Freebirdie's Sailin' Blog

22 November 2011 | Seattle
01 August 2011 | Santa Maria di Leuca
03 July 2011 | Greece
15 June 2011 | Gulf of Corinth
05 June 2011 | Athens
28 May 2011 | Poros Greece
25 April 2011 | Symi Island
13 April 2011 | Naxos, Greece
20 February 2011 | Istanbul, Turkey
30 January 2011 | Ephesus
28 January 2011 | Marmaris
16 January 2011 | Selcuk, Turkey
31 December 2010 | Marmaris
24 October 2010 | Cappadocia, Turkey
16 September 2010 | Marmaris Turkey
26 August 2010 | Fethiye, Turkey
19 August 2010 | Marmaris
03 August 2010 | Larnaca Cyprus
01 August 2010 | Mediterranean Sea
30 July 2010 | Ashkelon Marina

Day 9

27 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Hip Hip Horray!!! We've made it across the dreaded Gulf of Mannar. We really just had one bad night of MAYTAG. This morning the wind filled in from the Northwest and we were flying along the coast at 9 knots in smooth water. Now it's 11AM and the wind has died completely. There are fishing boats everywhere. At least it's light out and we can see to dodge them. We don't know how there can possibly be a fish left in the world??? We have 58 miles to go to Cochin. Looks like we'll be arriving in the dark afterall, darn it!. We're motoring again. It's so calm that Judy has started the washing machine. We had a celebratory breakfast this morning of Leggo waffles and sausage. We are only about 5 miles off the coast but it's so smoggy that you can't see it. Welcome to India.

Last night ~ hopefully

26 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
We are approaching the coast of India. I'm on watch & Dave is trying to nap for NiteFighting later! When we were off the coast of Sri Lanka 2 nights ago there must have been a hundred boats around us during my 4 hr shift. There was so many times i wanted to run down & get Dave every few minutes as when i would pick my course between 3-4 boats only to find one had turned around & was coming towards us or another one had stopped instead. It was absolute chaos. A few had flashing blue traps that would pop up just as you were about to go around the boat. YIKES, i was white knuckling it going around them. Dave does such a much better job of judging the distance and knows how far off to fall off or dip down than me. I am almost panicked by the enormity of it. We managed. Tonight there is a misty fog to add to the mix....Boy does that 1/2 moon ever help!!! At sunset there wasn't any clouds blocking the view of the huge orange/red sun setting on the horizon. I stood on the highest part of the boat watching for the green flash. Linda Wallitner told me if you get the last rays that emanate from the sunbeam you are supercharged for the next day. And boy do i ever need it. There were times last night when i was ready to call Kenmore Air Harbor in Seattle for my at sea pickup!!! Dave enjoys the challenge! Boy, are we ever ready to be back in port after 9 days. We haven't done any of these long passages lately. Davey managed to fix the knot meter & the holding tank, in his time off, BUT, not the toilet seat. Rough out here tell ya!

Day 8

25 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Ahhhhhh, still tuned in for the post game wrap up show? Oh, sorry, the game is still in overtime. Gridlock or something. All along we have been hearing about boats having big winds and high seas in the Gulf of Mannar. Naturally our course is across this very same body of water. Guess what?? We are getting our ass kicked. The wind picked up to 30 knots last night (just at dark, isn't that ALWAYS the way?) and has held steady since.(Now 11 AM) Freebird was skipping along over the wave tops as happy as can be. Unfortunately, the occupants of Freebird are not as happy. Imagine being in a small container in a giant Maytag washing machine, on the spin cycle. We had a full main sail and full jib up when it hit and now we only have a double reefed jib flying (scrap of Jib). We were seeing boat speeds over 10 plus knots but it was so miserable. It's still pretty miserable but not so bad now that we are reefed down. Waves are crashing under the bridge deck and sound like canon blasts. Lucky I can't hear too well...poor Judy... Pretty much everything & everybody on this poor boat has been violently shaken for hours. We have about 12 to 14 hours until we come up under the lea of the Indian coast. We haver seen many ships...Take a look at the picture. The black lines are AIS tracks of ships recorded during our passage.

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Get Cookin

25 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
The saying goes.......... When the going get's tough the tough get ................... you'll never guess........... the tough get cooking. That's right. Whenever there is impending peril judy goes down into the galley & fortifies us with sustaining food, warding off the evils that are looming ~ literally on our horizon. Today was no exception. Sometimes when in the heat of the turmoil i'm not always ready, but if she can get to me before, well then, that's another story. Usually, it's my lucky day because that's our armour. Today it was chicken tostados from taco shells with guacamole & fresh salsa . She baked us a chocolate cake with extra cupcakes just in case. For my part i took a chance in tactical maneuvers. Instead of blasting out into the middle of the Gulf of Mannar i choose to try & sneak us up along coast as far north as we could go & then follow the land around down on the other side. This way we would avoid the HEAVY ship traffic & mostly be out of the head winds. Sure enough, we have wind on the nose so we are once again motoring. The swells are big but without all the short steep wind chop we are fairing better than most ~ so far ~ It's still early in the crossing.... Stay tuned later when we do the after game highlight show. Ciao for now

