Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making Great Time!

Great photo of Martin with AMARA in the background.
I got a great email from Martin today.  They are making great time and it looks like they will arrive in Grenada just in time to meet Lily and me when we arrive on the 26th.

Email update:

"We are currently crossing the ITCZ  the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone about 300 nautical miles off the coast of French Guiana.  This is where the wind from the Northern Hemisphere and the wind from the Southern Hemisphere meet and creates a belt near the equator of unsettled weather and sometimes the doldrums with no wind.  We have had plenty of wind, and some bouncy seas as I think the swells from the north are colliding with the swells from the south.  We also have had a lot of rain and rain squalls, but fortunately, no lightening.  At least it helps to wash down the boat, but things are definitely damp and muggy.

We also threw a celebration for John crossing the equator the other day.  We sprayed him with shaving cream and doused him with a bucket of water, before presenting his official certificate for becoming a Shellback.

We have been making good time doing 200+ miles per day and currently have 929 nautical miles to go to Tobago."

Tobago is about 100 miles from Grenada, so it looks like it will be a piece of cake for them to make it to meet Lily and me.  We were worried that Lily and I would be drinking pina coladas by the pool for a few days waiting for them to arrive.  Looks like Martin will get to join us instead!  

Meanwhile, here are some great photos of the gang while visiting Fernando de Noronha that I thought you would enjoy.

The men enjoying their Thanksgiving dinner while at sea.
A little dessert after Turkey dinner.
Famous David and his mooring expertise.
John and a tank on Noronha.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quick Update

I just got word that AMARA and crew are going to skip the Amazon and head to Forteleza, Brazil for a quick fuel stop and then off to Grenada in time for Christmas!  I think after reading updates and other cruisers experiences on the Amazon that it was wise to at least not do it in our boat.  :)


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's happening in Fernando de Noronha

AMARA will be heading to Brazil to the mouth of the Amazon.
Yesterday, Monday, we spent the morning "checking into Brazil" as the officials weren't working on Sunday when we arrived.  The Brazilian Federal Police handle the immigration paperwork here, and after the paperwork was finally done, they gave us a ride to their favorite restaurant where we all had lunch. They have become our good friends.  

After lunch we did a two tank dive in the National Park, and observed a big red snapper grab an octopus for his lunch.

This morning we went for a ride in the AMARA tender and filmed the local spinner dolphin by holding the GoPro camera underwater; we got some great footage.  We then toured the coastline inside the National Park boundary. 

Several hours later, the National Park Police stopped by AMARA and told us that it is illegal to take a boat into the National Park, and tried very hard to give us a ticket.  We had no idea about the "no boating" rule as the charts just say not to anchor there, and the local tourist map doesn't say anything about not boating in their list of Park Rules.  We were then escorted to Park Headquarters to meet with the Park Director who spoke a little English.  The director initially said that it should be obvious to us not to bring a boat into the Park.  We carefully explained that it isn't obvious to a visitor when the rule isn't posted in any of their literature.  It also isn't posted on the Marine chart, and not mentioned when you check into the Port.  He finally understood and accepted our rationale, and we were able to be on our way.

Following that adventure we spent some time at the beach were we watched a "Footvolley" match (beach volleyball where players only use their feet) and then a beauty contest.  To top off the evening, we went to every ATM on the island (3) trying to get money so we can pay our $460 departure tax in the morning.  No luck at any ATM even though the locals could withdraw money.  Hopefully tomorrow our teenage friend, "the money changer" might rescue us or we won't be leaving Fernando De Noronha anytime soon.


Sunday, December 7, 2014


I got a quick email from Martin this morning.  He let me know that he and crew have made it safely to the island of Fernando de Norhna right off the coast of Brazil.

