Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Atlantic crossing - Bermuda to the Azores #3

Fill the stainless kettle. Close the lid so it’ll whistle. Turn the burner to high, light it with the lighter and hold the knob in til it stays lit. Bring it to a boil. Take out the bacon and lay out eight slices in the nonstick pan. Cook the eggs sunny side up in the bacon grease. Throw in a cut up leftover boiled potato from last night and fry it. Toast the bread in the pan. The kettle begins to whistle. Add five scoops of folgers Colombian coffee then fill the lid with cold water and dump it in and the grinds will sink to the bottom. Dan is at the table on the aft deck. Ah this looks good. I pour the coffee slowly so not too many grains go into the cup. The air is cool and the mood is tense. Dan is focused on his plan for the day. Its a big day. We load the laundry, the water bladder, and dans bag into the dinghy. I stay at the laundry mat and Dan takes the bus to Hamilton. The machine is broke. Not taking cash. The ladies tell me to take #6 to St. Davids by the airport, theres another laundromat. I wait for the bus and make friends with a man with a beard and a cane named Mike. Said his mom was at a dance in New Jersey laughed and out he popped which is how he has dual citizenship?! I get on the bus, pay and tell the driver I’m going to St. Davids and to stop at the laundromat. He says you gotta tell me when to stop its not my job. Mike says I’ll show you. But the driver has a change of heart and stops anyway, okay go down the street. You’ll see a hole in the fence go through it and down the dirt path. It comes out at the laundromat. When you come back stand on the street below and a bus will come at 11:40. I thanked him. Laundry done and cutting it close I rush to the bus stop. A lady pulls up in an suv. Do you need a ride? Yeah! Going to st. George? I’ll take you. She says the bus is unpredictable. We chat for a while. Tell her thanks. I whatsapp Dan and meet him at the dinghy. We row back for lunch. He leaves me at the boat to go get Aleks from the airport while I take a food inventory and make fresh bread. Two hours later the dinghy pulls up and its Aleks! He had been stranded at sea with just he and an English captain in Barbados. Missed his flight and had to book another. But he was finally here. He’d been through a lot. I helped him with his backpack, made him a cup of coffee and a sandwich with hot bread fresh out of the oven. We talked a while then heard someone whistle. Dan was back and needed a row. We had a discussion about the provisioning. Then departed the boat in the dinghy. Headed to Hamilton the big city. Bought groceries amounting to $600. Packed it all in three back packs, one with wheels. Bus was an hour and a half wait. So we chipped in with some Seattle Americans and a local on a $60 taxi van back to St. Georges since the bus was still an hour wait. Got back to the boat and put everything away. Its 11pm and we are leaving in the morning. Wow today is the day. As I type this from the deck of the boat we are waiting in line to top off the fuel and add water. After that theres no turning back. For 21 days at sea. We will be at the mercy of the wind and the waves. Its windy and the weather looks good for he next week. Zoloft and his wife are just ahead of us. He atmosphere is good. We are going to have a good trip. I’ll see you all on the other side! A dios!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Atlantic crossing - Bermuda to the Azores #2

Waking up on a boat, starts your day off right.  It’s 5:30 am, the sun is up and it seems later.   Made my bed and my way up to the deck.  Its a cool morning here in St. Georges Harbour A.K.A. “Convict Bay” where the waters are crystal clear like glass in the morning, a nicely protected anchorage.
It was named after the British used obsolete warships as floating prisons during the American revolution in 1799 and 1824 and towed them here.  (I can’t think of a better place to be imprisoned). After the departure of the navy ships and felons, Convict's Bay became a residential neighborhood but kept the street names as reminders.  Convict's Lane, Barrack Street, Old Military Road, Grenadier, and Red Coat Lane.
     Most sailors here at St. Georges Harbor came from the U.S. and are also trying to escape and make their way to the Azores.  All of us are awaiting weather windows.         

