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...