Category Archives: Last Passage

Grand Finale: SPAIN TO MAINE 2021 (the last eight days)

UPDATE #13
June 12

Day 24

Greeting Day 24 at sea

Steve:  History at sea … and chocolate on a stick.  

Our intrepid travelers are ~725 nm from Portland and romping down their rhumb line with a fair breeze. 

Max

As Lynnie noted last update, we are grateful to Ken, our Camden, ME weather guru, for getting us from 009W to 059W Longitude (around 2800 nautical miles) on 5 gallons of fuel. We are also grateful to Steve for providing additional detail on the weather outlook. Our dwindling Iridium satellite minutes have deterred me from downloading as many weather charts as I would like, so Steve is taking up the slack (we started out with 360 prepaid minutes. Next time I think I would use an IridiumGo! device which I believe has an unlimited data option).

Luckily Captain Max always manages to patch up the wear-and-tear,
this time on our workhorse main sail.

Thursday afternoon we spotted a sailboat heading East. Lynnie hailed them on the radio and they changed course to come say hi to us. They were French, bound for the Azores. It was a fleeting but heartwarming moment of smiles, waves and picture-taking from a chance meeting of kindred spirits on the high seas. Soon we were each back on our separate ways.

I asked if they had any croissants as I was prepared to trade some Snickers, but, none aboard…
…so, I made cinnamon buns the next day.
Luckily the smell of warm bread covers any missing ingredient (and taste) as the crew happily scarfed them down
.
With the exception of some rare sighting of dolphins and whale spouts solitary birds became our sole company. Several tried landing on our spreaders while others just soared by. They entranced us sailors hungry to see other live creatures as we floated aboard this vast blue liquid.

We decided to forego a stop at Bermuda. We don’t need any fuel, and a serious weather system has brought rough winds and seas from Bermuda northward. Even if we’d wanted to stop we would have struggled to get into Bermuda in the strong winds. Instead, we bided our time the past couple of days, intentionally slowing the boat to stay in less wind south of Bermuda and let the system go by. This morning in 20-24 knots of wind we set our course towards Maine. We anticipate a few days of robust SW winds for which we have swapped back to our smaller 100% jib.

As Lynnie also alluded, there is a Shakespearean overtone in these waters. The channel into Bermuda goes right past “Sea Venture Shoals.” In 1609 a British expedition was sent to relieve Jamestown Colony. The flagship, the “Sea Venture,” ran into a hurricane. After five difficult days they spotted land, and ran the sinking ship onto a reef. Everyone on board was saved, but they found themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island. The Admiral ordered the men to build two ships so they could carry on to Virginia. But an ancestor of Rudy and me, Stephen Hopkins, fomented a mutiny, asserting that the fact of the shipwreck negated the contracts they had signed and no one had authority over them. Going against the Church and Crown and its feudal system that had ruled Europe for centuries was cause for execution, and only Hopkin’s dire pleas for his life avoided that fate.

The SEA VENTURE

Word of the shipwreck filtered back to England, and was an impetus for Shakespeare to write “The Tempest.” Some historians believe the freedom-loving (albeit drunken) character Stephano was the persona of Stephen Hopkins.

Eleven years later Hopkins found himself on the “Mayflower” when they were blown off course and anchored in Provincetown Harbor – not in the Virginia territory where their contracts specified they would be awarded land in return for seven years’ labor. In a rebellion eerily similar to that on Bermuda, some of the Mayflower passengers threatened mutiny. After a sixty-five day voyage, before anyone was allowed ashore, the Pilgrim fathers (including another ancestor, William Brewster) hashed out a compromise granting a voice to all members in the running of their affairs – a “Civil Body Politic” – the Mayflower Compact. 

That first winter Hopkins would develop a personal bond with the Native American Samoset, which was a key in gaining the trust and critical assistance of Chief Massasoit. Hopkins would go on to run an ale house in Plymouth Colony (and on at least one occasion was convicted of overcharging for his liquor!).

Back to the present where we have patiently waited out our own Bermudian tempest. We are confident “Juanona” will have a better fate than the “Sea Venture.” I am keeping a weather eye on my wonderful, but strong-minded crew for signs of mutiny, however. Fortunately I know what motivates them, and it emanates from the cacao tree.

Best wishes to all,

Max and shipmates

UPDATE #14
June 14

Day 26

Steve:  Nobody said it would be easy, but it won’t be long now …

Rudy

Hello everyone!

“Robust sailing” has been the term we have been throwing around since turning northwest towards Bermuda before the weekend. We have had consistent winds above 20 kts out of the southwest and rolling, crashing swells between 6 and 8 feet. Riding in the cockpit has been a little wet, between water crashing on the foredeck and occasional rain squalls, and Juanona’s pitching has brought us all to wearing scopolamine patches (including Max, don’t let him tell you differently). The conditions gave us some great boat speed, however, even flying only a twice-reefed main and the small staysail.

What it’s like below…

Currently, we have temporarily stopped our northward progress to allow a storm front to pass north of us, and will return to our course as soon as it goes by, probably Tuesday.

Nevertheless, we continue to be in high spirits, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. A highlight of yesterday was when, to avoid getting too many of his clothes wet, Max went up on the foredeck to switch over some sheets from the jib to the staysail wearing only his heavy raincoat and “underwear hombres.” I had basically done the opposite, deciding that Saturday would be a great time to break out my last pair of clean shorts. They are still hanging to dry as I write.

With all the green water washing over the deck JUANONA sprouted some leaks, but nothing serious.
Yet, it did get annoying when water started dripping on Rudy’s head in the aft berth.

The largest change for us so far has been breaking our daily Shakespearean-curses and trivia session. We have missed this constant source of enjoyment though the passage in the last few days, but we promised that we would make up the deficit today now that our stomachs have settled and the seas lessened.

I had originally thought of making a joke about Poseidon forgetting that we were out here for the last three weeks and deciding to hit us with several days worth of heavy wind and seas while we were still in his domain, but I didn’t think the joke was that funny. We had a reminder of the power of the ocean on Saturday, when Bermuda Radio reach out to us to help them get in contact with a singlehanded 32’ boat named GINNY. She was last seen that morning drifting north of the reefs Max mentioned in his previous message. We made hourly calls over VHF attempting to reach her through the night, but before long we had passed too far north of both the range of Bermuda Radio and GINNY’S likely coordinates. We hope the best for the captain.

