Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Long story short: On our second day of sailing out of Stamford -- at the height of our most turbulent seas -- I jumped from the boat's deck into the cockpit and badly rolled my left foot. It immediately bruised and swelled pretty badly, but I could walk on it so I just kept working. Frankly, I didn't really have much choice out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By the time we reached Tortola, the bruising was all gone and most of the swelling had gone down, so I figured that was pretty much it.

Here in Atlanta, my friend Ken noticed that I was walking a bit gimpy and inquired as to what the problem might be. I told him the story and -- despite my resistance -- he made me see his favorite orthopedist. As Ken put it, "Dude, you're 53 years old. You can't ignore this kind of stuff like we did when we were kids!"

The doctor felt and probed my foot, declared that it was probably just a bad sprain but decided to take some x-rays anyway. After just a glance at the film, the doctor pointed to the shadowy arc inside the red circle and said, "Oh, it's busted!" The prognosis: It'll be sore for a couple more months and complete healing will probably take most of a year.

So, there you have it… I'm busted! I've had a really nice, quiet week here in Atlanta and have enjoyed hanging out and catching up with good friends. At the moment, I have absolutely no plan going forward except to take some time to ponder possible plans going forward. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mission Accomplished

After taking a couple of days on Tortola to catch up with myself and consider all the factors going forward, I decided to declare "Mission Accomplished" on this yacht delivery and fly away. Pete had also decided to take off, so I met him at the ferry dock on Sunday morning and we made the hour long trip to St. Thomas together.

I'd made arrangements to spend a day at Bluebeard's Castle, so Pete and I had lunch together there, then he caught a taxi to the airport. I spend the rest of Sunday and all day Monday alternately napping and hanging around at the pool bar. My lack of interest in doing anything else confirmed that I'd made the right decision to get out of the tropics.

On Tuesday, I caught a non-stop flight to Atlanta where my good friend Ken met me at the airport and we went out for a nice sit-down dinner together. I've decided to spend a couple of weeks here in Atlanta to visit with friends in the area and to generally catch up with myself before deciding what's next... Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taking A Break

At lunch on Thursday, Roy surprised me by saying he was eager to get going again and to start sailing around the islands. David Jones said he was game to sail for a few days before his flight home. Pete seemed a little less eager, but in the end decided to also go along for a few days before his schedule departure.

I took an entirely different tack and declared that I was ready for a break. There's only so much relentless movement I can do before I need a few days to sit still and catch up with myself. My crew mates all said they completely understood and supported me in getting off the boat for a while.

So, after finishing our clean up of the boat, they went to the store for provisions while I went across the road to a modest accommodation and booked myself in. My room has air conditioning, wi-fi, a bed that doesn't pitch or roll, and even a decent view.

I slept poorly Thursday night, mostly waking up every hour or so, convinced it must be time to go on watch. The air conditioning and lack of motion helped, though, and I was able to string together enough hours to make a decent rest period.

Yesterday was a slow motion day during which I updated this website, called some folks, did a few chores and generally took it easy. The heat really wears me out, and makes me seriously question my ability to stay in the region. I've been pounding down bottles of water and other hydrating fluids, but it hasn't really helped so far. I had a bit better sleep last night and will continue my rehab today.

I honestly don't know what the "plan" is, or whether or not there even is a plan. I'm supposed to hear from Roy about their next destination port and I may meet up with them somewhere in a couple of days. I may also declare "mission accomplished" on this yacht delivery and get myself on a flight out of here... Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The last two days are pretty much a blur for me. I know we've made it to Tortola, because I can see Tropical Storm tied up at a dock in Road Town Harbor.

As for what's happened in between, here's what I remember:

We started Tuesday -- our seventh day at sea -- with a nice, favorable wind and were making pretty good progress toward our destination. We were all feeling pretty well worn out and beat up, but making the most of our circumstances. Just about the time I thought to get my camera and grab a few shots, the wind really started picking up and we had to work the boat pretty hard. The next thing I remember, we were in powerful storms, high winds, driving rain and rapidly descending darkness.

As we approached the islands, coral reefs, rocks, etc., Roy used every piece of GPS and computer mapping software we had to plot our course. David Jones drove the boat while Pete and I kept very diligent lookouts to port and starboard for lights, markers, etc. The rain was coming down in sheets, the lightning was exploding all around us and the winds were running 25-30 knots. We were constantly and completely drenched by a combination of rain and seas crashing over the bow.

By midnight we'd navigated between two out-islands and were approaching Tortola. The weather let up a bit, and by about two-thirty we were motoring into Road Town Harbor. We found an open patch of water, set our anchor, flew our quarantine flag and sat in silence for a while before finally getting a little sleep.

Yesterday morning we pulled up to the customs dock, endured a seemingly endless paperwork process then motored around to a nearby marina. We took showers, ate some food at the pub next door and gave ourselves the rest of the day to recover. I already don't remember any of it.

This morning we're continuing the recovery process, cleaning the boat, sorting our gear and starting to revive a bit. I'll try to post something more coherent soon!

