Transatlantic Southbound

November 19th - December 19th


Above is a chart of our progress to-date. 

We have had some incredible experiences - some of them quite interesting, some of them them quite funny.  With the weather on our side at the moment, I'll try to update these pages rapidly with some of the more memorable aspects of the journey.  Keep in touch...but try to send notes in "text" form as bandwidth is at a premium!




Sunday December 19th


Current Weather: A beautiful warm and sunny day made for a perfect first-ever spinnaker flight.

    Wind is out of the NE at 15; Barometer is Steady at 30.5    
    Position:  26 13.49N;  20 51.45W off the coast of the Western Sahara of Africa    
It is 2100 UTC aboard ship (or 9PM).  We are traveling directly before the wind with our Genoa off to port on the spinnaker pole. The main is off to starboard with a preventer on tight.  It would be an understatement to say that we occasionally get a bit of a roll.  It is dark out now with the sun having gone down at 18:36.  Andy prepared a wonderful dinner of a "honey surprise" chicken which included a wonderful salad and roasted wedgies (English for: baked fries from the oven). Andy has lots of bits and bobs he uses whilst cooking...and whilst speaking...which continues to spice up our "massively smashing" trip.  We started off this morning with light winds, sloppy seas and a thought that we might hoist a spinnaker.  We had a fairly easy time of getting her up (and down), and Christian and I have already climbed the guy to the poles-end and taken a few photos (Christian's idea!).  The winds were 10-15 for most of the day and yet we've managed to average close to 7 knots with a far more pleasant ride.  The spinnaker combination balances the boat far more effectively than the genoa, and our boat speed, with only 10 to 15  knots apparent, brings us to over 9 knots.  We actually hit 16.2 knots yesterday for a brief instant (a GPS can not tell a lie) surfing some 10-15 foot breaking rollers. All in all it has been a wonderful way to spend the day.

The Crew....(s)

    As is typical for a November has been a long haul getting out of the Med enroute to the Caribbean.  Thus far we have had a number of crew configurations and we're just over half way there.  We have tested this final crew configuration, and like what we've got...alot..., besides I don't think "the little service center in the Atlantic" would have any way of getting anyone back home.  The first crew of 7 (all the Stones and the Cannock's) brought us from Marmaris, Turkey, Asia to Rhodes, Greece.  The Stone girls then departed and the crew was increased by the addition of Alex Bisbas. Alex and Helen are new friends of the Stone family.  Alex, I've come to learn, is an extremely accomplished sailor and seaman - America's Cup crew member for Australia says it all.  He and his family are from the island of Paros, Greece where he manages a charter business, a wonderful beachfront restaurant (with some of the best food in all of Greece), a ships chandlery, and a smart refit/repair business.  His family and ours became friendly during our late summer tour of the Greek Islands. Alex made the mistake of befriending us, and will likely always regret it, as he has now been aboard Delphinus enroute South...mostly out of the Med...for over 5 weeks.  Alex, the crew and I and will miss Christmas with our families this year, and are "keenly" (more English drivel...where did they all learn to speak the language) looking forward to rejoining them soon.  Alex, Clare, Mike and I traveled from Rhodes to Astipalia, Greece in two days, only to run into the first of a particularly tenacious set of squalls and frontal systems.  When it started gusting to 45 knots, we holed up with a 2 AM anchoring to avoid the worst of it.  We then headed off for Malta - again 25-35 knots in the teeth.  Both blows we encountered were 10-15 knots over the forecast. We arrived just as everything closed, and remained there for 36 hours waiting-out another frontal squall attack.  That next afternoon we decided to head off to Gibraltar, or Palma - weather depending.  At 5AM Mike informed me that he would like to depart the ship at the next harbor.   I changed course for Sardinia and woke Alex to tell him the news, while Mike informed Clare. We dropped Mike and Clare off at a dock on the south side of Sardinia. Alex and I then set off for Palma, Mallorca. We immediately initiated efforts with the help of the "Delphinus Mobile American Ground Support Crew", DMAGSC, to set up preparations to find new crew for the remainder of the trip south.  The weather for the first time calmed and provided us with a glassy sea in time for a fresh tuna and egg breakfast (and sushi for lunch and dinner!).  We arrived in Palma 36 hours later on Saturday again, the shops and facilities closed for the weekend.

