Still Waiting

 So, we've been back in the country 7 days and we're on our second out of season tropical storm.  I guess at this point I should apologise to the boating community on the Eastern Seaboard and confess: the storms follow us around like a cat does a gecko. (I used to put the blame on Mr Mac, as we were generally in the vicinity of each other when these storms came around, but now that they're in Tobago, where it's nice and sunny, and we're here, with the storms, that's a little harder to do.) 
So, anyway, we're making the best of being weathered in in St Augustine. Not that it's in any way a hardship, a beautiful old city, cobbled streets, little shops and taverns, a winery. We went out for cheeseburgers and fries and cold beer and margaritas, all at the same time! We walked to Target and strolled around for an hour in the air conditioning , marveling at all the things we weren't missing. We did buy an extra large bag of Twizzlers, you know, to sustain us on the 2 mile walk back.

Great Blue Heron, posing along the ICW.

We 'drove the ditch' to get here from Cape Canaveral. It was much different than what I was expecting. Steve and I call the east coast of Florida the Condo Coast. From off shore it looks like an unbroken line of condo buildings all the way from Miami north to the Georgia boarder.  On the ICW, though, it was beautiful! Salt marshes and tidal flats stretched all around us. We saw manatees and dolphins, eagles, herons, osprey, egrets. We actually got pushed aside by one of the manatees. It dove next to the boat and came over and gave us quite a thudding nudge to one side.  It was about the size of our dinghy and looked a lot like a gigantic potato with barnacles. 

Daytona Beach, the Condo Coast.

Today, we're on board, listening to the weather and watching the tide rise and waiting to see where Beryl goes from here. We might just get a window to follow her up the coast toward the middle of the week.


Just a few words to let everyone know we are in Florida, safe and sound.  We came in through the Cape Canaveral entrance yesterday afternoon and then anchored in Cocoa for the night.  It was a wonderfully boring and sometimes dull trip. Just what I wanted. No surprises. Nothing broken. No storms.  No seasickness. Days on end of sailing. It doesn't get much better than that.
We're going to work our way up the ICW for a few days to St Augustine, then go off shore to NC when the weather clears there. Although with the reports of the tropical storm forming there, it may be a while before we can go. 


As of May 15th

A couple of you have have asked for news and the last I heard from them was May 15th, saying they were diverting to the Abacos for a couple of days. They won't have an email connection while there so I'm assuming that's still where they are. The email below is from Tuesday:

 Decision to do a temp stop made firm this AM after the weather report from Chris and a look at the GFS model, we are going into the Abacos. Yesterday afternoon when we saw the development and decided to turn west has turned out great. Then over 170 nm from the Abacos we never thought we would make it today....planed on slowing, heaviing-to or something for the night. The run has been excellent. Genny and Jigger overnight and today added a reef main...been holding 6-7 for hours on end. We will make the Man-O-War cut before 1800 ( now just 17 nm from the cut!) and will be  anchored there for several days unless the forcast changes a lot.  At some point I will send a note letting you know what the plan is, even though we "technically" can't.

     The wind vane steering has made a huge difference in how many miles we are making. It has been flawless, keeps the sail trim steady even though the course may wander with wind shifts, Chris you would love it! Only issue is one of the blocks I relocated for this application isn't aligned quite right and I'm getting a bit of line chafe. So every three days I tie the sopper knot on the pendulum a couple inches shorter to move the chafe spot. But she steers great and we have so much extra power we're actually running the raday all night steady and using fans/other stuff at will. Amazing. Of course that is aided by the lack of ice consumption in the evening sundowners as well.

As of 1445 our position is:
26 deg 34.727 min North
076 deg 41.512 West

Love to all!
Steve & Lynn


Potential Change of Plan

Email from the folks today:

Current update,

May be a change in plans so letting you all know. Right now we are running due east for the northern tip of the Abacos. Master Chris (Parker/weather guru) said there is a trough pushing down and IF it clears NC we will see ENE in th 25 plus knot (up to gale force) range starting Friday afternoon/evening. Won't last long BUT we can't make enough miles to clear the gulf stream and darn sure don't want to be in it for that event. Talked to a NC HAM tonight and he said all the Carolina forecasts are up in the air...a lot of uncertainty. So we will decide after tomorrows forecast to turn north for Beaufort inlet if the forecast has good certainty, or head to Whale Cay and yellow flag a night or two until the BS passes. IF we end up in he Bahamas there will be no update as the freq is a ham band and neither of us has the Bahamas ticket. I will send an update sometime tomorrow to let you in on the decision, and let you know when we leave.
 Meanwhile we had a great run last night and today. Now making 6kts under the genoa and the mizzen on a broad reach 10 kt apparent. Sweet.

Position as of 1700 tonight is:
26 deg 26.68 min North
74 deg 33.68 West.


May 11 Update

Hey, good news! It's day four, which I believe is the longest they've been off shore together, and as far as I know they don't appear to have thrown eachother overboard. As of yesterday their position was:

Position 1800 11 May 2012
23 deg 06.400 min North
69 deg 15.627 min West

I think that translates into 23 6' -069 15' (?) on Google if you're tracking.

    Wind has been light the whole trip so far. Today we are in the southern end of a stationary front so even less. We had to start Nanni this morning and will likely have 18 - 24 hours of motoring through this to some nice air on the other side. Today actually did a few boat projects, played some music, finished a Chris Jackson book.


