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 10-11 Wind!

26 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
The wind finally filled in. We have been under sail for the last 35 hours. At first we were reaching in flat water making 8 knots in 8 knots of wind. The wind went forward and increased so we dropped the reacher sail and are now under jib and main. There is a 1 knot current against us. Our GPS speed is 6 knots. Our fuel worries are over. Our voyage should end in about 7 hours. We will enter Salalah port around midnight. We don't normally like to come in in the dark but we are beat and need some rest. We have been told that the port is well marked and an easy approach. We just finished dinner and the sun is setting through broken clouds. 35 miles to go.....

Day 9

24 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
Wish I could say something different happened today...... Same.....motor..motor..motor. flash...moon..darkness.. on guard for bad guys..We were a little apprehensive about bad guys last night so Judy stepped up and made some brownies....just in case we had unexpected visitors. Unfortunately, we ate them all before they had a chance to come... I'm afraid to say anything, but , we are now under sail in some very nice wind. We have been sucker punched so many times on this trip that I refuse to believe that it will hold. We are still short about 100 miles of fuel to make it all the way under motor so any wind is welcome. The weather forecast says maybe a little wind for the next 2 days.. 252 miles to go.....Had some nice BBQ fish for dinner tonight

Day 8

23 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
I never would have thought that we could motor this far with Freebird. We are using every tactic to save fuel. We sail in the lightest possible wind, motor sail when possible, keep the rpm down very low. Our normal motoring speed is around 6.5 knots. We are now motoring between 4 and 5 knots. This should reduce our fuel consumption from 2 3/4 liters per hour down to 2 1/2. The other part of the equation is that it is taking much longer to make this passage. (eleven to twelve days) The current weather forecast is for more of the same. On top of this there is a half knot current against us.

The up side is that it's very calm and comfortable. Sleeping is good. Eating is too good.

We had more dolphins today. The water was churning around us for miles. There must have been hundreds of them. Fun to watch. Judy goes up on the bow and has conversations with them....Hmm not sure what they are talking about.....I have had fishing lines out for 3 days with out even a nibble.

Today I rewired the GPS so that it will send directly to the auto pilot. The pilot will now steer directly to a waypoint instead of just a compass course. This automatically compensates for drift caused by current etc. The result is a perfectly strait line on the chart.....saving fuel?.... maybe....

We saw the first green flash in a long time tonight. It's very clear and there is a bright moon ....another beautiful evening...... if we could just get a break from the constant droning of the motor......It would be perfect. 428 miles to go........

Then.... on the midnight radio net, the yacht Stream Spirit tells Dave that they have kept their radio on (ours is turned off because of all the blatant swearing, yelling, cursing +++). There have been emergency calls to the "coalition forces". I get up, we tune in. 2 ships are frantically giving positions & describing being followed by small boats. They are advised to "go as fast as they can, use zigzag maneuvers & try to upright the small boats if they can". This goes on for hours. The voices from the distressed vessels are shaky & filled with terror. That location is right on our rumline where we will be tomorrow night....The CF warship tells them they can be there in 6 or 60 hours (couldn't hear). We aren't sure? Then they just fade away off the radio. Counting the ships on the AIS in our 80 mile radius there are 11 ships. We are hoping that we aren't sitting out there bobbing, out of fuel, hoping Rendezvous Cay can find us & sling a few jerry cans on our deck.

This morning before we send this, Dave refigure's the whole fuel situation out using 2.25 lt/hr burning time into the equation. It will leave us in complete anticipation the rest of the way, but what else can we do? There is absolutely no wind & the only the teeniest of breeze ~ from aft... Still motoring.

