Showing posts with label Atlantic Crossing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Atlantic Crossing. Show all posts

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fair Winds and Safe Seas

This week has put me in a bit of a panic.  So much to write about but not enough time or energy to gather my thoughts.  First things first, Martin and Amara are less than a week away from reaching St. Martin.  I had a wonderful conversation with him tonight and he is more than ready to see us and I think maybe even more excited to see land.

While talking to Martin, he told me a funny story.  The other day when he and Garry were sitting at the flybridge, they saw something in the water.  Martin said to Garry, "Was that a television?"  So curiosity got the better of them and they turned Amara around to go check it out.  Sure enough, it was a television!  They hadn't seen land for 11 days or another ship for 4 days, and right in the middle of the Atlantic, a television goes floating by.  They had a good chuckle over it.
Also, Martin let me in on something that has been a bit of a nail biter for them this past week.  About a week ago, Martin noticed a slight change in the engine noise.  Upon investigation, they found that the starboard engine mount was broken.  Then they went to the port side engine and found that TWO of the engine mounts were broken!  I mean these are huge bolts that needed repair and they didn't have any means of repairing them in the middle of the Atlantic.  Lacking the proper sized bolt, they managed to wrap a line around the engines and tighten it by twisting a screwdriver so that it would tighten the line and hold the engines in place.

They finished the repair late into the night and because there wasn't any wind to speak of, they had to motor through the night—making for a white-knuckle watch and little sleep for the crew that wasn't on watch.  They were all very worried that it wouldn't hold the engines in place and found themselves checking the engines often throughout the night.

Upon examining their repair in the morning, Garry said, "We realized that our backwoods, redneck, or rather... our backsea, wetneck repair would hold."  So, they all breathed a sigh of relief and were able to finally rest from all the tension from the night before.  I am so glad that I wasn't there for this mishap. I'm also glad that I didn't know about this until after the fact because I would have stayed up all night worrying right alongside with them.  The good thing is that their sail repair on the parasailor is holding up well.
Their "makeshift" repair.
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This will probably be my last post until I get to St. Martin.  My bags are packed, all the bills are paid, and the house is organized and in good hands.  I really can't think of one more thing that needs my attention other than not missing our flight.

I think pulling Lily out of school was the hardest thing that I have had to do during this whole process.  I cried huge tears when the bus driver pulled up to the house on Thursday to drop Lily off for the last time.  She just loved going to school.  So, to add insult to injury, I loaded Lily up in the car and I took her off to get her Yellow Fever shot.  The last one on her list of needed shots.
Lily at the Travel Clinic.  
Little does she know what's about to happen.
This week has flown by and I am filled with mixed emotions.  I really can't wait to see Martin, but I also feel the tug of the comforts and securities of home here in Utah.  Martin and I have a wonderful life filled with dear friends, and especially family.  My heart is a little heavy in having to leave them.  In the same breath, I am excited for the adventure of seeing parts of the world that I might never have the chance to visit if it wasn't for our decision to purchase Amara.  Life really is an adventure, isn't it?

So, I will take a deep breath and make a leap of faith while I step onto the plane that will take me to my next chapter.  Wish me... wish us all, fair winds and safe seas!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Day In the Life of Amara and Her Crew

The other day when I was checking my email, I got an email from a family that Martin had met while in Canet.  "Gemma" and her family were down at the dock looking at catamarans the day Amara was preparing to pull out and leave Canet.  Martin saw them and invited them onboard Amara to take a look around before she shoved off.  

Gemma was nice enough to snap some pictures of Amara as they were leaving the marina and sent them to me.  Imagine my surprise to get these pictures in my inbox!  I was so excited to see these and really want to thank her for taking the time to send them to me.
There she goes!
Here is a great shot of Garry waving goodbye as they leave that marina.

I really love this shot of Martin steering Amara.
It feels like they left Canet ages ago.
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I bet by now a lot of you are wondering, "What do they do all day?"  I know I did when we were first looking at buying a boat.  What was I going to do with all this time?  Boy did I have a lot to learn.

