Heldeleine’s Summer Plans 2018

Happy New Year to you all!

It will soon be time to bring Heldeleine home. There are a few reasons for this:

1. I miss having the boat around. Sailing, especially sailing long distances takes a lot of time. We sailed Heldeleine only about 11 days last summer before laying her up for the winter. With a week of preparations in Italy and a couple days of packing up in Portugal for the winter, that is not a very satisfying ratio. We DID cover 1200+miles during those sailing days but I think you get my point. Use it or lose it. Also, I’d like the boat around because I wish to do the work that is necessary myself. It is just how I am wired. I am a sailor and real sailors fix shit. Literally, at times.
2. With one daughter in college and the other one tremendously busy with high school, harp, tap dance etc., they miss the peace and more casual pace of the boat nearby and available for weekends of a couple days and maybe a cruise in Maine. Destinations that do not require air travel and are not 4,000 miles away. They are very aware of how fortunate they have been to have had these amazing experiences because Heldeleine was abroad but, that said, spending only a few days aboard this summer was not enough for them (bless their little hearts…!).
3. Coming back should prove to be a good challenge. As you will see from the planned schedule below.

The Plan:

In early June I will fly to Portugal and spent about a week preparing Heldeleine for the 3,000 miles east to west crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. June/July is not the ideal time to be crossing the Atlantic from the east. It is a trip best done in November/December, by going south to the Canary Islands and then on to the Caribbean. The winds are in your favor and the threat of Hurricanes is significantly reduced that time of year. Due to the fact that I am not able to take the necessary time later in the year (prime time for a musician), I am obliged to do this trip during a more challenging time of the year. We made the crossing in 2015 in May/June but that was with mostly favorable winds and early for storms. We will be traveling later in the season and will have to negotiate a course that will stay south of icebergs and north of contrarian winds and potentially nasty weather. Thread the needle, keep our eyes open and watch the weather updates very carefully. I remember a Safety-at-Sea seminar at which Stan Honey (probably the greatest living yacht racing navigator with a dozen circumnavigations and multiple world records) brought out a race chart that showed him the only boat to execute a U-turn as a storm approached. The captain was really pissed but deferred to Stan and they watched and waited as the fleet that did not turn around was severely damaged by the storm with dismastings, sails shredded, and crews beaten up. After 12 hours in the wrong direction they turned back on course and arrived safely and in first place. His lesson: forget the macho crap.  Be smart, be safe and a better result will follow.

 

Leg 1:

We will sail west from Lagos, Portugal to the islands of the Azores. In 2015, during our west to east crossing we stopped in the Azores for a brief…too brief…visit. We plan to linger a bit this time. The Azores belong to Portugal and are situated 800 miles from mainland Europe, consisting of 9 islands spread over 370 miles to the west. The trip should be less than a week. We will first arrive at Ponta Delgado on the island of São Miguel. Family will arrive (the same cast of characters as the Moroccan Expedition) and we will begin….

Leg 2:

We will remain on Sao Miguel for several days of hiking, horseback riding (sorry, no camels this time) and biking through a fantastic land of volcanic lakes, mountains and lush valleys. We will then sail overnight (110 miles) to the port of Angra do Heroismo  on the island of Terceira. There are many wonderful little towns on Terceira and last time we enjoyed terrific food and witnessed the ritualistic torture of animals during the ‘running of the bulls’. Note: the ‘running of the bulls’ is a hugely popular cultural tradition that is not for everyone. It is a very festive atmosphere with each town proudly showing its stuff. As for the bull part….I found myself hoping that the tethered and bleeding bull would gore one his testosterone-fueled abusers. In fact, a couple people die each year during the festivities. Next up will be a 60 mile day or night sail to Horta on the island of Faial. Horta was our first landfall in 2015 and is a great yacht haven. There is the famous marina walls and docks where you can paint something about your trip and boat (the day we tried to do this last time it rained buckets…). Horta is the home of the legendary Cafe Sport where sailors have congregated for decades. Boat repairs, parts and last minute supplies are available here…oh yes, and the island is also stunningly beautiful. This is also the town where we will sadly say goodbye to those who will be flying home. They will fly from Horta back to Punta Delgado and then back to the US from there. The remaining crew will do final preps on Heldeleine and then depart on Leg 3.

