7 August, 2012, Offshore Bar Harbor, Maine, USA
The boys had a bit of fun today. To minimise roll whilst underway, there are many types of stabilizers and we have 3 kinds. Our primary method of stabilisation whilst underway are hydraulically driven Naiad stabilisers. They are extremely powerful and very effective and we've been very happy with them but as you all know, while we are at anchor, we sometimes deploy flopper stoppers in a rolling anchorage using our twin davits (cranes) and these have also been very effective.
As an experiment, we have had a set of "mobile" stabilisers onboard that could be deployed while moving and were built along the lines of the Kolstrand stabilisers. When Dirk first saw these stabilisers, he was worried about their hydro-dynamics and centre of gravity and overall balance. Each of these stabilisers weighs over 100 lbs and we've been carting them around for the last 2000+ miles so today on a glassy sea, we tried one out.
Vicki was at the helm motoring slowing while dodging lobster buoys as usual while Dirk and Maynard lowered one of the stabilisers on the end of the crane into the sea. The fishermen call these stabilisers "birds" as they look like birds with their wings spread out. It proved to be very unstable, back-somersaulting, leaping and gyrating as if it was an unsynchronised swimmer in the Olympics (see pics in Photo Gallery). We cracked up laughing but we decided that it was probably better to not use them again and we didn't particularly wish to sink the boat today. So we said our goodbyes and they were unceremoniously tossed overboard. I can give you the Lat/Long if you want them.
6 August, 2012, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA
After careful consideration, we decided to drive to Canada to renew our I-94 Visas for a further 90 days as this was the only way we could re-enter the US on Vanish on our Australian visa waiver programme. We'd made our way from Somes Sound to Bar Harbor a few days ago, a paradise for the rich and famous and for 3 Million tourists per year who visit this beautiful area. Our home town of Byron Bay in Australia is inundated with 2 Million tourists per year and Bar Harbor has all the same attributes of Byron Bay; beautiful scenery, lots to do, ocean activities, mountain drives, good restaurants and hotels, ice cream shops (which sell lobster ice-cream), and gift shops aplenty. In September and October, the crowds swell even further with 180 cruise ships offloading 8,000 passengers per day into this tiny town.
We don't do well in crowds so we hopped on Oli's Trolley, a tram-like bus, which took us up to the top of 1,530 ft. Cadillac Mountain for a 1 hour sunset tour which we thoroughly enjoyed. We had good clear weather and a great view of Vanish sitting quietly in the harbour. We learned that John Travolta flies in on his 707 jet during summer as he lives nearby on the island of Islesboro across from Castine; also Martha Stewart lives here as well as David Rockefeller Junior and Senior and many others in Seal Cove. In fact, the Bar Harbor Airport has so many private jets during the holidays that it's standing room only. There are more billionaires here on Mt. Desert Island in summer than in any other place in the US. Back in 1947, 16,000 acres and hundreds of homes were lost in a devastating fire which swept almost down to the township with 80 - 90 mph winds during a severe drought. Most of the homes were not replaced as the cost to rebuild in 1947 was astronomical. As much as we appreciate Bar Harbor, we like the solitude of the rugged coastline, isolated islands and mountains and the Maine locals. We've been told me that the best time to visit Bar Harbor is in winter but who knows where we'll be by then.
The drive to Canada from Bar Harbor took just over 2 hours along Highway 1 Coastal to the town of Calais (pronounced Kalis) where we walked into the US Border office and were told to walk across the bridge to Canada, go to the Canadian Border office and say g'day then walk back across the bridge. Yep, the whole process took 10 minutes and cost us $12 not including the car rental. We then drove back along Highway 9 which took us through huge spruce forests which must look picturesque during the winter snows.
I really wanted to see Maine's national fruit, the blueberry growing wild in the fields. We pulled up at a farm called Mr. Ed's Shed and were greeted by Ed himself. This is what travelling on a boat is all about as we would never have met such a nice family as Ed Perkins. He was selling 9 kg (20 lb) trays of the most delicious wild tiny blueberries we've ever tasted for $25 a tray. I calculated that if I'd bought the same amount in my local supermarket in Australia, they would have cost $450.00. As we couldn't possibly eat that much in 4 days, we bought a 500g (1 qt) punnet for $4.25. 4 days is about the limit for freshness for these berries.
Maynard and Ed shot the breeze for a while looking at his blueberry harvester, which is not as gentle on the berries as hand harvesting, and he then took us to where his wife and daughter were harvesting the berries by hand using what looked like a dustpan with metal spikes attached to it. It is backbreaking work as the wild blueberry bushes are only about 6" high compared to our Australian bushes which are 1 metre or so. Ed had inherited his 50 acres of land with 3 glacial lakes from his Grandparents who purchased it in 1918. He told us blueberries need a pH of 4.5, frost, fog and then warm weather at the right time. It was great to meet a fellow farmer and hear the same issues as we experience with our coffee plantation back home.
As Maynard still works full-time, we have to plan each move around phone and internet contact, weather and tide predictions, provisioning, family obligations, crew requirements and many other factors. It's no wonder very few people take on the challenge we're endeavouring to achieve. We now have everything in place to go north to Canada in Vanish if we wish and who knows, maybe we'll find our rounding mark there.
2 August, 2012, Castine, Maine, USA
Over the last few days we've visited some very beautiful places such as Smith Cove, Castine where someone onboard celebrated a birthday; their 21st I believe it was (again). Castine is one of the oldest communities in North America and has been continuously occupied since the early 1600's, firstly by the French, then the Dutch, then England and finally the US when the English evacuated the region around 1814. From our walking tour, many homes had dates above their front doors ranging from 1790 to 1830 with gigantic elm trees shading the streets and houses. We then moved onto Bucks Harbour as Dirk and Julia had applied for a Canadian visa on their South African (green mamba) passports a month ago and finally they were sent by UPS to the little marina in this lovely harbour. We have been stalling for time waiting for their visas so we were quite excited to finally be on our way to Canada. We dumped our grog at a secret location as Canada only allows us to import one and a half bottles of wine (each) so we'll collect it on our way back...if our host hasn't plastered himself by then.