On Amara, their daily schedule begins at around 6:00 am when Patrice comes up to the flybridge to relieve Garry from the first watch of the day.  Garry then goes to bed for a few hours (unless a sail change is needed—which means "all hands on deck").  At 10:00 am, Martin’s watch starts and ends at 2:00 pm when Garry comes up for his second watch of the day.  Each of them take 4 hour shifts, and in between their shifts, they find time to sleep and eat. 

Patrice probably has the best sleeping schedule among the three sailors; having most of the night and afternoon off to sleep. However, remember that Patrice is on call all the time.  So, if there is even the slightest bit of a problem, he may only get a few hours of sleep a night.  It’s all a trade off, and I would venture to guess that none of them have gotten all that much sleep during this journey. 

As far as cooking, they all take a turn at cooking dinner—trading off every third night.

Garry tells me that Martin can actually cook, but pretends to not like it (I could have told him that).  Patrice is an “excellent cook”, but doesn’t really enjoy doing it either.  Garry says that he “likes to cook" but doesn't have enough spices and seasonings, food that he used to cooking with so it's a little harder to get creative.  
During the day, the crew usually fends for themselves for breakfast and lunch because of their schedules all being different.  

One of the things that I was adamant about Martin buying while provisioning the boat was to get a bread maker.  Bread makers come in really handy on a boat because it ensures that the crew gets fresh bread when they run out of the store bought stuff.  The other night they finally ran out of bread, so Garry took it upon himself to break in my new bread maker and made their first loaf.  Martin said that it turned out great.  Garry said that next time they fire up the generator to "forget the bread, I'm making chocolate chip cookies!"

Their supply of fresh fruits and vegetables are all but gone now and they all worry about getting scurvy.  (I think they’ll survive, but maybe next time they’ll remember to bring some Vitamin C with them).

When Garry was leaving to go meet Martin in Canet, he came over to our house to grab some of the items that needed to go over to Martin.  In the process, I gave Garry a hard drive chalk full of movies to get them across the Atlantic.  However, in the process of doing it and being in an huge hurry, I downloaded the hard drive to another hard drive that I was setting up for me and accidently deleted all the movies on the hard drive that I gave to Garry.  Fast forward to 3 men on the sea, they are left with the 6 movies that Martin had on his iPad to help them to pass the time on the water.  Martin said that he has watched Forest Gump about 3 times and Garry has watched it twice.  When I talked to Martin last night, he was just finishing Secretariat for the 3rd time.  Poor guys.  

When I do get to St. Martin, there will be entertainment because I am bringing lots of movies (on my  hard drive) along with lots of gadgets that will keep them busy and entertained for hours.

Now back to my list.  My ongoing list of things to do before I leave.  Will it ever end?  I sure hope so.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where In the World is Amara?

Have you checked out our "Where In the World" page on our blog?  If you haven't, click on the big blue map (right under the picture of Martin and me) in the right-hand navigation bar on our home page.  Once you click, it will pull up a page with a real-time map showing the exact location of where Amara is at any given time of the day.  It will even show you Amara's speed if you mouse over the little sailboat icon on the map.  It's a pretty cool gadget and I have been loving it.  I know where Amara (namely, Martin) is 24/7.  For some reason it really helps to calm me knowing her location.  I can't help myself from checking this page about 5 times a day.

If you have already been following this page, you would have probably noticed that for awhile there, it looked like Amara was headed straight for Brazil and she was going to pass up the Caribbean altogether.  However, at the halfway point with 1400 miles behind them and 1400 more miles to go, they were able to finally turn Amara towards the Caribbean and are now headed straight toward St. Martin.

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Halfway down, halfway to go!

It is tradition that once sailors get to the halfway point, there is a ritual that they jump in the water and go for a swim to celebrate.  So in true sailor's spirit, Martin and Garry jumped in to celebrate this huge milestone!
The water was a warm 80 degrees and Amara was a 1000 miles from land in every direction.  Since there was a slight wind that was moving Amara along (even with the sails down), Martin and Garry jumped in with a 75 foot line.  That way they could hold on to it if they thought Amara was getting too far away from them.  It also helped to give Garry a good distance between him and Amara, making for a great photo of her!  
What a view!
Patrice helping to pull Garry back into the boat.
We are hoping that the second half of the trip will go a little faster because now they are traveling in a straight line—whereas before they were having to cut up and down with the wind in their face the whole time.  Now the wind is behind them and should push them along making the trip go a little easier (fingers crossed!).