Bottom line: We've made it to Tortola!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 6

Overnight and most of today, the sailing has been pretty frustrating. With only light wind coming from directly ahead on our desired course, we've had to tack very broadly to make any progress. Because the wind was so light, we weren't able to generate enough apparent wind over the sails to utilize the boat's usually good ability to point up.

That's sailing tech-talk for saying that we had to sail 5 miles off course for every mile we gained in our desired direction. At a speed of only about 5 mph, that means our net gain was 1 mph. Sail all day and gain only 20 miles… You could walk to Tortola faster... Ugh!

A highlight of the day, though, was when Pete caught a beautiful Wahoo on his trolling line!

As soon as the fish was on the boat, Pete artfully filleted it and we enjoyed a very tasty -- and much welcomed -- sequence of Wahoo sushi, ceviche, fish tacos and fried with rice and beans!

Late in the afternoon, the wind picked up and we were able to make some better progress despite the continued need to tack broadly. Toward sunset we were in strong winds again and had to put a reef back in the main sail. This turned out to be a lucky break for us.

As we passed through an early evening squall, we received a thorough drenching and were able to put it to good use. We all stood on deck, alternately soaping ourselves then using the runoff from the reefed main to rinse off. It wasn't much of a shower, but having spent six days constantly wet -- or at least perpetually damp -- from salty sea spray, the fresh water rain shower was a delight!

So far tonight, we've had a bit of a hassle with an electrical problem that's blacked out the boat and forced us -- among other complications -- to sail for a few hours with nothing but a compass. Once again, I have immense respect for sailors of old who didn't have any of our modern electronics. Roy and Pete have fixed the problem -- we think -- and we're hoping to make up some time overnight.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 5

We spent the night alternately flying every piece of cloth we have in order to keep moving through dead air, then reefing everything back in and hanging on tight through rain storms. The reason was obvious this morning as we saw the long front of storms along which we had sailed.

Last night was also very strange due to a bird that landed on the boat during one of the lulls. He's been riding along with us all day -- through continuing cycles of calm weather and storms -- occasionally flying off for a few minutes then coming back to land and stand on the canopy.

We have no idea exactly what species of bird it is, but we've made up the story that it's a shore bird who was blown out to sea. If present trends continue, it may well end up relocated to the tropics!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 4

We worked hard throughout the night to squeeze every knot we could out of what little light air was available. The wind freshened this morning, and by noon things really kicked up!

We're now at almost exactly the half-way point of our transit, back to hanging on tight and riding the beast!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 3

The wind pretty much died overnight, so we've had to do some motoring today. We need to get a bit farther south before we can pick up the trade winds that will take us down to the Virgin Islands.

It's definitely getting hotter and sunnier as we go along, so we're setting up the awnings to give us some shade on deck. One of them required a little sewing, so Jones got after it with a heavy duty needle and thread.

There was still no wind after all our chores were finished, so a few quick, refreshing dips were in order. Roy says "Come on in, the water's fine!" It's really that blue, too!

After all that, we were still in very light air so we let the autopilot do its thing and spent some time hanging out and waiting for wind we could sail.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 2

Our fabulous winds eased quite a bit during the night and required some pretty constant course and sail adjustments to keep the boat moving in good trim. We have settled right into our watch schedule -- 2-hours on, 6-hours off -- made much easier than our run down to Bermuda by the addition of our fourth crewman!

The winds have stayed light all day, but we've made a pretty consistent 7 knots. The boat has correspondingly settled down as well, so we've been able to cook meals, take naps and work the boat with some degree of comfort and control.

Pete is an avid fisherman who has wasted no time breaking out the trolling gear he picked up in Bermuda and dragging it off the back rail of the boat!

We are all very hopeful he catches a fish soon, though tonight we had to suffer through the sunset without Tuna sushi!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 1

After another night of wind and rain, we finally made it out of Hamilton this morning. Captain Roy navigated by iPhone -- which turns out to be one of the best and handiest navigation options available! -- while our new crewman David Jones took the helm.

After a pleasant 90-minute sail we were back in St. George's, and shortly after that we'd fueled up, checked out with customs and headed back to sea. By noon we were passing the old fort and saying good-bye to Bermuda.

The winds were perfect for the rest of the afternoon and we made very good speed on our desired course. I thought a "first day" photo of my shipmates my be useful for comparison when we reach the Virgin Islands in 5-7 days.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bermuda Departure Update

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty nasty day, raining almost the whole time and blowing like mad. So, we extended our stay at the RBYC in Hamilton.

Today is very nice, with a sunny, bright blue sky and plenty of wind. Sadly, the wind has been coming from exactly the direction we want to sail. Since we'd have to spend so much time -- and effort -- fighting our way into it and tacking so far off our desired course, we're better off just waiting for better wind.

The weather gurus are assuring us that the wind will indeed "clock around" overnight and be good for us by mid-day tomorrow.

Our "plan of the moment" is to move the boat to St. George's this afternoon and be in position for finally setting sail tomorrow.

For centuries, mariners to and from Bermuda have faced our exact same circumstances, so we feel like we're in good company!