He said the minute that they hit the harbor, dolphins came up close to the boat to welcome them to Brazil. Doing what anyone would do, John and David jumped in for a quick play with these playful little friends.
John swimming with the dolphins.
Once anchoring, they quickly boarded AMARA's tender and headed to land only to find out that their ATM's don't work on the island.  However, they quickly learned from a teenager about the "underground money exchange."  They quickly obliged and soon had money in hand and looked for lunch.  After being at sea for two weeks, the first thing that they wanted was a good salad.
Hydopnic lettuce
As soon as I get more details, I will share them.  For now, I am so glad to know that they have made it to their destination, will get rested after some much needed sleep, have money in hand and are on land eating their greens.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

50 hours, uh... 62 more hours to go!

I got another update from Martin yesterday that I thought I should share.  This email doesn't bring me as much happiness as other ones because he breaks the news to me about my special spinnaker.  Read on...

"After having faithfully pulled AMARA along nonstop for a week, our beloved blue and red spinnaker, that Kym personally designed with big white stars, blew apart last night in heavy winds.  It's not easy pulling a 70,000 pound boat over the swells at 10mph.  She had previously received battle scars during both her Atlantic and Indian ocean crossings, but had carried on.  It is currently unclear whether major surgery can patch her up again, but that will have to wait until she can visit a good surgeon back in the United States.  It kind of reminds me of the horse "Little Blacky" in the movie True Grit who faithfully carried Kim Darby and Rooster Cogburn until she finally was completely done in and collapsed.  I'm grateful I got to spend a few minutes alone with her at the top of the mast the other day.

551 nautical miles (or 664 regular miles) to Brazil


When I spoke to Martin last night the computer read that they were less than 50 hours from Isle de Fernando de Norohna, Brazil.  Although toward the end of our conversation, the computer actually bounced up and it read that they had 62 hours to go.  What?  Actually, that happens a lot.  Winds change, the boat slows down and everything on the monitors read higher, rather than longer.  When you're sailing you start to have a love/hate relationship with it.

I think the crew is a little more anxious to get to land and do some much deserved diving after traveling so long at sea.

Let's just not talk about my spinnaker for awhile...


Monday, December 1, 2014

Letters from the South Atlantic Ocean

Another letter from Martin!  I have to say, I talk to Martin almost every night (thank heaven for technology and satellite phones), however; I always love an email from him giving me an update on their day.  I thought this one was definitely blog worthy.  Enjoy...

"...This morning we noticed that the water temperature has climbed a full degree since yesterday.  As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of flying fish (a million or so) and the fishing today was much better than it has been.  We are now restocking our fridge and freezer with tuna and mahi-mahi.  They will be on the menu for plenty of more dinners on AMARA.  

The air is also warmer, and we are bringing out the sunscreen!  It is hard to believe that we have sailed 2,500 nautical miles since Cape Town and are now only 600 miles south off the equator.  The Trade Winds have have been fairly steady from the south east and are now usually between 15-17 knots.  This makes for beautiful sailing and we are moving along very smoothly as we head straight downwind,  flying our spinnaker around the clock for the last 6 days.   We even have an additional .5 - 1 knot of current helping us right toward our destination of Fernando De Noronha, an archipelago just off the coast of Brazil.  We have 875 nautical miles to go and should arrive in 5 or 6 days on the 7th or the 8th.

Attached is a picture that I took yesterday from the top of the mast with our spinnaker flying.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving on AMARA

I just got this email from Martin this morning wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving!  

"In true AMARA spirit, we are already celebrating Thanksgiving here in the South Atlantic.  We have a turkey roasting in the oven, and David is currently working on the mashed potatoes and gravy as I type.  We are even having roast pumpkin with butter and brown sugar, stuffing, and some cranberry sauce that we made from an old bag of cranberries we had on board.  The smells are wafting through the boat, and probably attracting some birds!  We are just sorry you all aren't here to enjoy it all with us when it comes out of the oven in a few minutes.

