The New Lagoon 40 & 50 | 06.23.17
These two incredible beasts were just debuted earlier this morning. enjoy!
THE LAGOON 40:
A true "combination of expertise", the new 40 symbolizes the synergy of Lagoon's innovation, replacing the 39 and 400 models.
With her new visual identity, the 40 immediately stands out. While faithful to the image of Lagoon’s "DNA", a new style is born: an individual, streamlined and accomplished design depicts her large portholes and panoramic view. This creates a refined and high-performance unit, emphasized by the chamfer running from the bow to the stern. A new generation Lagoon, recognizable at first sight.
Architects: VPLP DESIGN
Exterior styling: Patrick Le Quément
Interior design: Nauta Design
Length over all: 11.74m
Mast clearance: 18.42m
Light displacement (EEC): 11 t
Sail area: 81.3m²
Square top mainsail: 47.5m²
Self tacking jib: 33.8m²
Engine (std): 2 x 29 HP YANMAR 3YM30
Fuel capacity: 2 x 200L
Fresh water capacity: 300 l
No. Of berths: 6 à 12
EC certification: A 10 – B 12 – C 16 – D20
THE LAGOON 50:
This new boat is the perfect compromise between the emblematic 450 model and the 52. She offers an attractive option to navigators in search of a large “seaworthy and modern" owner’s boat. With her new visual identity, rigging and hull design, she provides increased performance, comprising a unique brand signature. Indeed, the 50's elegance seduces thanks to the beveled shape of her hulls, generous volumes and panoramic views, more than ever enhanced. With unparalleled accommodation possibilities, this new model is available with three, four or even... six cabins!
Architects: VPLP DESIGN
Exterior styling: Patrick Le Quément
Interior design: Nauta Design
Length over all: 14.76m
Mast clearance: 26.51m
Light displacement (EEC): 21 t
Sail area: 158.1m²
Square top mainsail: 97.8m²
Self tacking jib: 60.3m²
Engine (std): 57 cv Yanmar
Fuel capacity: 2*240L (2*175L opt)
Fresh water capacity: 2*520L
No. Of berths: 6-14
EC certification: A 12 – B 14 – C 20 – D 30
Links to the source pages below:
Rendezvous of the Yacht 62 | 06.22.17
Charlie sails with a fleet of Beneteau Oceanis Yacht 62's. A beautiful boat, the Yacht 62 is one of the finest monohull sailing vessels on the water today.
- LENGTH OVER ALL : 62'10"
- HULL LENGTH : 59'8"
- HULL BEAM : 17'6"
- LIGHT DISPLACEMENT : 57,543
- FUEL TANK CAPACITY : 264
- FRESH WATER CAPACITY : 280
- MAX ENGINE POWER (HP) : 160.00
- CE CERTIFICATION : A12/B14/C16
More information available in the links below:
A testimony to the power of the 450s | 06.15.17
Our good friend Cyrille recently took some footage of his sea trial on the Lagoon 450S. And in the thick of some high flying San Franciscan winds, the boat not only bears its weight well... it flourishes! Take a look below:
Thanks Cyrille, and if you're interested in hearing more about the ever-so majestic Lagoon 450, feel free to check out the incredible reviews we've linked below.
A new addition to the Naos ARSENAL | 06.13.17
In approximately a month, Naos Yachts will have the honor of introducing our very own Marina del Rey community to a brand new Beneteau Sense 51! An incredible new development in modern sailing, the Sense 51 is sure to be a gem in the marina. with its world-class sail-ability and utterly spacious interior, this new vessel is pure bliss on the sea.
- LENGTH OVER ALL : 52'4"
- HULL LENGTH : 49'2"
- HULL BEAM : 15'11"
- LIGHT DISPLACEMENT : 34,195
- FUEL TANK CAPACITY : 110
- FRESH WATER CAPACITY : 151
- MAX ENGINE POWER (HP) : 80
- CE CERTIFICATION : A9/B10/C14
To learn more, take a look at the full specs on beneteau's site featured below:
And to keep up with our future events, boat shows, and deliveries, keep an eye on our calendar page below:
A naos birthday: GUNNAR SWANSON| 06.09.17
If you get a chance to see our very own Gunnar Swanson today, wish the fella a happy birthday!
NAos Yachts on Travel CHannel's boat buyers | 06.09.17
Just recently, Naos Yachts had the grand pleasure of being featured on Travel Channel's Boat Buyers program. The episode will be included in Season 2 and will be starring one of our favorite customer's: The Politoski's. The exact episode will be debuted around August of this year!
Link to the show's information: http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/boat-buyers
Naos & Sailtime Live on Ktla | 06.07.17
If you happened to miss our debut on local television this morning, below we've linked the featured segments on boat safety, sailing lessons, fishing aboard, cooking aboard, and Sailtime!
Feel free to download and share ;) :
(We also happened to capture a little behind the scenes action) Link below:
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day 118 through 122 | 05.25.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
May 19, 2017
600 miles westof Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
610 miles to San Diego
9,425 miles logged
The ocean is now, and will forever be, a complete mystery to me. This leg of our voyage has had nothing to distinguish it so much as a million question marks:
Where are the sun and the stars?
What happened to all the animals?
How is it that the sea can run in four directions at once?
Will the wind ever pick a direction and a constant speed and stay that way for more than ten minutes at a time?
Will any of the weather forecast models ever concur with one another, or even with themselves from one report to the next?
What the actual fuck!
We have been under weigh for five days now and I still can't say, with any degree of accuracy, whether it'll be five more days, or ten, before we get in. I honestly don't have a clue what the weather holds.
We were motor sailing most of last night, but this morning it got so fluky that, after having to tack eight or ten times to keep the sails full, I just said, "screw it", rolled up the headsail, sheeted the main home, and set a course due north. Now we're pitching like a dime store pony, but at least we're consistently heading toward the mark.
I think that the grey is really starting to get to me. Or maybe it's the fatigue, or the homesickness. Whatever it is, it's no doubt compounded by my waking up on the wrong side of the berth with my attitude all thorny and curdled.
That's been known to happen from time to time.
This too shall pass.
Just keepin it real.
May 20, 2017
625 miles NNWof Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
500 miles to San Diego
9,550 miles logged
We've logged considerable miles north and are now less than four days out from San Diego. We're motoring straight into a light breeze and a relatively flat sea. Due to the cooler air, we've added shoes and socks to our sundown attire - the first time for Dinger and I since February back in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Del Sol made an extended cameo yesterday afternoon and we venerated him in his warmth with a sort of joyful reptilian tranquility. Life seems so much fuller and easier with him up there smiling* down on us. The clouds become lighter. The sea surface dances and sparkles. The water below turns a positively vital shade of cerulean. To gaze into it is nothing less than to stare into the mystery and magnificence of creation. It's a totally perfected, four billion year old blue.
Today it's overcast again, rendering the world monochromatic and splitting it back in two familiar camps of varying gray: Above, lighter shades of large, soft rounds, spread across a murky haze; below, countless sharp, tiny wrinkles flitting on to the edge of the planet, interrupted only temporarily, in a very small way, by the muted, white bubbles of our slight wake.
This is a very lonely part of the world. We have not seenanother soul** for three days. Not a single ship or plane. No birds, dolphins or turtles. Dinger hasn't even claimed a submarine sighting. No one out here but us three, up on Samsara, grumbling across a seemingly endless, drab, gray desert of dunes.
We often take refuge from the monotony of it all in sleep. We're, all three of us now, world class slumberers. If Rip van Winkle were aboard, he'd think, "Damn! Those are some snooze-able seamen!" When we're not sleeping or eating, we're yawning and stretching. Sometimes we even yawn and stretch while we're eating and sleeping. It's actually ridiculous and pathetic, but it's nearly all we've got.
I've watched "Pitch Perfect" at least twenty times since Panama. Dinger has read every scrap of paper on the boat including the cereal boxes, and excluding nothing but the French operating manuals. Chante is still engaged in editing her novel, but she's only just joined us and this whole thing is somewhat novel for her.
Now, as we creep up on America, we occasionally receive word of 45's foibles and cluck our tongues disparagingly, but none the less appropriately, at the surreality of it all. Will there ever be an end to the licentiousness and depravity currently masquerading as governance? I don't see any possible scenario where this zeitgeist of unbridled greed, discrimination and ignorance can come off well.
Meanwhile, the state department, influenced no doubt by the guard dogs at Homeland Security, has made their ridiculous demands on the process of Samsara's entry into her own county. The United States of America is the only nation called upon during our entire odyssey to require notification of the last five ports visited along with exact dates and a forty eight hour long waiting period to clear customs. We are actually required to go straight to the police dock and wait, behind a locked gate, for officials to grant us permission to carry on about our lives.
The first order of business when I get home is to renew my passport and submit applications for the rest of my family. Having spent this entire presidency enjoying the hospitality of somewhat saner nations and the absolute freedom of the wild, open sea, I'm no less disinclined to expatriate than I have ever been. It's sad to say, but the US is obviously deep in the throws of an untreated psychotic level bipolar disorder with pathologically narcissistic overtones.
Im thinking a wall may not be such a bad idea after all. Put it all the way round Trumpfuckistan and cap it with an artificially sunny orange sky so that there is no possibility of anyone undesirable ever getting in - or, more importantly, out. At night the Trumptilians can project a giant crescent and sickle - the best crescent and sickle - up on there magnificent edifice and sleep comfortably in the knowledge that no dirty brown people will ever again torture their lawns, chip their dishes or sing their blues.
*"Sonrisa" is Spanish for "smile." Ergo, sun rise = smile.
**"Sol" is Spanish for "sun." Ergo, sun = soul.
May 21, 2017
690 miles NWof Cabo San Lucas
450 miles SW of San Diego
9,720 miles logged
Here's the thing about traveling the ocean on small craft; If even a light wind increases by just ten percent, it can agitate the sea enough that you're forced to alter course to prevent the boat pounding into the waves and shock loading the rig.
By the slightest whim of the wind, and one small counter adjustment to the autopilot, in an instant, you're as far from your destination as you were twenty four hours previous despite having spent that whole time clawing your way up the hill.
It can be very frustrating!
The sun finally found an opening and made a mad rush up the middle. We just got our wretched marrow on top of the the high and put over on port. We rolled out the headsail, shut down old Ironsides, and eased out the mainsheet.
Forevermore we'll be joyfully prancing along the rhumb line straightish towards San Diego, or so the wishing goes.
Despite our best efforts, Samsara insists on belly flopping off a wave every too often, and it's really starting to bunch up my tighty-whiteys! Unfortunately, our only options are; fall all the way off down towards Turtle Bay, heave-to and wait for conditions to change, or sail full commando.
I bet you'll never guess...
I think we should consider locking the designers at Beneteau into Samsara's forward cabin and taking them to weather in a moderate chop for a few days. If any of them ever happen to be discharged from the asylum afterward, and are somehow able to return to work, I bet they'll be more particular about the width of the bow sections and argue for a finer entry on future designs.
Just a thought.
Realistically, no boat ever does everything well. Especially not when I'm tired and this close to home. If I had to trade off one area of performance on a cruising boat, however, it would definitely be going to weather in the slop. That's just not something you do a whole lot of when you follow the world cruising routes in the proper season and behave like sensible people.
When your on delivery, it seems like the wind is nearly always on the nose. We got really lucky with this trip and sailed masses of downwind miles. The wind was probably only forward of the beam fifteen percent of the time, or less, and almost all of that has been over the last several days.
Still, fifteen percent of ten thousand is a face load of beating!
The wind should start to back some time soon and allow us to ease the sheets - and the belly flopping. Meantime, I'll just grit my teeth and bitch in the log.
At sunset the wind freshened to twenty knots out of the north. That means a double reef in the headsail, a triple reef in the main and stalling it ever so slightly at forty degrees off the wind to keep our healing and pitching down to a dull roar for the night. It also means averaging just four and a half knots towardish San Diego.
Predict Wind, our weather routing software, doesn't show anything over nine knots within fifty miles of us and nothing over fifteen for more than a thousand.
May 22, 2017 - Reesa's 14th birthday
670 miles NWof Cabo San Lucas
308 miles SW of San Diego
9,863 miles logged
We've been sailing all night! Reefed all the way down and headed all the way up. We're trudging along directly beneath the Milky Way. This wind is lifting us home, and we'll ride it as far as we can for all that it's worth.
It's looking like landfall Wednesday. Let's all hope we make it, because our resourceful patron somehow secured us an appointment with US Customs Thursday mid-morning and we wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to avoid their standard forty-eight hour holding period and cluster cuss.
If all goes well, we should have Samsara home in Newport Beach Friday night and our salty selves behind the magnificent redwood curtain early next week!
What an adventure! Only four months in the making!
Hallelujah! Glory be!
The wind and sea have moderated and we're close hauled under a full press of canvas. To her credit, Samsara has been holding course unassisted, with her wheel locked down and sails just so. This has been going on for long enough now that I forgot about it until a errant wave knocked her off and she luffed her main for a minute before recovering herself and carrying on.
Remarkable boat! As saturated as I am, given a few weeks, I'm sure that I'll miss her.
May 23, 2017
64 days underway from Les Sables d'Olonne
640 miles NNWof Cabo San Lucas
177 miles SW of San Diego
10,005 miles logged
Over 10,000 nautical miles!
1,536 hours underway.
156.25 miles per day average distance.
6.51 knot average speed.
We have done one hell of a lot of sailing since Les Sables and it has been absolutely epic! Much of our adventure has been chronicled in these reports, but much more has not. It would be practically impossible to record all the details of such a long journey, but allow me to recap some of the more glaring highlights:
We've run the gambit from freezing gales with less than nine hours of daylight in the Bay of Biscay to ninety one degree water beneath a merciless sun in the Caribbean Sea.
We've had lightning and thunder crashing down all around us in the Central American night, and forty knot rain squalls blow over us in the mid Atlantic.
At times we've worn long underwear under fleece hoodies, nylon parkas, gortex rain gear, and a watch blanket, and at others, we were down to just board shorts and bare feet in the dead of night.
One of us may even have striped all the way down to their birthday suit.
We've eaten fresh Dorado steaks harvested and cooked with our very own hands and experimented with making some kind of "ice cream like substance" in a zip lock bag.
We've dined in real French restaurants, attended the Carnivál on Spanish soil, got snookered in the Western Caribbean and done aquarobics with sexy seniors in Central America.
We've swam mid-Atlantic, mid-Caribbean and mid-Pacific. In spots the water was over three miles deep.
Our ship's company has included, at various points, two different fire fighters, three truck drivers, one shoe salesman, one meat inspector, one martial artist, one army veteran, a couple of writers and several nerdswith special needs. In most cases we have worn many of those hats.
We've shown some a few green horns the ropes.
We spent more than a week without sighting another living soul - man or beast - while we clawed our way northwest six hundred miles seaward of Baja California.
We have visited six separate nations not including the United States.
At port we've hosted soldiers, lawyers, policemen, convenience store clerks, laundry ladies, bureaucrats, yachties and plain old lookie-loos.
There have been flying fish, jumping squid, squatting birds, dime store toys, religious icons, a sling shot, a license plate and even a hula hoop aboard.
We've seen whales, dolphins, sea lions, rays, tunas, turtles, swordfish, wild dogs, two-toed sloths, and howler monkeys.
We've changed the oil, checked the weather, gazed at the stars, took long naps, run new rigging, polished the stainless and scrubbed the hull.
We've been seventy three feet above Samsara's deck and brought her keel to be nearly a hundred feet above sea level.
We have been sunburned and we have shivered.
We've had manicures, pedicures, haircuts and back rubs.
One of us caught a cold.
We've gone from a sleepy little commuter airport in a town of twelve thousand to a downtown Paris train station at rush hour.
We've been excited, tranquil, homesick, exhausted, awed, amused, flabbergasted and dumbstruck.
We've nearly suffocated from laughing too hard and we've almost been bored to tears.
We've gone through two coffee pots, fourteen liters of oil, four hundred gallons of water, eight hundred gallons of diesel and forty five hundred dollars of food.
We've moved more than 4.4 billion gallons of water out of our way and traversed a half a million swells.
We have not had one serious injury or accident aside from Dinger's dislocating hie toe, nor have we suffered any consequential damage or malfunction of Samsara's structure or gear.
But possibly best and most unbelievable of all, we have yet to utter a single cross word.
We want to thank you for coming along in spirit and for all the kind words of encouragement and support we have received along the way.
We will be at the municipal docks adjacent to the harbor police station at the tip of Shelter Island in San Diego tomorrow and Thursday and then sailing with Samsara's owners to Newport Beach on early Friday.
I guess that makes this the final report of the voyage of Samsara from France to California via the Panama Canal. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much I did writing it.
Our next sailing adventure is indeterminate excepting the fact that it will likely not take place anytime in the very near future. I plan to spend a good long while in the company of my wife and children doing exactly whatever the hell it is that strikes their fancy and playing catch with my dog.
I also plan to revisit these scribblings with the intention of editing and revising them for a more public presentation. I'm not sure exactly what that effort might produce, but if anything ever comes from it, I'll attempt to let you know.
In the mean time, on behalf of the entire crew of Samsara, I wish you a sky full of fair winds and an ocean of following seas.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day 117 | 05.18.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
May 18, 2017
500 miles westof Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
660 miles to San Diego
9,282 miles logged
Conditions remain sloppy and sideways, but Chante has apparently found her sea legs as evidenced by the fresh pot of spaghetti and the other of hot vegetable soup we were served yesterday. She even gave me her five minute grammar lesson, which must have taken some significant intestinal fortitude as I turned it into a half an hour or better with such intelligent and penetrating questions as, "What's an adverb?" and "When do you start a new paragraph?"
Dinger has been getting his patience exercised as well. Some people find it difficult to head west when their intended destination is northeast and I would venture to say that he fits neatly into that category. Every time I try to explain our routing theory, his eyes glaze over and he says, "Blah, blah, blah. Captainy shit." I tell him not to worry - we'll get there - to which he replies, "Yeah, but not today."
Closing is not either one of our strong suits.
The sun has not shown itself for a total of ten minutes in three days. It's not cold or wet, but somehow, it still seems gloomy. You'd think, with the copious quantities of vitamin D we've imbibed over the last few months, we'd be good for a while, but it must not work that way because we're all down on the grey.
The wind has been a constant presence but it's fluky and variable. Eight knots one minute, eighteen the next, it clocks and backs through fifty degrees. Frustrating.
Happy day! The wind has pretty much died off and we're able to motor sail north. The latest forecast has it going flat for the next few days so there's a good chance we may cut a thousand miles off our trip.
It's always darkest before the dawn, I guess.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day 107 & 108 | 05.10.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
May 8, 2017
120 miles east of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
53 day underway from Les Sable d'Olonne
875 miles to San Diego
8,550 miles logged
It was a great day of sailing yesterday! Samsara loves a beam reach in fifteen knots of wind and for the most part, that's just what we had! We shut the motor down shortly after sunrise and didn't fire it back up again until after sunset. The whole day long we were sailing at hull speed or just below. Samsara will do better than half the wind speed in anything between seven and fifteen knots of true wind on her beam.
Dinger and I were having so much fun that neither of us slept at all during the day. We both paid last night, though. I was so tired, I slept right though my alarm, but Dinger must have been just as tired because he wasn't having it. He woke me up for my watch by shouting my name from about a foot away from my head and before I could even knock the sleep out of my eyes, he had disappeared into his cabin and shut the door.
This morning the wind is down but the sea is a mess. Confused, short and choppy with no direction we can go toward Cabo where we don't fall off the occasional wave and pound the hull. Grrrrr!
The sea has finally settled herself into a tolerable rhythm and Samsara is able to carry her full set of sails.
The dolphins have been back a few times, taking turns surfing our bow wave and there's been small groups of Gulls drafting in our dirty air.
The really outstanding thing today has been the food. OMG, Candue outdid herself! Grilled cheese and fried baloney sandwiches with Dijon for lunch. Beef with Broccoli and brown rice with peas for dinner. Chocolate ice cream for dessert. Dinger and I usually shed considerable pounds at sea, but not this trip I'm afraid.
May 8, 2017
2 miles east of Marina Puerto Los Cabos, Mexico
54 days underway from Les Sable d'Olonne
16 days underway from Panama
780 miles to San Diego
8,680 miles logged
We're hove to and standing off in the dark two miles outside the sea buoy at Los Cabos. It was a good call going inside the Marias islands and up toward Mazatlan. It saved us at least 30 hours on the engine, a good bit of fuel and an old fashioned offshore ass whoopin' motoring into a stiff breeze!
As soon as the dawn breaks we'll make landfall in the marina and get a slip. We'll get cleaned up and rested over the next couple of days. Candue will be getting on a plane and Chante will be getting off one. We'll make one last trip to the grocery store and to the fuel dock all in preparation for what could prove to be the most challenging leg of the entire trip. It's less than 800 miles to San Diego, but to sail there, we may have to go twice that far, depending on the weather. It's will be a tactical challenge and our last blue water passage for quite some time, I'm sure.
Once again I find myself inhabiting that old, familiar, paradox where I'm delightfully anticipating getting back home and rejoining my precious family, spending the days in the company of the people I most adore, driving the kids to school, ticking of the honey-dos and sleeping with my beautiful wife, but, with the same breath, I'm dreading leaving off what seems to be a congenital life out on the wild and lonely sea.
