The Rally Call

Sitting North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI's

Trip Summary
(ignore that max speed)
     First thought maybe this should be called "To Rally or Not to Rally". This trip south we were involved in our first official rally, the Salty Dawg Rally. Over the 11 1/2 days of sailing, staying in some communication, sharing fish stories, positions, weather etc. I had a lot of thoughts on things I liked about it, and some things I didn't. Like usual I should have sat and written right away with my mind moving on far too quickly, forgetting some of what I am sure were profound thoughts for anyone considering joining in a rally. Be what it may, I'll write a few things here from the trip although somewhat less focused as time has tempered memory.

One that DIDN'T Get Away
     The start: One of the first things I liked was the support from Marine Weather Center (Chris Parker) for the rally. As a participant we could sign on to his weather web casts each afternoon as the scheduled depart date neared to look at and hear what to expect. (Chris' weather support continued via e-mail and SSB throughout the trip.) As a Norther built off the US East Coast, we were one of the first boats to declare our intent to miss the scheduled date and depart after the storm had cleared. Much discussion on how far south and how fast we would need to be to stay ahead of the really bad stuff on the net and the web casts. Not a tough decision for us as we can sail fast, but don't like it. We much prefer to go slow, stay rested, eat well, and keep stress on the boat and crew to a minimum. Several boats chose to go on schedule racing ahead of the weather in 30 kts and squalls...to avoid the really bad weather. One listen in on their offshore discussion convinced me quickly we made the right call. But surprisingly, I did feel some sort of internal peer pressure to leave verses waiting behind. Funny how those old human genetics kick in even when unexpected or unwanted.

Saba Rock, North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI's
        "Fast" boats verses "slow" boats. This had me confused and I think several others are still confused. We left in good wind, hit the Gulf Stream and ran east at a good clip. The wind rolled east with us rolling south for several days in some good wind....30kts for the first two, then a bit more. Next the wind went back north so we east, but not really fast. When check-ins happened that evening it seemed a large chunk of the fleet ("fast" boats) was running well ahead. Waterlines being what they are, we were not going to run away but still exceeding 5 kts I was curious. Well it turns out a chunk of the fleet simply turned on the engine when boat speed fell below 6-7 kts. Hmm so if a "slow" boat routinely starts the engine when they are sailing under 6-7 kts they become a "fast" boat. Never being a racer, this didn't bug me especially knowing we would get into port without needing fuel immediately. But there is a party at the end and it appeared we might just miss it if most of the fleet motored a rhumb line. We sailed east, then south, then east...finally had to motor south into Virgin Gorda as the wind blew gently from the south at the end. We made the party by a day, and still have fuel in the tank. Anyway, we can buy a lot of rum on our own considering the extended cost (fuel, maintenance, amortized life, etc) of each engine hour left in the tank. Again that bit of self induced pressure.

Sail Repair Underway
     On the trip we caught a couple nice Mahi, missed a couple even larger ones who got away with my best lures and 81 lb test wire leaders. We split a seam in the main which by Lynn's brother Gary's (first time sailor this trip) suggestion we were able to take partially off the mast, snake it down through the overhead hatch, and restitch the seam on the saloon table below! We had one Autohelm motor pack it in and were saved from endless hours of hand steering by the trusty Aries Windvane. And like most "windy" trips, we found some leaks we didn't know about, made a few we knew about slightly worse, and added to the work list as things work hard, wear, and of course add ideas for making improvements. We averaged over 5 kts for the trip which is pretty good for me.

     The camaraderie of the group. Unfortunately we missed the gathering in Norfolk prior to the start so didn't know many of our fellow sailors. After checking in together during the trip, often relaying for others, and near the end staying in constant touch with several who were near out of fuel, we felt almost like we knew them. Meeting here at the Bitter End Yacht Club was especially fun as we were able to put faces, names, and boats together. From that we have many new sailing friends. Flying the Salty Dawgs Burgee is a visual indication when entering a different port in the BVI's that it's one of "us" and a radio hail often ensues.

Gary and I Sampling Painkillers at Bitter End Yacht Club
      Lastly a special note regarding the Salty Dawgs Rally. I have been critical of rallies in the past as they are mostly run on schedule, weather be damned in some past cases. Folks often with less experience do a rally because of the "security" of travelling near others, but due to the schedule are subjected to worse weather than if they had sailed on their own. Salty Dawgs is different. If you want to leave early, late, from a different port, even to a different port you can still take part in the rally. This is why we gave it a try. We have always made our own weather and route decisions. We maintain our own boat and safety gear to standards we are comfortable with. We believe it is nice to know others may be near, but if things would get bad we need to save ourselves and not count on someone else. Salty Dawgs fits for us. No firm schedule, no boat inspections, no hard, fast rules. To join you need to have done a lengthy passage or more and be confident in your own vessel and skills.

Saba Rock from the Hill Behind Bitter End
     In the end it is really about the camaraderie of other sailors, the fun of completing a similar passage, and the telling of how and when each of us packed in the long-johns and foulies as we progressed south...ending the trip in shorts and bare feet. Having Lynn's brother Gary along was a special treat as we haven't had near enough opportunity in adult-hood to spend extended time together. Sharing it all over $3 Painkillers at the Saba Rock Happy Hour.

The list of leaking things can wait.



Day 11. The 'B' Word

So it seems that Mother Nature reads our log. I did the unthinkable and used the 'b' word here yesterday, before we reached our destination. I even used it in french. She paid me back by making things very interesting last night.

We had a nice dinner, chili and chips, and were sitting back in the cockpit before we started our watches. It started to rain. The wind picked up. And picked up. And it rained more. Gary and I took the first watch, taking turns steering, getting alternately rained on and splashed by waves. Steve and I took the second watch. 4 hours, 5 hours. More of the same. I went off to rest, leaving Steve to cope. I came back some 3 1/2 hours later to find him sipping coffee and enjoying a pretty nice sail. We had hit a squall line and instead of doing a perpendicular crossing, I think we went through from one end to the other. The radar couldn't see past the first few miles of rain and in the dark we couldn't tell where the storm started and where it ended.

I forgot the best part of this fun. Just before it got really windy we took a wave over the bow hard enough to send water up and under the dinghy and exploding through the forward hatch, which had been left open 1/2 inch for ventilation. It soaked the mattress and all the bedding and some of Gary's things that were out. Gary got to spend his off watch on the sette in the saloon. This, combined with a couple of chainplates that leak, made it a very wet and uncomfortable night for all of us.

