Well, the last 2 intrepid explorers are have now moved to St. Barts, where they will probably spend two days before they sail down to Antigua. I understand that he wind was on the nose the whole way and that their current anchorage is a bit rock & roll. They will move further into the harbour and hopefully find a more comfortable mooring.
I'm hoping to speak with the boys today, so will update you when I do.
11/15/2007, St. Martin, FWI
Waved Andy off last night after a very pleasant day playing tourist traveling around St Martin in a hire car. Sorry to see him go as he has been a key member of the group and has made a significant contribution to the sanity and skills of the team - but work calls! So now up to Tony and Mike to keep Norumbega pointed south.
At present we are awaiting repairs to the sails to be completed (expected Saturday) and current plan is to then move on to St Barts for a couple of days and then onto Antigua where we intend to meet up with Rosie late next week. Have been busy today (Thursday) and have now repaired (I hope!) the bow thruster and the genoa furler as well as a number of chores including engine filters, oil change and heads cleanout. Laundry, chart table lock replacement and water leak chasing still await as well as straightening the mizzen boom (am trying to convince Tony he should leave it bent as a story starter) - never a dull moment.
Since this is my (Mike's) first contribution to the blog I would like to take the opportunity to thank the blog followers in Aust for their messages of support - greatly appreciated. I would also like to congratulate Joy on her magnificent effort in keeping the blog up to date and providing the news to everyone back home - a very professional effort!
It has been an amazing trip - we have traveled over 1500nm (nearly 3000km) from 41deg N down to 18deg N - to put this into perspective for Aussie readers, this is the equivalent of sailing from just north of Hobart to Cairns, but only seeing land once (Bermuda). The weather has changed from wearing full wet weather gear (with long johns!) to a sweltering 42 deg on arrival in St Martin! As you will have gathered, the trip has not exactly been a relaxing holiday and has certainly had its moments of excitement - but I always expected it to be a challenge and it has certainly lived up to expectation. Quite an experience. As we now relax a bit more, the memory is starting to be viewed with both enjoyment and satisfaction! But not sure that I am about to embark on a whole lot more ocean adventures just yet - coastal sounds good! The idea of not having to be on watch all night and stopping at the odd restaurant has a certain attraction!
With that in mind, we are making the best of our time in St Martin (half French, half Dutch) checking out the various cuisines on offer (the Moroccan restaurant the other night was great ... although the suggestion by the rather camp maitre d' that he would be the belly dancer since business wasn't good enough yet to justify a contract dancer was a bit concerning!) - and Tony & I are both looking forward to a more relaxed sail down through the islands to Antigua.
Finally my thanks to the other team members - now back earning a crust - pity you had to leave, it was fun and a great effort. And to Tony for picking a great boat - Norumbega took everything thrown at her and it has certainly opened my eyes to the advantages of a stronger, long keeled and more heavily built boat for ocean sailing. All part of the continuing education!
Dear friends & family,
I have just received some new photos, which I have added to the photo gallery. Please have a look. I am thrilled that Tony has found me a perfect thank you gift, you'll see the 2 wheeled beauty - thanks!! Hope you enjoy them. Joy
It,'s a particularly dark night tonight but although there are no stars the world seems at peace.
With the torch tied off on the mizzen topping lift and for as long as the batteries and my knees last I have an almost perfect little writing position.
Only one more 'sleeps' to go and God, Perkins and Parker willing we should be tied to a dock somewhere in St. Martin, French West Indies and this blog entry should be on your screen. I hope I shall be in a fairly well oiled state with a further large glass of 'oil' in hand having just had a meal on a plate that consisted of more than a single course.
We will have been at sea for 12 days, certainly the longest trip I've ever done and likewise for Mike. Perhaps I tempt fate by writing this 24 hours before our trips' completion but during those 12 days there has not been one single word of disagreement between us. In the light of the intensity of this trip I find this amazing. We have had 40kt+ winds accompanied by 20ft+ seas., experienced my first knockdown. Grounded in Bermuda whilst preparing for hurricane 'Noel'. Knocked down again after 24 hours out of Bermuda by the most violent little squall with winds over 50kts, enough to bend our mizzen boom and tear leech line pockets from our stays'l and genoa. Now I can sit here with a laptop and type my way through the early watch whilst Parker, "yes,my lady" steers us down towards waypoint 6, Sombrero Island.
If there is any anxiety at the moment it is limited to our fuel reserves which will only just cover our remaining 200 or so miles. There seems little likelihood of any favorable wind over the next day or so, indeed there seems little possibility of any wind at all. However, in light of the extremes experienced over the last 1000 or so miles tempting fate in this manner might be rightly considered foolhardy.
Now we are in the tropics the heat generated from motoring solidly for 72 hours is making life below decks pretty sweaty, though we all agree that this is vastly preferable to being rolled downhill in a barrel, which is how I would describe our first 3 days out of Newport.
