Category Archives: PASSAGES

Sailing from point A to point B with at least one 24-hour sail

Crossing the North Sea… Again

But, this time it was only 24 hours from our winter berth in Ipswich to a transient one in Ijmuiden, Netherlands.

We said our good-byes the night before and rose early to catch free-flow out of Ipswich lock (meaning we didn’t have to stop, tie up, wait for water to rise/fall, then exit). Aboard we had a third crew member, Dolly Doughnut, given to us by our seven-year-old friend Gracie (she’s the daughter of Angie and James who, along with Anne and Peter, we were fortunate to have as wonderful neighbors and friends during our stay in Ipswich).

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Although it was gray and chilly it still felt wonderful to be starting our summer cruising mid-April.

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Along the route we passed friends Sandra and Barry from Vancouver Island. Their boat s/v PASSAT was moored off of Royal Harwich Yacht Club while awaiting weather to head down towards Portugal.

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Soon, we were passing Felixstowe’s huge container operation and heading out of the mouth of Orwell.

All of a sudden we saw an official-looking zodiac bombing our way. Our first hopeful thought was they couldn’t be interested in us; yet, the second thought soon followed that yes, they were interested in us.

Last spring on our way to Lowestoft we’d been stopped by the Border Force. We knew the drill:  grant permission to come aboard; be polite; answer questions succinctly; be thankful we had nothing to hide; be even more thankful to wave them off and continue on our way.

Their powerful zodiac carried four persons with two requesting permission to board JUANONA. Just a few questions were asked:  how many aboard… what was our destination… where and how long did we stay in England…. We showed them our passports and mentioned how many times we’d travelled out of the British Isles in the past six months.

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FYI:  Unlike Schengen countries (Scandinavia and the rest of Europe) only allowing foreigners three months out of six, currently we’re allowed six months in the British Isles. Then we need to reset our time, which can be done by simply exiting the British Isles for 24+ hours, getting our passports stamped elsewhere, and returning for another six months. Adding to this complication for cruising is ensuring we don’t have to pay a hefty Value-Added-Tax (VAT) on our non-EU registered boat. We accomplish that feat by simply taking JUANONA to a non-EU country (such as Norway) for a day or two once every 18 months.

The Border Force visit lasted a mere ten minutes at most before leaving us to continue our passage across the southern North Sea.

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We’d been waiting for the right wind direction for two weeks. Just recently we experienced a storm giving us lightening, thunder and hail, which pebbled the water ferociously

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and left the marina and JUANONA covered in ice balls.

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Now, though, we had our chance to sail across a notorious nasty sea with 10 to 20 knots of wind and fairly decent weather. In spite of not appearing too inviting, it was still a good day to finally have a weather window to cross.

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With the North Sea’s shallow seabed and high winds JUANONA became a washing machine with us being the washed clothes:  It was bouncy, something our crew, Dick Stevens and later Steve Palmer, had experienced during our 2014 passages when crossing to Azores then England. This time, though, I made sure to keep the hatch closed so no unwanted salt water would splash its way down to the main cabin; and, our nephew Rudy, who got spanked by a large wave last summer, would appreciate that both Max and I tried to stay under the dodger (a canvas cover over the hatchway) as much as possible.

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Mid-April was still early in the season for starting our summer cruising, and the temperatures reflected that as the day got a bit chillier and the night loomed ahead. Before too long Max was lighting our diesel heater. We had tested it just a week ago and it worked wonderfully, just like it had last summer when cruising in Norway.

But, this time it turned fickle, which meant after lighting and relighting it four times we realized we’d be without heat. A fallback position was a small heating system generated only when using the engine. We ran the engine for about 30 minutes then turned it off and said to each other it wouldn’t be too bad. I lied…. Night passage with tons of ships to watch out for along with oil rigs and no heat…  Oh joy.

Yet, we were so bundled up (long johns, shirts, sweaters, down jackets all covered by foul weather gear and black beanie hats) the below-deck temp of 51º wasn’t too bad. When off watch and lying in the main cabin, two down comforters provided us a cocoon of self-generating warmth.

And, then the wind kicked up even more (forecasted to possibly hit 25 knots). At one point with the wind and tide we were moving at 8+ knots, so by about 10 PM we had totally furled in the jib (reducing sail, which always slows the boat down) leaving only the mainsail up, which we generally have reefed (shortened). Even then we were sailing at a decent cruising speed of 5-6 knots.

And, boy, were there ships. This is when our Automatic identification System (AIS) really proves its worth as a crew member. We knew we wanted to cross the Deep Water Route (DWR as noted on the chart and used by ships) as close to right angles as possible thus shortening our exposure to the heavy commercial traffic running up and down this area; plus, we had to steer clear of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS, also noted on the chart) to avoid getting too close to the shipping lanes into Rotterdam.

Our watches were flexible, and I didn’t hesitate to rouse the captain to assist in fending off a multitude of ships. Their speed through the water is deceptive. Before you know it you’re looking at some bright lights less than .3M away. Not a good sight.

To provide as much buffer zone as possible we’d hail the ships when they were about 20 minutes away from our path. We’d ask if they could see us on their AIS, which was really our way of saying ‘we’re just a little bitty boat, big guy, and we don’t want to get squished’.

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(definitions in the screen above refer to the bracketed ship approaching us:  RNG = Range, CPA = Closest Point of Approach, SOG = Speed Over Ground, TCPA = Time to Closest Point of Approach. Each triangle represents a ship, and a black triangle represents a ship that may be coming dangerously close. The four black ships approaching from the upper left and the one immediately ahead of us pointing our way were especially worrisome.)