Leg 3:

2,000+ miles back to the US. Jimmy Cornel, in his ‘World Cruising Routes’, suggested the rhumb line (straight) route west from the Azores to NYC. We will use that as a starting point and deviate as necessary for weather issues that arise. When we leave land we will have a weather forecast that is only really accurate for 3-5 days. I will have satellite weather to update the information but we must be prepared to cope or turn around, as needed, (thanks Stan Honey!) and arrive safely at home. The trip itself will take 2-3 weeks. Hopefully, we will clear into to the U.S. in Newport, RI, depending on weather and wind directions as we approach the coast. As you can see from the map below, any strong SW winds could head us to Newfoundland….lovely but not ideal. Crew needs to be flexible and enjoy the zen-like pace of long distance sailing.

So, here comes the invitation. Do you want to sail across an ocean? I have a confirmed crew of 3 for the crossing so far. Ideally, I would like to have an additional 2 crew members for a total of 5. We had 4-4-5 for the 3 legs of the 2015 crossing. It worked wonderfully, and they were a spectacular crew. My Dad, my sister, Tom, Pierre and Eric: The Best. For this trip there are 3 Legs. Leg #2 is pretty much family and space aboard is limited, though we will also be using hotels ashore. Delta has just added direct service to the Azores from JFK/NYC. When we bought tickets a few weeks ago they were really cheap. If you want to do all 3 Legs, we can discuss that. Time commitment is usually the issue. As I stated above, ocean sailing takes a lot of time. Basically the month of June and most of July for the entire crossing. Leg#1: 1 week, Leg #2: 2 weeks and Leg #3: 2-3 weeks. Remember, sailing experience is not a prerequisite. We can sail the boat just fine with the crew of 3. What you do need to join is a positive attitude, a desire to learn and an adventurous spirit.

So, please give this some thought and contact me through this website’s email and we will talk. Priority will go to those who have previously sailed aboard Heldeleine, family, friends, gourmet chefs, sail makers, diesel mechanics and olympic sailing team members. Seriously, don’t hesitate to contact me. It should be one hell of a good time.

Finally…..after this crossing Heldeleine will be a coastal voyager for the next couple of years until both girls are in college. Then, who knows….It’s a big world and most of it is covered with Water….

Putting Heldeleine to Bed for the Winter

We enjoyed our 2 days in Lagos. It is a touristy town with a very touristy marina. But we were OK with the excellent restaurants and the safe harbor.

Tourist Mode

We needed to prepare the boat for the extended 10 month stay ashore. This required many hours of stripping off all exterior canvas, cleaning the interior and wrapping cushions etc. Also, there was changing the engine and generator oil and a plethora of other needed chores.

Heldeleine was spending the winter next to the Marina at the Sopromar Boat Yard. Sopromar has an excellent reputation among the sailing tribe. The day arrived. We motored past the pedestrian bridge and went back down the channel to the commercial port where the yard is located. After a typically nail-biting but surprisingly easy backing up into the narrow stone (1 foot clearance on each side) jetty, Heldeleine was lifted out of the water and driven to her landing spot.

Video Link:

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All went very well with the Yard crew doing an excellent and professional job moving, blocking and  leveling the boat correctly. There she will reside until I lay eyes on her again in June. Happy Holidays to one and all!!

So, until next summer……

Photo: Laurie Fink Inc.

Next Up: Big Plans for Heldeleine’s Return in 2018!!

Cadiz to Lagos: When things go wrong.