So, Mother Nature, mea culpa, mea culpa. I'll never do it again.



Day 10. The Ennui Lats

Nov 19th

I think it was Don Street who said that to get to the Caribbean from the US East Coast, you "go east until the butter melts, then turn south". Well, we reached the Butter Longs last week and yesterday, the Power Bar Lats. This is the lat where a Power Bar at room temp is reduced to droopy, gooey, oily consistency and refuses to detatch from the wrapper. Today we reached the Ennui Lats. Crew boredom has set in. There is nothing new to fix, we still have meals in the freezer, Gary and I have gone through our family members and are caught up with all the latest gossip and we can almost see the BVI's from here, almost taste the Painkillers.

We debated the merits of Gilligan's Island today because Gary has had the theme song stuck in his head all week. Steve and Gary both admitted that Maryann was the cute one. I have to say that none of the guys did it for me. It's very funny to me that growing up in North Dakota, it never occured to me that people going out on a '3 hour tour' wouldn't take suitcases full of money and evening dresses, makeup and high heels. I just bought the line that that's what one took on a boat. I guess I know better now. Although, anyone who would like to come aboard with a suitcase of cash is welcome, anytime.



Day 9.

Nov 17th
Hi All,

A very squally day today for Steve's birthday. He only got a power bar for lunch today and maybe for dinner, too. I do have a bag of Oreo's stashed for the occasion, if only I could get to them without falling headfirst into the cabinet under the sette. I think we'll celebrate when we get to the Bitter End.

We've had lots of rain and wind to 27kts for alot of the day. Everytime I think all the salt water is washed out of the cockpit, we get another large splash over the side and have to start drying everything out again. We may have to go to the dock when we get in, just to wash the salt out of
everything. Me included.

We added Gary to the watch schedule after a couple days of tutoring. He has the 9-12pm watch, then I have 12-4 or 4:30 and Steve gets the 4:30 onward one. Having a third crewmwmber makes such a difference, it's wonderful to feel rested during the day and to have the extra muscle.

We're all ready to get into the BVI's and quit bashing about for awhile. I just want to sit on a chair that isn't moving, cold libation at hand. But all is well here and we're moving on.

Later, Lynn


Exciting Day

Nov 15th
Hello All,

Another exciting day here on the good ship Celebration. The weather is much warmer and we're getting back into our sunscreen habits after many months of not worrying about it. Everyone is wearing shorts and t-shirts, no shoes. I had promised Steve that it would be at least  month before I started to complain about the heat, but I probably won't last that long.

We're trolling a fishing line behind the boat, and have had 2 "fish on" but none on board yet. One got away with the hook and lure. I'm planning spaghetti and garlic bread for supper, but can change that to mahi in white wine sauce in a hurry.

Steve leaned back in the cockpit about 2 hours ago, swore copiously and then said, "there's a tear in the main" followed by more swearing.  We dropped the sail and stuffed it down the center hatch where he and Gary sewed it back up. It was fortunately just a seam that had come apart up by the top batten, so the sail is now back up and we're once again watching for fish.

We've seen 1 ship today, a supertanker, and spoke to one other Salty Dawg, Cataway, on the VHF.

Till tomorrow, Lynn


Days 3-6.

Most recent updates!

Nov 14th
Hello All,

We finally had to start the motor, after 5 1/2 days of pretty good sailing. So we're running the watermaker to top the tank and freezing the holding plate in the fridge. It's been a pretty uneventful trip so far, but now that were motoring, Hjlmr, our electronic auto helm is misbehaving. Hjlmrsen, the windvane steering, has been wonderful, but the wind has gone away. It looks like we'll hand steer through tonight. I'm doubley glad we have an extra person as crew. And while I'm at it, I have to say how nice it's been to have my brother, Gary, along as crew. As grownups, with families, living in different states, we haven't seen much of eachother for the last 20 years (30 years??), maybe a few hours here and there on a holiday, and its been really nice to be able to spend the last week with him. I don't know if he'll agree after another week onboard, but I'm certainly enjoying it.

Till tomorrow, Lynn

Nov 12th,
Hi All,

Still rocking along here. It was quite a rough night, winds around 20-25 kts with a small squall hitting 27. Gary is being a trooper, despite what we're doing to him. Last night it seems that the boxes and bags on the opposite side of the V-berth where he's sleeping, jumped their lee cloth and piled up on him. He finally gave up on sleep and spent most of the night in the cockpit. He says he feels like he's been beat up.

Our excitement today, Monday, was at 1158 when we spotted a floating gallon container and a ship at the same time. Yup, not much to see out here.

The wind is still strong and seas fairly big, but we're reefed down for it, so all is well. Everyone's feeling well, chili and tortillas for dinner tonight.



Beaufort to BVI's - Day 2

The most recent update from the Celebration crew:  Also, if you haven't checked out the GPS tracking map on the Salty Dawg site, do it!  It updates constantly, very cool to see where all the different boats are.  http://www.hawketracking.org/saltydawg/files/trackinglarge.htm

Hello All,
We're well into day 2 and all is well. Winds are clocking more from the ENE so we're heading SE on a nice reach. Good stirfry last night, maybe again today, to eat up the cabbage.

We dropped a Message in a Bottle in the gulf stream on friday night at 2310 for Jim, Beth and Cameron on Wild Haggis. Coordinates N33.56.628 W075.23.182. no pictures taken due to darkness.

We also had a burial at sea for our hitch hiker bird, he was dead on deck yesterdy morning. Sad to see.

So we're just bopping along, making good way. Everyone is sleeping well and eating pretty well, I broke out the first bag of jerky today. Good stuff, nice and salty.