The ships all responded to our radio call, and in many instances adjusted their course to ensure our paths would not cross. One even seemed chatty leaving us with the kind message of have a nice watch.

Interestingly, we weren’t the only boat calling another to avoid a collision. One poor cable-laying ship was constantly asking other ships to stay out of his path. Most did, yet there was a bit of a discussion between the cable guy and another ship when the latter said the cable guy’s requested course adjustment was too extreme. They worked it out, but it did provide a welcome distraction from our navigating.

Rotating watches with two-three hours on, two-three hours off, we each managed to get some sleep. However, sleep for me means a nice cozy berth and no-wakee in the late night hours or wee hours of the morning. Add in my husband bringing me coffee in bed and I’m in heaven. This, not so much. BUT, it was only 24 hours and we were safe, fed by canned chili on carne for dinner (it warmed us up), and we knew some wonderful cruising lay ahead.

The wind died way down by 4am and we slowed down to 4 knots as we closed in on our destination of Ijmuiden. As the sun came up we had reached the outer edges of the largest fishing port in the Netherlands. We turned on the engine (heat again :), lowered the main sail, and entered the port and a convenient marina just inside the jetty.

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We smiled at one another and laughed out loud as the joy of finishing a passage and stepping into another adventure spread throughout our minds and limbs.

We had arrived in Dutch land. And, showers,

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sleep, and tulips were in our future :)   Hans Brinker, here we come.

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Adventures with Rudy: PART I

Let’s start at the very beginning…

In March 2004 Max and I were in Antigua to meet up with family vacationing on the island:   Max’s to celebrate his mom Eileen’s 80th birthday; my mom and Betty Loc to enjoy some warm sand between their toes. Rudy, our nephew who was nine at that time, spent a night aboard JUANONA where we practiced an ancient ritual:

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Fast forward eleven years and Rudy was joining us again much to our delight, this time to make his first passage and help us take JUANONA down the coast to her winter berth in Ipswich.

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Thursday & Friday & Saturday, September 3, 4, 5

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We picked Rudy up at the Edinburgh Airport Thursday afternoon (that morning Max and I stopped at Melrose Abbey) and drove back to Amble where we were waiting for winds to blow in the right direction (a typical sailing ‘plight’). Friday was not favorable for sailing so Rudy and Max visited Hadrian’s Wall where we’d been in May and then again with Iain and Sarah. I should preface our time with Rudy with a warning:  he, like me, is a history buff only he, unlike me, remembers well.

Anyhow, his and Max’s tour of the wall (near Housesteads fort)

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and town (Vindolanda) occurred at the perfect time:

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while scrutinizing the ongoing archaeological excavation at Vindolanda, they met THE lead archaeologist, Andrew Birley.  His grandfather began the dig in the 1930s and it’s still a happening place. Matter-of-fact one of the archeologists showed Rudy a pair of table legs they had unearthed that day – a piece of furniture last seen by a Roman some 1800 years ago.

And, speak of the devil, a Roman soldier approached the site and asked what they were doing in ‘his house’. Andrew immediately replied, ‘Oh, right. The utility bills are due for the past 1,890 years.’ Who said archaeologists don’t have a dry sense of humor? :)

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Like us earlier this year, Rudy was enthralled with the letters penned in ink on wooden tablets discovered at Vindolanda, which tell so much of daily Roman life and are now considered one of the top treasures in the British Museum.

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The extensive display even includes the well-preserved leather sandal of one of the Vindolanda letters’ authors:

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That night we headed for the local yacht club where we’d also taken Iain and Sarah. Once again, we were made to feel extremely welcomed. The club’s volunteerism reminded us of our own club back home on Orr’s (OBYC) as the Amble club’s commodore was serving as bartender.

On Saturday it was my turn to show Rudy an old site, only this one was a bit more recent:  Warkworth Castle. Iain, Sarah and I had walked up from the marina along the Coquet River when they were here. It was wonderful being with those two young folk, and time with Rudy was no different.

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My annual English Heritage membership had just expired, but the two kind people manning the ticket counter said no problem and then asked Rudy his age saying he must just be 16 (the cut-off for free entry there). He corrected them stating he was 20 only to have one of the women say, no, you’re 16.

After several repeats of this Q&A, they said my membership card still shows active, and he’s considered a child at age 16, so here are the audio guides and enjoy your stay. There must be something about Rudy for this happened more times than not.

We walked all over this castle, originally built in 1200, and serving as a Percy home back in the 14th through the 17th centuries. One of the Percys, Harry Hotspur, is featured in Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” and is the hero of many Border ballads thanks to his raids against the Scots. Their family history makes for an exciting read for anyone interested in old English families. For Rudy and me, we just enjoyed checking out the keep (main house) and exploring the ruins.

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Back aboard Rudy jumped into boat chores. Washing dishes became his nightly ritual, just like Iain and Sarah.

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While we prepped below, Max frequently checked weather and email. Because the wifi signal was weak below, this was the view the two of us often had of the captain when in Amble:

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RUDY’S FIRST PASSAGE:  Amble to Lowestoft

Sunday to Tuesday, September 6-8

We filled the tanks with water and then documented our leaving.

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The North Sea demonstrated its power as we steered our way out of Amble’s narrow and shallow entrance for the 210-mile passage to Lowestoft. It’s difficult to capture but you can see the waves surging under the pier below–the remnants of the storm that had kept us in port the previous few days:

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Later, the seas calmed down and the sun created a delightful day of sailing. At one point, someone yelled, ‘Dolphins!’ resulting in the three of us being entranced by several of these synchronized swimmers.