Reducing crew from 4 to 3 has not proven to be a problem, though Chris's humour is missed and these 'easy' days he deserved to have enjoyed. Watch keeping has become a simple 4 on 8 off which has been less tiring than the 6 on buddy system of earlier. Thankfully the squall hit during dusk and not on a single manned night watch, had it been so we would most likely have suffered some significant damage and possibly some injuries., I'm sure Rosie remembers a less intense squall we weathered at anchor once when last in Grenada.
Quick scan of the horizon reveals no shipping, indeed we have had very little to share our trip with. A large pod of sunbathing dolphins, One cruise ship whose WiFi we tried to 'jump onto' but with no success and a couple of small merchantmen heading about their business.
After the initial euphoria of hooking into a fair sized blue fin tuna and then losing it, the reel has been quiet ever since.
'This afternoon, detecting the onset of slack behaviour and a general malaise of spirit I instructed the bos'n to issue rags and polish to all crew. To my surprise I was not threatened either verbally or physically and did succeed in getting certain apurtenances of the helm station restored to their Bristol fashion" Captain Bligh, sy Norumbega.
Norumbega has handled everything that nature and her crews occasional ineptitude has thrown at her and shrugged it off in a manner befitting her pedigree. When I say that I could not imagine being in a lightly built fin keeled yacht for those first days out I do not exaggerate As long as her speed was reigned in enough to allow any breaking seas to pass her she never caused us any anxiety. She is not equipped to regularly undertake passages in such conditions, though the addition of braceing bars, hand grabs, etc. would be a simple enough task; her captain, and I'm sure I speak for the crew as well, have no intention of making ocean passages in these conditions a regular event.The extent of the sail damage I think is pretty minimal and I'll call Hoods once we dock and ask for their advice as to whom to use in St. Martin.
I'm glad that I lashed out $60 and bought a little independent GPS antenna for our old lap top so that we could run Nobeltec. It's been comforting over the last week to have it showing a little green boat imperceptibly slowly creeping south along it's purple rhumb line. It's attempts at calculating TTG (time to go), have been a bit sketchy however; Mike noted a selection of times ranging from 3 days 11hrs. Through to 1 day 17 hrs. appear on screen in the space of about 5 minutes - well, guess it has to do something with it's little silicon brain to stop it from getting bored.
Now 20.00hr. And I'm half way through my watch. The mugs of Bovril have been replaced with iced fruit juices and the acrobatic fiasco of burrowing around inside foulies, jeans, thermals and long johns in an attempt to locate one's frozen and frightened plumbing part has given way to shorts, bare feet and a long sleeved shirt as we head south. (Current temp is 84F ).
Time to stretch out under the stars and remember why it's all been worth it.
Back again 24hrs. Later-same cockpit, but now traveling with the wind towards St. Martin which we should be able to see at first light. Just taken down the main and reduced the genoa by 50% and we're stil steaming along at 6kts. In only 15 kts. Of wind on our port beam, Norumbega never ceases to amaze me I don't think I ever expected to own a yacht that I'd spend more time slowing down than trying to make go faster. Iit weren't pitch black and I wasn't on a lone watch I'd be quite happy to be tramping along at 8 or 9kts., though I don't think I'd be typing out an Email!
Bit of a crazy day today. Spent the first half trying to calculate whether we had enough fuel to make it or not, then spoke to our 'BlogMasterJoyJoy" who said we could expect some wind later on and that it wouldn't be on the nose - and do you know what, within 15 minutes it started to build and all our concerns about diesel evaporated we've been thrashing along under clear skies ever since.
I think the "Man Upstairs" reckoned he'd taught us enough lessons for one trip and he decided that he'd give us a little reminder of how beautiful a really good sail can be.
I'll be in my bunk by midnight and sometime between then and dawn we'll pass Sombrero island and round up just West of Dog Rocks before making our final approaches.
One small problem that I've not mentioned is that most of our charts and pilotage books are firmly locked in Norumbega's chart drawers the handles/catches for which have broken off throughout this passage. They were flimsy to start with but opening the drawers uphill on a port tack proved to much for them and one by one they snapped. Not an everyday sort of sailing problem.
Hopefully, after a good snooze we'll venture ashore for coffee tomorrow morning and dispatch this missive to all our well wishers.
Provisioning, etc. as been cut a bit fine on this trip. Our last hot meal tonight comprised freezer burnt salad with some truly ghastly 'things' called hot pockets that pretended to be calzones but tasted like snow boot inner liners. Our final water tank ran dry at lunch time so washing has been curtailed unless we do it in bottled drinking water of which we still have some 60 or so bottles. We've been rationing ginger beer but have gallons of rum, to date we haven't opened a single bottle of wine since leaving The Sakonnet but have drunk dozens of bottles of ginger ale and every last drop of V8 vegetable juice.
Must sign off looks like time to slow the old lady down again.