Slow Sailing

08 January 2018 | Fort de France, Martinique
01 January 2018 | Atlantic - Still!
26 December 2017 | Atlantic Ocean
19 December 2017 | Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
17 December 2017 | Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde
07 December 2017 | San Sebastian, La Gomera
28 November 2017 | Garachico, Tenerife
18 November 2017 | La Palma, Canaries
07 November 2017 | Puerto Santa Cruz, Tenerife
16 October 2017 | Graciosa, Canary Islands
09 October 2017 | Rabat, Morocco
30 September 2017 | Ait Bennadou, Morocco
11 September 2017 | Cadiz, Spain
27 August 2017 | Faro, Portugal
11 August 2017 | Guadiana River, Portugal
04 August 2017 | La Linea, Spain
31 July 2017 | Marina Smir, Morocco
18 July 2017 | Granada, Spain
29 June 2017 | Pollenca, Mallorca
19 June 2017 | Mahon, Menorca

Here From There

08 January 2018 | Fort de France, Martinique
We have been in Martinique since Wednesday although we haven't felt very connected because we couldn't get an internet plan set up until today! We spent the first 3 days going into the Digicel office each morning, having them say they would work on their system and call us at the end of the day.. no call, back in the next morning. We even made an attempt on Saturday by collectivo bus to go to the city of Fort de France like they advised and proceeded to circle the block and end up right back where we got on to sit there and wait till the bus was full because that's how it works. We sat for a half hour or so before saying the heck with this and getting back off. Sitting on the waterfront getting BBQ chicken and working on doing 2 weeks worth of laundry was more appealing. So we motored down instead, visiting a couple of coves and ended up anchored in Fort de France which is much nicer than the bus.

I checked Facebook today and see the smiling faces of our friends Virginia & Dennis when they were crossing the equator on my recent blog posts. That must have gotten some raised eyebrows. Apparently when you post to Sailblogs but don't have a photo to upload it just picks one out for you. I like that photo! Well then here is one of our equator crossing (we crossed the same year- 2012) because I was just looking through old pictures while we were on passage and saw it. We made frozen margaritas for the occasion.

Atlantic Passage 011

When we arrived in Martinique last Wednesday morning there was a light breeze behind us so we couldn't smell the land until we rounded the western side. We dragged a line and caught a lot of seaweed but nothing else. But this island is as beautiful as we remembered it and very lush & green. We were well rested on this passage since the weather was great and the wind was amazing. The best kind of sailing- blasting along so smoothly you feel like you're just going downhill the whole time. I always look back and thank the stars I'm not trying to go the other way! It took us 14 days and 1 hour. It feels good to have that passage behind us because we were feeling like the boat had gone so many miles without a major refit and we dreaded something breaking. But nothing did except a bulb in the tricolor masthead light and the boat really had an easy time, hardly even getting wet! So we spent a lot of time twiddling our thumbs and looking at our feet. Not what we were expecting. I hope there no payback for this!!
Atlantic Passage 003
Atlantic crossing and Martinique 011

It feels odd to be here. We were last here in 2003 on a previous trip and so these islands are familiar. So that in itself feels weird but also just not being in Europe anymore, all the English chatter on the VHF and good grief, the Caribbean rain showers that happen every five minutes. We're getting plenty of arm exercise lifting and pulling down the hatches all the time. And the boat is well rinsed at this point. And there are always rainbows in the sky. We've begun waxing the deck and polishing stainless in the evenings to get things spruced back up again. Soon the varnish can will have to come out too... My sister Ann crossed the Atlantic several years ago in her boat so we were following in her footsteps and when we were having all the squalls for that couple of days she told us that they were separating the dry African air from the much more humid air from this part of the Atlantic. Boy was she right! We hit a wall of humidity and are still trying to get used to it.

The northern part of Martinique where we pulled in is home to the town of St Pierre, which has a lovely crescent shaped anchorage and an interesting history. The volcano Mt Pelee towers over the area and on Ascension Day in May 1902, it erupted and a fireball of superheated gas blasted down on the city killing 30,000 people. There were only 2 survivors, a cobbler who was in his basement and a prisoner who was in his cell. All through the town there are ruins from the disaster. But Mt Pelee is quiet now and is a very green park. We did a long hike up one side of it and down the other on the best weather day we've had yet. It was nice to stretch our legs again and know that we didn't lose everything on the passage. Unlike the Canaries, the bus system isn't too good here so we had to hitchhike back to the boat once we got back to the main road. It was a long but fun day and we both thought the hike was great.
Atlantic crossing and Martinique 037
Atlantic crossing and Martinique 027