I am sorry for the lateness of this post. Getting back to work made writing about sailing pretty damn depressing…..I will try to add a couple posts in the next week or two to complete last summer’s adventures. When we last checked in with the fearless crew we had just spent a wonderful 2 days in Cadiz, Spain. But time was ticking and we had to put Heldeleine to bed for the winter. We departed Cadiz bound for Lagos, Portugal. Due to the initial wind direction the plan was to first motor/sail north along the Spanish coast and then as the wind veered around to the north (the German Wind, as the non-germans call it…) we would turn onto starboard tack and cruise across to Lagos, Portugal. It took a while for the wind to shift and we were getting headed further north than I intended. Also, more importantly, we were heading up to the corner of Span and we were getting a lot of oil tanker traffic crossing our bow. What was that all about? After careful consideration (there should’ve been a more ‘careful’ preparation prior to leaving…) I discovered that in that corner of Spain is the industrial port of Huelva and a destination for many tankers. This was not a big deal during the day but I did not want to enter their traffic pattern during nighttime hours. (Remember the Strait of Gibraltar??) Time to turn left. The wind was still a bit too northwest and forced us southwest for a couple hours but then filled in from the north with a strong 20-25 knots and off we went. It was fast going for a while with 2 reefs in both sails and gusts into the 30’s on a nice beam reach. It got dark and the seas got a lot more robust. All was splendid for the next several hours as we rocketed west at 8-9 knots. I have to admit that I was having a great time. Finally a strong breeze from the right direction with Heldeleine in her element. Until…the damn wind disappeared. Disappeared, like it was suddenly switched off. It was the oddest thing. Aufwiedersehen went the German Wind. WTF! One look at the chart showed the likely reason. Due north of us was the town of Faro which formed a wind-break geographically and off went the wind and stop went the boat. Though forward motion ceased things were anything but calm and I naturally remembered that we had an ENGINE. I fired up the Yanmar and immediately things did not sound right. My sweet engine was definitely not purring. There was an open throated cough that signaled to me that there was no water exiting the boat with the exhaust. This meant that the engine was not circulating cooling raw (sea) water through the engine and that we would overheat and cause damage very soon. So, off went the engine and since the seas had been churned up by the once lovely but now vanished North wind, we proceeded to start rolling in an awful way. Crashing and banging down below as anything (coffee machine, pots under the stove and books) not secured went flying around the cabin. The girls thankfully and amazingly slept through the entire afternoon AND night.

Well, time to work the problem. I was not in a very pleasant mood. The last goddamn night of the goddamn sailing trip and the goddamn engine decides that now is the time to fuck with me. After 1,200 sea miles since Italy and the last freakin’ night….OK, enough…work the problem. No water exiting the engine.  Didn’t Laurie and I have a similar issue when we were leaving Italy? At the time I assumed an airlock had formed in the raw water line and with high revs water was finally moving through the engine. Could this be the same issue? Well, I am here to tell you that adding water to the raw water filter at a marina is a piece of cake when compared to doing it out at sea in a rolling boat. Shit. With me priming the raw water line and Maryly starting and revving the engine, I figured that things should be fine. No luck. Checked the thruhull, not blocked, Checked the hose, not blocked. Checked the raw water pump output, good. Hmmmm…..45 minutes into this fun, Maryly was rightfully sick of the swearing that seemed to be flooding out of me with nothing to show for it. It just Has to be AIR in the line. One final very high revving from Maryly and gurgle, gurgle there was FINALLY water exiting the boat. Engine purring, wife purring and captain not quite purring but definitely relieved. We later discovered that the exhaust elbow and the air muffler were both cracked and leaking and needed to be replaced. You just have to love boats. Of course the wind then returned and though we sailed, I did not trust turning the engine off until we were safely docked. 

Entrance to Lagos, Portugal is a narrow passage that terminates at a pedestrian bridge that occasionally opens to allow boats into the marina.  At noon, things were pretty crowded with powerboats and jet skis.

We fueled up and after the pedestrian bridge was raised we entered the marina. 30 hour passage, it was time to have a nice meal and catch up on some sleep. 

Continue reading

And now for the rest of the story….well, at least half of the story…

So, our land travels in Morocco turned out to be the most enjoyable of epic trips. I adore my sisters and having us together while visiting a spectacularly wonderful country was pure magic. Add to them Maryly, Maddy, Helen, cousin Will, his fiancé Cassie and my girls’ friend Shea, we had a fabulous time! Uncle Pete’s absence was noted everyday with some aspect of the trip that he would have loved or that he would have been able to explain to the rest of us. Damn, we missed him. I was concerned about the size of the group when we were setting this up (visions of herding Cats….). But I need not have worried, it was effortless. Each brought their own personality AND their own Facebook account. There is no doubt that this was, by any measure, an extremely well documented trip. I hesitate to add anything to the dozens of posted photos and written entries except to say that this trip exceeded all expectations with the general Love and Affection that prevailed. Thank you all!!

