s/v Charabia

18 July 2019 | North Atlantic
17 July 2019 | North Sea
16 July 2019 | Mersey River
15 July 2019 | St George's Channel
15 July 2019 | English Channel
13 July 2019 | Forest of Arden, England
12 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
11 July 2019 | Leicestershire, England
10 July 2019 | Waltham Abbey
09 July 2019 | Dover, UK
08 July 2019 | North Sea
07 July 2019 | kattegat Strait
06 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
05 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
04 July 2019 | Baltic Sea
03 July 2019 | Gulf of Finland
02 July 2019 | St. Petersburg, Russia
01 July 2019 | Gulf of Finland
30 June 2019 | Gulf of Finland
29 June 2019 | Gulf of Riga

Queen Mary 2 - Sea Day - 09/18/19

18 July 2019 | North Atlantic
Up around 7:30. Watched some tv and took our time getting dressed. Decided to try out the dining room for breakfast today. Headed to Deck 2 and got a seat at a table with 6 other passengers, all from the UK. Enjoyed our breakfast, although they did not scramble my eggs long enough for my liking. By this time, I was not wanting to eat anything else. Lots of good conversations from everyone. After breakfast was over, we tried to walk around outside, but it was too cold and wet. The high today was only 14C. It was raining lightly when we were up on Deck 13. We did not stay very long. None of the deck chairs were out. The seas were very lumpy. Mark guessed that the waves were around 8 foot. It was definitely a choppy sea day. I was ever so glad that we were not sailing in Charabia. We are getting much closer to Iceland, having just passed thru the Iceland Basin area of the North Atlantic. The depths here are well over a mile. No, we have not seen any ice bergs. Apparently, when we stay overnight in Reykjavik, we then depart around 2 pm. That is earlier than scheduled due to ice berg sightings on our original route to Canada. We walked around more of the ship today. I am still not finding my way around very well. We didn't walk the deck as it was raining and much too cold here. We attended today's lecture from Margaret Gilmore on Reporting Terrorism, Writing History. It was most interesting as she documented a lot of the terrorist acts especially in London back in July 7, 2005. There was Britain's version of 9/11. We decided to have lunch in an alternate restaurant so we selected the pub called the Golden Lion. The tables were full but there were a few chairs at the bar, so we took a seat. Mark ordered the fish and chips and I had a chicken dish. Then we shared a dessert. Mark tried one of the drafts they had on tap. There was someone playing songs on the piano, which were all familiar songs. They asked if we had any requests to write them on a paper. I asked Mark to suggest the theme for the Titanic movie by Celine Dion, but he wouldn't. After lunch, we headed back to our cabin. Watched some tv and then took a nap. Mark was complaining that his sinus were bothering him today. We both slept soundly. I actually had a dream where Mark and I were competing against each other and he went in one direction and I went in another. I was the winner. He didn't care for my dream. We showered and got ready for tonight's dinner at 6 pm in the Britannia Restaurant. Terry and Sheila were already at the table when we got there. John and Nancy arrived after soon after. We had a lovely dinner together. I selected the vegetable entree while Mark had veal entree. After dinner, we went back to our cabin since it was too early for tonight's show. The sun was finally shining and the seas looked much calmer than during the day. At least it was clearer on the horizon. We headed down to the Royal Court Theater for the Duo Bolshakov 'In Above The Sky' performance. Alexey and Anastasia, from Moscow, entertained us and received a lot of standing ovations for their brilliant acrobatic duo show. After the show, we visited Deck 7 for some self serve ice cream and a hot drink. Mark had coffee and I found some hot chocolate. We stopped by the Queens Room to watch the ship's orchestra playing ball room dancing music. They added a singer when we got there. Lots of people on the dance floor. They have several paid dancers to keep the ladies on the dance floor. It was interesting to see. We stopped briefly at the roulette wheel but my numbers did not get selected. Headed back to our cabin and am working on today's blog entry. We are watching a movie. It's plenty light outside. No land in sight yet. The sun sets late in this part of the world. Mark thinks it will be light all night long. Thanks to everyone for your emails and messages. Our ship will be docked in Iceland when we wake up. Mark is setting the alarm to get up early. We fall back one hour with tonight's time change. We are looking forward to our time ashore.

