Bahamas Bound

We’re watching the weather now, looking for a window.  However, the boat isn’t quite ready.  We’re decluttering our cabins, removing extra things that won’t be required for a trip.  We want to lighten our load of junk (How in the HELL do you collect junk on a boat??? I think most of the stuff I’ve taken off isn’t really necessary for the boat, just conveniences we use day to day.)

A trip to Colorado last month was to visit my doctor and renew my Blood Pressure prescriptions.  After the heart attack and open heart surgery a couple of years ago, no more chances.  We also got to visit our new, baby Great Grand Daughter!  She is beautiful and her parents are good kids. I hope they do well in life and raise that baby well.

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Two proud Great Grandmothers meeting Chloe

Back at the boat we started the work to reverse all we did for the hurricane watches, putting sails back up, untying all the things we tied down, strapping down things that we don’t want moving about, and removing a few other things from the boat like some of our winter clothing we won’t be needing much in the south.

I hope to have all the little chores done by Wednesday or Thursday this week, and JoAnne will be doing some grocery shopping while I finish up engine work (cleaning, tightening, checking fluid levels etc) and make sure all the rigging is good.  So far, so good.

The primary plan is to head for Marsh Harbor, Abacos and range in and out of that area to see things.  We may take some time to go down the coast too though, and we’re planning at least one “shake down” cruise before we set out into the ocean again.

That’s all for now.  More to follow later.

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Loss of a Friend – Guy Bernardin – Circumnavigator

“I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o’clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.” – Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World, 1900.

On the 16th of September I took a leave of absence from my marina job for six months – until April anyway.  Maybe a bit longer.  We did a quick (month long) road trip and returned last evening from the road to Colorado and back.

Our whole purpose for being on this boat is to go places.  Our boat has sat here for most of a year, December 2016 until now.  We had some bad experiences with the water, waves, wind and weather and took a break, but it’s time to go again.  For awhile I was of a mind to sell the boat and get back on land.  I don’t like JoAnne getting sick, and having experienced sea sickness myself, I don’t want her to be ill ever again.  However, we aren’t giving up quite so easily.

But, we need to move, we need to go, we need to see things.  Life is short and if we sit here, we waste our chance to see other parts of the world.

Nothing has driven that idea home more accurately than the sad news I received a few days ago.

A few months ago an older man came to the Marina here at South Harbour Village.  His name was Guy (pronouced as Ghee) Bernardin.  He was in his 70s.  He was aboard an older boat by the name of “Crazy Horse”, a racing sloop.  The boat was in need of attention, and he’d just purchased the vessel for a non-stop race around the world.

Guy and I quickly became friends.  I helped him on several occasions with lines and moving things around for him.  He had another friend named Larry Brown who came to visit and stayed with him for a few weeks while working on Crazy Horse.  Larry and I spoke often as well, while various parts were refitted on the boat.

Sometime in June I had asked if I could interview him and write an article for the local paper.  He refused at first stating that he was leaving soon for France to go back to work on his other boat, a Spray (Slocum) replica.  I found out more of his story in that conversation – that in 1998 he had completed a three year, round-the-world tour which duplicated for the most part, Joshua Slocum’s original trip.  He explained that the boat was steel, and he was going back for some refit work.

The Interview was never to take place as my wife and I had also gone home in June to do medical appointments and other things.  Guy was ready to depart save for last minute things when we returned.

When we returned, I saw Guy infrequently, but I did chat with him on and off.  I assisted him in installing his wind generator a couple of days before his departure sometime in late July (I do not recall the date, and didn’t write it down).  I know he left and came back in with either engine or steering issues, or perhaps the weather bothered him.  I never got the chance to ask, as the following morning he was gone again and I never heard from him again.

Sometime in August (about a week or so after his departure) I wondered how he was doing.  Then I heard a rumor about a radio call for help and some people were saying they thought it might have been Guy.  I did not hear the call.  I don’t know the details of the call, who made it or why. I completely discounted the idea it was Guy.  He was, after all a seasoned traveler, sailor and knew what he was doing.  I never believed anyone actually heard the call themselves and were guessing (which they likely were).

