LINKS FOR THE YEAR 2003
|[JAN] [FEB] [MARCH] [APRIL] [MAY] [JUNE] [JULY] [AUG] [SEPT] [OCT] [NOV] [DEC]|
Log for the week of June 8th 2003 Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts by PS
148 miles to go. 99 ½ percent of the miles behind us. In some ways it seems only a short time ago we passed through these waters
The latitudes between 30 and 40 degrees are known as the variables and they sure lived up to their name. After sailing the trades for so long, I had forgotten there was anything else. Our log shows that starting Tuesday, the winds were from every direction and speed. Our satellite pictures show a series of commas, low pressure systems with trailing cold fronts, strung across the United States like some stuttering writer had forgotten to lift his finger from the keyboard. If the low didn't hit us, the trailing front would. Even Herb Hilgenberg was frustrated by the weather patterns seeming to be a month late. Ahh, for those boring trade winds..
Our weather faxs showed just what can happen when the lows hit the northern Gulf Stream. Seas were16 feet and winds up to forty knots. To reinforce the fact that sailing the ocean is not a ride in the park, the forty-eight foot Hinkley "Cristina" was lost without a trace, only a few hundred miles to our north.
Wednesday found us under reduced sail, not for strong winds, but to slow us down to let yet another low pass over the Gulf Stream ahead of us. We only made eighty-five miles in twenty four hours. While the low crossed the Gulf Stream, a trailing warm front was not going to let us off the hook. I saw lightning to the west on my midnight to four AM watch. I put the ground wire over the side and disconnected the radio antennas and power supplies to them and the computer. I hate lightning. There you are, nothing but miles of flat ocean around and you have this sixty foot pole pointing towards the sky, daring the lightning to find you.
We were under a triple reefed main and staysail, jogging along, with the engine just ticking over to maintain steerage between the passing squalls. So far they were only gusting to 25 knots. About 3 AM, the lightning stopped, and I thought we were in the clear. I check the Radar and saw differently. A solid black wall, twenty four miles long was approaching at thirty knots. No amount of speeding up or slowing down would help us miss it. Iwalani laid over and put her railcap to the water. I struggled to ease the mainsheet, but decided against it, as the sails would begin to luff. At fifty knots, they would have torn themselves to ribbons, like a flag in a hurricane. The wind generator was screaming. Rain was coming down like the inside of a car wash gone mad. Amy got up at the roaring and calmly said "What are you worrying about, Iwalani can handle herself." Like a fretting parent, I sat and watched. Iwalani refused to let this squall get the best of her. She was rail down, but went no further. Twelve thousand pounds of concrete and railroad track, deep in the water, fought against the wrath of Mother Nature. Ten minutes later the wind dropped to 40 knots, then 30. A half hour later it was over and we were back to twenty-five knot winds. Every day Iwalani proves her mettle.
Thursday, the word from Herb was "Get across the Gulf Stream as fast as you can." Up went all sail and the engine to "Non Economy" mode. The heck with saving fuel. The winds eased to ten knots and we crossed the forty or so miles of warm, storm breeding tropical water. But mother nature wasn't though with us yet. Another low was rapidly intercepting our path. Looking at the chart and our speed, it would take a small miracle. The good news was that we were out of the Gulf Stream.
I did some calculations of our course and speed and the storms predicted track and speed. I told Amy the strong winds would hit us in four hours. At midnight Saturday, just like clockwork, the winds built to thirty knots from the south-west. At least it was a following breeze. Iwalani raced along at ten knots. The engine was still going, as we really wanted to get north as fast as we could. Once north of the "magic" forty degree line the winds were predicted to ease. And they did. At midnight, fog enveloped us as we crossed the New York shipping lanes. We both stayed on watch to cross check each other concerning traffic. I was on deck, struggling to identify ships lights through wet binoculars, while Amy called out targets on the Radar. Except for a fishing boat, which we were able to raise on the radio, we passed the dreaded shipping lanes unscathed.
If you were to ask what incident made me think I wouldn't return home, it was crossing the Boston shipping lanes at night, on our outbound track, three years ago. There was no time to make a distress call. No time to launch the life raft. No time to even get on a life jacket. The large steel ship, headed blindly out to the fishing grounds, could have ended our trip on the first day. Only luck and quick thinking on our part changed the story line.
