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

Our Current Position

19 December 2013 | Westerly, RI
17 July 2013 | Mystic Shipyard, Mystic, CT
14 June 2013 | Summit North Marina, Bear, Delaware
04 June 2013 | Point Lookout Marina, Ridge, Maryland
21 May 2013 | Dunedin Municipal Marina, Dunedin, Florida
05 May 2013 | Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
27 April 2013 | 22 56.8'N:073 02.0'W, Nearing the Exumas & Bahamas
23 April 2013 | 18 25'N:064 50'W, The BVI
13 April 2013 | Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
08 April 2013 | Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia
04 April 2013 | Tobago Cays and Mustique, Grenadines
29 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George, Grenada
15 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George, Grenada
06 March 2013 | Between Salvador, Brazil and St. George, Grenada
05 March 2013 | Port Louis Marina, St. George's Harbor, Grenada
17 February 2013 | Terminal Nautico, Salvador, Brazil
04 February 2013 | 153 miles from Salvador Brazil, Atlantic Ocean
30 January 2013 | Island of St. Helena, Atlantic Ocean
29 January 2013 | 14 36.9'S:22 37.3'W, On the way to Brazil
20 January 2013 | 15 55.55'S:005 43.58'W, Jamestown, St. Helena

Brazil…Where Everything is HOT!

17 February 2013 | Terminal Nautico, Salvador, Brazil
Janet
(No, the picture above is not our welcoming party at our arrival in Salvador, it is just one small part of Carnival.)

We arrived in Brazil with a warm welcome from the community. There were people in traditional dress serving us drinks and fruit along with fireworks! The passage took longer than expected so the first order of business was to go grocery shopping and clean up the boat for Eileen and Tony. It's amazing how dirty a boat can get on a passage!

Eileen and Tony arrived two hours early and found their way to our boat. We were just having John from Spirit of Alcides help us fix our generator so the boat was torn apart. All ended well when the generator was fixed, the boat was put back together and our guests settled in for a great time in Brazil with the generator powering the much appreciated air conditioning.

The first order of business was the prize giving for the leg to Brazil. The entire fleet gathered for some delicious local food and drink at the end of the dock where everyone was berthed. Mark and I were given honorable mention at the prize giving for fourth place in our division. We were only ½ an hour (adjusted time to accommodate our handicap and engine hours) behind the boat that received third place. We thought it quite fitting for the last leg of the trip to finally place - sort of - among the winners. At Last...

Caroline s/v Peat Smoke organized our Carnival entertainment by booking fourteen of us to watch the entertainment from a balcony. We had t-shirts we needed to wear to get in and passes. The price for the women to attend was cheaper than the men - the passes were actually coded differently for the men versus the women. The balcony - Comarote Do Naua - was an old hotel which only opens during carnival and it can hold about 1,000 people. For a rather hefty price we had all the food and drink we could consume between 6:00 pm and 5:00 am. The hotel abutted a beach so you could even walk on a beach as part of the evening. There was a place to get your hair braided, a photo booth, t-shirt cutting, a massage section and plenty of areas for just hanging out. Overlooking the parade route was a lower and upper balcony which each had to hold several hundred people. It was a perfect location to watch carnival and provided us with great entertainment.

T-shirt cutting - the shirts were quite small so several of us had to cut them to get them to fit. Cutting them was quite a thing because women would literally take them apart and re-sew them into something much more interesting than the original shirt. They would add ribbons, sequins, glitter and make them much more interesting..if we only knew!

It is very difficult to describe carnival. Looking out over the balcony there were people everywhere. Each musical performer had a two or three story stage pulled by a tracker trailer. The top story was a stage and the bottom story was a bar/bathroom/sitting area. In front and behind each tracker trailer were hundreds/thousands of people in matching t-shirts. These people paid for the t-shirts and thus were able to follow the performer. Each "group" (tracker trailer included) were surrounded by a huge rope which a whole other group of people walked and held the whole group together. I told you this was hard to describe.

The music was amazing and we all found ourselves jumping around and dancing. It was infectious. We were able to hear the music from our boat all night long the entire time of carnival. The people of Brazil clearly love their music - you would often see people starting to sway to the music everywhere - even in the line at the grocery store. We all are now able to sing some of the most popular songs in Brazil even without knowing a word of Portuguese.