UPDATE – Once home I found the following information online when compiling these updates into these three posts:

Date: 14/06/2021
Saturday 12th June, 1:00 pm – RCC Bermuda received a call from RCC Norfolk regarding the single handed 32 ft sloop GINNY on passage from Norfolk, Virginia to Bermuda. The sailor’s wife was concerned for her Husband as she had lost communications with him via the onboard SPOT tracking device. The yacht had difficulty approaching Bermuda on the previous evening, Friday 11th June, and subsequently drifted beyond radar range and was no longer responding to VHF calls. The position of GINNY was intermittently received from the SPOT tracking device and found to be over 100 miles to the North North East of Bermuda on Monday morning. At 9:00 am, Monday morning RCC Bermuda diverted the Panama registered tanker, SILVER STACIE, enroute from Beaumont, USA to Rotterdam, Netherlands. As a message had been received by family members ashore from the skipper of GINNY advising that he wished to abandon the yacht although the issues onboard were unclear. Early on Monday afternoon the yacht skipper activated the 406 MHz Personal Locator Beacon and continued to send SPOT messages advising that he wanted to abandon the yacht. The tanker rendezvoused with the yacht on Monday evening and successfully transferred the skipper who will be carried aboard to the next port of call. The yacht was left adrift and a Notice to Mariners issued regarding the floating hazard to navigation.

http://www.rccbermuda.bm/incidentyears.aspx

Overall, this has made all of us thankful for the accompaniment of our full three person crew, and for Max’s seafaring expertise, diligence, and confidence.

We are looking forward to seeing you all soon! 

Best,

Rudy

At sea we posed for a selfie with some hats Rudy brought from Jasmine Thai,
a restaurant in New London, CT where he worked.

UPDATE #15
June 16

Day 28

Steve:  It don’t come easy – Mama bear and the boys are getting close, but they got to pay the dues …

P.S. the weather forecast is for much calmer conditions up to Maine.

Lynnie

L here. Tuesday I crammed myself behind the nav desk to start the Update. This requires my left leg maintaining a precarious toehold with the floor while the right foot presses against the galley counter. These isometric positions ensure I won’t levitate off my perch and sail to the opposite side of the cabin. All thanks to the aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill, which we learned was roaring west to east this past Monday on a course uncomfortably close to us.

To avoid that piece of nasty weather we performed a U-ey mid-morning Monday and headed south to get further away from its projected path. That maneuver cost us all the progress we’d made in the previous eight hours. 

At approximately 37º LAT we performed a u-ey to move away from Tropical Storm Bill. (screen grab from Phil Sumner)

UPDATE – Another mystery solved once I was able to search online:

Date: 17/06/2021
Thursday 17th June, 7:20 pm – RCC Bermuda received a satellite telephone call from the Chemical Tanker NORTHERN OCEAN in a position 100 miles North North East of Bermuda, the tanker had received several VHF DSC alerts regarding a disabled vessel about 20 miles from their position. A short time later voice communication was established and when NORTHERN OCEAN arrived on scene they found the distressed vessel to be a 31 ft named KEO which had been on passage from the Dominican Republic to the Azores, the single-handed sailor reported that the vessel had become dismasted 6 days ago. The sailor wanted to abandon the yacht and transfer was effected by tying the vessel alongside and lowering a ladder onto the deck of the yacht. The ship continued on passage to Freeport Bahamas and a Notice to Mariners was issued regarding the floating hazard to navigation. The single handed sailor was lucky to be rescued as there was no EPIRB or satellite communication devices onboard.

http://www.rccbermuda.bm/incidentyears.aspx

As evening approached Captain Max created a different sail configuration to accommodate being hove-to in a serious amount of wind: the main sail was lowered and tied down; a trisail hoisted on the mast instead; and, a storm staysail replaced the staysail we’d been flying. (Being hove-to is a way to “park” the boat with the jib pulled to windward counteracting the trisail. The boat gently gives way to the waves as it slowly drifts at about 1 knot of speed).

Perfect for remaining in place through the night until we felt comfortable continuing our course to the Gulf Stream. Which we did Tuesday morning by unrolling a bit of the jib giving us good speeds between 6-8 knots. And, the ability to quickly re-furl the jib as needed, leaving just the trisail and storm staysail up, based on forecasted winds of 25-30 with gusts up to 40 Tuesday night.

Coursing through the seas thanks to Tropical Storm Bill as Captain Max videoed below:

A long-winded explanation for the extreme course change in our InReach tracking, and the loss of an entire day on our journey. But, with less than 400 nautical miles from Orr’s not too much dampens our spirits. Because, our time at sea is now measured in days versus weeks.

Our final stretch to home waters causes the three of us to dream of terra firma pleasures: from full-on showers as often as we’d like to walking around below without boomeranging from one side of the cabin to the other… the latter resulting in banana-bruised limbs. 

The highlight, though, will be reuniting with family and friends. Once we don’t smell of 30 days at sea.

Now Wednesday morning has arrived and I’ve completed this Update. As I head up to the cockpit my 4:45am alarm-wakened-momma-bear grouchiness fades. I won’t allow myself to dwell on the partially wet, partially dry mountain of dirty clothes… the number of days I’ve lived in those same clothes… the issue of no fresh water pump working… and, how I’d trade a whole passel of Snickers for one crisp leaf of lettuce.

I’m lucky that the willingness to pose upon request runs in the family…*

On that glorious note I’ll sign off. But, will leave you with a visual of the three of us sitting below enjoying our one-pot meal last night. That is until King Neptune decided to up our winds. As forecasted, the wind accelerated from low 20s to over 35 knots before any of us could complete “what the——?!” as we abandoned our dinner and started stuffing our bodies into rain gear. 

The morning of the 15th winds built from the low 20s into higher gusts that night. (screen grab from our friend Phil Sumner)

Just another reminder of who’s really in charge out here. 

And, early this morning another surprise awaited Rudy and Max: the case of the missing steering wheel. I’ll let the captain tell that tale in his upcoming post.