While the search was on for crew at the home front, and via Crew Seekers, we were solicited by a young man interested in joining us on the journey South.  James Oswald's resume read well (I know I'd heard the name before?) and he was positively referred, by a stink-potter on the dock in Palma, as an honest and hard working person. No comment, I was told, could be made to his sailing ability...but his resume listed a number of deliveries.  We took James aboard to Gibraltar on a probationary term.  We fueled up and left at dusk.  When we learned that first evening that James didn't have any wellies or oilys (English for sea boots and foul weather gear...they call paper-towels kitchen-paper?!) little red lights started going off in our heads.  In the middle of a force 11 gale compressed within a frontal system (also forecast with maximum winds of 30-35 knots but which instead blew 64 knots- a hurricane force wind starts at 63, just so you get the idea) I asked James to grab the main sheet and hand it to me.  He looked around the cockpit for a few seconds and it became clear that James, while a nice young man, was, more than potentially, way over his head. At about 9:30 PM we rounded "the horn" of Cartagena in 50 knot winds and 25-30 foot seas that were towering around us and bounding off the breakwater to superimpose themselves to even greater heights. By 10:30 we came into the harbor and it almost immediately became a mill pond.  We ghosted into a channel less than 1.5 boat lengths in width, spun her on a dime, and backed down into a perpendicular channel to put her side-to with an eggshell landing which the councilors at the AYC would have been proud of.  We spent the next day and a half desalinating the boat and drying out. The dock looked like a yard sale...but this was true of almost every boat that had arrived with the past 36 hours.  We waited again for the weather window to improve.  We make a point of reviewing at least 4 weather sites on a regular basis. We refueled again at 11PM from a fancy self service pump station and left at midnight. Gibraltar and a string of good luck was only 40 hours away. 

The good news was that we beat "the Swedes" to Gibraltar.  The Swedes were a group of young guys on a solid 76 foot steel ketch who had been with us on the seas trying to get to Cartegena a few days before.  They had clocked the winds at 64 knots.  Our wind indicator just showed itself pinned at 50 for minutes on end (as that is as high as it registers)...when we had the chance to look at the dial.  The BBC reported that 3 ships went down during that storm and 18 lives were lost.  When we left Palma our Spanish courtesy flag was whole....hummm. Did I mention that we spent the next day and one half emptying the boat and rinsing and washing down everything?!

We'd had an informal nod with the Swedes that the last ones to Gib would buy the first round when we reached port. We went to dinner in Cartegena, and when we arrived back at the dock we saw that they had already departed.  We got moving and had a great run of it. We started off following a frontal ridge steaming down the channel that provided us with 15-25 knots off the stern.  All was going great until the front stalled, and then the lightening bolts and torrential rains surrounded the 6 ships that had been trailing it for the past 8 hours. We were literally engulfed by the squall/front.  The wind clocked 180 degrees and it was 3 hours of all-ahead-full motor sailing to get us through the strobe-like lightening storm.  We finished off the trip to Gib, on the back of the front, with a slog into 30 knot winds and steep and deep seas (surprise again - the forecast, from not less than 3 weather sources, was 5-10 knots - variable).  The Swedes, who had left Cartagena 6 hours ahead of us, showed up as we were resting at our berth (having already checked in with Customs).  Apparently they weren't in the mood to hit the pub.

James left, without hard feelings on either side, but with a renewed sense of respect for the skills necessary to take on the responsibility of crew.  There was one odd thing about James behavior, however, that we never could reconcile.  It seemed that every time a camera was in evidence Mr. Oswald had an uncanny knack for having his head turned in the opposite direction of the lens....happy trails James. 

Well we were almost out of the Med.  Alex and I had long since begun to feel as though we were in a bad "B movie" about sailing out of the Med (Alex lives in the Med but I'm convinced it is only when you attempt to leave the Med that it attempts to smote you at all costs).  In Gib I couldn't quite believe that we were actually out yet. And, interestingly, if you look at a chart of Gibraltar, it is on the Atlantic-side edge of the Gibraltar Straights abutting the Mediterranean.  The Rock of Gibraltar is actually one of the Pillars  of Hercules.  Still, did the Med end before the Straights?!  Well, having done some extensive research I am of the opinion that the Med does not extend out beyond the Pillars...however, the remnants of its  ravages would continue to plague us until we departed the Canaries.