The countdown for Lily and me is starting to dwindle.  We will be in St. Martin in exactly one week.  Hopefully, Amara will arrive the following day.  If not, it looks like Lily and I will have a little mini vacation while waiting for her arrival.  Regardless of when they arrive, we will be eagerly waiting at the dock at Simpson Bay to welcome them with open arms.  We can't wait.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What's Happening On the Water

I just had a great call from Martin.  He was in the middle of the ocean at two in the morning.  He said that the weather has been beautiful, but the water has been so calm that they have had to run the engines for the past few hours because there is absolutely no wind.

Being on the water; the climate, wind, and water can shift in minutes.  This was the case a few days ago when the wind shifted and caused a bit of a catastrophe.  The wind had picked up to about 20 knots and it was perfect weather to put up our new parasailor.  However, a few minutes into launching it, they noticed that the wind had suddenly caused a slight tear in the wing (opening) in the sail.
Martin wasn't too happy and he and his crew took it down to start their first repair.  Sails are notorious for rips and tears, but nothing this early considering that they've only used it three times.  Martin contacted the company, ISTEC, and told them what happened.  They are going to replace the wing when we get to St. Martin, but in the meantime, it had to be repaired since they have 2 more weeks on the water.

So, Amara quickly turned into a repair shop with the sail taking up the entire salon.
Looks like our salon turned into a sailmaker's shop.
Patrice and Garry busily sewing away making repairs to the sail.
I also got a treat in my email today when Martin sent me some great pictures of their typical day on the water.  I thought I would share.
Garry taking in some sun.  
This is probably the part of sailing that I am looking forward to the most.  I can't wait to just get some sun and start relaxing.  I'm afraid that I've forgotten how to relax with all the months of preparation and building up to this new adventure.  Taking a snooze in the sun will be welcomed by me and come without protest.
While sailing, they saw more pilot whales.  
...and Martin caught some Bonita for dinner.  
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The other night, the crew had an amazing experience that I need to share with all of our readers.  Late into the night, Patrice motioned for Martin and Garry to come up to the bow of the boat.  There they saw a pod of dolphins that were swimming off the bow.  It looked as if the dolphins were lit up and glowing because of the phosphorescence in the water.   

Marine phosphorescence is a heatless light generated chemically by marine plants and animals. Movement in the water sets it off and causes marine life’s bodies to glow.

Here are some examples so that you can get a visual of phosphorescence in marine life:
When Martin saw the dolphins, the glow from their bodies trailed in the water for 3-4 inches behind them.  So, while they were all standing at the bow in complete darkness, the dolphins below were glowing in the water.  Patrice had seen this before and was so excited to share this experience with Martin and Garry.  He said that he had never seen or heard record of this happening with dolphins.  (I searched and didn't find anything.)  

It was such a surreal moment for all or them and the experience of the glowing dolphins stayed with all of them for hours.  Garry said that when he woke the next morning, it was the first thing that he thought about—he just couldn’t get the experience out of his mind.  

Of course, in their amazement, none of them took any photos.  However, they did happen to get pictures of another pod of dolphins that they saw today.  This was the only one that came out kind of clear.  (Hold tight. Amara's photographer will be there in two weeks—Me!  Then there will be pictures a plenty of dolphins!)
I can't wait to see the dolphins and promise to take some good photos while on our adventure. 

As always, it was so great to talk with Martin.  At the end of our conversation he ended it with, "After a great week on the water, all is well in the world."  He's right, I do agree, but I think that all will be even more "well" when Lily and I join him in the Caribbean.

Speaking of dolphins...

I'm not sure if you have seen this already—if not, you need to check out this video.  If you don't think that dolphins are intelligent, you may think again after watching this.