On August 2 it was back to Heldeleine for the immediate family of me, Mars, Maddy and Helen. After a long travel day back to Marina Smir, we had a relaxing dinner and a movie aboard. The next day started with immigration, customs and some cheap fuel. All these things where accomplished with tremendous ease right at the main dock, 50 feet from our berth. The whole experience at Marina Smir was excellent. Very easy clearing in and clearing  out. Hasan at the main office kindly and professionally handled the clearance of Heldeleine into the country AFTER Laurie and I had left for Marrakech. Though there were no “tips” demanded (since the King’s nautical toys are here there is no question of funny business) I felt free to tip as I would at any marina the world over. A bit for the fuel dock guy, a bit for the office and a bit to the friendly security officer nearby. But no officials would except any gifts. Though there were no gates between the quay and the dock space there WAS security posted 24/7 near our boat and and the overall feeling was relaxed and extremely safe and friendly. After refueling, it was overnight to Cadiz, Spain, through the Strait of Gibraltar. Things started very calmly until we made the corner around Ceuta and headed west into the Strait. The projected light (2-5 knot) winds became 20-25 knots on the freakin’ nose and I became a very pissed off Captain. WTF!!!! Is the freakin’ forecast ever right in this stretch of water? Apparently not. After bashing through this shit for 4 hours and beginning to fight an adverse eddy that slowed us to 2 knots made good, we bailed and turned right to cross the actual Strait traffic separation scheme perpendicularly (required by maritime law in order to minimize our time and exposure to the large ships) and dodged the giant leviathans that never stop passing through this narrow opening to the Mediterranean. We timed things well. It helped that it was daylight and things are always better with a little depth perception that you do not get at night. Once on the north side of the Strait we were able to sail in a veering north wind. We made the Tarifa corner and sailed most of the night up to Cadiz. Unfortunately we got there way too early and had to motor circles to kill time (you don’t just stop when there are ANY waves, it tends to break the crockery…). Into Cadiz and the Marina America (yup, getting closer to home!). Cadiz was Heldeleine’s first port of call after the transatlantic in 2015. The crew enjoyed it then and the  latest crew loved it. Old world charm with great shopping….I’ll let the photos tell the tale.

Next installment: Heldeleine does not wish to be put away and tries to stop us with an engine failure in no wind and very lumpy seas.

Helen-Morocco!!

