June, 2009

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June 30 Left Bermuda

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

At 17.30 Bermuda time I am about 20 miles East of Bermuda. Good strong 20/25 SW and doing over 6 knots. According to Herb this will last thru Thursday morning nand then moderate to 15/20 knots, same SW direction. That’s good news. My Grib files show some light winds in 4/5 days. I got fuel and water ( 13 gallons) about 4 to 5 in the emergency can, so, apparently I did not quite fill the new bladder tank. But that should be enough. I leave Bermuda with some sadness. I enjoyed this place and met lots of nice people, some will stay friends. This morning I had a nice talk with Matteo at the customs dock, he is from Lombardia, married to a Dutch lady and making his home in Cuyck, Holland. He is a paid crew on a 65 foot Swan. And enjoyed seeing Rod again. He and his handsome son and beautiful wife and daughter were sitting next to me at mass last Sunday. He is from Bataan, P.I. and works at a sail loft and rigging outfit. Kelly, an R.N.from Missouri who crewed on “Voyager” with Ed Mapes, the skipper and crew in the Marion-Bermuda race. Marion (??) is near Newport and this race is held every odd year. The traditional Newport-Bermuda race is sailed in even years. The Marion race is lower tech and more for offshore cruising boats. I had a great chat with the attendant at the fuel dock, about our faith. I could have stayed longer and learnt more about it’s history.

So, for the next three weeks or so, till I make landfall, I will not be able to have internet access or see mails directed to jack@cometoseaus-w160c2.preview.wpmanaged.nl

Monday June 29, in the blocks for the Azores

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Put in the new pre-feeder for the head foil, installed the spare water tank bladder, received the repaired auto pilot back this evening. In the morning I need to check out with customs and then move to the fuel dock to fill up and get water. Did my fresh vegetable/fruit shopping.

Wireless righ now is a very weak. Radio Transmission was very difficukt with Herb and the boats here could not get a forecast. But the grib files look good and we do have local predictions on VHF. Squid , sauteed with a shot rum, and penne, salad for dinner.

The picture is of  ” Westward”. She arrived Sunday. Last night I had  beer and a chat with one of the crew at the Dinghy Club.



Sunday June 28, Bermuda

Sunday, June 28th, 2009
Limestone walls

Limestone walls

"Fleetwood" anchorage St. Geroge
“Fleetwood” anchorage St. Geroge
Stella Maris R.C. church
Stella Maris R.C. church
Bermuda is made up of volcanic rock and a thin layer of marine deposited lime stone. The rock is used for the walls and rock fences and the limestone is used for the roofs as slate/shingles and thern covered with a thick limestone wash. This also acts as a purifier for the rainwater collection. It makes for a very attractive and simple construction.
The 9 am mass at “Stella Maris” was very nice. The priest is from Southern Ontario. The parishioners were mostly Portuguese and some Filipinos. A small choir sang the communal hym in Portuguese.
This morning we had more rain and there is a strong wind blowing. Very difficult to row up wind back to the boat.
I need some dry wetaher to try patch the water tank. I was given the name of Stavros who repairs rubber ducks (Ozzie for inflatable). I will now try and shore up the goose neck with the hose calmps I purchased yesterday.
My friend Bobbe sent me a n appropriate prayer for the Sunday and I thought you might also like it. As she mentioned, the ending is particularly appropriate in my setting.
May today be all you need it to be.May the peace of God and the freshness of the Holy Spirit rest in your thoughts, rule in your dreams tonight, and conquer all your fears. May God manifest Himself today in ways you have never experienced. May your joys be fulfilled, your dreams be closer, and your prayers be answered. I pray that faith enters a new height for you; I pray that your territory is enlarged. I pray for peace, healing, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, true and undying love for God. God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.


