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Sailing At Last
This is the tale of our journey to fulfill a passion of learning to sail and a dream to circumnavigate. Welcome Aboard At Last!

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's
Who: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Port: Wickford, RI USA
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Our Current Position
Photo Gallery
21 October 2012
23 Photos
11 April 2012
10 Photos
Goodbye Nevis, Hello Antigua
December 12, 2011, 5:59 am, Falmouth Harbour Antigua

The passage from Nevis to Antigua was pleasant. Seas were calm but the wind was on the nose at only 10 knots so we motor sailed the whole 50 miles. We pulled into Falmouth Harbor around 4:00 pm just in time to anchor in day light for a nice change. There are pictures of the passage in the photo gallery "The Passage from Nevis to Antigua" include Montserrat, the volcanic island, and the shore line of Antigua.

Our time on Antigua is strictly pleasure. We are going to act like tourists and check out the top attractions. No cleaning or boat work. So, Day One, we visit Nelson's Dockyard. This is the naval base of British Admiral Lord Nelson in the 1700s. It is a historic national park that is quite interesting. Aside from serving as a major tourist site, the restored naval base hosts the annual Antigua Classic Sailboat Races. A major sailing event that brings sail boats from around the world. All this nostalgia gave us the desire to visit on of the best sailing book stores in the Caribbean and pick up a copy of first volume of the Master and Commander series of books by Patrick O'Brien which came highly recommended by Bob Killebrew whom we met on the Caribbean 1500. All the pictures of Nelsons Dockyard are in the Antigua photo Gallery.

The Leeward Islands
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New Friends are Easy To Make
December 10, 2011, 5:34 am, Charlestown, Nevis

While checking into customs on Nevis, Mark met two other sailing couples who are living on their boats in the Caribbean area. They invited us over for cocktails at 5:00 pm. Mark and I are amazed at how experienced each couple is. We call ourselves newbies for the entire evening as each couple shares how they met, how they started sailing and their best advice for us. We have a fantastic evening and leave with all sorts of new information and ideas about how to survive the challenges we will face over the next two years. To our new friends David and Trudy on Persephone and Janice and Steve on Sailacious - thanks for a great evening and all of the encouragement. Hope to see you again when we pass through the Caribbean after the World ARC in April 2013.

We spent an afternoon at the Golden Rock Inn. It is a former old sugar plantation estate at the top of the mountain that is now a wonderful hotel and restaurant. It features hiking trails with magnificent views and some of the most interesting flora and fauna in the Caribbean. One can walk along the trails and see the Green Monkey.

We had a wonderful lunch at the Golden Rock Inn after hiking through the trails. We met the owner, who is from NYC and she shared some of her thoughts about having such a resort in the Caribbean, wished us well on our journey and said she would reserve us a table for lunch 16 months from now.

Check out the rest of the photos of Nevis in the gallery.

We leave for Antigua on Sunday, December 11, 2011. A little 50 mile day sail.

The Leeward Islands
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Sailing to the Islands With Their Heads in the Clouds
December 8, 2011, 5:28 pm, Sailing from St Maarten to Nevis

It is 9:00 am Thursday we are heading out of Simpson Bay St Maarten. It is difficult to decide where to go but after consulting with the cruising guide (a book written for sailors telling you where to go, what to do, and the regulations for checking in and out of each island), we decide to head to Nevis. We choose to sail a bit out of our way to see Saba, Statia and St Kitts. These are islands on the western side of the Leewards that also include Montserrat. They are volcanic islands that rise to 4,000 ft above sea level and thus, have their heads in the clouds.

This is an 11 hour sail, so once again it looks like we won't be getting there until dark. But the sail is beautiful and we wish we had more time to stop at the islands we passed because the islands all look very inviting.

See the photo gallery of our sail to the The Islands With Their Heads In The Clouds.

When we get to Nevis, the moon is full so we are able to see without relying on radar. Another boat sees us coming into the mooring filed and helps us by telling us where open mooring balls are. We pick up a mooring ball rather easily at about nine o'clock at night and then eat a quick dinner. The next morning we realize we are right next to a boat that sailed with us to Tortola with on the Caribbean 1500, Archangel. Small world.

The Leeward Islands
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The possible effects of a circumnavigation
Some of the diversity one finds in Simpson Bay
December 7, 2011, 11:00 pm, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

The picture above is what our boat actually looks like now (with the new awning).

But, this is how I feel our boat looks like, to me. I wonder if At Last could be their dinghy?

