Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Storms of Life

I got another update from Martin this morning.  I have to say that I got a little teary with this one just knowing that Martin is out there wrestling the elements while still fighting off seasickness in the middle of the North Pacific.  As reported in Martin's previous post, they have a broken bowsprit which made flying a spinnaker impossible in fair winds, but after reading this post, it looks like they won't need one for awhile anyway.



"Yesterday I woke up to the sounds of the crew frantically moving around up on deck. From my bunk on the leeward side, I hear the water rush by my right ear and I knew we were moving fast and heeled over hard. Soon, the sounds of water surrounded me and I listened with fascination as the water rushed down the deck just inches above me. Was I trapped? Then came the call: “All hands on deck!” As I scrambled out of bed and put on my foulies, I then heard a second call: “All hands on!”

The scene on deck was an exciting one. The wind was howling and the waves were a frothy white. The third reef was in the mainsail but eight of the crew were up on the bow trying to drop and secure the headsails. I clip on to the safety lines and crawl forward on the slanted deck, dragging a big black sail bag to the bow with what I thought was the storm jib only to be told that it was the trysail. Foolish rookie mistake, as the name is stamped on the other side of the bag. I crawl back and get an identical black bag with the storm jib and drag it forward. Next I'm on the winch, grinding the sheet to trim it. Winds are 55 knots – with gusts at 65 – but I'm hot and sweaty. The wind literally blows the top of the waves off into the air and prevents them from building too big. Greybacks, as these waves are called, are hitting us broadside and pitch the boat side to side as well as up and down; frequently, they crash right over the side and we get soaked each time. Somehow water runs up my right sleeve and soaks my inner layers that keep me warm. With the sails now set for the storm, there is nothing to do on deck but hunker down and ride it out.

Because we are still in a race, as soon as the wind backs down some, Huw, our skipper, calls for the storm jib to be moved from the inner to the outer (front) forestay in lieu of a Yankee sail, and for the staysail to be set up again. Now I'm called to go forward to the bow with Tino and Dana to set the sails. Tino is from Barbados and is the kind of guy who doesn't always adhere to the boat routine but who you definitely depend on when things break down in the middle of a storm. Dana, a tax accountant from Los Angeles, is about five feet tall and is the closest thing to the Energizer Bunny I've ever seen. She is always the first to volunteer to take on the hard jobs.   Tino hanks (clips) the storm jib on to the forestay as Dana and I feed it to him while keeping it under control in the wind.

Meanwhile, we are getting doused repeatedly and bouncing up and down approaching liftoff velocity, where we could be thrown in the air. The storm jib gets hoisted and we then pull hard to hank on the staysail on the inner forestay. Once it gets hoisted, I lean against the forestay for a moment feeling elated that I had experienced the storm, did my job, and all was well. It’s one of those memories I'll cherish. Greybacks were still plentiful, but their ferocity had diminished. Just as I move aft, a big wave launches Dana and she goes flying up in the air and crash lands hard on a cleat. It caught us by surprise, and she doesn't know whether to laugh or cry with the pain.

Sitting on deck with my back to the wind and spray for an hour leaves me cold and nauseous. I sit down on the floor to get out of the wind and endure another hour, but the nauseousness builds despite my focusing on the clouds and horizon. I go below and as soon as I'm inside, the nausea overtakes me and I start repeatedly puking while laying on a sail. I lay there for several hours realizing how drained I am until our watch is finally over and my bunk is free. I drag myself to bed.

The next morning, my appetite has returned and I try to rehydrate. The seas have calmed and the sun is shining. It seems to be a whole new world outside, and my dread of nausea turns to lightheartedness. The day is spent organizing and drying out our gear. We joke that only 15 hours before the storm, the Pacific was calm enough to swim in.

Late in the day, we get a weather update. There is a huge low forecast to reach us by tomorrow night, which means another storm is coming. This one is expected to easily last three to four days. Here we go again!


Life Aboard Visit Seattle

The current race standings as of today.  Team Visit Seattle is the white boat

For current updates of the race standings, go here:

Hi All-
I have been a little late in posting this and I apologize.  Martin sent this out on Monday and well, I have had a wedding, taxes, guests, taxes, planning a grand welcome home party for Martin and had some shift changes in crew that I have had to deal with on AMARA.  So, as you'll read below, you'll find that both Martin and I have had to deal with some pretty rough waters these past few days.  But our heads are above water now and we are hoping for some smooth sails going forward.