HELLOOOOO WORLD!!!! Or at least the 15 humans who read these posts. This is Helen Julia Culpepper the 2nd reporting for blog duty, so settle down because stuff happened.
So as you probably know we went to Marrakech, which is a lot harder to spell than you would think, literally it took me the last five minutes of precious time I could spend doing nothing. So there’s not a lot to say that hasn’t been said about Marrakech but I’ll fill in some blanks. First the staff at our Riad absolutely ROCKED and were so kind to the point where it got ridiculous, with little Attica insisting on carrying our hundred pound suitcases up two flights of stairs. Besides Attica there was Frauda the motorcyclist so obviously the coolest, Selma who could be a model, and M-something who did our henna, oh god, I totally forgot the rest of her name… moving on from my stupidity let’s address the heat in Morocco, which is totally relative. For instance, when we first came to Marrakech it was oppressive and then after the desert the 88 degree Atlas Mountains were downright chilly. Speaking of the desert that was the next place we went after Marrakech (thank god I don’t have to use this city name anywhere else in this post because it’s annoyed me so much I refuse to learn how to spell it without auto-correct) was the Sahara desert, which is One of the hottest places on earth and one of the greatest places on earth to brag to your friends that you’ve been. Entering the desert saw the return of our favorite Moroccan, Aziz. He just left us about two hours ago and watching him in the rear view mirror become smaller and smaller as we drove off stung my eyes. He’s like a Moroccan big brother teasing and pushing me but really concerned when I’m hurt, like when I got sick on the way to the desert and he would ask me every hour how I was doing. But I’m not one bit worried for him. He knows seven languages and has not had a day of school, so I expect we’ll be seeing him soon heading some multi billion dollar corporation.
Moving on from the sappy stuff, last night, our last night in the desert, we and the staff had a TOTAL jam session! It started when I played monarch on the harp while they beat a drum beat to it. Later I joined in with the drums which took more concentration than trigonometry. Next Maddy sang us a song and then to the drums I joined in with her for our family’s traditional songs on my mom’s side, taking turns with the harmonies. Next the whole gang was up dancing, and Shea finally showed us that she could spin like a boss.
So any desert trip is not complete without camels and there were even some familiar faces from last time like Ziggy, who looks like an old racing camel, Baby, a little white camel, and Romeo, the living walking bladder. I rode a new one named Yuoften who liked to ride up behind the other camels and stare at them with complete indifference as if to assert that their existence was less than dirt. I liked his sass. Later I rode Ziggy which was a nice blast from two years ago.
Now speaking of animals of the desert, sadly I did not see any cool bugs but we did get quite attached to the kitties. There was a black and white small cat and then our personal cat comedian we named Prego, as she is an absolutely TINY and skinny pregnant tabby cat. She would jump in and out of our tents looking for places to have kittens when the time came but she would get into the stupidest predicaments ever, like balancing on a steel rail on top of a bed giving us all a heart attack when she slipped. Luckily Shea caught her and like the hilarious cat she is she promptly did it again.
So anyways lastly I wanted to talk about , my favorite part of this trip and in fact the last two years’ trips all together. It was when we went to the Amazigh family’s home out on the plateau. The Amazigh, Tamazigh for women, is the actual name for the Berber peoples that doesn’t mean barbarian by the way. This family has two wives and we were lucky enough to see the second wife and all the children that morning. We sat down in a tent for some tea made graciously by the mother. All the kids eventually swarmed us, eager for some new entertainment besides their normal games. There were about eight or ten of them, all never went to school like Aziz and never had fancy tech like iPhones or laptops in their little nomadic tent village. They quickly took to the phones, my aunts showed them though, so they were atleast a bit familiar with their workings. It was incredible to see them figure out how to operate the phones in just minutes. The special moment of the day came when I wanted to remember the kids who were SO CUTE, so I started taking Polaroid pictures of them with my trusty camera and in the matter of seconds POOF, all my film was gone. I simply couldn’t help myself! As soon as the kids saw the little white photograph inch out of the camera I gave it to them and they were absolutely hooked. One even figured out how to shake the photo and showed all the others how as they eagerly awaited round my camera for their own photo, pushing each other to proudly show their brothers and sisters their new treasures. I hope they’ll keep the photos to look back on years from now. As we bumped away in the four by four, my face hurt from smiling at them in the distance still glued to their own images magically appearing. Taught me how many little miracles we enjoy day to day, like a little white slip of paper emerging from a blue contraption that mimics a memory you believe was precious enough to keep.

See you in a few,
-helen

Yes, Morocco!

Our plan to sail west along the southern coast of Spain worked very well for the first 100 miles. As we approached the point where we needed to turn south towards Gibraltar and the Strait the seas started to get a bit choppy and we raised the sail to steady to boat. Heading south towards the Strait we prepared for the crossing with all hands on deck. We sailed with only the mainsail to give us full visibility forward. Visibility… well, it was around 1am in the morning as we began the 2-3 hour crossing and pretty damn dark at the time but seeing navigation lights is critical for knowing which way these 800 foot long monsters are traveling. A word about the technology aboard that helped us pilot our way across. First, the CHARTPLOTTER. This basically tells us WHERE we are and WHERE the land is. Also where the navigational buoys might be and traffic lanes for the big ships. This is NOT live information. Our location is live but everything else on the chartplotter is stored data. It could be wrong. Next up is RADAR. Radar tells us what is actually out there. Live information. The radar reflects off of Ships, Land and other objects around us. Radar is wonderful but at night, with many targets and a rocking boat, it can feel like the radar blobs are all moving towards your certain destruction. Enter now our secret weapon. Ladies and gentlemen may I present the A.I.S. (Automated identification System). This is a game changer and the only reason I would be stupid enough to cross one on the busiest bodies of water at night. The device aboard Heldeleine is a Transceiver unit that receives data from other ships and broadcasts our data to those same ships. It uses radio frequencies and a computer to track speed, distance and direction of all big ships and many smaller vessels. It also identifies the ship by name, type, destination, length, width, depth, etc. So, the A.I.S. processes this data and lets us know the potential for a collision. With the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) we instantly know if a particular ship will pass 1.4 miles ahead of us (good) or .034 miles behind us (too damn close!!) as long as we hold a steady course. When we change course all the variables change also. Including CPAs. Now for the Teamwork. With Laurie on the A.I.S. unit and me manning the radar, chartplotter and the binoculars to identify every ship in our path…. off we went. Constant interaction between the two of us as we sailed our line in the nautical version of Frogger. Identify, verify, CPA, adjust our course or speed, CPA….CPA…..Here is an A.I.S. photo showing 143 targets (most,thankfully, anchored at Gibraltar but enough to keep us awake).

