S.V Condesa Del Mar

23 meter Herreshoff Schooner built in Wilmington Boat Yard California 1970 onwards. Fit out completed mid 1990's. Mark and Jenny Gaskell purchased Condesa November 2011 and crossed the Pacific Ocean in 2012.

25 October 2023 | Keppel Bay Marina
19 October 2023 | Rescue Bay -Middle Percy Island
13 October 2023 | Hamilton Island
30 September 2023 | Wide bay Bar
06 September 2023 | Brisbane australia
24 August 2023 | The Panama Canal
19 August 2023 | Linton Bay Panamá
11 August 2023 | Bonaire
07 August 2023 | Bonaire par of the king do of the Netherlands
01 August 2023 | Dominica
26 July 2023 | Antigua, West Indies
10 February 2023 | Hobart
06 March 2022 | Brisbane River
08 December 2021 | Gold Coast Queensland
20 November 2021 | Southport Yacht Club
17 November 2021 | The Great Sandy Straights
13 November 2021 | Coral Sea
06 November 2021 | Keppel Bay Marina
28 October 2021 | Hamilton Island heading south
13 October 2021 | Hook Island

The Lovers, The Dreamers and Fear

25 October 2023 | Keppel Bay Marina
Jenny Gaskell | Wind is Changeable, sunshine and clear skies
Harbours and Ports are a buzzing hub in any waterside town.
It has been a favourite loitering place along the east coast of Queensland for He Who Hums since he was flying under the radar as a young travelling salesman with a briefcase 🤓 in hand when the bug bit.
We now loiter marinas together viewing from a different perspective, with loads more respect, but the same level of wonder.
Next minute I blurt into the sea breeze "Marinas are awesome -aren't they! They are filled with strength, history craftsmanship and mystery." Surprising myself where that came from but appreciating all these boats have tales to tell, good bad and indifferent!
Some never stop working, like the Sydney Sun-dancer. She sails up and down the east coast of Australia hosting charter trips with other Blue water and champagne sipping lovers adrift at sunset.
Whatever the vessel, they can all sail the same waters, they just require someone with a dream and the time.
It makes no difference how big, or the media used, nor does the weight matter, the vessel. It will either shoulder through the waves, labour over it or skim the top.
By the time we walk back to Condesa on the furthest mooring out in the marina there is usually a likeminded loiterer or two looking closely at their reflection in the brass portholes, imagining the nightmare of a 12ft bowsprit or inspecting the simple but effective sail plan. Well, let's say they are usually the first set of questions asked.🙊
Sometimes the interest goes beyond "standing on the dock" timeframe, so it continues onboard and that's how easy sailing friends are made.
In my mind there is a Satelite of nautics drifting around the globe. Trillions of vessels, all shapes and sizes, moulded and shaped with a dedication, passion and curiosity. We often mention Captain James Cook, what an absolute legend! At least he knew he wouldn't fall off the world. I guess that was one less thing to worry about!
Oops, I digress. It could be 1, 5 or 10 years before you see these colourful characters again and you can pick up the sailing /travel stories right where you left off, anywhere in the world.
It's not for everyone, I appreciate that. Fear of the ocean can run thick in some people's veins, especially when they hear the words "night-sail, electrical storms and unfathomable depth"...🤐 it's what nightmares are made of, as it is for us too don't worry!
We work very hard to pick a good weather pattern. As for night-sailing we can't avoid due to our speed... or lack of. And deep waters, for some reason doesn't affect my mind at all. 🤷🏻‍♀️Go figure?
But each person on the water, just like the vessels are different, despite being cut from the same hardy cloth. They too can sail the same waters and will shoulder through, fly across or tie up and leave her idle in the marina for whatever reason. One I see 😳 is for reefs to grow on the bottom.
If you are lucky or crazy enough to resonate with, what they call "Blue water sailing" and survive Murphy's ongoing mind games,
then you'll know of the in-port and out-to-sea amazing discoveries you will have (not quite at Cook's level)😆
It's like opening your eyes under water. First try is hard to see what all the fuss is about. Don't give up, just "spit in your goggles" so to speak, and another world opens up. Here you are in charge of your own destiny I'm sure it's well beyond anything that travelling salesman imagined - way back when.🤯
The heart explosion moments are purely there to override the hellish scenarios you sometimes have to work through to reach your destination.
Simple as that really. I'm now off to clean my goggles, 'cause I have some reefs in my minds eye as a potential stopover. However, He Who Hums is like a homing pigeon. Once he turns to the south, his goggles are weather focused. To get Condesa home safely before the wind changes it mind is a real challenge best he get his quill and maps out.
Sailors/cruisers know things can change in a second out here, best I am prepared for anything and everything! 🤿

