Heading East on North Star

This is planned to document our sailing the Atlantic to England, Western Europe and return to US via the Caribbean

21 November 2017 | Southern North Atlantic
20 November 2017 | Southern North Atlantic
18 November 2017 | Still in Port
10 November 2017 | Las Palmas Marina, Gran Canaria
06 November 2017 | Las Palmas Marina Gran Canaria
30 October 2017 | Las Palmas Marina
26 October 2017 | Las Palmas on pontoon G
23 October 2017 | Rolnautic Boatyard, Las Palmas
22 October 2017 | Las Palmas marina
21 October 2017 | Las Palmas marina
20 October 2017 | Las Palmas marina, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
19 October 2017 | Pontoon G-50, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
18 October 2017 | Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
04 August 2017 | Cangus, Spain
17 July 2017 | CaramiƱal, Spain
09 July 2017 | Xufre, Spain
26 June 2017 | Xufre, Spain
24 June 2017 | Dinan, France
22 June 2017 | Pleudihen-sur-Rance
20 June 2017 | Giverny, France

Dodging the Calms

21 November 2017 | Southern North Atlantic
We spent the day listening to other boats and their becalmed stories, I suspect they are really all charging along at breakneck speed, just trying to make us feel good that we are making consistent but slow progress. Tululah Ruby, which is one of the other ARC boats, right now is passing astern of us. She did not have an active AIS transducer and she crept up on us in the dark. AIS makes it easy to identify the other boats and also easier to "see" them in the night. A sailboat, even a big 49 footer like Tululah Ruby, has a very small radar signature and is often difficult to pick up on radar when the seas are rough.

The winds for us have been OK and we have been making 4-6 kts about 150 nm off the African coast heading to a point NW of Cape Verdes. As of now we have covered about 300 miles. We will turn west as soon as the winds are sure, which will be later in the week (we hope!) .

Life aboard is consistently busy. When not on watch or sleeping, there is plenty to keep us occupied. Henry and I fixed the Oreck vacuum cleaner today -- troubleshooting is always fun when you can solve the problem. We did and the vacuum works like a charmp. Henry is sketching a full-rigged ship in his iPad. Rick is reading and cooking, although he says he is not the cook -- galley manager, he prefers. This evening's dinner according to the label on it was something like Nana's noodle casserole -- Really it was Carolyn's special tuna noodle casserole that all three of us know and love!

Great day. Hope the winds come soon.

First Day

20 November 2017 | Southern North Atlantic
Yes, North Star did get underway and we weren't last over the start of the 2017 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers at 1310 yesterday 19 November. The weather was beautiful. We had a spinnaker run until dark when we shortened sail for a more comfortable evening. Joshua Slocum did not cooperate. If you recall from our last crossing Joshua is the name of our wind vane self steering. It doesn't use any electrical power from the boat so it is the steering method of choice offshore. Henry and I disassembled it in the afternoon but the seas wouldn't work for its use during the evening -- neither did North Star's electrical self steering -- so we hand steered through the night. Not exactly fun, but necessary.

The number of ARC boats thinned out throughout the night and by morning we were down to 5-6 still either visible or showing on the Automated Identification System (AIS). This evening we can see three. One boat Infinity crossed close astern this afternoon. They were curious about why we were heading on such a southerly course. We are trying to get as far south as we can to avoid an ugly front that may be upon us later tomorrow, There is very little wind so we are motor sailing with main and staysail. We are expecting that once we find the Trade winds, they will carry us west and only require precious diesel for battery charging.

We are making water with every battery charge. It overflowed the water tank vent this afternoon and Henry's shorts got a little wet. I spend most of the day trying to get the SSB email and tracking down a possible fresh water system leak. We have plenty of water but we really never figured out if the problem was self generated or real. We will see as we go on. The new 150 amp alternator works incredibly, North Star's batteries have never seen such power.

We have plenty of homemade food aboard, imported personally by the crew, Rick and Henry. In fact the freezer and chillbox are packed. We have enough food to carry us through to January sometime. Our thanks to Carolyn and Janet for organizing for our survival. Rick has assumed responsibilities as galley manager -- refused the role as cook, but is doing a great job. Henry is as usual doing everything else that makes a long voyage fun.