I'm sure our Black Friday activities tomorrow will consist of more downwind sailing in fair winds, and basking in the warm sunshine as we continue our way to Brazil.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

—Martin, John and David"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Island of St. Helena

AMARA leaving the island of St. Helena.  Thank you, Debbie for sending this to us!
AMARA and crew arrived in St. Helena on Monday morning.  I always love hearing from Martin when they reach land after a long passage because I know that putting feet on solid ground is always welcomed but a full nights sleep is first on the list.

I got an email from Martin today that I thought I would just share on this post about their visit to St. Helena.

"We arrived in St. Helena yesterday morning, the 24th, for a brief respite from sailing.  It was interesting to explore the island.  One thing you quickly notice is that no one has a cell phone because there is no cell service.  In fact, they have only had TV service for about 10 years, but there is still no airport— so everything comes and goes by ship.  Napoleon was exiled here and died on the island.  We had to see his "prison" which turned out to be quite an estate.  There are lots of gun emplacements in the cliffs from WWI and WWII, and some old British forts from when they fought the Dutch.

Everyone on the island has been really friendly, and we have enjoyed meeting some of the people that we have encountered during our stay.  This week there is a big legal trial going on here and they have had to bring in lawyers and a judge from the UK since their is only one lawyer on the entire island.  We have also heard some questionable things about the health and medical services here.

Today we took a tour of the island and visited a black sand beach that had lots of Portuguese Man-o-War jellyfish wash up.  We also saw the verdant interior and lots of flax plants which was the big industry here back when using parcel twine was common practice worldwide.   A highlight of the day was ringing Bellrock, which was a large boulder that when struck with another fist-sized rock, rings like a bell.  It was entertaining to hear the different tones that we could get each time we hit it.  I'll make sure to send a video whenever we find decent internet again.

The biggest highlight of the day was climbing up Jacobs Ladder, which is a steep cliff face with a staircase that goes up the cliff 669 steps.  Our non-stop climb took 14 minutes, and today we are all feeling it in our legs.  

The 669 steps up the cliff in St. Helena
This afternoon we also brought some local friends out to visit AMARA, and then went for a quick whale watching tour.  We were also able to get in a snorkel dive over a wreck of an old coal ship which sank in the harbor.  Later today we loaded 400 liters of diesel fuel, and first thing tomorrow we will try to get some vegetables before we leave for Brazil. We weren't able to get any in the supermarket today, but we considered ourselves lucky to find some sliced bread, since the bread shelves were empty yesterday.


I'll continue to keep you updated as I hear news from Martin.  

Exciting news here in Utah is that Lily and I have purchased our tickets and plan on meeting Martin and the crew in Grenada later in December.  We are getting excited to spend the holidays in the Caribbean!

Next stop for AMARA is the Ilha de Fernando de Noronha just offshore from the Brazilian coast some 1700 miles from St. Helena.  

Let's hope that the winds are, as always, in their favor.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Circumnavigation Complete!

I got a call from Martin this evening.  It was 5:00am his time and he was on the last hour of his 4-hour watch.  He called to tell me that he was 500 meters from officially completing his circumnavigation on AMARA after starting off from France almost 21 months ago.
Where the two lines meet showing a complete 360° navigation.
While on the phone, Martin and I talked about what it took to get him to this point and what a monumental moment it was as he completed the final 150 meters.  Martin also expressed how grateful he was for my support and how we "both" did this.  Once Martin crossed over the 360ยบ mark, no fireworks went off and no corks were popping, but the elation and excitement between us was equal to any crowd.  It was a special few minutes that just the two of us shared some 7,800 miles apart.  Him in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and me safely tucked away at home.  Miles apart, yet so close while we shared this special moment... together .

It's been a good day.


Monday, November 17, 2014

A Real Nail Biter!

I got an email from Martin today wondering why I didn't respond to his email (below) that he sent to me yesterday.  The thing was... I never got it, and I am kinda glad that I didn't!  I would have been awake all night worried about Martin and the crew.  

Here is the email that I was supposed to have gotten yesterday...