We immediately raised the anchor yesterday and motored down Eggemoggin Reach which is a long protected waterway, and just the most perfect place to sail, if one had a yacht of any kind. It is wide, flat, scenic, and there are many places to anchor. This morning we woke to an incredibly thick fog and needed to wait until noon before we were game to move. Fog + double pot buoys + ferries + lobster fishermen + vessels drifting towards/across/away from us in dense fog can make a person, um, rather, um, on edge. While we waited for the fog to lift slightly, Maynard made a few phone calls to Customs to make sure he knew the correct procedure for clearing out and back in to the U.S. I listened too, and heard Maynard repeat the Customs Officer's words on the phone, "Oh, we can't possibly do that?" Apparently, we can leave and return to the US on a plane, bus, train, probably even a bungee cord, but, "Sir, you can't possibly clear US Customs and return on your visa in a pleasure craft!!" If any of you out there have done so, I'd love to hear how this works. We are a foreign registered vessel with 2 Australians and 2 South Africans on board. We want to go to Canada for a couple of weeks then return to the US to continue our trip south. The Patriots Act, which came into effect after 9/11, has struck again. We now have to rent a car and drive, yes, drive to Canada for 10 minutes then come back so that our visas are renewed for another 90 days so we can continue our journey. We've had tons of conflicting advice as is the norm for beaurocracy.
We left our foggy anchorage at Eggemoggin Reach and without seeing much of anything while avoiding whatever popped up in front of us, meanwhile listening to fog horns, channel marker bells, vessel's engines in the distance, watching the radar and generally being on extreme alert, we arrived at Somes Sound, the only fjord on the Atlantic seaboard where magically, the fog lifted and we were greeted with spectacular scenery as we made our way to tonight's anchorage at the northern most end of Somes Sound. We're now considering our options.
(We wish Karen StClair, Zack's gal who we recently spent the day with at The Basin, a speedy recovery from her car accident on Monday night when she hit a tree on the way home from work. Our love and best wishes go to you Karen.)
29 July, 2012, Seal Cove, Vinalhaven, Maine, USA
This is a video of the sights and sounds at Matinicus Rock yesterday. You can hear the puffins calling, the mournful foghorn and see our great viewing conditions. You can clearly imagine how frightening it would have been to be in the light keeper's tower with waves washing across the base as mentioned in my previous blog entry.
28 July, 2012, Matinicus Rock, Penobscot Bay, Maine, USA
One could become a Gastronomic Glutton in Rockland, Maine. Even if there were only two restaurants in town, Café Miranda and Sunfire Mexican Grill, we would be quite happy...too happy! Next week between 1 - 5 August, the Rockland Lobster Festival takes place. 20,000 lbs of lobster will be consumed in just 4 days so this is a big event but one we'll miss as we must keep moving as we still have so much to see in this short summer period. In town we visited famous Maine painter Andrew Wyeth's gallery at the Farnsworth Museum and we took a tour of The Apprenticeshop, a school for traditional boatbuilding and seamanship established in 1972. The premises can accommodate the construction of up to eight boats up to 28 feet in length and courses range from 2 days to 2 years. The tools and the smell of wood in the workshops were just wonderful. We also visited the Maine Lighthouse Museum where we found out that Maine has a coastline of around 5,300 miles, longer than the entire east coast of the USA. There are around 70 lighthouses just on Maine's coast alone all unique in design with amazing historical facts. Oh and I believe there are around 3 million lobster pots in Maine so it's no wonder we're struggling to avoid hitting the buoys. Penobscot Bay has an additional challenge due to its depth and big tides. There are two buoys per pot in order to make it easier for the lobstermen to pick up the pots. They are generally separated by 4 - 5 metres and are attached by ropes around a metre under the water.
The weather forecast for the next 7 days is just like the last 7 days eg. 5 - 10 knots and will not exceed 10 knots in all kinds of directions. That's it. If we had weather like this in Australia for just a couple of days we'd be worried. There MUST be a severe front on the way, maybe a cyclone or something. I feel sorry for the yachties as they are doing what we're doing; motoring along nicely in glassy seas. Sometimes they have their mainsail hoisted but mostly they don't bother and seem happy to wave at us in the friendliest fashion while enjoying the sights as we do. Some of our friends have reminded us that we're actually going the wrong way..."Now listen Maynard, you DO know that Cape Horn is south of you right?" Yeah, but we're just taking a bit of a detour, a 4000 + mile detour but then that's what you can do in a Marlow Voyager.
Before leaving for a day's passage on our former yachts, my job was to stow everything away that could be smashed, dropped, thrown, spilt, or flung across the cabin. Going to the head was always tricky due to the sailing angle and if it was really rough or Bindi, our cattle dog, needed to go the bathroom, we sometimes lay ahull with backed sails to keep the yacht flat. Of course, there are no such problems on Vanish and I am yet to see even a drop spilled from a glass of water. It's very hard to get used to but I guess if our two recliner chairs in the salon are sliding around the cabin, we are in serious trouble. If it happens, I'll let you know. Seasickness was often a problem while sailing but on Vanish, the sea motion is so kind, I barely feel a thing and it must be due to motoring flat. The only significant motion is fore and aft. Of course, we've had exceptional weather so I may be living in a fool's paradise. We also purchased good wet weather gear before we left Florida but they still have their tags attached as we don't even get wet. I just can't get used to it.
We left Rockland this morning on a mission to see an Atlantic Puffin colony on Matinicus Rock, a lonely harsh environment which encounters huge ocean swells south of the entrance to Penobscot Bay, a distance of around 25 miles from Rockland. Puffins are only here during June and July and there are only three colonies in Maine. By the early 1900's, puffins were completely decimated due to being eaten and their eggs collected as a cash crop. In 1970, Cornell University ornithologist Stephen Kres and the National Audobon Society laboriously dug burrows by hand to help re-establish these colonies. Puffin chicks were transported from Newfoundland to these predator free colonies. As we neared the island in glassy conditions, we saw hundreds of puffins paddling on the water, diving deep when we came within 50 metres and trying to run on the water before taking off in the air. Their little fat bodies made hard work of it. We were all terribly excited and again feel fortunate that conditions were so favourable for us.
The Burgess family were lighthouse keepers in 1856. On January 19, Samuel Burgess had left to row the 25 miles to the mainland for supplies. How he survived this day, I don't know. His daughter Abbie wrote a letter describing a great gale that day where she bravely ran out of the house near the lighthouses to save her chickens in a coop before a massive wave engulfed the rock and destroyed the old dwelling. (see Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, a wonderful children's book). This rock has probably seen thousands of storms but again it was witnessed by keepers during a storm in 1975 when a great wave once again swept across the rock, an incredibly impressive event as the light towers sit 48 feet above the normal high tide level. This is certainly a place to avoid in a tempest but yet another wonderful experience for us.