Take What You Get

19 October 2023 | Rescue Bay -Middle Percy Island
Jenny Gaskell | Sunshine - and 0-35knts over 24hrs

No, I won’t bang on about weather forecasts, there is so much else to be grateful for.
What I will say, and any vessels with a stick and a hanky will agree, the wind direction and consistency is pretty important. It is one of *Life’s Free Gifts.
We wait all day for what’s expected it to kick in. It’s nice to trickle down the coastline on magical flat waters but we would like to reach our destination today!😜
Yet again the sun sets and all coast guards clock off….and the elements decide to pick up with gusto!
So, night sailing with no moonlight, put simply 🤔let me see …imagine driving an unlit back road…over the speed limit without headlights.
Our electronic instruments say we have 25-30knts💨and travelling 7-8 knts, AGAINST the tide, so the occasional rogue waves join in. They dump on the decks, exactly like the big bucket at the water park…. nothing… nothing…nothing …then kaboom! 🧟‍♀️ There is no traffic out here according to our radar. I’m now counting our blessings all the container ships off Mackay were passed in the light of day! 🙌🏻
No observing from any wing-back captain’s chair from upon any bridge for us! We are in the saddle, down and dirty, as Condesa begins to race like a wild brumby through dense scrub. The adrenaline heightened a bit more by a warning light in the near distance, indicating rocks in the middle nowhere. We double, triple check our heading (set for Middle Percy anchorage) is going to miss them.
9pm rolls around, approximately one hour before we can drop anchor to complete today’s 14 hour sunny day out on what WAS *Placid aqua seas before this sea state broke loose.
He Who’s gruff is not happy with this unexpected rough up, but I remind him, it is water + wind, so what do you expect from those two elements combined?💁🏻‍♀️ Personally I’m loving the *enforced exercise, after two weeks of island time.
Yes, I’ve heard it all before, there’s a lot to be said terra firma and being in control of your surrounds at home. But you know, when you take whatever comes, it has you in the game, keeps you thinking, awake, alert and being outside of the comfort zone is a tad humbling especially out here. But the good news is, it makes for a *euphoric nights sleep.
Whoooow, let me back up a bit! As we near the island we cut our speed drastically by dropping all the sails. We motor in very close to eyeball the pitch black anchorage. The only thing visible are 20 mast lights rocking and rolling with the swell. Peering into the void, unable to identify boats let alone a space big enough to set our anchor. I thought to myself, this could be a bit of a shit show. Right then, He Who Hums returns from the front deck with his anchor remote in hand and suggests Rescue Bay would be better! Great idea, let’s hope Rescue Bay lives up to its name and through the pass we continue.
Next minute it’s 11.30pm 💁🏻‍♀️and we have ourselves a beautiful *mirror flat bay, only a few mast lights at the far end of this salvation. I was navigating this new anchorage with all my trust in the navionics screen to position us in close enough for protection and far enough away for change of tide for Condesa to swing. No vessels nearby to avoid, just aware there is a rocky point at this end of the bay not physically visible due to black on black., but I have it in my radar and in my gps map clearly. (PS spot lights only light up the air in front of you not the landscape.)😵‍💫
When all was said and done, we sat perfectly on the ⚓️ zone indicated with 30mtrs of chain out. Condesa shimmied in 25ft of water nodding off to a complete halt and all was set for that good nights sleep I mentioned.
He Who Hums of course gets up hours later to check on things and did a double take at the rocky point’s silhouette he first thought he could almost touch. 🤣No close but safe distance.
In the light of a new day we actually see what we have around us. 🌈 It was like a gift from heaven. So incredibly beautiful in fact He Who Hums even promised to return one day to *swim and *walk the sand dunes. The setting, glistening and twinkling to keep our attention, but “THE PLAN” is to keep moving south whilst we can, and I guess it is looking pretty good to go. 😑
I turn back to my position at the helm after trying to capture every sparkle in one last pano shot before I have to pull away.
As Edie and Lulu like to recite ever so wisely. “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!!”😆👍
So now, I wonder what this sweet and innocent new day will bring us, destination - Pearl Bay.🔮