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After watching for a bit we realized there was at least one mom and baby pair keeping track with our bow.

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Monday dawned another beautiful day as we settled into the typical routine of watches, reading, navigating, eating, and sleeping.

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During this passage Rudy experienced the North Sea ‘game’ of dodge the oil rigs. Luckily they are well-lit at night and equally visible during the day.

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The leftover seas made the passage quite bouncy causing a rare sight: Max with a seasick patch.

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In spite of having to motor due to some lighter winds (which we rarely do at night unless far enough offshore to avoid the inevitable crab and lobster pots), we arrived on schedule Tuesday morning and pulled into a berth at Hamilton Docks, part of the Associated British Ports Haven (ABP) Marinas of which our marina in Ipswich belongs.

Rudy, as the Brits would say, was brilliant :)  He completed his first passage with flying colors and, as he said, with the added bonus of not getting seasick.

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We walked around the town, taking Rudy to England’s most eastern point

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and enjoyed meeting up with our friends Helen and Gus Wilson of s/v WINGS who sailed in from Whitby where they had attended the annual Folk Week. We shared a dinner

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and the next day (Wednesday, September 9)  walked with them to The Broads, a network of shallow lakes and waterways formed in the 13th century by the flooding of medieval peat diggings. With promises to meet up again when in Ipswich, we parted and checked weather for our next-day departure to the Orwell River. Then took our usual positions after a full day.

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HOME WATERS:  Lowestoft to Ipswich

Thursday to Saturday, September 10-12

The winds were perfect for heading to our home waters Thursday morning, so we left on a strong breeze under bright skies. Knowing it’d be another seven months before JUANONA would be under sail again, we turned off the autopilot and took turns steering her home.

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It seemed appropriate that the seas would be bouncy, almost as if JUANONA knew she was heading for the barn; and, with frisky winds come frisky waves resulting in Rudy’s baptism by the North Sea.

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We entered the Orwell River on nearly the same date as we did last year. When the wind increased significantly Max furled the jib; however, all it took for the jib to be unfurled was Rudy’s and my comment that a sailboat under full sail was gaining on us. Out goes the jib and we maintained our lead with the sailboat behind us most likely oblivious to us Yanks’ machinations.

We were thrilled to be moored along this beautiful river again, and even happier to share it with Rudy. We snapped the requisite ‘end of voyage’ photographs…

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and prepared for the night. Anyone who’s crewed with us quickly becomes indoctrinated to our dental ritual. We’ve even got my sister in tune with this. Rudy’s time aboard was no different as we merrily shared brushing time.

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Friday we had arranged to meet up with our friends Anne and Peter of s/v SACRE BLEU at Pin Mill, a popular pub dating from the 1450s halfway up the river to Ipswich. It was wonderful being with them and introducing Rudy.

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The day was perfect in spite of our dinghy being caught in the mud by a rapidly falling tide. Fortunately there was enough water for Max to push his way to a landing

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where Rudy and I were able to hop on for the short ride back.

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To ensure Rudy received as complete a cruising experience as possible, we decided not to enter Ipswich Haven Marina on the high tide when the lock gates remain open for ‘free flow’ (at high tide the water heights are the same both inside the marina basin and outside on the river). Rather, we’d go through the lock at mid tide. This entails hailing the Lock Master to ask permission to enter the lock… wait for the first gate to open… enter… tie up as the gate behind closes… let the water rise/fall to the same level as in the basin… wait for gate in front to open… then proceed into the marina.

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While Max steered us into the lock, Rudy and I, being kindred spirits, broke out into a Bear naked happy dance (so termed by our friend Shawn) prior to entering.

We tied up,

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then exited the lock and headed into our winter berth.

We were home! Or, as much home as one can be in foreign ports :)

More Rudy adventures to come!

Heading to Ipswich: Peterhead to Amble

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Monday, August 24

A favorable forecast, or as favorable as we seem to get these days, has us leaving around noon for an overnight to Amble.

We had enjoyed our stay in Peterhead, primarily due to the folk we met such as Chris, Rita and Mike on s/v GRIFFYN, Nigel on s/v RASSY LASS, Ray and Lynn on s/v CRYSTELL, and two Dutch guys, Lucas and the captain whose name we never did learn how to say. In addition to fellow cruisers we also appreciated Peterhead’s marina staff and that of the local library.

Having landed Wednesday, August 19, we were primed for heading south to our winter berth in Ipswich.

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Since we’d been in the area before, we had pretty much explored the town a bit, so this time we got on a bus to hike part of the North Sea Trail.

While waiting for the bus we spotted an electric car charging station. Would have been really interesting to see someone use it, but in lieu of that, we just took photos.

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We caught the bus, which took us to Cruden Bay, 20 minutes away. We began the short coastal walk first coming upon Slains Castle, rebuilt in the late 1500s, and sitting close to the sea cliffs.

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An easy stroll along fields of grain

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and purple heather

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brought us to a hole in the cliffs

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followed by a collapsed sea cave called the Sea Caudron located

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at Bullers o’ Buchan, an old fishing community where fishermen beached their boats and hauled gear and fish up the cliffs.

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Other than that walk we watched weather, provisioned and caught up on emails and Internet tasks. There’s also a sailing school sharing the same cove as the marina, and the weekend brought several sailing clubs as well as kayakers. Seeing the young kids enjoying these water sports entertained us as well as reminded us of the AF sailing school at our club at home, OBYC.