Queen Mary 2 - Sea Day - 07/17/19

17 July 2019 | North Sea
We actually slept in today. We woke up around 8:30. I do believe we both slept better. Watched some news. Mark was able to get some cell coverage off our close proximity to Ireland. I was trying to send a photo with an email, last night, but there was no signal. That email finally sent this morning. Headed to Deck 7, Lido, for breakfast today. We each had an omelet with veggies, bacon and a muffin. The roaming waiters took our drink order for orange juice and water. Then we got some tea and water to take back to our cabin. Our cabin steward had not yet cleaned our cabin, so we went for a walk around the ship. It was cold and rainy outside, so we stayed indoors. It was only 16C today. The seas were up to 10 foot and we could feel a bit of motion at times. The strong breeze, kept me indoors today. My sinus cold was so much better today. So, thanks to all of you that were sending me healing. Mark and I stopped at the many game tables and played scrabble. Most of the other games were taken. I was the winner when we finally gave up. By this time it was well after lunch. We decided to go to the dining room for lunch today, just to try it out. It was one of the best meals I have had. Mark enjoyed his too. We shared our table with a couple from Pennsylvania and two ladies from the UK. We had a lovely conversation. After lunch was over, we headed to the Royal Court Theater with the Celebrity Lecturer, Margaret Gilmore on Superpowers And Spies. It was very interesting. She drew a huge crowd. After it was over, we walked around some of the other decks. We walked outside briefly, but it was still very windy. The sun shone briefly as the rains stopped. We came back to our cabin and rested. Actually, we watched a movie. We received a call reminding us of our Kings Court Alternative dining scheduled for 7pm tonight. We showered and got ready for the 5:15 pm cocktails in the Queens Room. The line up to greet the captain was too long, so we went in the second entrance. We met the Vice Captain, Carl, and enjoyed a lovely chat with him. He was very interested in our sailing adventure. Mark gave him one of our boat cards. The waiters greeted us with full trays of assorted beverages. We both selected a fruity rum drink. We were invited to join a table of Canadians from Toronto. We had a lovely chat with them. The Cruise Director introduced the Captain, who gave a short speech welcoming everyone on board. He mentioned there were 81 passengers from Canada and over 800 from the US. Most passengers were from the UK. Then he introduced his Senior Officers. Decided to head to the casino and play some roulette. We each started with $20 and had incredible luck today. I decided to cash out as I had tripled my initial stake. Mark played a few more rounds and had two additional hits. We cleared $100. We happily headed back to our cabin, as our dinner was at a later time tonight. We arrived at the Kings Court dining room at 7pm. We were seated at a table for 2 right in front of a window. It was cloudy outside and the waves were still quite sizable. The restaurant was on Deck 7, which is also the walking deck. We got to see a few people getting some exercise while we ate. Most of what we ordered was very good. However, they did not cook my beef enough, plus it was not very tender. We each had too much food, so I was not going to replace it with anything else. Plus, we wanted to be done in time to get a seat at the tonight's Singer and Dancing show called Apassionata. It was an extravaganza of exciting styles of dances from around the world. They did a great job. We headed back to our cabin. The ship has a lot more motion as we head much further north in the North Sea. Created the blog which Mark will post shortly. We bought some Wifi minutes. Thanks to all for your emails and messages. We will have limited wifi going forward, but we will continue to post the blog each night. Enjoy your day.