     I hear Dan stirring below and the coffee begins to waft through the air outside the galley.  Its Sunday; as we enjoy our morning coffee we hear a siren.  It a huge 35 foot trawler making its way directly at us.  Would you like a blessing this morning the priest hollers from the foredeck of the boat dressed in a magenta cassock with his two clergymen at his side?  Sure we said.  He began “Bless O Lord this Vessel and all who sail her; may she be a trustworthy and safe servant.  In the name of the Father son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.” And the holy water splashed against the boat as he slung it from the bowl.  I felt safer and at peace as he said Amen.  Like time stood still for a moment.  It was the beginning of another good day.
  We rowed to shore got on a bus, rode to the big city of Hamilton to the Phoenix pharmacy and a couple of souvenir shops.  Walking around I bought deck shoes a straw hat, and two keychains. One said “come back to Bermuda” in the shape of a boomerang.  Ate a slice of pizza in the park, fed the birds the crust and bought a bus ticket back to St, Georges since the ferry was closed.  
     Rowed back.  Turkey sandwiches on wheat for lunch.  Dan rowed off to the Canadian sailor who loaned him her rigging tensioner.  “What’re  you bringin her?”  “Nothing” “you gotta bring her something as a thank you.  Take potatoes”.  Returning he said “she loved the potatoes.”  She’d sailed from Canada to the Azores, Europe, back to Trinidad, up the Caribbean islands to Cuba over to Bermuda on her way back to Canada and she did it alone in a 30’ boat...I’m jealous. As darkness fell a huge motored dinghy pulled along side.  Hey, I’m Thomas.  “Looking for an opportunity to cross he Atlantic and heard you were looking for crew.”  He said he’d come back in the morning to talk.  We didn’t tell him, but Aleks is scheduled to land at 3:00pm but theres still no guarantee.   So we agreed to meet him in the morning.  
     Had an awesome roastbeef and potato dinner.  Crashed early.  
     Woke up at 6am, took a dive into the ocean while Dan made Grüt (groot) swedish for oatmeal!  It’s become a routine aboard Resö.  Its not bad slathered in Nutella or raspberry jelly.  Goes well with the grainy black coffee...😛
    Thomas arrives and comes aboard.  We tell him the truth about the situation with Aleks and  he understands.  Turns out he’s crossed the Atlantic three times and he’s only 25 born and raised in Bermuda.  Looks exactly like Riley from Sailing La Vagabonde.  Cool guy. 
  We Rowed to town and I bought stuff for baking bread and pancakes.  Went to the museum and looked around.  Everything was still closed due to the holiday. It’s Bermuda National Hero’s Day...I love these people and everyone of them and their dog was in the bay today.  Yesterday all day in town they wished me happy fathers day I bet ten times.  Genuinely kind and sincere folks here in Bermuda.  

Came back to the boat put up the sails and inserted all the battens into the sails and velcroed them in.  Replaced the sail covers Dan ran the engine to top off the batteries.  Crickets are chirping sun is setting music is playing on a boat nearby, Dan is starting dinner.  Tomorrow we provision the boat top off the water and fuel and meet Aleks!  Woohoo!  Its gonna be a good day!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Atlantic Crossing - Bermuda to the Azores #1