25 July, 2012, Rockland, Maine, USA
On Sunday, we left The Basin bound for Maple Juice Cove, a distance of around 40 miles to the north-east on a pleasant sunny day. We passed by Zack and his sister Robin's camp on Sheep Island. (The camp must be a Maine term for gorgeous house/cabin reliant on its own fuel and water and solar power on the shores of an island.) As I mentioned previously, Zack and his Gang of Thirteen took us on a tour of Cundy's Harbour in his brand new aluminium boat along the craggy volcanic shores of the Mainland and many islands. We then enjoyed lunch at the Sebasco Harbor Resort before heading back to The Camp where we were greeted by 6 excited happy dogs all waiting for their respective owners to return. After much laughter and stories, we headed back to Vanish where our guests were taken on a thorough tour of Vanish. For a minute, I thought we would instantly have an extra 10 guests on our journey as they all fell in love with everything Vanish has to offer. The experience of meeting such a wonderful funny group of people was definitely another great highlight of this trip and one we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
Our trip to Maple Juice Cove was one of the hardest and one of the most demanding steering challenges we've ever encountered including some of our most demanding yacht races. Muscongus Bay was littered with tens of thousands of lobster buoys. We had one knot of cross current, a following swell and gusty winds so manoeuvring Vanish's 25 metre hull with twin props and stabilisers just begging to be snared in a lobster buoy was difficult to say the least. This is enough to keep you awake at night terrified of leaving your anchorage the next morning or worse, being forced out by a wind change during the night. It is simply impossible to leave an anchorage such as Maple Juice Cove once night falls so you have to be very certain of your weather. Even though we have rope cutters on the props and the stabilisers are made to minimise the chances of being snared, none of these devices are fool proof and getting a rope tangled around your prop or stabiliser can be an expensive and time consuming problem, especially in cold water, so we have made every effort to not let any of these buoys touch any part of Vanish and so far we've been lucky.
These lobster buoys were often barely visible above the water, some were painted brown, many were placed a few metres apart and with Vanish's beam of 6 metres, the boat had to be placed exactly in the right spot to get through. We had to stare through binoculars for hours to ensure we didn't motor into a dead end. We had no time to drink or eat. One of the great features on Vanish is the Portugese bridge. It's an outdoor steering area with full instrumentation and with engine and bow thruster control and from its vantage point you have a superb view of the bow and the width allowing you to thread the buoy needles. We've only seen one catamaran. They have a hull width of at least 8 metres and with engines on both sides, it must be a nightmare for them up here so this explains their rarity.
Maynard and I were really exhausted from the stress of it all. The State of Maine has had a particularly warm winter so the price of lobster has fallen to $1.25/lb. Dirk has been purchasing lobsters from passing fishermen and receives 6 lobsters for $20. He estimates each lobster weighs one and a half pounds. We don't know if the number of buoys in the water is extremely high this year or this is normal but for $1.25/lb, many lobstermen are going bankrupt as it's not worth their while fishing at these prices. Perhaps this is why every there are so many. We're not sure.
I developed a particularly bad aura migraine on Monday so I was unable to help Maynard negotiate our way through the buoys to Rockland. Dirk and Julia came up to help so while Maynard and Dirk spotted the buoys outside, Julia provided a third set of eyes for navigation and assistance. We are now in Rockland which turns out to be a dead spot for AT&T, the telephone carrier we use. We've had minimal internet and phone. We have shown up on the AIS system but as we are now anchored, we've turned off our instruments and won't show up on Marine Traffic until we depart again. I'm sorry that so many of you have been checking our progress and we've had such difficulty in reporting but we are certainly reaching the edge of any decent population so we don't have the services we're used to. Please bear with us and we will try to do the best we can to keep you up to date.
The sea temp is now down to 16 deg C and we often look out the windows in the anchorage to see a seal's beautiful big brown eyes looking back at us. When we arrived in Rockland, the clouds had changed to low smoky looking foggy, scudding clouds only 300 metres high. Something has changed. A storm blew in during the night and did not cause too much trouble. Yesterday, we had thunderheads and unusual grey clouds again and another storm came through after lunch with the most beautiful smells of spruce from the land. The front has now passed and today we have clear cold weather, a 20 knot northerly and great sailing conditions for yachts. We think we'll explore Rockland today and see what it has to offer. I'm gathering data for the Tech Corner Issue and will report asap.
20 July, 2012, Zack & Karen & dogs Rosie, Sarge and Hailey at The Basin, Phippsburg, Maine
Maine is not known for swimming, but we've now enjoyed two lovely swims in our anchorage at The Basin, the best known hurricane hole in Maine. The water temp was around 22 deg C, yet a seal popped his head up quite close to us. The Basin is the ultimate safe harbour surrounded by rocky points, spruce and pine trees and a few cabins sparsely hidden amongst the foliage. It looks similar to Macona Inlet in the Whitsundays in North Queensland, Australia except the entrance to The Basin has an opening of 150 feet which becomes 75 feet on rounding a bend where it opens up to a perfect little harbour. Both of these locations have been formed by glaciation.
In the 1940's, The Basin was ground zero for gathering quahogs along the New Meadows River and apparently still produces 52 bushels an acre. Quahogs are also known as clams and are gathered by commercial fishermen using skiffs and rakes with handles up to 50 feet long. It is extremely hard physical work. Quahogs are apparently the longest lived animal in the world. An ocean quahog found in Iceland was estimated to be between 405 and 410 years old, assessed by counting its shell rings as they grow one shell ring per year. Now there's a fact you can tell your friends at your next party.
We've received lots of attention in every anchorage we've stayed. All manner of vessels drop by to say hello, take photos, compliment the fine lines of our vessel, enquire about our home port and where we are headed and we now feel we are slowly getting to know quite a lot of people on the water. We were kindly invited for a day out with Zack Longley, Karen StClair and their friends Steve & Ellen Gilman, Caroline McGuirk, Robin & Don Johnson, Al & Sue Davis, Ted, Dan, Sinead and Eva Triandifilou on Zack's boat to view the Maine coastline and surrounding islands. We were welcomed with extreme kindness into their lives and homes, enjoyed lunch together and treated like family. If this is the way the people from Maine treat complete strangers, then we love this State. It's like no other. Hopefully we can reciprocate when they visit Australia.
The Marine Traffic website is not working in this area but we should hopefully come up on the site as we move further north-east.
We now have our replacement flopper stopper which was sent to us to Portland, Maine yesterday. We had another interesting "issue", but I'll tell you about that later. Rest assured, all is well on Vanish.
18 July, 2012, House Island, South Portland, Maine, USA
Here comes trouble. When this small boat headed straight for Vanish on sunset at full speed tonight, there was only one thing it could be, the Harbor Master. Hope we've done nothing wrong. Meet Kevin Battle, the friendliest Harbor Master of all and a great representative of his profession. After smiles and introductions, Kevin advised us we had anchored close to a wreck and to take care when leaving and wanted to know all about our trip and to please send him the blog address. So here's a tribute to you Kevin and all Harbor Masters, and thank you and your colleagues of the Coast Guard, Water Police and all other authorities who watch over us.