Saturday Evening Post, 27 June. Biked to Hamilton

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

First of all I want to tell you about an e-mail I received from Joke (pronounced Yokah, no joke..) Brancart. She found me on the www.zuidelijkewandelweg.nl This is a web site for the old neighborhood I grew up in, on the southern edge of Amsterdam. Joke and her neighbor gave me, and my twin brother Jan, our first sailing lessons. In Loosdrecht,  a series of  lakes about 20 miles from Amsterdam. We were about 14/15 years old.  She is the one who we can blame for my perverse development.  Joke was on my list of old girl friends I wondered what had ever become of them. In 2003 I reconnected, by pure coincidence, with Eefje Mierdink, she was 16 I was 19 in 1957 and then I left for the USA.

There are two more names on my list, Irene Prager, 1956 and Betty Lou Walker, 1958. I have this fantasy that I am going to sail backwards from Gibraltar to the Leeward Islands in 2011 and then Oprah Winfrey will contact my agent and he will negotiate with her that I will  agree to appear on her show as long as I can drop the names Irene Prager and Betty Lou Walker. 

Back to the ordinary daily routine of a retired cruiser. I had my exercise to-day.  Jon, the Harken rep here, with my replacement for the overboard headfoil feeder, figured that the bike ride from St. George to Hamilton would take me 30 minutes. Well, no, not really.  It’s a little over 20 k.m. or nearly 14 miles.  With a strong west wind against me it took me about two and a half hours. Return trip 2 hours. And my butt is sore. There is just about enough room in these roads for horses to pass, a line of tiny compact cars and scooters would back up behind me. I met Jon at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton. An impressive place. Twenty inch wide Heart Pine flooring, at least a 100 years old. Draft Beer $ 6.60 (tips are included here). The weather turned ugly and it limited my opportunity to cruise Hamilton. But again a very attractive place. Hamilton is the main business center and tall buildings down town. Lots of bays and inlets. It reminded me of Auckland, N.Z.  Found the marine hardware, for the broken goose neck, had dinner while the skies poured their loads and then rode back through the puddles. I hope to have my Auto Pilot back and fixed by Monday/Tuesday. There does not appear to be a replacement available in Bermuda for the water tank. No place that can vulcanize. So, I am back to the MMM-5200 adhesive routine, when the rains stop.

Mass is at 9 a.m. Sunday at “Stella Maris”. (Star of the Sea) Last time I attended mass at O.L. Star of the Sea, was in the Solomons on the Chesapeake, last August.

Friday Fresh Fish for Fishheads- June 26 Bermuda

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Pilot Whale

Sanit George Bermuda

Saint George Bermuda

I dropped the anchor at 15.30 hrs (16.30 Bermuda time) in Saint George Harbor, Bermuda.
During the night I did not make very much progress. I had put two reefs in before dark because I was on the edge of overpowering the wind vane. But then, while asleep, the wind dropped down again and changed direction. All I could squeeze out of the full main and wing on wing with the poled out 140% was about 3 1/2 knots, at day break and that would have put me into Bermuda at sun down. But using the engine and the full main I managed to get it up to 5 1/2 knots and the sail still drawing.

And using very little fuel. Learnt a new trick.

I checked in with customs and am now sitting in a harbo(u)r side cafe drinking a cold Carlsberg draft. The waiter is Serbian and thanks to my old friend Roman Wydra I could whip up my Serbo Croation on him.

You have read my despairing remarks on visiting former British colonies, on this voyage, blandness in architecture, food, etc.

Bermuda is a total turn around. Of the little I have seen so far. The pictures will tell the story. I am glad I stopped here.

Oh, the fish. I decided to try one more time even though the Saragossa seaweeds were all over. When I felt the weight on the line I pulle din to defoul the weeds. When the end of the line got within 10 foot of the boat I realized that I had a fish on it. The smallest fish I have bagged so far. A 10″ blue fin Tuna. I ate most of it as Sashimi, for lunch. Beautiful dark red meat. Looking at the menu prices here, I am glad I have enough of it left over for dinner.

To-morrow I will try find the Rigger for Harken twin foil feeder part, fix the water tank leak, repair the goose neck.

Sunday, ride the klap fiets and find a church and take pictures. Hopefully I’ll have a good window to set off for the Azores on Monday.