When we pulled out of the Customs dock in Gib to head to our berth across the channel, we saw what looked like a 130 lb weakling waving to us from across the way.  Sure enough he was just as his resume stated.  But we were to come to learn that Christian was, while weighing in at 130 lbs (Alex could sneeze and blow him overboard) another accomplished sailor and seaman and would come to be a welcome addition to the team.  Christian had come very highly recommended by my father-in-law Byron Atwood, and to Christian's credit he almost packed the whole trip in when Byron continued to pile it on, thick as Molasses from his root cellar in ME on a cold winters day, about the phenomenal sailing credentials of Bill and Alex.  This, in spite of the fact that by now three sets of crew (including Bill's own family) had walked off the boat en-voyage to the Caribbean.  Christian is a great shipmate, the guy eats nothing so Alex, Andy and I are always assured of getting our fill (though I think I'm losing weight honey!), he knows how to sail...well...and he climbs like a monkey/cat hybrid.  Within minutes Christian was taking lines, helping out instinctually....I think you get the picture...I'll lay off it a bit now (AND he brought Reeses Peanut Butter Cups! - the English fellows, Andy and Alex, didn't even know what these were?!)  I'm sure Helen, Alex's Australian wife, knows what Reeses are! 

Well, as I'd mentioned, within 5 minutes of arriving at the dock on a Saturday all stores and services closed for the weekend so, there was nothing to do but settle in, get to know each other, wait for Andy to arrive, and hope for the stores to open on Monday for final food and spares provisioning prior to our departure. By Monday we would be organized to accomplish what was necessary to head out again. 

Andy had arrived before I returned from errands and, even before I stepped aboard, I'd received the high sign from Alex and Christian that Andy only had one head.  Even the electrician who was aboard to replace a blown switch was complementing Andy before I'd had a chance to meet him.  Andy's resume outlined an accomplished foredeck guy, with an intriguing FastNet experience while adding that he is a "sparkey" to boot (that's an electrician in American). While I had no first hand knowledge of Andy, and was, as a result of most recent events, far beyond gun-shy (more like gun-horrified), his glowing recommendation from a sail boat racing buddy in the 30 footer Solent events gave me hope.  The comment that Andy very rarely raises his voice or uses foul language has proven to be absolute rubbish... so none of us need worry about his not fitting in.  And his incessant chatter from the moment he wakes until the wee hours of the night keep us all laughing so hard we paid far less attention to some of the "little-challenges" we faced before finally shipping out on the non-stop portion of the great transatlantic segment of this journey. 

The fact is we now have a solid, confident and respectful team who are paying-off on the mutual dependency required to embark on a journey such as this.  It's a sunny day, the chute is up, and we're skating down 10-15 footers on the sleigh-ride of a lifetime.  For me, knowing we're not going to be there during the holidays with my Girls and extended family of brothers, mothers, fathers, cousins, in-laws, more cousins and good friends remains the only drawback to this crossing.  Knowing I'll be home soon to share in the joy of the season and their company, albeit a bit belated, is a great comfort. I am looking forward with anticipation to our arrival, while relishing the journey.  Happy Holidays from team Delphinus.


A few Sea Stories

Contaminated Fuel and Injector Delays

What is a diesel engine?  It is your best friend  - as you power-sail into 20 foot seas in 45 knots, falling off what appear as cliffs of white foam over glistening aqua-blue water...only to be lifted again, and again, and again, and dropped from each peak.  Our diesel engine is also a Mr. Hyde - a mysterious foe blocking our every attempt to cure it of its malady, so to once again put to sea and gain our objective. So, we encouraged the local engine shamans of Rhodes to exorcise her.  Was it the injectors?  Yes the injectors.  Was it the fuel pump?  Yes too the fuel pump.  But still she was not purged. 