With the sunrise we had exited the Strait and we were approaching Morocco. AFRICA! We were soon greeted by a call from the Moroccan Coast Guard who asked where we were from and when we answered they thanked us for coming to their country. They asked us to please not just visit the marina, saying that Morocco had many beautiful places to visit inland and to please enjoy all that Morocco has to offer. We assured them that we intended to do just that.

A wave to the Moroccan Coast Guard

It was a truly moving experience. My sister and I shoulder to shoulder gazing ahead at Morocco. 1078 miles since Italy with just enough challenges to make it a memorable passage. A word or two about my sister Laurie…On my off watches below I slept like a baby because she was always there. Her strength, grit, smarts and total reliability are second only to her warmth, humor and pure loving nature. I could not conceive of a better companion for this or any other voyage. She always had my back and will always have my love. Thanks Kiddo!

The rest was simple. Docked and prepped the boat. Taxied to Tetuan, Morocco and hopped a bus for an 11 1/2 hour trip to Marrakech by way of Rabat and Casablanca where we arrived at 2 am the next day. Joined family to begin….. the rest of the story.

 

Road to Morocco

After getting our asses kicked twice, Laurie and I are hoping that the third time is the charm. Here’s the plan:
We will depart tomorrow morning at 0500. We will travel at least 100 miles west along the southern coast of Spain until we feel that the wind angle will be good to make the crossing.

 

It is usually better to SAIL, if you can, in these conditions as the boat is doing what it was designed to do and not trying to be a motorboat bashing into waves. Also, Heldeleine’s hull’s shape is wonderfully fast in most situations but motoring into large waves tends to expose the flat forward part of the hull and this results in crushing shocks that beat up the boat, rigging and crew’s guts.

Laurie and I will avoid that at all costs.
If all goes well we will arrive at Marina Smir, Morocco by noon on Sunday. We will try to update, if possible, along the way.

Sunset at Almerimar

Alicante- In contact.

After arriving here in Alicante yesterday I was able to communicate better with my family (Maryly in CA and the girls in CT) and help where I could. We have become so accustomed to being in immediate contact that when we are off the grid and people need you, it can be extraordinarily frustrating. I love the freedom and peace of the sea but at times like this that freedom comes at a high cost. Maryly, her sisters, the cousins, our daughters, her caregiver Janet and all who loved Suzanne have been tremendously supportive of each other through this sad time. Family.

Suzanne and the grandchildren

Alicante has been a fantastic stop for us.

Heldeleine secure at Alicante Marina

We went to the top of the Castle. We then walked to the Bull fighting Arena  (I hope you all remember my feelings about the abuse of Bulls from the Azores last year) . The Bullring was thankfully being using for concerts this week. Let’s not forget the food!

So, the plan:
Tomorrow we try to make a 3 day push to Morocco (300 miles). It should be a pleasant trip to start with and then a tough go for the last 100miles with heavy winds forecast to be blowing into the Med through the Strait of Gibraltar presenting a challenge for us going West. The plan will be to sail the east wind as long as possible and then hug the Spanish southern coast and try to time the crossing to Morocco with the least amount of damage. Check the map and see how we do. Note: when you see our track zig zagging it is not because Laurie and I have broken out the rum and are partying. Though it has been tempting at times. We are on a sailboat and as such we are not able to sail directly into the wind and must steer an angle from 35-60 degrees off the wind. Zig Zag. Regards to all!