We left the balcony at 1:00 am and had arranged for a taxi driver to pick us up in a mini bus. He clearly told us he would pick us up right at the front door to the balcony at 1:00 am. As we looked out over the crowd, we could not understand how we would all make it back to the taxi which was a five minute walk from the balcony. Well, the driver arrived and gave us very specific instructions on what we were to do. All fourteen of us clasped hands and were told to not let go of each other. The taxi driver brought a second man who was at the end of the line. The taxi driver carefully chose the route back as we snaked single file in and around the crowd of thousands of people. We could not imagine what it would have been like to spend the evening on the streets watching carnival!

The entire city was pretty much closed down during carnival. We did go out to dinner one night in the historic center of the upper city called Pelourinho which is just on the edge of carnival. You have to take the Elevator Lacerda from the lower city (where our boat was) to the upper city. In the historic center (or Old Town), carnival was much more family orientated, a tiny bit less crowded, and had little parades of bands marching through the old town. It was a beautiful area of the city filled with excellent restaurants. We ate some delicious traditional Brazilian food there quite a few nights.

While Eileen and Tony were here we also took a boat ride to several small islands just a few miles from Salvador. There we were able to swim and relax away from the craziness of carnival. With the city being closed down, there wasn't much else to do. We all seemed to be quite content to relax on the boat and enjoy each other's company. We are incredibly grateful to Eileen and Tony for again visiting us on this trip!

So, Brazil is definitely hot - the music, the people, the food, carnival and particularly the weather. We don't think that we have even been this hot on the trip. Every day it is hot. You can take a look at the hot pics of Carnival and Salvador in the photo gallery

After Eileen and Tony left, Mark and I got the boat ready to leave for Grenada. We have a 17 day sail from Brazil to Grenada. We are looking forward to some small islands and white sand beaches in the Grenadines. From Grenada, we will be flying to Florida for Mark's nephew's wedding and a bit of a family reunion. We are so anxious to see family! We will have a couple of weeks in Grenada before we go.

Crossing the Southern Atlantic

04 February 2013 | 153 miles from Salvador Brazil, Atlantic Ocean
Janet
We are about 29 hours from arriving in Salvador and it is a bright and beautiful day. The winds have been quite light throughout our trip and as we get closer we are slowing down. That has to be he most frustrating thing imaginable. We have had a great trip overall. Mark and I have been talking quite a bit about the fact that this is the last long leg of our trip with the World Arc which has brought a rash of mixed emotions.

In our continuing quest to use the engine as little as possible, we sailed off our mooring ball when we left St. Helena. Not hard to do really, just drop the mooring ball line, raise a sail quickly, and avoid the shore and other boats as you leave the anchorage. Mark and I picked the mooring ball at the end of the mooring field in anticipation of this so we had no boats behind us that needed to be avoided. Why one might ask would we be so concerned about using our engine.

Each official leg of the World Arc is a bit of a race. As part of that race, we have to record our engine hours and your time is penalized for using your engine. Since this leg had a stop in between, the start of the second half began when you dropped your mooring line and thus we would have been penalized for using our engine. Now, some would think that we must be really competitive to leave a mooring field this way. Since we ended the first half of the leg with 1.2 engine hours (one of the lowest in the fleet) it became a challenge for us to continue in that vain. We actually have never learned how the rating and handicap system works for the races and only once have checked our standing at the end of a leg. I also might add that we have never placed in our division at the end of a leg and were more likely to turn on the engine when we reached below five knots than most other boats. So at this late juncture in the rally, Mark and I decided to sail the boat no matter what and force this boat to go despite light winds. The Atlantic Ocean was kind enough to oblige with some of the lightest winds of the trip.