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

JUANONA’s Salty Crew

P.S. we are about to enter the Gulf Stream around 9 AM. Unfortunately the winds have just switched to the NW but we will muscle our way through.

ADDED July 5, 2021

I wanted to include the following photos because they document special times on JUANONA with Rudy. And, as you must know by now, he’s a great sport and willing to put up with my sometimes strange requests. So…

During our first voyage on JUANONA 2001-2004 (JV1) we ended up at Antigua towards the end of our trip. We all gathered there to celebrate Eileen’s (Max’s mom’s) 80th birthday. Rudy came aboard for an overnight, and there a tradition began:

We called this “Stupid wife trick #27”, but don’t ask me why

Eleven years later on JV2 Rudy joined us in Amble, England. Max and I had returned from Norway and were making our way back to our winter port of Ipswich. Rudy did his first overnight passage with us as we hopscotched down the coast. How could I pass up this opportunity to repeat our trick?

A bit difference in height but still able to help me perform our trick

One year later Rudy met us in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, he couldn’t continue with us for any passage but we did have a wonderful sail with him and our Belgium Family from Hoorn to Enkhuizen as we prepped for another voyage to Norway. So, no trick photo but still one of my favorites:

But, this time I made sure not to let another passage go by without our traditional trick photo. Rudy agreed (he even agreed to let me post all of these :). I’ve learned how to do this myself, but I have to say, I will never forget our initial photo where a little boy carefully placed his finger on the tip of my nose to help his auntie Lynnie cross her eyes. Here’s to our next shared voyage!

FINAL UPDATE #16
June 18

Day 29

June 17 at 15:44 the sun sported a rare halo caused by tiny ice crystals in high, thin cirrus clouds.

Steve:  A glimpse at the gravity of this accomplishment … it won’t be long now.

Five hours later a purple palette painted the water on my night watch… in less than two days we’ll be home!

Max

Late Tuesday night in the darkness Rudy and I were preparing to set more sail when something didn’t feel quite right. I looked aft and noticed the steering wheel missing! Fortunately it, and the keyway and locking nut that hold it in place hadn’t been swept out through the cockpit drain and it took only a few moments to re-mount the wheel. The momentary shock of a missing wheel gave us a few good chuckles of relief, however. 

On Tuesday we were able to sail across the Gulf Stream and noticed the striking change from the deep, cobalt blue of the Gulf Stream to cold green as we exited the stream. For the first time in seven years it felt like we were back in home waters.

With 135 miles to go and favorable winds forecast it feels safe to say we will arrive back home at Orr’s Island tomorrow (Saturday), and this will be our last update. 

The joy of nearing Orr’s Island made the mess below immaterial to the shared excitement of “Almost Home!”

Our journey took 30 days and will have covered about 3,900 miles. We were fortunate to have strong High pressure systems and a great weather router to help keep us in favorable winds most of the way – and out of harms way in the case of Tropical Storm Bill.

Back in February any chance of getting “Juanona” home seemed a desperate long shot. Then small shoots of hope began to appear, starting with Covid vaccines becoming available, and the slight easing of travel restrictions for which our Dutch residency was crucial.

For Rudy to also make it was an even bigger miracle – with many small but critical factors – including Karina finding an earlier vaccination for him, and Lynnie finding the ‘seafarers exception’ buried in the European Union’s travel manifesto.

I’d like to acknowledge Lynnie and Rudy – they have been excellent shipmates on a long sail in close quarters. We have maintained a sense of camaraderie, teamwork and fun despite the many small annoyances that could creep in on a journey such as this.

Also, “Juanona” – she carried us home admirably despite having been neglected for a year and a half. I have a few to-do items but overall she has been as reliable as ever. And our shoreside communicato maestro Steve – again many thanks!

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to sail with both of Abbot’s grandsons, Christopher and Rudy, across the Atlantic, as well as Lynnie (four times!). 

I’ve appreciated the opportunity to utterly tune out from the noise of news and politics for a month and appreciate some of the wonders of the world. It’s a healthy thing to do now and then.

Finally, Lynnie, Rudy and I appreciate our friends and family who have followed along on our journey – we are grateful for your interest and support and look forward to seeing you all soon!

Max, Lynnie and Rudy

s/v Juanona

Below are images from our June 19 morning arrival where friends and family welcomed us home followed by a heartwarming party thrown by Krissy and Craig.

Flying the courtesy flags of all the countries we’ve managed to explore
on JUANONA VOYAGE 2
A neighborly greeting waiting for us at our home!
The wine PEN KREO gifted us

Grand Finale: SPAIN TO MAINE 2021 (continued…)

UPDATE #7
June 1

Day 12

Steve:  Sargasso sighting and snicker hoarding …

Max

A front came through Monday evening and brought with it some much-appreciated breezes in the 14-18 knot range that we expect to last for a couple days. We are steering SW with the Genoa poled out to windward (except when squalls threaten, in which case it is safer to bring it back to the same side as the mainsail).

Later in the week a high pressure system will settle in north of 31 degrees latitude. We are trying to get south of that high pressure in order to keep some reasonable (albeit lighter) breezes later in the week.

As the sailors reading this know, sailing downwind in light air can be tedious, and that was our lot for the previous few days. All Sunday night the breeze was especially fickle, shifting from ENE to NE and back again, all night long. Lynnie and Rudy both did an excellent job on their watches, adjusting our course accordingly to keep the sails full. It made the difference between going say 3.5 knots and 4.5 knots in the gentle breeze. Unfortunately when the breeze is unsteady we are precluded from our preferred past-times during night watches – reading or listening to music!

Rudy is quickly ‘learning the ropes – at 3 AM today with a fresh breeze behind us I awoke to hear the Genoa luffing. Rudy was pulling the sail around to be poled out, and get us closer to our desired course. It gave us a boost in speed to boot.

Yesterday I heard a long swish under the hull and jumped on deck to see what caused it. We had sailed through a large swatch of thick sargasso weed.

We’ve also seen a few flying fish (a first for Rudy) but lament the fact that they aren’t ubiquitous as they were 40 years ago. Back then you would typically find a few that had landed on deck during the night. 

After spotting flying fish skipping and sailing over the waves we did find just a few on deck during our entire passage. FYI: the only fish we “caught” managed to get themselves aboard.