Ashore in Liverpool - 07/16/19

16 July 2019 | Mersey River
We woke up around 7:30 but tried to sleep a bit more. We could get off the ship any time, but most of the tourist places would not open early. So, we took our time. Got up and dressed and headed to Deck 7, Lido, for breakfast. We each had omelets. Drank lots of orange juice today, trying to fight off my sinus cold. We vacated our cabin just after 9 am. The cabin staff was ready to let in the maintenance staff to repair the flooring in our cabin. There was a noticeable dip and I was afraid of tripping and falling. We walked down to Deck 2, but still had to go one more deck down in order to get to the gang plank. It was a good walk to get to the floating dock and over to shore. They had a few areas with locks. We were told that the tides are around 25 feet and on both sides of the Mersey River, they built up special surfaces of rock which are recipients of the the low to high tide waves. They also protect the land from sliding away. We walked along the water front, stopping at one of the buildings. We could have taken a tour, but decided to wait till later in the day. We did visit the Maritime Museum. Lots of history and artifacts from ships along the years. There were also several memorials built to honor the fallen ones from all wars. So much history. We saw the Fab Four statue and cafe along the water. We worked our way over to the main shopping area. We stopped for a coffee and hot chocolate as I was needing something mid morning. We found a big indoor shopping mall. Mark was in search of a white shirt, since he didn't buy one along the way and he did not pack one from home. He was successful in finding a shirt and it turned out to be half price, which was even better. I visited with a local, who was also a sailor and loved to hear about our adventure. We walked around the main city area. Mark was looking for a wine store. Eventually, we found a Tesco store, which was great. Also, picked up some laundry detergent as they have a laundry room on our deck, very close to our cabin. It's probably time to run a couple of loads. We walked back to the ship around 2 pm. Dropped off our purchased in our cabin and noticed that our floor repair was complete. It's a lot better. Then we headed up to Deck 7, Lido, for lunch. I ate some cooked veggies and a slice of turkey plus a spinach crepe. Drank some more orange juice as well as some hot chamomile tea. There is a great selection of foods, hot and cold, plus a variety of desserts. Then headed back to our cabin. Caught up on our emails while we still have coverage. I posted pictures on Facebook. The took a short nap. They interrupted our sleep time with the mandatory safety drill for the passengers newly onboard. We did notice a lot of suitcases put out last night. Many people got on in Southampton and got off the ship today. That meant that many new passengers got on today. I think I had just fallen asleep. We got up and showered. Mark booked us a rental car in Iceland. That is our next stop. Our ship will remain there overnight, so we have two days of touring. Should be exciting. Got dressed up for dinner. I wore a pair of short white pants with a nice colorful top. Mark wore slacks and a golf shirt with his mandatory suit jacket. They won't allow any men in the dining room if they are not wearing a jacket. Terry and Sheila were already at our table. John & Nancy missed dinner as they had booked a length bus ride tour to Wales. Had a lovely dinner tonight. I skipped the starter, but enjoyed a dessert. Our dining time was much faster tonight. We decided to head back to our cabin and watch the send-off party from our balcony. The shore was full of Liverpool-ites. Lots of people and very crowded in places. There was a stage set up with a band and singers performing a special concert for us. We were supposed to leave around 7:30pm. They added a band with more songs and ended with some opera singers. It was fun to watch. We made a few phone calls. What a lovely way to end our stay today. They dropped the many dock lines and shot off a good amount of fireworks. We are heading out the Mersey River now. The sun has not yet set. It's 21C and very flat waters. It will take us a couple of hours to get thru to the mouth of the river. We are traveling slowly as the tide is very low. We missed our Comic Show tonight as we want to take advantage of our wifi connection as long as we can see land. Thanks for the many emails and messages. We can feel some vibrations. Not sure what that means. Our next stop will be Iceland. Our garmin will be working and marking out our course. Please send us a message, if you can. Would love to hear from you.