This is a friend of Garry's who happened to be diving off the shore in Hawaii.  While in the water, the wild bottlenose dolphin swam up to him as if showing him that something was wrong.  I won't give the story away.  You can watch it unfold in the video below.  It really is so amazing!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Good bye, Gran Canaria
Life got the better of me this past week and I haven't been the best blogger.  Martin called me on Wednesday (they left the Canaries Wednesday afternoon) and I got all jittery inside and went into panic mode, "This is it!  We're doing this!"  It is all I could say to myself all day after getting Martin's text that they had just left.  I don't know why this single event made this all real for me.  I mean, my husband has been gone for ions.  I've been packing for two months and I've gotten all our bills automated.  I've been getting our house handed over to my family and touching base with our landscaper to make sure our lawn doesn't turn into a jungle because someone forgot to mow.  You'd think that with all this planning that this one single event of leaving the Gran Canarias wouldn't put me into overdrive, but it did.  It all became real to me because it signified no more waiting.  No more waiting for a part.  No more waiting for a weather break.  No more waiting and wondering when I was going to see my husband because in 2 weeks (I've got a date!) our little family will be together again and this time aboard Amara.  I. Can't. Wait!

Now for the good news.... wait.... hold it...  I shipped all of our boxes down to St. Martin!  It felt like giving birth.  It was so nice to come home to a box-free kitchen and feel a little normal again.  It was no easy task.  I ended up shipping seven boxes.  SEVEN HUGE boxes.  In fact, if Martin was in the Gran Canaries this week, I think I would have packed up Lily and we would have taken off to the Canaries, because we are ready to go!  Bummer that the timing didn't work out for us, but at least I feel ready.
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I had a great call from Martin yesterday.  I was in the middle of a store wrapping up some last minute details when he called.  So, I found a couch in the store and just sat and talked to him for a good 20 minutes.  After the first night from leaving port, the swells were so high that Martin was suffering from some pretty bad seasickness.  When I talked to him, he sounded miserable.

I have this habit of asking Martin every time we are on the phone with each other, "Are you still glad we bought a boat?"  He then replies, "Yes, of course!  This is going to be great!"  When I asked him the first night after leaving the Canaries and while he was feeling the bad side-effects of the sea I asked, "Are you glad we bought a boat?"  He replied, "Ask me tomorrow."  So, when he called me while I was shopping and he was in good spirits, I had to stop what I was doing and just sit down and talk.  The seasicknesses had passed and Martin was excited to be doing this again.

When I got off the phone with Martin, I said a little prayer for his safety and got on with what I was doing.  However, I felt an extra spring in my step because I know, we ARE going to do this!  I couldn't be more happy.

More updates on their travels tomorrow.  It has to do with dolphins... so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Talk to Me

I just got off the phone with Martin and unfortunately the trip was postponed until Thursday.  The swells are too high and they want to wait it out before they attempt to cross the Atlantic.  Better to be safe.  Of course, I would have liked to have seen Martin sooner rather than later.  It will be almost 9 weeks by the time we see each other again.  Way too long.

Even though Martin and his crew weren't able to shove off today, it was nice to have a long, relaxed conversation with him tonight.  A lot of the times that we talk, it's late into the night for Martin and he is on his cell—which isn't cheap.  As much as he wants to talk, he's exhausted and in the back of our minds, we know the bill is quickly racking up charges.  Today, Martin went to an internet cafe and we were able to do some much needed Skyping on our computers.  Lily especially enjoyed seeing her dad on the computer screen.
When traveling, if you see something that says, "Zona Wi-fi"  you stop and pull out all your gadgets and start downloading.  Martin and Garry couldn't look happier to get in contact with the outside world.
Because of Lily's disability, she doesn't talk.  She does most of her communicating through her eyes.  When Lily meets someone she usually takes a good 15 seconds and looks deep into their soul with her eyes.  It's disarming and so tender.  During our Skype time with Martin, Lily nuzzled up to the computer screen and looked deep into her daddy's eyes, as if telling him that she loved her daddy.  It really was so special to see her responding to her dad and wanting as much as she could to communicate with him.  I am so grateful that she could have some much needed daddy-daughter time with him.
Projects.  Constant projects.  
It seems that every time Martin and I talk, he is hard at work on the boat and elbow deep into a project.  Martin said that they worked almost 14 hours on the boat just fixing things today.  I asked him if this was going to be a "constant" and all he could say was, "I sure hope not."  Luckily we will always have crew there to help us.  However, the ongoing joke with cruisers is that projects never end and lists just get longer.  Hopefully those lists will lessen by the time we reach the Panama Canal and we will have most of the kinks worked out and be able to just enjoy one another AND Amara.  Maybe we'll even be able to enjoy all those sunsets that I keep reading about.
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While Amara has been tied to the dock, Martin said that he has seen some beautiful boats.  This one for example.  This is one gorgeous BIG sailboat!  What a beaut!