Most notable for me on this leg is that I finally feel like Mark and I are getting the hang of sailing our boat. Given that this is our first boat and we owned it for a mere five years before doing this trip, it makes us relatively inexperienced sailors in comparison to the rest of the fleet. Many of our fellow rally participants have owned boats their entire lives and have over 40 years of sailing experience. Some have circumnavigated before. Others have sailed competitively in famous ocean races. It can be quite intimidating at times. As Mark and I look back at what we knew when we started this trip, we are astonished by how little we knew then and gratified by how much we have learned. Previously, a significant sail change could take us up to 1.5 hours - with at least a half an hour spent debating what sail change we should make. I would often defer to whatever Mark wanted because honestly I never was the one to choose the sail configuration or do sail trim for that matter. Shall I say I was just along for the ride. Well, I guess I have learned a few things because now Mark and I debate what sail change to make. That debate now only takes less than 5 minutes, we make a decision and get the sail change done in as little as 15 minutes. Things that I didn't even know how to do (hoist the spinnaker or raise the whisker pole) are done quickly and seemingly easily. Mark and I have to talk less while making the sail changes, we seem to anticipate what each other needs and have our duties down. Mind you there is still a little bit of yelling - there has to be - as Mark says this is serious stuff. Like when Mark told me to "sit" while we were taking down the whisker pole and I "barked" back that I was not a dog. But these "discussions" seem to stem from lack of sleep more than anything else and the apologies are quick to come after the task is accomplished.

In order to further challenge ourselves, we also changed some of the rules around sail changes and sail configurations on this trip to keep the boat moving forward. We used our spinnaker at night and even flew it for three days straight without taking it down. For those of you non sailors, the spinnaker is the big bright colorful sail that is flow off the bow of the boat. The spinnaker is a light wind sail and it can easily rip if the winds become too great. Most of the fleet has ripped their spinnakers at least once. So when you sail it all night you have to be prepared to take it down in the middle of the night. Taking this sail down in gusty winds can be quite difficult and further complicated by the dark of night. Luckily, we had a beautiful full moon and our foredeck light to help us see when we were making these sail changes.

The sun sets under "Big Al"


We also maximized the use of our whisker pole. The whisker pole is a pole that you hoist and attach a sail to which will keep the sail out and full in light winds. We actually read a manual during the passage to see if there was anything else we could be doing with is. We were telescoping it, moving it forward and aft all in an attempt to sail in the lightest of winds. We also did not hesitate to make major sail changes at night. If we were motoring and the wind picked up we previously would have waited until first light and change of shift to make the change to sailing. This leg we would wake the other person up, even if it was the middle of the night and hoist the sails. We also switched to the spinnaker at night, took down the spinnaker at night, hoisted and/or took down the whisker pole, etc. Nothing was off limits. The end result was that we certainly used less engine hours, sailed in very light winds, and maximized every bit of the wind that we could. We felt like we became real sailors on this leg.

The end result of all of this work is that we had the most physically challenging leg of the rally. When you open yourself to major sail changes at night, someone is left with less sleep. Going to sleep after making that major sail change in the middle of the night is not easy. Your adrenaline is pumping and you need to take time to rejoice in the extra knot of speed you just gained through all that hard work. The physical nature of these sail changes is very challenging. In addition, the spinnaker must be trimmed constantly while it is flying which cut greatly into my nights of watching movies and reading books. Some nights my arms would ache from winching in and letting out the spinnaker an entire three hour shift. As we near the end of this leg, we continue to have one of the fewest engine hours of all the boats in the fleet. We even tolerated going less than four knots at times - now that is slow. Anyone could run faster than that. At this point, we have motored 23.5 hours out of the 620 hours of this leg. This was a real accomplishment and was still one of the fewest hours in the fleet. As we look back, we can't help but to be amazed by how much we have learned, what we have accomplished and that we have remained safe while doing so.

I have come to the conclusion that I really enjoy these long passages. The sense of accomplishment that one gets by sailing a boat across an entire ocean is indescribable - we are about to finish crossing our third major ocean. There is an intimate connection with nature - the rising of the sun, the light of the moon, the endless stars - while at the same time you are fighting that same nature - the swells of the sea, the rain from the squalls and the gusts of the wind. There are things that I certainly don't like about these long passages - lack of sleep being the hardest. But one quickly learns that things aren't always easy on passage and that is the magic. Things go wrong, you resolve them, disaster is averted and you keep moving forward. Each of these resolved difficulties fills you with a deep sense of satisfaction. There exists only you, your fellow crew and the boat on this challenging journey. And when we finally we tie up to the dock tomorrow, we will pop open a bottle of champagne and toast to all the challenges we overcame on this leg and the fact that we made it and we are the stronger for it.