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Discussing when to leave seemed to be the topic on everyone’s mind with two of us heading south, two heading north, and one sailing across the North Sea. For us, Monday-Tuesday seemed doable in spite of knowing 25 knots of wind were forecasted starting midnight Monday and building into Tuesday. But, it’d be WNW so would give us a good run down to Amble hitting the noon high tide with time to spare (because of the sill bar, we have to time our entries and exits to be +/- three hours of high tide).

As we were leaving the marina, we realized (thanks to Ray) we needed to contact the Peterhead Harbor Master. When we did, he said to hold up for 15 minutes as a fishing boat was exiting and an oil rig supply ship was entering. We circled around while getting the mainsail ready to hoist since it’d be easier in the protected harbor than outside the breakwater. Considering the roller-coaster swells coming into the harbor, we could only imagine the extent of the roll once outside. And, the best clue as to how it’d be was the Harbor Master’s instructions to watch ourselves out there as there was a strong swell. With the waves crashing against the stone jetty, we took his caution to heart.

Well, there’s a reason they call some sailing outfits foul weather gear. We sure were glad we had ours on as we began our exit from Peterhead following the fishing boat out before we turned south.

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That famous Bette Davis quote ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night’ came to mind as we proceeded to pick up where we left off on that windy passage from Norway to the UK.

With harnesses strapped on and clicked in we began our sail as JUANONA bucked against the current, which fortunately wasn’t too strong, while the wind howled from the SE. We had the motor on as well because we needed to have as much power as possible to make 5 kts/hour.

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This also required a sharp lookout for the fishing buoys that popped up in the most nerve-racking spots, such as right off the lighthouse rocks.  The last thing we needed was to get one caught in our prop so close to land in an onshore breeze. Thank gods and goddesses it was daylight and thank gods and goddesses the buoys were bright orange.

Fortunately, I had made sandwiches before we left and had also picked up some scones. The former we ate for lunch and dinner while the latter helped offset some queasiness with their baking soda ingredient. To give you an idea just how bouncy it truly was even Max slapped on a seasick medicine patch halfway through the passage.

We skidded off and sledded down the sides of waves as we made fairly good time going against the current. Since we had 24+ hours to cover 130 nm, we knew the first part could be a wee uncomfortable; but, the winds were forecasted to die down early evening, eventually swinging to the WNW at midnight and grow to 25.

Catnaps in the cockpit allowed some rest.

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Eventually Max took a much-needed break and went below, and I stood watch. At one point a bird fluttered aboard. Wherever it blew in from it sure looked happy to be able to rest; and, the need to perch itself somewhere outweighed the fear of being close to a human. Our birding friend Jayne will need to identify it. Always nice to have company as I entertained myself with snapping photos of our feathered friend.

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Late afternoon the winds died down as forecasted, but they did so too much requiring us to motor-sail up to 10pm or so when the wind began to pick up again. At this point we were far enough offshore where fishing buoys wouldn’t pose a navigational hazard.

Our watches were flexible, with whomever was the most tired heading to the main cabin and cozy berth.

At one point the AIS showed a cargo ship getting a bit close, so I hailed them on the VHF to see if they’d like us to change our heading. They kindly replied they’d alter their course to go behind us. More times than not, we’ve received this courtesy whenever we’ve contacted larger ships. This consideration makes for an easier sail for us.

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AMBLE

Tuesday, August 25

I woke Max up at 2am saying the winds were clocking up to 17. Time for the second reef in the mainsail and furling the jib. While he navigated forward to the mast I shined the flashlight while trying not to beam it right into his eyes. As he worked his way down the boom to tie up the sail, I got more and more nervous finally yelling watch out as a wave bounced us up and down. He was double clicked in (our harnesses have two leads, a short and a long one) so all was fine; but, I must say I’m never happy when he’s on the foredeck in the dark, in bouncy seas.

With only the mainsail up we were making 7 knots. As morning dawned the winds continued to grow, eventually reaching 25+. It was a beautiful sail, though, with the wind slightly aft the beam, and with seas relatively smooth since they were blowing off the land.

While I was asleep in the early morning hours Max was visited by both a dolphin frisking about

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and a windblown, female kestrel (Jayne, this one we could identify… we think!). Max came below to tell me. Both of us were mesmerized by this bird’s beauty. Being visited by wild life can seem pretty magical when at sea.

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In addition to the scones, sustenance were some pistachio nuts brought by Nigel during a shared cocktail hour several nights previously. Generally, we’re much better outfitted for passage meals but the short length of this one (24 hours) and the snacks we had prepared (sandwiches and scones) were enough to get us through the night.

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The day dawned a bright blue, and as we neared the shoreline, we watched for buoys and local fishing boats

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while enjoying the onshore scenery.

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Soon Amble came into view.

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We radioed the marina asking for a hammerhead berth (it’s at the end of a pontoon that looks like a capital “T”) if possible. They said no problem, and we headed in. Thankfully, once we turned into Amble’s harbor we were going into the wind. With 28+ knots it was a bit of a relief giving us better control than if going with the wind.

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Mick and Ben, whom we knew from our stay earlier in the summer, greeted us, and JUANONA eased onto the dock. We finally relaxed. We’d made our destination with some great sailing.

That night we opened a bottle of wine, the same label as our friend Libby and David gave me so many years ago and that was used for Max’s and my first date. It was a perfect way to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary and a safe landing in Amble.