I'm the Beautiful Loser:
"He wants to dream like a young man
with the wisdom of an old man.
He wants his home and security.
He wants to live like a sailor at sea."
- Bob Seger
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day Ninety-five & Ninety-seven | 05.02.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 29, 2017
13 miles south of Bahia Chachaua, Mexico
1,632 miles to San Diego
7,643 miles logged
A little rough yesterday. The one foot swell turned into a two foot chop right on the nose. Not even remotely dangerous, but definitely annoying. That's enough to shock load the rig and get the bow slapping off each little wave. It makes for an unpleasant ride, so we cracked off thirty degrees and headed due north toward the beach for a while.
That actually turned into a really nice little sail. We made something like forty miles before the wind died out and the sea went flat again near the coast. We fired up the diesel and pointed Samsara west north west, paralleling the shore for the night.
This morning we're purring along in a sunny calm with about 250 miles, (forty eight hours), to go before Ixtapa. The wind will rise slightly later this afternoon so we're headed more west to try and gain a good angle on it and sail for a few more hours.
I think one of the hardest things for people to get about voyaging on a sailboat is that the shortest distance you have to travel between two points is rarely a straight line.
For example, when we finally set off from Cabo on our last leg home, even though our destination at San Diego lies pretty much northwest of our starting point, we'll actually set a course south by southwest to get out into the off shore wind that will carry us up the coast. It may prove necessary to go as much as five hundred miles off shore before we turn back in. That's just the way the prevailing winds work. If we were to head straight for San Diego we'd be doing what has been infamously termed "The Baja Bash!" Although it's probably self evident why it's called that, one friend was spot on when he recently described it as "like being in a car crash every ten seconds for eight hundred miles". It's nothing but motor sailing into four and six foot waves and 15 to 25 knots of wind the whole way.
I'd rather eat glass!
This voyaging on an auxiliary sailboat is a chess game in three dimensions. It takes, experience, planing and luck to be at the optimum place all the time and it often takes you far out of your way. Patience is a necessary virtue if you're hope is to disembark the vessel with any shred of sanity.
It's mostly pretty good fun along the way though. I'm convinced we have some powerful animal magnetism - literally, like an animal magnet - aboard Samsara because so many different wild critters are constantly being drawn to us. Each morning for the last three days, dolphins have causally greeted us with the sunrise. We saw thirty or more turtles on Thursday, we've seen several sleeping sharks swim by and yesterday was another really big day for birds aboard our little ship.
A female boobie (not that kind, but a large sea bird, silly) was insistent on perching on our windward spreader. We can't have that because, as I mentioned before, their guano gets on the sail and stains it. No bueno, so after several unsuccessful attempts at shaking her off the rig, I broke out the slingshot. My third shot pinged her ringer in the chest and she took off squawking. But she just flew around the back of the boat and came straight back to take up her position once again. The second round took quite a few more shots, but I finally managed graze a wing and that time she flew off and out of sight. She came back a few hours later, and surveyed us closely as we chatted out in the cockpit, but Dinger wasn't having it, so he shot up growling and waving his arms a couple of times and she went away. It was actually pretty scary.
Then, when I was off watch yesterday, a little sea finch type bird thingy landed right next to me on the salon table. I figured she just got confused and so I gently escorted her back out. Not ten minutes later she was back again standing in the same spot. This time I explained that, while she was welcome aboard, we wanted to keep the cabin as a bird free environment and she need to stay outside. Apparently the tenacious little bugger didn't understand plain English though, because in the time it took me to lay back down she was back again and looking at me rather defiantly this time. I swear, she may have stuck out her tongue a little. Well, that tore it! I completely lost it, jumping up and yelling, waiving my arms like a deranged man, I chased her out the companionway within an inch of her tiny-little life. I think she finally understood my body language though, because she never came back after that.
Poor Candue was sitting up serenely in the cockpit as I came rushing out swearing oaths and curses at the bratty little twit! I think I may have startled her a bit as it was all completely unexpected from her vantage point. I apologized.
I love the birds, but I have my boundaries.
April 30, 2017
70 miles southeast of Ixtapa, Mexico
1,430 miles to San Diego
7,901 miles logged
We spent the better part of the day yesterday just getting past Acapulco. We probably sailed a hundred and twenty miles in all, but I don't know if we made more than thirty of them count toward the mark. A short, choppy sea and a headsail that's cut too full for sailing close hauled, make for pretty poor performance to weather.
And, like a lot of boats, Samsara is really at her best with the wind aft of her beam. There's just no getting around the physics of her wide, flat bottom and full entry creating a lot of surface area to pound over the waves rather than pierce through them. She can't help it. That's the sacrifice for outstanding off the wind performance, palatial comfort and incredibly dry decks. After seventy eight hundred miles, with at least ten daysspent sailing in gale force conditions, I can only recall three occasions where sea water came into the cockpit uninvited.
It got pretty bouncy yesterday. Unfortunately, we weren't able to do much more than tack back and forth across the wind, making a lot of noise but little progress. Once Candue started to get a green we hove to, had a pizza and took some rest. I don't think we got going again until ten or eleven.
This morning it's almost foggy. We have dew on the deck for the first time in longer than I can remember. The night time temperature dropped to seventy five degrees last night and the windchill factor brought it all the way down to a frosty, sixty one! In fact, it was so cold, I had to wear a teeshirt! Candue slept below for the first time since leaving Panama.
The Dinger is restless to get home. I think it's making him a little irritable. Either that, or I could projecting the whole thing...
We can practically smell Ixtapa from here. Of course that puts us directly down wind, but fortunately there not much of it and the sea is agreeable enough that we can motor straight into it with no more effort than it takes to offset the current running against us.
With any luck, we'll be in before dark.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day Ninety through Ninety-three | 05.01.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 24, 2017
Puesto Del Sol, Nicaragua
800 miles from Marina Playita, Panama
2,245 miles to San Diego
6,975 miles logged
Preparing to depart Nicaragua after a two day stopover. Dinger changed the motor oil and filter yesterday. The generator doesn't need it yet. This morning we strike the sunshade. Wash the deck. Stow the cabin for sea. Check the weather. Take water and fuel.
The resort and the people are all very pleasant here including the Owner, his employees and all the other yachtistas. The port captain and the immigration officer are also very reasonable, if not pleasant, but the minister of transportation is a complete and total unmitigated jack of a big ass!
He's one of these inadequately endowed little men whose been politically appointed to some made up position of bullshit authority by a brother-in-lawor cousin in the government who's sick of listening to him bitch about getting a job or whatever, and now that they finally gave him a name tag and a set of keys he spends his days trying to compensate for the deficiency in his pants by making everyone else's life as miserable as he possibly can.
His method is crude, but effective. The primary tactic consists of pulling rules out of his ass as he goes along and taking care to ensure that each edict falls to th maximum detriment of whoever he is currently tormenting.
With us, he feigned indignation that our Zarpe from Panama did not specify his port as our destination. He said that it was a big problem and that we could get him in lots of trouble - which we both knew was complete bullshit. He began to hint at an additional fee for incorrect paperwork adjustment, but when I told him I'd need a receipt for el patrón, he instantly segued, demanding to know what our reason was for coming to Nicaragua. I explained that we intended to sail straight to San Diego when we departed Panama, but there was no wind and we were nearly out of fuel. He informed me that I had a sailboat and that I shouldn't need need fuel. I repeated that there wasn't any wind to sail with and that without fuel I would not be able to continue under command and would become a hazard to navigation. I reminded him that by international maritime law and convention it is stipulated that any lawful vessel unfit for service can call on any port to rectify their situation as beast as they are able unhindered by local authority. He balked, intimating that I was only offering a flimsy excuse and that I might actually be there to perpetrate some imagined larceny at the resort.
He insisted that the port captain immediately search our vessel for contraband - something that I have experienced less than a handful of times in over twenty years of international yacht delivery - to which the port captain rolled his eyes and half heartedly complied.
After nothing incriminating was unearthed, the right, honest gentleman minister insisted that we get underway immediately upon presenting usour new Zarpe. When I explained that I couldn't leave until high tide, he wanted to know why we hadn't called them out later in the day.
The thing is, we don't tell them when to come. They tell us when they will be there and then they show up whenever they damn well please. They couldn't be bothered to come on Saturday when we actually entered the county - something you'd think they'd want to do if they were actually trying to catch anyone smuggling or whatever. But no... They came on Sunday to check us in and out at the same time to try and charge us for overtime because it was not a "regular" workday. When I pointed out that we had called for an entry visa on Saturday, he let that one go too...this time.
Forty five minutes and at least fifteen signatures later we were $180.00 lighter and in possession of what will essentially amount to another ream of toilet paper, or its rough equivalent.
This morning, the scuttlebutt on the docks is that they're on their way back to check out a boat down the dock. I'm expecting to receive a tongue lashing with my coffee for still being here, but hey, I never intended to leave yesterday anyway and only told the authorities otherwise at the request of the resort owner who wants this asshat of an official on the property as little as possible. He was just trying to save him another two hour drive from Corinto, anyway.
And there's really nothing the puts he can do. I'll just grin ear to ear and tell him that the motor didn't start yesterday and we only finally got it started this morning, so we missed the tide. If that doesn't work, I'll tell him to go ahead and check us back in to the county. We have 90 days to come and go as we please at no additional cost. Fuck him!
The sad thing is that this prick is going to ruin the business at this marina. The traveling yachties have a really tight and vocal community and talk of problems anywheregets everywhere very fast. As no one wants to deal with that kind of ridiculous and unnecessary bullshit, many boats will just pass on by.
I told the resort owner, Roberto, who is a really smart and decent fellow, that he must know someone in the neighborhood, needing to make a few bucks, who would see that the minister had a debilitating "accident" on the way home one day soon. Hell, Dinger volunteered on the spot and gratis. The owner only laughed and had his staff bring us a round of drinks at the pool.
Just getting away from the fuel dock after paying our tab up in the office and marching this way at a furious pace is the self-appointed boss of everything - no doubt to read is the riot act for continuing to exist inside the space of his fiefdom - but too late. We're just out of reach. We don't wave, as we motor away, but we make certain he sees us smiling at him.
I'm only sorry for the resort staff, because now the poor, dumb, impotent bastard will bring his pent up wrath down on them. I swear, I'd like to move there only to organize a major push back on that useless pustule. I'm sure that it would be great fun and make a worthy life's effort.
Now we're offshore, likely headed to Ixtapa or thereabouts to tank up once again five or six days from now. Maybe not though, as we're currently managing to sail at a fairly decent clip right down the rhumb line. We'll just have to see how far we can get.
Candue has already had a chance to commune with a small pod of dolphins under Samsara's bow and now she's baking brownies while Dinger runs the afternoon watch. I didn't sleep too well in the heat of the marina
last night and so I'm probably gonna hit the rack for a couple hours.
And so we trudge closer home...
April 25, 2017
30 miles south of central El Salvador
2,141 miles to San Diego
7,092 miles logged
Wonderful, powerful Samsara!
Say whatever you like about this big, stock Beneteau, but make no mistake, she is a sailing machine! The cruisers in Puesta Del Sol were very curious about our girl and more than a couple mistakenly supposed that, because she is so comfortable at the dock, she couldn't possibly perform very well at sea.
Well, to quote a particularly memorable recent presidential candidate, I say, "Wrong!"
Samsara is not a race boat and in fact she looks a great deal faster than she actually is, but she still has a respectable turn of speed for a cruising boat and what's more, when the wind goes light, she keeps moving under sail long after most others start burning diesel.
We are presently sailing 45 degrees off fifteen knots of true wind under a single reefed main and single reefed headsail and averaging 7 knots or better with next to no effort. Even hard on the wind, I don't think Samsara is healed over much more than ten or twelve degrees. The helm is perfectly balanced. The autopilot has been on standby with the wheel locked down, and No one's had to touch it for many hours.
Umm Mmm! I love me a sailboat that actually sails!
Motoring along in a calm thirty miles off of El Salvador, and the strangest form of lightning I have ever seen. It's not at all scary, there aren't even really any clouds to speak of, but every couple of minutes the whole sky behind us just sort of flashes bright for a nanosecond. Again and again, it goes on all night.
Now Dinger spots a weak, blinking white light in the distance. I pick up a tiny blip on the radar only visible once we're less than two miles away. Occasionally, the flash of a brighter white light points straight at us.
We alter course to investigate.
Now there are three lights are shining at us and waving about. At 100 yards Dinger returns fire, lighting them up with our million candlepower spot light. It's three men drifting in a panga. We pull up to within fifty yards.
"Hola. Como esta?"
"Bien, bien, bien."
"Bien? No pellagro?"
"Si. Muy bien. No problem, Senior."
"Bueno! Bueno! Adios."
"Gracias, amigo! Adios."
And so we are relieved that we are not currently towing a broken down panga into El Salvador.
But can you imagine? Thirty miles offshore in an open boat with only a single outboard motor. No running lights. No compass. No Radio. No GPS. No buddy boats. No shade. Nothing, but a can of gas, a few bottles of water, a couple five gallon buckets, some monofilament and hooks, maybe a sharp knife and a net, plus whatever baitfish they managed to scrape up before heading offshore. These Panganjeros were actively fishing in the dark and probably after the voracious and powerful Diablo roho - or "red devil" - the Humboldt Squid.
The squid are a truly formidable prey for these brave and desperate men. Six feet long with a giant parrot's beak and thousands of razor toothed suction cups on each tentacle, they are smart as hell and completely merciless. In fact, when the fishermen get one on the hook they have to race to get it aboard the boat before it is devoured by its very own kind on the way up!
Once they've landed the monster, they have to take care to dispatch it quickly least it do the same to one of them.
Sun up brings a small family of spotted dolphins swimming point off our bow and seemingly content to travel in our company unto eternity. A couple of the dear beasts have some major scar marks across their backs and heads. No telling if they got in a fight with a motorboat or a shark or if the scaring is just a reminder of some amorous activity from long ago.
In any case, they seem happy enough, as dolphins always do. I'm beginning to wonder how they'd react if we stopped the boat and got in the water for a swim with them. We may have to give that a try here sometime soon.
The smaller spotted dolphins that were with us for so long have finally given way to a sizable pod of bottlenose that are now taking turns trying to surf our bow wave. These animals are much larger than our former companions - some look to be as much as eight feet long - and there is no mistaking the fact that they are watching us every bit as much as we are watching them. They constantly turn side to side, making contact with their big, smiling eyes, as they kick there flukes beneath us. It is fantastic how much mutual pleasure we receive from one another!
It appears as though we will be motoring for a good many days now, possibly all the way to Iztapa/Zihuatanejo. That's my old stomping ground from another life when I was a professional sport fishing captain living in Mexico. Hard to believe that's been over seventeen years ago already.
At any rate, motoring a sailing yacht is not ideal, but we'll take it and we'll be grateful for the flat water as we cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec. After all, this is one of the most notorious patches of water in all the world, well known for the suddenness and violence of its colossal storms. Woe be to the unwary sailor out on these waters during one of her many ill tempered days. If fortune deserts them, as it has many others, they could easily find themselves in a dark and quiet place far beneath her froth and fury and troubled no more for ever after.
But Dinger has made me a sandwich! My life is good.
April 26, 2017
60 miles south of central Guatemala
2,025miles to San Diego
7,215 miles logged
Calm night. No wind. No moon. No lightning.
Samsara trudges up the hill against a two knot current. That's the price for coming out this far off the beach, but it's a price we'll gladly pay to avoid the Mexican navy ship that stands sentinel at the Guatemalan boarder and all the hundreds of pangas that work the ledge of the gulf in calm weather like this.
I threaded my way through the middle of that mess one dark night a couple of seasons ago and it will be just fine with me if I never have to do it again! Those guys just go to sleep out there with no lights on whatsoever. Once in a while, one of them sees you coming a shines a cheep old flashlight with the Mexican equivalent of some half dead ray-o-vac batteries in it, but that's about all you get. You can hardly pick those little fuckers up on the radar until you're on top of them!
The sun springs up with a vengeance this morning. You can't get away from it on deck. We've been improvising sunshades with a cheap plastic tarp, (actually, several cheep plastic tarps at this point) and they work okay, but they're really noisy to set and strike and if you don't get it just right, the wind cracks them around and drives me stark raving mad!
Candue sleeps under the dodger, but I don't know how she does it after sunrise when it's still low enough to shine directly on her. At this latitude, it gets hot quick!
I hate to fry, but I also hate to wake everyone up with the obnoxious but unavoidable snap, crackle and pop inherit in setting the stupid tarp. First world problems, I guess. I usually just hide at the nav station, poking my head up every several minutes until everyone is awake.
It looks like we're going to need to change out the crew one more time. Candue has a brilliant daughter graduating Columbia with a Masters degree in the middle of May and there's no way she can miss that. Unfortunately, she'll have to go home from San Jose Del Cabo to make it in time and that means Samsara will be one person short for the glory run home.
For anyone who's interested in coming along, it's a ten to twelve day trip, hopefully sailing most the way offshore, and probably departing around May 10.
Email me for consideration or more information.
That's about it for today. It's an endless blue prairie out here and we're just burning oil and turnin' water. Yawn...
April 27, 2017
160 miles south of Tehuantepec, Mexico
1,896 miles to San Diego
7,353 miles logged
We stopped in for a noontime swim yesterday about a hundred miles off the coast just as we passed the Mexican boarder. The water was the most beautiful shade of deep sea blue I have ever seen, yet miraculously, it was also crystal clear.
The bottom was almost three miles below us. Dark, cold and mysterious, it's no place I have ever had any interest in visiting. At the surface however, it was 91 degrees and oh so refreshing! Kerplunk! Kerplunk! Kerplunk!
As luck would have it, while we were taking turns splashing around, a very large pod of very small Spinner dolphins came rioting by to port. They were in a glorious mood, jumping as high as 15 feet out of the water and doing flips and flops in a joyous cacophony.
The pod kept its distance at about a hundred yards, which was a little disappointing, as it would have been priceless to be in the water up close and personal with them. I suspect that, since they had so many newborn babies with them, they were probably being abundantly cautious, and given our species well deserved reputation for random, senseless violence, I can't say I blame them.
But then this morning...
As the sun rises up in the empty sky, its long reflection stretches all the way from the horizon across this flat, glassy ocean and right up to within ten feet of our very stern. The tableau is a magnificent collage of orangeand yellow and brown an blue and black and white and grey.
In fact, it is breathtaking!
And it is at precisely this exquisite moment that the dolphins decide to reveal themselves yet again; so here they are, gently leaping in ones and pairs and mobs by the score all over the place. They rise up sleepy out of the sea to cast their momentary silhouette of a horizontal crescent, perfectly composed and backlit by the sun, before slipping back down home without a ripple.
It's a live feed, twenty first century bit of performance Art Deco! It's a once-in-a-lifetime, luminous magic, beyond worldly description.
Hand to God it is!
But the sun soon leaves its mercy at the water's edge. As it gains altitude, the best way to describe what happens next is to say that it gets hot!
Whew! Not even mid-morning yet, and already we're sweating at rest. Brutal!
The nighttime is far more pleasant at this latitude - if there's no lightning - which there hasn't been for the last couple of nights. Just a big black sky crammed full of heaven. It's one glorious thing to see the sun rise and set each day, but it is quite another to watch the entire Milky Way do likewise.
Candue has the watch. The sea is an absolute mirror - not a breath of wind. Days like these you can see how the ocean has millions and millions of rivers running through it. Broad current lines lying hundreds of yards wide and crawling mostly north and south.
I'm up on deck after having been roused by a sharp "thump" on the hull as I tried to nap in the sweltering heat of the cabin forward. Looking around at this sea of glass, I soon discover that we're traversing what amounts to a minefield generously stocked with sleeping green sea turtles. There's several in every direction continuing on for miles. We carefully thread our way between the lumbering giants, stopping several times in succession to make their portraits.
For years now there have been numerous programs in Mexico and elsewhere, devoted to restoring this species by collecting their eggs off the beach and raising their young to a more advanced age than occurs naturally before they are set off into the wild. This has the effect of accelerating their regeneration as fewer baby turtles are consumed by predators on their first days after hatching.
By the looks of things here, the programs as a whole have been very productive.
So there's some good news this morning from the tropical Pacific. Meantime we get ever closer to home.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day eighty-seven | 04.21.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 21, 2017
635 miles from Marina Playita
2,319 miles to San Diego
6,850 miles logged
Clear skies. No lightning. No thunder. No wind.
The ocean is flat like glass.
The stars slowly fade into the dawn.
What a relief to have slept six hours uninterrupted! What a luxury to be well rested.
Aside from all the lightning, this has been a very pleasant leg.
Candue has really outdone herself in the galley preparing such treats as chicken parmigiana, shepherds pie, apple crumble al a mode, crapes with jam... and just as I suspected, she's full of interesting stories from a lifetime of unusual career choices; Long haul trucking in the Australian outback, driving a 160' triple-trailer road train at seventy miles an hour and inadvertently squashing kangaroos all along the way. Inspector at the cattle processing plant, making sure the poor dears were dispatched humanely and butchered hygienically. Flights in the cargo bay of C-17 to the town of Resolute, Canada - latitude 72 degrees - as a representative of Environment Canada to participate in exercises preparing for all manner of disasters with the military. Volunteering to help perfect strangers who were short staffed during their shoe store's going out of business sale - working everyday after work and all weekend for six weeks straight - for a couple of pairs of boots as recompense! Raising two daughters essentially singlehanded. Riding the bus alone through Central America for vacation. It goes on and on and Dinger and I have been throughly entertained.