While typing this Tuesday morning I saw the first ship we have seen in several days – the Tanker “Hoegh Gallant” carrying hazardous cargo according to our AIS. I spoke to them on the radio and the friendly captain confirmed that they did, indeed, see us on AIS.

All is well aboard Juanona. The crew is extremely conscientious about keeping harnesses clipped to the boat anytime we are on deck – even if the seas are gentle and we are playing “Oh Hell” in the cockpit. 

And, yesterday the crew completed their celestial calculations with good results. Both felt relief in realizing their plotted positions were close to the GPS latitude & longitude. Surprisingly they refrained from celebrating with a coveted Snickers bar. At least this time!

It takes only one time of doing this to understand the absolutely incredible skill navigator Frank Worsley possessed. The book ENDURANCE tells it all.

We wish you all a pleasant day.

Max

UPDATE #8
June 2

Day 13

Steve:  Message in a bottle: a key milestone heralds a much-deserved celebration!

Rudy

Greetings all! 

With an inhuman groan, I plodded out of the aft berth this morning into the well-after-dawn sunlight to see the cabin of Juanona decorated with brightly colored streamers. A cry of celebration from the Captain and First-Mate heralded my appearance. My mortal consciousness still returning, I looked around in confusion.

“We’re halfway!” Max explained, “In terms of longitude anyways! We passed 40° W earlier this morning.”

I looked over at Lynnie, the likely culprit of such decoration, but she shook her head, “This was all Max!”

Max completed our short celebration by producing a hidden piñata which is currently hanging from the central hatch. He also wrote up a message to put in an empty “Linie“ bottle, an appropriately named (and quite potent) brand of Norwegian sherry which we had saved for this purpose. We are excited to see if, when, and where the bottle turns up. 

After the last two days of strong Northeasterly winds, we have made great westward progress, on both days exceeding our daily travel estimate of 135 miles. Concerning our westward progress, we moved our clocks back two hours today to better reflect our current time zone. Max has also noted that we have only used 5 gallons of fuel so far, an amount Juanona might use traveling between Casco and Penobscot Bays back home. We have certainly enjoyed some excellent sailing so far! 

Two days ago, Juanona, like a stubborn toddler, deftly avoided getting an evening wash as we managed to sail around and through a handful of passing rain storms. However we were able to get the residual salt rinsed off later that night with a shower which surprised her in the dark.

The crew continues to act as paragons of chivalry. Our only extant contention being the assurance of equitable serving sizes at meals, with each of us offering up the very contents of our plates to each other to ensure mutual satisfaction. Max and I finally balanced the last of yesterday’s supper with the transfer of half-a-forkful from my plate to his.

We will continue to enjoy the sun, the blue seas, and the following winds. Wishing the best to you all!

Rudy

UPDATE #9
June 4

Day 16

Steve:  Lynnie’s vivid descriptions: fish folding, underwear bartering and toenail aging …

Lynnie

L here, and reporting Captain and crew all good while alternating lolling in one’s berth with roaming the four feet of shared space below (not including the head) and three above. Gentle easterlies of 8-12kts and rolling seas maintain a lullaby rock as JUANONA sleds down hills of sapphire blue. Every now and then she gives herself a shake, ensuring the humans aboard remain alert. Then settles back down to 5-6 Kts speed. As Max informed Rudy and me this is typical trade-wind sailing. Fine by me, although I wouldn’t mind a bit more giddy-upping. Which we may soon enjoy when we reach 29° Lat and 15 Kts of wind.

Since hitting our Longitude halfway-mark exactly two weeks out we’ve slipped into a rather languorous existence. Other than repairing the ripped hem of our jib with sail tape on Wednesday life has slowed waaaay down. Not quite belly button gazing but close.

Which means each of us retreats into our own world of reading, crosswords, napping, snacking, and, the most exciting: Origami fish. To-date our paper pals have multiplied to six. This may not seem a lot but translating crisp instructions into elaborate creases and folds is not as simple as it reads. After numerous creasing, folding, unfolding and refolding I manage to create a labyrinth of ceaseless seams, none acquiring the correct pattern to craft anything recognizable, let alone a fish.

But, Rudy, our sensei Origamist, encourages us to finish, which we do. He even mastered the Bubble Fish requiring a final puff in the er, rear, to create a rounded creature of the sea. And, for anyone interested I have a video of this solemn act.

The puffer fish inflated…

Another main attraction is ship spotting, several not transmitting their location until within seven or so miles from us. We average one a day now, and, if the mood hits us, we’ll radio the unsuspecting vessel asking if they see us on AIS. Since over a week ago when one replied “yes, but you go in and out” this may not seem as paranoid as it sounds. Of course, what I really want to ask is, if they could drop off a spare head or two of lettuce. After 15 days our “green” supplies will soon describe moldy ones vs. fresh.

One strange vision did appear a few days ago when I saw a stark white and red-striped lobster buoy standing to attention. Remaining stationery as we sailed by I thanked Neptune for not tossing that in front of JUANONA at night. How awfully ironic would that be? Snared by a lobster pot buoy over a 1,000 miles from land. No thank you.

With today featuring another miraculous shower day we’ve also added in some light laundry. Using a contraption, strangely described now as MY washing machine, we’ve cleaned one load of shirts and underwear. The latter now a necessity, especially when I overheard Max offering Rudy three Snickers bars for one of his smartly packed, 15 underwear hombres. This, also, is why I handed out balsam pine sachets as prizes for one of our travel quiz nights.

Speaking of rewards you’ve never seen three adults take such care in selecting stickers from a kid’s sticker book. It’d be worrisome if not for the cute scenes being created. I’d elaborate but…

Finally, as I perform the exacting calculation of receding toenail polish correlated to time at sea and posing as Cousin Itt when I finally unsnarl the top knot living on my head for several days now, I realize I’ve taken too much of your eye time. But, as I said, life aboard has definitely turned us into semi-hygienic sailors, eager for the outside world yet content to cruise gently through the days and nights towards home.