Ventotene and Sardinia: Plans change,

Well, plans change. Laurie and I were expecting to go to the island of Ponza on Sunday. We left and the trip became a motorboat voyage. I really dislike motoring on my SAILboat, So, two hours into the putt putt trip we turned the boat 30% to port and Ahhhhh, turned off the beast and had a very pleasant SAIL to Ventotene. Once in town we met a couple of American sailors which is unusual.  Mark and Laura have been circumnavigating for the past 11 1/2 years! They kindly invited us to dinner to watch the sunset and the moon rise. It was a wonderful evening with an adventurous, experienced and fun couple. Thank you again Laura and Mark (Sabbatical 3 blog) for sharing your evening.

 

So, off to Sardinia. It was a very comfortable leg.  Laurie and quickly fell into the zen-like routine of watch-watch off. I must say the during the past few days at sea I have easily doubled the amount of sleep I usual get at home. I can do this on the boat because I trust Laurie with my life. If something comes up (rarely) she does not  hesitate to wake me. She is the perfect traveling companion. And damn good at doing this!

After motoring way too much for 240 mile we arrived at Malfatano at the southern tip of Sardinia. After anchoring for a couple hours the wind really freshened and caused whitecaps in the anchorage and was  pressing us onto a Lee shore.  I elected to up anchor and move on to our big leg to Spain. Out we went and after getting our asses kicked with 25-30 knot wind on the nose and chunky seas (No, not the Gibraltar Strait again!!) we returned with our tells  between our legs to Malfatano to find the anchorage we had just left 2 hours before……calm as a mill pond. WTF….We were up early the next day for our 500 mile jaunt to Spain. What a sail we had! Broad reaching in 15-20 knots for most of the trip. We only turned the engine on for the last night into Alicante, Spain. But we needed to get there. Fast. We were out of contact just when we needed to be there for people.

We had received news that my mother-in-law Suzanne Culley was within a couple days of dying. With the satellite text not functioning well, no cell service at sea and the need to connect with Maryly and the kids at this critical time, we elected to pull into Alicante, Spain.  Well before then we received a text that Suzanne had passed away. Maryly had just arrived in California and 2 hours later she cradled her mother to the end. Suzanne was a uniquely wonderful Lady. Whether it was playing  the violin, painting watercolors or skiing, she always did it with Zest!  She was the “Grande Dame”  of any party. She will be missed. She remains in the hearts of the many people who were fortunate enough to share her life.

 

 

Aboard Heldeleine

It has been a busy and emotional past week here in Italy. Both aboard and ashore. Last Friday, while walking in Rome with his son Will, my uncle Pete fell and broke his hip. Being made of grit, Pete realized the severity of his situation only after getting up, getting in a cab, returning to the convent (where they were staying), then hailing another cab and going to the hospital. He had a full hip replacement surgery the next morning and is recovering. Plans are still in flux as to what he will do. My sister Laurie had already arrived on Heldeleine and went up and back to Rome on Saturday to be there with Will and Pete. Please send loving thoughts to Pete for a quick recovery!

On the Heldeleine front, I was picked up at the airport last Monday by Antonio. He drove me to his house for lunch and then on to Gaeta. It was a wonderful and generous thing to do. Thank you Antonio! Things proceeded fine for the rest of the week with the launch and the reassembling of the boat. Some repairs and tweakings were done and Heldeleine eventually moved from the marina to the dock in downtown Gaeta courtesy of the Italian Coast Guard. Thank you!

There was an Italian Appreciation Party aboard on Saturday night.

It it was a sad goodbye as we left Gaeta yesterday. We have made firm and lasting friendships and I can not thank Tony and Anastasia enough for adopting me into their family of incredible friends. Se ho parlato italiano, direi che siamo amici per sempre.

We are currently off Ventotene island. In a couple of hours we will leave for Sardinia and then Morocco. When I say we, I mean Laurie and me. With Pete recovering and Will where he should be by his side, we are now a double handed crew. We will alter our plans a bit by stopping in Sardinia and perhaps Spain. We will see. Laurie is a veteran of the Azores to Gibraltar leg and the best companion I could ask for. Next, from here, is Sardinia at 250 miles down the road. It should take us the better part of 2 days to get there, arriving on Wednesday. Track us and send us a text if you wish. Especially the late time ones to keep us awake. We are excited and ready to go. Let’s do this!