He is especially happy because she'll play cribbage with him. I'm pretty happy about that too.
Today in birds, we had a massive flight of what I'll call "Boobies" until I can compare the photos I took to a field guide. They began swarming Samsara moments after I took the watch this morning. I swear, we've got the bird juju, or something. It was one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. Around and around in the tens and twelves and twenties of them.
Occasionally one or two would hover over the cockpit gazing down and me looking up. Others would fly just past and take a seat in the water until we passed them and then they'ddo it again and again in some twisted game of ocean going leapfrog.
Two of the dumb bastards managed to land on the starboard upper spreader and then refused to be shook loose. We don't want them hanging out up there because they shit all over the deck and worse, it sometimes gets on the sail and stains it.
We all took turns with the sling shot. I even nailed one square in the ass.
I shook hell out of the backstay. They wobbled, but mostly just looked annoyed.
Finally, I put the helm over and spun some hard circles while Dinger shot at them as I shook the backstay. Once they got cross winded to the little breeze that had since come up, they'd finally had enough and took off squawking.
It looks like we'll be a bit early to Puesta Del Sol. That's good. I'd rather mill around out front for an hour or two waiting for the tide to be right, then to get there late and have to decide whether or not to carry on to Mexico. El Salvador is just up the line and they are friendly enough to yachtistas, but they don't have much in the way of facilities. No marinas - only mooring balls and anchorages - which would be fine except we don't have a dingy to get to and from shore and taking fuel is a lot less convenient out of a panga.
I'm hopeful that this stop burns some of the calm weather up and when we get back out we can jump on the clipper route and sail the rest of the way home. Tehuantepec is forecast to pump Sunday/Monday which could make the first few days a little bumpy, but if we stay far enough offshore, it shouldn't be too uncomfortable.
My fear is that Tehuantepec will be all the wind that there is. If that's the case, it's a waste to go that far offshore just to have to motor back in to Ixtapa or Manzanillo or Cabo San Lucas to fuel up again. Smarter to wait until we can cross the gulf inshore and hug the coast on a significantly shorter route.
We'll just have to wait and see.
Time will tell, my Pretties....time will tell...
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day eighty-five & eighty-six | 04.20.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 19, 2017
380 miles from Marina Playita
2,555 miles to San Diego
6,550 miles logged
Ho hum...putt putt putt.
It's warm and clear. There's about three knots of wind on the nose. An occasional burst of lightning shoreward keeps it a little bit interesting. We have to stem the current this far out, but it's better than being in the lightning.
We had a close encounter with a couple great whales yesterday. I couldn't identify the species exactly. There was a mom and calf swimming very slowly, really close by. We slowly circled at a safe distance and had a good long look. I could rule out, Blue, Fin, Sperm, Humpback, Pilot, Orca and Grey. I'm not sure what that leaves in this part of the world, but they were big. They were both dark black with tiny surfboard fin shaped dorsals. It struck me odd that a mom an her newborn would be all alone out here - they seemed pretty vulnerable - but we didn't spot anyone else.
We've also seen a few large green sea turtles. When it's calm like this they're really easy to spot and since they fill their shells with air for buoyancy, they can't get away very quickly, so we got to have a good look at them.
We also had a tiny little bird swoop in under the shade tarp and land right on my head. He hopped off pretty quickly, but then spent a good long time perched on the cockpit table less than two feet in front of my face. I don't know what he was. Small, sparrow-like head with coal black eyes and a yellowish beak. Brown and black feathers with a high-aspect vee-shaped tail. He seemed tired.
Moments after I came on watch this morning, a large white tern with a black head began circling Samsara and slaughtering the little flying fish we scare up with our bow wave. He's been at it for well over an hour now, having himself a carnivorous feast.
I have been really, unusually tired every since we left Panama sleeping most of my off watch. I've also been suffering a slightly sour stomach, but it hasn't affected my appetite much, so I'm not all that concerned.
At this point I don't see we have any choice but to go in for fuel. I dread all the rigamarole and expense caused by the paperwork cha-cha, but there's no way around it. If only we could just pull in, fuel up and leave... Instead, in the case of Chiapas, Mexico, we'll be required to tie up in the marina, get an inspection from the navy, report to the port captain's office, get a temporary import permit for the vessel and fishing licenses for everyone on board, report to Immigration and then to customs. After that we can go to the fuel dock, but then we'll have to go back to the marina and then get inspected by the navy once again before we can leave. By the time we're done it'll cost us a minimum of two days and nearly as much for the cha-cha as for the fuel.
Another option is Puesta el Sol, a small resort and marina in the north of Nicaragua where we might be able to get away with a touch and go, but it's a river entrance with a big current and the proper timing for the coming and going is crucial. It's got to be daylight at high slack water or it's not safe.
I have a little while yet to make up my mind. We'll see how well the fuel holds out and how bad the lightning is before committing inshore.
April 20, 2017
525 miles from Marina Playita
2,225 miles to San Diego
6,701 miles logged
It's a glorious morning! Bright sun. Brilliant cumulus. A fresh breeze just a little bit forward of the port quarter. We're under full sail on a wide beam reach and making good speed in complete comfort.
Amazing how sweet life can be and how much you can appreciate it after a long night of dodging lightning bolts and cringing at thunderclaps. I swear, our track on the plotter looks like a drunken etch-a-sketch! I don't know if we made twenty miles to the good since sundown last night. All the same, we lived to sail another day.
We've developed a protocol for electrical storms which is as follows: We close all the hatches in case of rain. We power down everything non-essential including the navigation lights, fresh water pump, bilge pump, refrigerator, inverter, VHF radio, house lights and portable electronics. We keep the autopilot and the plotter powered up and operating so that we don't have to have our hands on the steel steering wheel or be so far out on the end of the boat. Also so we can see AIS signals from other ships. We put the iPad, iPhone, and satellite modem in the microwave. In case we get a direct hit, we hope that the microwave will act as a sort of Faraday cage and leave us with some backup electronics for navigation and communication. We also have an EPIRB, GPS, VHF and other essential items in a ditch bag stowed in a cockpit locker near the life raft.
After we've got everything situated we tend to congregate under the dodger in the companionway and talk about anything and everything but the weather. I spend a lot of time peaking out at the sky scanning for clouds that look ripe for discharge and making course corrections and sail adjustments accordingly.
I know it probably sounds pretty awful, but it's really not that bad. I'd be lying if I said there was no cause for concern. It does put everyone a little on edge, especially after several hours of it. But as unpredictable as lightning is, it's still kind of predictable, at least in these milder episodes. Believe it or not, it mostly sticks to the same areas of the sky. In other words, when you see the sky lighting up or even a ground strike, you can pretty much bet your life that it will happen again in the same area for a while. You can also make a pretty good guess which clouds are the most dangerous by their shape, color and proximity to clouds that are already going off.
It's my job to keep us out from underneath the dangerous clouds. No easy trick though, when you consider the fact that we can only go about eight miles an hour. With a little skill, some experience and a shit ton of luck, I'm batting 999 so far.
Yesterday afternoon we had a massive thunderclap about ten feet above our heads, but that was just as the storms were beginning and we hadn't started maneuvering yet. Other than that, not a single close call out of a thousand or more discharges.
The wind has been very light with few exceptions. We've burned more that a third of our fuel so far and we'll need to get more because it promises to stay calm for at least the next five days.
Right now we're aiming for Puesta Del Sol in Nicaragua. It's a favorable stop for several reasons:
1. We can be there Saturday morning with plenty of fuel in reserve. Chiapas, Mexico might be a stretch.
2. The formalities will be much simpler, less time consuming and less expensive than Chiapas.
3. It is not so far out of the way east as Chiapas and it gives us a better angle on the Clipper route if the wind does finally fill in.
4. It's not necessarily going to lock us down if Tehuantepec goes off as we can probably go around.
5. They have a floating fuel dock designed for yachts as opposed to Chiapas which only has a concrete pier for huge fishing boats.
6. It's just a much nicer place.
The only downside is that Puesta Del Sol is a narrow river entrance and timing has to be right. I'm very familiar with it, having crossed over several times, now, but I've crossed enough river bars in general to know that the bottom can shift or silt in and the current can be downright vicious if you hit it at the wrong time. Our objective will be Saturday 11:00. If we can't make that, we'll probably continue on to Chiapas rather than wait until Sunday 12:00, depending on weather and fuel reserves.
Not much wildlife or anything else to report. If you see my wife today, wish her a happy birthday for me. It's a big one and I had intended to have this trip finished in time to celebrate it with her, but unfortunately, that's not the way it played out. I'll just have to try and make it up to her when I finally get home.
Samsara - out!
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day eighty-four | 04.18.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 18, 2017
225 miles from Marina Playita
2,796 miles to San Diego
Early morning. Dead calm. Busy sky crowded with clouds. Lightning. Lots and lots of lightning last night.
Too much for comfort. We turned all the way down south to try and get away. Now we're headed back west paralleling the coast from fifty miles off. We'll probably need to go further out to avoid more lightning tonight.
Candue is doing what she can. There was a fair amount of wind and some small waves put up by the electrical storm during her watch last night and it was pitch black under the clouds, so I guess she got feeling a little disoriented and queasy. But she didn't get sick, so we're counting it as a win.
Dinger has taken to adding fig newtons to his corn flakes and mashing them all up in there. That makes me kind of disoriented and queasy, if you want to know the truth.
We've seen several medium sized sharks sleeping on the surface and Dinger and Candue reported a manta ray repeatedly breaching, spinning summersaults about ten feet in the air. If I hadn't already witnessed similar behavior near Cabo San Lucas a few years ago, I doubt I would have believed them.
We had a blue footed booby make several clumsy attempts at a perching on the upper starboard spreader, but he just couldn't stick the landing. On his final foray, he took the upper shroud right across the beak.
Now the motor drones on pushing Samsara ever closer home. If the forecast holds, we'll have to modify our plan and head in for fuel and an oil change. That's not the way we wanted it to happen, but we're all just grateful we have a motor and we don't have to flop until the wind fills in. Perhaps we'll tank up and then be able to rejoin the clipper route. There's really no telling. We'll just have to use the weather we get to the best of our ability and get back home as fast as we're able.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day eighty-two & eighty-three | 04.17.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
April 16, 2017
Bahia de Panama
Here we go!
Finally, finally, finally, we're back under weigh! Hopefully, this will be our last leg to home! It's been a long time coming and it'll be a long time going too. We're looking at a minimum of twenty days and a maximum of thirty barring breakdowns or fuel stops. I don't want to jinx us by saying that the weather should be fairly benign most of the way, but for our departure, at least, the mighty Pacific Ocean has gone flat as a summer lake and as we weave our way past all the little islands littering the bay, beneath a light cover of clouds with just enough breeze to keep us cool, I imagine this must be similar to the scene Balboa came upon after he crossed over the isthmus and laid eyes on this ocean for the very first time. It's the only explanation for why he chose to call it the "Pacific." He must have just happened upon her during a big clam and hadn't yet spent enough time in her company to know...
Nicole, AKA "Candice" and Dinger are eating a healthy portion of spaghetti with meat sauce down in the salon like a couple of civilized people and I'm on watch enjoying the sticky-sweet smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven while trying to contain my elation at getting back out to sea.
April 17, 2017
105 miles from Marina Playita
2,796 miles to San Diego
The wind filled in nicely yesterday afternoon and we got to sail until a little after midnight. It was really magical with the lights of Jupiter, the Southern Cross, three quarters of the moon and heaps of dolphins streaming close by in their phosphorescent frenzy. The dolphins were a new experience for Candue, which made it kind of new for me again for me too - not that it ever really gets old.
Nicole is doing really well. She slept all night which is just what we wanted to help her get her sea legs and avoid getting sick. So far, so good. She's smiling and laughing and cooking and sunbathing and asking a million questions. I knew she'd take to it the minute I met her.
It helps that it's been really calm. The wind shut off early this morning and, according the the forecast, there's little chance it will be back for the next few days. We'll be watching it closely because somewhere around the Costa Rica/Nicaragua boarder we'll have to make a decision whether or not there'll be wind enough to warrant heading offshore, or if we should continue in close and refuel in Chiapas, Mexico.
I don't much care for coasting Central America in the spring because of all the lightning, and Samsara is particularly vulnerable as she's not been bonded against a strike, but we've got to do what we've got to do, so we'll just hope for the best. We met a boat in Marina Playita that was laid up and waiting for all new electronics after a strike hit them off of Costa Rica little more than a week ago. Electrical storms are always awesome, but I prefer them from the safety of the great indoors. When you're out in the open and the only one for miles and you're waving a seventy foot metal stick around in the air, it can get a little unnerving, to say the least.
I guess that's about all for today. Words seem to be sticking to the roof of my mind and I'm having trouble getting them out. I'll keep hammering away and hopefully something of interest will materialize soon.
Meantime, may we all be blessed with an abundance of love in our lives. I'm looking forward to getting some of that up close back home.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day seventy-one | 04.06.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Shelter Bay Marina
18:00GMT 12:00 local
Time is a funny thing. It's relative, I guess... There never seems to be enough of it back home, but on the boat it nearly stops. One day bleeds into the next and after a little while you can hardly distinguish the one from the other.
We have been stuck in Shelter Bay Marina just outside of Colon, Panama for two or three or four or five days now and not one single thing has changed. Sunrise. Breakfast. Projects. Lunch. Swimming. Nap. Dinner. Sunset. Movie. Bed.
It's a complete and total and decadent bore.
Tomorrow or Thursday, or whatever day it is, we'll see if we can't hop the shuttle and have a small gander at the city - a little reconnaissance for reprovisioning, if you will. There's also a few nature trails surrounding with an abundance of wild life to be witnessed, if not encountered. Howler monkeys, sloths, toucans, salt water crocodiles and caymans are all said to be plentiful in these parts. Problem is, it's at least a bazillion and fifty two degrees with 500% humidity and no chance of air conditioning out in the jungle. No doubt, we'll have a go at it anyway, after all, we're a pretty stout breed, but it's like that what we intended as an adventure could well turn out to be an ordeal. A bottle of water, some bug spray, my camera and a couple Panama hats should give at least a marginal chance for survival. The rest we'll have to leave to the fates.
And so far, the fates of Colon appear to be warming to our cause. In fact, we may have shucked and jibed our way into a spot up in the locks up to ten days earlier than the date we were originally given to transit the canal! Rumor is that the collection of us have made enough noise to turn the canal authority's head and they are discussing a special a run of yachts on the weekend of the 14th. We can only hope that it comes to pass as they've laid it out. I assure you that every minute we can make up in completing this delivery will be rigorously strived for and jealously secured! Naturally, we are far beyond ordinary homesickness at this point, and I'm pretty sure our friends and family are anxious for our return, but in addition to all that, I want to leave no doubt that we did everything we could to exceed the expectations of all those involved in the transfer of Samsara to her new owners.
Traveling the globe under sail is still an enterprise fraught with potential peril. Often times, things don't go as planned. Our job is to capitalize on our experience and prevent as may problems as we can. Then we do everything in our power to mitigate the remainder as judiciously, economically and painlessly as is possible. But the proof is in the performance. The sooner we get Samsara home, the better it will be for everyone.
Please wish us luck and know that we fondly reciprocate. Also, please don't be shy about requesting that we remove you from our mailing list if you like. I understand that these scribblings will not be everyone's cup of tea and I'd hate to crowd your mailbox with unsolicited gibberish.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day Sixty-five & sixty-six | 03.31.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
7th day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
27th day under weigh from Tenerife.
37th day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 29, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 07:00 local
840 miles WSW of Saint Lucia
301 miles E of Colon
5,780 miles logged
March 28 - 12:15 local
It's hot. We're motoring along at about seven knots, pacing what little wind there is and rendering its natural ability to keep us cool totally impotent. The cloud of diesel exhaust that emanates from the side of our very own hull hangs on us like a soured, deadly perfume from some long rotted metropolis.
Carbon monoxide poisoning and/or heat stroke are very real hazards today.
Ain't yachting glamorous?
March 29 - 05:30 local
We decided to take a close pass by the Colombian city of Santa Marta last night to see if we could get cell service and do a little end of the month internet banking. It was a fine plan and it all worked out, but there was another ferocious headland involved and this one definitely demonstrated the full cape effect to us as we went by!
If you don't already know, the cape effect is a localized weather phenomenon which occurs at virtually every headland on earth. When I say "Headland", I mean a cape or a point of land that juts out into the ocean, i.e., Cape Mendocino, Point Arena, Cabo San Lucas, Point Conception, Cabo Finisterre Cape Horn, etc...
I'm sure there are people who can better explain the how and the why of it all, but the one thing I know for certain is that headlands often produce weather that is drastically amplified above that of the surrounding area. Where it may be generally blowing fifteen knots, at a big headland it could be thirty or more! Forget about it when the wind is really pumping out in the field! The cape effect can easily turn twenty-five knots into forty-five. Thirty-five will become sixty or more and make it all but impassable for most small craft. The currents are often amplified as well and in many instances they run counter to the wind direction producing very steep and hazardous seas.
Uneven pressure around a mountain, similar to the lift principle of wings and sails, is one reason for the phenomenon. Funneling effects, atmospheric compression, topography above and below the water all play into it by greater or lesser degree. I'm not much of a meteorologist - I just drive the boat - but that's my limited understanding of why the cape effect should be. Perhaps someone who really knows what they're talking about can weigh in and I'll pass on what I learn, (if it doesn't make me look too dumb.)
We spent most of the last forty eight hours motoring along on a flat sea with light and variable wind. When we approached Cabo De La Aguja, just to the west of Santa Marta, the wind blew up from around twelve knots to over thirty five inside the space of only three miles! It was quite dramatic, I assure you and frankly, a little unexpected. I knew it would pick up some, but seriously?
Oh well... There was really nothing for us to do but deal with it, so we reduced sail with one hand, manned the helm with the other and did our internet banking and phone calling with the third. (These are some amazing times we live in, I tell you!)
The moment all of our obligations were satisfied, we put in a gybe and got the hell away from all that ruckus. Big wind and waves, city lights, tankers, freighters, pilot boats, VHF radio squawking incessantly. You can have it! We headed straight away from the coast to get back some of our hard earned serenity as soon as possible. We'll have plenty more of all that noisy nonsense to deal with as we close on Colon.
Thing is, the wind never really did moderate all that much. For the following fifty miles we had twenty five knots or more. It blew all night long. Sure, we got away from all the din of Santa Marta and it's bustling sea port, but we've been bumping along under a reefed main and no headsail every since. Just incredible!
As the sun rises behind us in a blood red sky, I check and see that the barometer is falling. The sea is lit up all green and choppy and the clouds are a mishmash of wispy mares tales and dried elephant skin.
8th day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
28th day under weigh from Tenerife.
38th day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 30, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 07:00 local
1,000 miles WSW of Saint Lucia
150 miles E of Colon
5,936 miles logged
Thankfully, the strong wind that was promised by yesterday's sky never materialized. We had an extremely pleasant day sailing in near perfect conditions. The forecast has the wind dropping off today and us finishing this leg under power.
We're still sailing this morning, so we'll just hope for the best.
The crew are all in good spirits and Samsara is in great shape. Smitty can't go past a port without trying to persuade me to stop in for a few days. Aruba, Santa Marta, Saint Bias... He's convinced that the answers to all of our life's problems lie waiting for us at the next nearest marina. He should be happy in Shelter Bay. Supposedly, they have a swimming pool.
Dinger is looking forward to some finding some fresh Cuban cigars, but I'm half-way hoping he doesn't. They are a huge temptation to me which would be fine, except I tend to have only two modes: complete abstinence or chimney smoke. I've never been much for moderation.
We have a few small projects to keep us occupied once we get in: The automatic bilge pump float switch is stuck and needs to be cleaned. We probably need to replace the generator impeller again. The engine blower is producing a new vibration which needs to be chased down and repaired. There's lots of cleaning to be done and we need a few nights of solid sack time before the next leg - one thousand miles to Chiapas on the southern boarder of Mexico.
I'm really looking forward to the canal transit. It's my first time even after all these years of boat deliveries. Many times before I've come close to a canal trip, but for one reason or another, they just never came off.
I suspect that the maneuvering required in the big current is going to demand my undivided attention, but I hope that there will be at least some few small moments available to capture an interesting image or two.
We received word from an associate who has transited the canal on a sailboat fairly recently, that the horrors of Colon are overstated as usual and a little common sense and courtesy will be all it takes to keep us out of harm's way - during the day. Nights will be spent in the marina, no doubt.
Nothing much else to report today.
Our crew sends our best wishes and hopes that all is well in your part of the world.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day fifty-seven through sixty-four | 03.28.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
March 21, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
At port at Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia
Rodney Bay is just the same as a thousand marinas the world over. The cultural experience in Saint Lucia is well distorted by the walls surrounding this sort of a "pleasure prison".
The one long walk I took past the security booth and into the surrounding neighborhood was an enlightening, if somewhat dangerous, expedition. My impression was that of a third world county lacking proper sanitation, building codes, employment or law enforcement.
Three times, I was approached by large groups of half naked young black men who inquired if I wanted to buy any Ganga or Cocoa. When I invariably replied that I didn't bring any money, they gave me up easily enough, but it was plainly obvious to everyone present that things could have turned from my favor in an awful hurry.