Day 7

22 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
Still motoring, with a little sailing off & on. The jib & main up & down & every chance we get, we sneak in the reacher for the jib. Not too often or often enough........... It's been an odd kind of day. We woke up to fog??? mist??? & it's been cooler than usual which is a real blessing as it was blistering hot yesterday. There was the oddest stuff on the water. Sorta like algae but not green, almost an orange color that smelled like vegetation ~ kinda. Dave said last night that there was phosphorescence in the water all the way to the horizon. Rendezvous Cay said it was like the stars where in the sea & that they saw a sperm whale. I'm not totally sure they weren't teasing us as we keep telling them about our dolphin encounters. Before lunch today we went out on the bow to watch the dolphins again. Today they were serious though, they were hunting. A few would come by & say hello but not stop & play with FB. They were at least 2 big pods of them & some of them were easily 10 ft long. The fish were really flying & the dolphins were doing some very sharp tactical maneuvers. All of a sudden a booby flew over. We haven't seen one in ages. It looked like it had a pale blue bill. I thought maybe it had come for a ~ free ~ bird ~ ride too. But no, it was going hunting with the dolphins instead. Ratz..... That reminds me of when we were leaving Kochi, the Immigration officer came up to our boat to give me back my passport. After he handed it to me (he would not give it to Dave earlier when he was trying to check us out..........) Dave asked him if it was stamped? All of a sudden there was confusion. He took it back & looked, he wasn't sure. He said it was hard because we were anchored by WindBird, our buddies from the US. He said the Birds, Wind Bird, Freebird. Which one was it???? This Bird or That Bird. Now we affectionately refer to each other as ~ them, ThisBird & us ThatBird. Probably better than the DirtyBird that we were earlier. Well then there is always TB or SB. hehehehehe PS We have been sailing now for the last 5 hours....yipee! Hope this wind holds for a while....making good time now...560 mile to go...

Day 6

21 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
This passage sure isn't going like we had hoped. Well, that's sailin' for ya. It's never like you think it's going to be. Normally, this passage would a fast sail with reaching winds. Not this time . We are being forced to conserve fuel. We have just enough fuel to make it all but the last 250 miles. This is not the place to be drifting around waiting for wind. Our reacher sail is really paying off. We are able to sail at 5 to 6 knots in the same amount of wind. Normally most boats would be motoring. The problem is now, most of the time we haven't even had that much wind. When the wind is lighter we fly that sail with the motor and gain one to one and a half knots. Not too much to report today. Our only marine life has been the odd flying fish. We had a nice steak dinner in the cockpit. Calm wind allows us to barbeque. We are spending our days catching up on reading. Judy baked some very nice bread this morning. ...yum! Tonight the sky is starry and the moon is out. The same stars are there to great us in the same place every evening. 681 miles to go...... Davey found a bird tonight that flew by to check us out. Then it came by again & he called me out to the cockpit to see it. It was dark so hard to tell but it looked like maybe a tern. I said i think it was thinking about taking a ride with us. At first light we found it huddled down on the foredeck. This is our second "Freeloader" on this trip. We're changing the name on the side of the boat...... "Free Bird Rides". Hehehehehehehehehe

Iron Wind

20 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
The wind continues to be non existent. We are worried that we won't have enough fuel to make it. The weather forecast says that today was the most wind we will see in the next 5 days. We have been motoring for the last 16 hours today. A light breeze just came up and we are able to fly our repaired reacher. We are ghostiing along at 5 knots. It's so nice to hear the sound of the water. That motor gets old.

From judy ~ Yesterday when Dave was having his nap on the settee he woke up & was gazing up at the sails, smug that having the reacher sail was buying us some extra wind time. Most boats don't have that extra head sail that is so excellent in light wind. In our radio net we were hearing lots of lamenting about not enough fuel & motoring. We ourselves are doing minute by minute calculations trying to stretch ours as far as possible too. All of a sudden the head of the reacher just let go. We scrambled to get it down before it came to pieces all over the boat. We couldn't understand how it could have happened as we took that sail in just this last year & had it gone over & the head restitched to be on the safe side. It must be from that relentless sun. Normally, we would have tied it up in a sail bag & taken it back in for repair at our next destination. Magyver Dave thought about it all the rest of the afternoon & by early evening had it lugged into the cockpit & was repairing it. He loves that handy dandy awl kit. This morning he finished the job & we had the reacher back up & not flying (no wind) just after the net at 10:00. Right now though it's paying off, we are back to sailing just over 6 knots. It's worth those blisters.....This afternoon we poured 6 of our 8 jerry cans of diesel into the tanks, saving the last two for.... emergency. We have 808 miles to go & fuel for only 500 of it....we need enough wind to sail at least 300 of the 808 miles..... Go little Freebird go!