16 July, 2012, Boon Island, Maine, USA
On Saturday morning we dropped anchor outside the moored boats off the South Boston Yacht Club in Massachusetts, a club first established in 1868, less than 3 years after the end of the Civil War. We hadn't been there long before we were visited by club member Ralph Pascarelli ( sorry Ralph If I have your name wrong but I know you have a lovely Italian surname which sounds like pasta with marinara sauce). Ralph in his Boston Whaler kindly invited us to come ashore and enjoy the facilities of this wonderful club and we willingly obliged. He, Patrick and the merry gang from the SBYC made us feel like honoured guests and during our conversations, it started me thinking about what exactly is involved in doing a trip like this one. You can't just turn on the motor and head out there.
As an example, when we undertook the passage from Mattapoisett, Massachusetts to Boston, a distance of 60 miles, the first priority was to check the weather. This was done on the Sirius system on the Raymarine instrument which is a direct link to the satellite and gives all the NOAA weather forecasts and current station data to look all around us and see what's happening. Given the weather forecast, Maynard then decides how far we can go to a decent anchorage. The anchorage choices are a lot more restricted in the US as many of the best spots are full of moorings or anchoring is prohibited. It is not uncommon to come into an anchorage and find 200 moored boats and maybe only 2 or 3 on anchor. Many harbours prohibit anchoring, particularly in Massachusetts and many others require the Harbour Master's permission. This is vastly different to anchoring in Australia where, other than in Aboriginal territory, we can anchor wherever we want (within reason).
Then there's the lobster pots. Have I mentioned them? They are everywhere, even 10 miles out to sea, we are dodging pots and with Maynard and I in the bridge all day, it often takes two of us to spot them. They are like giant spiderwebs ready to trap the lazy boater's prop when you least expect it. They are also in all the harbours and spread out through the mooring buoys and even in the marked channels. Lobsters fetch $4.50/lb so somebody somewhere must be making some money I hope. We used to get stressed out about all these lobster buoys in the water, but we saw that the locals weren't bothered at all, so now we aren't bothered either and we are now as relaxed as they are.
We have cruising guides galore and we both use our individual ePads to double check our downloaded $49 Navionics Chart program for good anchorages. We also check our free downloaded Rain Alarm OSM for current weather radar and I am always Googling endless interesting facts and also checking the Marine Traffic website at www.marinetraffic.com/ais as this tells me a great deal about boats on the water, where they're headed, where they're anchoring in places ahead of us and other interesting facts to help in our planning. I guess I'm a bit of a stickybeak or a nosey parker (an Aussie term which means rubbernecker) but I can't help it. There's so much to learn out here. If you would like to join the Stickybeakers Club, you too can look for Vanish on this site by typing Vanish in the Search box and if our AIS is on, we will be transmitting our position. Right now, the boats in the Portland area are not being shown but just keep checking from time to time and you should be able to find us.
Today we deliberately passed a forbidding looking lighthouse called Boon Island Lighthouse, 9 miles off the coast of Maine just after we'd negotiated our first fog bank on leaving Rockport this morning. It is one of the most inhospitable, creepy, barren crazy pieces of rock we'd ever seen. Boon Island was first mentioned after a shipwreck occurred in 1682. In 1710, another shipwreck occurred and the survivors resorted to cannibalism after 3 weeks in order to survive (a book was fictionalized about their harrowing story, called Boon Island by Kenneth Roberts). A lighthouse was built in 1810 but it and 2 others were washed away in massive storms. This current lighthouse was built in 1835 but the first 2 lighthouse keepers resigned after seeing their vulnerability in ferocious storms as the island is only 14 feet above sea level. The third lighthouse keeper stayed for 22 years. There are no trees, no grass, no soil. In 1932, 70 foot waves were recorded at the lighthouse. In the great blizzard of February 1978, the keeper's house was flooded to a depth of 5 feet and they were forced to take refuge in the tower until the following day when they were helicoptered off. And it's huanted. In the early '70's, Coast Guard keepers Bob Roberts and Bob Edwards had gone fishing but couldn't make it back to the lighthouse before dark. There wasn't another person on the island but the light was shining brightly by the time they returned to the island. This and many other stories make this place a fascinating sight for us to see. Shortly afterwards, we spotted our first seal, a Northern Right Whale, another smaller whale and the huge fin of a shark. The water temperature is now down to around 20 deg C.
We are currently anchored in Portland, Maine listening to foghorns in the channel and the clanging of bells on the channel markers letting mariners know where they are when the fog closes in. What a change to Byron Bay, Australia!
13 July, 2012, Railway Bridge Cape Cod Canal, Massachusetts, USA
Quite by accident, I have stumbled into a few men's rooms in my time. I've even had a conversation or two with the occupants. Apparently, around 50% of the population, including some women, love these rooms. Maybe it's the sound generated within or maybe its the leftover testosterone or the perfectly shined chrome fittings and pristine white components in this, the throbbing heart of a vessel known as the Engine Room. I'm yet to fall in love with this area but I know I should as I rely on it completely.
When Maynard considered Vanish, he particularly liked her CAT engines as they have a reputation for reliabillity. The C-18's on Vanish are a longtime proven design and have a good degree of tolerance at running at low rpms associated with displacement speeds as long as you run the turbos at operating temperature once every 48 - 72 hrs of running. The C-18s are one of the more refined engines made by CAT. So today, after passing through the Cape Cod Canal which cuts off at least 112 miles going around the Atlantic side of Cape Cod, we ran the boat at a planing speed of 17 knots for half an hour. This is a good speed considering we are at full load.
At 17 knots, the bulb at the bow is very close, if not out of the water and is a very smooth ride. Some serious miles can be made this way. This felt quite different to the way we normally run the boat which is either at 9 knots with 2 engines which consumes just under 10 gallons per hour or we run with a single engine which runs at 8.3 knots consuming just over 7 gallons an hour. This results in a range of well over 4,000 miles. (There are 3.7 litres per gallon). Remember, this is an 85 ton vessel with over 4,500 gallons of fuel onboard and a stack of ship's stores so these fuel figures are very good particularly for a semi-displacement hull. We actually really appreciate the ability to get on a plane and outrun weather as we can do 200 miles in a 10 hour period. 500 mile days, whilst expensive, are possible. Many modifications had to be made so we could run on one engine such as installing a hydraulic pump on both engines so we could run the NAIAD stabilizers (they help keep the boat flat in a seaway). We also had to install a cross flow system so that water is pumped to cool the shaft seals on the engine that is not running. We have found that it is most efficient to leave the off engine in neutral allowing the shaft to turn. In the ideal world, it would be great to have some sort of feathering prop but with these big planing props, it is just not possible. Everything in boating requires compromises; you only get to pick priorities.