Needless to say, we will be crossing the Boston shipping lanes during the daytime, on our approach to Maine. On Tuesday, a one day gap is predicted between fronts, so we will be making the jump to Robinhood Cove then. PS
Log for the week of June 16, 2003 Georgetown, Maine
Well, we made it. But arriving back in Georgetown was not without its trials and tribulations. We feel like we have just awoken from a very long nap. Was it all a dream? Did I really have my hip inside a lion's mouth? Did we really swim with penguins? Surf in Australia? Eat taro in Fiji? Sail through storms and calms? Did I really fight a kookaburra over a hamburger? Did the most deadly snake in Australia stare us down instead of slithering off in the usual mild mannered fashion?
We were so anxious to get back to Maine. Why? Our welcome home was anything but welcoming, as I will soon reveal. Now in the months ahead I must sit down and compile our weblogs with my own hand written logs and reams of research articles and turn it into a book. Everything we experienced seems so fantastic and unreal. I see now why writers who get back and put pen to paper months later, sound so incredibly more positive than us. We write as events unfolded, there was no time for endorphins to polish our synapses. The retrospectoscope sure puts a rosey tint on everything.
After sailing around the world, I finally know why Phil was so anxious when I first set off with him. I had only sailed in the Gulf of Maine. It really is a truly unique area. Shaped like a bowl, Maine and New Hampshire keep the western and northern edges from sloshing out. Cape cod protects the southern waters, with her flexed muscular arm. The seemingly open eastern end, shallows up into Nantucket shoals, George's bank and many other relatively reef like spots, essentially keeping the worst of the "ocean" seas out. These banks are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world and they can make the Gulf of Maine sometimes as smooth as a mirror. Our trip home was no exception. They are also the graveyard for many ships and fisherman. On our first trip out over them, three years ago, I could not sleep over the din of voices. Kids screaming, men swearing, women crying. Many sailors have told me it was all in my imagination and the noises I was hearing were creakings and groanings from Iwalani. Maybe so, but she never made those noises anywhere else. Phil and I once heard a Japanese TV game show coming through the planks far out at sea, but that's a whole different story. Needless to say, there was no way I was going over George's banks again- so we motored through glassy still waters up through the Cape cod canal, into the even calmer waters of the Gulf of Maine. We decided to go to Robinhood marina where we first launched Iwalani, rather than up the Kennebec River to our house. We weren't sure what condition our mooring would be in. Besides, Robinhood is still the best marina in the world. And they have courtesy cars. We weren't sure what it would take to get our own cars road-worthy, borrowing the marinas was going to be very handy.
After dodging a giant tanker north of Portland and an even crazier finback whale, we finally arrived in Georgetown just before the arrival of another front. Amidst all the hullabaloo of arriving home, almost four hours after grabbing hold of the Robinhood mooring, I thought I better call customs and find out if we needed to do anything special after arriving. In the past, when I arrived from Canada I made the call and they said, "Fine, thanks, welcome home". I expected the same sort of reception. After tap dancing through the pre-recorded menu I finally spoke to a real human, whom I shall dub "Inspector Furious".
I explained we had just arrived in a yacht and I was calling for information as to whether there was anything else we had to do.
"Where are you?" Inspector Furious barked.
"Where is that?"
"East of Portland, West of Boothbay, South of Bath."
"When did you arrive?"
"Today" I replied.
"What time today?" he sparred back.
"Uh, well. I am not really sure. I guess around four hours ago."
Talk about saying the wrong thing. I lit a fuse that was shorter than Sadam's Christmas list.
"Do you realize that you are supposed to call immediately? Actually you are supposed to call 3.5 miles out, from your cell phone."
"Uh well, we don't have a working US cell phone, I wanted to come to our house to call, since it's a toll call and I don't have any American change for a public phone."
"That's a five thousand dollar violation."
"Not having a cell phone or not having the correct change?" Boy things really had changed since we were gone.
He ignored my rather pitiful attempt at joviality. "Calling customs immediately means IMMEDIATELY. Not four hours later. In four hours time you could have off loaded all sorts of drugs and guns."