I forgot all about it.  Until this past week.

JoAnne and I had to go back to Colorado for a few days.  A message came in from Norm at the South Harbour Village Marina while we were traveling with friends, asking if I had heard the news about a friend who had been in the Marina for awhile this past summer.  I received the sad news that he was missing and his boat had been found.

A few minutes later I had an article mentioning him and learned that his fate was not what I would have expected.

I was shocked, and to this day I am still in shock I believe. I’d written off the original rumor of the radio call because I felt it couldn’t have been Guy, it couldn’t have happened to a world cruiser, racer and a man who was very good at what he did.

Guy Bernardin went missing sometime in August we believe, somewhere off the coast of North Carolina, close to us. His life raft was aboard, the boat intact as far as I can tell from the article.  I have little information on what might have happened to him but have first hand experience on his boat.

“Crazy Horse” was a typical racing sloop, designed in a minimalist fashion, but there were narrow decks, running rigging all over the place to the cockpit, a scooped stern, easy to have fallen from there, life lines were short to the deck (no more than a foot probably) and little to grab onto.  Guy told me he had not had time to install jack lines when I questioned him the last time I spoke to him.

Guy Bernardin

We were raising the wind generator mast and he was putting in bolts and connecting the final wires.  I asked him about the jack lines, and he said that it was something he had not bought and probably wouldn’t require them for this part of the trip.  I didn’t question his wisdom on this for I knew he was experienced.  The image below was taken just a couple of days prior to installation of the wind generator.  I was shooting images of boats going through the fairway and happened to catch the stern of Crazy Horse in this one.

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Crazy Horse on RIGHT of Image above

It is now very apparent that Guy, while experienced in around the world cruising, a six-times around the Horn man, and a seasoned racer made a mistake that anyone could make.  He didn’t think anything bad would happen.

According to the article (Written in French), the boat was recovered with no one aboard.

For those who know the story of Joshua Slocum (and I hope all Sailors know it, if not, read it) Slocum traveled solo around the world, with an old wreck of a boat he rebuilt from the keel up.  A completely “new” boat from the old boat rose of the “ashes” (ok, sand actually) and he proceeded to travel the world, visiting exotic locations and becoming a very famous man in the late 1890s.

Bernardin sailed a steel boat called Spray around the world, following the footsteps of Slocum over a three year circumnavigation.

Like Slocum, Monsieur Bernardin disappeared at sea.  Unlike Slocum, Crazy Horse was found without it’s Captain. Spray was never located.  Today we can only assume the worst for Guy.  He never finished his last voyage.  At least I tend to believe he wished to complete it with success, not in the manner it ended.

So, to sailors everywhere…. do your best.  Never skimp on safety, know your limits.  Know that any little thing can kill you out there.  I’m sure you all know this, and I’m preaching to the choir, but seriously, I’m tired of losing friends like this.

Fair Winds, Guy Bernardin, where ever you are now.

 

Sail: disappearance of the navigator Guy Bernardin off the American coast

Guy aboard the Slocum Spray Replica

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http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2017/10/05/guy-bernardin-lost-sea/#.WdxRdryap7Y.facebook

http://www.lepoint.fr/sport/voiel-disparition-du-navigateur-guy-bernardin-au-large-des-cotes-americaines-03-10-2017-2161787_26.php#

http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2017/03/08/fifty-year-anniversary-spiritual-journey/

https://www.amazon.com/Sailing-Around-World-Retraces-Slocums/dp/1574091484

https://books.google.com/books/about/Sailing_Around_the_World.html?id=sAA6uNUnKYMC&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

Sabatical. Retired.

I am on sabbatical now.

Ok, not really.

I retired from the military in 2002.  I quit my job at the Missile Defense Agency in 2015.  I took a job with the marina in March 2017, and stopped working on September 16th until next April when I will return to the marina.