I think you'll love this post that Martin sent because it really gives some great insight on what he is currently doing aboard Visit Seattle and how he is dealing with his seasickness (which he isn't all that well).  



"Our Clipper Race sailboat has a crew of twenty which functions as a small
little society in the middle of the ocean.  In some ways we are like two
large families named Starboard Watch and Port Watch living in the same
house and using the same facilities. For 4 hours at a time at night, and for 6
hours during the day, one family sails, manages the boat, cleans, and empties bilges while the other family sleeps. Then at the watch changes the
roles reverse, and those coming off watch, take the warm bunks of those who just went up on deck to start their shift. Hot bunking as we call it,
affords us little personal space of our own, as we are stacked in together liked sardines. I'm on the top bunk and if I raise my elbow, I hit the ceiling.  Our off watch time, isn't just for sleeping, as there are often support duties like packing up sails, eating, and fixing things that can easily eat away at the time.  Just getting into and out of our foul weather gear and putting on and taking off our life jackets takes up to 30 minutes.  To protect our night vision and not offend those sleeping, everything is done under red lighting.

We have been sailing for 8 days and covered over 1500 miles and are some 800 miles off of Japan.  Our initial few days were in the relatively calm waters crossing the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan, but as soon as we got
into the Pacific Ocean, the rolling sea swells and head on wind waves made me gravely seasick. We bounced around like we were inside a washing machine. For 2 nights I slept on the floor on top of a sail, unable to get out of my own life jacket and foul weather gear as I threw up repeatedly. On deck, I didn't feel any better and remember laying on deck after throwing up, and someone came by and washed the puke off the deck, not too worried if I got doused with water in the process.  

In addition to the constant bouncing motion, the boat is usually healing over (leaning) at a 30-50 degree angle. This creates challenges getting around and doing things like cooking, eating, or going to the bathroom.  As a result, there is no table to eat at, we simply sit near the galley or on deck and usually have one bowl meals. Actually served in dog bowls, as they function the best. In the micro sized head that makes an airplane bathroom look spacious, everyone sits down. Also interesting is that there are no toilet seats, which I'm told, is for male safety reasons in the rough conditions.

As we are a racing sailboat, the process of sailing goes on 24 hours day and 7 days a week.  We are always looking at the weather, our routing, and the
position of the other boats, and think about how to gain an advantage.

We are constantly working to make our boat go a little faster by helming more efficently, trimming sails, or changing them to best suit the
conditions. On board we have 14 sails, including 3 spinnakers and 3 yankees that get changed often depending on conditions, and a staysail and a mainsail.  Our largest yankee weighs about 250 lbs. and has to get from the sail locker up on deck, then hanked (clipped) on to the forestay, and manually hoisted up the mast. It is very tiring to lug around and takes a coordinated team effort. Fortunately we have "coffee grinders" which allow us to turn the winches faster then just using the manual winch handle.  Every headsail that comes off the forestay must also be folded up and packed away, and folding big sails on the windy deck can
be challenging.  After several days of bashing through the waves our
bowsprit has broken preventing us from using our spinnakers.

Our little society or crew is made up of people from all walks of life
and nationalities with a great esprit de corp. Athough I'm just sailing the
Pacific leg of the race, many of the crew are doing a full circumnavigation.
I've really enjoyed getting to know them as we talk through the night, share duties, or a bunk. We each bring something different and uniquely our own to our Visit Seattle team.  Our skipper Huw Fernie, manages the overall process of sailing this Clipper ocean race, keeps us safe, informed, and sometimes entertained as well. Because he was asked to throw out the first pitch at an upcoming Seattle Mariners Baseball game, today we held pitching practice and the crew cheered as he practiced pitching rotten oranges down the deck and over the side.

I’ll share more insights on the crew in the future.