There are a lot of rum distilleries here and one is close to St Pierre- Depaz Distillery, so we walked up to it. The roads are lined with flowers and this island is loaded with huge, old trees. It was nice to walk around the factory and the grounds were really beautiful. The sugarcane is almost ready for harvesting next month. Of course we had rum in our drinks that night!
Atlantic crossing and Martinique 073

As I mentioned, the past couple of days we moved down the island to a couple of nice anchorages that had so-so snorkeling. It felt good to be on the reefs again and see some of the creatures that we haven't seen for several years now having been on the Pacific & Indian side. The water is so warm which is great since the Med was not. But it isn't nearly as clear either. And the snorkeling isn't that good. We're ready to start diving now and just have to find a good place to go. We enjoy taking hikes on Sunday mornings when everyone else is getting a slow start so things are quiet. We did one yesterday admiring all the rainforest foliage and flowers. The local people have been very friendly and I like the way they greet everyone when getting onto the bus or entering a room. And to my surprise, the veggie market is clean and well stocked! This morning we moved over to anchor in Fort de France to get the internet set up and so we toured the city with the cruise ship passengers. We had a yummy Creole lunch and walked around seeing the sights. I like how the anchorage is right in front of the fort. I can hear all the frogs calling from the hillside.

We're heading to Vermont for a week on the 18th to celebrate my mom's birthday. We've got our fingers crossed for a January thaw! Then we'll start working our way up the islands hoping to catch some fish and spend enough time in the water that we can maintain our reputation among some that we are The Gills!
Atlantic crossing and Martinique 019

Happy New Year

01 January 2018 | Atlantic - Still!
Happy New Year! We are still underway and hope to make Martinique by Wednesday. Our arrival can't come soon enough because we are bored and contracted but otherwise all is well and this has been a good passage. Evergreen has its bow pointed to the island and we are merely riding along. It is funny how normally in life, you have lots to do and not enough time to do it but on passage you have all kinds of time and nothing to do! We are seeing a lot of sargasso seaweed and the air is sticky and pretty warm. Feels like the tropics. We only feel clean for about an hour after we shower but at least we aren't sweating bullets and always have a nice breeze coming into the cockpit. You gotta love trade wind sailing. Hour after hour, day after day of relatively smooth sailing really. But I think the wind is forecast to lighten up a little.

We will definitely be staying up to ring in the new year! Might do some pole dancing (because it is almost time to gybe and we therefore have to switch sides with the pole), we'll watch a movie or two, get the tunes going (with headphones on) and participate in the final countdown to 2018! The best park of this NYE though is there is no chance of a hangover! And we'll get to do it again tomorrow night too. Yippee!

We are down to cabbage and carrots for produce so no fancy meals nowadays. We were thinking back to the first time we sailed to the Caribbean and were seeing the sides "ground provisions" on the menu and we thought yuck, who wants ground up food?! But then we came to realize it was root vegetables. Sounds better, slightly. I think I have had a lifetime of cabbage and carrots but then again, beggars can't be choosers.

We want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write us this passage. You have kept our minds busier and given us some good laughs and it means more than you know. And thanks to John & Cindy for being my blog poster-upper and for keeping an eye to the big weather picture so that we can rest easier that we're not missing something brewing other than our coffee!

Looking forward to this coming year and hoping it is a great one for all of us.

Its Your Watch

26 December 2017 | Atlantic Ocean
This passage has offered some really pleasant sailing in great downwind conditions. It hasn't had the calmness that we experienced crossing the Pacific so we don't feel like putting out the fishing line, but it is still good. Part of it is we have the jib poled out and the mainsail on a preventer so to slow the boat to pull in a fish or clean it would take some undoing and we have become lazy on passage. We have a freezer full of meat. Also, our mindset is that we just want to get there while the getting is good. We feel achier on passage than we used to and miss moving around.

I remember when we were looking at buying this boat back in 2000 and were doing a test sail with the owner aboard on the west coast of Florida right outside the Crystal River. I asked her how the boat sailed. Her reply was "like a Cadillac!" I wasn't really sure what that meant still having vivid memories of my grandmother's big blue Cadillac that never wanted to start. It felt a little like a big, strong cushy couch going down the road with her barely able to see over the dashboard. But over the years, I have concluded that what the owner probably meant was that this boat is tough on the outside and cushy on the inside with a gentle motion that is both forgiving and safe. The sail plan is big for a boat this size which allows us to move along well and just like any mother of a child, in our personal opinion she is pretty to look at. It is carrying us across another ocean and I feel safe aboard and confident in what the boat can handle. In all the years we have had Evergreen we have not felt a wanting for much of anything other than better guest accommodations aboard so that we could share our experiences with our friends and family.