So, I suppose I can legitimately call it a sabbatical.

My friend,  Jay calls his boat Knot Working, so could just say “Not Working” but Sabatical sounds cooler.

We’re doing our last road trip before the cruise south.  Long trip, seeing family,  friend, brew pubs, eating good food, having fun.

Back at the boat, I’ll be spending several days putting all the running rigging back together,  sails back up, filling tanks, removing extraneous gear we won’t require, and storing things we won’t need on the boat.

JoAnne will be working on provisions for the trip, probably three months of standard canned foods and things that last awhile as well as flour, sugar and things we use for baking.

I haven’t written for a time due to hurricane prep, as Irma and Maria were headed our way, so this is just a quick, short entry to remind the worls we’re alive.

 

More to follow in a few days.

 

The other blog

As some of you know, I have a second blog I started in conjunction with a group I run on Facebook.

It’s called “Sailing and Cruising: Preppers”.

Rather than reiterate or copy what I wrote over there, here’s the link to the latest entry today:

https://sailingcruisingpreppers.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/hurricane-irmajose/

I would urge folks to go read it.  Agree or disagree with my opinion, it’s important to me that people learn from history, they learn from mistakes, and they learn skills before they need them.

I wrote a book called “Basic Survival and Communication in the Aftermath”.  The “Aftermath” is that thing that exists when it’s all over.  Disaster, zombie apocolypse, hurricane, asteroid strike.  You name it.  Any sort of thing that befalls some portion or all of the human race, putting them into survival mode.

Maybe people pooh pooh such things as science fiction.  The truth is that disasters DO happen. We know for instance dinosaurs once walked this planet.  Giants who ate one another, and whole trees in one sitting existed.  We have found their bones.  We have found their skulls.  We know they were….

We also believe they were eventually killed off in a rapid extinction, perhaps by as asteroid hitting the planet.  That is, of course, the belief of science today, and while not 100% certain, it definitely has a good following, even from me.

The point though, is that these mega critters had all they could eat, and lived the “good life” as critters go.  And suddenly over a few decades, simply ceased to exist.  Human beings aren’t very large.  We’re not very powerful.  We’re not all that tough as creatures go.  We do have civilization, technology, good (and bad) eating habits.  We live in a world of other humans.  We mostly get along.  We mostly don’t kill each other for lunch (though there are a few times it’s happened).

But we, like the dinosaurs, populate this planet in abundance and dependence on the planet’s resources.  The two recent hurricanes prove that we’re stronger than we look and resilient, yet, dangerously dumb at times.

Many of my prepper friends ask me about my book, mentioned above.  They ask why it’s not in a paper format, because, you know Rick, when the EMP comes Kindles and digital media will be no more!

Here is why.  It kills trees to make a book.  Books wind up in garbage cans or burned as a fire starter when the end comes.  It isn’t the BOOK that is important, it’s the KNOWLEDGE inside said book.

Reading and knowing information is all we as a race have.  Understanding things.  Knowing HOW to do things in both a technological manner and a primitive manner are what keep us alive.

That you can take a computer, get the weather from it and know where the hurricane is, where it’s headed (with in a reasonable guess anyway) and know which way to go to get out of the way is one thing.  Gazing at the sky and seeing after noon clouds building and knowing a thunderstorm is in the making is more important in the hear and now, than the hurricane five days out though.

Knowing how to pick up a few things in the woods, and start a fire that night to keep you warm, in the shelter you made with your own hands – it’s THOSE things you should know.  Sure, you might have a cell phone to call for rescue.  Sure, you MIGHT be able to get a chopper to come pick you up from the mountain with one.  If they battery isn’t dead, if you’re in cell service range, if the phone isn’t wet, and and and…. etc.

The fact is, sometimes, one must stop, drop and roll to put out a fire on their body, or duck and cover from a nuke attack.  Sure, those things are few and far between, but it could happen.