It was only 1200 miles later, in Mallorca, that the large and learned Dutch boy put his finger into the diesel dyke of the turbo and we learned the truth. One should always check the o-ring seals on the fuel caps before going to sea!  Deb and the girls departed Rhodes, Greece on the 11th of November to head home via a sightseeing tour of Athens and London for 4 days.  When we traveled from Asia to Rhodes ( a 5 hour trip from Marmaris Turkey) I'd noticed that I wasn't getting top power from the engine and attributed it to the 3 weeks at the dock in Marmaris.  However, I vowed to check the engine thoroughly in Rhodes to ensure that all was in order prior to departure on the transatlantic.  Needless to say the injectors had been contaminated by seawater in the fuel.  In retrospect, when we'd had the injectors cleaned in Paros, Greece, we should have looked more thoroughly into the root cause, but the Med offers adequately trained diesel mechanics in only limited locations - Marmaris, Turkey, where we just departed from being the closest, and Palma being the next best alternative.  Too bad hindsight isn't enabled at the outset of a journey.  In Rhodes we met a few very interesting characters, the most prominent being Pierre.  A Dutch Ugandan yacht service provider with a multitude of addictions not the least of which were cigarettes and a beer at 10AM.  A little a big light....should have gone off when Pierre re-introduced himself to us as a qualified diesel engine mechanic after returning from Marmaris to the home of the Grand Masters....but, he spoke English fairly well, and he had been able to replace two toilet hoses for the STB and Aft heads.  Slowly, slowly Pierre worked on extricating the injectors.  fffftt, ffttt, ffttt he promised the fuel pump would be out of the engine room.  Slowly, slowly he turned the bolts..."I vill be right back after a quick beer and a cigarette.  That baastarrd fuel-pump will be back tomorrow and fffftt, ffttt, ffttt it will be you have a beer? No. Ok then...I will be right back Bill.  7 days later....

On November 19th at 10AM we departed Rhodes Greece with a forecast of 25 knot winds.  We would be beating toward the Peloponnesian coast and there was a squall forecast for an hour in the evening, but the skies were sunny and the seas had calmed.  We had been delayed 8 days, but we'd sorted the problems out and were ship shape.  We were away at last. 

We had two hours of 15 knots of breeze.  At 2AM the seas had risen to 15-20 feet.  The winds had been on the nose for 8 hours at 35 knots.  In the last two hours it was blowing 35-40 with gusts to 45 knots.  The chart showed a very well protected but unmarked harbor on the island of Astipaelea.  The storm raged for 36 hours.  This wouldn't be the first set of forecasts to endear themselves to us on the voyage out of the Med.  We were 36 hours further delayed.


Enroute to Malta

As mentioned we had experienced some strong winds and seas that, on the second night since our departure, had us seeking shelter at 2:00AM in a small harbor on the island of Astiopalia.  The wind had increased from 35-45 in the teeth (forecast was 25) and the seas were getting "steep and deep" with water everywhere.  With Alex on Radar and Clare acting like a strobe with the million-candlelight spotlight going from shore line to shore line (about 3 boat lengths apart) the entry was made easily. 

Once inside we dropped the hook and waited out the storm.  It continued to escalate and ran a day longer than originally forecast so we had a bit of time for a wander around. 

Astipaelea in December is a wonderfully deserted island with the exception of a few locals we met on the road.  Clare had mentioned that it might be a 1/2 mile walk to town, so Alex and I set off.  35 minutes later, and not even over the top of the first hill, we were fortunate to have a few hunters and their dog, returning from their quail hunt, stop to ask us if we wanted a ride.  It was about to pour rain so we said "sure", or rather, Alex did as he was the only bi-lingual around.  There wasn't much room in the front cab due to all of the rifles, ammunition and dead game everywhere, so Alex and I hopped into the back and took the 30 minute "car ride" to town to see the sights.  A plate of moussaka for lunch and a hike up to the castle on the mountain-top made all the difference. Late in the day we headed back, via the islands only cab, to the boat for a nice dinner just before the rain set in again with a vengeance.  We had time for a long  nap before starting out the next morning for Malta - via the Southern Peloponnesian coast just north of Kithera Island.  The wind was almost consistently in our face until we arrived in Malta, having decided that the Northern route via the Messina Straights would have been even more of a punishing track.






Christian's: "My first Watch!"


A Moroccan War Ship Boards Delphinus
by Christian

 We pulled out of Gibraltar around 14:30 UTC that afternoon, crossed the shipping lanes through the Straits of Gibraltar and headed for the Moroccan coast ten miles away as we had noticed a 1-2 knot advantage to be gained by hugging the shore on the current charts. As dusk fell, Alex prepared an excellent meal (the first of many) and we settled into a pattern of managing commercial traffic on the radar.   After dinner it was decided that Bill and I would take the first watch from 20:00 to 1:00 and Alex and Andy would take the second shift.   Although we planned to set up a watch system of three hours on, nine hours off, the heavy influx of commercial traffic into the Med mandated an alert eye and was far easier and safer to handle with two people rather than with one.  