Queen Mary 2 Sea Day - 07/15/19

15 July 2019 | St George's Channel
Woke up late today. Took our time getting up. Missed the breakfast time in the main dining room, so got dressed and headed to Deck 7, Lido. We each had eggs and bacon, plus a fresh muffin. We walked around Deck 7, along with many other passengers. Some were running. One guy wore a t-shirt stating that he had run 52 marathons in 52 weeks. How incredible! The weather was warmer and sunny out. The many lounge chairs along the edge were all taken with passengers. Some were reading, some were in shorts, catching a few rays. Surprised to see so many outside. We also saw a few people in the hot tub, but no one was in the any of the pools. Maybe the water is too cold for that. The high today was just around room temperature. Light winds made it very pleasant. We discovered an elevator on each side of the ship with a glass wall so we could see the ocean on each side. We found some hallways out to the front of the ship and took some pictures. Mark noticed several dolphins off the bow. Not sure if any of them made it to our pictures. Then we headed to the Royal Court Theater for a talk on The Terrorist Hunters with a former BBC reporter named Margaret Gilmore. She will be doing more talks throughout this cruise. We then attended our first show in the Illuminations Planetarium titled 'Wildest Weather in the Solar System'. It was entertaining. We headed back to Deck 7, Lido, for a late lunch. We did some more walking before heading back to our cabin. I decided to see if I could fall asleep, as I was not feeling that well. I am coming down with a cold. Mark went to listen to a lecture from the Astronomer, Dr Johnathon Crass, on 'Our Place in the Universe'. Mark says he is trying to arrange a dark sky night, which would be great. We showered and changed for our formal dining night. Met up with Terry, Shiela, John and Nancy. We were entertained by a few string classical musicians. It seemed like our service was very slow as it took a full two hours for our dinner. We were likely the last table to leave today. Decided to try our luck at the casino, for the first time. They accept US dollars and just $1 minimum on the roulette table. Our numbers were not selected. We got to see a huge amount of very large wind mills out in the water beside our ship. Not many of them were working. The water was pretty glassy, so must have been a lack of wind to blame. We headed up to Deck 7, Lido, to pick up a hot drink. Mark enjoyed the self-serve ice cream. Catching up on wifi as it was not working thru the day. We must have been too far off shore to connect with their cell towers. It is 17C here at 10 pm. The water is very flat. Our speed is only 11 knots as we are getting closer to Liverpool. The tide will be high just after midnight which will be the correct time to enter the river or channel on route to Liverpool. We will be at the dock long before we wake up as the tv channel showing our current position is stating we will be at the dock at 1 am. Thanks for your emails and messages. Enjoy your day!

Boarded the Queen Mary 2 - 07/14/19

15 July 2019 | English Channel
The alarm woke us up at 7 am. We got dressed and finished packing up. Mark took our gym towels and key back to the front desk. Loaded our bags into the car and we were off before 8 am. We drove about an hour before stopping at a rest stop and had some breakfast. Mark kept noticing people wearing F1 shirts, as they were most likely heading to Silverstone for today's British F1 Race. Mark asked someone if they were going to the race and they said yes. Then he asked how far was the track and they said they didn't know. I guess they were using Google Maps or their GPS to get them there. We later heard that there were 130K people in attendance. It was a cool morning, or at least I felt cold walking outside. The sky was very overcast at times. It drizzled some as we headed towards Southampton. Our drive time was around 3 hours. There were plenty of cars on the high ways. Some of the major high ways were closed with the F1 race today. We passed thru green hillsides, some filled with sheep and others with crops like wheat and something that I