So can hurricanes.  Category V hurricanes.  And denuded Islands happen.  And flooded land in Texas could happen.  Earthquakes in California could happen.  Typhoons in the Pacific can happen.  And knowledge is forever in your head when your book blows away in the rain.

Final thoughts here, do yourselves a favor.  Do not be normal.  Don’t follow the masses.  Don’t believe everything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read on the Internet.  Believe instead, in yourselves.  Believe you can be better than you are, that you can do things no one else can do.  Because, friends, you can.

Read.  Learn.  Understand.  And then Teach.

Travel Planning

We’re planning our first major trip right now.

I’m a world traveler, and always have had to do trip planning, logistics, coordination with others, set up hotels, rental cars, quantities of equipment and many other things for entire teams of personnel traveling to other cities, states and countries.

Somehow it seems that the devil is in the details though when it comes to boats.

Safety is the very first, most important, and critical priority so most things have to be considered there first.  But there are so many other things to take into account for a trip involving multiple days at sea – something we’ve not yet done – that I’m getting lost in the planning. (Not really, but it is certainly different when you’re doing all the planning and a lot of the physical labor involved too.)

We are still working on the interior of the boat, to include removing all the extraneous things we THOUGHT we needed, but haven’t used in a year (or two, in some cases).  I never wanted to have to be able to store anything in a storage locker and yet, we rented one for a full year a few days ago.

I’m starting to move things over to it (a car load of larger items that have absolutely no use on the boat under way were moved yesterday).  Today, I’ll be removing everything from the V-berth and beginning a paint job inside.  I want to clean and paint the forward cabin for visitors who may come to stay with us along the trip in the Bahamas.  It will also afford me the opportunity to put my hands on each and every item in the forward cabin and call out “Yep, nope, throw it out”.  lol – to myself anyway.

I do need to go through the through-hulls again, look each one over, and ensure they are good to go, no danger of anything breaking, sticking or being no use when you need it most.  I’ll start in the front.  The paint is to make things “cleaner” and easy to wipe down inside.  Some areas have never had a coat of paint, and some have only a simple primer coat.  Some have nothing (down inside the bow for instance).  Not sure how well I can paint in there, but we shall see.

I have one more fan to install in the forward cabin if I can.  It only takes a few moments, but, it’s a pain with all the stuff in there right now, so it’s not been done.

Once the area is painted and dried, I can move the cushions back, and we can store a few things in there like our extra beer and soda we’re going to provision, paper products (paper towels, toilet paper) and a few small items (a tool bag).

JoAnne hopes to pare down our clothing to necessities and a few nice things, a couple of items for cold weather (*we hope to be leaving before it gets horribly cold in January!) and she’s going to be collecting and going through our clothing, removing unserviceable items and we’re replace as required.  There are two lockers in the middle cabin that bug me.  I have some electronic parts in them which I probably don’t need on the boat for the trip but do not wish to throw out or give away.  I’ll be collecting things together and storing them ashore.  That SHOULD give me a couple of places to store more food for this trip. (Canned food for veggies and things that spoil easily).

I have already looked at our trip and planned a course or two for Abacos.  We have a couple of contingency plans, so that if something goes wrong, we can turn and head back to the States and get into a bay someplace to do repairs or whatever.  But, basically, this should be a pretty straight shot right to the Bahamas from Cape Fear.  About 415 nm from here, straight line distance of course, without tacking much.  If the weather window is right, we ought to be on a pretty good tack anyway all the way down.  I’m still trying to work out the weather patterns for October though.

We are starting to make sure all our required paperwork is in order, I have to renew my insurance about October time frame, I need to make sure we have no outstanding bills, our slip is taken care of for us, and our car is ok to be left alone for a few months.

This is, if all works out, a six month trip to the Bahamas and perhaps the Florida Keys and then back here.  This will be our first major multiday trip.  Neither of us have done it before, but we think we’re mostly ready.  Time will tell.

