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
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

Can it get any better than this?

15 April 2012 | Rangiroa, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia
We had a fantastic sail to the Tuamotu Islands with lots of wind. We were together with s/v Zoe and s/v Southern Cross the entire way so we chatted with them on the SSB radio once or twice per day. We were planning on going to the island Manihi first but were unable to reach the island before sunset so we kept sailing on to Rangiroa. These islands are the largest group of coral atolls in the world. Each island is a band of land with a lagoon in the middle. Typically, each has a channel which you enter through to reach the lagoon. The channels can carry large amounts of current going in and out. You should only enter the islands during the day due to the incredible amount of coral reefs you need to avoid. When we entered Rangiroa we had about 5 knots of current going through the channel. The lagoon is large enough (78 km long and 24 km wide) that the entire island of Tahiti would fit inside its reef. We anchored in front of the Kiaora Resort which had hotel rooms (huts) right over the water for only $1,000 per night. The view was spectacular and the Resort offered some of the most beautiful sunsets we had ever seen. Happy hour became a must even if a pina colada was $13.00, yes, French Polynesia is very expensive.

The next day in Rangiroa, we went snorkeling at 8:00 am with our friends on s/v Zoe. We got there early so the tide was slack and we wouldn't drift away. The snorkeling area was nick named the "Aquarium" and it lived up to its name. As soon as we tied our dinghies to the mooring balls there were hundreds of fish around our boat. We dropped in the water and the fish weren't very bothered by our presence but instead seemed quite curious. They would come right up to you and some would even give you a nibble. We saw huge moray eels on this trip which usually stay in their caves but instead would swim right below us. The eels were about five feet long and seemed to be 8 -10 inches around. They weren't very attractive but were quite a site. I felt as if we were in the water in the movie "Finding Nemo" where all of the fish were bright colors and beautiful. There had to be dozens upon dozens of different varieties of fish. And yes, we again were swimming with sharks. They are black tip sharks and are reportedly harmless. Mark had one come up to him within a few feet and harmless or not, he has had enough of shark watching. The coral was also magnificent with so many oysters you couldn't count them.

After the snorkeling, we did a drift dive through the channel. This was our first drift dive. You tied yourself to your dinghy with a long line and then snorkel through the channel allowing the current to take you through. Although the fish watching wasn't as good as at the aquarium, it was quite an experience to drift through the channel.

And then, we went into town to see the sites. Most of the towns in the Tuamotu Islands consist of one concrete main street with a church, couple of small grocery stores, a building selling local crafts and a couple of very small restaurants. We weren't planning on going into town so we had little money and not everyone had shoes. We figured we could afford a beer for each of us and a couple of bags of chips so that became our 11:30 am lunch. We sat at the picnic table outside the grocery store and several local men on their lunch break joined us. One gentleman spoke a little English and the rest of us practiced our French. We have been finding everyone in French Polynesia to be very friendly. We enjoyed their company greatly.

That evening the WARC boats in the lagoon were invited over to Zoe for a movie. They had a projector and let out their main sail. They projected the movie "Master and Commander" onto the sail for an 8:00 pm show time. Five dinghies arrived with beer and popcorn. Zoe handed out fresh baked brownies. All of us sat in our dinghies tied to Zoe and watched the movie. What an incredible experience! We have to do this at home with the Cruising Club of New England!!

While we were in Rangiroa, we also visited one of the Pearl Farms. We received quite an education about how they cultivate and harvest the pearls which is quite a scientific process. The farm we visited produced 1/12 of the pearls in French Polynesia. They produced approximately 300,000 pearls per year but only one to two percent of them were of the highest quality. Pearl farms are quite regulated so they are only allowed to use oyster shells that they catch in a special netting. Once the oyster shells are caught they take three years to become ready to make a pearl. In order to make the pearl, the shell is implanted with a round piece of mother of pearl which is made from another oyster's shell from Mississippi. Attached to this round ball is what is called a host. The host is a piece of another oyster which will actually grow around the mother of pearl ball to make the full pearl. This host gives the pearl its color. It takes two years for the pearl to be made. Once the pearl is fully grown, it is removed from the oyster by prying the oyster open by a couple of centimeters. They cannot be opened more than this amount otherwise the shell will crack. Once the pearl is removed, another mother of pearl ball is placed in the oyster but no new host is needed. The new pearl ball is a larger size ball which the oyster can now accommodate. The total number of times that an oyster can produce a pearl is three times. The final time would produce the largest size pearl. We were able to see the dozen technicians at work adding the balls and hosts to the oysters at a rate of 450 oysters per person per day. It was quite fascinating! Then of course we were allowed to shop in their store. I didn't feel the need to buy any Tahitian pearls because they were quite expensive. I did see a necklace I liked and Simone on s/v Serendipity encouraged me to find out how much it cost. I am usually very adept at picking out the most expensive jewelry in the store. The woman handed me the necklace and showed me the price. It wasn't too bad but still too expensive. Then she pointed to a sign which was in French indicating that all of the necklaces in the case were half off. She got out the calculator and punched in some numbers to give me the cost of the necklace in dollars. Suddenly, the necklace was an irresistible deal of the century.

A Pearl Being Harvested from the Oyster

Before we left the Pearl Farm we were given the edible part of one of the oysters which had produced its last pearl. Yes, I had a piece and was more enthusiastic than Mark about trying it. While in Rangiroa, we went to a barbeque at the Kiaora Resort with Magali and David (s/v Ensemble) and I had eaten several oysters which were quite good. The food at the barbeque was very French so we tried all sorts of new things like blood sausage and pig intestine. Since we have been in countries where English is not the primary language for the past several months, we have become accustomed to interpreting menus which are in another language. It's not uncommon for Mark to turn to me after ordering and ask me if I know what I ordered. My typical response is that I am not exactly sure but I am sure that I will like it. It does make for some interesting eating!

Sadly, we left Rangiroa on April 19th for the day and a half sail to Tahiti. We have made arrangements to have our boat hauled out to get the bottom painted. We also have some repair work to be done at the shipyard. Even more sadly, much of our time in Tahiti will be doing work on the boat. We have heard from many people that while circumnavigating you just get to do boat work with a better view.
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