Lynn, Steve and Gary



RartUp this month is about provisioning our boats. How much do we keep on board. Do we stash special things for the future?
I have to admit that when we first left the US and headed to The Bahamas, I had food for 3 or 4 months.  We'd been told so many horror stories about food prices in The Bahamas, that I may have gone a little overboard.  While we were still living at the dock in St Petersburg, I kept track of our consumption rates for just about everything: peanut butter, TP, toothpaste, pasta. They all had magic marker 'open' dates on them, and when we finished something it got recorded in my log. I knew how long an 18oz jar of peanut butter lasted and I bought accordingly. (Just for the record, 18oz of peanut butter lasts a month.) I had read a quote from Lin Pardey, I think, who said that she had a set level for her stores, and every time she had the opportunity to stock up to that level, she did. That way  when the wind was right they were ready to go. I try to follow that plan.
Someone else told us not to buy any food for the boat that we didn't already eat, and that has proven to be true. We don't eat canned fruit, but I thought we should have some for 'fruit emergencies'. The cans are still on board, way past their expiration dates.
Speaking of dating things, I just put the month and year that I bought something on the outside with a magic marker. It makes it easy to keep the older stuff in front/on top, and I don't have to find my glasses to read the real expiration dates.
To make it really easy when we're in a port with good shopping access, or a find a "friend with benefits" (aka: a car) I keep a small notebook in the backpack with a continuous list for groceries, a Home Depot list, a Joann Fabrics list, West Marine list, sizes for the filters we use, and any other measurements we might need. I'm a compulsive list maker, so this works great for me.
I also keep a notebook provision list of what we have on the boat and where it is.  We have a fridge and a separate Engel freezer but there is cold storage under the first level of the fridge where we keep extra blocks of cheese, beer, sausage. It's a whole lotta work to get to the underfridge section, only to find that what I'm looking for isn't there any more. I just use a notebook and pencil to keep track of what we have, then erase what we use or open. In my system, once I open something, it comes off the provision list and goes on the grocery list in the notebook in the backpack. That way when I can do major shopping, I know exactly what we've used and I can choose to replace things or wait if I know we won't need the particular item for a few months.
Just for what it's worth: I tried using a computer spread sheet to keep track of provisions, but it was too much work for me to power up the computer and I found that if I waited until I was actually using the computer, I forgot to do it anyway.  My notebook I can pull out 5 times a day and make quick changes.  

A quick infomercial for Lock and Lock containers. They're my essential galley pieces. We use them for everything. They're air and watertight. They come in 25 sizes. Mine are square, (they also come in round) so they stack in our fridge and freezer and most of the storage spaces we have.
This is the 'already opened and being consumed' cabinet above the fridge

An exploded shot of all the Lock and Locks from the cabinet above.

We really do use them for everything: the external hard drives live in one in the ditch bag, the sail repair kit is safe from moisture in another, medicines and band aids in several more. I usually take a small one in the backpack if we go out to eat,to use as a doggie bag. I hate styrofoam.

Cans and glass bottle storage under the settee. I use crates and square bins to keep it from being a huge pile and to separate different  foods. The bins also keep things from tapping together and being noisy when the seas get rough.

A page from my notebook, messy and it probably doesn't make too much sense to anyone else, but I know what I have. Usually. Pretty close, anyway.

As to the question of stashing special things away for future use: yes, I do. I'm an out of sight, out of mind person, which is why I make lists. So I can hide things from myself, just by putting them under the rice and not putting them on the list. I like the occasional surprise chocolate bar.

For more on this RaftUp subject:


Waiting on Weather in Oriental

Sunset over Oriental.

I think I've used that title before. We always seem to spend lots more time in Oriental than we planned.  We actually had a party the other night and decided to call it the "Hotel California Party: check in any time you like, but you can never leave." Those of us here at the dock, waiting out Sandy, have all spent at least an extra week.  It looks like we'll be able to hit the road by Thursday night.  We'll head out to Beaufort and refuel then head right for Virgin Gorda, in the BVI's.  Our crew, my brother Gary, is here and settling into his spacious suite.  We're well provisioned, but getting low on rum, and getting cold. It's time to go south.
Our daughter, Amanda, is going to post blogs for us again. If anyone is interested in following the rally, you can track our progress here.  Go to Fall Rally  >Daily Logs From the Fleet and > Follow the Fleet.  We'll try to update our log there and here as often as we can.


Jeff, of Mezzaluna, and Steve entertain during the hurricane party.
 Hurricane Sandy has passed us by. Thank You, thankyouverymuch.  We had winds as high as 49kts, and about a 3 1/2 foot surge. Nothing to write home about, but I will anyway.  Inside the dock house, where we held the required hurricane party, we could hardly hear the wind blowing and didn't even feel much effect until the wind backed around enough to the NW that it caught the door when we had to go out to the cooler for ice.

Dock detritus.


Hurricane Sandy update.  Thanks everyone for all the calls, emails and texts. We're fine, sitting pretty in Oriental NC.  As you can see from the photo, the docks here are almost* underwater, as of 1700 on Sun. Sandy has gone by us off the coast, and is heading for New Jersey, so we're hoping the water is going to start to recede tomorrow and the wind will settle down by Tues or Wed. We had a mini hurricane party last night, drinking rum with new friends Jeff and Katie, on Mezzaluna and Bob and Monique on Last Waltz.

*almost but not all the way underwater is really neat because the docks are concrete and have slits all the way down them, you can see them in the photo, so when a wave comes underneath, it spurts up a foot or so, like a fountain at kids amusement park.  It makes for a fun dance down the docks. 


Back In Oriental

View off the front porch of the clubhouse, Celebration is upper right.

  Yes, we're back in Oriental, NC, our adopted east coast home. We're sitting in the lap of luxury, at the Whittaker Pointe marina, large clean showers, washer and dryer, beautiful clubhouse, great friends Beth, Jim and Cameron on Wild Haggis, just off our stern.  (What we really came for is unlimited power, it just seems very ungreen and unsailor-like to admit that right up front.) We have lots of things to do, large and small projects, sewing, grinding, routing and having 110 power in all the outlets is such an amazing thing!! I don't have to find the inverter to charge anything. Well, actually I don't have to check the gauge on the panel first to see if we have the power to charge anything and then I don't have to find the inverter. It's the little things in life. sigh.

We've signed up with the Salty Dawg Rally for our trip to the Virgin Islands.  A rally is a group of boats all going to the same place at the same time. In this case, about 50 boats will leave Norfolk VA and Beaufort NC on the 4th of November and head to Virgin Gorda in the BVI's.  We'll get weather forecasts and routing, daily check ins with on shore watchers, lots of good stuff. The nice thing about this rally is that there are no fees and no safety checks. The only requirement is that we have to have done a long off shore passage before this, then we're considered to be competent captains and we'll have the safety equipment on our boat that we feel we need. If you would like to see more about it go here.