As we have always tried to have efficient, quiet vessels, on Vanish we have twelve 250 amp hour batteries which can be charged by a variety of charging systems including two very quiet 26 kilowatt Onan generators or an 1800 watt solar panel system which does a remarkably good job on a typical tropical day. We have proven already that we can run Vanish as per normal with its 7 fridges/freezers, multiple tvs etc without running a generator for at least 18 hours and I'm sure as we become more efficient and learn the onboard systems better, we hope we can improve on this.
Right now, we are in the North Atlantic Ocean heading for Boston in 11 knots of wind from the south-west and a 2 foot "swell". After the fireworks in New York, we took the scenic route and headed eastwards on the East River in the heart of New York and past Hells Gate where the temperature was 39.9 deg (104 deg F) and is the junction of Harlem and the East River with currents of up to 6 knots and countless barges being pushed along by tugs. Luckily we were in this narrow section on slack tide by ourselves.
Now, family, please don't freak out but I've found a good spot to buy a house! It's on Long Island at a place called Great Neck and the privileged few have houses on the beach facing south-west towards the sun looking directly at the New York skyline. I'll take that or maybe one of those mansions we passed at Rhode Island a couple of days ago, built in times before taxes were invented. I'm easily satisfied by the very best, as Winston Churchill once said. I'll have to start saving my pennies to fulfillthis desire. We loved Long Island, Long Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and all the wonderful sailing areas, coves, beaches and tranquility of this vast area. No wonder there are so many boats of every shape and style as they are so lucky to have such a wonderful summer sailing season. It's hard to imagine snow here in winter but we were told by a lovely lady we met at Eatons Neck on Long Island that the little bay in which we were anchored, used to completely freeze over in years gone by. Foxes used to be seen crossing the harbour in winter.
Today was a great day considering it is Friday the 13th. Transitting the Cape Cod Canal built in 1928 was a once in a lifetime experience being so far from home. The canal is 17.4 miles long, 30 feet deep and around 480 feet in width and saves a day by not going on the outside of Cape Cod negotiating the myriad of sandbanks. We love the architecture of the Cape Cod homes with their steep roofs, white bordered windows, manicured gardens and colourful flowerbeds.
We are now only 85 miles away from Portland, Maine where we will stay for a short time before heading off again. Our main desire is to head north although our rounding mark is unknown at this stage. We want to take our time on the way back, calling into places we've enjoyed and others we wish to explore. For now, it's time to sit back and enjoy the delights of Boston, Massachusetts. Don't forget to check out more pictures in the Photo Gallery in the next day or so.
5 July, 2012, Ellis Island, New York City, NY, USA
The Macys New York 4th July celebrations are the costliest and most explosive in the US with 40,000 shells set off during the fireworks show. I put in a request to Capt. Maynard to be as close as possible to the action so we headed towards the Hudson River and after taking a few photos at the Statue of Liberty, anchored legally next to Ellis Island, the historic gateway to millions of immigrants arriving in New York which occured between 1892 and 1954.
We had made our way north after the vicious storm at Scotland Beach in the Chesapeake Bay and transitted the Chesapeake Delaware Canal which joins Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. The canal is around 8 miles long and about 100 metres in width and very well marked. We saw only a handful of vessels making their way along its length so we took our time viewing cornfields, beautiful homes, a large flock of vultures and wild deer and quaint towns along the way. Almost every starboard hand channel marker was decked with a sea eagle's nest, some with an egg, some with a baby chick. As we exited the canal, we passed the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in Delaware and couldn't believe how close we were allowed to pass next to the nuclear reactors. For some weird reason, it actually made my day.
We rounded the Cape May Lighthouse with a 4 knot current against us and tried to anchor in the little harbour of Cape May but as there was so little room, we ended up sitting in the middle of the channel. It wasn't long before a Coast Guard vessel with a whole host of officials came alongside and after a pleasant greeting, advised us we needed to move. Yep, we agreed. As the sun was low on the horizon, we decided to do another overnight passage and arrived in New Jersey the following morning.
My request to view the fireworks in New York seemed simple enough I thought but there are a lot of factors you don't ever read about in the books. Firstly, our Ellis Island anchorage became terribly uncomfortable with waves caused by wind against tide. Combined with that and the Statue Cruise ferries running constantly plus all the other river traffic heading upriver to gain their preferred spot for the fireworks, things were getting a little chaotic and queasy onboard.
We decided to deploy our flopper stoppers made by Ocean Torque in Australia and suddenly most of the violent rolling dissipated. We have the largest size which is a No. 5 and it is 900 mm across. The flopper stoppers are suspended from our two cranes on each side of the boat and sit between 1 and 2 metres underwater. They dampen the motion of the waves and put the vessel out of synch with the waves which greatly reduces the severe motion by at least 70%. Almost every other vessel from catamarans to monohulls to motor vessels of all sizes and shapes, left our little anchorage after a very short time due to their vessels rolling so badly. We sat there over 2 days. They are a lot less hassel and maintenance of the $100,000 gyro systems with a similar, if not better, result. You can take a look at the website at www.boatstabilizers.net to read more about this amazing device.
At 9 a.m., on 4th July we were greeted with a 21 gun salute...well maybe not entirely for us but the canon WAS just across the river aiming at us. As the sun set and seven NYPD helicopters roared overhead (I thought it was Donald Trump and his 6 secretaries at first), we decided to launch our new AB 14 foot dinghy with centre console steering, chart plotter and fishfinder and head to where the real action was occurring. We'd heard there were 6 barges loaded with fireworks and as many of you know, I am mad about pyrotechnics, so the thought was to get as close, if not closer, to the lovely smell of rocket smoke. But there's a catch. There always is. The barges are anchored in the Hudson, followed by a large gap. Next are located the megayachts, charter vessels and anyone else who wishes to actually anchor in the river for the entire night. You must keep an all night watch plus run your engines. We decided not to do this so that's why we were in our big dinghy and Vanish was safely anchored at Ellis Island 3 miles away.