Wishing you wonderful weekends shared with family and friends, along with a good bottle of wine,

L&M&R

My watches offered me the beauty of sunsets and sunrises

UPDATE #10
June 6

Day 18

Steve:  Living in the moment …

Max

Another update, another morning of 12-15 Knot Easterly winds pushing Juanona that much closer to home. And, another day dealing with minor issues. Our fridge has been acting up and runs for hours, using a lot of battery reserves. No doubt the warmer water temps we are in don’t help (it is keel cooled). A few days ago, during sunny afternoons when our solar panels were generating excess power, I started placing bottles of booze in the fridge to cool down and act as a thermal mass and help preserve the cool temps. If anyone inspects our fridge back home they will find 7 bottles of gin and vodka and assume we’ve been on a booze cruise. 

With the fridge requiring more power our four solar panels crank in daily battery charges, but not enough. So, we’ve added running the engine an hour every few days to boost our inflow of amps.

Like I mentioned above, minor issues at sea. At least we wear clean(er) clothes. The mini washing machine Lynnie referred to last update actually works quite well. I can’t remember if I gave it to her for her birthday, or for Valentine’s Day.* It is called an Ecowash. With only a gallon or so of water you can do a modest load, and by using a detergent called Soak you don’t even need to rinse if water is at a premium. 

OUR Ecowash(er) riding the waves

We’ve all been fascinated by what we think is a Roseate Tern or similar that we see from time to time. One distinguishing feature is it’s remarkably long tail. A fascinating book I just finished was written by a professional birder from NH, Scott Weidensaul, “A World on the Wing” about the incredible migrations birds make. Recent advances in tracking and miniaturization technology has led to new insights that make these journeys even more wondrous.

I’ve found myself settling into a timeless dimension in recent days whereby I no longer calculate how long we’ve been out, or how much further to go. I can barely remember what day it is, and only our daily check-in with a weather expert gives any semblance of routine. In many ways it feels we’re enjoying the surroundings and living in the moment, something hard to achieve in everyday life at home. I remember last feeling much this same way in 1985, on a long (52 day) sail across the Southern Ocean with my pal Rob Andrews.

It appears we are down to our last 3 or so days of decent winds, before we have to start heading north in what at the moment includes large areas of little wind. We feel fortunate to have virtually all the fuel we left Spain with, as we may need to use it strategically from here on. But, for now Juanona is gliding along with butterfly sails and following seas.

Wishing all a happy Sunday,

Max

* just kidding! 

Lynnie here – No, he’s not. And, I won’t even talk about the nesting saucepans he gave me for my birthday…

UPDATE #11
June 8

Day 20

Steve:  What makes a hero? You be the judge …

Rudy

Good day, gentle reader!

It pleases me to have you join us again. Pull up a seat, help yourself to a warm (or cold) beverage, and please silence your cell phones.

When we last left our noble heroes, they were westbound with good wind, easy following seas, and clear sunny skies. The breeze, however, has diminished in recent days. “Betrayal!” you cry, “You have been undone!” Rather not, Friend, for we can hardly complain about the performance of the wind thus far. It has only lessened to a small degree, even allowing us to fly the spinnaker yesterday afternoon. Its shifts and temporary gusts leave us with the impression of a tired steed, having served us along well and still seeking to carry us on tired legs and empty stomach. Take rest, Our Gentle Servant! Our engine can help us along for a time (but also please don’t go too far).

Instead, we reserve our enmity for the plague of sargasso weed. Although entranced by the patterns and wide patches of this resilient and exotic plant, it never fails to ensnare our fishing lure. It has thus far confounded all attempts by us to deflect or avoid the passing swarms. Alas, the enemy circles around us, but we will not be kept from our prize of delicious mahi-mahi!

Nevertheless we continue to eat like kings! Yesterday, Lady Lynnie produced a stately breakfast of bacon and onion omelets, featuring our versatile and ubiquitous Spanish cheese. Galley-made hummus and egg salad round out staples of our midday meal, and we come together in the evenings to share in mythic suppers of pizza, chicken curry, enchiladas, and sushi rolls. Our Fearless Leader took some of his own time to teach this lowly Second-Mate how to make the latter yesterday evening, another skill of which I quickly took mastery.

These were delicious, and added some “fresh veggies” to our otherwise canned and dried meals.
Max’s concocted recipe: smoked salmon (we managed to keep cool in fridge), remaining remnants of carrots (also in fridge), jarred asparagus, rice made with rice wine vinegar, and noiri rolls.
We had wasabi paste and soy sauce for condiments but had run out of our pickled ginger.

So is it right for us to call ourselves heroes? When the author approached Lady Lynnie on this topic, she chuckled and stated, “I think it might be a bit presumptuous.” Ah, but where else but in noble purpose as this might you find such humility! Captain Manche continues to project an air of detached confidence, which I believe speaks for itself on this matter. However he might just be trying to escape the bad jokes Lynnie and I have been making these past few weeks.

Captain plugging into the Iridium Satellite phone for the daily forecast.

We will continue to act as paragons of resilience, fortitude, and humility. I will end this record here, as lunch approaches, and I would like to get some sunbathing in before my late-afternoon nap.

Wishing the best to you all, and thanks for humoring me.

Second Mate Rudolph

Scribe Extraordinaire

UPDATE #12
June 10

Day 22

Steve:  An insular decision, hirsute distinctions, and dancing to the call of sirens!

Lynnie

To follow fellow crewmate Rudy in his lyrical Shakespearean riff (if you haven’t read it yet, do so!): To go or not To go, that is the question… regarding a landing in Bermuda, or not. If former, then Rudy and Max may venture to the spot where a wily ancestor got tossed onto the shores, also a Shakespearean tale (more to come in a later post from the Captain). If latter, then yet another sail-by for second mate.

Fortunately one of our guiding stars is our fourth shipmate, Steve, pulling double duty as our land communicator and forecaster. We scour his updates as religiously as we do our formal weather router’s. Not only does Steve provide excellent info but he manages to include a personal zest much appreciated aboard. We feel fortunate to have two, an amateur and a professional, relaying weather forecasts as we sail east to westward home.

Activities maintain their attractions and distractions from boredom. From folding yet another origami fish (yes, another blow fish) to answering the strategic query “what’s for dinner?” Most meals now involve a load of tins. And, because only disintegrating paper flows overboard JUANONA proudly struts aft a near-full, meshed bag of said cans. Along with two, soon three, small bags of garbage.