Shades of blue, sunset.

We had a beautiful motor sail down the ICW from Norfolk, warm days and chilly nights. The cool weather has taken care of most of the mosquito's and no-see-um's.

More shades of blue, sunrise.

Thunderstorms forming over the Atlantic, or still more shades of blue.


New Hatch?

Almost New Again
      No...but as close as we're getting. Several years ago we found a couple new hatches for Celebration. But we never could find the exact Gebo replacement for this small one over the head, or at lease not at an affordable price. When the two new large hatches were shipped, one had been damaged. We received an immediate replacement from Great Lakes Skipper and held the damaged one for return. When the claim was settled with the shipper Great Lakes told us to just keep or dispose of the damaged hatch, so we stripped it, recycled the aluminum frame, salvaged the weather seal, hinges, and acrylic pane.

Underside View

35 year old gasket next to the salvaged "New"  replacement
    I'd looked at this 35 year old hatch many times without ideas then just this week, I finally realized how to disassemble it.  Since we're at a dock getting ready to head south out came the router (110 volt power!) to cut the acrylic to size, we replaced the weather seal with our salvaged parts, set the new pane in place with Sikaflex 291i and viola, here it is. A lens we can see through once again and a seal which should actually keep out all the water verses just most of the water. We wound up re-using one rubber gasket which is not a water seal but a spacer between the pane and the frame, and I had to drill out one of the setscrews, re-tap, and replace with new. Not too bad for a 35 year old hatch with more than a couple seawater baths.



Our RaftUp topic this month is fear: "This wasn't in the questionnaire but three different people suggested it so I thought that was probably enough interest to include it. What were/are your fears? What was scariest about leaving? Sailing? and even going home? These fears can be boat specific (big waves and rough seas), things close to your heart (family and friends), or even goals unfulfilled that may never be because of this trip."
I think I have all the normal fears associated with sailing: injury or loss of my spouse, equipment failures, running out of butter during lobster season, seasickness, being unable to communicate with the outside world, or probably the thing that makes me shudder hardest: having the last unread book on board be something hideous by Barbara Cartland or Clive Cussler (who I think are actually the same person. I mean, really, have you seen their jacket photos??). 
When I think about it, and I have to admit, I don't like to think about it, the biggest fears I have center around  missing my family. I have a large, pretty close family and thinking that I'm missing things in my daughters lives, or with my parents, brothers and sisters, or my gazillion cousins, really  bothers me. Maybe I'm just a nosy, busybody, but I like my family and I like to be involved.
After almost 10 years on board, I still have a very healthy respect for the sea and all the crap she will throw at us if we get cocky, but not too much actual fear where sailing is involved. But we've worked hard at that. We're safety minded to the extreme, careful about the weather and have provisions to last 3 months. I don't like to be afraid when we're offshore, it makes me anxious, which makes me seasick, which makes everything else worse. So we work on our fears, to figure out exactly what they are and to change things to overcome them.

This month's other writers:

1 Dana svnorthfork.blogspot.com
2 Behan sv-totem.blogspot.com
3 Steph www.sailblogs.com/member/nornabiron
4 Stacey http://sv-bellavita.blogspot.com
5 Tammy ploddingINparadise.blogspot.com
6 Ean morejoyeverywhere.com
7 Lynn sailcelebration.blogspot.com
8 Diane www.maiaaboard.blogspot.com
10 Jaye lifeafloatarchives.blogspot.com
11 Verena pacificsailors.com
12 Toast http://blog.toastfloats.com
15 Dana svnorthfork.blogspot.com


The Never Ending Cat



 As some of you may notice, the Pita Pata counter on the sidebar is gone.  Our dear little Adjima died yesterday, at the ripe old age of 21.  She was her usual gentle, but extremely persistent self, right up to the end. She had gotten to be so old, that I'd started to refer to her as the 'never ending cat'. I guess all good things really do have to end. It's amazing that a cat who weighed in at just 4 lbs last week, has left such a gigantic hole in our lives.

    In the end her little body just couldn't keep up with her big heart. We'd watched her slow down, made a trip to the vet who tested, confirmed what we already knew, and assured us she was not in pain, just old. So we changed her diet and she'd bounced back for several weeks and many additional deck walks.
Adjima loved her early morning walk abouts on the deck.

    Funny little thing she was. Disliked loud noises and stayed below when the wind blew hard or the rain pelted. Only liked to be out when it was calm, quiet and flat water. Yet if she sensed our anxiety she'd join us in the cockpit on anchor watch in spite of the 40 knot wind and driving rain. Or when I (Steve) was in Iraq she sat with Lynn every night, something she'd never done before and less often since. She loved road trips and we enjoyed having her along this summer for our 8,000 plus mile drive around the U.S. In all she'd been in too many countries to count and most of the US states including Alaska and Hawaii. She'd sailed with us for nearly every mile of our ~25,000. And she was tough, rarely off her beat in spite of all the travel and occasional puking seas. The final tally was 21 years, 1 month, 3 weeks, and 3 days. Wow what a ride. After all those years, we'll surely miss the pita pata of her feet down this companionway and her constant company.


OK. So. It's been waaay too long since I've blogged with any regularity.  One would think I'd have had plenty of time to write, since we just spent 3 months on land with unlimited wifi, power, topics.  But one would be wrong! There wasn't enough time to do all the things we wanted or see all the people we wanted to see. There never is. We did our best, though, 8302 miles, 17 states. We  wore out our welcome with lots of relatives and friends.  Special thanks to our parents, who put up with our open ended comings and goings, and our daughters, one of whom got frustrated with our lack of schedule and called us "footloose and fancy free hippies". It was truly a great summer.

We've been back in the water for a week, fixing all the things that dry out and refuse to work after a 3 month vacation.  The head, of course, is one of them.  We're not using a bucket, yet, but it's close.  The electric motor is going and it's only a matter of time until I hear the dreaded silence when I push the flush button.  Can you hear silence? Hmmm. I think you know what I mean. It would be a very loud silence.  Aside from the head motor, nothing too hard or icky to fix, just little things to do and find.

The boat yard in Urbanna.

Sunrise, on the way out of Urbanna.