A wild gale force day signing off
A wild gale force day signing off
Bosun or Tropic Bird

Bosun or Tropic Bird


Thursday June 25 What a difference half a day makes

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

At 16.30 hrs (Eastern Daylight Saving time : deduct three for Pacific add 6 for Europe) I am at 32.17 N 66.20 W with 75 miles to go to Bermuda. So, if these winds hold I’ll be in before dark Friday evening, into Bermuda. In the last 6 hours I have covered 28 miles or an average of close to 5 knots. From yesterday’s position at 15.30 hours till 0600 this morning I covered 5 miles towards Bermuda. An average of 0.3 miles per hour…… I believe that I prefer a gale, praying hard, to the agonizing penitence of no wind at all and being slapped around by the waves and surge. It is impossible to sleep with the racket. If I have a sail up it will act as a giant fan when the boat is slapped from side to side by the remaining waves/surge from the previous storm. So, the windvane is confused by the fan wind as to where it ought to go. I did give in and motor for a few hours till the wind filled in. And now it is like a sailor’s dream. Full main and a pole out 140% on a beam reach in about 15 knots of wind.

The Harken dealer in Bermuda has ordered the head foil feeder replacement that is laying, by now, on the bottom of the Atlantic, thanks to the great service I always get from Fisheries Supply in Seattle.

June 24 On a Slow Boat to Bermuda

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

At 15.30 hrs I was at 32.30 N 67.14 W with 123 miles to Bermuda. In the last two days I have made good 109 miles to Bermuda. That is a day’s sail in the trade winds. But Herb tells me to wallow around and no need to crank the engine on because all I would accomplish is to meet up with gale force winds nearer to Bermuda. So, I am just going to listen to sails slat and the boat rock and roll. Most of the day the winds were in the 5/8 knot range and I stayed under 3 knots of progress. Right now there is no wind. Doll Drums like. Heavy thunderclouds are building up ahead. So, it looks like Friday for my land fall.

This morning I dropped the main for a reef change and the boom goose neck was tearing off the mast. Looked nasty. Pop rivets popped, the machine screws left their holes. I had a problem with it a year ago and when in Florida, for my haul out in spring 2008, I had the mast off the boat and replaced the stainless machine screws with a larger diameter and re-tapped the holes. Stainless and aluminum are not compatible. I used a dope to isolate the two metals but apparently it wore off. I managed to temporarily fix it with a large hose clamp around the gooseneck track and the mast and shoring it up with rope.

No luck, on the trap line. The Saragossa weeds are gone. As I had expected, looks like I got away with insulting my sons and their 75% American male contemporaries.

I have been reading a Dutch book “Heimwee naar de Horizon”.(Longing for the Horizons) My oldest nephew Dirk Jan gave it to me. Peter Stuivenberg, the author, has some moments of literary genius but for the most part it is confusing and zig zagging through too many subjects. The most annoying part is where he uses English. Te pas en te onpas. And it would be similar to me writing a book in English and throwing in a bunch of German. Because he just is not that proficient in English. But then who am I to criticize?  Bless Charlotte Kolsky, she taught me more English than anyone. She used to take my business letter dictation in shorthand and when it came back to me to sign, it was not even close to what I blabbered to her. Charlotte was my first American boss’s secretary, she wore these lacy white blouses, short grey hair, and as a 21 year old Dutch immigrant, coming up in the Southern California wood business, I was impressed.

A good non-fat Tuesday, June 23rd

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

At 15.10 Eastern Daylight Saving Time I was at 32.29 N 68.35 W with 190 miles to Bermuda.

All day and last night the winds have been faint and the waves/surge big. So, it was hard to make much progress, slatting sails in the bumpy surface left from the gale force winds. Now, the conditions are much better. The wind has picked up and the surface flattened out some. I am sailing with full main and a poled out 140%. With the wind from the beam, the South. This 140% genoa sail is a Frisian Gaastra sail, I bought from Bacon Sails in Annapolis, it is a used sail. Any name ending with “stra” is a Frisian name. Veenstra, Zeilstra, Boukje Dijkstra, etc. Also any names ending with “ma”, Miedema, Oukema, etc. and lastly names ending with “ga”, Wieringa, etc. and the most common Frisian name “de Vries”. That is my mother’s maiden name. The Frisians have their own language, yes, you guessed it, Frisian. When my mother would get together with her parents, siblings, we were completely left out, when they talked their Frisian. It has a lot of words much more similar to English than Dutch. Friesland is just a province now in the North of Holland and around Hamburg, Germany, Ost Friesland, they still speak a closely related language. You will get to read a lot more about Friesland in my future postings when you and I will be sailing the lakes in Friesland, next summer, and visit the mast and block maker shop my mother grew up in. I blame my sailing madness on my Frisian mother.