 

 

Cabin Top Painting and other projects

Since we’ve owned Adventure she has needed a paint job.  We had the bottom done in NY when we got her, and she’s probably in need of a true bottom job soon, but we’ll wait until next year to do it.

But the top… the deck, the sides of the cabin walls, bow sprit and a few other areas have been in desperate need of help.  I cleaned the boat about once every two weeks, and she was dull, the white ‘wiping off’ on my hands, feet, legs or knees as I’d touch or crawl around her.

Last year, the bow sprit was in evil shape, messy with a mildew that ran the length of the sprit, some areas of wood showing through.  After testing the sprit for integrity (and after hearing one of the sister ships had a rotten sprit) I decided to clean and paint the bow sprit.  I did a bunch of research on paint and found everyone recommending this or that, at the cost of hundreds of dollars a gallon.  I lived in a house I owned for 25 years and successfully used all sorts of paints on the outside of the house, and interior as well.

Certainly, something in these magical marine paints must be made of gold I thought.

Turns out many are a type of oil based paint, and some are epoxy based.  The two part paints usually go on the bottom.  Thus, I will reserve judgement on those for now.

After a year the paint I used on the bow sprit still looks great.  It was simply an oil based exterior house paint and it has held up well to smashing waves, a few dozen rain storms and the sun beating down on it day in and day out, cold and heat as well as ice a few times have assaulted it.  Yet, it still looks great.

Now, the top side of this boat is wooden, with a very thin coating of fiberglass and gelcoat.  Which, as I pointed out, was well gone from a wax job.  I thought to wax the boat, but there are some extremely thin areas along one side where something has rubbed it down to wood.  I decided to try the same oil based exterior house paint on the cabintop.  Instead of going with a messy mixing job, I opted for a simple, oil based, gloss white.

After thoroughly washing the boat’s top, and cleaning off some mildew that was laying in wait on the dark side of the boat (North side as we sit in our slip) and making sure it was very clean, I found no spots that needed sanding, because, frankly the boat is weather worn on top.

Next I taped off my grab rails, rigging parts mounted to the deck top, hatches, portlights and the edges of the non-skid (which is a light tan color).

I thinned the paint slightly and rolled it on in all the large surface areas, and went back over with a brush in the difficult-to-reach places, around hardware, wooden grab rails and mast steps.

The boat… looks amazing now, compared to what she did look like.  I’m considering a second coat, but a single cover should be sufficient.  I will now wait and see how well this wears.

I need to do a couple of repairs along the port side in the non-skid deck surface and one large chunk of “missing” fiberglass on the starboard side.  There’s a divot about an inch by inch-and-a-half that was dug out of the deck by something (not sure what, when or how it happened) and I need to fill that again.  Been hesitant to do so with the rain, heat and humidity though.  Once I get that figured out, I’ll likely do the deck surface in some new, non-skid.  Not sure when I will do it though.

Other Projects:

After looking at a lot of options, I’ve done some power calculations and decided we can get by for this cruising season to the Bahamas with two solar panels.  But, I want four to give us the right amount of power.  Unfortunately, there is no place to mount them.

I contacted a local “tower builder” here in town.  He has a good reputation and has been recommend by more than one person.  Unfortunately, we’re running out of time to get it accomplished this year.  It won’t be cheap work either, I don’t think.  But, perhaps I can put something together.

The idea is to move my two solar panels to a rig on the davits and add two more, for a total of 640 watts of solar power, as well as put a mounting post for a wind generator off the back of the rig, out of the way of the mizzen boom.  After speaking to him, he said he could accomplish anything.  But, he’s going through some medical issues.  This week, he had a stroke.  So, I am not sure he will be able to do any work this year now.   If he can, great.  If not, I will hunt for someone else, or I will work out some kind of temporary rig to move the panels off the bimini.