Now, onto the next adventure!

Passage to the UK August 2015

Monday, August 17

When we awoke Monday morning, we checked the weather, and, once again, found our plans had changed. Instead of dinghying to the next island to view a medieval church, we were going to cross the North Sea.

Christopher on SILA thoughtfully let us view a great app (Weather Track, which we’ll be downloading) that overlaid our track from Norway to Scotland. The view confirmed the decision:  time to go.

JUANONA  was pretty shipshape anyhow; but, Max took the anchor off the bow (in case of plunging seas, this saves the anchor from banging around and also limits our taking water into the anchor chain locker, which can find it’s incipient way into our V-berth bedding).

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We stowed the cruising spinnaker below, stashed our toothbrush pot holders (Christmas-themed yogurt containers from our time spent with Betsy and the Sumners last December), and put sleeping bags in the main cabin for hot bunking (one of us would be off-watch and in the sleeping bags while the other would be on watch).

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Last photos as we exit this scenic harbor, and we’re off!

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As predicted we needed to motor, then motor-sail to get a good start. We had 320 miles to cover before we reached Peterhead. With our eyes on that Low coming across our path, we wanted to get as far west and south as possible before it overtook us, so that when the strong winds arrived they would not be forward of the beam.

When it’s dead calm, there’s not a lot you can do so you just sit back and read while scouting out the area and hoping for some wind.

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Our views consisted of oil and gas rigs; at one point we counted seven all around us.

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One was being towed,

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some looked like robotic creatures stalking the sea while others appeared as modern Stonehenges.

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When your chart looks like this:

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it’s not surprising to know you’ll be maneuvering around those rigs.

We were hailed by a security boat warning us to keep clear of the exclusion zone in one of the gas fields ahead. So we altered course for a mile then switched back to our original heading. It’s a bit odd to be sailing along in our own little cosmo only to be startled by someone calling out ‘JUANONA’ over the radio. A voice over the radio definitely is an event, breaking into the sameness of gray-weather cruising.

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The beautiful day slowly moved into a dark night fell around 11:00 p.m. and visibility was difficult due to dark, cloudy skies.

Knowing the remainder of the passage could be windy, we put a reef in the main and added the staysail, a smaller jib, to our sail configuration.

Tuesday, August 18

The day broke beautifully with streaks of mauve, rose, cream and blue. Nothing to hint of the wind that would be blasting us later in the day except for that old adage ‘red sky at morning, sailor take warning…’

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With only two of us, our watch shifts were flexible. One of us would be up and looking for obstacles (rigs, ships, and fishing boats via the AIS, radar overlay on our chart plotter, and eyes). The other would be grabbing up to three hours of sleep.

We always had a physical check (every 15 minutes or so) versus relying solely on any electronic ‘eyes’, which is how we saw two large fishing vessels dragging nets headed in our direction. Fortunately, it was daylight for the boats weren’t broadcasting their positions on AIS. I just hope they turn their lights on at night.

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As forecasted, the wind was slowly edging its way up to 30+ knots as the day progressed. We had the main sail (with one reef), the staysail, and our regular jib up.  As the winds built we put a second reef in the main and eventually furled the jib as the seas began rocking ’n rolling. Waves crashed across the deck causing water to stream down on either side of the cockpit while below-deck started on spin cycle.

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When you see the gimbaled stove tilting crazily you start doing the same, becoming a walking italic.

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Before too long we were navigating below by clutching at any hand railings. JUANONA began squeaking and moaning as our two-water tanks (55 gallons each) located under the main cabin seats sloshed in tandem with the salt water outside.

More oil rigs caused us to adjust our course frequently through the night. At one point someone announced ‘you’re clear of the Fair Isle channel.’ Since we weren’t cognizant of any channel needing to be crossed, all we could think of is that the message was for two fishing boats mentioned earlier.

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With such high winds we were making up to 8 knots per hour. And, just so my navigational description is correct, I asked Max to explain our strategy… “We were intentionally steering up to 25 degrees south of our rhumb line (the direct course to Peterhead). We did not want to take any chances in case the wind clocked more to the southwest, which would bring the wind well forward of the beam and make for very uncomfortable or even treacherous conditions. I know from racing that steering up to 15 degrees off course increases the distance sailed only slightly, and even 20 or 25 degrees not excessive, so it seemed well worth the trade off to build some safety cushion to windward of the direct route.”

Wednesday, August 19

Finally, about 1:00 a.m. we cleared the last of the major oil fields and adjusted our course to Peterhead.

The seas and wind had calmed down a bit, and we realized we could be in Scotland by early afternoon.

With gray skies and 17+ knots of wind we arrived outside the entrance to Peterhead’s harbor and ghosted through fog to the pontoons.

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We had landed with neither of us nor JUANONA the worse for wear. At least, nothing that fresh-water rinses, clean clothes and a celebratory drink or two couldn’t revive.

Freshly showered and with the last load of clean clothes I walked the pontoons back to JUANONA hearing, believe it or not, the ice cream truck merrily announcing itself on the streets above the marina with, of all tunes, ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’.

With fond memories of all the sights and all the people we met, our summer cruising was drawing to a close. We still have our UK coastal route to voyage down before reaching Ipswich, our winter’s home, so some good sailing is hopefully on the horizon, just not requiring crossing a sea or ocean to enjoy.

And, to that, we raise our glasses and shout ‘Skaal’! :)

Ja!