Empty Nesters

13 October 2023 | Hamilton Island
Jenny Gaskell | Strong South Easterly sunny days

Well one week on Hamilton island celebrating our son’s 40th went way too fast. Now it’s time for us to get back to the forecast apps and pick a weather window to point Condesa south again.
Time spent with our family and their babies flew past at speed of sound. Sound.. let’s not talk about sound. Who knew it was illegal to have music playing after 5.30pm in your own air bnb? There is also a limited quota on buggies parked outside your accomodation! 🤣👎 But that’s as bad as it gets up here !!!! 🤗
Oh, unless I tell you about the medic required for a tumble from the infinity pool ledge or the food allergy reaction. Both incidents got all our undivided love and attention, thankfully on separate days.
Both of the family friends - one big and one small (but from the same family😳). They each came through with the help of our very own in-house nurse Hannah. In the end neither of them needed evacuating 😓🙏🏻, however a makeshift cast was required for our littlest friend who fell whilst in an inflatable ring that buffered her fall.
It brings me to the importance of up to date first-aid training and a well stocked first-aid kit onboard. I have had St John’s training for the past 10 years, thanks to Sailability bayside. He Who Hums has jested I actually have a hospital onboard since our Pacific crossing. I have now checked our epi pen and replaced the strapping tape, bandages and sling. It is surprising how the expiry dates on pain relief meds are from years past. I thought I checked annually, clearly not. 🙉
On another sad note no amount of first-aid saved the little swallow …He Who Hums lovingly handed to me as we departed Southport Marina. The mumma sparrow followed us looking for her labour of love nest, obviously it was tucked in the now hoisted main sail! 🤦🏻‍♀️
Oh Lordy, what’s a mother to do? I really didn’t want to get attached to this helpless baby chic. Nor did I want the round the clock feeding regime whilst sailing our first set of night watches.🙈 But out came the eye dropper and soft wadding from the first aid kit and the tiniest meals were given regularly for the first three days at sea.
I thought I was going mad, little chirping sounds heard over the volumes of the wind and water. I checked Sweetie (said we weren’t going to name 🫢) and nope - she was sound asleep, right on the instrument desk where I placed her tucked comfortably in one of He Who Hums deck shoe’s. Before you ask!……I needed something that wouldn’t fly or slip whilst sailing and also needed something we would see and remember whilst at the cockpit in the dark!
Yes, I felt a living nightmare unfolding too. He Who Hums asked regularly if I’d fed “Old Mate” (his name not mine 🙄)
Old Mate/Sweetie seemed to thrive for a few days, her little eyes opened, her baby feathers covered her pink/yellow skin and she got up on her feet, food went in and out as it should.
The other chirping I could hear stopped after day two, I don’t want to analyse where or how many there were caught in our sail cover 🐣 I’m glad I hadn’t realised that was the case at the time!
Anyway, shall we just say Sweetie got the best treatment for her short life and every time He Who Hums puts on that particular deck shoe I feel a faint little pain in my heart.
She had surprisingly declined rapidly on day 3. Frail as she became, she spread her wings and in her mind flew freely, giving life one last burst of energy but she couldn’t continue another full day.
PS Long after the difficult ‘burial at sea’, we pulled into Yeppoon and got out our runners (not used since the day we left the dock) there was a imprint from yet another family chick deep in the tread of He Who was Mute’s runner, perfectly flattened like a bloody miniature Tyrannosaurus fossil. Oh 😭 lord give me strength, I can’t even…..
😬Be brave jg, like the mumma bird and just like our other little injured friends were on Hammo. 🥰