We've stopped in the Rhode River, south of Annapolis, for the Seven Seas Gam again.  A great opportunity to see old friends and meet more cruisers.  There are seminars worked in around all the socializing, so we may learn something, in spite of ourselves.


Boat Swag

This month's RaftUp revolves around boat 'swag'. The things we have on board with our boat's name, things we wish we had, and things we've seen other owners carrying that we covet.
I'll have to start off by saying that while everything on Celebration says Celebration on it somewhere, we weren't responsible for it. (I do mean EVERYTHING: every piece of wood, all the doors, the picture frames, the carpet pieces, sheets, towels, everything. One of her two previous owners got seriously happy using an engraver and a magic marker.)  Maybe because we see her name on stuff all day, every day, we don't feel the need to add any more. 
I looked into some L.L.Bean totes when we first bought Celebration. I thought they'd be nice to give as gifts to guests who came to stay. Fortunately for me, as they were very expensive, Celebration has one too many letters to fit on the bags. Fortunately, also, because while lots of people say they're going to visit, very few do. My SIL, Patty and my BFF, Kathy would each have half a dozen and the rest would be mouldering under the v berth.

My box of boat cards, arranged alphabetically by boat name.

The only 'swag' item I can think of that we can't do without, are boat cards. For the non-boater, these are business sized cards with our boat name, our names and email and blog addresses. Boaters exchange these as a way to keep in touch since few of us have land addresses and even fewer of us have phones that work in all the countries where we meet.  Boat cards vary from the plain and simple printed on paper, to the custom printed with boat photo kind.  My favorite are the ones that have the boat make and size on them, as Steve and I usually have differing memories of just what was what, especially after a few months.  I like to write on the cards we get, where and when we met, what was going on, kids, pets, an obnoxiousnous rating if required, "red shirt, cute shoes", that kind of thing, just to jog my memory.
I've seen some boat shirts that I really like, with the name and make embroidered on the upper left. I've even priced some. But then I do the mental scales: rum/wine on one side and nifty shirts on the other. The rum always wins.


Adjer-baby turns 21

Most of you probably already know the story of how we came to be the feeders and petters of Adjima the super cat, but, if not, I'll tell it. 
We had just moved to Anchorage AK, Steve was TDY in Korea, it was snowing a foot a week and the girls and I needed something to liven up the winter.  We went to the pound in search of a kitten.  We found one, a fluffy black and white bouncing fur ball.  There was another kitten there, a sneezy, thin weak looking thing.  The lady at the pound leaned over and whispered to me,"You don't want that one, we're going to put her down, she's too sick."  Of course the girls heard her. Of course we had to rescue the kitten. Of course we went from the pound to the vet and $200 later we had another free kitten. What's money anyway? We named the kittens Mickey and Adjima.  'Adjima' (ahh-jim-a) is Korean for older/married woman.  I figured that she looked so old already and was probably on death's door, she could qualify as an 'Adjima'. She was actually only 7 weeks old. This was in October of 1991.  Mickey died in 1996. Adjima's next brother lived with us for 11 years. Adjima is still hanging in there.
So how does a cat spend her 21st birthday?  In Adjima's case: having an all day nap, tucked into the softest place she can find.  And, no, I didn't make her wear her birthday hat this year.


The Blue (and dotted grey) Highway Tour

Steve with Mt Rushmore in the background.

Have you ever looked at the map and noticed the way the different sized highways are colored?  The interstates are red, the two lane roads are blue, unmaintained roads are grey and the gravel ones are dotted or dashed grey.  Thanks to the Air Force, we've been across the country 4 or 5 times, always on the red roads, Cheetos and sunflower seeds at the ready, getting from assignment to assignment as fast as possible. 
This summer we decided to do something really different. We both had family gatherings to get to in the upper Midwest, but we had a lot of time to get there, so: we parked the boat in Virginia, rented a car for 3 months, bought a tent, dug out the sleeping bags, bought an Engle cooler, zipped Adjima in her carrier, and set off on a slow tour of the US.  The goal was to make it to Minneapolis without driving a red road.
The first night we made it to West Virginia, maybe 200 miles from the start.  There are no straight roads in WV. Lots of roads in WV aren't even on the map.
We meandered our way through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and finally into Minnesota. We stopped and saw friends along the way, we read the Historic Information signs. We drove in 5 days what we usually do in 1 1/2.  No schedule, no hurry.

We shared the road in the Black Hills.

We got to see Steve's family at his mom's 80th birthday party. We hung out for four days with 70 of my favorite cousins.  We watched fireworks. We stayed with Amanda and her cat. 
We went south out of Douglas WY on a nice 2 lane paved road, after 25 miles it abruptly became gravel. We stopped and checked the map. Our road would finally hit a town in another 50 miles.  We kept going.  The road wound down and around, in and out of a forest,  S-curving around huge boulders, becoming more rutted and narrow the farther we went. I was disappointed when it straightened out and got flatter.  It was spectacular.

A beaver dam off in the distance, somewhere in Wyoming.
We're camping when we stop for the night, but I'm not a good camper.  I like hot showers and real bathrooms. Steve likes the much more primitive stuff.  Our compromise is KOA.  We're still in the tent, freezing at night, but I can get up and walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without getting lost.

Campsite in Buena Vista, CO.

We're currently in Albuquerque, NM, a place near and dear to our hearts and stomachs. We were stationed here twice and love both the city and the food.  Our daughter, Hannah, stayed here after graduating college and we plan to spend a week or so with her and her SO, Cameron.
Hannah and Cameron have a rather cozy abode, so we're staying with good friend, Bruce.  I shouldn't understate this so badly: we're not just staying with Bruce, we've moved in. We first met Bruce when he and Steve were skydiving together in Alaska. They worked together in the AF over the years and he retired to ABQ. He has a spacious, beautiful home here and we have taken it over.  We don't have many friends we would consider doing this to, (lucky for all of you) but Bruce is definitely the host with the most and we are very grateful. 

We're used to beaches, but this was incredible.