Norway Passage

Tuesday, June 16, to Thursday, June 18

Because north winds were forecast for the following week, we decided to skip the Shetland islands (our planned next port of call) and head straight to Norway, our ultimate destination for this summer. The winds would be good for for the next two days (direction and speed) then lighten up on Thursday but still favorable direction (west).

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So, early Tuesday morning we left Peterhead at 4 a.m. with our course set for Alesund, Norway. It’s not as far north as we wanted but at this point we’d be happy just to be anywhere along the coast of Norway.

And, I can’t leave this port town without, once again, commenting how exceptionally gracious and warm these folk are. From the town librarians who helped us with our wifi to the guy who saw us with our load of groceries and insisted on driving us back to the marina to Charlie the car rental man who shared some good road trips with us to Billy at the marina who made us feel at home just from his huge smile and Scottish Burr. These harbor towns are amazing in their hospitality.

The weather was beautiful Tuesday as we made excellent time, reaching seven knots with the wind directly perpendicular to our sails.

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And, I made sure I had my crackers just in case I got a bit of queasiness.

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Throughout the day Max doublechecked weather and course while we settled into our watch routines.

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Believe it or not, there is a body (Chris) hidden in that bedding. We have similar snaps of our crew Ricardo (to Flores, Azores) and Steve (to Falmouth, England) from our crossing last summer :)

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The few obstacles we had to avoid were the oil and gas rigs sticking out of the ocean waters. Like the wind turbines we saw off the coast of the UK, these large, metal, man-made structures just seemed odd to be poking up out of something so natural and fundamental as the sea.

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Because we’re so far north, night watches were almost twilighty, which always makes it easier for me to keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, our second passage day, dawned cool and gray; and, for those who want to know what it’s like, it’s like a whole lot of nothing at times.

But, then it’s pretty spectacular to be out there surrounded by the North Sea with two other people and your boat watching the steely waters. A few gulls come sweeping by eyeing you while continuing their soaring highs and lows. You’re part of a vastness that goes on and on and on.

And, it’s pretty wonderful to go below where the heater’s on.

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Once again we were thankful for our AIS as we were hailed by a ship towing seismic cables. He told us we needed to keep a minimum of two miles (from his bow and sides) and five miles (from his stern) to ensure we wouldn’t be in his way. Happy to comply, we tracked him and his accompanying ship via the AIS.

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On Thursday we were hoping to make Alesund by 9 p.m., and, we motored for most of the day as the wind slowly died.

We were excited to see our first glimpse of Norway in the early evening, and we were all thinking of hot showers (if you notice, we have the same clothes on Thursday night that we left in Tuesday morning), celebratory drinks, and a full night of sleep.

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Then, the engine starting acting up–no cooling water coming out of the exhaust. So we quickly killed the motor and unfurled the jib while Max began problem-solving. After an hour, he found the culprit:  the impeller wasn’t spinning. With a quick repair (thankfully, JUANONA has tons of spare parts), we were able to head to the harbor.

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Max raised the Norwegian courtesy flag and our OCC burgee as the three of us just gazed in awe at the coast appearing out of the clouds.

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We docked with no problem in this very protected harbor,

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then pulled out the bubbly compliments of Anne and Peter in Ipswich and used flags that Max’s sister Krissy had given us a year ago to decorate our cocktails.

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It was a perfect ending to a good passage.

And, with a visit from Frank Cormer, Ocean Cruising Club’s Alesund Port Captain, our first morning here, we feel really welcomed and oh so glad to be able to cruise in this lovely land.

Tomorrow night we’ll be celebrating Summer Sailstice (www.summersailstice.com) by watching a huge burning bonfire with a whole bunch of Norwegians.

At least that’s the plan :)

Ja!

A bouncing we will go, a bouncing we will go, high-ho the dairy ho, a bouncing we will go

Which is why, on Thursday morning, August 14, a shout went up as we spotted the southwest coast of England, and it couldn’t have come soon enough, at least for me.

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Although, like with Dick, aka Ricardo, our passage was blessed with yet another enthusiastic and helpful crewmate, Steve, who arrived from Boston on Tuesday, August 5th, only to be fast-forwarded through a shower and coffee, before being impressed by Juanona’s captain. Within three hours we were heading out to sea.

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Steve donned his special blue shirt

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and later presented us with a book of poems from him and Katie.

It took just a bit before Max realized Katie had personalized the cover with a recent photo of Juanona.

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With clear skies and some minor (thankfully) head winds, we motor-sailed along the length of Sao Miguel until we could turn north for our passage to England.

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After relaxing a bit,

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Steve introduced us to his grandfather’s ditty bag;

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and, he meticulously demonstrated the how-to of the old sailing art of whipping lines.

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Since life at sea can be snoozeville at times, i.e., BO-ring, (again, Sailor girl writing) and, since Steve must have seen a comotose look starting to creep across my face, he asked me if I’d like to do some.

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So, now I can add whipper to my resume, and, if we’d been out much longer, I can safely say more than lines would have been decorated with thin, waxy string…

There are times when all you do is bounce on a boat, and, thanks to tropical storm Bertha, the fast miles we covered were primarily due to being bounced up the Atlantic Ocean to England.

And, just so you can get a feel for what I mean, here’s a composite of some sea days…

This meant adjusting the number and size of sails we had out.

I smartly kept watch from the cockpit to make sure our snack bin below didn’t overturn or get too jostled (the snickers bars took exceptional watching, I found) while Max and Steve were either reefing the mainsail,

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setting the staysail (a smaller one between jib and mainsail),

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and, at one time, prepping the drogue (something to toss off the back to reduce boat speed and help keep the stern perpendicular to the waves),

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then deploying it, which was the fun part.