As we headed out of the Straits, Bill began to notice boats on the radar that I was not seeing running-lights for on deck.  Hmmm… When we asked Alex (native to Greece, thereby our onboard Mediterranean Sea expert) what he thought, he told us that this was common in the Med, and that they were Army boats patrolling for smugglers.   Satisfied with the explanation, but slightly uneasy none the less, we continued to hug the Moroccan coastline in favorable current as we motored our way towards the Canary Islands. 

Around 22:00 a vessel without running lights pulled alongside and raked their spotlight over our decks.  The boat was painted in military grey, but appeared to be a sport-fishing vessel.  It was emanating an unusual amount of smoke, giving me the initial impression that they might have had a fire.  Bill came up on deck and had me fetch Alex, our own muscle man.  As a former America’s Cup grinder, Alex had a bit more of a physical presence than two string bean Americans. 

The crew onboard the visiting vessel was dressed in black with the exception of the individual who seemed to be the leader.  He was dressed in regular street clothes. He shouted across to us and asked in broken English if we spoke French.  Fire or not, we were in a strange place, near a strange country.  I was starting to see visions of Moroccan jails and confiscated yachts…or worse…and really starting to wonder why I had flown over to join this delivery.  Surely it wasn’t to be taken hostage and executed by the Moroccan government or a Moroccan drug cartel for being an evil American.  I didn’t use that much oil, or so I thought… We shook our heads no, shouting “English” and they continued to assess us in the beam of their searchlight for a tense few moments before shutting it off and motoring away.  An unsettling encounter to say the least… 

At approximately 23:00, I noticed a vessel about half a mile behind us that had been on our course, holding range and bearing for the past ten minutes.  As I watched, it changed lighting configurations three times, going from appearances of a ferry to a fishing vessel to a tugboat in the span of five minutes.   Something was most certainly amiss, but what could it be? 

Within five minutes, my feelings of foreboding were rewarded.  We were hailed on the radio by a Moroccan warship ordering us to “stop immediately we want to command your ship.”  “When,” I thought, “had Morocco become a naval power of any significance?” “This has to be a joke.”  Bill, hearing the radio hailing, got on the horn and opened a dialogue with the Moroccan warship.  Stressing such important details as “we were an American flaged sailing vessel” and asking diplomatic questions such as “What exactly do you mean by ‘command our ship and on whose authority,” Bill took command of the situation. 

I hurried down below to awaken Alex for the second time in as many hours, who I reckoned at this point, had to be rather sick of the Moroccans.  Coming back on deck with Alex, we all made a decision to throttle the Delphinus back into neutral to allow a Moroccan boarding party to come alongside.  The reality was that we weren’t going to outrun them and we were in their territorial waters after all.

While Alex and I awaited the arrival of our boarding party, Bill got on the satellite phone to America to let his wife know that we were being stopped by a Moroccan warship commanded by a Commander Bashir, presumably so that she could alert our government, who would then send in a Navy Seal team to rescue us before our airpower bombed a shockingly impudent Morocco back to the Stone Age.  Right….

                  When the boarding party came within range, we were treated to a full Moroccan naval show of force.  Four Moroccans, two officers and two enlisted men were sitting in a faded black hard bottom inflatable dinghy powered by a 1980s vintage, 35 horsepower outboard.  The bow light on this venerable craft consisted of one of the Moroccan enlisted men holding up a Wal-Mart esque flashlight.  As they drew alongside, we caught their lines and I looked them over for weapons.  Outside of one officer holding a Tech 9 knockoff of a sub-machine gun, and their flashlight, of course, they appeared to be unarmed.  All of the party did, however, carry handheld radios encased in a plastic, presumably waterproof bag.

                  The four boarded, whereupon the officers, Bill and Alex went down below to go through the obligatory document inspection. 

The "Ending" Coming Soon.....



The 2500 mile "Rotterdam Shuffle"

I was told by the original mechanics who installed our new engine and generator that an alternator wasn't necessary, but that they would have no problem installing the original into the new engine configuration.  I didn't know what an alternator was. Power consumption curves were a blur, and the A*V=W formula was and remains a mystery.  Fortunately, I was advised by a number of extremely experienced sailors (Hank Halstead and Stan Pearson included) of the absolute necessity of having a service alternator aboard.  Say, for example, you were 1500 miles from any land....and your generator quit.  Soon Radar, GPS, lights, Sat phone, the solenoid switch for the propane stove, sump pumps, bilge pumps...they would all begin to flicker and and then die (for you "P-cubed", and you other lady readers, think of your hair you get the picture).  And you with 1000 miles to go surrounded by electric winches !  It was suggested that the mechanics were more likely involved primarily with large stink-pots where the ample room aboard allowed for redundant generators - not the type of luxury typically afforded to any category of sailing vessel. 