I'm told that this south end is the more impoverished side of the island and for everyone's sake, I hope that is correct. It's a beautiful landscape and climate and it would be a shame if all the citizenry were made to suffer like the poor people I encountered here.
We've used our short time on the island for rest and recuperation from our long Atlantic crossing and for preparing Samsara for the next leg of her voyage home. Since our arrival, we inspected the rig from seventy eight very-high-feet above the water all the way down to the bottom and every point in between. We decided to run the new topping lift externally because it is very difficult to get a messenger down the mast with the tools at hand and, more importantly, without some modification, it would only chafe the new line again, as it did the previous one.
We also repaired the roller furling gear, replaced the undersized boom vang line which was too small for the rope clutch, with a larger line salvaged from one half of the old topping lift and contemplated our headstay sag and what to do to correct it. We finally inquired with the outfit that commissioned the boat in France regarding the proper procedure for getting more tension and received the following, rather cryptic, reply:
"I understand your issue with the tension of the headstay, but unfortunately that is the option of Beneteau. The only way to have a better tension is effectively to use the back stay or to change the head stay with a turnbuckle. Last advice: don’t tight too much the back stay. One mast’s profile on the back is the maximum to respect the geometry of the mast. I hope I help you, don’t hesitate to come back to me."
If anyone can translate this into comprehensible English, feel free to weigh in. Meantime, we will tighten the backstay a couple more inches as we surmised we needed to do all along.
We also changed the oil and filter on the generator, did a lot of cleaning, and ate way too much food.
All that's left for us now is to get some groceries, clear out of the county, top off the fuel tanks and get on our way to Panama which lies about 1,300 miles to the west. It should take us a week to get there and possibly up to a week to get through the canal. Apparently, they have a long waiting line to get an advisor aboard which may or may not be mandatory, depending who you talk to. Panama is also rumored to be exacting in their requirements for the ship's paperwork, which we are still working on acquiring. We've come this far without trouble so, we'll just do the best we can at the next stop and see how it goes.
Patrick sent word that he arrived safely back home.
Smitty has been here with us the last two days and helping out.
Dinger and I are extremely homesick and past ready to get moving again. We are agreed that it's been a grand adventure, but it would be made more pleasant with a two or three week break to go home in the middle.
Maybe next time.
We'll be resuming the daily blog once we get under weigh again. At this point we are planning to leave tomorrow before lunch. Until then, we send our love and best wishes to you and encourage your correspondence as it gives us a to pass the long hours at sea. Please remember to send text only as we have a very slow satellite connection that will not support images or hyperlinks.
2-1/2 hours under weigh from Rodney Bay Marina
21th day under weigh from Tenerife.
31nd day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 22, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
14 miles south of Rodney Bay
2,640 miles WSW of Tenerife
1,300 miles E of Colon
4,844 miles logged
Just before we departed Rodney Bay Marina this morning we were nearly dashed on the concrete fuel dock by a big wind which had us pinned and made it nearly impossible to get away. No harm/no foul, but it was definitely dicey enough to pucker a captain up tight, if you know what I mean. Fortunately Samsara is in possession of a crack crew and their quick and evasive action with a couple roving fenders thrown I harm's way combined with some fancy, (if not lucky), boat handling, saved the day - or at least the gel coat.
Once we got out east of the island, the wind fell light and fluky and we ghosted and screamed by turns down the coast, playing the gusts and calms off the hills and canyons close to windward. In less than three short hours we had made our way down to the other end of the island and Piton mountains where we found a couple friendly young men in a Rastafarian colored panga who coaxed us in to the bay and on to a mooring where we could snorkel the afternoon away.
Tomorrow we take one last swim at dawn and then we'll slip our mooring lines and point Samsara's bow west to Panama.
Check out a few images from our stop over at St Lucia on our Facebook page at the following address:
And please, if you haven't already done so, go ahead and give our page a "like" if you will. We appreciate it very much!
2nd day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
22th day under weigh from Tenerife.
32nd day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 24, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
165 miles WSW of Saint Lucia
1,050 miles E of Colon
5,014 miles logged
It was a brief but pleasant stay in Soufriere Bay deep in the shadow of the impossibly steep and picturesque Piton Mountains. The warm, clear water teamed with reef fishes and several varieties of corals including what looked like some kind of giant, hollowed-out, half coconuts littering the sea floor. In our hour long snorkel tour we witnessed dozens of Cleaner Wrasse, Parrot Fish, Needle Fish, Triggers, crabs, sea stars and a few other assorted critters - Dinger even found a small turtle- all hold outs doing whatever they could to make a living off of the dingy looking, shallow, brown reef. There was lots of flora and fauna, but it all seemed a dull and stunted, compared to what you'd like to expect from a normally vibrant tropical sea bed.
After snorkeling we performed a few trick belly flops off the bowsprit, took warm, fresh water showers in the cockpit and finished the day off with bean soup, fruit salad, colossal cheese burgers and cold Coca-Cola. We took our dinner alfresco under a magnificent pink and orange sunset while exchanging pleasantries with the constant stream of entrepreneurs who shuttled past in their brightly colored pangas, stopping by, each in their own turn, to offer us everything from jewelry to lobster to Ganja to the promise of illicit carnal delights. One exceptionally casual young man, dressed in nothing more than a pair of wet, grey boxer-briefs came out to take our order (and advanced payment, of course) for a breakfast meal of whatever we'd like delivered fresh first thing in the morning. Being light on funds, and having already been charged twice for the same mooring, (once by the boys who originally guided us in and then again by the park ranger), we declined all further transacti
ons and simply bid the friendly locals our best wishes. It was pleasant enough, though.
The late night sky was crystal clear and absolutely choked with stars. Its darkened stillness drew huge masses of bio luminous organisms to the surface, which were readily apparent with a quick pan of the flashlight. I know because I was forced to get out of bed and don my snorkel gear at about 3:00 AM to get in amongst all those millions of tiny animals and sort out our twisted mooring line from its stubborn tangle around the buoy. A result, I suppose of Samsara's endless spinning in slow motion circles on the swiveless buoy in the dead of the night. The swell was barely discernible, but still enough to keep the mooring ball constantly thump-bump-thumping up against the hull outside my stateroom and preventing any possibility of a sound sleep.
After sunrise, a short, salt water bath, followed by a bowl of Corn Pops and a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee primed the crew to slip our mooring and finally take our leave of the Western Indies. We made full sail in short order toward Central America in a freshening breeze under a sun filled sky. The wind never raised beyond a force five except in a few small squalls where it momentarily registered twenty five knots or a little more. The sea remained as tame as we've seen in a long time.
Last evening saw another brilliant sunset immodestly unfurl itself and lie down directly across our path. This one dissolved behind the clouds only moments before it could be extinguished in the abyss and darkness promptly took its tenure leaving Saint Lucia as nothing more than a checkered memory a hundred miles or more in our past. We'll likely be back this way again, only wiser and more experienced in the island's wilily ways, we hope.
There's been some light traffic in the night. Several freighters and tankers have crossed our bow, mostly in the miles-off-distance, but its compelled us to keep a sharp watch after so many lazy days in the lonely Atlantic. I'm sure the approaches to Panama will be heavily laden with commercial traffic, making its busy way from this sea to that, and we'll have to proceed with extreme caution so as to avoid being trampled underfoot.
Meantime, the sun is risen, the sea is calm and a warm wind is gently blowing across our port stern quarter. Flying fish fiercely pierce the waves - tiny silver torpedoes in a mad rush to salvation - or more likely, a terror stricken flight from damnation - and we mosey along up top in our own slow and stately tranquility.
3rd day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
23rd day under weigh from Tenerife.
33rd day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 25, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
300 miles WSW of Saint Lucia
900 miles E of Colon
5,181 miles logged
Yesterday was slow and lazy running Samsara down a quiet, Caribbean sea. Hot. Sweaty. Sticky. Sleepy. The sun rose with a vengeance, blazing down on us as if it were on fire! Smitty's burned. Dinger's burned. My bottom lip is burned and split. It hurts to eat anything salty.
We carried ourselves on a starboard tack to within ten miles of Isla la Blanquilla, the eastern most island in the Netherlands Antilles. Bonaire, Aruba and other, smaller islands lie just to the north of Venezuela and west ahead of us. We went over on a port tack just before sunset to gain some sea room and to avoid the afternoon thundershowers that often develop off the coasts in these latitudes. We will have to deal with lightning as we close Colon, no doubt, but I'd prefer we postpone that terrific experience as long as possible.
04:00 This morning the watch is like a dream. No moon. Few stars. Pitch black dark. There's breeze enough to keep us ghosting along at a fair clip, but the sea is so flat that Samsara seems stock-still. No rolling, healing, pitching or yawing. The sound of our wake and the autopilot's slight adjustments to the helm are the only indicators that we're moving at all. It's sensory deprivation, but it feels so good!
06:30 Dawn reveals the underside of a cool, grey and white cotton blanket hopefully shielding us from the relentless rays of the nuclear furnace that is our source. The paradoxical nature of it all is sublime: I am made of this stardust. Every atom in my body and all the others on this earth were born of that very Sun, yet if I leave myself exposed to it for too long, I will wither and die. The same for this ocean. Seventy percent of my body is comprised of water with roughly the same salinity content as this sea. Yet it is poison to me. I can't drink even the smallest portion without becoming violently ill. Even if I just lie down in it for any considerable period, I risk a certain horrible death. I tell you, life is stranger than fiction.
What a world!
4th day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
24th day under weigh from Tenerife.
34th day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 26, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
450 miles W of Saint Lucia
750 miles E of Colon
5,345 miles logged
March 25 17:00
Thar she blows! A quarter mile off the starboard quarter. The birds are working, the water is boiling, the tuna are jumping and the whales are feeding! So much commotion, that we come about to have a closer look. We wind up pacing what must be about ten or twelve fin whales having their way with several giant bait balls. It's quite a show! They are working together herding the bait into dense clusters and then taking turns coming up from underneath with their huge mouths agape and scooping up thousands of the poor helpless little fishes at a time. Occasionally, some of the whales bring their entire heads up all the way out of the water. Huge tuna are literally flying through the air all around them and all manner of birds are splashing down! I think I got a couple of decent photos that I'll upload once we're back on the grid. So very cool!
March 26 04:00
In the interest of truth, I submit the following correction I received for an error I made in yesterday's report:
Thoroughly enjoying your reports! Thanks so much for sharing. Just a minor quibble from an astrophysicist. We are made up of "star dust" but not from our own sun. Our sun consists almost entirely of hydrogen and helium, and almost none of the heavier elements that constitute the chemical basis of life.
Other super massive stars formed in the early universe and those stars eventually had explosive supernovae that synthesized all of the heavy elements and spewed them forth into the cosmos. Our solar system formed from a supernova remnant cloud with the heavier elements tending to coalesce into the planets.
The full story is more complicated, but YES we are made of star dust, but NO, not from our own sun.
It makes so much more sense the way RB explains it. In that case the sun is more like an older sibling than a parent which would better explain why it shows absolutely no compunction in harming us.
March 26 06:30
We've been motor sailing these past eighteen hours, but now it looks like the wind is filling in once again. On dark mornings like this, with just the smallest sliver of moon on the rise, I'll generally wait for the dawn before I roll out the sails. The wind often changes force at sunrise and at sunset and I want to make sure we'll have enough to keep us moving. I also like to have the light to avoid things getting caught or tangled and causing unnecessary damage. Another gallon of fuel is a lot less expensive than a torn sail or broken hatch cover.
And we've been doing really well on the fuel. In thirty four days and over 5,300 miles, we've used the motor less than 85 hours including going in and out of port. That's over 62mpg for a 40,000 pound vehicle. Not bad!
So, as you have probably already surmised, I don't have a hell of a lot to say. I'm thinking of taking a few days off the reporting unless something noteworthy happens.
Panama is still four or five days away with the wind this light. It's comfortable, but aside from the whale show, it's a little bit boring. Pray I'm not reduced to playing cribbage.
5th day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
25th day under weigh from Tenerife.
35th day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 27, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
570 miles W of Saint Lucia
640 miles ENE of Colon
5,482 miles logged
No wind. Under power.
We past close enough by Curaçao and Aruba last night to get a cell signal.
We've been traveling in company, slightly out pacing the sailing vessel Freja for the last eight hours or so.
The weather forecast has us motoring until tomorrow morning.
We had some dolphins come to visit just after sunrise. No other excitement to report.
There is an aspect to this voyage that, up until now, I've failed to mention. It wasn't really any big deal until we left Saint Lucia, but since then it's put us in a little bit irons, so to speak, and we could benefit from some wise and impartial council.
What happened was, we sort of accidentally started a new Samsara tradition just before we left France and its looks like its snowballing. I'm not sure if Jeff and Katie (our patrons and Samsara's proud owners) will continue with it after we've delivered their girl to them because it's pretty tacky, but we are committed to see it through at least until we reach San Diego...
Just like grocery stores everywhere, the mega-mart at Le Sables d'Olonne had a bargain isle full of cheep crap that mostly seemed a little too good to be true. In countless cardboard bins, stacked six high and lining both sides of aisle nine, there was an overwhelming goulash of household derangement, knick-knacks and bric-a-brac. They had spools of colored twine and umbrella toothpicks, plastic patio thermometers and salad strainers, poached egg cups and foil pinwheels. There were miniature hammers, inner tubes, packing tape, turkey basters, clothes pins...just a gigantic hodgepodge of whatever.
Anyway, on the bottom shelf between the refrigerator magnet calendars and the garden potting shovels, was a bin containing a couple dozen little yellow rubber duckies. $1.49eu. A bargain at twice the price!
Naturally, I adopted one on the spot.
Flash forward a few days of a duck on the desk and inspiration finally struck! Forward to the bow with you! After some very slight modifications involving a few strategically placed holes and a couple of zip ties, our new mascot "Sammy" had found his home lashed tight to the pulpit rail right above the starboard running light.
None of us had any idea how long he would last out in the elements on his severely exposed perch, especially in the rough waters of the Bay of Biscay, but we wished him well and asked that he keep a watch for us as long as he was able. Now, more than 5,000 miles later, Sammy is our senior most sentinel and a salty commander of his own little burgeoning crew.
In Tenerife one of the Carnival street merchants sold us a miniature skull on a stick for the irresistible price of $3.25eu. Later that day he was lashed to the stainless eye fitting on the end of the bowsprit and christened "Davis Jr." There he has remained, on lookout at his station, with that sinister, netherworld grin unmoved for all these many miles across the entire width of the Atlantic and more than half of the Caribbean.
Drunken on the successful crossing of our twin totems, we went a little bit crazy in Saint Lucia and paid nearly $10.00 usd to liberate an eight inch long, pink, "squeeze me" pig from a tourist trap in a retched strip-mall adjacent to the marina and secured him opposite Sammy over the port running light. Now he gets a couple firm squeezes before every gybe (or whenever anyone goes up on the foredeck) and he makes his happy little sea-pig gruntie-noise to announce the helm's a lee or whatever.
Unfortunately it is at this point that some contention has developed aboard Samsara regarding Squeeze-Me Pig's official name.
As the original ship's mascot of Samsara, "Sammy" was a no-brainer for the duck. "Davis Jr." was equally fitting, not so much because the skull somewhat resembles that famous old song and dance man from the days of the Rat Pack, but because the name firmly binds the two figureheads into familiar bonds.
The pig however, came aboard as a complete stranger and has not proffered as clear an identifier as the other two.
He has the words St. Lucia branded across the right side of his belly, and so I though it apropos that we call him "Piglucia" in honor of his home port.
Dinger, on the other hand, insists a more fitting moniker would be "the Gybe Sausage."
So far Smitty has remained neutral, leaving the two of us at loggerheads and the poor rubber swine in a state of prolonged anonymity.
We had planned to continue this ridiculous tradition for absolutely no good reason and shanghai someone at each and every stop to press into indefinite service sailing before the mast and authoring a small portion of our delight. Panama, Chiapas and Cabo San Lucas would all ideally be represented by the time we reach the customs office in San Diego.
But now, we're wondering if it's worth the potential conflict and malaise generated between the officers on the quarterdeck. These silly, ferocious arguments about what to christen the pig and whatever other unknown an unfortunate souls that may be forced to join us in the near future, threatens to tear at the very fabric of our typically jovial camaraderie.
A ship at sea is too small a space for her captain and chief to be at one another's throats - especially over such trifles.
If you are aware of a fitting name for a sailing pig, if you have a strong preference for the names we've proposed, please let us know ASAP. You could save someone a keelhauling or, god forbid, even prevent a mutiny!
I'll post some pictures of our eclectic little band as it currently stands once we get to a wifi connection and then update you and request your input with each new member's handle as they are added to the crew. There is no prize money allocated, nor even any bragging rights worth mentioning for whomever comes up with the best name, but we do sincerely appreciate your assistance as we are so obviously sailing a bit off the sound here and we can use all the help we can get!
6th day under weigh from Saint Lucia.
26th day under weigh from Tenerife.
36th day under weigh from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 28, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 08:00 local
712 miles W of Saint Lucia
537 miles ENE of Colon
5,634 miles logged
The weather has remained calm and the old iron genniker has been purring along for the last thirty six hours or so. We don't much mind because it has given us opportunity to pass in tight by Punta Gallians, shaving miles off our trip and better still, allowing us to spend time with some of the spectacular wildlife that congregates there.
Gallians is another of the great headlands of the world, notorious for producing rough seas and wild winds. It sits on the boarder between Venezuela and Columbia and is the northern extremity of the gigantic Peninsula De La Guajiura. The peninsula forms the western boundary of the great Gulfo De Venezuela - a gigantic bay which dwarfs San Francisco Bay by the power of ten. The ocean floor rises up very steeply to form this coastal range and the upwelling and near constant stirring of the surface water combined with its proximity to such a huge bay produces an excellent habitat for a rich and diverse food chain.
Yesterday was one of those rare days when it's not too dangerous or uncomfortable to pass through that area on a small craft, and how lucky it was for us as we got the chance to do so, because we soon wound up straight into the middle of a super pod of dolphins that stretched farther than the eye could see in every direction! They were intensely active with many individuals spending much of their time airborne. More than a few would leap up out of the water spinning five or six barrel rolls before splashing back down. Others would do tail stands and smack down their backs on the water as hard as they could. This went on for hours. I snapped hundreds of pictures, but the dolphins are so quick, I only got a small handful of decent shots. We had a near constant escort of ten and twelve and twenty animals surfing our bow wave, looking up at us with their big, cheesy, friendly smiles. A small group of four or five swam just along side for a long time having a staring contest with
Dinger as he stood, mouth agape and eyes wide open amidships. The dolphins seemed at least as curious about him as he was them. Smitty was on the bow grinning like a little kid and recording video with his phone for all he is worth.
It was remarkable!
Now, this morning the wind is trying to fill in and I expect we'll have enough to shut down the auxiliary soon. We're still a few days out from Colon, but already the traffic is building. Obviously, Panama is one of the great shipping routes of the world and we'll have to keep a sharp watch.
We're not much looking forward to what might turn out to be a prolonged layover in Colon while we sit in the cue waiting our turn to transit the canal. The stifling heat, pollution and potential peril rumored to be characteristic of that city is legendary and it's possible we may be confined to the marina for the bulk of our stay. I'm hoping the danger has been overstated, as it so often is, but I have fielded some pretty terrific warnings over the years from some pretty gritty people who've passed through those parts, so we'll just have to see for ourselves...Fortunately we travel with the Dinger who is about as big a bad ass as most any three normal people combined, but he's also so instantly charming that sticky situations rarely develop in his company.
And speaking of tangling with the Dinger, we have made our peace over the Pig at long last. In the end I decided to acquiesce and call him "The Gybe Sausage." There were several clever nominations submitted but, I think it was more important that Dinger had some sense of control over what happens in his life and I wanted him to feel empowered so that he'd finally shut the fuck up!
So everything is good aboard the sailing vessel Samsara plying the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, making our gentle way down the coast of Columbia and still not feeling any compulsion to play cribbage.
"Look who the sea dragged in" | 03.24.17
We have recently been blessed with the arrival of an immaculate CNB 76.
Please enjoy the pictures below & and if would like to come see her in person, feel free to contact us at email@example.com
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day thirty-nine through fourty-three | 03.17.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Sixth day underway from Tenerife.
Sixteenth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 3, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 10:00 local
20.14N - 26.11W
730 miles SW of Tenerife
3,345 miles E of Colon
2461 miles logged
A new Samsara Record!
219 miles made good in the last 24 hours!
Fast is fun! If we can hold this pace, we'd be in Panama in just over a fortnight! More likely though, it'll be another eighteen to twenty days.
Patrick "I'm no hero" Beyer saved our bacon once again today. He noticed that the pin that holds the outhaul shiv in the end of the boom had backed itself out to one side and was precariously dangling above the drink. Quick action on the part of the crew brought the boom centered and the situation right, but, were it not for Patrick's keen observation, the pin would have certainly come out and been lost (probably in the middle of the night) and caused all manner of mayhem.
Our ship's company is grateful to Patrick and have doubled his ration of grog accordingly. He still gets the same amount as before however, which is none at all, but it's the thought that counts.