Footnote:
After I finished writing this blog, Mark and I had the most amazing encounter of our trip with a large group of porpoises. I was down below cooking dinner when Mark called me up to see the porpoises which were swimming by the boat. Sadly, my first thought was that I had seen my share of these animals that I was more anxious to get dinner served so Mark could get some asleep. But I went atop and was pleasantly surprised. All around our boat had to be about 40 porpoises but that was far from the most remarkable thing about our encounter. As we looked out for about a mile on either side of us there were porpoises jumping and heading toward our boat. It was as if the word had gotten out and everyone in the neighborhood was heading our way to check us out. There must have been a few hundred for they kept coming from all around for a couple of hours.

Mark and I began to talk to them, clap, bang on the boat - all in our poor attempt to communicate with them. We told them how happy we were that they came to visit us. And then things got really amazing. They started to perform for us. They jumped out of the water and did barrel rolls. They walked on the water, did back flips and belly flops. They surfed down waves. And they slapped their tails on the water to make big splashes. With each performance, we would clap and yell encouraging them to do more. Our response seemed to work because they kept going. As we looked out in the distance, all of the porpoises around us seemed to be trying to get our attention by their antics. Mark and I just ran around the boat saying things like - did you see that? We abandoned the notion of dinner and spent the next hour or more playing with these incredible animals. Who needs dinner or sleep when you have such quality entertainment? We took plenty of photos but they don't do the experience justice. So we have some videos we will post as soon as we figure out how to do that.

How to make 9.0948E-9 warp speed sailing across the Atlantic

29 January 2013 | 14 36.9'S:22 37.3'W, On the way to Brazil
Mark
We just wanted to post a brief blog letting everyone know that we are doing well on this trip to Brazil.

The title may be confusing because the speed is expressed in terms of the speed of light. Wondering why? Well one of the books I am reading (thanks to Tony) at night on the dog watch as they say, is Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time". Being out here in the middle of the vast Atlantic, looking at all the stars at night, has reminded me that I am just an infinitesimal part of the Cosmos and I wanted to learn more about the "billions and billions" stars and how it all came to be. The book is all about time (usually expressed in terms of light years) and space and that is what Janet and I are constantly focused on as well; our speed and position.

We are about half way to Brazil. We are due to arrive on Feb 5th if our current average speed of 5.3 knots (or 9.0948E-9 light speed) holds for the remainder of the trip. This is our slowest passage thus far. Janet and I are determined to sail this boat despite the lack of wind. We currently have the fewest hours using our motor (7.3 hours over 2700 miles since leaving Cape Town) of the fleet. Some in the fleet have over 100 hours motoring. So, the picture above is one of the methods we are using to make progress in light air; sailing with both the spinnaker and jib out together. We have used our spinnaker more on this trip since we left St Helena than the rest of the trip combined. We sail it for several days straight, including overnights and even thru squalls (they are mild here). We actually are happy to see squalls coming as they might bring some winds our way. We are doing major sail changes at all hours of the day and night in an effort to keep up our speed. And we are getting quite good at it I might say. Janet and I both have said that we wish we started this trip knowing what we know now. We are just now feeling like we are becoming decent sailors. So the good news is that we are getting pretty good at light wind sailing and this has been a very comfortable ride. The waves are about 3 feet and the weather very good. Good enough for us to catch up on our reading.

Janet is cooking up a storm (bad choice of words) and we are eating well. The boat is in good shape. No complaints, except for the lack of wind. So it is all good aboard At Last.