Yet, culinary creativity abounds. Not all good. We’ve discovered adding greasy slabs of pepperoni to instant mushroom cup-of-soup leaves a faint oil spill on the surface while delivering the same to one’s mouth. And, for the record the ones with the hairiest limbs tried that recipe separately while I carefully noted the result. 

Meanwhile back to cockpit cruising and cabin-berth surfing as JUANONA pulls ahead with a flying spinnaker, bare puffs of wind and fairly even seas. Only a startle now and then when the puff becomes more of a brief exhale causing the spinnaker to drape and the watcher to jump. But, small price to pay for eking out an extra half knot of speed in the morning while the afternoon’s wind earned us up to a knot and a half faster.

That was glorious yesterday (6/9) while today I begin my morning watch waking to the drumming of our engine. A judicious use of precious diesel as I left my evening watch with speeds ranging from a high of 3.4 to a low of just over 1.

But, a magical world rapidly replaced the mechanical vibrations under my feet with a tiara of stars above and rivers of phosphorescence below. As I clipped in and tuned up my music I danced to the call of sirens accompanied by JUANONA’s swaying and the theme from “Chariots of Fire.” A solitary streak of a falling star added the final pixie dust. Heaven!

And, then – yes, there’s always “and, then…” with me – the visual of sprinting men gracing the water’s edge morphs into SNL’s spoof of runners in slo-mo. Take two: Time for muesli.

I best sign off. A feeling of lassitude matches a dulling of my brain as I catch myself checking toenail polish recession as the music fades in the background. I think 21 days at sea are taking a toll on me.

Furled sails due to glassy sea

Have amazing energetic Thursday’s,

Lynnie

Grand Finale: SPAIN TO MAINE 2021

The chart shows our noon position each day, with the forecast path of Tropical Storm Bill indicated by red dots.

BRIEF RECAP

In June 2014 we – Lynnie Bruce and Max Fletcher with crew Dick Stevens (Maine to Azores) and Steve Palmer (Azores to England) sailed our Nordic 40 from Orrs Island, Maine to Northern Europe. After five seasons living and cruising throughout that spectacular part of the world it was time to sail home. In the summer of 2019 we sailed to Spain to stage for a May 2020 Atlantic crossing. Covid delayed that trip by a year. The Spring of 2021 we returned to Spain and sailed back to home waters with our nephew Rudy Guliani joining us as crew.

Our voyage covered 3,900 nautical miles and took 30 days. We carried an Iridium satellite phone for weather and emergency communications, and a Garmin InReach as a communications backup and to affordably stay in touch with friends and family back home. 

We used a professional weather router based in Camden, Maine who helped guide us along the south side of the Azores and Bermuda Highs, and steer us clear of Tropical Storm Bill for which we turned around and backtracked 35 miles before heaving to, in order to let it pass.

Prior to departing Spain Max downloaded this weather file which showed the favorable northerly winds which would carry us from Spain to the vicinity of the Azores, averaging almost 7 knots
This was the synoptic chart as we crossed the central part of the Atlantic. We were fortunate to have a strong High dominating the weather pattern.

THE PASSAGE

To finish off my writings during our JUANONA Voyage 2 (JV2) I decided to post our 16 updates from sea and add photos.

There are three posts covering our 30 days on the Atlantic and JUANONA’s amazing welcome home. After seven years she landed on Orr’s Island June 19, 2021, at the exact spot from which we left June 6, 2014.

Many of you have most likely read the following posts penned during our 2021 “Spain to Maine” passage.

For those who haven’t read these, a quick explanation: every two days Max (Captain), myself (First Mate) or Rudy, our nephew (Second Mate) crafted a brief missive relaying activity aboard. We emailed them using our Iridium Satellite phone by noon (JUANONA’s ship time) to our land-based, 4th crew member Steve Palmer. He then distributed these updates to those following our progress.

Max wrote the first one May 19 on the eve of our departure from Portosín, and the final one June 18 the day before our arrival. In between we wrote 14 more, some elegant (Max), some creative (Rudy), and some, well, zany (mine).

And, with that, I’ll leave you but not before thanking everyone who joined me on JV2. Your messages over these past seven years meant we had fellow travelers. You not only gave me a friendly audience but also reminded me, as one of our friends often stated, the world truly is one small, wonderful ball.

Leaving Spanish waters

UPDATE #1
May 19

Day -1

Steve:  Hi there, here’s the first of this stream of emails from Lynnie and Max.  I talked to them today (Wed 5/19) and they intend to depart tomorrow (Thur) morning.

Max

Sailing is an activity that has always required flexibility and adaptability, and that is especially true during a global pandemic. Juanona was stuck in Galicia, Spain, and it wasn’t until late March that Lynnie and I got vaccinated and saw an opening to ask permission to enter Spain (one of the most restrictive countries in Europe with regard to Covid travel). Our Dutch residency proved instrumental in allowing us to return to the boat May 1 and within a week or so we had her back in good shape.

Our nephew Rudy, who had been planning to make the crossing with us in May 2020, has patiently bided the intervening months while keeping the voyage a priority if and when it materialized. Lynnie recently wrote a blog about the efforts put in by many folks to get permission for a vaccinated Rudy to be allowed into Spain. He never did receive formal prior approval, but his USCG Seafarers credential helped him get through immigration screenings in Boston, JFK and Madrid airports (Seafarers is one of the few exceptions to the travel restrictions). Talk about the need to be flexible and adaptable – not knowing until the final clearance in Madrid how he would be spending the next month of his life!

Our final note about being flexible entails our intended route itself. Having followed the May-June weather pattern for the North Atlantic for the past three years, we have been assuming we would sail southwest down to the Trade Winds, which typically gravitate north as spring turns to summer, and cross the Atlantic at something like 26-28 degrees North latitude before curving north to Maine. Possible bail out stops could be the Canary Islands, Antigua, or Bermuda.

We received a preliminary weather outlook from our professional weather router based in Camden, Maine, yesterday (Monday), and reiterated today, that we may have an unusual opportunity to start our crossing by sailing first towards the Azores – far further north than anticipated, and consequently far fewer miles to sail than the southerly route (where the earth is much ‘fatter’). We will hopefully have moderate northerly winds much of the first week. The potential downside is running into the middle of High pressure and much lighter winds, but we could then head south to the Trades or else wait in the Azores for a better pattern to emerge. This new plan also helps avoid some potentially rougher weather further south.