Night 4

19 February 2010 | Passage
Dave and Judy
The moon slipped below the horizon just before midnight. We are left with an inky defining line where the sky and sea meet. The stars are the only source of light from above. Below..... the flash of phosphorescence as sea creatures dodge our bows. We are floating in space... nothing solid....everything in motion.....undulating with the movement of the unseen swell. Judy's taking a well deserved sleep. The wind came in at 0600 this morning and we have been sailing all day.... Perfect conditions. Freebird is finding her stride. She is leading the pack of boats that we departed with. She did have one boo boo today. We were just starting to relax and enjoy the nice breezy day (mistake) when the top tore off the reacher sail. We had a fire drill to prevent the sail from flogging itself to death. The jib sail was set and we are sailing again (somewhat slower) We drug the reacher into the cockpit and are now hand sewing the top back on. ( about 3 hours work) We will be needing it in the next few days. Light reaching winds are in the forecast. No sign of life (human) out here today, No ships, or fishing boats. The AIS shows ten ships within a fifty mile radius but they are all over the horizon. Until we had this AIS we never new how many ships were out here. This is an exceptionally busy shipping route I guess .....oil. .....Which reminds me... We now have only enough fuel for about four days. Sure glad to see the wind come up..... 899 miles to go...... Photo: sewing sail..

Day 3

18 February 2010 | Passage Night Three
Dave and Judy
Sailed, motor/sailed/ motor.... The 3rd day is always the toughest. We are both super tired & sleepy but starting to adjust. On the bright side, the seas aren't high or rough & that sure helps allot. Our tiny bird that visited for a while has left. We are hoping it made it to one of the small islands out here. Mostly we take turns trying to sleep, read & eat if we can. Good ole Mac & cheese came in handy today. Only a few dolphins came by to play just before sunset again today. They are such a welcomed relief. They bring Joy with them. The sea color is such an intense blue that it is indelible. Not much animal or bird life to be seen now. We have had to switch the radio off of the hailing channel 16 because of all of the swearing & obscene & rude remarks that go on on it, especially at night. You'd never know that it is the emergency frequency...Incredible Just after dark Davey was down taking a shower when all of a sudden the jib starts backwinding. I went out on deck to see if the angle of the wind changed when we noticed that the boat had taken an unexpected turn. The auto pilot motor quit. We quickly switched to our backup pilot. Now we must figure out what is wrong with the pilot motor.... just had them rebuilt in Thailand......huh??? .Photo shows ships on our computer screen. Most are out of visual range... This is how the AIS shows up on our Max Sea navigation system....971 miles to go...

Passage Day 2

17 February 2010 | Passage Night One
Dave and Judy
Finally we are sailing! After a solid 44 hours of motoring it feels good to be sailing. The wind came in at 0200 early this AM. It's blowing at 12 and we are on a tight reach. Freebird is romping along ...her old self. Two ships came close enough that we had to call them on the radio and make sure that they knew we were there. We turned on the mast head strobe light just to make sure. It seemed to work. They were both cooperative and altered course. Yesterday we sailed over a sea mound of 39 feet deep. The water was so clear that I thought we were in much shallower water. The bottom was clearly visible ..probably 200 feet visibility. We stopped and jumped in for a cool swim/snorkel....nice break. We have 1113 nautical miles to go...

Night One

16 February 2010 | Passage Night One
Dave and Judy
We left early this morning in light winds. We have been motor sailing all day. The pollution was so thick it was like fog that hung in the air for the first couple of hours out..There were 2 other boats that left within the hour of us. We've been in VHF contact with them all day. We have a 12 hr radio sked with them too. We've had 4 big ships cross our path & numerous fishing boats are in the area. Judy cooked sausage & made real mashed potatoes & gravy for dinner tonight ~ a real treat. A pod of dolphins came to frolic with Freebird for about a 1/2 hr just at sunset this evening & put on a spectacular show. They are such magnificent athletes! Tonight, only a sliver of a moon is showing making for a dark passage. All of the stars are out though, especially the Big Dipper. We aren't giving our position but we can say that at midnight we have 1284 miles to go.
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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