That being said, I have been so surprised at how many of our friends have expressed that they would like to be out here with us. I am not sure if this is just a polite thing or of they really do wish to be out here. We didn't think anyone would want to. So I was thinking that if someone really wanted to get an idea of say, how a night watch goes on Evergreen, they could do the following simulation at home and see what it might feel like so the next chance there is to jump on a ship, they'd be ready.

First, pick your night watch schedule. You can either do 8pm-2am or 2am-8am. Based on weather conditions, choose whether you will take your watch primarily inside or outside because we have recently starting doing indoor watches for variety. You could use your deck or similar as long as you truly have access to totally being outside at night so you can see the stars and feel any raindrops from a passing shower. Since this is a downwind sail, rig up a fan so that it is blowing at your back about 15-18kts apparent. You want to be able to feel the wind in your hair so to speak. Choose a chair or place to sit that is not too comfy but good enough to spend many hours in. Make sure you have your flashlight, magnifiers (for looking at the radar as needed), water glass (because you are on seasickness med so are generally pretty thirsty), preferably some snacks lined up so you don't disturb your partner by rummaging around for something to eat. Get out your foul weather gear to have ready if you think it'll be a wet one. Then your entertainment such as your walkman, a book, tablet for watching movies and use either your watch or your phone to remind you every 15 minutes that its time to scan the horizon. Kiss your partner goodnight. Now you're on watch!

It is time to enjoy all your activities in 15 minute segments such as look at the stars (you really can't find a better place to view stars), feel the boat sailing along, adjust sails (only if reachable from the cockpit) watch for ominous clouds that bring squalls or big black blobs on the radar (mostly if you have chosen the early watch), do some reading, watch a movie, have some snacks (this can use up a whole 15 minute segment if you chew slowly), and generally insure the boat is moving along safely while your partner sleeps with his trust in you. In your horizon scans you are looking for any lights from other vessels, UFO's and using your flashlight to check the sail shape and for flying fish that can be saved if they are close enough to reach from the cockpit. Check the chart to make sure you are still heading in the right direction and make autopilot adjustments as needed. Use your free time to ponder what others are doing at this same moment such as today, Christmas Day or New Years Eve while you are underway and haven't had a sip of alcohol for many days. Or look around the boat and ponder all the things you should get to at some point like varnishing the such and such, making new curtains, fixing this or that... or if conditions warrant, go about worrying about what might break or happen and how you would fix it with what spares you have on board. Rehearse a MOB situation in your head so that it would be automatic in a real time event. Push all thoughts away of hitting something like a whale or debris. It is really unlikely to happen anyway. You can also watch your spouse sleep and picture what it must be like to be lying there. Won't be long now!

If taking your watch below, you could get too comfortable on the couch so be sure to set the alarm every 15 minutes. That is 24 trips up into the cockpit for one watch cycle which ensures a few steps more for the day as opposed to sitting outside for watch. If taking watch outside, you'll be out with the wind generator roaring so might add to your anxiety but feel good that in the event something happened such as the autopilot failing to steer, you are in a closer place to jump to attention than if you were down below. You also have the advantage of the breeze in your hair to keep you feeling more alert. It is best not to try to combine tasks. The key to making a watch go faster is to use up time by dragging out tasks such as going forward to use the head. Remember to always move around below quietly so as not to disturb your partner. Thinking about doing tasks can take up time too especially if it is rough and it will be hard to accomplish said task quietly. Also, in rougher conditions when the boat is being tossed around, use your abdominal muscles to hold you in place and feet and arms to provide added support to stop you from sliding across the cockpit in your chair. You could practice bracing yourself in your chair during your simulation on the porch. These isometric exercises are good for delaying the muscle loss and tone that is occurring with each passing day and they also use energy that makes you feel more tired- better for sleep!

Well look at that, you've spent another 6 hours of your life and have covered around 37 nautical miles mostly toward your destination! It is time to wake up sleeping beauty and tell him "It's Your Watch!!"

There you did it! You are now off watch and can climb into the hot bunk that your partner just left and sleep for 6 hours. Unless he has to get you up for a sail change on deck. You can use his pillow to help prop you in the bed so you can relax a little better. Continue doing these simulated overnight watches until you get the idea, go nuts, or until you can get your own ship to carry them out for real!

Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast on 3 different long term trips. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands [...]
Gallery Error: Unknown Album [1:]:3259
EVERGREEN 's Photos -