The sunset last night was so spectacular it defies description. The Dinger and I just stood there gawking over the top of the dodger with out mouths hung open in awe. The majestic beauty of the dawn and dusk often pale the imagination out over the deep blue sea, but some days they even take it up a notch. The few fortunate enough to witness understand clearly why their habitation is know as the heavens. Take my word for it, I have no words for it.
Nor for much else, it turns out. I'm afraid my mind is out of ink and I need to change the cartridge. So I'm going to leave it there for today.
Seventh day underway from Tenerife.
Seventeenth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 5, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 10:00 local
19.46N - 29.27W
895 miles SW of Tenerife
3,155 miles E of Colon
2,652 miles logged
Patrick and I finally broke the ice and talked about the most difficult part of the voyage. Neither one of us has said much about it to this point, fearing that if we did, it would become too real and be too painful, but;
We miss our families.
So bad we can't contain it any longer. So there it is: the plan, simple, painful truth. We're only wild and free for pretend. In reality, we're both just a couple of happily domesticated Care Bears.
It feels good to talk about it. It feels good to have that connection with each other and to give voice to how much we care - to brag on how much love we have known and how blessed we have been.
We swapped a few stories about our kids and our wives and how proud we are of them. We worried a little together about how hard it must be when we're gone and how remarkable it that our kids seem so much more capable in our absence. We lamented how fast life goes by and how, in the blink of an eye, our children will be grown and gone off on their own, leaving their moms and us to rattle aroundempty houses full of delicious memories. We ruminated on our next great family vacation and how it doesn't even have to be anything big to be thoroughly enjoyable.
We decided that in these priceless relationships it is shared experience, rather than material comfort, that makes for the happiest and most durable memories. Photographs don't hurt either.
Patrick and I are a lot alike. So are our wives and so are our children. We are rich men. Blessed beyond our puny comprehension. We have both been graced with a love that will endure for a lifetime. Maybe longer. No one can take it away. Ever. This love may be all that we will ever truly possess. If so, it's more than enough. It's a lot more than we deserve.
I hope you know what I'm taking about.
Eighth day underway from Tenerife.
Eighteenth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 6, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 10:00 local
17.35N - 30.58W
1,046 miles SW of Tenerife
3,058 miles E of Colon
2,830 miles logged
We've got a problem this morning.
There a single set screw just above the headsail furling line drum that attaches the foil to the drum and keeps the foil from riding up, but the set screw keeps backing out. I've tightened it down four or five times now in as many days. Two days ago, I put a dollop of superglue on it, but it didn't hold and so I just resigned myself to tightening it down a couple times a day until we can get some thread-seal on it. I tightened it last night at the end of my watch, but when I checked it first thing this morning, it had backed out to the point that it allowed the foil to slide up about an inch and almost out of the drum.
That's no good. If it rides up much more it will separate from the drum and dangle. It has a sharp edge on the bottom which, once exposed, could damage the headsail.
I furled the sail to take the pressure off the foil until daybreak. Now we'll probably have to unfurl the sail and lower it on deck to get the pressure off the foil enough that we can pull it back down and get the set screw back in.
Problem is, how to prevent the same thing from happening again.
A big hose clamp might keep the screw in. Unfortunately, we don't have any spareslarge enough. New boat. I could rob one from the engine compartment, but I'm not really keen on that idea.
A split washer would be perfect, but again, we're a little light on the spares and we don't have one that will fit.
I could epoxy the threads in place of locktite, but then the screw may prove difficult to remove if and when the need arises.
The good news in all this is that we're still making six and a half knots under the mainsail alone while I wait for the boys to wake up.
Patrick and I managed to get the foil back down into its seat with a dock line and some clever ratchet knots around the anchor chain. The set screw which is stainless steel, striped at the end that goes into the foil. My guess would be that the threaded hole in the foil, which is aluminum, is striped as well.
Lacking any other good options, we epoxied the same set screw back in place and positioned an oil filter removal tool over the head of it in lieu of a large hose clamp. Then taped the whole thing up.
It's okie, but it's the best we could do with what we have.
The worry now is that the small but constant up and down motion the foil is permitted, because of the striped set screw, will increase over time, or possibly break off the set screw, and then pop up out of the drum collar.
Then we're back to, "That's no good"!
I spent half the morning laying on the foredeck studying the repair and it's looking pretty good for now, so we'll cross our fingers and find out how well it holds up in time.
On these long ocean crossings, chafe and wear can really take their toll. We are putting the equivalent of ten seasons of weekend cruising on Samsara within the space of just a couple of months. Of course we don't have all the corrosion of ten years to deal with, but even still, it's a lot of miles and one thing left luffing, or chafing, or even just rolling around, can do a lot of damage in a hurry.
My diagnosis on the set screw problem is that some rigger ran out of thread seal and didn't get any on there, because, who'll ever notice, right?
Pretty amazing when you stop to think how vitality important a seventy five cent screw and a drop of locktite can be on a passage.
It makes me wonder what's going on at the top of the mast after all these miles. If we can't avoid the calm that's developing ahead of us later this week, we'll go up in the bosun's chair and make an inspection.
In other news, PTSD rears its ugly head.
The Dinger saw some pretty rough action when he was Army Airborne years back and sometimes it still echoes! Particularly when he's woken up suddenly by say, a cockpit locker lid closing right over his cabin when he's sound asleep. It automatically triggers a fight or fight mechanism before he even has time to think. Well, those of you who know, or have seen Dinger, realize he's not really cut out for running much anymore...and we are in the middle of the ocean...so that really only leaves the one option.
Fortunately, he managed to get ahold of himself before anything stupid happened. He actually handles it better than he thinks he does, poor dear.
We turned south again yesterday, because we were getting lifted too far north. We'll gybe again tomorrow and have a much better angle of attack on St. Lucia which is our next waypoint some 1,700 miles to the west.
One of my friends managed to find a website where you can plug in our position and see where we are on the globe. The address is:
Check it out and wish us (and our headsail) luck.
Ninth day underway from Tenerife.
Nineteenth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 6, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 10:00 local
14.59N - 32.23W
1,215 miles SW of Tenerife
2,965 miles E of Colon
3,016 miles logged
Sometimes it's hard to sleep.
Either the boat is rolling heavily on the wave train, or there's sea monsters in my dreams...The autopilot echoes, the mast creaks, the prop hums louder and changes pitch every time we surf down a big swell... It can be any of a hundred different things...
I generally sleep with one eye open and think a lot about rocks.
Rocks are hard and scary and no place to be dashed, thank you very much. It's fortunate that the only rocks within four hundred miles of us are all in my head.
The night we were closing on Tenerife, though, I woke with a start some twenty miles off and scrambled over to the chart.
Rocks! Dead ahead! Shit! Shit!..I knew it!..Shit! Shit! Shit!
I bounded up to the helm and threw in a gybe. I could see the rocks, just there, a little to starboard in the blackness. Patrick was puzzled, but didn't question me. Once we got Samsara headed the other way, I went straight back to the chart, franticly expecting to hear the crunch of the bow at any moment.
Turns out I wasn't really awake much yet and I had the chart zoomed out too far. Whew! What I thought was the western shore of Tenerife was actually the western shore of Africa and what looked like rocks immediately in front of us was the whole group of Canary Islands at large scale.
I checked it several times.
I looked out the hatch.
My mind plays tricks...
Dinger came out of his cabin rubbing his eyes, "What the hell!"
We all had a good, long laugh. I had a cup of coffee - Several cups of coffee.
That's the way it is in the dark, though. All too often, things that aren't really there pop up shrieking your doom!
Boo! Be afraid!
It happens to everybody. Young or old. Rich or poor. Soilder or sailor. I know, all too well, that the night terrors are not confined to the sea. I read a book once about running a small business and the opening chapter was titled, "Welcome to the night terrors"!
So what do you suppose it is within us that makes us this way? Not all of us, granted, but surely most...
I have roamed this earth more than fifty two years now with hardly a scratch to show for it, (The one time things got serious and I landed in the ICU, I wound up having the most amazing spiritual experience of my life! Everything was absolutely wonderful! Perfect, in fact! Nothing to fear...) and yet, in the dark, in my sleep, despite a lifetime's evidence to the contrary, the things that come to my mind will have me ruined. The wolves are right outside the door!
I know I'm going to die one day - hell, there are likely more days behind me than ahead - but do I really need to be afraid of all of them? Isn't it a little silly to fear what's inevitable? Especially when it's not imminent.
If I could, I'd probably have that thing removed, like an appendix. Something no longer necessary, but still capable of causing a lot of unnecessary anguish.
This morning we're going to gybe back over to starboard and take up our westing.
That's what the ancient Egyptians called it. People think that because of their elaborate tombs and mummifications, Egyptians were obsessed with death, but on the contrary, they didn't even have a word for it. Whenever someone passed on, they simply said that that person's soul was "westing" - like the sun does everyday. Over the horizon and out of sight - no longer here, but for now, elsewhere.
We executed a gybe so flawless, it should be scribed in the annals of sailing lore! They should put our picture on the Beneteau brochure. Nay, every box of Wheaties from here to forever! What a crew! What a boat!
Now it's west and west for days and weeks. Past Saint Lucia and Martinique, on to Panama and the Pacific. Our course is a little high of the mark and we'll no doubt cross the rhumb line from Tenerife, but I expect the wind will back more northerly at the far end of the course and we'll be set right back down again towards home.
There is the specter of a clam ahead in the forecast, but if I guessed right, we'll likely sail close underneath it. If not, we'll set the cast iron genniker, burn some oil and do a few boat chores. Probably stop to have a swim with all the lovely beasties below.
The flying fish are sporadic though. No dolphin or whale sightings for days. Not a single, lonely albatross has found us yet. Strange.
Where can my brothers be?
Tenth day underway from Tenerife.
Twentieth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 7, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 10:00 local
14.59N - 32.23W
1,332miles WSW of Tenerife
2,786 miles E of Colon
3,200 miles logged
It was a work day today. Lots of line handling and rigging adjustments to mitigate some stretch in the headstay and a few other problems.
All those puffs of wind over all those countless swells we have covered these last 3,200 miles have taken their toll.
It's natural for a new rig to stretch out a little over time and I could see the curve slowly steepening in the luff of the sail, but last night the mast took its creaking up a notch and a half. It started moving around at the base, slowly pumping and creaking at random intervals, but clearly visible and most definitely audible - especially below deck.
Not much to be done in the dark. I rerouted the Solent halyard to the Solent tang and tensioned it as a sort of inner forestay, but it didn't help much to knock down the creaking. Just a little added insurance to help relieve my mind, really.
You might well imagine it's a little nerve wracking when your one and only mast comes loose at the base and your six hundred miles from the nearest marina.
It was hard to sleep again last night. I knew the mast wasn't really going anywhere. By the nature of its design, it really can't without a catastrophic rigging failure or a hurricane. Nevertheless, the creaking sound is magnified several fold below and as I've explained, a Captain worries a bit...
In any case, we got after it this morning and put it all right!
We added more tension to the backstays.
Routed the Solent sheet to the Solent tang and tensioned it.
And finally, we routed the spinnaker halyard to the spinnaker tack ring and tensioned it. The last one was a bit dicey as it's a sort of an out-on-the-bowsprit, outside-the-lifelines, over-the-water, one-handed contortion of a shackle attachment. But, we got it all done and the mast has never been quieter. Zero movement at the base.
It's unfortunate that there is no practical way to tension the headstay itself while under weigh. One more turnbuckle would have saved us a lot of work.
And we'll just have to undo all we did today to adjust the headstay once we get in anyway.
Having the two halyards and the Solent sheet led forward works really well. We will have to roll the headsail up anytime we want to tack or gybe, but that would be equally true if the inner forestay for the Solent were installed too. It's no big deal.
We did gybe for a few minutes today, though.
During the course of all our rigging work, we noticed that the mainsail had two minor problems at the furler.
Namely, the bottom two feet of bolt rope was somehow pulled out of the slot and the shackle at the tack had come loose and was barely hanging on.
To rectify those issues we had to remove the access plate, which is on the port side of the mast, and since we were on a starboard tack, we needed to get the sail over and out of the way.
Now we're back on course and all is well with Samsara.
Thank goodness the weather is really perfect for all we've been doing. Typical Tradewinds, if only a little on the lighter side.
We're all pretty tired from lack of sleep and from working in the heat today. My brain feels mushy and I don't have much creative juice, but I didn't want to break my writing streak and one or two of you might find the rigging adjustments interesting, so there you have it.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day thirty-four through Thirty-seven | 03.13.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Day 34 - First day underway from Tenerife.
February 26, 2017
09:30 UTC/ 09:30 local
Depart Marina del Atlantico
1,350 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
3,800 miles to Colon
Big day today! We're away again!
Having attended Carnival last night, taking in our fill of street barbecue and Coca Cola and then shouldering up with the great unwashed hordes to scrutinize thousands of beautiful and scantily clad young ladies dancing on parade down the boulevard amidst endless percussion bands and sequined and feathered and flowered floats, we are now ready to take our leave of Tenerife. It was both a festive layover and a welcome rest and it will not soon be forgotten.
But sailors are made for the wide open sea! We have an insatiable need to discover whatever that next mystery is beyond the horizon. It's a constant craving unlikely to be quenched in this lifetime. And now that the sails are drawing once again and the land recedes, we are back in our element, silent and smiling under an immensity of clouded white sky.
The marina at Santa Cruz was welcome departure. Just as every other yacht harbor in the world, it is inhabited mostly by another flabby demographic of posers and wannabes drinking the day away while incessantly gabbing about the big voyage that they're going to take - eventually. In reality they keep dreaming while unconsciously spiraling down the hawse pipe of perpetual preparation and one more thing. "Dock Queens", we call them, infinitely willing to volunteer advice and opinion on every subject under the sun and moon and stars, drawn off all the latest magazine articles and cruising manuals, but only a few miles of actual experience.
I don't think there were a dozen sailors in the bunch at Tenerife!
And if I sound a little harsh in my criticism, it's only because I am! I grow weary of being questioned on the necessity of the high lifeline or scoffed at for experimenting with a jury rigged sunshade. Run up your log a little before you tell me what's the matter mister. I've probably rung more salt out of my socks than you've sailed across!
And as longas this narrative is concerning itself with matters on the shoreward, indulge me a word about worry;
You may recall that I was minorly anxious about meeting the Port Captain in Tenerife as our paperwork is deficient by one official ship's document. That's a little like driving without a registration, only much more so...
In any case, when we got there, as expected, the Harbormaster wanted to see our proof of insurance and passports, my captain's license, and the ship's document. The first three were no problem to provide and for the last, I feigned confidence as I offered up the builder's certificate just like I knew what I was doing. She took up her reading glasses as she sauntered over to the copy machine and I probably held a couple of breaths before she handed me back the lot of papers and instructions to report to the Federal Police where we were to present nothing more than our passports and an identical Entry Control Form with exactly the same information we just gave to her. The police didn't give me a second glance as they signed us in, only directing me to bring the other two marinaros with me at check out. It was a little remarkable because the builder's certificate is to the ship's document somewhat like what the VIN number is to the registration of a car, and nobody seemed to car
The next day brought a little scare when, alone on the boat, while the boys were out exploring, I was paid a surprise visit by a plain clothed, but visibly armed, officer of the law who flashed me his badge and sternly requested the passports once more. As he fingered through them, he questioned me about where the rest of the crew was, but after some broken Spanglish and a poor excuse for a pantomime, he seemed satisfied that they were in town and I was on the up and up. Anyway, he took his leave with a smile.
So I worry. That's my job and I'm good at it! What's more, I'm going to keep on worrying because 99% of the shit I worry about never happens. That to me, is some pretty hard evidence that worrying works really well!
So our plan of attack is to make our sweet way out to 20N - 30W where we will pick up the Northeast Tradewinds and ride them west for approximately two weeks and gently across the pond to the Caribbean side. Then we will evaluate our stores of food, water and fuel and decide whether or not we should make a pit stop at St. Lucia or one of the Virgins, or head on over to Panama about a week's sail beyond. We'll take Colon, if we can get it. The trick is to to arrive with enough provisions to sustain us for for a few days and plenty of fuel to transit the canal. We definitely won't want to stop until we're at La Playita Marina on the pacific side of the ditch because Colon really is a dangerous place and not to be called upon in anything less than an requisite capacity. Even while at anchor in the cue to transit, we will likely maintain a watch to ensure none of the locals let their desperation get the better of us.
So, as we clear the southern end of Tenerife, the breeze is filling in nicely and the sun has made its way past the clouds down onto our deck. The boys are napping in their racks, Samsara is dancing over the whitecaps and I'm contented and peaceful.
Here we go now onward.
Second day underway from Tenerife.
Twelfth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
February 27, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
26.43N - 18.18W
155 miles SW of Tenerife
3,902 miles ENE of Colon
1778 miles logged
I got that out of my system and now I can get back to being my semi-sweet and tolerant, old self. I'm not really sure why I give two shits about the perceptions or opinions strangers hold of me and the things I do. I suspect that it's just a mirror of my own insecurity and anxiety about making another crossing. Stage fright strikes again!
Dinger is of the opinion that a person would have to be mentally unbalanced to set out across the open ocean in a small boat without carrying any trepidation.
I say we must carry everything we need.
Patrick brought a serious migraine with him. I say it's serious because he asked to be relieved halfway through his watch last night. He didn't go so far as to wake me - that would have been a real cause for concern - but instead, waited until he saw I was stirring and then told me he wasn't feeling very well. I figure it had to be pretty serious though, considering his corn fed, midwestern, stoicism. He told me that he's been having them since he was a kid, but the only other one he's hadsince we left Eureka was on our first night under weigh in the Bay of Biscay. That's a pretty big coincidence. I don't know about migraines, but I'll wager that a good old fashioned case of the jitters may well serve as a catalyst in some cases.
So his head aches and I got a little snippy. Nobody's perfect. We all carry our own kryptonite.
Anyway, he came up on deck after a good long rest and reported the migraine has gone. Now he feels hung over. I gave him the option of landing at Hierro Island to our stern about thirty five miles, but he assured me he'll be fine and he's eager to make the crossing. He's going to take it easy today and we'll reevaluate tonight.
From our departure the wind has been fair with a following sea. We're surfing down the left side of the rhumb line at eight and a half knots. With every swell we're gently lifted and lowered farther down the latitudes. In a few short days we'll be sailing tropical waters. A couple weeks after that, we'll be at the southern nadir of this long arc, in the Pacific Ocean and less than five hundred miles north of the equator. From there we will start the steep climb home.
Tenerife to Panama should be a milk run. Panama to San Diego could be a slog. Whatever it is, it's what we're doing. Save for a few brief squalls as we close on the Caribbean, I suspect the worst of the weather will be behind us.
We've been rich with dolphins the last leg and this. Some boats are favored by cetaceans and Samsara must have got the nod. These latest are little guys. Athletic. Full body breaches and spins and tail slaps. It's quite a show!
We also had our first sighting of a great whale. He was a long way off, but the breach was unmistakable. Likely a Humpback. I'm confident we'll see many more and birds and fish too. I'm crossing my fingers for my third Sperm Whale sighting, although I know odds are not much better than winning the publishers clearing house.
That's about all I've got today. Hopefully more will show up soon. Until then, our tiny, salty tribe will be running down the waves and racking up the miles. We are always craving correspondence, so please don't be shy. If you have any questions or suggestions, or just want to say "hey!" we'd love to hear from you.
Fourth day underway from Tenerife.
Fourteenth day underway from Les Sables d'Olonne.
March 1, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
22.07N - 21.07W
467 miles SSW of Tenerife
3,642 miles ENE of Colon
2150 miles logged
We have gone over on to a port tack heading West. It's farewell to old Africa now. We are finished with our coasting and have put our stern at last to that long and wretched shore. Today, and for many days to come, our stem cuts its own fresh groove down the well worn path to America. We sail in the wake of Columbus and Balboa an Magellan and Cortez and Cook. Exceptional men who harnessed this very same wind and made for themselves so much glory and so much trouble in distant lands.
For centuries this became an evil wind, raining down murderous men, full of greed and gun powder and deadly diseases upon paradise. They landed on an unsuspecting population caught wholly off guard and unprepared to check their aggression. They poured over the land like a plague of giant locusts on horseback and theytook what they wanted. And when what they wanted was the produce of the land, they used this same wind to ferry countless Africans, stolen from their homes and families, and delivered across this ocean to auction blocks on foreign shores to be sold to the highest bidder, like cattle, and indentured without their consent for the rest of their lives to untold suffering.
Today it's not like that. Not for us. We travel in peace and gratitude and hope. The world still weathers its evil winds, and injustice and horror have hardly been extinguished. I'm sure we play our part, however unwittingly, and benefit from the suffering of many less fortunate than ourselves. But, for these several days, we three are set aside from all of that - truly free and making good use of this wind.
And none so much as the Dinger. It's not everyday that someone celebrates logging their first ten thousand miles under sail, but it is this day for Dinger. He racked it up pretty fast. The Andrews 70, "Trader" from Langkawi to Honolulu via Hong Kong scored him almost eight thousand hard won miles on the Pacific last year. She was built for speed and seriously so. She carried large sails and small comforts and frankly, was a bit of a beast for her delivery crew of four. But she was also lots and lots of fun! I don't know if I'll ever forget the Dinger'sgrin and the wildness in his eyes as we surfed south across the trades those last thousand miles to Hawaii. Him gripping the huge wheel and counting up the knots in every squall, "Twelve! Thirteen! Fifteen! Yeehaw!"