More tomorrow.

Final Preparations

18 November 2017 | Still in Port
Sunday at 1300UTC we will be underway for the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. Our crew for this is Henry DiPietro and Rick Meisner. Real credit should go also to Janet Garnier and Carolyn Meisner for cooking such wonderful meals in advance and permitting Rick and Henry to "bring" them to North Star in Las Palmas. We were a little concerned that the frozen meals might be comfiscated, but no, they arrived safely with the crew.

The last few days have been busy but much more fun with this lively crew along. My list of must-do actions shrank drastically almost within a few hours of their arrival. I must say that I have been a little more hung over in the mornings than before they arrived -- not that they would ever lead me astray in this area.

We have all our food on board and have successfully found a place for everything -- with the possible exception of the people. My bunk in the V-berth will disappear in the morning as we shift to "hot" bunking, since one of us will be on watch at all times. The weather we will face looks very light and motoring type weather for the first few days. After that we do not know what really will happen. We will head generally SSW toward the Cape Verde Islands until we pick up the Trade Winds that will carry us West -- the same strategy followed by Christopher Colombo -- his shortest trip was 21 days, which is about the time we hopefully will make. If we do it much faster we may have a lot of extra food and each of us will be 5 lbs slimmer.

More tomorrow when we get undeway.

9 Days and Counting

10 November 2017 | Las Palmas Marina, Gran Canaria
Ted, continues idyllic weather
Time flies when you're having fun! Weather has been wonderful. I mentioned my saga of the head (Toilet) repair. I was replacing the macerator pump and had a gasket that wouldn't seal properly. I won't bore you with the details but in order to see if the gasket was leaking, I'd have to reassemble and reinstall the toilet each time and then wait for several hours to see if there was the slightest leakage -- and there was, for several days running. Finally, I called the head company and they gave me the secret. So, it is done and I have moved on to greater things.

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in which we are participating presents seminars before the rally to help educate sailors and prepare them for the crossing. Most are very well done. The topics include: Rigging, Down-wind sailing, Weather, Communications, Sextant use, and provisioning. The worst one are those right after lunch, probably has nothing to do with the presenter or topic! Clare, who does the presentation on provisioning, was particularly good. It may have been because I was particularly interested in this topic -- I suppose it may be my greatest fear, just because of the importance of food on a long voyage like this. Wars have apparently been caused by someone eating all the cookies during the first night out. Consequently, provisioning will be my focus for the next week before we depart.

I had thought today would be a good day for going sailing -- to check equipment, make water with the water maker, and top off diesel fuel. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I invited the three Lithuanians on our pontoon to join me. We had a minor language barrier -- but sailing is sailing, right? We exited the harbor, initially chased by a ferry but I was able to do a fighter jet maneuver to get behind the ferry. The seas were quite rough, although the winds were gentle. Apparently, it was rough enough to stir junk around in the bottom of our fuel tanks because when we were finished sailing and ready to return to the marina, the engine would not start. The marina has a prohibition against sailing in to the dock, so I called the marina requesting a tow from the entrance to our pontoon. Unfortunately, the marina shuts down for siesta from 1PM to 4PM -- so, we had a great sail all around the harbor until the marina staff was back at their desks. We made it into the marina and after everything was secured I fixed the problem and the engine runs fine. We are going to have a local varadoro clean our fuel and tanks to ensure this doesn't happen again.


06 November 2017 | Las Palmas Marina Gran Canaria
Ted, Wind picking up and showers
Six days later. Time as progressed. Propane installed. The real issue with the propane was could I purchase gas to refill the boat's tanks? Turned out not to be a big deal. But there is always a challenge with these things. When I installed the new regulator and solenoid valve, I didn't have two propane tanks in the locker. So when I went to install the second tank, it wouldn't fit. I will have to move the new regulator to make space. OK for now, but it is on my list.

The water hose from the water maker is clear plastic and runs from the water maker in the bows aft to the rear end of the port water tank. Totally inaccessible to humans without removing the settee in the salon. When I removed the settee, I found something wonderful. Those who sail on small boats will appreciate this. I found more storage space for things I don't regularly use -- storm shutters, and guide books from our travels, etc. The hose replaced, storage space packed and secured, time to test my new hose installation.