"The rough weather we have had since we left Cape Town intensified yesterday afternoon and has remained a Severe Gale, with sustained winds in the 40 knot range, and gusting to 53 knots.  Unfortunately another ship told us that this storm won't abate until the day after tomorrow.  This is the first time we have had a really inaccurate forecast while in Africa (we are now off the coast of Namibia).  As a result, we are running with 3 reefs in the main, and no jib.  Our constant challenge is to keep the boat running straight downwind in these rather large waves which are trying to slew the boat sideways.  To help, we have deployed a warp, which is a long line we drag behind the boat to help slow it down and keep it aligned.  Everyone on board is wearing a life vest and we have shortened our watches to ensure we don't get over tired.  No cause for alarm back home, just wanted to share what's going on here.  We are gaining a real appreciation for what it means to ride out a storm.  We will keep you posted.


Nail biting to say the least!

I have since talked to Martin and the winds have finally settled down and they are back on track heading to Saint Helena.  Let's hope that this is the last of rough sails on the water.   I don't think that I can handle another email like that one! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

...And They're Off!

I got a call from Martin today.  They are off and on their way, first to the island of Saint Helena (where Napoleon was exiled) then on to llha Fernando de Noronha, Brazil.  They won't arrive in Brazil until the 7th of December (if all goes well and the winds continue in their favor).  Martin sent me some great photos of AMARA taking off from Cape Town in the middle of the famous Volvo Ocean Race.
A view from AMARA leaving Cape Town, South Africa

I am hoping that all goes well for AMARA and her crew as this is a long leg.  AMARA's crew is now dwindled down to Martin, David and John.  This will call for long watches for the three of them, however, the winds look to be blowing downwind offering some smooth sailing for AMARA.

I'll continue to update as I hear news from Martin... stay tuned!

More Updates!

AMARA and Martin leaving Cape Town with a Volvo Race Boat behind him.
It's amazing how fast time flies when you're having fun.  Martin has already been back in Cape Town for 4 days now, and they are in the process of leaving Cape Town and headed for Brazil.  We had a wonderful time while Martin was here in the states for a very, very brief visit (5 days).  We were able to get a lot done while he was home.  But enough of that... what has Martin and the crew been up to since they have been back in Cape Town?

Martin and John were able to see some Penguins off the coast.  

He and John were also able to do a a quick Shark Cage dive.
John boarding the boat to do some cage diving.
How would you like to be that close to a shark?!
Now, don't get too nervous.  He and John were put into a cage and then lowered into the water while the boat sprinkled the water with chum (lots of cut up fish!) looking for sharks.  It was only a matter of minutes when the sharks got up close and personal next to the cages.  Looks like fun to me.

While Martin was here in the states, the crew went on a Safari in the Kruger National Park.  Here are some great photos that Sue sent to me (She flew to SA to be with David for the two weeks while Amara was anchored).

Looks like the crew had a lot of fun, I'm a little sad that I opted to not go to South Africa.  I think it looks like such a beautiful country.  Martin couldn't stop raving about how beautiful Cape Town was.  

More updates to come...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

AMARA Update

Martin at the top of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Update on Brazil: Brazilian visa's didn't come until Friday.  In the meantime, Martin has been having a lot of back problems, again, since he arrived in South Africa.  So,  I found him a super cheap ticket to come back to the states.  We decided last second (Friday) that he should come home this week and spend some time with Lily and me and get his back taken care of while he is home.

Martin is set to arrive on Monday and his calendar is already packed with lots of appointments.  It will be so nice to have him home, just in time for some chilly fall days—a big change from his endless summer.

While waiting for his flight, set for Sunday evening, Martin was able to attend the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town.  I thought I would just cut and paste his update about the race.

"... One of the toughest and longest races in sailing is the Volvo Ocean Race. Seven identical 65 foot sailboats are competing in an around the world race that takes 9 months to complete. This is a real sailor's race where technology, sailing skills, and endurance all mesh together to push the boats and crews as hard as they can taking it to the extreme edge of what's possible. The boats go 40 knots, that's 46 mph!  The USA team is Alvimedica and team SCA is the all female crew. The race started in Spain 20 days ago and they have already sailed to the Brazilian coast and are now are heading further south and approaching the Southern Ocean all to get the most optimal winds and currents.