And now we're voyaging from the old world to the new in as civilized a manner as one could possibly hope for. Push button winches for furling and reefing and tacking. An enormous spray dodger to keep us sheltered from the elements. A washing machine for our dirty clothes. Hell, we can have Hagen Das for breakfast if we like! It's tee shirts and shorts out on the deck and custom mattresses and fine linens below. Yes, we've got it pretty cush these days for a boat out on the sea.
It makes it easy for Dinger to continue his charming tradition of reminding us all how grateful he is to be here everyday.
When this trip is finished, he'll have nearly seventeen thousand miles in his log.
But it's not all pancakes and puppy dogs out here either.
In the middle of the night, the generator control displays an exhaust fault code, "Exhaust over temperature", which activates the automatic shut off. Why is it always in the middle of the night? An investigation ensues. Sea strainer empty. Impeller cover too hot to touch. No water flow to the heat exchanger.
That'll do it!
Charge the batteries with the main engine alternator tonight and go to bed. Replace the generator impeller in the morning. The only thing is, why? I'd hate to install our one spare impeller only to have it burn up for the same unknown reason.
When it comes to mechanical issues at sea, I hate a mystery.
Repairs concluded successfully. Theory produced. The existing impeller was ruined. Three of the six ears were mutilated or missing from the hub. After replacement, the system is apparently restored to perfect working order.
Reviewing the service manual, my best guess is that it was the original impeller and, as the boat was laid up for a considerable period prior to our voyage, the rubber fatigued and eventually failed with our repeated use. The system is not ideal in any case as the thru-hull and sea strainer are a considerable distance from the generator and consequently the impeller is forced to run dry for a few seconds every start up. The heat and friction produced most certainly contribute to the rubber fatigue.
But it works now. We fixed it.
Two worries remain;
1. Where are those missing ears? It is possible that they are stuck somewhere in the cooling lines and causing a restriction. Probably not though, as the temperature remains cool after prolonged use. Likely they got spit out the system or melted up and disintegrated inside.
2. We no longer have a spare impeller for the generator. If this one burns up before our next stop it will put the generator off line and we will be reduced to charging our batteries with the engine alternator. That's a much less efficient system requiring larger quantities of fuel to do the same job. Even still, if it does come to that, it won't be the end of the world. Countless sailors have made this passage in just the same manner many times before. Hell, countless more have done it without any electricity at all.
Patrick says, "First world problems".
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day TWENTY-THREE through TWENTY-EIGHT | 03.10.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Day 23 - 6th day underway.
February 16, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
39 59N - 10 47W
100 miles northwest of Lisbon
590 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne.
727 miles to Tenerife
We are finally and firmly in the fair weather! Sunny skies, warm breeze and full sails. We're headed right down the rhumb line and making good time.
The wind is forecast to back and fill, and follow us all the way down to the islands. Slowly at first, out of the east, it should ultimately segue way into an epic sleigh ride right down the hill. Give us five days and we'll be standing on the beach at Santa Cruz.
For now, the crew is as happy as we are well fed and rested. Patrick is applying his first solid dose of sunscreen and smiling out at the sea. Dinger, unable to scare up a game of cribbage, is taking a nap. I'm contemplating a shave and a hot shower.
Samsara herself, is as new. An albatross fledgling, on her own, but in her element. She is answering the call of her ancestors. The first few days she may have been a little clumsy, but today she has realized the power and the beauty of her own two lovely wings. I tell you that metal and wood and plastic and wire, arranged in this way, set in this wind, becomes life! And as with all living things, the whole is always greater than the sum of it's parts. The oceans of this world have a new inhabitant destined to roam. She is graceful and fierce and free. Namaste Samsara!
18:00 UTC/ 18:00 local
The Dolphins have come back to spread their good cheer. There must be thirty or forty of them taking turns at the pole position under our bow and swimming effortlessly along, side by side by side. We are ghosting at just above four knots so they don't get to surf the bow wave as they're want to do, but they hang around anyway, exchanging glances and smiles with us and welcoming us to wonder in awe at their intense, blue-grey beauty. It has been an exceptionally pleasant visit.
19:30 UTC/ 19:30 local
It's dark. There is no wind. The diesel purrs as we glide along the greasy sea. The Dolphins have not given us up. We occasionally hear one or two of them blow in the blackness that surrounds us. Up is infinity. Venus. Mars. Orion. Countless jewels glistening in the unfathomabledistance, but somehow, still, they belong to us - or we to them. There are no ships for miles. We turn off all our lights. To the east now is the faint glow of Lisbon - not so bright even as the Milky Way. Samsara is magically transformed by the calm, black night from a sailing ship upon the sea into a spaceship floating across the cosmos. The horizon has no place. The dividing line is lost. We are citizens of every world. It has been a very good day!
Day 24 - Seventh day underway
February 16, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
37.47'N - 12.00W
325 miles WNW of Gibraltar
735 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
585 miles to Tenerife
Lazy day. Nothing doing but the diesel. Everyone had a hot shower and a club sandwich. We got into some light conversation about the stars, compassion, our place in the scheme of things and the nature of God. I rigged up the high lifeline. Patrick is doing some fancy work to the flagpole. Dinger's swabbing the cabin sole. We're all pretty much agreed none of it will matter in a hundred years anyway.
C'est la vie!
Now here's a tired little swallow cast away, possibly from the super freighter that crossed our bow a bit ago. The poor little guy is sure a long way from home. It's 150 miles to the nearest bit of land. Dinger is very concerned. He wants to give her a cracker. Compassion. The swallow wants to rest. She lit on a cushion under the dodger after a brief sorte through the forward cabin. I've got pictures.
Once she got herself calmed down and had a chance to catch her breath, I slowly poked my head out the companionway hatch and gave her a tender little lecture about how she was lost and that it was much too far to try and fly back home. That we were on our way to the Canary Islands and she'd better just settle in. I gave her my word, as an officer and a gentleman, that no harm would come to her at the hands of my crew or myself and that she was welcome aboard. I put out a little cracker box, (which contained some cracker crumbs), and offered it as privacy and shelter. She looked at it and then at me and without a word of thanks, that ungrateful little pecker took off and flew away in the direction of a tanker that happened by steaming north. What a fickle little cuss!
17:00 UTC/ 17:00 local
Whew...long nap! That's the problem with not doing anything all day...it makes you sleepy! Or maybe I'm still catching up. If so, Ive got a long way to go, though. I've been tired since about two thousand and three.
Coincidentally, that's the same year I became a father. Elena Reesa came into the world in May of that year and seafaring has never been the same for me since. You want to talk about an adventure! Like her mother, she herself, is not much for the sea. Like her grandmother, she's a devout equestrian. An animal whisperer since before she could talk. So she's primarily terrestrial, but I always carry a vision of her with me across the ocean. Whenever the Dolphins come to socialize, I think of her and imagine seeing them through her eyes. I picture how quietly delighted she'd be to commune with their happy souls. Reesa would have convinced our little winged visitor to stay and to eat and to drink if she had been here. I'm sure of it.
My boy is made for boats. William Asher showed up in February of two thousand six. "Put a little love in your heart" was playing over the hospital sound system as he came into our life. "...and the world will be a better place..." And so it is. Dinger and I had him out on a sailboat last summer up the west coast of California and Oregon. He saw his first thirty two humpback whales that trip. He is a natural on board. Totally at home. He figured out how to use the radar in about five minutes. We agreed before I left that this trip was too long for him just yet and he'd have to work his way up. Besides, there's school and friends and all that, but someday...
I regret that I'm going to miss his birthday this year.
Kim takes care of it all while I'm away. Job. House. Kids. Dogs. And in her spare time she saves the city one meeting/email/phone call at a time. I'm very proud of her. Where there once was this angry, frightened little girl, there is now a competent and formidable woman. She has become so capable. A force in the community. It's really an amazing thing to make your life with another person! When I reflect on who we were and what has become of us these past decades, I marvel.
And so I miss my family terribly, but it's the sweetest sadness I have ever known. To have so much of yourself a half a world away...You can't stop the conscience awareness of the magnitude of your blessings from fading in as a blinding light on a deafening drum. This adventure we're on is exciting and remarkable and exceptional, that's true, but it also serves as stark contrast to the nature of, what often seems like, the mundane lives we lead back home. From the clarity of this perspective, going to the grocery becomes a privilege - driving the children to school, a pleasure. Mowing the lawn, setting out garbage for collection, walking the dog, talking about the weather with the neighbors...Once you see all that from out here, you understand how extraordinary the ordinary actually is. How exquisite are the countless minuscule moments that add up to a life filled with precious memories.
Day 25 - Eighth day underway
February 17, 2017
06:00UTC/ 06:00 local
36.00'N - 12.51W
350 miles West of Gibraltar
845 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
475 miles to Tenerife
Under sail! Pre-dawn.
The boys are in their racks sleeping soundly and I've got the sea all to myself.
To me, there are few activities sweeter in life than sailing on a warm night over a flat ocean. Tonight has all that plus the added value of its abundant stellar beauty! And while all the heavens glisten above, the bioluminescence mimics them below.
It is magnificent!
Then there's this music! The constant stream of bubbles trickling and scatting in our wake forms the melody. The chips and squeaks in the rig and sails cracking over all the large swells has the rhythm. Intermittent on lead, the breaking whitecaps, and the cresting bow waves, switch off with one another atvaried intervals. Its a symphonic improv and it's open to all the players. Our flag dances in time.
And so we go, rolling on...rolling on...
But now, the sun is about to take back command of the sky. The color to the east heralds his approach. Eventually all the stars and the planets yield his eminent domain. Only the moon, who is the queen of the tides, is allowed to keep her place over the sea.
The crew is on deck, sleepy eyed and wondering at the world. The water is warm. So is the coffee. The wind fills in and we are on the move! Throw out the lines! Throw out the lures! Today, we're fishing off the coast of Africa! The sea builds, but not uncomfortably yet. Our first port of call lies directly down wind nearly six hundred miles. Without a whisker pole we can't sail that deep. One hundred and fifty degrees off the wind - thirty degrees off our course - is the best we can do, but it's a better ride anyway. We'll have to go farther, but we'll get to go faster!
And so we go, rolling on...rolling on...
17:00UTC/ 17:00 local
Patrick is baking bread, listening to music. Dinger is reading Star Wars on Kindle. They're both eating French ice cream out of cones like a couple of civilized men.
Meanwhile, a few feet away, I'm up on the back of an giant beast! She's spitting and snorting and cantering wildly on her way across an endless prairie. "Pickin' 'em up and puttin' 'em down!", as my mom used to say. Eight, nine, ten knots! Yee Ha! Get 'em little doggie!
I'm amazed at how it can be so tame and civilized in the salon, yet it's Belmont Stakes out on the deck. Two different boats that go great together!
Day 26 - Ninth day underway
February 18, 2017
05:30UTC/ 05:30 local
33.47'N - 14.50W
367 miles West of Casablanca
1007 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
333 miles to Tenerife
We are cooking with heat now baby! I tell you what! Play that funky music, White Boy! Play that funky music right! We're averaging speeds in the high nines, surfing into the twelves! It's a sleigh ride of epic cruising boat proportions! And it's a total blast - unless you're trying to sleep! Then...not so much. Nobody likes getting blasted in their sleep.
Last night, as requested, Patrick called me up on deck once the sustained winds reached 25 knots. As we went to put in our first reef, I stood up on the cockpit bench so I could see over the dodger and make sure the mainsail was furling properly into the mast. Just then a freak wave that must have had my name on it, threw us over on our ear! Before I had any chance of reacting, I was ass over tea kettle-feet in the air-face in the life lines-chest on the combing-crunch! Fortunately, I didn't get hurt or go overboard, but it was a stark reminder that one must ALWAYS take care out here.
Really. What's a little inconvenient or embarrassing onshore can actually become life threatening or even fatal at sea. Breaking a bone probably won'tkill you. We have drugs and splints and tape for that. A bad cut or a burn could get serious in a hurry, but also, not necessarily fatal. We have sutures and bandages and antibiotics aboard. Appendicitis, cardiac arrest or going overboard, on the other hand...any of those carries avery high potential for putting a body permanently out of the game. Finito!
We do our best. We try to be as well prepared as possible for any and all contingencies. There are plans in place for man overboard, fire fighting and abandon ship. We keep a watch posted 24 hours a day to avoid collisions. I'm especially happy we have Patrick aboard this trip because he has so much emergency medical training and experience. That'll come in handy if we do sustain an injury. We are extremely cautious.
But one mis-step is all it takes.
I try not to think about it. And the actuary tables are really in our favor. Statistically, the car ride to the airport was the most dangerous part of this entire voyage. My life insurance stipulates that they don't have to payout if I'm killed in a private plane accident or while mountaineering, but there's not a word about crossing oceans under sail. Fatalities are so rare you hear about almost all of them, but you actually hear about very few of them.
So, I'll quit talking about them...
We are less than three hundred miles directly to windward of Tenerife. At our current pace we should be there tomorrow afternoon, but I'm thinking it could well be Tuesday morning before we're tied up. If we arrive after dark, we'll likely stand off until daylight. It's only prudent seamanship to refrain from entering an unfamiliar port for your very first time in the dark. We are getting anxious to make landfall though. It's funny, it doesn't seem to mater much if the trip is three weeks long or only three days, everyone is generally ready to get back ashore about two days before we get there.
There is an area of low pressure centered over Morocco and we are riding its western flank to our destination. The wind has been blowing for a good long while now and the sea is fully developed. That means four to six foot wind waves spaced fairly closely together. There was already a large, long ocean swell before the wind came up and it's currently running at about twelve feet every thirty seconds. When we're down in the trough between those big swells, the horizon is obscured from our view. If a wind wave happens to be on the peak of the swell there can be as much as eighteen feet of water we have to climb to get to over on to the next swell. I'm sure it sounds a lot worse than it actually is, though. Samsara isn't even getting her deck wet and we're all quite comfortable.
I was hand steering for a while just before the sun cameup this morning. It passes the time and gives me a better feel for how well the boat is trimmed. It's a little bit of a challenge in the dark in this sea, but it keeps me in practice and it's fun! I'm actually better at steering than the autopilot is in a big flowing sea - better, but only for about twenty minutes, that is. You see, the autopilot hasn't any intuition and can only react to the wave train as it happens. I, on the other hand, can anticipate the waves and correct proactively- as long as my concentration holds out - which is generally only about twenty minutes. Ionce did a trip from Hawaii to San Francisco without an autopilot. Then, I did it three more times with broken ones. That's more than twenty minutes at a time. Hand steering holds no novelty for me. It's important to keep in practice and to make sure everyone else can do it well enough too, because you just never know...
Patrick's on the helm now and eating it up. It can be a little intimidating at first, steering a 40,000 pound freight train off the tracks at these speeds. Especially if your only experience is in little trailer sailers, but he's picked it up really fast. A natural.
Well, I see a little squall sneaking up our rear. I should probably go reef the headsail. I guess that makes this as good a timesaver any to put a pause to these. I'll likely start right back up after my next nap.
Until then...we go rolling on...rolling on...
Day 27 - Tenth day underway
February 19, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
32.58'N - 15.11W
60 miles east of Archipeligo Da Maderia
1,075 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
260 miles to Tenerife
We ran 187.3 nautical miles yesterday - our fastest day so far. We were so close to the magical 200! Today we'll get it, I'm sure!
It's been blowing non-stop for a few days now. The boat is constantly rolling on this point of sail, sometimes pretty violently. Every once in a while, I'd say less than five or six times an hour, a set catches up with us and throws Samsara sideways so she's broadside to the weather. Her response is to lay over on her beam ends to the point that the windows in the side of her hull are completely submerged for several seconds before she straitens out, stands back up, often over correcting and then taking a big roll the other way.
As I write, I realize it sounds pretty awful, but it's really not. We are pretty well used to it now and just go on about our business acting like it's the totally natural thing to have to hang onto the walls and grab onto the furniture anytime you need to move about the cabin, or to be sent involuntarily skating across the room anytime your in your stocking feet, or to set your water bottle or coffee cup down on the floor instead of up on the table when your reading your book. It really is amazing how adaptable our species is. Give me twenty four hours and I'll give you the new normal.
So, we've grown accustomed to twenty five and thirty knots of wind - on our stern, that is. We put in a chicken jibe, (tacking instead of jibing, because it's a lot safer), just after dinner and there were a few long moments where we were faced directly into the full force of the wind. Sails cracking like thunder. Deck pitching wildly. Hull pounding the waves. Sheets whipping frantically. It was bedlam! It was a reality check on what the conditions actually are out here and a reminder that it would be a completely different world if we were trying to go up the hill.
Day 28 - Eleventh day under weigh
February 20, 2017
175 miles north of Tenerife
I am read a fascinating piece of nautical literature given to me by a neighbor and in it I noticed the correct spelling of "under weigh." All these years I had just assumed it was "underway", but, clearly, I was wrong. "Under weigh" makes so much more sense! You don't hoist the anchor. You weigh anchor and then get under weigh. Once you do, you'll be making weigh. Fascinating!
The weather has moderated. The windows haven't been underwater for quite some time. It's a relief for the rig and the rudders and the autopilot, but especially for the crew. Samsara has earned our confidence. And now, after having shaken her down proper, the focus turns to Tenerife.
It strikes me as such a strange juxtaposition between the liberty we enjoy out upon the high sea, an environment entirely foreign and hostile to our species, and the tyranny we are often made to endure upon entering a safe harbor, where our distant cousins, the bureaucrats, reign.
The ocean cares not one wit about your name or your papers or what part of the world you hail from. If she exacts any tax, it is only on your nerves or your strength or your own poor judgement. Her laws are very strict, but they are also consistent and applied equally to everyone who dares venture out.
Not so the Port Captain. His office is often a much more complex patch to navigate. Difficult, if not impossible, to predict or decipher, one little fiefdom resembles the next only so far as their vast ability to be arbitrary is concerned. I've had occasion to visit the same office in the morning as in the afternoon, only to be told of two completely different sets of requirements. Nearly every Port Captain places some vital importance on this specific thing or that, while others couldn't care less about it, but demand something else entirely. It can be quite maddening!
The best course I've found is to gather up every official looking document, stamp and signature you can find plus your wallet, groom yourself to the best of your ability, put on your best dress blues and an authentic smile and take a crack at introducing yourself in the language of the land. In other words, make an obvious effort to show respect.
The one way the Port Captain most resembles the ocean is in his absolute ability to ruin your day.
Here at Tenerife we have a potential conflict regarding our official ship's document. Namely, we don't have one. As the ownership of Samsara has recently changed hands, and there is an enormous backlog at the US Coast Guard documentation office, we are left only with a copy of our application and a letter from a ship's agent in California. It's a new situation for me and I'm a little uneasy about it. The ship's document is the first requirement for every county I've ever visited. Many of them won'taccept anything less than the original certified issue. I presented a facsimile document for a different vessel in Hong Kong last year. After much cajoling of the clerk at customs, it was finally accepted for entry with a sadistic grin and the certain stipulation that we would not be granted permission to leave without providing the original at check out. It might take some fast talking or even a little financial incentive to sway the powers that be in Tenerife that we are legit, but we'll do what we can to work it out. I'm sure you'll be rooting for us.
130 miles to Tenerife.
Still windy, but less so. Lots of cumulus but no cirrus. An indication that it may not to blow up again, at least for today. Once this little squall goes by we'll shake out the headsail and pour on some more coal. I really want my 200 mile day!
Voyaging on a small craft offshore is not a lot like what you may have read in the Hornblower series. The ocean can have her way with any size ship, but the smaller it is, the sooner the effects are felt. Given the same conditions, our little sloop of only 20 tons, experiences a lot more violent motion than even the smallest full rigged ship which might displace 350 tons. A lot of time, energy and effort spent during a passage on small yacht involves not falling off. To go forward on deck generally requires donning a safety harness and tether to clip on. If it's very rough, we even clip on in the cockpit. Below deck cooking, cleaning, dressing, reliving one's self and even sleeping must all be accomplished while hanging on or bracing against something. Consequently, bumps, bruises and other unexplained aches and pains are just an inevitable part of life offshore.
Another concept a lot of people find difficult to grasp is that more wind doesn't necessarily equate to more speed. Logic would dictate that the harder the wind blows, the faster we should go, but that's only true up to a point. Samsara will pretty well achieve her hull speed on a broad reach in twenty two knots of true wind. She will also achieve hull speed in 32 knots only, because of the larger sea state produced, she yaws a lot more which necessitates that the rudders be engaged more which produces more drag which causes her to travel slower, which means, at times, we can actually go farther with less wind. Really. I'm not kidding.
Day 28 - Eleventh day underway (still)
February 12, 2017
12:00 UTC/ 12:00 local
30.08'N - 15.14W
30 miles east of The Selvagem Islands
1,226 miles out of Les Sables d'Olonne
107 miles to Tenerife
183.7 miles sailed noon to noon. The 200 mile day continues to elude us!
So the word on the ship is that the second largest Carnival (Mardi Gras) in the world is held on Tenerife and begins tomorrow! I will be unable to confirm or deny this scuttlebutt until we land and have a chance to look around, but if it is true, it should be a target rich environment for the 'ole Nikon!