In any event, we have adapted our plans and plan to head out first thing Thursday morning on a more westerly (not southwesterly) route. We will attempt to send occasional updates on our progress and thank you for your interest.

Max, Lynnie and Rudy

Morning departure from Portosín, JUANONA’s port since September 2019
Our Automatic identification System (AIS) picked up a Search-And-Rescue plane.
Fortunately, we didn’t hear of any distress calls.

UPDATE #2
May 22

Day 2

Steve:  Here’s something to brighten your day. The first sentence could not be better (IMHO).  Enjoy!

Rudy

Hello everyone! Rudy here. Our first two days at sea have been excellent, with a fairly steady wind out of the Northwest. We left Portosín and headed out obliquely for 40N to meet a High and make our way toward the Azores. We happily crossed the continental shelf with calm seas, although the water has grown a bit more bumpy since.

We have had a smattering of dolphin and whale sightings, with Max catching a large dolphin pod swarming around Juanona on our first day and him and Lynnie seeing a series of whales surfacing yesterday. Meanwhile, I have engaged myself in some nap-time cartography, mapping out the sharpest and most abstract corners of my berth using my head. I believe that I now have a firm understanding of this terra nova, and I am quite ready to move on to a different activity.

Lynnie has concocted a series of activities to keep us entertained, including memorizing a new Shakespearean curse every day day. So, if you hear me later this summer mutter under my breath “Peace, ye fat guts!” don’t take it personally. Or maybe do, but blame Lynnie too. 

Whoever pulled the highest “burn rating” read theirs last

Overall it’s a pleasure to be here and we’re all looking forward to the rest of the passage!

Great winds with JUANONA burning up the nautical miles

(Max) Our current conditions have wind speeds between 12-20 knots a little forward of the beam, and very manageable seas. We are averaging anywhere from 6.5-7.5 knots under 100% jib and single-reefed main. We expect this to continue until about Monday when the winds will gradually ease. We are keeping open the option of a brief stop at Ponta Delgada to wait out a potential strong Cold Front mid-week, and hoping a strong High develops thereafter which would provide good conditions to continue on our journey. The only hiccup so far seems to be a dispute between Lynnie and Rudy as to who hid the Snickers bars. Maintaining shipboard discipline may require them to be locked away.

UPDATE #3
May 24

Day 4

Steve:  They are making great progress!

Lynnie

After contemplating a stop-over in São Miguel (37.5° N) we decided to continue on. A severe front didn’t materialize, and due to Covid protocol a stop could require a two- to three-day layover. This layover could cause us to miss a developing favorable weather window. 

Instead we’ll sail to 35°N. We will have to do some motoring but we’ll be positioned for some better winds towards the end of the week. After 3+ days of brisk Northerly winds giving us ~7 knot speeds we will have to adapt to a slower pace of 5 knots +/- for the next few days.

If necessary we’ll land in Bermuda to avoid a weather system and/or to top up our fuel. But, our preference is non-stop Spain to Maine. 

The crew are happily adjusting to living quarters. With some gymnastic and ballet moves the three of us have managed to avoid bodily mishaps. The use of travel trivia and memorizing the best Shakespearean curses keeps us intellectually stimulated; and Origami fish will soon be added to satisfy our arts and crafts skill set. 

Speaking of fish one jumped aboard Saturday when a wave slapped our stern. The tiny eel-like creature, which must have died upon impact, remains perched off our stern on our radar pole. That’s after Rudy and I engaged in the Battle of the critters…

Checking the deck this morning we discovered three small squid also tossed aboard by Neptune. Alas, none are sushi appropriate.

I should have used a pencil but the squid measured less than 6″

Other entertainment arises when spotting fellow sailors at sea. After crossing the shipping channel Thursday night, few boats appear on our AIS. So, there’s a bit of excitement when we site one. Just now a catamaran WATER AND WIND comes up, most likely heading to the Azores; and, Friday we briefly spoke with PEN KREO, the French boat moored next to us at Portosín, also heading to the Azores.

With the wind dropping and smoother seas we’ll enjoy our first real dinner tonight. Yesterday we actually had some one-can delight: chili con carne with kidney beans added. We even broke out the Snicker bars and Twix, with our non-sweet tooth captain partaking of the latter. And, yes, I purchased more than 12 Snickers and, no, I didn’t stash any in a secret compartment… yet.

Besides a real meal tonight we’re looking forward to showers for the bodies tomorrow (we aim for one every five or so days); and, that’s not a Royal “we” but an inclusive “we.” I must admit I’m becoming one of the gang when I realize I have yet to change clothes since last Thursday morning. However, I am the only one not growing facial hair.

As my morning watch ends with captain Max awake and second mate asleep, I’ll brew some good Java (first time since we left that I can stomach it) and explore the cockpit for more Neptune surprises. But, not before we thank our land communicator Steve who’s forwarding these updates. Unfortunately, we don’t get replies as we need to preserve our satellite minutes.

Have a great Monday and we’ll be back soon! 

Lynnie

UPDATE #4
May 26

Day 6

Steve:  A comforting note from Max, they are in a very special place, and doing well.

Max

This morning we are close-hauled, sailing NW towards a frontal system which we expect to arrive late this evening.

Red sky in morning, sailor take warning…

Those of you tracking our progress via our InReach device are well aware that we came to a screeching halt on Monday. We’d spent 72 hours averaging close to 7 knots, and in the blink of an eye the wind dropped and we were down to 2 or 3 knots. Worse, the seas left over from the sustained breeze rocked the boat, knocking the light wind out of the sails and causing them to flop around. Any sailor reading this knows the feeling.

We explored the possibility of motoring for a couple days, then stopping in Ponta Delgada to replace the burned fuel. We confirmed with the marina there that we could in fact stop to refuel and immediately leave, without having to go through their Covid quarantine protocol for yachts who plan to stay. The overall point was to have full or nearly full fuel tanks before heading off on the long mid-Atlantic stretch coming up.

In the end we decided to be patient in the light winds and not use much fuel, knowing that the front will be coming through later this evening, followed by a strong high pressure system. We expect this system will give us another long stretch of favorable winds along its southern side. The longer term outlook is similarly (tentatively) positive.