Was this guy for real? I wasn't sure if he was yanking my chain, or what. But I was starting to get a little hot under the collar.
"Funny you don't sound Australian. I thought this was America." At this point I was still under the heady fragrance of being home. (All due apologies to Rachel and crew in Coff's Harbor but you Aussie customs agents can make a South African guard look positively excitable.)
"Ma'am. You don't go home, then call customs."
"Ok, well maybe some people don't, but we are American citizens. We haven't been home in three years and I hadn't seen family and friends, pets or our house in three years. I got a little side tracked."
"Who's the master of the vessel?"
"What day is it?"
"Well, that would be my husband. We alternate days, he's even, I'm odd."
"You then, are not even supposed to be off the boat. The master of the vessel is supposed to call. That's another five thousand dollars." I was in such disbelief I failed to notice the sweat starting to trickle down my back. All I could think of, was the Cuban cigar on Iwalani I had stashed away in my underwear drawer.
"How can you do this?" I cried "We haven't even been home five hours and already we are in debt! We don't have that kind of money! Here I was telling the world how great the US was and especially Maine and you do this to us? Anyone that is going to be a smuggler wouldn't even bother calling you. Why must we, who are honest law abiding citizens pay a ten thousand dollar fine? This is outrageous!" I was sort of shrieking at this point.
"Well, actually, since you failed to be inspected, that's another five thousand dollars. Customs is going to fine you fifteen thousand dollars and the boat is"…and here I must confess I lost track of the conversation. My head was whirling. I was waiting for Alan Funt to come on the line and say "Smile you 're on candid camera!" Maybe this was some sort of reality TV show. I still was in disbelief. And I was really angry. Plus, I hadn't even made the call to immigration or the agricultural inspector. So there you have it. Welcome home.
Meanwhile, when not on hold on the telephone waiting for the customer service representative who assures me my call is very important... we've been trying to move off the boat and into an empty house. I must say I became overwhelmed. Just taking a shower became a nightmare, because we lost our electricity due to a squirrel, a former member of the flying Kalinnikov brothers. But that was after Phil had to re-prime the oil burner because we had no hot water. Likewise, every project we started to tackle multiplied into ten others, that had to be completed before the first could even be attempted. My sister came up to help me. She too became overwhelmed when I showed her the stuff she might have had to deal with, if we had not returned in one piece.
"I think I'll just go hide in my truck" she said. But later, she emerged with confidence and zeal, announcing "Tackle it in little steps." Good advise. That was what got us around the world.
Things in America seem sort of the same, yet also very different. Flags are waving everywhere- from apartment windows and mansion flagstaffs, to highway overpasses. Everything is so green, clean, and smells so good. Lilacs, clethera, and freshly mowed lawns. (You don't smell anything at sea, except your own stink. There is no scent of the sea, far out in the oceans. That's all a myth perpetuated by the fabric softener companies.)
But there is a dark undercurrent here, in Maine, and I presume elsewhere too. Our neighbor stopped us at the mailbox and warned us not to be too vocal. 'Look around but don't say much.' What? Moi?
I picked up our local paper and read the front page headline. "Manhunt on Harpswell Rd." An unlucky burglar from Bangor, basically bungled his break-in. (WOW, the Bernons on "Ithaca" couldn't have done better alliteration!") But instead of calling it a "break-in" the newspaper called it a "Home invasion".
"an officer observed at least one man carrying a weapon, possibly a firearm.."
It was probably a crowbar, or a screw driver, the weapon of choice for a Maine burglar. But they called out The Brunswick Special Response team, the State police SWAT team, the State police , Lincoln county sheriff's K9 unit , three police departments, the county sheriff's department AND a "Huey" search and rescue helicopter.
For a burglar?
Meanwhile anyone and I mean anyone, can sail into Maine completely undetected. We have 2500 miles of sparsely populated coastline and no provision at all for regulating it.
"Maine is the soft underbelly of the US" I was told by one agent.
Maybe so, but what a nice underbelly it is, as long as you avoid Inspector Furious.