Fortunately Cape Town is the second stop in the race and AMARA is amazingly parked right in the very middle of all the festivities.  Today is the kickoff to the race week, although the boats won't arrive here until about the 6th. I'm so glad to be here and see it.  FYI, they will be in Newport, Rhode Island in May.  Here are some photos to enjoy.

Photos coming. Off to run up Table Mountain."

More updates about Martin's visit home... 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cape Town, South Africa!

Martin and his crew made it safely to Cape Town on Thursday.  It was a fairly smooth and fast sail.  It was exciting to see the map of when AMARA rounded the Horn.
Rounding the Horn headed to Cape Town, S.A.
Once AMARA got to the bay, just outside of Cape Town, they were greeted by seals.
John being greeted by a friendly seal.

The harbor of Cape Town is absolutely beautiful although when they arrived to Cape Town they were welcomed by a thick fog.

The fog was so thick there for awhile that Martin said that they couldn't even see a boat length in front of them.
AMARA is tucked in the harbor down below.
The harbor in Cape Town.
Once they arrived, Martin got his first taste of Ethiopian food (one of my all time favorites).

I had planned to go out to South Africa to meet up with Martin, however, we decided that we would prefer Martin to be home sooner—meaning my coming out would delay the trip.  So we made a quick decision and cancelled my plans so that Martin can leave on Tuesday and head to Forteleza, Brazil (pending they get their Visa's to Brazil).   So instead of spending ten days in Cape Town, he is trying to cut it down to 4 days.  

Another change in plans is that Doug had to leave to go get his own boat down in Florida.  From there, he is headed down to the Bahamas. We were sad to see him go, but understand his desire to get on his own boat.  Good luck, Doug and safe sails!

Martin sent me a wonderful video that he took of the nightlife in Cape Town.  Enjoy!  I hope to update a little more while the guys are in Cape Town and before they take off to Brazil!  Cross you fingers that they get their Visa's soon!


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Guest Speaker

While Martin was in Durban last week, he went to the LDS (Mormon) Self-Reliance Center where the church centers it's efforts in helping the poor and needy, as well as, helping members to find jobs.  Martin has always had an interest in this program and is always looking for opportunities to serve in the areas he is visiting... or just getting to see how the program is progressing in other parts of the world.

While he was there, he met a mormon bishop.  They got to talking and the bishop suggested that Martin stop by the church on Saturday.  There was going to be an activity for the youth of the stake (a group of mormon congregations that gather together is called a "Stake") and he should come to get to know the kids from that area.

Martin and I were talking on the phone that Saturday morning and he said, "Hey, do you think that I should go to the church this afternoon?  Looks like they are doing a youth conference, so I am not sure if I should even go (since it isn't an adult-focused meeting)."  We talked a little more on the phone and I said, "You know, you should go.  You might be missing church on Sunday (because they were taking off and heading to Cape Town) this may be the only church that you get this week.  So, we finished our conversation and Martin left for the Youth Conference.

When he arrived, he had a chance to meet a lot of the youth leaders and he was so impressed by how they had set up the program for the youth in that area.  The 100 plus youth were divided into different groups and each group was either, learning how to formal dance in the gym, while others were learning how to apply for jobs at the Self-Reliance center, (right next to the church) and the last group was learning how to utilize the internet to do missionary work.  All great youth specific activities that would benefit these kids.

However, somehow in the midst of all of this, Martin was asked to be the concluding speaker to the whole group when they all met back at the church.  Of course, Martin is a fabulous speaker and has done quite the circuit back here in the states to both adult and youth groups, so he was able to pull stories and lessons from his past experiences to teach these young kids about setting goals.  His topic to the youth was about climbing the mountains of life and how they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to doing, as long as they are moving forward with determination.  Something that comes very naturally to my goal-setting husband.