Well, the first set of Mechanics installed our old alternator onto the new engine.  For some reason the alternator was attached to the sole of the ship and the engine was mounted on brackets with rubber pads. The rubber padded brackets enables the engine to move backward and forward as power and sea forces interact with it.  This is universally accepted design.  However, the funky belt tensioner was mounted to the hull of the ship.  So...the engine moves...but the alternator doesn't???  humm.  We'll get back to that.  So the tensioner keeps the belts tight so that when the engine shaft turns around, the belts that are fastened to it turn the alternator.. thus generating electric charge to power up our service batteries...and then there is light and a host of other good things happen to make life aboard ship pleasant). 

The initial problem was that this first tensioner was destroyed by the forces exerted upon it....back to the drawing board.  Bet you're wondering what this has to do with the Rotterdam shuffle? - stay with me.  Round 2 - installed a heavy duty double-belt tensioner.  This worked (but chewed up a belt or two on any long passage - we do lots of these?!).  We learned in Martinique that the tensioner pulleys were 5mm out of alignment...oops.  We had the bracket for the alternator cut and re-welded and, for about 5 months, until arriving at port at 2AM with my family on deck at the island of Formentara, Spain - the belts became entangled in the tensioner.  This is not good.  The engine stopped...the boat didn't....but this isn't the story I'm trying to tell at the moment - to read about this story, click here for Hayden's rendition of events. 

In any event, we proceeded to Palma and spoke to some nice fellows from Sea Independence.  These guys are good and installed a Yanmar authorized alternator kit...and this worked brilliantly until we arrived in Gran Canaria.  There, a day before we were scheduled to depart (we had been waiting a week for the weather window to arrive) we did a final check of all systems - better late than never.  Well, well - the alternator casing was broken, the alternator spacer was completely mutilated and the bearings on the alternator were toast.  I won't go into the details this time ladies but ...the hair dryer was definitely not going to be working transatlantic. (My wife would say I'm being very sexist at the moment - especially since no one she knows even uses a hairdryer.) The last time we were in Spain (on the island of Palma) it took 6 days to ship the alternator from the Netherlands. As you might imagine we were a bit disappointed.  Alex and I had figured 3-4 weeks to St. Lucia.  We were a month into the journey and only half way there....and now we might need to wait another week to ten days to get a part.  Christmas was out and New Years with the family was looking grim.  Something about the efficiency of the Spanish postal system and the need to go through Madrid and customs before heading in to the ultimate destination 1000 miles in another direction infused me with mother natures "invention"..  Well, I called the nice fellows at Sea Independence and they put me directly in touch with some other nice fellows at AmpTech in Amsterdam.  The president of the company and I decided that I would, in an effort to expedite the delivery of the alternator to Gran Canaria, Spain, fly from Gran Canaria to Amsterdam and he would pick me up at the airport and drive me directly to the Yanmar offices where we could review the alternator and pick up a new one...all this on his day off.  The Dutch know how to do business.  Everywhere I have run into a business owner, throughout the Med or the Caribbean, I have been impressed with there customer service and commitment to excellence.  I can't help but put this plug in because I was absolutely astounded that within 24 hours I could be to the Netherlands and back, with a new, completely warrantee'd alternator.  The spacer was the culprit that caused the failure.  Yanmar Holland and AmpTech provided me with a complete package that even I could install myself (though I was quite pleased that "sparkey" Morris completed the installation) and we proceeded happily ever after....well almost.


