kidding.  The mast on the Freydis is so large and curved like an airplane wing that it, alone, can act as a sail.  With all canvas down, motoring under bare poles, you can actually “trim” the mast, turning it to port or starboard, to help guide the boat along.  Can you believe that?  The mast actually acts like a sail.  For whatever reason, the line that trims the mast is called “Arthur.”  If any of you know the origin of this title (no Googling!) please feel free to share it in a comment below.


Brandon and Yannick working at the base of the rotating mast on the wind instrument.  If your mast rotates, your windex has to account for that in order to provide true directional data.  This was a quandary that consumed Yannick for weeks (months maybe).  Just wait … 

In the meantime, thank Brandon with Perdido Sailor, Inc. for the great sailing tips.  That man is a gold mine of sailing, cruising, yacht repair knowledge I swear.  With all of the time Phillip and I had just spent with him during our three months in the yard as well as the last projects on Andanza, it was hard to think we would be making this trip without him.


We missed you B!

Overall, there are many (many!) ways a catamaran—Yannick’s catamaran specifically—differs from a monohull when it comes to how the boat moves and sails.  I am currently working on a more detailed monohull versus catamaran article which I will share with you all soon.  Neither Phillip nor I had ever made a significant passage on a catamaran at the time so we were excited to gain the experience.  Many folks predicted we would be quickly converted.  “Once you get on a cat, you’ll never go back,” I had followers tell me.  To spare you the suspense, I can assure Phillip and I have not been converted, but our thoughts on the catamaran might surprise you.  More on that soon.

But, to start with, it literally is a box:

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Cool still shot from my video on Patreon this week sharing Yannick’s view from the top of his 72-foot mast during our Atlantic-crossing preparations.


Yannick imitating my Keys to the Kingdom pose.  Let me know which one you prefer!

And, because it is so boxy (46′ x 25′), the Freydis is not easy to maneuver in tight spaces.  Yannick will be the first to tell you, the one thing that scares him most about the boat is docking and de-docking.  (Can’t say that I blame him there.  You are all familiar with my many heart-pounding, horrific “Docking Debacles” and my thoughts on this issue.)


Making good use of the “Marriage Savers” during our first de-docking on the cat.

While we had initially thought the reason Yannick wanted to travel non-stop from Florida to France was because of time constraints, we learned during these last few weeks, a bigger reason was because Yannick did not like docking the boat.  The fewer times he had to bring his boat to shore, the better.  Assuming we were able to sail most of the way and did not need to pull into the dock to re-fuel, the Keys, Bermuda and the Azores were to be considered as contingency detours only, NOT planned stops.  The plan was to go non-stop.


Free from the dock, however, the boat itself did not worry us.  Primarily, the main concerns Phillip and I had, and will always have, about crossing an ocean on a small sailboat relate more to the hull integrity, communications, access to weather and safety and those items really do not differ greatly whether you’re traveling on a monohull or a catamaran.  We discussed these items at length with our Captain and Phillip and I found they had been purchased, procured or sufficiently addressed (minus one gun-less life raft) by Yannick in the early phases of our discussions.  Here’s what we were working with on the Freydis, straight from Yannick’s PowerPoint presentation:


  • Main full batten Hydranet
  • Genoa Hydranet
  • Spinaker triradial
  • Old genoa as spare? (bad shape)


  • 2 Lombardini 2 x 37HP
    • 6+ knots with 2 engines @ 1800
    • 5,5 with one @ 1800
    • ½ gal/h
    • 90 gallons onboard (180h=990NM)
  • Sail drive transmission
    • Feathering props
    • No protection but the keels


  • VHF
  • Tracking for families via Delorme InReach
  • Unlimited text or short emails (160 signs, no pictures, no files, no voice)

In addition, recall Phillip and I borrowed Pam Wall’s Iridium sat phone and purchased a satellite service package from OCENS for the voyage.  Detailed write-up about this HERE.