Laundry Day

This month the RaftUp topic is laundry and clothing.  Since we're currently in the process of driving around most of the US and had to pack a suitcase to get through 3 months, I've found that the clothes that I like best on the boat also are my go-to selections for car travel and camping.
We lived aboard in Florida for 5 years after we bought Celebration and before we left to go cruising, so we had lots of time to figure out what we actually would wear in the hot, hot, humid weather and what slowly made it's way to the bottom of the shelf.  We stopped buying cotton anything.  While I love cotton clothes, once cotton gets wet, it takes forever to dry and without a dryer to keep it in shape, it tends to look baggy and saggy. It's been really hard for me to quit buying cotton T shirts. I had quite a collection from around the world, different golf courses, resorts, towns, events, etc. ( My favorite one was from the Great Wall. It cost $1, and the first time I wore it, the entire left sleeve came off in my hand when I took the shirt off. I got what I paid for.)

We started to buy the new polyester/microfiber blend fabrics. They're usually found in sports clothing and work out wear.  Here in the US I usually find good bargains at TJ Maxx and JC Pennys, look in the golf and work out sections. Steve almost always wears microfiber cargo type shorts, the kind with the mesh underwear attached, and a wicking T shirt. He has a few Air Force T shirts left over from when he was in Iraq, and while they're pretty blandly colored, they wash and dry well. He likes a shirt with a collar when we go out so he has a lot of wicking golf shirts, bought for $15 or less at places like TJ Maxx or Burlington Coat Factory.

My clothing requirements and shopping habits have changed drastically since we started sailing.  I have a 'buy one, get rid of one' rule for clothing and I do stick to it, although I don't make Steve follow it.  The first thing I look at are the buttons and zippers. We wash laundry on the boat and run everything through a wringer ( a mangle if you're a Brit), so anything with large buckles or toggles or rivets is a no-go. Ditto for a metal zipper. They get crunched in the wringer and eventually fall apart. Next step is to take a handful of the fabric and do the wrinkle scrunch for 3 seconds. I don't have much clothing storage space but I try to keep things nice and flat but inevitably they end up smushed or rolled up into the corners.  I hate to pull out a clean shirt and have it look like it needs ironing. I don't iron.  Third thing I do is the sweat test. Lick a finger and press it on the fabric to see what it'll look like when it gets wet.  I only do this in the dressing room.  Sweat and water spray while riding in the dinghy are a way of life for us, but I don't want to look wet forever once I get to shore.  (On that note, I did make a dinghy skirt out of Sunbrella to keep my shorts dry when the weather's bad.)  The color is also important, dark is hotter, while white is too easy for me to mess up.  So to summarize: I look for shirts made of poly that don't wrinkle or look sweaty, short or no sleeves, no metal or big beads, in a medium color, maybe a small pattern, not too tight but not mu mu big. I have a fairly small wardrobe. 

To answer some of the other suggested RaftUp questions.  Yes we do all our laundry on board. I have allergies so I try to use All liquid detergent.  I have some nicer sandals and a couple of summer dresses for anything dress up and I store them in 2 gallon zip loc bags. I never use fabric softener. It interferes with the wicking process of the newer fabrics and it gives me a rash.

Scenes from my suitcase.

This month's other bloggers:

1 Dana svnorthfork.blogspot.com
2 Steph www.sailblogs.com/member/nornabiron
3 Diane http://maiaaboard.blogspot.com
4 Lynn www.sailcelebration.com
5 Ean http://morejoyeverywhere.blogspot.com
6 Jessica http://mvfelicity.blogspot.com
7 Behan http://sv-totem.blogspot.com
8 Jaye http://lifeafloatarchives.blogspot.com
9 Tammy http://ploddinginparadise.com
10 Stacey http://sv-bellavita.blogspot.com
11 Verena www.pacificsailors.com
12 Toast http://blog.toastfloats.com
15 Dana svnorthfork.blogspot.com


It's time for another Raft Up Blog.  This month the question is  "Do you think your view on travel and sailing has changed at all since you started? and How does the boat help vs hinder your ability to travel?"  Since I think that Steve and I will have very different takes on this subject, we're going to each have our say in a she says/he says blog. 

She says:  I never sailed until I was 42 years old.  In fact, I was never even on a sail boat until the day we moved aboard Celebration. We bought the boat, moved to Florida and then took sailing lessons. But even after our lessons and taking our own boat our a lot, I was never comfortable and I never felt like I knew exactly what to do or what was going on. Sailing was confusing, loud, scary. For me it was something to be endured to get from point A to point B.  (Point B was always going to be some tropical fantasy land, filled with sun and fun, close to a wonderful grocery store and a clean laundromat.) I used to get so anxious when we were headed off shore, that I would get sick. 
It took me a couple of years to figure out that I was making myself sick.  My anxiety came from a lack of working knowledge about sailing and about the boat in general.  I decided to fix my ignorance and hopefully in the process, get over being sick with worry.  I took a Captains Course and got my 6-Pack license, I spent 2 days going solo down the ICW in Florida, I asked A LOT of questions.  I got some confidence that I really could turn the boat around and get Steve if he fell over (IF he was wearing his life jacket and IF it was a perfectly calm day and IF I felt like it). I have for the majority of the days, gotten over my sea sickness.
So,  to answer the question, my view on travel and sailing has done a 180.  After 9 years I can now enjoy sailing for the ride itself and not just the destination.  Sailing has opened up the travel world for us.  We couldn't afford to go and as we did last year, spend a month in Martinique and then a month in St Lucia and then a couple of months in Grenada and then a month in Trinidad if we were paying for a hotel room every night and eating out every day. Being able to live on Celebration keeps the costs where we can afford them.  It allows us to spend big chunks of time in a country, really get to know the people, explore, and taste the foods.

He says:
Sailing verses Traveling
 SO my thoughts, is this sailing or traveling? Clearly it IS both, but what of our priorities or which do I prefer might be the question.

Sailing: I love the sailing, and even more so when the sailing is great. You know the right wind, low seas, not too hot, or too cold. But the best sailing is usually when there is little in the form of schedule or sailing with several good destination options. To a sailor this should be obvious, but to others less so. Without schedule we can sail off the wind, never having to motor. If we can't get there because the wind is blowing from the wrong direction we have options, more so options that are comfortable, don't overstress the gear or the crew. We can tack(zig-zag) with the wind on our beam (side) taking all day or all week/month perhaps to get there, wherever "there" is. Or without a hard destination or as mentioned several destination options, we simply change "there" to be somewhere we can sail to instead of going toward the wind to reach. Again making it a comfortable, fun sail instead of straining us or the good ship Celebration. Frankly the easiest sailing is when we are far offshore. Bad wind, bad seas become so much less bad with a simple course change they can even become good seas and winds.