So, what will become of our logs? Iwalani's voyage around the world is over, but now our readers will have to stay tuned for "Decorating the cell. Hot tips from Martha Stewart", while we voyage into the federal penitentiary system. Well, hopefully not. But we have many adventures still to do- Phil's next project, as many of you may have guessed from reading the logs, is to build a replica antique wood and canvas float plane- and WE are going to fly it to Alaska. We are hoping to get his sons to help…Then a barge through the inland waterways of the world. Then maybe an Australian outback trip, in a solar rig we design. I looked into this when we were there and this will be the most difficult undertaking of all.
But first, we need to make some money. Worldvoyagers.com has only just started...
Oh, by the way, I smoked my cigar... APW
Log for the week of June 22, 2003 Letchworth State Park Upstate New York by PS
We may be on land, but we're not standing still. After charging up the battery, our Ford Ranger "Rick" started on the first turn of the key. It nearly scared me half to death. This was definitely a good sign. I did have to replace the water pump and belts before he was ready to tackle the trip to upstate New York for Nathaniel's graduation.
With each dinghy trip to shore, we lightened Iwalani's load, her painted waterline increasing its distance upward. While our shore-side tasks kept us plenty busy, (lawn mower, roto-tiller and Melvin all needing their share of attention) there was still a sense of chaos. Where our every minute was accounted for during passage making, on land the choices were almost infinite. Parts of our brains were being taxed that hadn't been tested for three years. Working together, we are able to set priorities and accomplish short term goals. I think it would have helped to have a more detailed ending to the dream of circumnavigation. Just what would we be doing for income? The bank account is low and bills need to be paid. When we return to Maine from Nathaniel's graduation, we will be getting Iwalani ready to sell. This is where our money lies. If anyone was looking for a boat to safely take them around the world, Iwalani is it. Some people are surprised we would sell her. As I've said before, she is built to sail the oceans of the world, not sit on some mooring for most of the summer. It wouldn't be fair to her. So, with that in mind, we are working hard to see her off by this fall. We are keeping our fingers crossed.
In the mean time, we are enjoying spending time with Ben and Nathaniel. Catching up, first hand, on the events of their lives over the past three years. Being separated for so long was one drawback to our trip that I had not anticipated. Many cruisers fly home every six months or so, but the expense was beyond our budget.
One thing that hasn't changed much is the US cell phone technology. It was frustrating to discover that the only service provider using sim cards, with limited coverage at that, was AT+T. Even then, they wanted to sell us a phone along with the card. After some face to face negotiations with the local representative, we got a sim card into our Nokia "world wide" tri-band phone with no coverage on the island of Georgetown and little coverage everywhere else. The key word is "world". The US has yet to come to grips with the fact that the rest of the world really exists. Sorry for the digression, but if Amy and I hadn't circumnavigated, we would never have had a gauge with which to measure the cell phone technology in the US. Falling back on the Qualcom phone we bought just before we left the states, we were able to get more coverage through Verision, but it was at the same level as when we left. Having two cells phone with separate services is not uncommon. The Internet service provider rep that came to our house to see if we could receive high speed radio Internet service (we can't ;) )to our house, uses two cell phones. Another thing that hasn't changed is being charged for incoming calls. How can a company justify double dipping? Amy and I have obviously been spoiled. When I tell phone reps that South Africa has better service, they don't believe it. Oh well.
For those of you wishing to know how the equipment faired, I will now go into some detail. We were afraid to say much before we were safely home, as we didn't want to jinx our luck with the few remaining "flawless" systems.
1)Furuno 36 mile radar
2)Lifeline AGM batteries
4)Flo-Jet fresh water pump
5)Super-Stor hot water heater
6)ICOM 710 SSB radio
7)ICOM VHF ship radio
8)Amp Tech 160 amp alternator
9)Sta-Lok rigging wire terminal ends
10)Home made ATP satellite receiver system
11)Gelatio ice cream maker :)
The "Almost flawless" list includes
1)Maxwell double-double windless (The steel clip holding the dog to the hand operation lever rusted off in the first few months)
2)ICOM VHF hand held radio (It doesn't have a "smart" charger in the wall bracket holder. If you don't remember to remove the radio after a few hours, the battery burns out. Which ours did)
3)Westerbeke engine. ( The installation manual for attaching the salt water pump created a few problems. It doesn't mention the trick of loosely bolting the pump on, running the engine for a few seconds, then tightening down the mounting bolts. This allows the shafts to align. I went through three pumps 'til I called the tech in the US and he disclosed the secret. Otherwise, the engine gave us 3,000 hours of service without a hiccup. I religiously changed the oil and filter every 100 hours.)