Of course, after the conference, Martin gave a few of the youth leaders (who gave him a ride home) a tour of AMARA.

I am so glad that Martin is always looking for opportunities to stay present and involved wherever he can, at this time.  He is getting a little anxious to get back home and have life be a little more normal, but really, he also loves being on the boat.  In the meantime, I am glad that he can share his talents with others while he is sailing.

In other news, they are almost to Cape Town.

This Just In! AMARA making incredible time heading toward Cape Town!

Martin just sent me this news flash!  They took off on Sunday and are making spectacular time heading to Cape Town. 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  
"Reuters AP (Well, not really, but if Rueters knew, they would totally have posted this.)

Martin Frey reporting from off Cape St. Francis

The sailing yacht AMARA achieved a new 24 hour distance and speed record over the last 24 hours from Midnight to Midnight.  Distance traveled was 253.1 nautical miles (291 miles—That's fast!), making her average speed better than 10.5 knots!   These results were achieved with the assistance of the favorable Agulhas current and not likely to be repeated until AMARA sails up the Gulf Stream off the eastern coast of the USA.

Sometime tomorrow afternoon AMARA will also achieve another first with the rounding of the southern tip of Africa which will take her to a latitude of 35 degrees south, the furthest south that she has ever been."

AMARA should be reaching landfall on Friday.  Martin reports that Cape Town is less than 2 days away.  Yay!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bunny Chow... Well, Not Literally

Last Saturday night, Martin, David, Doug and John went to a Blues Festival in Durban.  First stop... Bunny Chow

In Durban the people are very proud to be the only place in the world where you can get Bunny Chow.  Bunny Chow is a lentil and meat curry that is served in a bread bowl.  It is extremely popular and is inexpensive and often very spicy. 

Tradition dictates that the proper way to eat Bunny Chow is with just your fingers making for very messy hands. Given that that they are leaving Durban on Sunday, it was imperative that they all ate their Bunny Chow today.  Martin had his at lunch and here is the crew getting their Bunny Chow initiation Saturday night while they were enjoying the Durban Blues Festival. 

PS. No bunnies were been harmed in making Bunny Chow.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Here are some photos of Charlie, the crowd pleaser, at the Blues festival.

I have another post coming shortly...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cool New Video—Adventures On AMARA

Doug sent me this great video of him and the gang during their passage from Reunion Island to Durban.  It's quite entertaining as it shows the whales greeting them as they approached Durban. It also gives you an idea of how rough it can get on the high seas.  He was also able to capture some footage of them while they were in the gale that had winds upwards to 48 knots.  Never a dull moment on AMARA.

Enjoy!  (And thanks, Doug!)

Landfall this morning—Durban, South Africa

AMARA and her crew reached landfall today arriving in Durban.  As they approached land and were just off the coast, they were greeted by Southern Right Whales that came up next to AMARA while breaching and spy hopping in the water.  Martin felt like it was the welcoming committee coming out to greet these tired sailors and escort them in to South Africa.

I spoke to Martin via Skype this evening and it was so nice to get caught up and be able to see each other on our computer cameras.  He was very excited to be on land and was enjoying a breakfast at a local coffee shop.

I'm just so glad that they made it to Durban and am anxious to meet up with Martin in Cape Town in less than two weeks.

More news to come in the morning.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Gales and Currents

Martin sent me an update via email on what they are currently dealing with.  I thought I would share it on the blog.  They are almost there!

"We have about 100 miles to go before we get to Durban, but we are in a full Gale tonight.  I just got off watch and had winds up to 48 knots (which is around 54 mph) and some lightening just to keep it interesting. The boat is doing well in the waves.   We are also just about to cross 30 miles of the Agulhas Current which runs down the African coast at about 4 knots. Fortunately the wind is going the same direction as the current, so the waves won't get any bigger.

Don't worry about anything, I'm having a blast, and just thought you would like to hear what we are dealing with at the moment.

I will let you know when we arrive in Durban.