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Again, I safely watched from the companionway as the spray started to coat Juanona, and I began to realize I should probably slap another half of a seasick medicine patch to my head. This also contributed to my sleeping A LOT, which then contributed to Max and Steve not having to hear my ‘oh, dang!’ as yet another body part became indented by some previously innocuous, but now lethal, piece of Juanona.

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Due to our being on designated watches every three hours from evening (8p) until early morning (8a), you typically grab sleep during the day…

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which also means, if you’re the one up, you can dress up the sleeper however you want.

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At times there are some interesting events at sea, and one of ours was the pee pot episode. No photos but just imagine one crew member doing the early-morning ritual of emptying the pot while another crew member gets up to use it without realizing the most important piece of the composting head isn’t there.

Thankfully, no harm was done but suffice it to say it did require an extra thirty minutes of clean-up…

On August 10th, halfway to our designation, we decided to have cocktails, so we opened up our cans of Schweppes ginger ale and toasted our not being bounced out into the ocean’s cold waters.

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Then we returned to enjoying the bouncing seas once more on August 11th… (note the lovely swaying towels)

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Max occupied himself by inventing his coffee runway to hold the all-important caffeine vehicles on the stove.

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The bouncing and swaying and grabbing every handhold was pretty much the norm for most of the trip, which is why it wasn’t a surprise when I caught our GPS one day clocking at 12kts.

Just so you know, we are aware of what’s coming our way, thanks to the Internet access via the satellite phone. Every morning at 9a Max checked and analyzed the weather.

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And, most of the days it showed nice, strong winds (thanks to Bertha)

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with accompanying lumpy, rolling, sloshy seas.

One of the true marvels to me is our AIS (automatic identification system). It takes (almost) all of the fear of running into a much bigger ship than us in the middle of a dark night. By broadcasting its course, its bearing to us, the CPA (closest point of approach) and timing of that (TCPA), size and speed,

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we could easily avoid it and vice versa because we also transmitted our location as well as received theirs.

The only concern was when the white triangle turned black;

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but, I had their number to contact via our VHF radio if I REALLY became nervous.

As the night turned to day

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the tanker’s silhouette

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brightened to full color as morning approached. And, I relaxed my sweaty grip on the microphone’s PTT (push to talk) button.

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Because life at sea can be a bit uninteresting (sailor girl’s take on it), you can look for ways to spice it up, which is exactly what we did on August 12th.

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And, yes, we were a bit punchy by our seventh day out…

Sometimes I didn’t have to find something to make the days and nights interesting. It just happened, such as hearing yet another humoungous SPLAT! against the hull, peering into the cockpit where Max was on watch, and seeing him perched on the seats to avoid a rather large dump of salt water landing in the cockpit.

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By the time I got the camera on it, the foot of water had sloshed and drained down to less than half that.

But, the fun wasn’t over, because I became complacent and, after checking on Steve above, I ducked below without closing the hatchway cover and, yes, sure enough, another BANG and there we go… several gallons of salt water flew below.

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The saving grace was that now the boat was really clean below because of all the applying of precious fresh water along with the mopping and wiping I had to do to eliminate it. FYI: These episodes are called pooping, which to me was the perfect description.

We didn’t see many ships at all until our approach and entry into the English Channel, and then it was as if we were on an entrance ramp trying to cross two lanes of traffic. It wouldn’t have been so hairy if they were our size, but, as Steve and Max related (I was asleep below), these were BIG ships.

On our ninth day at sea we entered the English Channel

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and toasted with coffee our entry into historic Falmouth Harbor (YAHOO!!!).

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Within three hours, we had picked up a Visitors’ Yacht Haven guest mooring, checked in with customs and the harbor master, SHOWERED (we again followed our pattern of one every five days…, and, Carolie, yes, I was slack on the clothing changes…) and proceeded to R&R while the activity unfolded around us.

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With the passing of a quick rain shower, a rainbow appeared and all we could do was gaze in thankful awe

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while we spotted land all around us and we weren’t bouncing!

For the next two days we enjoyed getting our land legs while strolling along the seaside street of this charming village.

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Friday morning we awoke to the harbor master asking us what our plans were (signed on for almost a week) and issuing an invitation from the boat we saw picking up a mooring behind us the night before.

Not being quite certain if it was a joke or not, we weren’t sure if we should hop in our dinghy and drift downwind to Scorpio Lady; but, Nick, captain of said boat, saved us the embarrassment and dinghied over to formally ask us aboard for eggs and bacon and coffee with him and Jim, a friend from Norfolk. It didn’t take more than one second before we all said ‘Sure!’ and off we went for our very first eggs+bacon breakfast since we left Maine June 6th, and, boy, did they taste good.

We contributed melon but never got around to it

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but did have a wonderful time sharing easy conversation with these two old friends (Jim had been sailing with Nick every summer for a week or so in the past 12 years).

Friday night was our official celebratory dinner, which we began with champagne toasts with a bottle Steve managed to bring

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followed by a dinghy ride into town to check out the scene and where we met Clint, aka Mr. T., and his other costumed friends (Falmouth Week hosted a wild costume party) at the Cutty Sark Bar. They just reinforced the friendliness of this enchanting town as we toasted being amidst friendly folk.

We managed to grab a reservation at a South African restaurant, Amanzi, owned and operated by this great couple, Carolyn and Ian.