  • 2 chart plotters (Insight US side / Cmap EU side)
  • iPad + Navionics as backup
  • Probably around 15 GPS onboard…
  • Paper charts for the whole route


  • Radar B&G 4G : awesome…
  • Forward Scan : to be tested
  • Depth, speed, temp, baro, wind

Other Electronics:

  • B&G autopilot fully integrated
  • Autopilot remote
  • Wifi (mirror on iStuff and Android)


  • Generator Onan 4kW
  • 2 x 175W solar panels (just enough to top off)
  • 800Ah AGM batteries
  • Mastervolt charger / inverter / network
  • 220V (115 converter available)

Other Equipment:

  • Rocna anchor, chain only 240 feet
  • Spare Danforth
  • Watermaker (need generator on)
  • Water heater (slooooow!)
  • Plenty of tools and chemicals

In my mind, I couldn’t imagine a boat more well-stocked or prepared to cross an ocean!  Looking back now with hindsight, there are some things I would have, should have, focused on more, which I will share with you during this saga, but I can assure you I had absolutely no worries about the boat not being sufficiently stocked or equipped for the passage.  As if to assuage any of our very last fears, Brandon even told us the Freydis could not sink.  Absolutely.  Could.  Not.  Sink.  It’s called positive flotation.  Like a Styrofoam cooler.  No matter how much you fill it with water, she’s not going down.  So, even if the catamaran tipped over, which would suck because there would be no way to right her (one downside of the catamaran), we could all still sit aboard under a make-shift tarp/tent on the hull, with the life raft in tow while we signaled for help.  You see?  What’s to worry about?

Phillip and I really had no idea what we were in for as far as a blue water passage, or an offshore voyage on a catamaran, but we knew the boat was now sealed up, the mast was stepped and the box was ready to set sail for France.  Let’s go!


Up next on the blog, we provision!  Boy do we provision … 


Thanks, as always, to my followers and supporters for helping me share this tale!

Andanza Means Adventure

It truly does.  “Andanza” is Spanish for “adventure.”  The minute Captain Yannick told me this, I knew it was the perfect boat for me to jump aboard to sail across the Atlantic.  And, the entire adventure — from our breath-taking blue water days, to our troubling times dealing with equipment failure, even to the 3:00 a.m watches — have been truly eye-opening.  I find myself trying to answer a lot of big life questions during my night shifts, particularly those where we had to hand-steer.

While I mourned the loss of auto-pilot and sympathized with Yannick’s dilemma in having to stop his journey to replace it, as well as fund the project, I will never regret the fact that I had to hand-steer the boat for a short amount of time.  I know I would not have experienced that feeling otherwise.  Up until the point he gave out, we had been (rightfully, as he is far better at it than we are) allowing the auto-pilot to hand-steer the boat every minute of every day.  Had he not failed, I am sure we would have let him steer us all the way to the channel and breakwater in France.  If this had occurred, I would not have had the privilege to truly feel the boat diving into waves, skidding and careening across the ocean.  This feeling was only possible with my hands cinched on the leather of the wheel, guiding the boat gently left and right along our rhumb line.  It was a bit of a majestic feeling, particularly at night and it gave me hours of time to think about what this trip has meant to me.  I imagined one of the most common questions I would get (perhaps from Andy Schell during my interview!) when I returned would be: “What did you truly take away from the trip?”  As I pushed the wheel right to left, watching our heading of 110 degrees hour upon hour, I tried to formulate — for my own benefit and in order to share with others — a truly valid answer.  This is what I surmised.

Ocean crossing is simple.  Sailing is really very, very simple.  Cruising is simple.  You have a certain skill set — knowledge of your vessel and the things you need to monitor, repair and maintain to keep it healthy and capable coupled with knowledge of the wind and coming weather patterns (via the water, clouds and colors of the sun or information provided by today’s impressive electronics, either way) — which you apply to the situation at hand.  That is all you have to do.  That is all you have to worry about: your boat and what it needs to endure.  After that, there are no pressing deadlines, no people to please or disappoint, no due dates, no briefs to file, no bills to pay.  Many of those things will likely greet you when you make it to shore, but they cannot reach you out there.  In a vast body of blue, it is only the wind, your sails, your hull and your hunger, for food, books or philosophy.  Your only real stress is what you’re going to read or eat next and that is really a rather fun choice to make.  The simplicity of it is truly freeing.

While I am thrilled to be on this journey, savoring every minute, I am also excited to get back and begin trying (to the best of my creative ability) to capture and re-create it for you.  I have been diligently keeping a running log as we’ve been going, which recounts in mere clips and phrases (just enough to remind me) of the events, stories and mishaps we have experienced along the way, and that alone is already 60 pages single-spaced.  I have hours of footage and hundreds of photos.  It is overwhelming now to even think of how to begin, but it is an invigorating challenge as creating content for this website is one of my absolute passions.  I’m eager to begin scaling this creative mountain!  But first, I’m eager to finish this voyage.  More to come my friends.  We have many stories to tell!