Sailing At Last

This is the tale of our journey to fulfill a passion of learning to sail and a dream to circumnavigate. Welcome Aboard At Last!

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's

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

Our Current Position

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

The Crew's thoughts about the Caribbean 1500 passage

05 December 2011 | St Maarten
Chris and Janet, for the first time Andy must be at a loss for words
Chris writes:
I want to express my thanks and appreciation to my brother and Janet for inviting me on this sailing portion of their dream. Love you both and enjoyed all 18 days I spent on At Last, and of course Andy...what would we have done without him. First, his vast sailing experience and knowledge of various types boats.. unmatched !!......I still don't know which winch to use for what maneuver....a 65 year old trying to memorize winches? Second...and the most important talent of Andy's...was his ability to go into a dock, marine store, restaurant and most important..... BAR's....and within 15 minutes know 54 people, their boat name ..number of children...first born's name...(and the waitresses kept our glasses full of necessary medicines and chicken fingers piled on our plates.) I am prejudiced by saying I had a BLAST!!.. there were a few Rod Serling moments ..when for the 3rd consecutive day ...on everyone of Mark and my shifts...2:00 am in the morning with 2 hrs of our shift to go and there is sea stars....waves 4-8 radar contacts...and we were expecting to hear any moment...."you're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of Sight...and Sound...but of Mind...a journey into wondrous Seas...whose boundaries are that of stop...the Twilight Zone". When the moon was out -- look 360 degrees around looked like an episode of "Victory At Sea" . Only dislikes would be the difficulty using the head. Felt like WWII mission over Germany...getting back to base safely and being told "you missed the target" this time do it sitting down...which can be extremely painful. I would do this again only if I knew the right winches and had my beautiful wife Sharon at my side.

Janet writes:
I was surprised at how difficult it was to do about anything on the boat when the boat is heeling over 15 - 20 degrees, going up and down in 10 foot waves, and going through the water at 7-8+knots. Once when I decided it was absolutely necessary for me to shower, I ended up sitting on the bench in the stall. The only way for me not to slide off the bench was to wedge with my feet against the wall on the other side. All of the shampoo, soap, etc. was on the floor of the shower because the plastic container adhered to the shelf had come undone. Trying to stay on the bench while grabbing what I needed on the floor without letting go of the shower head was exhausting. By the time I was done with the shower, dried off, and dressed I was all sweaty again. I wasn't sure it was all worth it. Some things you have less choice about like going to the bathroom. While we were on shift, we had a full harness with a crotch strap. It's basically a PFD (personal flotation device) with a harness built in so you can tether (attach) yourself to the boat so you won't go overboard. Inevitably I would try to pull my pants down to go to the bathroom and forget to undo my crotch strap. Once the strap was undone I would put the end of it in my mouth to prevent it from dropping into the toilet. Then with only one hand I would pull down my shorts (the other was holding onto a grab rail so I wouldn't slam against yet another counter or wall). I quickly learned that shorts with zippers and buttons were way too complicated for this task and quickly switched to all elastic waist shorts.

Given these descriptions, one would wonder why anyone would do what Mark and I are planning on doing for the next two years. I have to say that honestly I loved the passage from Virginia to Tortola. I didn't love the trip from minute to minute but I loved the idea that we took our boat across a big ocean. It was beautiful - the dark nights with the stars, the vastness of the water all around you, and the moment when you started to see the sun rise. It's incredibly peaceful out on the ocean, very calming. What a relief when the staff of the World Cruising Club took our lines and helped tie us up to the dock in Tortola. We made it, we were safe and everything was okay. But best of all, we now had a wonderful new place to explore. It makes it all worth it.

Questions Answered About The Passage from Virginia to Tortola

05 December 2011 | St Maarten
There have been many questions regarding the trip down from Virginia to Tortola. People have been curious about the details of how the trip is done. So I will write briefly about some of the questions people have raised. Feel free to add comments of other questions you have particularly for all of you following the blog that aren't sailors. I am planning on having a Questions Answered section regularly on the blog.

The Boat Does Not Stop Sailing - there is nowhere to anchor when you are making a passage and thus you sail 24 hours per day. There are many different ways that people do this but we chose to have two people awake sailing and two people sleeping for four hour shifts. Andy and I were one team - Mark and his brother Chris were the other team. Andy and I did the 8:00 pm - midnight, 4:00 am - 8:00 am and the noon - 4:00 pm shift. During the off shifts you would try to get as much sleep as possible. Thus things like eating, showering (or even freshening up), brushing ones teeth, changing clothes, etc. are all done with the understanding that by doing them you lose sleep. This becomes a critical decision making point throughout the passage. Thus it becomes quite acceptable to wear the same clothes and not shower for days at a time. The good news is that everyone around you is doing the same.

Sleeping is Tough - in addition to only having four hours to sleep the sleeping situation can be less than ideal. We have two sofas in the main cabin of the boat. We had lee cloths made for them which are cloths that go from under the seat and around the open side of the couch and attach to rails on the ceiling. What the lee cloth does is keep you from falling off the sofa when the boat is heeled over 15 - 20 degrees. So typically you are either pushed against the back of the sofa or against the lee cloth. Neither is that comfortable particularly when adding to the slant the up and down motion of the boat from the waves. As Andy once said when we were hitting some pretty big waves, "I wish they would stop running into those telephone poles." I would be remiss if I did not add how hot it was down below deck. All of the hatches (windows) had to be closed otherwise water would enter the boat. The engine was running rather frequently and many of the meals were heated up with the use of the stove, both of these add tremendous heat below decks. The sheets we were using were rank by the end of the trip. I have to say when I did the six loads of laundry after the delivery I almost gagged when putting things in the washing machine. Let's just say that sweaty clothes and damp towels piled into one big bag for 8 days is a good science experiment.