4)Flo-Jet salt water pump ( I first mounted the pump with the water connections at the top. When the pump began to leak, salt water got into the drive motor. Not good. I subsequently mounted the pump with the water connections at the bottom and had no further trouble.)
5)Trimble InmarSat-C (The rubber O ring sealing the two halves of the antenna housing was compromised by the aluminum corroding on the lower half. I put a bead of silicon around the outside of the joint on the new antenna.)
6)Heart Link battery monitor (The computer was flawed in the original unit. I had to send it back and the replacement has worked OK. I would not recommend relying on the amp-hours meter, but watch the battery voltage instead. 12.6v= full charge no load to 11.7v with a light load, 1-2amps = time to recharge.)
7)Auto-Helm 4000 tiller auto pilot (The drive arm needs a better water proofing system. Also, the display unit needs to be more specific when using the "no data" error message. Instead of saying "no data" it should have said "check dealer settings for latitude and hemisphere". Looking at the error solutions in the manual for the "no data" message does not include checking the dealer settings. Obviously, the company doesn't expect their unit to circumnavigate the world.)
8)Pro-Sine 1800 watt inverter (The "system shut down" message needs to be more specific. It should say why the system shuts down.)
9)Weather Fax for Windows program (The company should have spent more time trouble shooting the bugs in the program and less time on the "Moonscape" Macromedia Flash show. Also it would be nice to control the sensitivity of the auto continuous feature.)
10.)Wilcox Crittenden "Skipper" toilet ( It was not properly assembled at the factory. )
The "FATALLY FLAWED" list contains one item
1)Spectra 360 water-maker (The unit had to be "upgraded"before we even left the US. The company should get rid of the plastic parts for the housing connections where the high pressure fittings go in and use better material for the spool assembly. This product needs a major re-design.)
I will be writing to all the manufacturers with specific recommendations on how to improve their products.
The web site will be changed soon. Worldvoyagers.com will host various sources for "alternative" cruising stories as well as practical information to prepare for circumnavigation. For those of you who have written e-mails about the cruising budget, Amy is still working on that. We will continue posting our log, although perhaps not as regularly, to keep you up to date on the progress of our next adventure, building our own replica biplane out of wood and fabric and flying across North America. We will be working on it in small steps, as money and time allow. PS
Log for the week of June 29th, 2003 Georgetown, Maine by APW
I must apologize to all the people e-mailing for a breakdown of our cruising budget. I can't say I am working on it, because I'm not really, but will be soon. I promise. I just need to take care of a few other things first. Like finding the box containing our towels, getting a job, fighting US customs and stuff like that. For those of you few intrepid individuals who have been following the log since the beginning, you may recall the photo I took of the inside of the barn when we left. Three years did little to improve the picture. I covered all our furniture and put everything else in boxes wrapped in newspaper- but mice still found their way into ervy nook and cranny. The plastic bags containing mothballs faired the best, even though the mothballs had long since sublimated away.
I wish I could say none of these things happened to us... Staying for a week in upstate New York was a nice way to avoid doing things we were supposed to be doing. Though I am not sure I can recommend the NY method of camping. It was a little like living in a motel without walls. Farts, coughs, and children's cries were all shared experiences for everyone. It was fine until a couple moved in next to us with a strong hankering for the two most popular forms of American music- country and western. I thought they were playing the longest song in existence until I realized that it was just the equivalent to passage-making. It's just the same thing over and over. The next time we go "camping" in NY, we are bringing our power cord and head phones so we can do the Garfield thing- hide inside the tent watching DVD's. The only real worry is poison ivy, which in NY is a big deal. Phil luckily can identify it in its sinister forms- bush, vine, shrub or small tree. I am intensely allergic to it. I survived with only a few blisters on my toes and hands, which is pretty good, for me.