didn't recognize. We headed towards London before branching off to a different M high way. We were thankful for the car having a good gps. The only issue was the way they mark the exits on the round abouts, or should I say the lack of markings. It would be so very helpful, if they could better identify each of the exits as some did not match the gps. A few of the round abouts had traffic lights in-between and also printed the high way number on each lane. That was the better ones. We had to go around one of them twice as the high way number was included on two different exits and Mark missed the first one. We arrived early in Southampton, so we checked into the recommended tourists locations. We decided to check out Bargate. These ruins were left over from the original stone gate and wall around the city from hundreds of years ago. I got a lot of good visions from touching it. Then we walked a block or so away and found Tudor House and paid 5 Pounds each to get in. They gave us an audio device so we could hear the history on each room and . Watched a movie for a while and then did the tour. The gardens were beautiful. We loved all the canons and artifacts from years gone by. Lots of royals visited this house. They also had stone walls which gave me a glimpse of life a long time ago. They even had a bunker in the basement level, which was used during WWII. We cut our stay short as it was getting after lunch time and we had to return our rental car by 1 pm. We drove to the hotel that was storing our one suitcase and picked it up. Then we drove to the Eurocar location, but it was closed today. We dropped off the car and Mark arranged an Uber ride to take us the short distance to the ship. It was 1 pm when we arrived at the Queens Elizabeth II Cruise Terminal. We dropped off our two big suitcases and kept our small bags as we headed to the line. The line was huge wound around and all the way outside of the terminal. We didn't realize that it was going to take us two hours of inching in their queues to get to the check in area. None of the passengers were happy. I posted some queue pictures on Facebook. Even the Queen Mary II Captain mentioned it in his welcome speech prior to the Safety Drill. He did not offer an explanation of why it took so long to get aboard. We located our cabin on Deck 4 and our luggage was already there. We met our cabin steward, Lito. Then we headed to Deck 7, Lido, for a very late lunch as it was already after 3 pm. We had a quick bite as we knew that our Mandatory Safety Drill was coming up at 4:30. Mark was happy to see the self-serve ice cream! We had to carry our life jackets with us. We got there early and were able to find an empty seat. Then there were multiple ship announcements about delays. We really don't know the reason for the delays. Several elderly passengers showed up and had to stand as there was no more seats available. Mark donated his seat to an old lady, who was very grateful. We took our life jackets back to the cabin and started unloading our suitcases. We didn't get finished as our 6:00 dinner hour was rapidly approaching. We got dressed and headed to Deck 3. Two other couples joined us. John & Nancy were from north of Toronto in Canada, and Terry and Sheila were from England. The Canadians arrived a couple of days ago while the Brits took a 9 hour bus ride today. We didn't eat much for dinner, as we had eaten lunch so late. After dinner, we headed up to the highest decks to take some pictures of our ship heading out the Solent. We stopped by our cabin, briefly and then headed to Deck 2, to watch the Beatles Experience. It was lots of fun with all familiar songs performed. Then we walked around a little bit, but I wanted to get back to our cabin as my nose was starting to run. Not sure where I picked this up. We are not seeing people using the hand sanitizers, like they did on the Sea Princess. As soon as I finish this blog, I am planning on heading to sleep. We have gotten to the end of the Solent and are heading out into the English Channel. We have tomorrow as a day at sea before our first port stop in Liverpool, England. Thanks for the many emails and messages. Have a great rest of your day!