To test I wanted to make sure that water will flow easily from the water maker to the tank, so I disconnected the hose at the water maker and blew into the hose, and blew, and blew. When I stopped, the hose blew everything I gave it right back at me. Ah ha! The tank's not venting. When boats are being built, the installation of things like vent hoses and such are laid in with utmost care to ensure new owners, even third owners, of the boat will never be able to figure out how the hose gets from here to there. And, may not even be able to figure out where there actually is. So, after pulling out numerous doors, drawers, and removing totally inaccessible panels, I found the culprit -- a salt incrusted vent in the cockpit. I had never heard it venting because it was clogged. Problem solved.

Yes, problem solved. But you never know when you might be solving multiple problems at once. In the evening after this exhausting day, I was to reward myself with a pizza. I have been plagued by the oven, even the new oven, being slow to heat to pizza temperature. Not today. I turned on the oven and before I had a chance to put some groceries away, the oven was at 450F and climbing. Must have unknowingly unkinked a hose in the process of the vent search!

Saturday night about 2200 I was shattered from dreariness by a loud explosion! Waking I found it to be the beginning of the fireworks display sending off the ARC+ fleet on Sunday. Sunday the whole day was devoted to the start of the ARC+ rally of about 75 boat going to St. Lucia via the Cape Verde Islands. Everyone walked down the road to see the start. Bands played. Announcers announced the names of the boats and wished them well as they departed the marina. Organizers did not start boats in heats based on their speed, so there was a crowd of slow boats waiting at the start line and the fast boats did not have space to get around them and were forced to stop and lose their momentum -- no crashes. We have to remind ourselves that this is not a race, just a rally, but sailors are always competitive!

Tomorrow the saga of the head!

Spooky Day

30 October 2017 | Las Palmas Marina
Ted, continues idyllic weather
Not Halloween here in Las Palmas. The only trick I received was from North Star in her refusal to give up the source of a clog in a water tank vent line. The chase did lead to some interesting findings. I now know why experienced sailors suggest putting rubber bands around water tank vents when expecting very heavy weather. Well, we were pooped by the heavy seas several times in our trip down from NW Spain. Seawater sloshed around in the cockpit and apparently got into the water tank vent which is fairly high in the cockpit -- where one would not expect seawater. Well, again, seawater got into the vent and clogged the vent hose, as well as flooding numerous other places.

My big adventure today was my visit to the propane company to fill my tank. The Internet is just wonderful. Google maps gives great directions although the computer's pronunciation of Spanish street names leaves little resemblance to the actual names. When Shan is with me, she looks at the map and can tell me to go left or right, but without her it is a pure guess -- at least until one starts to understand computer Spanish. I arrived at the propane company 20 minutes late, so I get to repeat the adventure tomorrow. No, Internet did not mention the company only fills tanks for two hours in the morning.

A Dutch couple returned to their boat which is adjacent to North Star. They are the the Ocean Cruising Club, as I am, and are in the process of a circumnavigation -- St. Lucia to St. Lucia. They will depart from St. Lucia on 5 January and take about a year and a half to complete their voyage. Unfortunately, Shan has made it clear to me she will not continue around the world with me on any account. Oh, well.

Not much going on. Three weeks to go. Oh yes, my treat today was a G&T to finish off a very nice day.
Vessel Name: North Star
Vessel Make/Model: Shannon 38 Pilothouse Cutter
Hailing Port: Westerly, Rhode Island, USA
Crew: Shan and Ted Rice
About: Shan and Ted make their permanent home in Westerly and live aboard during summer months. North Star is currently in Galicia, Spain. They will be continuing their cruise in June.
Boat: Our Shannon Pilothouse 38 Cutter was built in 1982 by Schultz Boat Company in Bristol, RI. We are the third owner of North Star. She was taken to the Mediterranean in 1999 by the previous owners and spent most of her history split among Chesapeake Bay, Mediterranean, and Westerly, RI areas. [...]
North Star's Photos - Main
These are pictures included in the blog taken by both of us.
7 Photos
Created 17 April 2015
1 Photo
Created 17 April 2015
The process of outfitting for a North Atlantic crossing in June 2014.
2 Photos
Created 23 March 2014