Behind the megayachts is another large gap patrolled by at least 30 New York Police Department, State Park and Coast Guard vessels with blue flashing lights, loud hailers and massive searchlights. Their job was to keep the seething mass of 1000 floating vessels of every shape and type from ramming into the anchored vessels. All good in theory, but the Hudson has a heck of a current so when we'd get to the "fenceline", the sirens would blare, the spotlights would be targetted at the infrigers, and we'd all have to back up, or turn around without hitting one another or being hit, all while watching the best fireworks we'd ever seen and taking photos. I can clearly remember being 3 feet from a ferry the size of a Staten Island Ferry with passengers screaming at us and pointing with immense concern as we nearly collided in the dark. It was crazy fun and we had the best time of our lives. Everyone was in great spirits, even the American flag waving Middle Eastern crew on a nearby power boat yelling, "God Bless Amereeekaaaa." At the end of the 30 minute Multi Million Dollar show, every single vessel blasted their air horns for at least a minute. It was incredible.
Ok, show's over. Time to go back to Vanish 3 miles away. Now this is where it DID get scary. The wash from hundreds of large and small vessels in the dark on the Hudson making their way home to their respective marinas at full speed was like the worst washing machine out of balance you could imagine. It didn't bear thinking about the consequences of not riding the waves correctly or not seeing a faster vessel coming up behind us. The AB can do 34 knots at top speed but we were doing around 12 knots comparably safely and made it back without incident. It was truly a great experience.
In the morning we found a downside to our dear flopper stoppers. We failed to wiretie the shackle pins holding the flopper stoppers and as there are always changing loads and vibrations from the currents, one of the shackle pins unwound itself overnight and to our shock and horror, we found we had lost one of them to the muddy depths of the Hudson River, a $2,500 mistake. Oops. A four hour effort was made to retrieve the flopper stopper using the Fishfinders on Vanish and the AB Dinghy then using a grappling hook without luck. We are currently heading north to a marina in Maine where one is being delivered from the manufacturer in Australia. One flopper stopper works well, but two's a charm.
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3 July, 2012, 40 42.172'N
The Statue of Liberty has a 500 metre exclusion zone. We were anchored 600 metres away and had a bird's eye view of the Great Lady. What an experience. We've now moved a couple of miles north and are currently anchored near Ellis Island where we will have the best view of the 4th July fireworks tomorrow night.
30 June, 2012, Scotland Beach, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, USA
This morning I asked Julie if she and Dirk have had as much drama and excitement in their years of sailing as we have been encountering on Vanish lately and her answer was, "No, not really." We were worried that we'd be bored on a motor vessel compared to a yacht, but so far it hasn't been the case. It's a beautiful vessel and has looked after us in every aspect.
Yesterday, we left our anchorage near the Old Point Comfort Marina in Hampton, Virginia and had barely gone 20 minutes before we spotted a massive nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the distance coming towards us down the channel. Next thing, the radio is blaring, "Vanish, Vanish, Vanish, this is Warship 77. You must maintain a distance of a minimum of 500 metres and you must exit the channel immediately." By this time, we were within 1 km of the ship which was surrounded by Coast Guard vessels making sharp jabs with their steering towards us and a military chopper with gunner aiming at us buzzing us overhead and circling the ship. Good grief, we're just little guppies from Australia, we mean you no harm. We hot footed it out of there and made our way as far north on Chesapeake Bay as we could in daylight.
Meanwhile Dirk had repaired our Sea Recovery Aqua Whisper watermaker which had been sucking air from a strainer. He removed the strainer and now the watermaker purrs along beautifully putting out over 70 gallons (270 lt) an hour and has less than 40 parts per million of salt content. Our watermaker on our previous yacht made 45 litres an hour so this is a big change. Mind you, we use a lot more water as we have 4 people onboard, a large washing machine, decadent shower heads, and freshwater toilets.
Another line of storms were forecast later in the day so we found an anchorage just north of the entrance to the Potomac River at a place called Scotland Beach. It would give us protection from NW to SW in the event of storms coming our way. The Raytheon Sirius started showing a huge line of storms approaching by 9pm and we figured they would be at our location by around 11pm. An anchor alarm and depth alarm were set before we went to bed. At 11.30 pm, the boat motion changed suddenly and we woke to blinding lightning and Vanish yawing wildly. All of us went onto the bridge as the wind started screaming and rising from 35 knots, to 40 knots, to 48 knots, to 53 knots. We heard a large popping sound. Now the lexan on the starboard side of the flybridge tore from its secure point and disappeared in the maelstrom. Lexan is used for space and sports helmuts, clear high performance windshields and aircraft canopies and bullet-resistant windows. Its super strong but if it's not bolted down the wind will find a way to wedge it free so we've now lost both port and starboard panels in winds over 50 knots in less than 1 week. At least we're symmetrical now. This storm clocked winds at 80 mph and brought down 100 year old trees and more than 2 million people in the area were without power. It was an incredibly powerful storm and made the national news.
We'd laid out our 180 lb Genuine Scottish CQR anchor with 40 meters of high tensile G4 1/2" chain with a breaking strength of greater than 50,000 lbs in 5.8 metres of water. Dirk says dryly, "The boat will rip to pieces before that chain would break." Our anchor alarm makes a high shrill bird-like screech which sounds like, "Help Me, Help Me, Help Me" or maybe it's saying, "Fix It, Fix It, Fix It". It decided to start calling for help when we completed a full anchor circle when the winds clocked NW then SW then SE with another line of storms then back to NW again, all in a 30 minute period. Imagine yourself on a huge bay in the middle of the night with winds of 50 - 80 knots, pieces of your boat flying skywards, lightning absolutely everywhere and driving rain, your new untested boat yawing wildly and an anchor alarm calling for help. Mind you, we turned off the anchor alarm as we knew what we were doing and we hadn't dragged at all. Maynard had set a very tight anchor drag distance and the chain had stretched outside the set limit so all was ok.
13 people were killed overnight in the storm and states of emergency have been declared in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, right where we are. This morning we've heard countless Pan Pans as there are boats upturned and adrift. We are heading past Washington DC and Baltimore at the top of Chesapeake Bay before passing through the Chesapeake Delaware Canal which will take us into the quieter Delaware Bay. Again, we are on a sharp lookout for another male in the water. In all our years of sailing, we've not had to do this before either. As Dirk said in his monotone Afrikaan accent, "It must be a popular place to dump bodies." On the positive side, 9 people have been rescued from an upturned boat today, 2 more swam to shore this morning after their boat was lost and another vessel is being towed to a marina. It's a gorgeous day today with flat seas and fabulous travelling conditions for us although we're still looking for a large picnic table afloat our here. This Bay is so enormous. It's going to be 41 deg today so let's hope for a storm free, stress free quiet night.
27 June, 2012, Tropical Storm Debby Chasing Vanish
We arrived in Palmetto, Florida, just south of the city of Tampa on 25th May, 2012 eager to see our new vessel for the first time. So much has happened since the decision to purchase Vanish and time has flown by with the various modifications and delays associated with fitting her out.