Eating - luckily I learned about feeding the crew from a delivery Mark completed with a sailing Captain, Richard and his wife, Eden. She is a remarkable chef and made all of the meals beforehand and then froze them. This seemed like a good idea so my Mom and Dad helped me cook all of the meals ahead of time. We had breakfast at 8:00 am, lunch at noon and dinner at 8:00 pm. The meals were done at these times to accommodate the change of shift. There was also a snack bin which was full of healthy and not so healthy snacks if anyone got hungry between meals. Breakfast was cereal mostly or granola bars and I tried to do real meals for lunch and dinner. We had lots of one pot meals because they are easiest to serve. One of the difficulties we had was that the 8:00 pm meal was in the dark. Andy was shocked one night to find that his meatloaf and scalloped potatoes were actually a chicken casserole and Poppy's banana bread. At least it explained why the meatloaf was cold. The heeling of the boat made preparing the meals quite a challenge. Imagine trying to cook in your kitchen with the floor at a 15 degree angle and the occasional up and down motion of a big wave that would throw you against the nearest counter. I ended up with black and blues all along my upper thighs from hitting the counters and an agreement from Mark that he would buy me the galley harness he wanted to buy me before we left on the trip. I didn't think I would need it. We did have a couple of peanut butter and jelly meals when the sea was just too rough for me to safely cook - the men were quite gracious in complementing these meals.

We asked everyone on the delivery to add their comments about what they thought of the trip. Their responses are soon to follow.

Tortola At Last

22 November 2011 | Nanny Cay Marina Tortola BVI
I finally found time to update the blog. Since arriving Saturday afternoon, we have been cleaning the boat, doing laundry and tending to much needed personal hygiene and grooming issues. The crew was still able to make time to celebrate the accomplishment with the other boats in the rally having pain killers (a very yummy rum drink) on the beach in the evening.

Let me tell you about the fantastic crew of At Last. We were the eighth boat out of sixty to arrive in Tortola. The boats that arrived ahead of us were much larger (10 - 30 feet) and so they were able to travel much faster than At Last. As of now, there are still twelve boats yet to arrive. The team feels very proud to have sailed so well, especially when you consider the fact that two of the crew had never been sailing off shore before and two had never sailed non-stop overnight. My brother, Chris, had been sailing only a couple of times with us in Narragansett Bay so this was an incredible accomplishment for him to have completed a Caribbean 1500. Janet had never been sailing off shore or overnight and she handled everything very well. Many of you posted comments on the blog asking about Andy our other crew member. Andy Baker, is our good friend, an experienced sailor, commodore of the Cruising Club of New England, and yacht broker for Springline Yacht Sales in Mystic CT. He, by far, has the most sailing experience of all of us and was invaluable in so many ways on the trip. Thanks Andy for all your help.

Andy and Chris left Monday morning for the airport to return to their normal lives. They take with them the satisfaction of successfully completing a 1500 mile passage on a 49 foot sail boat; an accomplishment shared by relatively few sailors. It was a tearful moment for us to see them leave.

The crew felt that it was important to do something together to demonstrate our team work. So we all decided to grow goatees on the trip. Janet decided to shave hers off before the picture was taken. I don't think there will be any confusion regarding which one is my brother and which one is Andy. Apparently there is a family resemblance except for the hair.

Now Janet and I have six weeks to see the islands. We have to be in St Lucia by December 26th. We start the trip around the world on January 8th. We will stay in the BVI for a few days. Next stop? Who knows? We are on "island time" now. We will be updating the blog at least weekly though with plenty of pictures of the islands as we make our way to St Lucia. Stay tuned.

One last note... I can't tell you how much it meant to me and Janet to see the comments posted to the blog and the emails you sent to us. Thank you very much. We can receive email while on the passage if sent via the web site but could not read the comments on the blog till we arrived in Tortola and found internet access. Now that we have some time on our hands, we will be responding to your emails and posts. Thank you all for the wonderful support.

Are we there yet?, Yes we are!!

19 November 2011 | 18 23.867'N:64 38.16'W, Saturday 9 am eastern, 35 miles to Tortola, ETA 2 pm eastern
At Last has arrived at Nanny Cay marina. The place is beautiful. The definition of a good passage.... no one injured, no one sick, nothing broken on At Last. All this is the case for us. We are all taking showers as I write this and none too soon. More to come tomorrow but for now I have to treat the crew to dinner.

Are we there yet?

19 November 2011 | 19 30'N:65 04'W, Saturday 9 am eastern, 35 miles to Tortola, ETA 2 pm eastern
We have not seen a sail boat or even a cargo vessel for the last six days. Finally, we spy a sail boat on radar 12 miles in front of us early this morning. We were beginning to wonder if they called off the Rally and everyone went back home but forgot to tell us. We are nearing Tortola and there is a bit of competition to see who can claim right to be the first to say �"Land Ho�". Since we left, each of the crew has completed 25 watches lasting four hours. Needless to say, we can�'t wait to land at the dock with the Rally staff greeting us with a bottle of champagne.

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

Profile of At Last and the Gorrell's

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

Our Current Position