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A sweet young waitress, Gallia, who announced she was new to her job, was also South African. I asked if she knew Johnny Clegg, one of my favorite musicians and, frankly, a hero to me having formed and toured with a mixed band in South Africa during apartheid.

Well, my mouth dropped open and kept doing the jaw drop when she softly said yes, she knew of him… she was his godchild. OMG, it was as if I had met Paul McCartney’s god daughter. Of course, having the Mala Mala (translation: Crazy) drink helped with my dopey, smiley gaze.

Anyway, we had an amazing dining experience and promised to be back.

[which Max and I did our last night in Falmouth. Like Tasca in Ponta Delgada, we could see coming here at least once a week and we may possibly return by train this winter it’s that wonderful.]

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Returning to our mooring, we decided the night wasn’t over yet, and we proceeded to sip some port (again, brought by Steve) with some Cornish cheese and grapes.

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More toasting…

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and, the dancing began (poor Steve, I think he thought he’d escape this…).

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The next morning Max dinghies Steve to shore for the start of his trek home,

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and, with calm seas no bouncing was to be had.

Days at Sea… No. 1 thru 13

Days at Sea… No. 1 thru 13

Because my blob blogging was intermittent at best these past two weeks, I’ll just mention a few highlights per day. I may call on crew member Dick Stevens, whom we were extremely fortunate to snag as our third voyager, to help me with some of these events (he was a much more faithful scribe with his log).

So, off we go…

JUN 6 Day 1: Set off at 9am from Orr’s-Bailey Yacht Club (OBYC) with hugs and waves and a special guardian angel charm in my pocket and a butterfly one on my necklace;

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then initiated diet plan promptly at 1:36pm, i.e., started my normal course of being seasick. oh joy. but did complete my night time watches (8-11p and 5-8a).

JUN 7 Day 2: Managed to get spinnaker wrapped around one of the lines only to have Max climb the mast to free it up while Dick and I tried to help from below… success (thank king neptune)

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All settling into a routine with prepping meals, washing dishes

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checking weather and route

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and catching naps when off watch. Juanona starting to get into passage decor.

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while dolphins appear.

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JUN 8 Day 3: Realizing that passage hygiene is now in full force with Dick, I’m ashamed to say, beating me to the first underwear change. Spotting sargasso seaweed and man o war jelly fish as we near the gulf stream

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JUN 9 Day 4: Awaken my body during my 5am watch by dancing to “Happy” and “September” (blessedly no photos of this) while later getting the guys to join me in another rendition of “Happy” captured by the go-pro camera facing the cockpit. Made our breakfast yogurt bowls.

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Also, enjoying the other animal aboard (black spider) as it attacks its image in the starboard winch

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JUN 10 Day 5: SHOWER DAY!

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Boat smelling sweet. And, the closest encounter we’ve had all passage with Baltic Mercur, a cargo ship approximately 520 ft long, 69 ft wide traveling 12.5 knots.

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JUN 11 Day 6: On spin cycle as we sail in a turmoil of frothing seas and high winds, even surfing down one wave to over 15 knots! Most of day spent going 8 to 10 knots, even 11, as we hunker down.

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At night a big splat sounded against Juanona’s hull resulting in a burst of salty water where it travelled via the cockpit down a bit into the galley. Dick, in his aft berth, got a shot of the water, too. Not a fun way to spend the night. We are all religious about wearing our harnesses when on deck

JUN 12 Day 7: Snack Bin raid… thanks to Dick bringing aboard some tasty snacks to add to our provisioning, we have a HUGE snack bin.

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Although we try to limit ourselves to just one small square of chocolate after dinner and a few fireballs during the day, I just HAVE to have something else from that pile of delicious, non-nutritious treats. Only Max seems to be able to resist the calling of the snack bin, but he’s been known to relish a fireball or two.

JUN 13 Day 8: I’m now resembling an over-ripe banana with my purple, yellow, and black bruises. Trying to perform the most elementary tasks (such as putting on foul weather pants) requires a form of athleticism more suited to a contortionist vs. a middle-age sailorette. And, if the unpredictable sway of the boat isn’t enough, there are boisterous slaps of waves against the hull that startles you just as you’re about to finish a task; and, what’s worse, bruised banana hues just aren’t my colors. But we are rewarded with a flying fish found on deck

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and, captain finally gets some well-deserved sleep

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while Dick performs his clean-up magic in the galley

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JUN 14 Day 9: More slip sliding around… but the sunrise if gorgeous

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we manage a smorgasbord lunch

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and, later we believe we entice dolphins at sunset with some Pavoratti at dinner time

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JUN 15 Day 10: SHOWER DAY NUMBER TWO! And, we use a mustard bottle to send a message to sea

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Have been enjoying our eggs from Two Cove Farm in Harpswell, ones we didn’t need to refrigerate as long as we turned them every day (although later we did put them in fridge just to be safe)

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Captain invents best way to block out light for sleeping off watch

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JUN 16 Day 11: Today I witnessed another guy thing… napkin shirts. I nearly choked when I saw Dick perform the same dining etiquette that Max does: using the shirt as their napkin.

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JUN 17 Day 12: It’s another washing machine day with all of us being bounced around. It is good isometric exercise but, boy, can it make me cranky. fortunately, that can be mollified with a visit to the snack bin. Dick has figured out how to wedge himself into his berth

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JUN 18 Day 13: Almost there!

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JUN 19 Day 14: LAND HO!

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Arrive at Lajes approximately 1:00p