Traveling: Yup, love the traveling too. For us however it seems to be more of seeing places in depth over seeing more places. When we arrive in a port we like we tend to stay planted to the bottom for a longer period than most, A month or more is common, allowing us to see more of the place, learn a bit of the culture, how to get around, meet some of the people, and become a regular on the streets and in the markets. There is a comfort for us in spending more time, but trading off the stopping in every port possible as we've moved north/south with the seasons and storms.

I guess in the end the sailing as a way of traveling is a good match for me. No schedule, no return flight, no deadline for seeing what I wish to see then racing off to another land or back "home" for our home is here. If there is work to do, or more to see we simply stay put a bit longer...then move when the wind is forcast as right for our next destination, accepting another if the forcast isn't quite right.

The rest of this month's raft up participants:


Land Cruising

      It's been awhile since blogging; Lot's to catch up on so I'll hit a few highlights.  It all begins by taking the boat out of the water. Never comfortable as your home is hanging by a couple straps as it' lifted, washed, then moved over land to some precarious looking stands and blocks to rest out of the water for a while. This time we expect around three months.
The Haul

First stage was a week to prepare her to sit that long without use and do a bit of basic maintenance:
Our Home Away From Home
Cleaning out/defrosting the fridge, changing the solar controller,pulling the prop and sending for a re-pitch, removing all the sails and awnings, marking, and grinding out a few fiberglass blisters.

Next stage roughly two months poking around the US to visit our girls, attend Mom's 80th birthday party, see the rest of our parents, and visit a few friends. The last stage will be returning to Celebration to re-glass in the blisters, install the prop, fix the bent anchor Lynn mentioned, and put on a few new coats of anti fouling bottom paint.

Bursing? Adjima Was Very Supportive but No Cash,
 Have to Keep Practicing

     So far so good. The first stage is long done and went without a hitch. Next we spent five days heading west camping along the way. Nice since we took five days to do this trip what we usually do in around two.

Made it to Minnesota by driving all small roads. With the exception of around 25 miles going north from Iowa City we drove no Interstate Highways. All in all a nice, slow trip winding through the Blue ridge Mountains where we saw many deer, a black bear, and across the heartland seeing parts of the country we haven't ever taken the time to see.
Not Sails, But Looking up at the Tent is the Closest We'll Get

We stopped in Iowa City to see our friend Jeff Hazzard who is working there this summer and one of my military brothers (and Dream Team member) from my Mac Dill assignment (now Major) Randy Larson.  Two cool.

Lynn, Me, Mom (Jean Kauffmann), Daughter Amanda

On the 4-5th we went into the "Twin Cities" to visit our daughter Amanda and Lynn's brother Tom where we had a BBQ, played a little guitar and got caught up....at least a little after all these years. Now back at my Moms in Glencoe MN and celebrating her 80th birthday which is actually the 10th but the party is on Saturday 7 July. Soon of to Lynn's parents in North Dakota and off to her families reunion. Should be a lot of fun! I'll have to post more updates later.....


Mystery Injury Log II

At left, our bent 60lb CQR anchor and the 45lb backup on the right.

We've been having some trouble anchoring lately. About half of the time, when we try to back the anchor in, it just drags along the bottom. We have to pull the chain back up and try again. And in some cases, again. This is very frustrating because a: we've been doing this for a long time now and setting the anchor has become pretty routine and b: it almost always happens at the end of a long day when we're both in the 'it's 5 o'clock right here, mode'. We didn't give it too much thought, we have a lot going on right now, what with all the socializing and stuff.  But one day, after yet another double attempt, Steve walked back to the cockpit and said with amazement: "It's bent." I gave him my best "         "   blank look.  He pointed to the anchor and repeated "It's bent."  The entire head (?) is bent off to one side, so when that side hits the bottom first, the tip can't hit the bottom to dig in. There is our reason for it only setting half the time.  Somewhere between St Thomas and The Bahamas we managed to bend the anchor.  The funny thing is, we didn't anchor anywhere between St Thomas and The Bahamas. There were no pilings to hit and no bad weather.  This ranks right up there with Steve's mystery broken elbow.  I realize that to some this isn't an injury, per se, but since we tend to feel every bump and scrape Celebration gets, this may take some time to heal.

ahem: I guess I can justify not noticing the bent anchor by saying that our anchor hangs under the bowsprit, we can't see it very well from the deck.


Osprey, Fish Hawks and/or Sea Hawks

We left our anchorage this morning in a light, misting, almost cold rain. The ICW through northern North Carolina into Virginia runs through the Currituck Sound and then up the North Landing River.  It's a winding narrow channel through swamp and marsh land.  The bird life was plentiful and so, as usual, I let Steve do the navigating while I sat with my binoculars and camera.   The osprey were abundant, with the babies just getting big enough to poke their heads up and out of the nests to check us out as we went by.
Osprey build huge stick and debris nests on almost anything close to the water. They're large birds, 24 inches long with a 71 inch wingspan, white on the body, with a cool black eye patch and black wings  They are found on all continents except Antarctica. They are mainly fish eaters. (Although, at one time we had an osprey hanging out and hunting from a neighbors mast. He was there so often,  and was so interested in Adjima on her walk-abouts on the deck that I called the Florida Fish and Wildlife to see, if by chance, he would eat a small mammal.  The answer was a definite 'yes'. I had to start accompanying her on her daily constitutional.) Osprey, along with the owl, are the only birds whose outer toe is reversible, letting them catch fish with two toes in front and 2 behind. 

Osprey mate for life and return to the same nests each year. There are nests that are recorded to have been used for 70 years by succeeding generations. I like the one on the left with the spanish moss added for a little softness.

This was the biggest nest we saw, about 3 feet by 5 feet, the baby is just visible on the top left.
You lookin' at me??

As some of you may have noticed by the numbers on the channel markers, we've reached the northern end of the ICW, red buoy #1 is just outside the window here in Norfolk.  We'll go a little way up the Chesapeake Bay early next week and haul Celebration on Tuesday or Wednesday. Fun fun fun.