He has also seen a family carrying on with their daily life... just on a boat.

What Martin has come to understand is that regardless of the things that we see as impressive when it comes to boats is that a man's boat is HIS boat... or HERS.  Everyone loves their home, because that is truly where their heart is.  The size, the luxury and the sails—it doesn't matter.  A love for one's boat is truly a labor of love.  Take for instance, José and his boat...
The entire time that Martin, Patrice and Garry have been busily fixing and maintaining Amara these past 5 days, José has been working just as hard on his.
I love that José has the same pride for his boat that Martin and I have for Amara... perhaps he even has a little more.  I'm always impressed when I see someone living out their dreams.  I would hope that everyone we know doesn't let circumstances hold them back and that they can shoot for the stars and live out their dreams.  That means YOU!
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Now for a tour...

While in Las Palmas, Martin and Garry have had a chance to take in the sights of the city.  Here are some great photos that capture the essence of the Gran Canarias.

More updates tomorrow.  As always, I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Journey Continues

Martin captured this picture yesterday from the top of the mast.

I had a great call with Martin today.  He was calling me during his 10pm-2am shift.  It was so much fun killing time with him and knowing he was sailing in the middle of the ocean so far away.  

Martin and his crew are over halfway to the Canary Islands with around 225 miles to go.  The 30 knot winds have been pushing them along with just a reefed genoa.  He sounded to be in great spirits and said that they are still having a wonderful time.  All of this was great news for me to hear!  

During this passage, Martin told me that they have seen sea turtles floating on the surface of the water and have had Pilot whales swim up beside the boat.  They even had a pod of dolphins, and their babies, play in front of the bow for a good 30 minutes.  Now I'm getting jealous.

News Flash:  It looks like those huge fishing rods that Martin lugged to France (and paid a hefty price to get onto the plane) have finally earned their keep.  They got their first catch!  It was a Bonito, which they promptly gutted, cleaned and ate for dinner.

Amara is set to arrive in the Canaries (Las Palmas) on Friday.  Once Martin and his crew arrive, it looks as if the weather will still be working against them.  So, they'll probably have to sit in the Canaries for a few days and wait out the storm... again.  

Meanwhile, I am home and still packing.  A typical scenario for me is that I pack up all the boxes, sit on them for an evening, then wake up in the morning and say to myself, "We don't need that.  Now which box is such-and-such in?"  Then I proceed to unpack all the boxes until I finally find the item.  Another typical scenario is that I'll think of something that, "I forgot to pack", then I'll get up, grab the item, take it downstairs to the boxes and throw it inside of one of them.  Tuesday night I stayed up late into the night and finally itemized each box.  First, because I'll need to do it for customs forms anyway, but mainly because I can't play this game of "go fish" another day.  Luckily, the boxes leave next week so I can stop playing this "song and dance" every day.  It's all so exhausting.  

Honestly, I don't think that I'll be able to relax until I am finally at the dock in St. Maarten and have Martin in my line of vision.  It's all just too much not having him here in Utah with me.  Last night, I had a dream that Martin was in bed next to me.  I even remember taking my foot and reaching out to touch his leg. This is something that I do so often and obviously take for granted.  When I woke up, I reached over to his side of the bed and realized that no one was there.  It took me a good 30 seconds before my brain could catch up and realize that he is still so far from Lily and me.  

We really miss him.