Next blog updates will include more about the interesting island of St Helena and of course Carnival in Brazil!
Vessel Name: At Last
Vessel Make/Model: Island Packet 465-02
Hailing Port: Wickford, RI USA
Crew: Mark & Janet Gorrell
About:
Hi, We have been sailing for more than twelve years, chartering in the BVI, Leeward Islands, Chesapeake, and Florida. We completed many US Sailing certifications. We have been saling At Last for the last four years in New England between Nantucket and NYC. Mark has crewed on deliveries to St. [...]
Extra:
For those of you who know Mark, you would agree that he is a very conservative and risk adverse person and one who suffers terribly from motion sickness. So, you must be wondering how he could give up the security of a wonderful job to sail around the world, especially in this economy. Well, [...]
Home Page: http://sailingatlast.com
At Last's Photos - Main
Back in the US and heading home
1 Photo | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 3 June 2013
Our time in Marigot Bay, Rodney Bay and other photo albums commemorating our trip
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 19 April 2013
Stops in Grenada and the Grenadines
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 28 March 2013
Carnival and Old Town in Salvador
25 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 17 February 2013
Photos of this unique and friendly island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
18 Photos
Created 16 February 2013
The pictures from our stops in Richard's Bay, Durban, St. Francis and Cape Town.
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 14 December 2012
Halloween party and a visit to a volcano
21 Photos
Created 23 November 2012
Our time in Mauritius
46 Photos
Created 23 November 2012
Our visit to the atoll of Cocos Keeling, Australia
23 Photos
Created 21 October 2012
35 Photos
Created 18 September 2012
Our time in Mackay, Cairns and Darwin Australia
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 5 September 2012
Our time in Port Resolution, Dillon's Bay and Port Vila
43 Photos
Created 17 July 2012
Our time in Denarau and Musket Cove, Fiji
20 Photos
Created 6 July 2012
Our visit to Vava'u Tonga
56 Photos
Created 21 June 2012
The Islands of Suwarrow and American Samoa
27 Photos
Created 8 June 2012
1 Photo | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 29 April 2012
Rangiroa
26 Photos
Created 29 April 2012
This gallery include the passage from the Galapagos and photos from Hiva-Oa, Oa-Pou and Nuku Hiva
1 Photo | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 11 April 2012
These are pictures of the passage to the Galapagos and our experience on the islands of San Cristobal, Isabella and Santa Cruz
2 Photos | 4 Sub-Albums
Created 2 March 2012
Here are photos of the passage to Panama, the San Blas Islands, the transit through the canal and events yet to come.
11 Photos | 6 Sub-Albums
Created 22 January 2012
A compendium of pix of our various excursions around St Lucia
5 Photos | 2 Sub-Albums
Created 6 January 2012
These are pictures from the last of the Leeward Islands.
25 Photos
Created 19 December 2011
Photos of Terre-De-Haut, an island part of Les Saintes southeast of Guadeloupe.
13 Photos
Created 18 December 2011
Here are more photos of English Harbour taken form At Last as we left Antigua for Guadeloupe
10 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
These are the pictures of our passage from Antigua through our stay on Guadeloupe
28 Photos
Created 16 December 2011
These are photos of Admiral Nelson's Dockyard and our trek to the top of Shirley Heights overlooking English Harbor
42 Photos
Created 13 December 2011
Here are some photos of the islands as we were leaving Nevis, passing Montserrat and arriving at Antigua. A pleasant 50 mile motor sail into 10 knot head winds. I took a nap for 90 minutes. Blogging keeps me up late at night.
15 Photos
Created 13 December 2011
Pictures of Nevis
14 Photos
Created 11 December 2011
These are pix of Saba, Statia and St Kitts as we passed by them to sail to Nevis
18 Photos
Created 11 December 2011
Pictures of his homes and yacht on the island as we passed headed for Anguilla
11 Photos
Created 5 December 2011
7 Photos
Created 2 December 2011
Some of the photos of the passage that hit the cutting room floor
27 Photos
Created 22 November 2011
These are pictures of some of the results of the recent outfitting for the trip
8 Photos
Created 19 October 2011
These were taken last year sailing in Long Island Sound by Yacht-Shots. My colleagues at Baystate Health were kind enough to have three copies of one these photos printed and framed for me as a going away gift. A large one for home, one for the boat and one for my desk. Very Special!
7 Photos
Created 19 October 2011
This is a compilation of photos taken over the first four years of cruising on At Last in Naragansett Bay and Long Island Sound with close friends, family and the Cruising Club of New England, a wonderful group of sailors.
55 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
At Last is painted in January of 2008
4 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
At last is delivered, commissioned and has its maiden voyage just in time to be in the 2007 Newport Boat Show
6 Photos
Created 1 October 2011
These are pictures of the layout of the IP 465 and the interior of At Last
12 Photos
Created 1 October 2011

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's

Who: Mark & Janet Gorrell
Port: Wickford, RI USA

Our Current Position