Trip Summary

    So what of the off-shore trip you ask? Are you ready to cross oceans? Was it exciting? Boring? Adrenalin filled, how did the two of you do together? Lots of questions out there as well as kind of banging around in my own head. I have been thinking about drafting a sort of summary and haven't yet. Been having too much fun. Things like seeing old friends, visiting our home-away-from-home Oriental, walking around Target gazing at the stuff we really haven't missed at all (yet strangely drawn by the multi-million $ marketing research woven into the packaging, displays, descriptions telling me my life will not be full without this item) and enjoying the cool nights as we poke our way north. I do however owe a great deal of gratitude to those who helped us stay in the loop. Thanks to Amanda who posted updates and Ian, Anne, Greg and Gail who all helped with the locations. We appreciate the concerns from those of you who saw crap weather approaching and were left hanging as to our whereabouts for a couple days.

   For what it's worth I'll give it a try today. Maybe a bit of commentary on us, and a bit on crossings in general as we have seen yet another ARC depart on "schedule" with boats and crews thrown to the weather gods...more there later.  Our trip was for the most part just basic sailing. Most of it was well off the wind, roughly 80% of our wind was from aft of the beam. A tribute to the time of year and the wind pattern gathered through history, proffered by the pilot charts, looked at briefly by me before I fell to the software solution offered by Virtual Passage Planning. Simple way to plug in your route and get a report of wind direction, change it if it looks tough and try again. All based on the historical averages of course but it is almost the best avaialble when off shore for longer than a 2-4 day forecast.  There are other things in the weather mix, but more there later.

The Obligatory Sunset Photo
    The good ship Celebration did just what she was designed to do; sail smooth with her narrow beam, true to the course with her full keel, take care of us with her blue-water construction and run fast (not like a racer of course) with her supersized sail plan. Even with most of our run well off wind we rarely had the full sails in the air. We, and she, prefer to have the vessel upright and even slightly underpowered on long crossings to enjoy what comfort and leisure can be splitting a 24 hour watch schedule just two ways. More so at night as we never go into darkness with a full main and often carry a double reef just so we won't have to reduce sail at night. How can you stand to do that my racer friends ask? Easy when the crew is but two and both must be well rested just in case the unexpected would occur. Besides, we do this for fun, as we both left work to make this extended journey. Stressing gear, me, crew, breaking equipment, tearing sails makes it work. Even so we did have a bit of sail repair underway.
    The stationary front we encountered midway between the Caribbean and the US was our "big" engagement. My watch, I knew it was there and we'd been approaching it for a few days had seen the lightning the prior night so no surprises. Right. I allowed the wind vane to steer us down the face of it on a reach until we were abreast of an area where the wind "seemed" lighter and I was sure I could see well into the weather. Confident this was a more gentle area than the rest I rolled up and in. In minutes I was aware of my poor judgment. With a small part of the working jib flying but only one reef in the main we were grossly overpowered. No more chance of a quick cut through the front we ran off doing 10 knots and our old worn out underreporting wind meter showing 30. Short lived but a little stitching was required afterward. Like always there was a dead calm after the storm so we putted along under power with the jib and the Kenmore (sewing machine) on the foredeck putting a bit of thread back in the line channel at the sail foot. Maybe a bit of Sunbrella re-stitched too but who needs to count. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the blow didn't cause the damage, but the accumulation of Caribbean sun and wind did, today’s blow just moved it up on the repair/maintenance list.
The Route as Planned. Later Turned into a Large
Zig/Zag North, Even into Florida, Finally to Beaufort

    In all other aspects the days were quite slow. Preparing food, eating, doing basic chores around the vessel, sending e-mails, and getting weather faxes/files really took up some time. Then reading. The wind vane Rejse steered, and navigation is easy when off-shore and heading in a general direction. In fact the planned course had but two turns between the end of St Thomas and Beaufort Inlet. Way easier than coastal cruising.
    By the time of our last (after Beryl) leg we had a lot more figured out despite the numbers of off shore miles under our belt already. We followed Beryl up the coast from Florida to North Carolina as it was pushed out to sea by a significant front. We were of course not fast enough to stay ahead of the front. As it overtook us the wind was our wind, headed our way pressing us ahead. But the squall lines leading well, were squall lines, stronger than the gradient wind and with thunderstorms, driving rain. The first approached, we set sails accordingly and sat in the cockpit waiting for the excitement. The wind picked up 35-40 knots, the auto-helm steered, the rain rained, and Celebration headed on her course without a blink or waiver. Lynn and I looking at each other sitting in our full foul weather gear; pelted by the driven rain and smiled, “no problem” we said and broke into our regular night watch schedule. Both dealt with squall lines through the night and neither off-watch had to be awakened to help.

     What did we learn: We still don't know if we want to cross oceans but are confident we can cross oceans, and by ourselves if we opt not to take extra crew. Two people can easily handle a well found vessel if she is not pressed. The self steering must be functional and capable of handling weather when small crewed. Wind steering added to our comfort and speed as it adjusted to minor directional changes, even in light downwind conditions, backup is the electronic auto-helm. SSB is important to us if not for the weather and mail, hearing and talking to friends on the cruiser nets was a  nice link back to the continent, more so as the days went on. Schedules are bad. Lastly weather patterns must be given grave consideration.
    Weather patterns and schedule lead me back to the start, sailing crossings on schedule. Unfortunately as I write this at least one boat sits in the Azores doing repairs after departing on schedule with the ARC Europe. Just like two recent Caribbean 1500's the show went off per the booking, this case while weather patterns created a high probability of storms impacting the North Atlantic. Meanwhile, we have friends underway right now to Europe, one from the Caribbean, and one from the US both of whom heeded this forecast and departed after the patterns changed. We too heeded the patterns by planning our route closer to options than we would otherwise have done and in the end took the option when prediction models indicated tropical storms. My point is just this; being part of a group does not make offshore sailing safer in itself. Worse yet, departure dates and locations may be driven by impacts beyond weather making it far more dangerous. I love the concept of the Rally, but the sailor must make his/her own decisions, have the right ship, have shaken down the vessel themselves after major repair/upgrade, know how to sail their own boat safely, and maintain/repair at sea the items that will jump up on the list. Sorry, a little rant maybe but being part of a rally will not make up for poor weather decisions, a well found ship, or crew experience. Unless it is truly unpredicted and brutal we cannot simply blame the weather and the ocean.