A GPS Antenna Failure

One of the things a great deal of wind and seas will do to a vessel - and you might recall that we had by now experienced more of each of these since our departure from Rhodes, Greece than we had during our entire time in the Med! - is make it wet.  Things electrical usually like dry.  Wet is almost non sequitur to properly functioning electrical or electronic gear.  That must be why when one purchases anything designated "marine-grade" it costs 2-4 times what it would cost you in a regular store (with the warning to "install this in a warm dry space" - as if this were a possibility). And the funny thing is that most of the time there is no discernable difference in specification to said electrical item - go figure?  Well, by the time we'd reached Gibraltar the depth gauge had enigmatically started working again...but that was as far as the good news went. The Yanmar Stop button we had just replaced had stopped working again (we fixed it), the Yanmar tachometer fogged and failed (again - this one was just replaced with all 3 of the other panel instruments - all of the new instruments fogged as well).  Fortunately there were at least three of us that could discern RPM by sound.  Did I mention that running the engine at 2200 RPM instead of at 2000 RPM increases fuel consumption by 100% and at 2800RPM it is almost 4x.  Funny thing about the Atlantic crossing there are no service stations to refuel at and contrary to a question posed to one of the Leg 1 crew, we don't actually drop anchor enroute at night.  The satellite phone went "out of range" for 7 days after leaving Gran Canary - inexplicably, it acquired signal again at 30N and has held it almost entirely since (this has nothing to do with moisture but it was electronic gear inoperable so...)  The GPS Antenna failed in Gran Canary, or maybe it was the cable splice?  Who knows -what we did learn is that the new antenna we purchased wouldn't work with our existing systems so...we purchased a new one. Even though we have 3 hand held GPS's aboard and a GPRB - one can't be too careful with battery power - you never know how long it has been on the shelf.  Oh, and the laptop blue screened a few times...apparently Radio Shack's USB Serial Cables don't comply with Microsoft XP...probably this was only due to Radio Shack dumping obsolete or out of date technology into 3rd world markets and doesn't reflect US grade Radio Shack technology?  Maybe....but I've rolled back my operating system 3 times now so that our electronic navigation software will operate (I've always been a paper chart guy, and I purchased the little book Celestial Navigation In A Nutshell by Hewitt Schlereth as I was told it is The book to have aboard if all electrical impulses are negated.  I have yet to crack the book). The tricolor light blew at the dock as we were casting off lines.  Normal maintenance but, still...have you heard of the term "Jonah"?  We left on a Friday but since it was a continuation of our voyage I thought it would be fine (hummm....Nov 19th was when we left Rhodes...hummm...Actually I believe we initiated our voyage from Asia in Marmaris, Turkey on a ....Never mind.  Did I mention we are towing our dingy across the Atlantic? There is an additional gel coat patch or two to be added to the work list once we arrive in St. Lucia.  A dingy traveling down hill on a 30 foot wave in 65 knots can pack quite a punch.  Again, nothing to do with electrical failure yet... but, who knows what will await us with a Yamaha having traveled 5000 miles at sea...and the gel coat patch we put on could attract a lightening bolt and blow us all to smithereens. 

Constant vigilance and a redundant modus operandi have served us well to date.  192 miles to go and the thought that "anything can happen" remains etched in my brain.  No ladders around, mirrors are all in good shape...bit of salt over the shoulder (Andy and Christian can pull that chicken bone apart)... and we're there!




A Delphinus Tale

by Andrew Morris

Jan 2, 2005

Midnight surprises, uniforms, guns and unexpected fear,

Conscripted sailors pockets full of hands stop again for a coke,

While the lieutenant looks for guns, but all he wants is a whiskey or a beer,

The Moroccans leave happy with their gifts  - all Andy got was a poke.


Romana's songs followed by 14 drinks, a smashing good time,

Heavy mornings looking pale still full of ale, a day of sun baked toil,

Uneventful days, checking, waiting, when will the weather be prime?

The return of the flying Dutchman, is the skippers blood fit to boil?


Lost offices and short jogs in unfamiliar towns,

Ah, finally the hire vehicle to adventures del a water,

With a tank full of giggles we follow the tourist downs,

A great day had by all especially Christian escaping his torture.


Oceans of sordid humor, laughing so hard it makes our trousers cough,

With Herbie, Albert Robertson VI in charge, don't dock the wheel,

He is a crew number five and not one of us would be a toff,

Although we all wonder the lowness of our brow as we sit and peel.


Fairy lights and paper decorations fill the boat with cheer,

With longings of land, four kings tuck into a feast,

Thoughts turn to our loved ones as we fight the swell of a tear,

We share the feelings with great company, at least .


Lazy days in the sun reading and drinking tea,

The zip of the line, excitement, fun, leave my pen,

When the heat is too much we dive into the sea,

Many miles, many experiences, many thoughts - at sea we feel like men.




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