This was not anything like camping in Australia; where you drive on increasingly dustier roads until you finally find the end turnoff, and camp in the shade of tall eucalyptus next to a stream, far, far away from anywhere. A small ring of stones gets used, then re-laid with wood for the next fire. No trash is left. A small baggie of change gets nailed to a tree as payment to the landowner for the use of the spot. Just you, the kangaroos, possums, kookaburras and poisonous snakes, which I will take any day over poison ivy.
At the end of the week we took Phil's youngest son Nathaniel to Schweitzer aircraft in Elmira- a family run business that makes helicopters powered airplanes and unmanned aircraft for the military. I reluctantly went along, but then became the most excited tour participant. Museums are nice, Epcot is ok, but a guided tour through a factory is still my favorite tourist activity. Whether it's in Lambassa, Fiji or Waterbury Vermont- you will never forget a factory tour. Whereas museums sort of turn into a post-synaptical blur when the old memory tapes get replayed, I can still re-live the whir of machinery, the smell of industry and tastes of some of the end products from our factory tours.
We've gotten e-mail from our friends still scattered in the Pacific. Some are in Fiji doing the sevu-sevu thing. Sit in a circle, legs crossed, no flesh exposed, clap, then hand over the kava root to the chief. Mostly everyone is travelling still in a yacht pack. I miss the fun that they all must be having together.
In our fantasies, neither Phil nor I made provisions for the reality of being home. Finally, Phil is no longer bored. Every piece of equipment or machinery we own needs his full attention. He has set up triage, in the barn, in the garage, and upstairs in the house, attending to the most critical patients first, with everyone resting on either tarps or paper towels depending on their size and condition, while he rushes about with screw drivers, grease guns and wrenches tinkering them back to life.
For awhile there, I was wondering why we ever came home. The Georgetown mosquitoes were living up to their reputation of being the worst in the world. I give our house sitters (The A's) high marks for their job taking care of things, as ours is not an easy house to live in. But Mrs. A had an intense fear of snakes- so the gardens were left to their own design. Moose have trimmed my young weeping willow tree into an Old Faithful geyser representation. Green sprigs shooting off at the top- in no way resembling a tree. Our house was enveloped in a jungle of growth. I knew lettuce could re-seed itself, but I didn't know it could grow into a forest. Our chimney is falling down, our roof with it and nothing seemed to work. Our fine from customs has been reduced down to $6500.00. (from $15,000.00) I need to write them a letter still- Number one on my list of things to do after I write this. When the A's moved out, they left behind a house interior freshly painted, a new dishwasher, a satellite TV dish, (we have no TV) a disabled car resting on its rims giving the house a real Mainer look, (which will help when the town re-assess for taxes) and a little black pug named Barkley; who spends most of his day following me around while I dig through cardboard boxes serenading me with his own peculiar pug symphony of stenotic, stertorous nasal sounds. I thought to myself 'We left the world for this?'
After Phil brought the tractor back to life and I hopped on board and went for a spin, mowing hay and brush back into lawn, I got the same tingley feeling I had three years ago, of living in a special place on a river that can take you around the world. It wasn't from the ticks crawling up my legs either. The smell of freshly cut grass intermingled with the rugosa roses blooming in what was once my perennial border. A cold front was due to pass in the afternoon. Tall fluffy billows of pink and purple cumulous clouds were building to the north. Thunderstorms. Phil and I just laughed and pointed. "Ha! Ha! You Maxfield Parrish cloud. You can no longer set us shaking in our boots."
But then the rounded edges of the cloud parted; golden edged rays of sunlight turned the calm waters of our river into a silver mirror-like finish. Canadian geese stood on the riverbank, stone still, like lawn statues. An osprey flew after four bald eagles chasing them up river. The disturbance sent a deer bounding over the lupine edging our driveway into the safety of the thicker woods. It was so sublimely quiet. So many purples, pinks, oranges and greens. Any color but blue. The smell of the dirt from where Phil had rototilled. The clackety clack of the deers hooves over the gravel of our driveway. It was very nearly perfect. I am not missing the sea, yet. Now if I can only find our towels... APW