Day 7

24 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
About 30 miles from the Sri Lanka coast we were approached by two fishing boats. They were about 60 feet long and each had about 10 people crawling all over them. They were all waving and smiling ..."smokie" they requested. Normally we don't promote the tobacco habit but we had prepared for this by having on hand some very cheep "smokies" They were offering fish for trade. Their boat was rocking and rolling and maneuvering close to Freebird. We waved off the fish because we could imagine having a 60 foot fishing boat stuck in our top sides. What to do? ....We sealed a pack of cigarettes with some cookies in zip lock bag and tossed them over board in hopes that they would head for it instead of our boat......It worked! They all gave a big yell and waved. The vessel veered away and went for the package..... It's now dark and the radar is covered with freckles. The horizon is covered with hundreds of lights. It's difficult to tell the fishing boat lights from the stars. . We must keep our eyes on them as they seem to be all heading in different directions and changing coarse constantly. The only navigation lights, if any are an all around white light. It's completely dark. The moon has disappeared below the horizon. The air is soft and filled with the scent of burning coconut husks. Freebird is ghoasting along in a gentle breeze and we can see the lights of small villages on shore.

Day 6

23 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Our navigation system says 4 days to Cochin..There is no wind and we are motoring very slow to save fuel. At this rate, we should be at the southern tip of Sri Lanka in 24 hours. The sound of the motor gets very old. At least it's calm and sleep comes easy. We both logged 4 plus hours of sleep over the night. This was after our real home made spaghetti dinner (a little wine & bread too). WOW. We are starting to see a few ships. They are a menace because it's hard to tell what direction and speed they are going. Fortunately we have our new AIS system. This "add on" to our navigation system is a big help. It actually shows the ship in relation to Freebird on the electronic chart on the computer screen. It computes the closest point of encounter and estimates the time of the closest encounter. We detect the ship 25 or more miles away..long before we can see it. (8 Miles) It actually shows the ships name and radio call sign so we can call them if we see a problem. We have asked several ships to alter course and they cooperate fully. We only had about 6 flying fish on deck this morning.

Day 5

22 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
We've been watching the moon grow every night. It was directly overhead at sunset last night. The skies were completely free of clouds. Even this quarter moon provides enough light to see things on deck and to view the horizon. It sank into the Indian Ocean around midnight...... Then....almost complete darkness... As you spend a few minutes on deck you realize that the stars are actually providing some light. Still.....very very dark. The seas were calm and a light wind pushed us along ....feels like you are suspended in space... stars all horizon...floating...

Our auto pilot gave up just to add a little suspense just after dark! Fortunately we have two. Now we are watching this one closely hoping it hangs in there. We still have 640 nautical miles to go...4 or 5 days. Not fun if you have the wheel in your hands the whole time. Pray for our auto pilot.

Had the fishing lines out all day yesterday without a bite ...maybe today? Every morning we have to clear the deck of dead flying fish. They do kamakazi attacks on Freebird all night. Judy was just barely missed in the cockpit last night as one jetted in. We find them everywhere....even up in the sail.

As I write the sun is coming up in a perfectly clear sky. Judy is off watch asleep. The wind is coming up a little too... Freebird is starting to kick up her heals.........

Day 4

21 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Nice night . Wind held all night. We've been on a beam reach for two and a half days. Yesterday was pretty bumpy... The seas finally calmed last night. We both got good sleep. Amazing what 4 hours will do. No rain, clear skies, lots of stars. We can see both the big dipper and the southern cross at the same time now. There's a mystical quality about being alone on watch on a quiet night sailing.......This morning: sunny and hot..light wind ...still beam reaching.. Cochin...776 nautical miles to go...... 6 days 4 hours 3 minutes according to our trusty GPS

Day 3

20 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Some of you have emailed us with the news that our positions on the map are incorrect. Thanks for the heads up. We have no way of checking or correcting it from here... We just send them and hope. Our gps inputs directly into each blog message so I'm not sure what the deal is. I will try and enter this one manually. Let us know if we are at least in the right ocean....Last night: 0600 wind died, Spinnaker down. We needed to charge batteries anyway. We motored until midnight in calm seas. We had about 3 hours of rain squalls but little wind. The wind came in from the Northwest and we set the reacher sail and shut down the motor.. quiet ahh so nice.. It's now 0900 and we are still sailing.. beautiful wind angle 15 to 20 knots making fairly good time. It's a bit lumpy.. so we are leaving the mainsail in the bag. Judy just finished baking muffins and she came up a little green.. Bless her heart... She hung in there. ...they were so good .. It's a little warm in the cabin and we hope this wind angle holds so the sail will provide shade this afternoon..

Day 2

19 January 2010 | Passage to India
Dave and Judy
Good morning! The first night is always the toughest. We sailed till about 1800 last night then the wind died and the seas became very lumpy. Cranked up the iron wind off and on for the next 12 hours. Seas calmed during the night and we both got a little sleep. When the big orange ball came up out of the eastern sea the wind came with it....not much but enough to get the spinnaker flying. Judy made pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Talked to a big ship that showed up on the AIS to make sure that he had us clear.....all is well.
Vessel Name: Freebird
Vessel Make/Model: Grainger MC420 Catamaran
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Dave and Judy Howell
Dave started building Freebird in 1995 in a plastic shed on Camano Island, NW USA and launched her in April of 2001. He retired from the Fire Department in 1999 after 28 years of service. Judy Retired from dentistry in 1995 after 27 years. [...]
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