lundi 21 septembre 2009


Pippo Lionni

To my mother NAOMI who taught me to fight for life and
to my father MANNIE who taught me to sail for pleasure.


I may have emerged from months of seeing us drowning in ice cubes, smashed to smithereens by angry orkas, rolling head over heals by freak waves, starving in a rocky life raft, retrieving dead crew members from the sea, being run down by oil tankers... months of horror fueled by reading of all the worst that could happen to us.


Change of boat, change of route, change of climate... redo all the lists. With this different boat our problems of space and weight are solved but there are new enigmas: of leaving from a unknown country on the other side of the world; on a a boat we don’t know; new weather systems; very hot instead of very cold... I still wake up once in a while in a life raft rolling under breaking waves of ice water, or some very important item I forgot pops up in my head and I can’t get back to sleep till I’ve worked it out. But things are calming down a bit. I will never get everything done, it will not be perfect, and/but we will survive. Esa is still hanging in there and being a great help, Pops helps once in a while, Arik is supporting, and the kids are a bit scared. I’ve been trying to work out a watch system. I’ve looked at any number of solutions, none of which seem optimum. Most that seem to work out logically are multiples of 2 hours, which seem out of sync with my experience, which is more a 3-hour sleep cycle... Security is everyone knowing how and when to use all the alternative ways of doing almost everything. Sensitive areas are: sail maneuvers, electronic and celestial navigation, collision avoidance, first-aid, communications, engine use and repair, emergency procedures... These are the systems.


Only 2 weeks to go before heading to Trinidad. The last few days have been even more wild than usual: final discussions with prospective crew, packing and piling up too much stuff I don’t know where I will put, programming, bombing and reprogramming laptops, printing out charts, pushing on friends with incredible equipment deals that just don’t seem to get here, trying to make sense out of medicine lists... not to mention yet another pair of socks, calls to the yard, calls to Esa, calls to... and calls from...

Our crew is now 4 : Esa, Jorgen, Juha, and I - a solid crew.

Route/time simulations are coming in anywhere from fantastic to terrible depending (today the we might make it to Gibraltar in 3 weeks).

I went up to Stockholm last week and hauled 30kg of stuff off of Galatea II (who smiled in relief), but left the Duogen behind. Just too much weight to carry.

I am feeling a lot calmer about this trip even though it is a lot longer. 5000 miles from Trinidad to Perpignan. There seem to be two approches to the route : the classic route to Bermuda, across to the Azores and on to Gibralter and Perpignan; or the direct route NE to the bottom of the Bermuda high and then zigzagging east till we pick up the north winds on the other side. The position of the Azores High is our problem. We want it at its’ most southern limit so we can sail over it with favorable winds. If these are our conditions (which is highly unlikely) and they stayed this way for a long period (which is impossible) we would run NE from Trinidad at our most efficient angle to the wind (the most speed, as close to the direction we want to be going with the least amount of stress) and hope to catch SW winds that will run up the outer edge of the line of dark triangles (the cold front of the principle L (and subsequent Ls) and then head more ENE as the winds shift to NW after the fronts. We would be aiming for the second ring around the top of the H where we would hope to find our SW W and NW winds to carry us though the Azores to the Med. If this H is very far north we will have a more complicated route playing with the southern edge of the H till we can catch the winds from the NE then N and then NW on its eastern side. This is an overly simplified analysis because all this is moving fast and we are moving slowly. There is often another H around Bermuda which combined with the Azores H can create a barrier. In this case we would have to come very far north making it worth while stopping in Bermuda, or even ending up in Newport. This is a very simplified view but the basic approach is go as fast as possible in the right direction safely...

I am surrounded by very patient loved ones: Anne, Luca and Alix, Arik, Enrico... as I get closer to leaving I am becoming increasingly one track minded and most certainly very uninteresting to listen to.

10°40.89N 61°38.041W at 1909 010508

Chaguaramas, Trinidad: Power Boats is an Incredible yard filled with rugged looking boats and sailors that have stepped off of circumnavigations. Most people painting there own hulls, no chi chi here. It is hotter than hell from 1000 to 1600. Jorgen and Juha are having a hard time, I’m too busy to notice the heat. We got in at around midnight after endless lines at immigration and then customs and then another customs and then tare 60 kgs of baggage apart and explain tools and kitchen stuff and drugs and a pile of wires and a pillow and.... I woke up at 04:30, rummaged around inside and then out and about at sun rise. Naomi is looking good, the hull is solid and clean, the cabin a bit worn, and lots of odds and ends to get rid of or replace..; and don’t forget the grease for the winches that are blocked and, and. Juha took the old name off the stern and put on a new adhesive NAOMI but the formal christening is in a day of two when I can find a way to kill the obsolete symbolic serpent - supposed to shoot it with a rifle, but I will have to do the deed stabbing dirty harbor water with a kitchen knife. We roamed around a locale boat store to stay in the air conditioning but I didn’t have the energy to attack my page of «need to gets» - will have to wait for another opportunity. NAOMI got clean of her white plastic covering, so I was able to untangle too many rough and dirty halyards while the guys slept away. It is now very dark, my computer screen is all we have on to save electricity, Jorgen just woke up from a nap, or rather I just loudly suggested dinner and he pulled the rag off his head.