After moving onboard we found there were many issues after living on her at the Marlow Shipyard for 3 weeks and various systems either needed replacing or fixing. As it turned out, even though I was more than ready to scream, cry or strangle the closest person to me due to the malaise I felt from port rot, it was a good opportunity to ensure that we used everything possible to find the failures and get them fixed. Everyone at Marlow Marine were extremely professional and helped us in every way possible to ensure we were comfortable and all issues were dealt with as quickly as possible. We feel fortunate in the fact that we met so many hard working individuals whose only goal was to produce a great product. Our thanks go to David and Barbara Marlow, Jarlath, Mike, Joe, George, Craig, Richard, Tommy, Phil, Mark, Cecil, Lee, Don and so many others plus all the contractors who came onboard to service electronics, boat covers and much more. If I have forgotten anyone or you haven't been mentioned, please know that we are extremely grateful for all your help.
We finally said our goodbyes and left the dock on Wednesday 20th June with Dirk and Julie Schoombee our crew when we felt the boat was seaworthy and in good working order. Luckily it coincided with Maynard finding a perfect weather window to take us from Tampa down to Key Biscayne at the bottom of Florida. We had to go overnight on our first day taking 4 hour watches with 2 up on each watch as we ended up arriving late at our intended anchorage of Port Charlotte and didn't want to risk going into an unknown harbour in the dark. We had many 30 kn rain squalls and lumpy seas and I can tell you that if we'd been on Cruz Control, it would have been an awful night busily reefing sails, getting wet, flopping around in the dark after the squalls had past and dodging lightning. In this vessel, it was very comfortable and the weather we encountered didn't bother us at all. Both Julie and I felt a bit "off" as neither of us had been to sea for many months yet Iron Guts Maynard and Dirk felt no queasiness at all. It was quite dark and gloomy and rained most of the way and the air temp was at least the same temperature as the water, if not higher, with high humidity. Hurricanes form in water 28 degrees and above. Worryingly, the sea temp in Tampa Baywas 32 deg and we found that even the ocean temp was 29.8 deg!!! Surely, this cannot be right. We had to get out of "The Box", an area known to have hurricanes with the north limit being 35' N, which runs between Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and the eastern limit is 55' E, the southern limit around 12' N and the western limit is around 100'W, in fact most of the Gulf of Mexico.
On Thursday morning, we anchored near a town called Marathon in Key Biscayne in an ocean roadstead although it was quite comfortable as the swell was minimal. Cuba was just to our south about 90 miles away. A 25 kn southerly was forecast to come in on Sunday but as it turned out, when we got up on Friday morning and checked the weather forecast, a tropical storm had formed overnight off Belize and later named called Tropical Storm Debby. It was forecast to go to Tampa, right where we'd been sitting for the last month!! The decision was made to outrun this storm and get as far north as possible by all means before it crossed over Tampa and then onto the east side of Florida. We had intended going to the Bahamas for a couple of days but decided that it was just too risky to spend any time in these waters with record high sea temps and the possibility of more hurricanes. We kept thinking we'd call into Georgia or the Carolinas, but the track of the storm showed it going through these areas so we decided to just keep going.
Luckily, we had very good sea conditions so we were making around 300 miles per day. The most economical speed for us is around 9 knots but when you add the north flowing hot current of the Gulf Stream, we were doing somewhere between 11 and 12 knots SOG (Speed Over Ground) so there was no problem doing our 300 mile days. At times we were around 150 miles offshore going through rain squalls with lightning and 30+ knot winds which we all agreed were very welcome as they cleaned the salt off the rails and decks nicely and we didn't even have to don our wet weather gear but the sea was only up to 1 meter. We kept an eye on the Raymarine Radar which showed TS Debby steadily heading for the west coast of Florida. It definitely looked too close for comfort for my liking.
There have now been 3 tropical storms since we arrived in Florida in the last 3 weeks. We've been really desperate to get out of Florida before getting caught. The Tampa area received inches of rain and was under a tornado watch and the wind on top of the Skyway Bridge, right near the Marlow Marina, was encountering 70 mph winds and was closed so we just got out of there with only one day to spare. We were so lucky not to get caught in all the rough seas and feet of rain they experienced. It was one of the loneliest trips we've ever made as we only saw one other pleasure vessel the entire trip which was a yacht way out to sea off South Carolina. We had a couple of uninvited guests onboard in the form of flying fish and one poor little guy must have been flying at lightning speed as he hit Vanish's hull so hard, the impact literally popped his little eyes out of their sockets. Now that's gonna hurt.
We rounded Cape Hatteras, once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" due to its treacherous currents, shoals and storms at 4am on Monday 25th June and were looking forward to just moseying into a nice quiet anchorage in the Chesapeake Bay area. As we kept looking at our Sirius System which displays live real time national weather direct from the satellite, we noticed and heard warnings on the radio and saw a line of storms heading right across the Bay just as we were due to enter. The sky darkened and a roll cloud with low white clouds in front of it kept approaching. There were patches of light green in the cloud as well indicating hail. We were hit with 60 knot winds and with our speed of 10 knots SOG, we had 70 knots across the bow with driving rain and some hail. Being a weather fanatic, I quickly switched on the tv and saw we were under a red warning area for tornadoes too. Time to switch OFF the tv. Well that's just great isn't it!!! As if we aren't tired enough, we get a kick in the pants on our arrival. Oh yes, and there were Pan Pans every 10 minutes to keep watch for a bald black man wearing no shirt and brown shorts apparently in the water right in the channel where we were heading so we also had to keep a sharp lookout for him although we did not see him nor a reported catamaran adrift in the Bay. Suddenly we heard a terrible sound and Maynard yelled that something broke off the flybridge bow. It turned out to be a 5 ft length of lexan 1/2" thick which completely shattered in the strong wind and went sailing overboard. It was just luck that it didn't destroy our radar towers, satphone and other instruments on top of the flybridge.
As if that wasn't enough, we had a Canadian warship coming up astern and then the radio came to life again when the Virginia Pilot saw us on their AIS system and called Vanish, Vanish, Vanish, to warn us he was on a deep draft vessel taking up most of the channel coming our way. In near zero visibility and torrential rain we decided it was time to quit the channel as with the squalls and thick bolts of lightning hitting all around us. What next! Stay calm Vicki!