We have a healthy list of chores to prepare for our imminent Atlantic crossing: wash down, laundry, re-provision, change oil, take fuel and a little bit more outfitting for the long leg to Panama, so it's definitely not going to be a vacation stop, but I'm sure we'll make some time to take in a few sights along the way. It's good for morale.
I'll also be posting a few photos from this leg as soon as we get to wifi. While we're stopped, we'll be back on gmail and reporting live from Tenerife!
Talk to you then.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day SEVENTEEN through TWENTY | 03.09.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
February 10, 2017
Les Sables d'Olonne (still)
16:00UTC/ 17:00 local
It's been a long, slow preparation, but we are finally, ready to leave. The last thing was a warrantee replacement of one of the chart plotters. Apparently it was back ordered and the electronics outfitters had to go to great lengths to get it here in the time that they did. We are thankful to them!
Now it is only the weather that holds us back. It looks like a window developing and the forecast is good for departure on Saturday. It's the first decent weather since we got here. The prediction is for the wind to lay down to a dull roar from our stern and, thankfully, finally, the sea should settle into a more civilized state.
It is cold though! Like a lot of yacht's, Samsara's heater is actually an air conditioner that also runs in reverse. As such, it is dependent on the surrounding sea water to be above 50F to produce heat - which it is most definitely not here. Thank goodness space heaters are only about twelve euros apiece or we would have had no sanctuary other than our sleeping bags for the last week and a half. Even with both the little heaters going full blast all of the time, the cabin never gets above 62F.
As you can probably imagine, we are ready to get further south as soon as possible! Our stay here has been pleasant enough, but the horizon and the warm water beacons.
For myself, I am planning to take some few, small pieces of French culture with me and keep them for import to my home in the hope of cultivating a greater appreciation of life. I find the differences between our societies are subtle, but profound.
Before coming here, I had always heard the French were snobbish, rude and dirty. In actual experience, nothing could be further from the truth! With few exceptions, I have found them to be exceedingly polite, warm and friendly. They are also, immaculately, dressed, coiffed and manicured. And while it is true that many of the them over indulge in the application of cologne, I suspect it is a hold-over from the days before running water coupled with their pride in their country's reputation as the world's premier supplier of department store stink. I'm quite certain that I could do without so much of that, but many of the other cultural differences I've noticed are worth emulating!
For example; the entire country closes down for lunch from twelve to two everyday and all of the cafes and restaurants swell to capacity with happy people who actually sit down to converse with one another over their meals. You never ever see people eating or drinking alone or on the move. They sit down with family and friends and make their meals an occasion. They eat reasonable sized portions, only a half to a third the size of what's typically served in the US, but it's really enough. In fact, most times you don't want to finish your plate because it's all so delicious you just want it to last forever. To cap each meal, they drink tiny little coffees served in tiny little cups, but at about quadruple the strength that we're used to in the states. Once the meal is finished and they finally bring the check, there's no tax and no tip expected.
Then at 2:00 the country goes back to work except, strangely enough, the restaurants, which all close down for the rest of the afternoon and don't open again until dinner at 6:00. There is literally no where you can go out to eat during those few hours in the afternoon and if you attempt it, they will look at you like you've lost your mind.
Then, all of France (and probably Spain and Portugal too) goes dormant for the whole day Sunday. I don't mean just schools, banks, and business either. I mean restaurants, real estate agents, all the stores, including the grocery stores and even the petrol stations. They just roll up the entire country and, if they don't go to church, they spend the whole day in a national compulsory leisure. It's really wonderful!
Nearly everything is less expensive than the states. Fuel is one huge exception, but to compensate, they have devised a vast variety of very cool, little, tiny cars and they wheel them about their tiny, crooked, cobblestone streets at incredibly high rates of speed, dodging and weaving around bicycles, motor scooters, pedestrians and one another with alarming confidence. Even though some of the autos are impossibly small, the general population, who eat sensible portions of mostly healthy food, can fit fairly comfortably inside of them.
The supermarkets are really nice, but they do take a little getting used to. You grab a shopping cart in the parking lot by placing a euro in a lock on the handle. You get it back after you return the cart to its rightful place. At you option, the store will provide you an electronic gizmo that enables you to scan your items as you shop. When you're finished, you just scan your credit card and Volia! No waiting in line! They don't really have much instant anything which is a bit inconvenient for cooking underway, but they more than make up for it in the seemingly infinite selection of everything else.
My favorite is the cheese counter. They have this climate controlled cheese room with hundreds of gigantic wheels of every kind of cheese you can possibly imagine and many more you probably can't. It would take a lifetime to get to know all of those cheeses, but what a life that would be! The selection is so overwhelming, they have a full-time cheese consultant who matches the person and their particular occasion to the proper cheese. They cut it and weigh it and wrap it up like a butcher - only it's cheese! I swear, I had to pinch myself!
The only thing that surpasses the cheese selection is the wine. Our crew doesn't drink when we have the responsibility of someone else's yacht, so the assortment is waisted on us, but if wine is your thing, oh my God! Conversely, if you want a soda pop, you have a choice between Coke and water. In some places you can get Diet Coke, but that's pretty extravagant.
Other pleasant differences include the fact that in the whole of seventeen days we have seen only three street people, the public restrooms are plentiful, clean and coed and they don't have a railing or a warning or a rule for every possible danger. People use common sense and take personal responsibility. The consequences of their choices are there own as are the freedoms derived from them. The municipal police don't even carry side arms.
Like nearly every county I have visited, there is a lot to like about France, but still, we will be relieved to have her in our wake. It's nothing like what I expected from all I had heard in the states, but then, no place ever is.
I hope to return with my family one day, but until then, Viva la France! Merci beaucoup! Au revoir!
February 11, 2017
Les Sables d'Olonne (but not for much longer)
07:00UTC/ 08:00 local
Well, here it is...Today is the day we finally take up our lines and begin our voyage to the other side of the world.
Final preparations include:
Toping off the water tanks.
Stowing everything that's loose in the cabin.
Dogging down all the portholes and the hatches.
Setting out all the items that we'll want at the helm.
Stoping off at the fuel dock to cork the tanks.
Scaling the gangway one last time to thank the Port Captain and to get his stamp in our log book.
Then it's only to don our cold weather gear, make our petition to the gods of the wind and sea, and cast off.
I'm not gonna lie. It's pretty exciting, but it's also a little nerve wracking.
Funny how, even after all these years, on all these boats, across all these miles of wild, open ocean, I still get nervous when first setting off. It's something like stage fright, really, or the last moments prior to a public speaking engagement. The old self-doubt always takes a couple of swings, firing off dark thoughts and pointed questions about whether or not we're really as well prepared as we ought to be? What essential thing did we forgot? It carves a loop around the inside of my head and takes it sweet time pressing all the buttons in every cornerjust to see what they do.
I try to ignore it.
I try to ignore it because I know that once we finally get down to business and the diesel is propelling us over the first several swells, nerves will fade quickly away and be replaced by the salty, fresh, familiar smell of my oldest love - the sea. The expanse of sky will layout before us and as we unfurl the sails and reach for the horizon we will be left only with gratitude to finally be moving again - we will be grateful to be back home.
I'm certain of it.
Underway five miles west of Les Sables d'Olonne
I was right! After a little French fiasco at the fuel dock where their gasoline pump is green and their diesel pump is yellow and marked, "Gasoil", we finally managed to sort it all out without contaminating the tanks and voila! We are underway! We are literally sailing off into the sunset!
Everyone is smiling.
Everyone is happy.
We all have erections and,
If there were any women aboard, they would all be ovulating left and right!
Those are the facts forever.
You can check the tape!
But, if I didn't already mention it, it is cold! And I mean bone chilling, nose running, eyes watering, red cheeked, aching fingered cold! It's colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra! It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey!
It is cold!
Not that anyone's complaining. We each do our best to impersonate of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Wrapped in four and five layers of clothes and wearing our sleeping bags on top of that, we must resemble giant, sea sausages.
It makes things difficult. I'm having trouble typing on the iPad, because I have to take off my gloves. I have to suffer for posterity.
We're on a broad reach under full sail making about six knots. The evening sky is full of puffy clouds and turning thirty shades red up ahead. It's flat and it's calm.
But man, is it cold!
Patrick is cooking a pizza, but I suspect it's mainly an excuse to stand by the stove. Dinger is looking dapper as ever, standing behind the weather wheel, covered head to toe in his black foulies and grinning maniacally about the eyes. A small pod of dolphins came by to extend their welcome before heading back to work.
And then it got dark! We have fortunate timing, as it's a full moon tonight, so it's not really, really dark, but it's still plenty dark enough, I assure you. The first night of any voyage makes for a pretty tight jaw and not a lot of sleep. Too many new sounds to get familiar with. Too many possibilities...
The weather is fair, (did I mention its cold?) and the forecast is good. Samsara is right at home, effortlessly ticking off the miles like we knew she would. She's giving us very civilized ride under her full genoa and a single reefed main. All systems appear to be in order.
There is a considerable racket at the mast step every time we take a on big roll, but that's not so unusual with a freshly installed, deck-stepped spar. It should settle in here. Anyway, I'm not worried about it...much.
We threaded our way through a pretty good sized fishing fleet not long after sun down and it made me think two things;
First: Fishermen being out here is one of the best indicators that we won't be seeing any serious gales for at least another day. There is no better barometer than the local fisherman on that.
Second: The first night of the Vendee Globe, back in November, the racers came barreling right through these very waters on their first day of their non-stop lap around the globe. I imagine some of them must have had a lonely feeling once they'd finally left the spectator's fleet, and realized that they'd seen the last of their family and friends and just about any other human for the next good long while. They were really going to be out on their own.
It makes me glad for my mates, I tell you. Yessiree!
February 12, 2017
70 miles west of Les Sables d'Olonne
00:30 GMT/ 01:30 local
Dinger and I are up on deck. We're wide awake. We're making eight knots or better straight toward the mark. Another pod of dolphins joined us a couple hours ago and has been pacing us every since. Another good omen.
We put in our first jibe and set up the preventer. We also decided it was time for a reef in the headsail. The swell has built a bit and occasionally tries to push us around, but the autopilot isn't having any trouble with it. The mast step has already settled down.
We did discover that it's very important to close all the cabin doors. They have these really cool magnets that hold them open In port, but when we start rolling around underway, they have a tendency to slam shut and scare the piss out of us!
03:00 UTC/04:00 local
It's getting to be a long night. It's the North Atlantic in February. It's cold. It's dark. The swell is building. The barometer is falling. If you don't like it, you should've stayed home!
Dinger finally went down about thirty five seconds after Patrick came up. He was tired, not having slept since yesterday morning. I kept asking him if he was ready to hit the rack, but I guess he didn't want to leave me on deck alone. He worries.
I've been cat napping under my sleeping bag under the dodger. It's not a lot of rest, but it's probably the best I'll do these first nights out. I actually feel pretty good.
Patrick slept like an old hound. He's up and eating and smiling and shivering, but he's really doing great! I'm so glad he came along!
Samsara is throttled back under reduced sail and moseying and waddling and sometimes even rocking and rolling, her gentle way down the rhumb line.
It's about as good as anyone could realistically hope for this time of year at this high latitude.
07:00 GMT/08:00 local
We made it! Dawn is breaking but nothing else has! It's hard to describe what a relief the sunrise brings after a long, cold, hard night at sea.
For a few of the wee hours we were seeing sustained winds in the low thirties and waves at three and four meters. That's big enough to get the trepidation flowing in most anyone, especially if they have any sense.
Which obviously we must not. If we did, I'm sure we wouldn't be sailing on the Bay of Biscay in February.
Some people have strange ideas of fun.
So I'll end this entry with a little bit of house keeping:
Now that we're off the grid, you may have noticed we have a different email. That's because we are only able to communicate with you via Iridium satellite. It is an amazing luxury, undreamed of only a couple decades ago, but it has its limits. Basically, if you reply (and we desperately hope you do), please delete our message and don't send anything other than your text. We can't view pictures and we can't look at links. If you include anything extra in your message, it only gums up the works.
So, to recapitulate, we want to hear from you, really. Just keep your messages void of anything unnecessary like the text we sent you.
If you want to be taken off this mailing list, please let me know. If you haven't received the earlier portions of this blog, but would like to, let me know.
Day 19 - 2nd day underway
February 12, 2017
200 miles WSW of Les Sables d'Olonne
1,150 miles to Tenerife
It's been a wild ride these last twenty four hours! It's fair to say we've had an average wind speed of just under 30 knots - a very persistent force 7.
Beaufort Scale 7:
"High wind. Moderate gale. Near gale.
Sea conditions: Sea heaps up. Some foam from breaking waves is blown into streaks along the wind direction. Moderate amounts of airborne spray.
Land conditions: Whole trees in motion. Effort needed to walk against the wind. Swaying of skyscrapers may be felt, especially by people on upper floors."
So, it's no joke out here. Fortunately it's warmed up from last night and we are on the right boat. Samsara eats this shit up! We left all those big, lovely, comfortable, catamarans at the dock, because we could. They would be plenty miserable out in this slop, while we have as comfortable a ride as anyone could hope for. With both sails triple reefed, broad reaching straight toward the mark, we are screaming along, averaging 9 knots across this lumpy sea. I overheard Dinger tell Patrick that we hit a high of 14 surfing down the face of a steep wave about an hour ago. You wouldn't know it from inside the cabin. The girl is very well mannered. She's quiet. Solid. Tough. Even with a bone in her teeth!
We have had the occasional, large comber make it's way into the cockpit a couple of times. One filled Dinger's boots on its way down the companionway hatch, but that was a freak. Overall, I'd classify Samara as a very dry boat. She's just a wonderful sea boat for these conditions. Her stern is wide and so it does occasionally get hooked up on a wave and tossed over to one side, but the auto pilot puts her right without even breathing hard. I don't know if I'll ever get used to the eight big windows in the sides of the hull. They are fantastic for their light and the view they afford, but psychologically, they seem, well, like holes in the boat! I've decided to trust the engineers and linemen at Beneteau, and that they probably wouldn't put a boat into production if they hadn't worked that feature out.
The rig is solid. No shock loading. No chafe or stress on the sails. The leads are all fair. The halyards and furling lines have needed some adjustment - stretching out because they are new, and I think we could take the backstay in a little tighter - but other than that, she's pretty near perfect.
We have suffered two casualties though: My favorite pocket knife got caught on a dock line when we went to fuel up at Port Olonne and plunked straight into the drink. On the bright side, I'll always know it is. The other, much more serious loss, was the coffee pot. At the peak of the gale, Patrick decided to make us a hot meal. He's just a good guy like that, but he's also new to offshore sailing and didn't realize that in a big blow, given half a chance, everything that can hit the deck always will hit the deck. That's Bergel's Law. He thought he could leave the coffee pot wedged up on the counter for a few minutes, but he was wrong. I'm confident he'll find a workaround.
Day 20 - 3rd day underway
February 13, 2017
O3:00 UTC/04:00 local
Well, it laid down for a bit, but now it's back up and touching the thirties again. The sea is settling as we get closer to shore, but it's still pretty sporty out here.
You get tired in the weather. Muscles you don't usually use, or even know you have, get plenty sore from constantly working to keep you upright. And the sound of the wind through the rig...it just wears on you after a couple of days. I'm sure it's compounded by the sleep schedule, or lack thereof. Two hours at a time just isn't getting it for me.
05:00 UTC/ 06:00 Local
Big wind shift to the southwest. We shook out the reefs this morning and are ghosting along close hauled at about five knots. Less than 100 miles to the big turn at Cape Finisterre. It looks like it might be on the nose for a little while, but not so boisterous.
13:00 UTC/ 13:00 local
We're close hauled and headed west. We've got Samsara reefed down again. Getting around Finisterre is going to be a little bit of work, but hey, that's how all the headlands do.
The crew is settling in to the shipboard routine. Tonight we're setting a watch schedule so everybody knows when to rest. We haven't been able to do that so far and sleeping has been erratic, if not elusive. It generally takes a couple days to acclimate and the rough weather doesn't help because you spend a lot of time tending the boat.
One of the coolest dolphin shows I've ever seen went down yesterday afternoon! I turned to look back just as a really big set of waves was coming for us. There were five white combers stacked up back to back and considerably larger than average. As I braced against the imminent impact of the first one and the high possibility of the cockpit getting pooped, a dolphin jumped out from half way up its face, just about even with my head and not ten feet from the boat.
Wave after wave, Samsara lifted up and over like the rockstar she is and dolphin after dolphin took turns shooting out into the air like a silly string of torpedoes. They were having so much fun!
I am still amazed at how, out of all the countless waves in that whole jumbled sea, were they able to find those few biggest, steepest ones to play with.
More evidence to support my theory that there's more going on than meets the eye.
15:00 UTC/ 15:00 local
Enough of this shit! We've been beating into twenty knots of wind and six to eight foot waves for a couple hours. Samsara doesn't mind, but her skipper needs a break. The wind keeps backing and turning us further and further from our course, so we're not really gaining anything at the moment anyway. The other tack sends us into the cape and magnified weather. Time to heave to and wait for it to calm down a little. I'm going to try and have a nap. Sometimes passage making is like that.
Ta for now.
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day ten through thirteen | 03.07.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Les Sables d'Ollone, France
February 3, 2017
03:00UTC/ 04:00 local
Big weather comes this way! System after system have pummeled the coast without mercy since we arrived at Port Ollone nine days ago. Now comes the doozy! The system rolling through here Saturday and Sunday looks forbidding, to say the least. The locals are tying down everything that moves and even some things that don't. As much as we want to get underway, I'm sure we'll be grateful for our warm bunks in this safe little harbor these coming days.
The gods of the wind have arrived in a fury! We are pretty well protected in the lee of a big sea wall and some buildings and yet we have sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts to 50 here inside the harbor! We're broadside to it, so the boat is constantly heeling over in the gusts and it feels a lot like we are already underway. We laid over so hard in a gust just now that one of the galley drawers came open and spit out a frying pan at me as a couple water bottles leaped off the counter to join in the fray!
I love the sound of a marina in a gale, though. The cacophony of a thousand halyards slapping on spars as the wind whistles past is a kind of comfort to me. I am so far from home yet here is this familiar dissonance. For a few minutes at least, I'm not a stranger...
Our plan, as it now stands, is to throw off the lines on Tuesday morning and beat feet nearly 400 miles southwest to get around Cabo Villain as fast as we can. That's one of the western most points of continental Spain and a major headland capable of generating all manner of mayhem. Once past, the weather should start to moderate as we drop below the jet stream and continue south down the coast past Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Morocco. Then, we'll either pull in at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is an island a little more than 100 miles west of the Sahara, or Santa Cruz Tenerife, sixty miles further offshore. At the latitude of the Canaries, the temperature should be comparatively delightful. I'm thinking San Diego. We are all getting anxious to make some miles and imbibe in more hospitable climes.
February 4, 2017
16:00 UTC/ 17:00 local
Last night was a rough one! A low pressure system tore through the harbor like wildfire! For a time, fifty knot gusts had Samsara tugging at her morning lines like a wild beast, trapped and afraid! As I lied there wide awake and rolling around in my berth, I envisioned what would happen if one of the lines parted and how difficult it would be for me to run up on deck in nothing but my skin and bones to sort the mess out before it got too bad. Fortunately nothing ever came of it and I fell back to sleep.
I learned later that Dinger was already up trying to locate the source of rain water infiltrating his cabin and puddling up on his mattress. No luck.
Several hours later we woke up to the most beautiful morning! Clear and calm, it was the first time it's been warm since we got here! The Dinger and I took a morning stroll out to the lighthouse at the harbor entrance just to kill some time, but my, were we treated to a magnificent show! The sea was still raging from the night before and the waves were like nothing more than fireworks, their thunderous explosions peppering the sky with misty rainbows eighty and a hundred feet above our heads.
After an hour of that, we stoped at the boulangerie to pick up a few fresh pastries and baguettes and then on back to the boat for a few more chores.
We've pretty much got everything stowed away now and have gone through all of the systems and the rigging. It's just patience that's required for a passable sea. Patience and plenty of rest. It could be eight or nine days underway to the Canary Islands and we'll probably have to earn them. The first four to six hundred miles of our voyage is likely to be the roughest. Big waves, cold water and a biting wind are what the North Atlantic has promised. I'm still happy to go out there, because "the worst day sailing...", but I will admit that the higher latitudes are not my first choice in the winter.
The crew of Samsara hopes that you are warm, fat and happy and that you are enjoying these little slices of adventure as we serve them up. Patrick, Matthew and I have all lamented that we are homesick and it's nice to know that you are here with us, at least some of the time, with your spirit.
Until later. Au Revoir.
Day 12 February 5, 2017
Les Sables d'Olonne (still)
20:30UTC/ 21:30 local
The crew is getting restless. The weather is not cooperating. It was so cold and miserable today that we barely left the confines of Samsara's cabin. Patrick had a long run and we all visited the rain locker to apply some suds, but other than that, we mostly just hung around talking.
We did get a little excitement when all of a sudden we had to scurry over to the next dock and lash down an absent neighbor's flogging headsail. It had come loose in the gale and, if left unattended, would have beat itself to shreds in no time. The most shocking thing was how rapidly and intensely my hands hurt from the blistering cold! Searing pain came to the tips of the fingers as both hand turned instantly red while we struggled to tame the sail. It was a good reminder of just how quickly a person can find real trouble out on the frigid sea. Even back inside the comfort of Samsara's cabin, it was a good long time before my hands regained feeling and returned to their normal color.