Position Report

Here I am, with the entire world of the Sail Celebration blog at my fingertips and I've got nothin'. Well ok, not nothing. I do have a position update for today. The location they sent is 21 deg 39.126 Min North 068 deg 28.00 Min West. If anyone can get that to work in Google maps let me know because I sure couldn't.
Have a good night!


North (temporarily) from the Caribbean

     Making last checks of Celebration, the weather, and posting this at almost the same time.  Lynn has cooked up some entries in advance and we have on hand plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and easy to prepare, easy to eat food. The thought is to head north tomorrow. Straight, or actually kind of arced westerly, toward the Beaufort/Moorhead City North Carolina inlet. As we started this cruising journey we knew not what it would bring and where we would go. We started off slow, up the coast, then south, doing longer and longer jumps off-shore. Finally deciding on the trip to the Caribbean. We have been asked often if we intend to "cross oceans" or go "around the world" and the answer is always "we don't really know". But we are always learning more about this little ship and more about us, likes, dislikes, expanding our comfort zone and our ability to sail in weather. So in a way we are learning more of what we can, and might like to do. This trip is another extension. Will we want more crew, or are the two of us about right? Too long a passage, or will we find a groove. Exciting, or like many we've met who find long passages boring? Whatever the answers, we'll know more by the time we reach the next port.

   This passage has few firsts for us and we are in fact pretty excited. It will be Lynn's longest off shore voyage, and our longest together. It will also be my longest with a crew of just two. We've done 4 1/2 days together before just fine. This one at  over 1300 nautical miles will take a few more.  It is our first with wind steering providing an alternative to the power consuming Auto helm and of course another way to steer without Lynn or I standing behind the wheel for days/week plus. Done that...it sucks...so we carry a spare motor, control unit, etc for the electric version and now a completely unpowered option. As some remember I was on a "powerless" delivery 18 months ago and it altered several priorities for me in off shore sailing. And the new vane has been christened "Rejse"  (Danish for voyage) in deference to early Aries wind vanes being manufactured in Denmark. Although now made in England we're sticking with our Scandinavian theme, counting on the combo of Hjlmr and Rejse to steady the wheel. 
External Sound Card
    Another firsts is no weather routing. Of course we can always tune in to Chris Parker and listen, but he is no longer on call for us. After a long period of fee paying service, we realized we never called for advice. Only listening, watching, taking in weather forecasts/faxes from NOAA,  grib files and have done OK. Not always perfect, but OK, so we're giving it a go. We use the SSB (marine HF radio) for weather faxes, grib files, and position reports. Faxes over HF radio have been around for a long time, but newer technology allows this laptop to receive it via that radio, decode, file, and display it. As well we can send and receive rudimentary e-mails and with attachments like the grib file which again being decoded with a simple viewer on this laptop allow us to see the wind, wave, and pressure models running out a few days.

System up, RMS Express Transmitting/Receiving
No "Pactor" modem!  The modem appears to be the most common cruiser solution, but it is another expensive, sometimes problematic solution. We use software called RMS Express which uses the computer to emulate the modem without the $1400 cost. One key to making it work however is a good clean sound card, in our case external to the computer. This one is a SignaLink by Tigertronics. For ~$100 the company includes all the cables for attaching to your specific radio, the USB connection for the computer, and several more. What it does is the same as the sound card in the laptop, but without all the extra electronic "noise". The faxes are clearer, the e-mails work better, and all the cords are now off the navigation station.

    And one last first: our daughters, Amanda and Hannah, have volunteered to make a few blog posts here, so we will send them position reports via the SSB which they will post here. They can also send us e-mails back along the way, of course short and no photos. So if anyone is interested, they can follow along for the trip. Hope to see most of our US based friends soon!!


Carnival St Thomas

Two-tier steel pan band float.

 We lucked out again, and found ourselves in St Thomas for their annual Bacchanal Carnival. Being the staid, go to bed at 8 cruisers we are, we skipped most of the festivities.  I should say, we stayed on the boat, but could hear and see most of the festivities.  We were anchored in the harbor off of Charlotte Amalie, only about 2000 feet from Carnival Village, where most of the concerts and partying happened.  There was plenty of really good music, really loud, really late. Sometimes as late as 0430.  Not that that kept either of us awake.  I would turn over in bed, still hear the thumping of the music and wonder at the people who could stay up past midnight.

We did hear some good reggae and salsa/Puerto Rican rhythms and lots of good steel pan bands. We heard the reggae version of "Take me home, country roads", we heard, as we have heard all the way from Trinidad north, a song that goes like this " Lord, don't let me cheat on my girlfriend, as far as I can see, she loves only me, but Lord if you can't stop me from cheating, don't let me get caught", and my personal favorite (and one I think written just for the occasion): "Enjoy yourself, it might be your last".

 We did manage to get to the Children's Parade.  They were SOOOO cute in their costumes, some of them too young to do much but walk the route and stare, some really hamming it up for the crowds. It was a really hot, sunny day so the route was about 2 blocks long. 

This woman was along the parade route, all dressed up. As she was walking along, her phone rang. She pulled out the big red hand piece from her bag. So funny to see her talking on it, she attracted a lot of attention.
Enjoy yourself.