I always take comfort in our dear friend's, Nick Stump's, words about storms at sea. "Ah, Vicki, they're nothing to worry about; they pass in no time," and sure enough, the storm passed in no more than 25 minutes. We made our way into the Bay where we found a nice quiet anchorage just outside the Old Point Comfort Marina with one other yacht near Fort Monroe, Norfolk, Virginia which was built just after the War of 1812 in a place called Hampton Roads at the southern end of Chesapeake Bay (one of the largest natural harbours in the world). We've done around 1,146 miles since we left last Wednesday and have been travelling for 6 days. It is very satisfying to have completed our first big leg of our journey successfully and in extreme comfort even though we are currently heading away from Australia. We've had to make some adjustments to our schedule but will try to make the most of our cruising season in the northern part of the USA before heading south again in the next few months and re-aligning ourselves with the cruising seasons. Conversations have gone something like, "Um, let's go to the Bahamas. Hmm. It's in The Box. Ok, lets go to Greenland. Oh, yeah, we're too late in the season to go that far now. All right, how 'bout Belize? No, too much risk of a hurricane there too. No worries, let's try Maine and take it from there."
Our Vanish is heavy right now with a year's worth of spare parts and sufficient oil and filters to not require outside assistance until we get to Australia. We thought this was a good idea as we intended going to South America. Now that we're in the US, these spares are just non paying passengers right now until we head to more remote areas. I wonder what conversation awaits me tomorrow?
17 May, 2012, Cruz at Anchor in North Queensland, Australia
In 1998 we took possession of Cruz Control in Santa Cruz, California and then sailed her across the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco to Brisbane, Australia. In the previous 7 years we'd bought 3 yachts trying to find one suitable for cruising and racing and at the time, we thought if we owned Cruz Control for 10 years, we would be extremely happy and satisfied with our decision making process. It also allowed us to learn what features we liked and disliked. To achieve a 10 year ownership, it meant that proper research was required and because this was achieved, we in fact owned Cruz for a total of 14 years. The process involved in commissioning Cruz Control was similar to Vanish except that we were involved in every decision on Cruz since its inception from the mould.
Every prospective buyer has their own long list of requirements and something which is important to us may not be a consideration for another owner. Choosing any vessel takes an enormous amount of time and effort. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of research have gone into choosing this new vessel. Some of the considerations for Maynard are listed below and for those with a penchant for the technical side, we will try to elaborate on how we chose or why we liked each particular system on Vanish. Overall, we needed a vessel to transport us safely to exotic places with a high margin of safety but we also wanted a vessel which was fun to operate and pleasing to the eye. Below is a list of some of the major requirements.
. Safety - stability, buoyancy, downflooding, ground tackle, speed, draft, construction type, strength, weight, range, meet as a minimum Lloyds Ocean Class A CE Certification and ABS requirements
. Comfort - sea kindly motion with redundant stability systems, heating, cooling, tankage, watermaker ability, electrical capacity with regard to gensets, storage, refrigeration, easy to deploy flopper stoppers at anchor
. Operation Requirements - to be able to operate with 2 people, fuel efficiency, engine type, hull type, reliability, solar panels to minimise usage of gensets, range, the ability to use 110v or 240v systems, we needed as many redundant systems as possible ensuring self sufficiency
. Vessel already built or close to completion with maximum LOA 25m
. Instrumentation - a comprehensive electronic package including infrared camera for high latitude voyaging, multiple radar systems, world-wide communication systems
I guess I should have seen all of this coming while I sat sipping my cup of tea. In my mind, we were preparing to finally build our dream home after coping with the vagaries of living in our 1978 built farmhouse, originally decorated by the previous occupant in various shades of brown, orange and yellow. Although we'd done a partial renovation 10 years ago, I was anxious to finally separate myself from the odd brown snake, rat, cane toad, lizard and rainforest creature which seemed to find comfort in our humble abode. After 30 years of marriage I could have stopped for just a moment to articulate a better response. I should have, but I didn't. I was sitting in tropical paradise on a warm sunny day and Cape Horn was at least 8,000 miles away as the crow flies. So when faced with a response to Maynard's proposal to take a vessel to Patagonia and Cape Horn, I said the first thing that came to mind. "Hmmm. That sounds like an exciting idea. We should do that!" And the deed was done. Just like that.
9 May, 2012, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
A set of seemingly random events can sometimes send your life along a path you could never have expected or guessed at the time. One day late in 2010, we received a phone call out of the blue from our good friends Nick and Alison asking us if we were interested in selling our beloved Santa Cruz 52 yacht Cruz Control. We laughed and said, "No way, Jose." We'd sailed her for almost 13 years covering at least 50,000 miles both cruising and racing and had not even considered moving on to anything else. Why would we? In fact, there WAS nothing else better than our Cruz Control. And that was that, except, the seed had been planted.
Maynard usually has a stack of boating magazines piled up on the bedside table. Ocean Navigator, Yachting World, Australian Sailing, and Cruising Helmsman were the norm but a few larger glossier magazines had crept in. He has a voracious appetite for anything nautical, technical, innovative, challenging and exciting. In January 2011 our friend Sharon Torrens, the wife of Grant from Grant Torrens Yacht Brokers on the Gold Coast suddenly passed away. At Sharon's wake, before I had a chance to dig Maynard in the ribs, he asked our friend Scott to keep an eye out for any new interesting vessels he might come across. "What? What sort of vessels?" I say. Well as the weeks ticked by, the phone calls and emails started trickling in. First, he considered a Nordhavn, then he considered a Dashew. Next he researched a Fleming and then Scott mentioned a Marlow 65 for sale which could be inspected nearby. Most of this occurred quietly during the day without my involvement. It didn't have the range he wanted but he read about a new Marlow 76LR Voyager in Miami, Florida which could possibly fit the bill. Then in April and May we lost two more dear friends we had known for many years and reminded us yet again of how delicate and short life can be and that we needed to make the most of each and every day.
About a week later we were enjoying a cup of tea on a picture perfect day on our patio which overlooks the rolling green hills and white sandy beaches at Byron Bay, Australia discussing our plan for this year's sailing season. For the past 8 years between the months of June and November, we' would close down the house, take our cattle dog Bindi, provision Cruz Control and sail north to the tropical waters of the Whitsunday Islands or Cairns. Neither of us really wanted to do the same again this year as we'd "been there, done that." I hate to admit it but we were both feeling slightly bored with it all and as Maynard was still working full-time, we couldn't formulate a workable schedule where we could sail Cruz Control to higher latitudes and/or more exotic places. Maynard took a breath and said, "I've been working on a plan this week. "Oh really?" I said, cup poised in mid air. "How 'bout we try to buy that Marlow in Florida, leave in October for the Caribbean, then go to Patagonia, have a photo taken off Cape Horn then go across the Pacific and bring it back home to Australia?"