Later in the afternoon we made a call on an old salt down the dock and gathered the local intel. Unfortunately, it's not looking very promising for a departure tomorrow. In fact, I doubt we'll get away much before Saturday. We need, at minimum, a forty eight hour window to get past Cabo Finisterre, nearly four hundred miles southwest. Eighty hours would be better - then we could gain Lisbon - but that's probably way too much to ask this time of year.
The problem with leaving during a shorter window is that there's no good harbor of refuge along that gains us
any ground. Because of the topography of this monstrous bay, anywhere we go to hide from the next big blow puts us deeper downwind than we already are and closer to the notoriously dangerous "Coast of Death" as the locals call it. The official name is the "Biscay Coast", and as I mentioned in a previous post, it has been notorious among seafarers for centuries. It runs east/west along the northern edge of Spain and has been littered with countless shipwrecks and the bodies of untold numbers of sailors who met their end on that hostile shore.
We intend to avoid that.
The wind is forecast to lay down for a bit, but it's been blowing so hard for so long that the sea state is an unmitigated shit show! There's significant wave action in two directions creating the potential for ten and even fifteen meter seas! It's a giant washing machine out there and still too dangerous for us to travel in safety. We haven't totally ruled Tuesday out yet, but my intuition keeps whispering that we should wait until Friday or Saturday.
I've second guessed myself on a wide verity of instances over the years and have always seemed to wind up paying for it one way or another in the end.
This time no. The ocean here is too strict a master and not to be trifled with. Impatience has no place aboard a sailboat trying to make its way around the world. It's a leading cause of crew injury and vessel damage. We'll likely take our cue once the fishing boats go back out. Until then...we wait.
We've been doing our best to fend off the boredom in our own various ways. Patrick has been teaching himself Marlinspike seamanship - tying Turks heads and rolling hitches on most anything he can get his hands on. Dinger and I put together a homemade gaff consisting of a broom handle and a modified paint can hanger, ( to which Patrick added a fancy rope grip). Now Dinger is reading and resting and I'm going through systems manuals, doing research on possible stops between here and the Canaries and preparing documents for our agent in Panama.
At this moment, that all seems a long way away, though.
Day 13 February 6, 2017
Les Sables d'Olonne (still)
07:00UTC/ 08:00 local
The dawn is late here. Only now is it coming light. And what's this I see? A beautiful, intensely pink sky! The wind shut off earlier this morning, but that sky (and all the weather models) say it'll be back before long.
I'll make a visit to the harbor master this morning and catch us up on the mooring fees. After that, it's off to check out a few of the stores the locals have been telling us about. Maybe we'll fit in a coffee and pastry along the way.
After lunch it's over to the outfitters to check on the status of Samsara's last bits of gear. Then, back to compulsively checking the weather models every fifteen minutes.
What a life!
J. Eric Bergel
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day seven & eight| 03.05.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Day seven and eight.
Port Olona, Les Sables d'Ollone
February 1, 2017
00:00 UTC/ 01:00 local
It's naturally cold and wet here because we are on the same latitude as Seattle with nearly the same weather. The only real difference is that Seattle is buffered from the mighty Pacific Ocean by the Olympic mountains, whereas the Sands of Ollone lie fully exposed to the "Sea of Atlas," or, as it is more commonly known, the Atlantic Ocean.
As fate would have it, there is a really big storm coming our way with winds expected to exceed fifty knots and seas to fifteen meters!
Consequently, we aren't going anywhere! At least not until the coast is clear. I was initially thinking we'd go from here straight through to Gran Canary - a passage of about 1,350 miles - but once it dawned on me that there wouldn't be much paperwork involved in harbor hoping between here and Spain and Portugal because of the European Union, I decided that as soon as the boat is completely ready to go and we have a weather window large enough to ensure safe passage to the next port, we will quit this harbor and venture out upon the sea. We need to put some miles in our wake!
Even still, Monday looks like our earliest possible departure.
Not that there's any reason to be in a hurry to leave this little town. The people here are very friendly and generous with their time as well as their laughter. The food is sensational! The slight cultural differences are fascinating to discover and the tourists are all gone - It's a summer town in the winter.
As it happens, though, this sleepy little harbor happens to be both the start and the finish of the Vendee Globe yacht race which is one of the most important in all of sailing and is often referred to as "The Everest of the Seas!" It is an unbelievably grueling affair where men and women, mostly French, take these huge carbon fiber rocket ships, which are barely disguised as sailboats, and race them singlehanded, non-stop around the entire planet! It's beyond extreme and the seventh place finisher is coming in tomorrow morning! How cool is that? The winner through sixth place were all in before we got here and the place has been a madhouse! They finally struck the pavilion today, but they left huge laser lights in place to dance across the sky, possibly until the last boat is in. They had something like 27 boats start in November. Six have finished and there are still another 12 out there. Nine boats have retired the race for one reason or another - mostly mechanical or structural failure. One boat slammed into what the captain thought may have been a semi-submerged shipping container while he was sleeping and his boat shattered like an eggshell. He barely made it into New Zealand unassisted. The first place finisher (a Frenchman, of course) set a new world record for solo circumnavigation of a monohull. He sailed around the planet in 74 days and change! The number 2 finisher was less than 16 hours behind!
Amazing! Anyway, we're all three of us pretty excited to see number seven come in!
We have completed most of our preparation for departure these last few days. A few items owed us by various merchants and service providers are still outstanding as is the purchase of all our fresh food stores. We'll put that off until the last possible minute before throwing off the lines. Other than that, it's just waiting for a weather window. I've attached some photos and descriptions below.
Let us know what you think.
J. Eric Bergel
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day three through six | 03.04.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Charles de Gaulle International Airport
06:00 UTC/07:00 local
And so it begins...
We purchased new tickets and boarded the TGV bullet train for our seven hour traverse of the French countryside where we will ultimately join SAMSARA. She's moored at a marina out on the windswept shore of the dreaded Bay of Biscay, and I can hardly wait to meet her!
I'll have to be patient though, as we still have two connections to make, which its not nearly as simple as you might imagine. All the signage and announcements at the stations and on the trains are in French, which wouldn't be a problem if any of us understood French, but we don't.
The other, rather odd, aspect of their system is that they don't tell you which platform your train will be departing from until just ten minutes beforehand. Consequently, you wind up having to throw elbows with the hordes of people climbing over each other as they scurry from the station house down the escalator and out onto the platform. Once there, you must find the electronic board which illustrates where the car that your seat is on will stop. If you do manage to get to the right seat in the right car going to the right place, you can breath a huge sigh of relief and relax in the absolute silence that persists in even the most crowed train car.
Nobody ever speaks at all. Not one wit!
It's like being in a public men's room back in the states; one word and you are immediately suspected of perversion, mental infirmity or both. The only major difference, in fact, is that, on the train, you're moving a hundred and fifty miles an hour and it smells like cheese.
Port Olona, Les Sables d'Ollone
January 30, 2017
01:00 UTC/ 02:00 local
We have been very busy these last few days. Already we have been out sailing twice, testing systems and giving the owner a chance to get to know his new baby.
We have done some provisioning and outfitting, but still have quite a bit more to do. It's just as well though, because there is no chance of getting underway through the forecast period. The Bay of Biscay has been notorious among sea farers for its vicious winds and monstrous seas for centuries. This week it's definitely confirming its reputation.
In the positive column there are many items, but possibly none more important than the fact that they finally located my gear and are sending it by postal van to a nearby hotel. It arrives tomorrow. The relief I feel is simply overwhelming! I hardly slept these past several nights hindered by jet lag and worry. This morning it's more or less the excitement of recovering my things that has me up with the bats. Had the gear gone permanently missing I would have been faced with a daunting proposition somewhat like sailing half way round the world in my birthday suit and that would not be pretty!
Following is a hyperlink to our vessel location. If you bookmark this page, you will be able to know our exact position, course and speed in real time 24/7. It really is the age of miracles!
You can see some pictures here:
Please let me know if you need any help with locating us or any other questions you have. We will be very busy until we get underway - and even then, still, but I will try to reply as soon as possible.
So, until next time, Au Revoir!
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day two | 03.01.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
Paris, France Day 2
January 27, 2017
03:00 UTC/04:00 local
We had an exceptionally comfortable flight back to the old world from LAX in the front of a brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Imagine, only ten hours to travel nearly half way around the world! Amazing! And what a magnificent bird she was! Fast, quiet, comfortable, fuel efficient with the sexiest curved wings of any passenger plane I've ever seen. The grey matter involved to create such an exquisite vehicle truly boggles the mind!
Another thing that nearly defies comprehension is how, with access to such amazing sophistication and technology, the very same airline that owns and operates a fleet of those marvelous contraptions, can still manage to lose most of my baggage. Two very large, well marked crates which contain all of my essential sailing gear have vanished into the ether. No one at Norwegian Airlines can give me any indication where they are or if I'll ever see them again. Fortunately, they will reimburse me for a reasonable amount of toothpaste if I submit the proper claim forms accompanied by a dated receipt and a four color photograph of me purchasing it, so that's a relief...
The irony is that the Dinger's duffel is even bigger than my crates, but the ticket agent decided to let his go through regular channels, while I had to drop mine off at "oversized" baggage all the way across the terminal.
I think that's where the trouble began. We got everything off the baggage carrousel in Paris, except those two crates. One might speculate that the crates missed getting loaded on our plane in time. Unfortunately, that theory breaks down as the flight's departure was delayed more than three hours for non-specified reasons which caused us to miss our non-refundable bullet train ride to our non-refundable hotel room in Nantes.
Now I lie wide awake in the airport hotel wondering about an uncertain future. Those crates contain literally thousands of dollars worth of accoutrements specific to our trade and not easily replaced on short notice. From now until we regain possession of them, our departure is in suspense. I don't even want to contemplate what we'll do if they can't find them...
SAMSARA'S LOG - Day One | 02.28.17
"A captain's gorgeous rendition of a transoceanic journey"
21:00 UTC/12:00 local
January 25, 2017
Enroute from McKinleyville, California to Les Sables d'Olonne, France (and back again).
Welcome family, friends and neighbors to what promises to be another epic journey for us all at Pacific Yacht Delivery.
This is the first entry in the log of the voyage of SAMSARA.
Saṃsāra is a Sanskrit word that means "wandering" or "world", with the connotation of cyclic, circuitous change. It also refers to the theory of rebirth and "cyclicality of all life, matter, existence", a fundamental assumption of all Indian religion. Saṃsāra is sometimes referred to with terms or phrases such as transmigration, karmic cycle, reincarnation, and "cycle of aimless drifting, wandering or mundane existence".
Fitting, I think.
And as we settle in our seats on the plane, the excitement of getting underway finally begins to overcome the dread of leaving.
Home is a wonderfully loving and comfortable place and I feel blessed to be able to say so. My life there is very nearly ideal, but I'm a traveling man with an insatiable wanderlust and I seem to have trouble staying put.
Everything has its price...and the price of visiting the watery parts of the world is that I usually start getting homesick three or five days before leaving. Seldom is there much relief before we return.
These trips are always difficult that way.
It breaks my heart a little each time I have to say goodbye to my wife and children and I'm pretty sure they don't like it much either. Everyone just sort of does their best to screw on their "pleasant" face and go about their business with the vague understanding that somehow, we're all doing what we need to do.
And what we need to do for the next seventy days, or so, is to deliver a practically new, fifty-five foot Beneteau Oceanis sailing yacht from her birthplace on the central coast of France, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal and up the eastern side of the Pacific to her new home in Southern California.
It's good work if you can get it!
For this sojourn I have enlisted the experienced seamanship and jovial comradery of my dear old shipmate Matthew "the Dinger" Aldinger of West Haven, California. Some of you will surely remember him and his various antics as chronicled in the log of the Trader on her voyage from the far side of Malaysia to Honolulu last summer.
The fact that the Dinger is eager to sail another 8,000 miles with me again so soon proves only one thing and that is that I'm not the only lunatic out on the ocean!
The fact that I'm willing to bring him is a credit to his affable character and positive attitude.
Also joining us this trip is Patrick "I'm no hero" Beyer of the budding metropolis that is McKinleyville, California. This is Patrick's first voyage with Pacific Yacht Delivery, and he's still green to offshore sailing, but he brings a wide range of relevant experience and a personality entirely suited to our mission. He also meets the main criteria of employment at PYD which is to say I'd probably still be okay with him after three days together in a life raft.
Let's all take a moment here to pray it never, ever comes to that!
Patrick leaves his lovely wife and two young daughters behind to worry about him and hold their breath until his safe return. He is therefore, exceptionally well qualified to commiserate with me of the exquisite anguish known only to family men weeks out upon the lonesome sea.
I'm sure we'll all get to know each other very well in the coming days and weeks and I promise to faithfully report our victories and foibles all along the way.
So, as we hurl along at five hundred knots in our recliner chairs nearly forty thousand feet in the air, it would appear that we are hell bent on putting a half a world between us and everything we know and love just so that we can make our patient way back.
Wanderlust is weird that way.
As I look out the porthole, I contemplate what new adventures await us. What challenges will we face? What lessons will we learn?
It does take some of the edge off the homesickness to know that so many of you will be along for the ride.
We encourage your correspondence!
Once we get underway in the next week or so, we will be able to keep in touch via the miraculous technology of satellite communications, but our connection will be slower than it was even back in the Dark Ages of dial-up, so pictures, videos and hyperlinks will be useless to us, but we can get unlimited text and that's what we crave.
Details about all of that will be provided as soon as we get set up.
The next few days are sure to be a flurry of activity as we go about the business of getting our little ship ready for sea. Jet lag, culture shock and information overload will surely place considerable demands on our time and attention. Consequently, I don't know exactly when the next log entry will be submitted or how much time we'll have to reply to your messages, but even so, we will read them with joy and reply as we can.
Until then, Matthew, Patrick and myself will be sending our love to you across the miles.
FOILING INTO THE FUTURE - THE FIGARO III | 01.12.17
Groupe Beneteau is producing the first series-built production monohull with foils. It is a strong message that is sure to have a knock-on effect, both for racing and yacht production.
Beneteau unveiled renderings of the Figaro 3, the first production-built monohull with foils at the Paris Boatshow in December. Leading French design firm VPLP has drawn a contemporary looking race boat, but it is the parts sticking out of the sides that are causing a real stir.
These novel looking foils are designed to replace the traditional weighty ballast tanks used on past Figaro models. Described as ‘asymmetric tip foils’ they work by creating side force to supplement the skinny keel and reduce leeway while causing minimal drag. An important factor is also that they are able to retract within the boat’s maximum beam. read more
Sportsman of the year - Charles-etienne Devanneaux | 01.09.17
Charles-Etienne Devanneaux of Naos Yachts & California Yacht Club has been awarded the Senior Sportsman of the year award. Sailing and racing since he was seven years old, He’s done multiple ocean crossings and has raced in everything from TransPac and Pacific Cup. Charly is a fierce competitor and an even fiercer philanthropist – racing to raise money to fund the ALS Association through his non-profit, Sailing for ALS. This organization funds research to cure ALS as well as providing support for people who suffer from this illness.
Read more about the prestigious award and Sailing for ALS below:
The MIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW | 01.05.17
The ultimate boat show is back. President's day in Florida is sure to be a blast with more than 1,300 boats on land and in the water, this extravagant show is not one to miss! Equipped with a deep basin for larger vessels and tented exhibit space for marine accessories, electronics, & engines, the possibilities in the sunshine state are endless!
So if you find yourself on the east coast during this amazing time, we hope to catch you walking the docks, as this is one of the most incredibly gorgeous boat shows to attend. See you there! Dates & times
- Premier Day - $40
- Adult (age 16+) - $25
- Two-day pass (Friday–Monday, Februray 17–20) - $45
- Five-day pass - $100
- 15 & younger - FREE
THE SAN DIEGO SUNROAD BOAT SHOW | 01.04.17
Naos Yachts would love to welcome you to the 2017 San Diego Sunroad Boat Show. If you are a boater, don’t miss this once a year event! They'll have the brands and companies you’ve come to know and love, as well as free boating seminars, boat rides, libations and more. Come join us!
In addition to the tremendous boats, there will also be a plethora of marine vendors and electronics with the latest nautical products and services, boating seminars, as well as food and beverages for attendees to enjoy a day on San Diego Bay. Dates & times
- Adults - $13
- Children 12 & under - FREE
- Active Military, EMTs, Police and Fire personnel - FREE (on 01/26 & 01/27 with ID)
BOAT TEST: SWIFT TRAWLER 50 | 01.03.17
"The Beneteau Swift 50 comes standard with two staterooms, but also has a third space that can be made into a third guest cabin with Pullman-style beds or an office with a large desk and elevated berth. An unusual feature is the dumbwaiter, which makes moving food and drink between the fly bridge and the galley much easier. High bulwarks, broad walkways and railings make access to the bow lounging area easy and safe." read more
- Teak slatted self-draining cockpit
- Teak-slatted L-shaped cockpit bench seat
- Retractable ladder in swimming platform with solid wood steps
- Adjustable pilot seat and co-driver's seat to port on flybridge
- Sliding flybridge salon table with extensions
- Galley unit with sink and hot/cold pressurized mixer tap, flybridge garbage, compartment for optional refrigerator and electric grill
- Woodwork Alpi Mahogany interior
- Salon with 2 leaf aft sliding door with tinted glass and blackout curtain
- Galley 3-burner gas stove with pot-holder and protective glass cover
- Full-width owner's cabin with central double-berth with slatted base and marine mattress, mounted on gas strut with storage
Merci Papa | 10.28.16
We can only hope that the ARC itself is prepared for Charly and Naos Yachts' new vessel: the new, highly sought after Lagoon 42 properly named "Merci Papa". The boat is currently being finalized in France before heading to its rightful home here on the Southern California Coast. She is leaving France, headed to the Canary Islands to wait for the depart of the 2016 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. She will be sailed in memory of Charly's Father.
Click below to follow the voyage:
BOAT TEST: OCEANIS 35.1 | 10.14.16
"The new Beneteau Oceanis 35.1 offers two-cabin and three-cabin arrangements, and a new L-shaped galley that will make cooking easier and safer underway. Her large cockpit proves equally useful for daysailing, cruising, club racing, or entertaining on the hook. An optional fold-out transom makes for easy boarding from the dock, a convenient step into a dinghy for a night ashore, or an ideal snorkeling platform. Twin rudders and wheels are handy in a boat that carries her wide beam well aft." read more
- Twin helm station
- Wide cockpit
- Storage locker
- Ventilation and aerator on deck hatch for natural ventilation
- Private fore cabin and two aft cabins accommodates six people
- Head with toilet and shower
- Gently sloping 45-degree saloon companionway
- Wide aft cabin, spacious berth
- L-shaped Galley
BOAT TEST: OCEANIS 38.1 | 10.14.16
"Beneteau’s Oceanis 38.1 combines strong sailing performance and a roomy cockpit with several below decks accommodations choices, enough to suit almost any buyer. In addition, there's a complete list of optional equipment, offered in Trim Level packages and as individual items, that will allow each owner to tailor the Oceanis 38.1 to his or her requirements ." read more
- Buyer's choice of galley and head designs, salon seating, and number of staterooms
- The interior layout and design is by Nauta Design
- The hull design is by Finot-Conq Naval Architects
- Furling genoa with UV protective strip and semi-full batten logo mainsail
- Cockpit benches
- 2 Stainless steel steering wheel consoles
- Choice of mahogany or blond oak joinery throughout interior
- Main salon cushions and mattress with foam density
BOAT TEST: OCEANIS YACHT 62 | 10.11.16
"Just recently introduced to the US and world markets, Beneteau has once again introduced an attractive, voluminous, easy-to-handle yacht. The new Beneteau Oceanis 62 is state-of-the-art with smooth sailing lines, generous accommodations on deck, and below, easily managed sail plan and attention to details, large and small. She incorporates proven concepts from the rest of the successful 10-boat line of Oceanis yachts." read more
- Nature light below from windows all around hull and cabin top
- Large sun bathing areas on the fore deck, midships and in the cockpit
- Sail locker/crew’s quarters in bow; large cockpit lockers
- Centerline pass through
- Dual helm stations, with carbon fiber steering wheels, duplicate 12” chartplotters, sailing instruments, engine and thruster controls
- Full dodger and Bimini with side enclosures
- 160-hp Yanmar diesel engine
- Alpi Mahogany woodwork interior
- Ultraleather upholstery
LAGOON 42 OPEN HOUSE | 10.02.16
Come down to the Marina and indulge in the beauty that is the Lagoon 42. This new member of the Lagoon family has style and a strong personality. While keeping a family resemblance and retaining the main features of the latest generation of Lagoons, it shows us a new path: unhurried evolution, a new "organic" approach, in search of harmony between living space and man.
The event will take place on October 15th & 16th. For more information regarding time, feel free to contact us.
THE SOCAL BOAT SHOW 2016 | 09.27.16
A truly spectacular event, the SoCal Boat Show's revival was a sheer and utter success. Boasting one of the most beautiful locations of any boat show, and a vendor line-up that most would kill for, this event was ,and will continue to be, a shimmering gem on the glorious California coast.
But if you did happen to miss out on this weekends' SoCal Boat Show, be sure to check out the pictures in our Photos section.