Woke up at 2:30 am snoozed it twice, finally got into the shower at 2:45 and realized dad was up sitting at the kitchen table.  Asked him what he was doing up?  He’d only slept an hour but wanted to tell me bye and see me off.  Got dressed grabbed my two backpacks that looked like I put an air hose in them and blew them up.  Gave dad a hug cranked the truck and honked as I drove away watching him wave me off.  It was 3:00am. Made the hour and ten minute drive to the airport.  Only to find that the spot two on Will Clayton was reservations only, so I headed over to Ecopark on JFK and punched the button for a ticket.  Followed the signs around, parked and hopped on the shuttle to terminal E.  Waited for a few others to get on the bus who weren’t sure what terminal they were flying out of, I knew it was going to be a long day.  Two and a half hours wasn’t going to cut it.  I’d have to sleep on the plane.
      Made it through security and to gate E18 and checked my Pass-rider app  to see if I could get  I was number 44 on the standby list and there were only 22 available seats to EWR (Newark). So I cancelled the flight and paid out of pocket $562.00.  So much for flying free.  Went ahead and booked the connection from Newark to St. Georges airport jn Bermuda.  I was just ready to get there and I knew Dan was ready, so I didn’t want to keep him wandering if I was actually going to show up.
     Slept a couple of hours even though the kid next to me kicked me every five minutes, at least her dad apologized about it as we were exiting the plane.  Hopped on as a passrider to Bermuda with ease.  Got off the plane and there was Dan saying hello with his thick Swedish accent and bright eyed smile ear to ear.  Shook his hand, he took one of my two backpacks and off we went to the bus stop.  I really didn’t know him at all.  Seemed like a nice guy and we made small talk as we waited for the bus.  He paid the fee and we hopped on.  Got off ten minutes up the road, walked across the street as I was almost ran over by a car.  Forget they drive on the opposite side here.  So look right first not left. Dan grabbed the dingy, rowed over and I made my way down the concrete stairs and stepped in.  No motor on the dinghy??? Wow.  Rowed to the 38’ Nauticat.  A 1979 ketch rigged pilot house motor yacht.  With no major refit in the last fifteen years.  Stepped aboard and I put my stuff in the v-birth forward of the galley.  It’s one sturdy looking boat.  Made in Sweden and known for their detailed wood work and hefty structural design and a 120 horse diesel to back up all the sail power.  This boat had seen better days but it felt solid and it was built the same year as my Southern Cross and that was when they built them like tanks.  This boat has potential I thought.  Had a long chat with Dan ad we discussed the fate of our third crew member who was currently M.I.A. after Dan bought him a flight from Barbados to Bermuda.  So we discussed all the boat features, good bad and ugly.  He installed two extra diesel tanks for an extra 94 liters of fuel.  The  good - AIS, VHF, Sos hand held gps, EPIRB, sat phone, self steering, a dtrong motor and good rigging.  The bad, non working toilet,  use bucket method, no shower, and very little refigeration.  The ugly.  The boat leaked like a sieve when it rained as that night I struggled to find enough bowls to lay on my bed to catch the drips.  
     But I was here and determined to cheer up my new buddy Dan and keep a positive attitude.  
    Then as I was standing on the deck a dinghy was heading right for the boat with two men aboard.  They shook our hands and introduced themselves as Zoloft and Pascal from France. I got a strange feeling that something was not kosher between the two.  Zoloft was asking if we needed another crew member as he was getting another friend as crew and didn’t need Pascal anymore who had sailed with him for a month from the Bahamas.  Dan said he had a guy coming but he’d let him know tomorrow for sure.  So they exchanged numbers and motored away.  Dan agreed there was something not right.  So we texted Zoloft to try to get the truth.  He responded to the text and said he would visit us privately later on.  When he arrived he said I have crew for you as his girlfriend  was who he was referring to who was a stunning french girl with a golden tan and blondish red hair.  Zoloft admitted that Pascal was a chain smoker who ate all their groceries and made his girlfriend feel uncomfortable.  So we said thanks but no thanks to Pascal as crew.  And very much appreciated Zolofts honesty.  

So early the next morning we set to work.  I watched and helped as much as I could as Dan replaced the fuel filter and added a new bulb pump to the fuel line.  Next we tackled the not so lovely task of tuning and tensioning all the rigging.  It was a slow process but I got it done, and didn’t break any chain plates or stays.   While I was working on the rigging Dan was replacing the $135.00 LPG solenoid for the stove that I had brought him from the Kemah West Marine.  Got all the work done and who shows up again but Zoloft and his beautiful girlfriend.  They were asking if Pascal could stay the night on our boat and would pay us.  Dan said for $100 he could.  Zoloft promised us Pascal had booked a ticket and was processed out of customs and definitely leaving on a flight the next morning.  I didn’t want him on the boat but Dan was smart and being diplomatic about it as there was a chance that Zoloft could be a help in coordinating a caravan for us that we wanted to be a part of in a few days as we set out to cross the Atlantic to the Azores, a 2000 nautical mile three week passage.  And by letting Pascal stay with us for one night was pleasing Zoloft.  So Zoloft said he would bring Pascal at 9pm to the boat.  
Dan and I got dressed and rowed to shore for some shopping and ran into Zoloft and his girlfriend and they informed us that Pascal didn’t want to pay to stay on our boat and said one of the customs officials arranged a room for him since he couldn’t afford the cheapest room in Bermuda at $400 per night.  Shew.  Glad that dram was over.  Then out of nowhere Dan got a whatsapp message from Aleks.  He was still in Barbados.  His sail from Trinidad was a disaster.  They lost both engines and had blown out the main sail. So he wasn’t M.I.A. Anymore, he was on his way to Bermuda.  Woohoo.  This was all finally coming together.  Had a great walk around town.  Had a coffee and wifi.  But got shocked by the stickers at the grocery store.  $16.00 for five pounds of potatoes.  $5.00 for a bag of sugar.  Geez.  $8.00 for a bag of flour.  Lol.  
Headed back to the boat.  Over all a great day.  Ate sandwiches and $10.00 cheese and went to bed.