I took a cockpit bath, about time. The rough conditions in the previous days made it impossible. No luck on the trap line yet. I am salivating for a fish.

Tuesday June 22, 50th wedding anniversary, Dodging gales.

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

At 15.30 hour I was at 32.27 N 69.25 W with 237 miles to Bermuda. I am crawling east ward. Trying to avoid the 40 knots winds that will hit Bermuda, to-night through Wednesday. So, just sort of wallowing, rock and rolling, eastward at about 2 knots, without sails. The winds were only in the 15/20 knot range and sunny. I managed to get some rigging issues fixed. Read and slept. Fire works on the horizon last night and several showers. There will be a repeat to-night, judging from the towering dark clouds. Thursday will be a good day to enter Bermuda. What would I do without Herb Hilgenberg? A number of boats are on the South Bound II net that are returning to Newport, R.I. from the annual Newport-Bermuda race. And from the bits and pieces I could gather it apparently was a lively race. With some dismastings. Also, a French boat capsized near Halifax and one of the two crew members washed overboard, drowned.

In the “mass” mail, I asked for your prayers. Many of you responded with affirmations. Thank you! My faith is my primary anchor but we all prefer to keep that private and avoid annoying our friends of a different conviction. When I rode back on the bus from Santo Domingo (Holy Sunday) in the Dominican Republic on a Sunday, last March, there was this simple campesino, who asked the bus driver if it was o.k. for him to read a part of the bible to all on the bus. Then he asked all on the bus. Practically everyone approved. And I discovered that many more of you than I would have expected approved. I love you all!

To-day, 50 years ago I was married to Joan, we met in the chair lift at Mammoth Mountain in April 1958. It lasted 13 years. Could have, should have… Yesterday, was Father’s day. All three daughters remembered but the two sons, as usual, only remember their own birthdays. One of these days, I am going to research why so many boys in the U.S.A. do not separate themselves from their toys and games till they are middle age, or never, or a good woman shows them that there is a world beyond their play pen. I will not get in trouble for this because the ones who should heed this will be too busy with their games to bother reading this.

Sunday 21 June Under Bare Poles

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

At 15.30 hrs I was at 32.38 N 70.33 W with 290 miles to Bermuda. The promised gale force winds made me drop the storm jib in the early evening. The noise was the worst part of it, the vibration from the sail and the headfoil make the whole boat like a guitar sound box. Taking the tiny jib down only slowed the boat down to just above 4 knots. The windvane steers the boat just fine as long as I am off the wind on a reach or a run. The wash boards are in the companion way hatch and except for an occasional peek outside I am snug in the cabin. An occasional wave will slap the side hard or break over it. The landscape reminds me of pictures of the infamous Fastnet race of the seventies. A hazy grey sky with a black sea and white foam all over it. The dishes accumulated in the sink till I ran out of room and had to do a difficult balancing act while the boat rolls from side to side.

I just talked to Herb and he told me to slow down even more, which I was able to do, by heading a little more into the wind. Under 2 knots. A few boats are on their way from Bermuda back to New England and have to cross the Gulf Stream in this, where the wind is contrary to the current. My predicament is not as nasty. There are several depressions happening in my region and another one to hit Bermuda later in the week. Wednesday morning arrival would be the best. It is supposed to lighten up some in the morning for me and then, hopefully I can make it by Wednesday evening. But with the number of systems pushing from different directions this can all change again.

Thanks very much for your mails in response to my yesterday “mass” mailing. There are still a few who hit the reply button. That’s a SailMail No-No.