Bimini:

It is really, really old and needs replacement.  Plus, I’ve punctured it with holes for the brackets for the solar panels.  Which means I either repair or replace it if I move the panels.  I’d really like a new one up there to be honest.  Maybe a white one to keep the sun off our heads.

Wind Generator:

It’s on the list.  A 550 Watt generator will, along with 640 watts of solar be plenty to keep the batteries topped off, and we could even add a few things after that, like a….

Water Maker:  

We’re looking at the Rainman Water Maker, the DC version.  They sell three versions, all portable, don’t have to be mounted anywhere, and perfect for what we want to do.  They produce enough water to keep our tanks topped off in most areas, as long as we have the energy available to run it.

Butterfly Hatch:

The big, butterfly hatch in the center of the main cabin is a beautiful thing.  We can set up an air scoop to bring air down below, open it up for air, uncover it for light.  But, it’s ugly in another way.  It is now, except for some grab rails, the only piece I have not worked on and varnished.  I need to take it apart to do the work though, removing the metal, the hinges, doors and sanding it down first.  It is dire need of a makeover.  That might happen in the next week if I can find a few nice days to get the sanding accomplished.

Last words:

I have to go through the engine, and I need to order some spare parts (for a toilet for instance) and a few minor things, but otherwise we’re ready to “go” soon.

We have too much stuff though on the boat.  We’ve been slowing removing extra junk from the boat, but I sincerely do not want to get rid of it. There are spare nuts, bolts, screws, washers and a lot of other things I want to keep, but really don’t require them on the boat right now.  So, we’re considering a cheap storage locker where we can remove some weight, store those items in a safe, dry location and have access to them when we return in the spring.

It will clear out our Vee Berth, giving us room for some traveling companions if necessary, and a place to sleep for visitors.   In roughly six to nine weeks, depending on the weather, we’re planning to head for Bahamas.  The trip out will take a few days and we will sail outside away from shore and down to Marsh Harbor area.  We’ll tell you more on that as the plan coalesces.

Storms

Over the past three or four days we have had some large, wicked storm cells move through the area.  I had just emptied the dinghy of rain water yesterday morning and helped our friend Jay of Knot Working off the dock for his trip south.  (Jay ended up coming back a few hours later due to some rigging issues, a lazy jack that got lazy and a stack pack that, well… wouldn’t stack.)

Mean time, the water was pumped out using a small bilge pump I keep around, attached to a solar panel.  Doesn’t a quick job for me, at 800 gallons per hour, it will empty the dinghy quickly.

The rain hit hard yesterday between 4 and 5 pm and it was… to say the least a HEAVY downpour.

Fortunately, I’ve repaired a lot of the little leaks and have now placed new paint on the deck and topsides of the cabin.  It needed it badly.  There was no wax left, and if you touched the surface the white would rub off onto your hands.  I think the pain helped to bead the water up and roll it off the sides now.

So this morning I wake up to this little image:

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Not nice, but perhaps not bad, yet.

Harvey, the red X on the lower left is already a “remnant” of a hurricane.  Disturbance 2 (Invest 92) is on the center and aiming at Bahamas.  Disturbance 3 is headed towards Bermuda.

Harvey has a chance to restrengthen in the new few hours and regain it’s notoriety as a tropical cyclone once again.

The other two each have a roughly 10% chance of cyclone formation in the next 24 hours.

I watch “Mike’s Weather Page” and NOAA, as well as the various “spaghetti models” tending to rely more heavily on the EURO model.  I also look at the US weather patterns and the fronts and highs/lows coming across along with their timing with the arrival of a storm system.  It’s not an exact science for me – since my training is mesoscale and not things like hurricanes, but I’m learning.

Below is an image of the various models and how they are coming together:

 

And this is a satellite image of the same region over the past few hours.  Obviously, it isn’t quite to the point of rotation, and if it makes landfall before that starts, it will weaken significantly and dump a lot of rain, some straight line winds and make a mess of things in the Bahamas.

So for my friends currently in the Bahamas, keep your eyes and ears open.