For those interested in more detail, we carry 92 gallons of diesel, which gives us at least 130 hours at modest RPMs, or about 650 nautical miles range. We’ve used only 5 gallons to date. Our solar panels have been supplying all our electrical needs. 

We also carry 150 gallons of water in 3 different tanks plus two jugs – I am fortunate that Lynnie is deathly afraid of running out of water and uses it sparingly. Rudy is being similarly careful. That said, we DO take brief cockpit showers every 5 days. We have an on-demand propane water heater set to 100 degrees, and can get clean with minimal use of water. Tuesday’s showers were highly appreciated by us all (and the fact that our fellow shipmates took one too!)

In the calmer conditions our last two meals were Hungarian Goulash, and salmon sushi rolls. With the front coming through later today bringing gusty winds we will keep it simple – perhaps just pepperoni and cheese.

This evening will mark a week with neither political news nor alcohol. Perhaps indulging the first leads to the second. Instead we’ve started to be reminded of the magnificence of the oceans, and the heavens, and have become a little more attuned to the rhythms of nature. It’s nice to be out here after such a strange and disconcerting year back home.

UPDATE #5
May 28

Day 8

Steve:  Visions of Juanona … enjoy.

Rudy

Good afternoon all!

Two days ago we changed our course to the northwest in order to meet up with a storm front which promised good northeasterly winds in its wake. Low and behold, this was a nearly perfect bearing for the island of São Miguel! For the next several hours, as we reefed the main and prepared for a short but possibly intense squall, Max and Lynnie casually remarked about their time in the Azores in past crossings.

“What was the name of that lovely restaurant on Sao Miguel?” “Oh Tasco? Brook and Micah said they had the best octopus there during their honeymoon.”

“There is a beautiful hike that Christopher and I did up Pico Mountain back in 2003.”

“The hydrangeas bloom all over Flores, it’s incredible!”

“Gail flew out to meet Dick Stevens in Horta on Faial after he joined us for the first passage. It sounded like a great little holiday for them!”

“Oooh, remember the bunny barbecue on Flores with Dick after meeting a wonderful local couple, Orlando and Anna?”

“I think Steve Palmer had a great time, even though he was only there for a few hours when he flew in to sail to England with us.”

“Wasn’t that cheese factory we visited fascinating?”

“We would love to come back for a few days, maybe later this year.”

With a poetic sense of irony, we were within 20 miles of the eastern islands when we passed through the storm front and turned to the southwest with a strong following breeze. I contented myself with my Azorean adventure of drinking decaf coffee at 3 AM, watching the lights of São Miguel and Santa Maria on the horizon as we passed between the two.

The next 24 hours were some of the best sailing we could have hoped for. With easily manageable seas, 14-18 Kts out of the northeast, lightly dispersed clouds, and, eventually, a full moon for our evening watches, it was a nearly perfect day. All joking aside, yesterday was a day that makes you appreciate the beauty of the ocean and the amazing adventure we are partaking in. 

And besides, now I have a list of places to check out when I finally get on land.

Warm wishes from Juanona,

Rudy

(Max)

After inadvertently enticing Rudy with visions of the Azores (honestly, one of our favorite places in the world) we are taking advantage of the favorable winds. Unfortunately they’re not quite as strong as we need. With the wind well aft the beam we suffer when it’s in the 8-11 knot range with boat speed in the 4s and 5s. Once it gets above 13 we start to fly, in the 6s. Hopefully we’ll get more of the latter. 

In the meantime, this morning we took down the 100% jib that has been our workhorse for the past few years, a sail that we love for its ease of handling. We replaced it with a #2 Genoa, which should help the boat speed in lighter wind (we gave away our #1 Genoa a few years ago in England, as it was getting very tired. The #2 was in our attic leftover from purchasing the boat in the year 2000).

We hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

Our Captain surprised his sweet-tooth crew with several chocolate treats three times during our passage,
the first being the afternoon of Day 8.

UPDATE #6
May 30

Day 10

Steve:  Lynnie’s musings from the celestial sea …

Lynnie

Just up from post-morning-watch nap and Captain Max announces flying fish sighting.

Trust me. This is big news because anything hopping out of the ocean becomes major excitement after 10 days at sea. To date we’ve seen dolphins, a school of fish, and whale spouts. Oh, and little squid plastered on deck, one that I just missed squishing further when the three of us wrestled a jib replacement to the fore deck two days ago. 

240 hours floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean offers points of reflection. I wish I could claim erudite or poetic moments. But, no, not my forté. Rather my mind roams the practical: how many cockpit shower days are in our future… don’t forget to double the pizza recipe… when will we reach 32º LAT… what if we hit a whale or, what I worried more last night, what if a whale decides to hit us… All these thoughts and questions tumble around as JUANONA runs, and stumbles on a SW heading at speeds of high 4s to low 6s with the 7.5-12.5 kt wind.

Our Friend Phil Sumner took this screen grab showing our position (cross mark) in good winds on the Southside of a High pressure system.

There has been one moment of fear these past two days. One that caused Rudy and me to hustle to the stern and quickly remedy the situation as Max directed. You see we had two lines trolling for a fish to freshen up our dinners. The two lures happily skipped in unison in JUANONA’s wake. Only no fresh mahi mahi followed them. Instead, two swooping birds traded scouting out our bait. Suddenly their wings appeared to be skimming ever closer to our frolicking rubber squid. 

Acknowledging Captain Max’s culinary skill we realized even he couldn’t make a tasty meal out of a drowned and roasted sea gull. So, Rudy and I raced to the stern and started windmilling our arms as we wound up the lines. Catastrophe averted. And, our taste buds switched into pizza mode.

Another diversion: learning celestial navigation. We all took a round of sun sights with Max helping Rudy and me with the calculations.

So, as I reach for my breakfast of a peanut butter cracker, I contemplate adding origami fish to our daily entertainment and luxuriate in knowing it’s shower day. And miracle of miracles even Max says he plans to change his pants.

Not the most appetizing view BUT peanut butter rated almost as high as Snickers for Rudy and me. Luckily I had bought four jars aboard, which was a good thing considering it became my main staple.

And with that we wish you all a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. 

Lynnie