And, this is what our boat will probably look like after we finish the trip around the world

The Leeward Islands
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It’s Not All Fun and Games
December 7, 2011, 4:36 am, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

The past four days in Simpson Bay remind us of the conveniences at home. We have spent four days going grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning, getting supplies for the boat, and catching up on emails. Now many of you might be thinking why this would take four days when many of you get this done on Saturday morning. This is the dark side of sailing that no one talks about. For example, a trip to the grocery store requires a ride in the dinghy, a walk into town, wandering around trying to figure out what the man meant by "straight ahead a bit", trying to determine what dollars the items are labeled in (US dollars, Dutch guilder or Easter Caribbean dollars), deciding whether you really need a twelve dollar bag of potato chips, figuring out what dollars you need to purchase the items, bagging everything so that you can haul it back to the dinghy, hauling it back to the dinghy (wishing you had bought less), hauling it back to the boat, getting rid of all of the cardboard before it gets on the boat (it harbors bugs), finding where to store it on the boat so that you can find it when you need it, and then you are done. This is about a half days work. Luckily, Mark was right by my side for all of these chores and I am eternally grateful that he volunteered to wash the galley (kitchen floor). And I am not embarrassed to say that he did a much better job than I would have. The bright spot is that we were able to find two fantastic bar/restaurants which had free internet (we couldn't get internet from the boat). Of course you have to eat and drink while you are there so we had some wonderful meals while catching up on computer work. If ever in Simpson Bay, we highly recommend Jimbo's Rock and Blues Mexican restaurant.

The Leeward Islands
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Definition of a Dinghy
December 6, 2011, 3:36 am, Simpson Bay, St. Maarten

This is a dinghy.

No, not Mark, the thing he is sitting in.

It is the small boat that gets us from our boat to shore when we are anchoring or on a mooring ball. Without it we would be stuck on the boat. And that is almost exactly what happened today. The dinghy engine has not been working that well since we got here. It's been on the list of things to fix but it has yet to get to the top of the list. Funny how suddenly it is now on the top of the list. Mark pulled the cord to start the engine and he ended up with half of it in his hand and the other half deeply recoiled back into the engine. So we hoisted it onto the boat, took out the manual and went to work. We quickly figured out the manual was useless. When taking apart the recoiling box (where the cord is stored) it was like opening a jack in the box, parts sprang out everywhere. We recovered them, put them in a bag and then tried to figure out how all the pieces went together. We kept in mind the words of our good friend, Andy, "you guys can fix about 90% of what goes wrong on this boat." Three hours later we did a high five and were on our way. We felt like mechanical Gods.

The Leeward Islands
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Why anchoring is free...
December 4, 2011, 11:58 am, St Maarten

We arrived in Simpson Bay in St Maarten (the Dutch side of St Martin) on Saturday morning. For those of you who are not familiar with the islands of the Caribbean, we have now arrived in the groups of islands referred to as the Leewards. Our blog posts and photo gallery will be organized by the groups of islands so look now for the Leeward category.

We have now anchored three times in the past 24 hours. Once in Anguilla Friday night, once outside of Simpson Bay this morning where we decided it wasn't calm enough, and then in the inner harbor or lagoon of Simpson Bay. We have done this without a single argument which is notable because for me anchoring is one of the most stressful events in boating. I once thought of writing an article titled, "Now I know why anchoring is free." In it I would recount the time I woke up at night to the sound of a thud as another boat's anchor dragged and ended up hitting us. I would also compare the quality of the night's sleep one gets on anchor - poor, on a mooring ball - good, and in a slip in a marina - excellent. I rate the slip a little higher than a mooring ball because we can turn on the air conditioning at a slip in a marina. Of course the cost of staying at a slip can be about $100 per night, a mooring ball is about $25, and anchoring is free. Given that we are on a budget, anchoring is the way to go and we are both committed to getting more comfortable with it. I understand that you can get a good night's sleep at anchor. As long as you realize that someone may drag and hit you but there is nothing you can do about it. Thus, why lose sleep over it. I am still working this one out in my head. (By the way, the Simpson Bay Authority actually charges you $10 a day to anchor here. Guess I'll have to change the title of the article. Go figure.)

We spent much of today putting up our new awning. We have three sections to the awning which will cover much of the boat. The purpose of the awning is to be able to keep the hatches (windows) open when it is raining and keep air flowing below deck, to be able to keep the direct sunlight off the boat, and give us more shade during hot days. When I say we spent much of today doing this I am not kidding. We had pictures of the awning that Mark took after it was put on by the woman who made it. They can be seen in the gallery "Our Preparations". We kept referring to the pictures in order to get it right. It was a never ending process but we should be able to get the time down from the four hours it took today to do it. The end result you can see in the picture is drinks, wine and crackers under the awning on the back of the boat. The next time we raise the awning it should be much quicker, right?

The Leeward Islands
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