So this is life aboard Visit Seattle.  I've learned that it is partly an ocean sailing race, partly a very challenging expedition, and partly a fun adventure similar to summer camp.  Thanks for reading; I hope you will join in with us for the voyage.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

It all begins tomorrow

Martin visiting with school children in Qingdao, China aboard Visit Seattle
I just got off the phone with Martin.  He is in the comforts of his hotel room for one last night, scrambling to mark his gear, check his gear, finish up last minute work emails, and checking his nerves right now for what comes tomorrow morning at 8am sharp.  Time to board "Visit Seattle" for a month of what is said to be one of the toughest sails of the race.  In fact, Martin and his team were told that there could be upward to 80-foot waves.  How is that possible?

I feel nervous, excited, and anxious to just get him back home where life can be somewhat normal again... well, you know "normal" for us.

First things first,  here are all the links you might want to follow if you'd like to travel along with Martin's adventure.  Updates will be live, so this should be fun! 

Martin's personal website:

Twitter: 7summits_7seas

Instagram: 7summits_7seas

I, of course, will be blogging while he travels giving updates from Martin, purging my nerves through words and writing about our dear, sweet Lily (a little).  It just feels like home over here on and I am still trying to keep a record of our adventures here.

Now that we are full disclosure and actually figuring out that there is a method to all this madness - there actually always was - we just weren't sure when and how it would all unfold.  Another notable site that you might want to read is the blog that we kept while Martin was attempting his climb toward Everest, which he accomplished in May of 2011.  I climbed to Everest base camp, so it was a pretty fun adventure for me too!  This blog is really one of my favorites and also back when I had a lot more time (meaning Lily wasn't leaning on me, grabbing at me and trying to get my attention - like she is right now as I type.  Move over, Lily!  I can't type!)  

Of course, start from the beginning so you can feel the anticipation as he makes his attempts and finally makes it to the summit of Everest.  

Thanks to all who keep coming back to our little corner of the web.  We so appreciate your support and well wishes at this grand time!


Friday, March 11, 2016

Making History

Team "Visit Seattle"  — Clipper Round the World Race
We have some exciting news!  Martin and I have really been trying to devote to our sailing endeavors on AMARA, since we love her so much and have loved our time sailing as a family on her.  BUT we have a little more to our story that we have only until recently felt comfortable talking about.

Martin is not only a very competent and accomplished sailor but before he started sailing, he was a very accomplished mountaineer.  You see, before we set off sailing, Martin had just finished climbing all seven of the tallest summits in all seven continents throughout the world.  After he had accomplished this monumental task, only then did we decide that we wanted to do something as a family and that is when we decided that it was time to go back to the ocean, Martin's first love.  So, that is kind of where are real story starts to unfold...

After we had finished sailing around the world...  hummmm hummmm... Martin had finished sailing around the world (remember, Lily and I got off in Australia and then only joined Martin intermittently) we realized that he only had a few more oceans to go and then he would have sailed all seven seas.  So, Martin kept going, and going.

In April of this year, Martin will join team Visit Seattle for the Clipper Round the World race and sail from Qingdao, China to Seattle, Washington (sailing his final sea, the North Pacific) helping him to make history in becoming the first person to sail all seven seas and climb all seven summits!  Pretty amazing!  I couldn't be more proud of him.  If you want to follow him and watch him make history, I will be updating his status on Facebook, Instagram (7summits_7seas) and on his website (TBA).  So, check back when it is launched and I will announce it's URL.  Until then, keep checking his FB and Instagram for updates.

I couldn't be more excited!


Monday, December 14, 2015

Still Here

It's been months since I last wrote.  So much to say, but right now we are just trying to get AMARA out of Panama and on her way to Belize where Martin, John, Chris and Dunbar will be meeting Lily and me.

We are planning on taking her up the coast of Mexico and then on up to Ft. Lauderdale.

Here is a fun video that Chris posted of AMARA in Shelter Bay in Panama.

Martin at the top of the mast of AMARA.

We haven't been on AMARA for a year, so when Martin boarded her last week, he saw that there was much to do.  Finally they were able to pull her out and get going only to figure out 3 hours later that they had gotten bad fuel.  UGH!  So they had to turn around and head back to Shelter Bay. This seems to be the demise of AMARA.

I'll be sure to get back to this blog this week to update you on what has been going on these past few months.  Martin has been up to a lot getting ready for his sail across the Pacific in March.  Pretty exciting.  Right now, it's late and I have been up trying to get parts for AMARA that I will be bringing down with me when we meet Martin and crew in Belize.  Wish me luck!