10°40.89N 61°38.041W at 0800 040508

Chaguaramas, Trinidad: NAOMIi went into the water on Friday, it was a tense moment: we had a visit from the Boat Doctor at 08:00 to start up the diesel («no problem») which didn’t start of course and had to be tinkered with, parts to be bought, sweat and blood.... Paying my outstanding bills (must be paid before launching in case one slips out to sea with some unpaid debts), I discovered that we also had to clear locale customs and immigration in Chaguaramas, so we raced off by boat taxi to the administration area and wasted 3 hours - revenge on all the hard times we give our own visitors. Back at the yard we got NAOMI was lifted off her supports, driven to the ramp and slowly let down into the sea. She didn’t sink!!!! we got on board and motored to our slip, First impressions were great, I didn’t hit anything, the engine didn’t die, we weren’t washed out to sea and left abandoned for eternity in the Saragoss sea... Our dutch neighbor was having a rest on deck in his hammock in between romps with a his day prostitute. Our slip is across an little inlet from a night club - NAOMI shacks well into the night to 80s and 90s trash. (a petite souvenir for Pops and Jorgen from Alesund in Norway - GALATEA was rammed at 03:00 by a drunk couple when the nightclub let out. In our slip the riggers fine tuned the standing rigging. We are still discovering new odds and ends in endless plastic boxes in nooks and crannies. We all have our weird ways, we obsess about some things and let others slide. Yesterday I took apart the mast winch which was totally seized up - it looked like it had never been opened. Esa got in late last night (and lost one of his numerous bags with all our emergency food (which must be very light to compensate for the extra tons of gear we absolutely need for the trip), we were saved by a forgotten bag of finnish licorice. We walked around the yard and NAOMI till late and and everyone is still asleep (Esa under some blankets - thanks Mel). I’m up every morning at around 0600 to work out or do some yoga (forgot my mat but am using the artificial grass door mat - found in the fore cabin under two Danworth anchors) before the sun blasts down at around 0900.

10°40.89N61°38.041W at 2200 050508

Oh man oh maaann yesterday was terrifying: we discovered that we had forgotten to put in the through hull log wheel before launching. It took a while to surpass the fear that I was about to voluntarily sink our home with all our dreams (and piles of junk)(but not Esa’s lost luggage) right here in the harbor. I took the cap off with my left hand and placed the log in the hole with my right hand while i received a nice strong salty blast of harbor water in the face. Wow incredible to be still alive. Next was the toilet that I tried to fix but impossible to find the trick to getting that new rubber flat flap into the little hole on the side of the base while curled around the bowl in a cramped bathroom, and yes it didn’t still smell like shit all over my hands...; then it was the generator that wasn’t charging, the wires to the stern antennas that were just too short, the rigger that didn’t finish, the stores that just don’t have what need... and still really hot. Today went better : we found the plug to the alternator regulator that the Boat Doctor had inadvertently pulled out when trying to get the engine started the other day; got 2 shelves that were missing cut and installed; the rigger almost finished, the water maker man came but we couldn’t find the switch or we found it but it wasn’t the right one or the only one or it had once been the right one but was no longer... we then went off the the other side of the lagoon to immigrations with Esa to find immigrations closed because the air conditioner was out of order - and just go the Port to Spain. We still haven’t found the american hex wrenches we need or much else on our massive lists. It is quite possible I wont write tomorrow because i have decided that I just can’t give my new toilet to the Boat Doctor, the one who screwed up the electrical connection and who didn’t show up as promised today, so yes I have decided that we will pull the toilet ourselves and take it apart on the dock - no sailing holiday is complete with out a toilet refurbishing, and better here than running in 5 meter seas!!! And how entertaining for the old sailing cronies next to us - the young rich guys in a swan up to their ears in shit... Not to forget Juha and Esa paddling around in the Zodiac filled with water - they forgot to put in the drain plug! this message will be difficult to send - the main office sold Esa a Wifi connect ion today that had expired on May 1st. So, no we haven’t sailed yet, why do you ask? xxxx p

10°40.89N61°38.041W at 1600 070508

What day is it, what time is it, where am???? 1600 is too early to write, my brain is still boiling, should wait till 1900 but I have to get in out of the sun and I shouldn’t bug Esa and Juha who are surrounded by cans and boxes, all labeless cans, and Jorgen has gone off to get some heavy duty garbage bags... Mel the ex owner came by last night and a million enigmas evaporated in instants, it is amazing to be surrounded by hundreds of switches and valves and instruments... Every one has there peculiar way of compensating for forgetfulness Mel’s was to put labels on everything, but you have to know where to find the labeled object. I prefer the user manual method: step one, two,... We got a lot done today but there is still as much to be done.

10°40.89N61°38.041W at 0730 080508

Esa and Juha went off to the super super mega market and only came back with about 30% of our needs - the rest was in bulk, like 4 kilos of peanut butter, 12 liters of milk... While Jorgen and I did wiring, got holes drilled... everything is happening but nothing seems to be getting done, there is always some thing left to do on each project, never completed enough to cross it off the list. Last night there was a moment with no wind in the harbor, so to bring the spirits up, we put up out 95% genoa - it looked like a good solid sail, but we couldn’t find any good looking sheets. I’ve been up since 06:00, took a shower, shaved off the scrub on my shin, did an hour of yoga... I am sitting at the chart table, there are 12 instruments surrounding me, some are obsolete, some should be obsolete, some are mine. I can’t quite sit straight because the electrical panel is open and spilling wires - I was hooking up the AIS but was distracted by some other more important project but i don’t remember what it was. Most likely that project was like wise interrupted... Esa is explaining to Jorgen how to use the SMS in his phone - but there might not be a swedish dictionary, now there seems to be one, but «how does this darn phone know that I want to type Christian?»... The sun is out of course, and the day has begun. Later in the day : we are very sweaty, the AIS is working, the SSB cable has been replaced, the water and oil in the engine bilge have been cleaned up and inspected, the spin sheets are too short, the Boat Doctor is coming by tomorrow afternoon to drill out the bolt on the toilet that I popped, Esa and Juha got the outboard motor smoking and escaped to eat ice cream in a nearby harbor... and we are expected for drinks on Mel’s boat at 1830...