England - 07/13/19

13 July 2019 | Forest of Arden, England
The alarm went off at 7 am. We caught up with today's news and weather report. It was supposed to be 24C today. We showered and dressed and then headed to the dining room. Today, there were lots of other guests in the dining room, plus the adjacent private dining area. Mark and I both had an egg, bacon and toast meal. I asked if they would cook mine very well. However, it came as a fried egg that looked to be cooked only on one side. So, I sent it back and asked them to cook it longer. It came back brand new and in the same condition, so I really didn't eat it. They had some fried bread, which actually tasted like bread crumbs, so I didn't eat it either. They also had several types of fresh fruits and cereals to offer for breakfast. After breakfast, we headed back to our room and got packed up to leave. It was around 9 before we headed to Nottingham. We were a little early, so we stopped by the Nottingham Castle, only to find it was under construction until next year. We got to see some of the statues and plaques, but that was it. Then we drove to The Railway restaurant. Imelda, Lorraine and John were already there. It was so nice to meet up with our cousins that we haven't seen in way too many years. We caught up over a very delicious lunch. Then just as we were wrapping up, Imelda, who walks with a cane, fell on the hardwood floors. Luckily, there was a doctor in the table next to us, who helped out. An ambulance was called and we waited until she was safely loaded in and off to the hospital. We found out later that she needed to wait for a ct scan to see if there was any damage in her neck. We said good-bye to John & Lorraine and drove towards Southampton, to a hotel that Mark had already booked in Forest of Arden. We didn't realize this was a golfing paradise. There were many golfers on the course and in the hotel area. We went for a walk on their trail, but it was quite overgrown with long branches with thorns. We decided to head back to the hotel and check it out. They had a huge indoor pool, work out room and at least two restaurant/cafes. We enjoyed a bite to eat at the cafe. Then got changed into our swim suits and headed to the pool area. They had a hot tub, sauna and steam room as well as a pool. We tried them all out. The sauna was 80C. We didn't stay too long since the facilities were closing at 10 pm. Headed back to our room and showered. Caught up on emails and messages. Thanks for sending them our way. We plan to get an early start tomorrow, heading to Southampton. We need to retrieve our suitcase and return our rental car and board the Queen Mary II after lunch. As we drove up to the hotel, we noticed a sign to watch out for peacocks. Then we remembered that yesterday, a peacock ran across our path as we drove back to the Kilworth House. We stopped and ran out with my camera to get a picture. However, the peacock ran away at great speed and I didn't get a picture at all. Our time in England has flown by. We packed so much into our days here.
Vessel Name: Charabia
Vessel Make/Model: Fountaine Pajot / Athena
Hailing Port: Jacksonville, FL
Crew: Mark &Helen
We are both computer folks that were live aboard cruisers back in the 90s. We settled in Jacksonville Florida after escaping the great white north and cruising the Bahamas, T&C, DR and points south down to Trinidad. [...]
Extra: Charabia is a French slang word for nonsense or gibberish. It derives from Arabic "sharab" which means alcohol.When you drink (too much) alcohol, you start talking Charabia. The original owners named her and Mark liked the name so it stuck.
Charabia's Photos - Upgrades
Photos 1 to 79 of 79 | Main
Port Chainplate
from the outside
Inside Chainplate
Starboard chain plate: Inspected and re-bed chainplates
Screen for Movie Projector
New Main Sail
New Galley Faucet
New Faucets in both Heads
Deck Flood Lights & LED Steaming light Install
Flood Lights at Night
New electrical panel for outdoor lights
Cockpit & Aft Flood LED lights
Underwater LED Lights
Re-upholstering: Helen did a great job re-covering the seats & cusions around the main table
Re-upholstering - another view
New Microwave: Also had to install a new larger inverter to handle the load from the microwave.
Re-Finished main saloon table
Re-wiring Solar Panels: Spliting off the 5th panel and putting it on it
New Standing Rigging: Took a lot of trips up the mast
New Turnbuckel
Sta-Loc fitting at end of new forestay
Triming the furler extrusion: Done while repacing the forestay
Attaching the new forestay: Thanks to Jim for all the help!
New Water Pumps Install - both engines: Had to use an air powered impact wrench to get one stubborn bolt out.
Installing new water pumps: Water pump is at the very bottom of the engine and the only access is from the top...
Installing Non-skid in the Cockpit
Non-skid in cockpit
More Non-Skid
Hull Repairs
New  Drouge
Charabia just out of the water
Re-bed aft rub rails
New 3 blade feathering props
Fresh anti-fowling paint
New fuel vent
Repaired anchor kick plate
Replaced Rudder Bearings: Thanks to Jim, Chris & Helen for the help getting the rudders off and back on.
Saildrive Out
New Diaphragm: This I hired a mechanic for - Replace rubber diaphragms on both sail drives and installed new motor mounts on both engines.
Installing new vent
Polishing Crew: Thanks to Helen & Chris for all the hard work!
Mast head maintenance
Plumbing for Watermaker
Watermaker - top view
Watermaker front view
Watermaker Thruhull #1
Watermaker Thruhull #1 outside
Watermaker thruhull #2
Watermaker feed to water tank
New head installed: with larger bowl
New Head Pump
Removing old flooring
New Flooring - main saloon
New Flooring - stairs
More New Flooring
New Trampoline: It was a real bear to strech the new trampoline to fit
Radar Mount
Installing Radar
Radar install helper
Radar under the cover
New Boat Graphics and New Sail Cover
Radar Mounted
Radar Working!
2nd  New Head Installed: Including modified lid to open in the limited space.
Cleaned up Under Sinks
Winch Maintenance Underway
Splicing double braid rope for the Drouge contol line
More Splicing
Almost done
Finished Splice with whipping and themble
Replaced Main Halyard: The end of the main halyard is tied off at the top of the mast so it took a trip up the mast.
Repairs to the new Sailcover
Added 3rd Reef Control Line
Replacing steering cables
New Steering cables
New chart table repeater for instruments : Old one literally burned out cutting off power to the rest of the Raymarine instruments so really had to replace it.
Wiring for new repeater: Of course new repeater is SeatalkNG the old is original Seatalk so had to install a mini NG network with the converter to talk to the existing devices.
Replaced rusting bolts on the deck lights: Ok not really an upgrade but needed maintenance
Mast climb helper!