Captured InTime

30 September 2023 | Wide bay Bar
Jenny Gaskell | Perfect clear day

After a feisty sail from GC without the guidance of any moonlight, we opted to cross Wide Bay Bar and take rest to break up the 48hour passage in the ocean. PS You know you can’t drop the anchor out in the big blue! 🤪
We stand-off allowing the morning light and higher tide to fill our world before He Who Never Hums prior to a bar crossing , radios for a report on the conditions. Unfortunately it was too early for any information on todays crossing. The only suggestion was to head east and look at the state of the entry conditions for ourselves.
We catch sight of broiling seas and felt as unsettled as the surface of the bar. So a bit more watching…waiting…wanting…but not really willing. Trying to not overthink the sandbanks that act like land mines. We don’t hesitate any longer and move to the entry.
You know, I think these conditions are only perfect for a keen photographer to freeze frame the moments of white water dancing high against the innocent early morning sky.
He Who Hums has all the responsibility for Condesa and it’s precious cargo.
Me? Oh my job is to firstly….. hand out the life jackets prior to entry and then to give a response to any uncertainties. 🤗
We have in hand, our updates GPS maps, amended waypoints and when you marry them to what you see it gives you the distinct feeling that you have all the gear and no idea. 🤓
Anyway, as I was saying it is my job to be the second set of eyes and ears to the equation. It’s the easier job. I just need to keep an eye on the screen and let He Who Hums know when to keep Condesa to port or starboard. Yes! I insist, keep to port! I resist looking but I can hear the wave building behind us and it sounds like a pearler. Any surfer would be wetting themselves with excitement. I keep my eyes forward, confident even with our bowsprit heading down a trough. Now I am able to estimate the heights behind us just as Condesa sits back into the wave , enjoying it, like she’s some sort of recreational surf ski.😜🌊
YES - I encourage with certainty, stay on this line! Watching our little yacht icon tracking the pink line on navionics, my bible and I have faith we are in the deepest path of the channel and looking good. he Who can’t Hum is looking at lots more still to come and possible saying a wee prayer.
All the vessels in the bay are poised waiting for our report to Coastguard Tin Can Bay once we are safely inside.
He Who ordinarily Hum’s voice is raspy, strained from a big stint at sea.
He speaks of a “boisterous bar” with 3-4 metre breaking waves. And we both instantly feel for the small yachts as they head out. Out of courtesy we wave back merrily, not wanting to burst their bubble. Clearly they haven’t sighted the sets of waves yet.
They leave bliss trailing in their wake from the fast emptying pond in which we anchor. We watch the Congo line of vessels head out, confident with the fact that a vessel has made it through. Or it could be a Safety-in-numbers thing… (I’m pretty sure that works better in the Animal Kingdom tan a fleet)🙈🙉🙈
However it appears that today is the day for at least a dozen vessels.
Airwaves break the first outbound boat has cleared the bar. Repeating our description only to add, they were so glad not to be “that vessel” surfing inbound. Ummm 🤭That’d be Condesa and she never gave any doubt in her ability as she held her line firm (43 tonne does that for you 😜), constantly reinforcing her magnificent seamanship.
The good ol Hereishoff Schooners - engineered and designed since the 1800’s for waters well beyond this mosh pit.
Us? Well we are built for response and responsibility and navigate the rest with huge respect for the sea.
* An old sea salt friend John Phorr gave us some sailing tips early days. “In moments of extreme situations, 9 times out of 10 it will be the crew who falter - not the vessel. (Noted!)

Well now, AMEN to us and all the people who are navigating obstacles on land or sea. Apply this where you will. This is only one of many tips I have kept up my sleeve. Thanks JP 😘🙏🏻

Little Home Truths

06 September 2023 | Brisbane australia
Jenny Gaskell | Spring
We are back!

Big cheers to one spectacular adventure with He Who Hums and Pedro; the world circumnavigator/ legend/sea-dog and Viking (incase you didn’t know).
The Caribbean voyage has left me with a kaleidoscope of Island memories and physically I feel free as a bird. 🕊️
I say “I” because He Who Hums feels a little lack lustre from the 3 leg flight home from Panama. After weeks of balmy nights spent sleeping on top deck ducking in and out as showers passed over him.🌧️
When one door shuts another opens they say. Both of us relieved to be through customs when the automatic doors of Brisbane International Airport open to reveal two sweet faces peeking over the rails, little hands gripping their signs larger than their small frames. WE are home!
Like always I cling to the joys of blue water sailing. Knowing it is the fragility of some things that gives more value to life.
So standing here on the threshold between land and sea I unpack some lessons learned.
On top of the list is patience, acceptance and faith, a gift from island people with nothing but big smiles. 🙏🏻
Then there is less clutter, simple living reliant on what you have available. Sailing life is as raw and real as the island grown food we consumed. All marked, pitted and imperfect, yet tastier, fuller and richer. Onboard it is mostly about the weather and the “power you find within” fills every other void. I can tell you just outside of our comfort zone is a place of absolute truth with no room for anything but the facts.
In the blink of an eye we are back in “perceived” reality. Reminded instantly of the role media plays in our everyday lives in the city. The breaking news alerts delivered with full impact.🙈 The old saying no news is good news is where I like to stay. I can’t tell you how peaceful it is not having access to the horrors of world news. I wouldn’t mind if it was balanced with good news but no…good news doesn’t sell 🤷🏻‍♀️
The best headlines for us on returning were two little signs -

Welcome Home G-Ma and Dar
Love Edie and Lulu!

That is all! Oh and Thanks for coming for the ride with us!

Monkey Fist

24 August 2023 | The Panama Canal
Jenny Gaskell | Perfect clear day - no rain
3.30AM SV Jade is poised in a bay this side of the Americas Bridge to take onboard our pilot for the canal. Meanwhile we 4 x line handlers get a briefing on aft deck, by Pedro.
" Listen up!! (Bit of pirate gruff) Once we reach the lock, good chance we will be a mid-canal tie up. So, they'll throw a line down to each of you with a monkey's fist on the end. Get out of the way or it will knock you out cold! You then need to tie a bowline joining THEIR line to YOUR line. Quickly attach it and send it back asap! Don't muck around they'll be waiting." I'm standing amongst 30mtrs of rather unruly rope in a 2ft square space. I can tell by looking at it that it will tangle up as it leaves the deck. ..*must sort that first.. then I need to do a few practice bowlines without the advantage of seeing what I’m doing. 😜
It is after 4AM the pilot-boat is meant to be here. Pedro continues -"When he gets here the Pilot will instruct you further but things might change, so be ready"🥺
I can hear and feel the adrenaline escalating around as the variables are adding up.
Being a Pilot in the Panama Canal is considered a VERY prestigious position. Roy Bravo, our fabulous agent said that I should check if the Pilot would like a hot breakfast as soon as he arrives, and apparently the preference is a hot lunch they I’m responsible for also.👩‍🍳😬
Ok, add that to the pile of knots at my feet and in my stomach. Jeeze I now need to use the loo, alas no time. Out of the dark "He/Senor" stepped onboard with a co-Pilot! 👨🏽‍✈️👨🏿‍✈️And we are off... I'm on my way to happiness or misery today 🎶ahh-hah, ahh-hah. 😚
With our position low to the water we could take in the workings of the magnificent lock system. Imagine this place in 1880 clearing the dense, dark and dangerous jungle. Add in torrential rain, landslides and tropical diseases.🧟‍♀️ A living nightmare for sure.
At 4PM the final lock gates opened to the sound of bells ringing and 100 tourist's cameras pointed down at the final lock and the lock gates opening at a glacial pace. Our diminutive yacht overshadowed by the multi level car carrier over 200 mtrs long with its head up in the clouds.
I hear three cheers from the upper deck of the 1913 Panama Canal Building.
We were celebrating too, happy to report no one lost an eye or a digit. 😝👍
SV Jade is well clear of the canal by 4pm when another pilot-boat miraculously appears. I watch the satiated and happy pilot and his +1 take a weighty leap across the gap between our boats. Their day done as it speeds off with VIP urgency.
We could finally drop our guard after 12 hours on task. A little frayed around the edges we may be but it hasn't unravelled any of us! Pedro's manoeuvring of Jade in and out of 3 ascending and 3 descending locks with a strong under current and random turbulence kept him on his game. Bravo all round.
Canal tally for Super Pedro is now 11! What a Viking!
A double monkey fist pump to you! 👊😅

Our Magic Carpet Ride

19 August 2023 | Linton Bay Panamá
Jenny Gaskell | Warm with heavy showers
Last night we anchored in Linton Bay, up close and personal to reefs and the jungle. As the darkness settles over the jungle the terrifying sound of the howling monkeys along with the all night drummers (maybe the Kuna Indians) hindered our sleep. Whoever it was the rain did not hinder them. He Who Hums stayed on top deck suffering all three, despite the ear plugs of gave him. Apparently the howler monkeys can be heard 3klm away even through thick jungle, so orange ear plugs were definitely not the answer. 🙉
At first light Jade quietly mooched out and around the many vessels. Some obviously abandoned, some with sleeping owners whose guard dog chatted us. The guard dog’s furry companion lifted his head, eye rolled and resumed his resting position. Another day and another threat. As is like the graveyard of masts protruding from the water yet motionless in our wake. I shudder at the tragic loss of these vessels. The hidden monkeys sounding way more upset than the agitated dog to see movement so early in the morning.
A beautiful day in front, rain clouds building behind and restless cranes stirring in one favourite tree waterside.
Underway we watch hard and heavy rain fall, some threaten us, others caught up to us. But there is nothing like a fresh deluge of rain to break up the journey and cool things down. An hour can disappear quickly along with the sight of land. With very large dump of rain I can imagine the ecosystem of the jungle (now non visible) is ignited. Under the huge canopy is home to jaguars, pumas, spider monkeys, anteaters sloths and armadillos. Would loved to have seen a sloth!
The Atlantic side of the canal is very different to the Pacific side where the city of Panama stands.
When we transit the Canal leaving the Atlantic it will be the end of Pedros stories. I have enjoyed hearing about Blackbeards antics, Sir Francis Drake discoveries and Sir Henry Morgan's callivary and the soldiers who were sent to conquer. Many of them would never have seen the cross fire coming.
We only spot the cannons and gunneries clearly as as we exit each beautiful location.
These lands now inhabited with the surviving generations of the Pre Columbian Indians, the Europeans - Spanish and Portuguese, French, Africans, the Dutch and German along with the island natives, who together create the tapestry of nationalities living in the Caribbean islands.
What a magical carpet ride it has been for us. We, who came from our own large island, far from the history of gold smuggling, pirate raids and bloodbath battles of these lands.
We love our place down under we call home in the Pacific. The lucky country Australia!
Vessel Name: La Condesa Del Mar
Vessel Make/Model: Herreshoff Schooner 73 ft
Hailing Port: Southport Brisbane Australia
Crew: Mark & Jenny Gaskell
Boat and water lovers from the east coast of Queensland. Both Mark and Jenny enjoyed an upbringing holidaying on the beautiful beaches of the Gold Coast where the smell of the ocean is ingrained at a young age. The passion grew with each vessel large and small over the years. [...]
Extra: Having conquered the east coast of Queensland Australia the biggest challenge and adventure was crossing the Pacific ocean in 2012 just months after purchasing. Leaving La Paz Mexico in March 2012 reaching for Australian waters October 2012. We love the simplicity and beauty of being live-aboards.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/svcondesa
La Condesa Del Mar's Photos - The Sea of Cortez
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