Friday, 14 December 2012

Meet Some Amazing Circumnavigators

Those rare individuals who have circumnavigated the globe in a sailboat have plenty of tales to tell.  They are usually extremely modest about their skills and experience under often dangerous but always thrilling circumstances.  You can meet them anchoring out in some idyllic spot, wandering around a marina, searching for solutions to boat problems in a chandlery, enjoying happy hour at a waterside bar, and thanks to technology, by reading their blogs or sailing logs.  The roll call of some of our favourites goes like this...

We met S/V Whiskers with Gerald, Diana and Beatrice in January 2009 in Marsh Harbor, Bahamas as we dingied ashore in the rain.  It was Miss Daisie and Miss B who did the initial introductions, as most doggies do.  For the next two years Whiskers and Bristol Rose would share many good times in the most amazing and exotic anchorages.  In 2011 Whiskers and crew sailed into Durban, South Africa, completing their second circumnavigation!  We are in awe!

Di and Gerald don't write a blog but they get mentioned in others including the blog of Bubbles.   
Captain Alex is our favourite character out on the high seas - sure to become a living legend, if not one already!  We met Alex in Puerto Rico having already heard of some of his interesting antics for which he would later have to pay.  Owen and Elliot had some fun times with Alex and crew during our Pacific crossing.  Good to see that Pacific crewmember Diego from the Galapagos came back aboard Bubbles.  It's well worth checking the Bubbles photo gallery for images that very few people will ever have a chance to snap!  Congratulations Capt. Alex and all the crew.  With circumnavigation completed in September 2012, Bubbles has been sold but we know for sure this won't be last of the adventures of Capt. Alex.

In March 2009 we met Ed and Annette on the beach at Conception Island in the Bahamas when they were only a few hundred miles from completing their 6 year circumnavigation aboard Doodlebug.  For those contemplating getting started, their How we started page is a charming read.  They generously gave us some of their cruising manuals including one half of a guide.  Some time later we found out who were the recipients of the other half of the guide, S/Y Whiskers!

On Jan 4th 2012, Danielle and Roger completed their circumnavigation aboard Chocobo.  We met in the Caribbean and last saw Chocobo at Shelter Bay the day we began our transit of the Panama Canal.

One of our buddy yachts for the early stages of World ARC 2010-2011 was Eowyn.  Captain Graham and crew, Mike and John, helped us out when we were in trouble and had to return to Panama.

Eowyn went on to complete her circumnavigation with the World ARC but not before helping out a few other boats along the way.  Graham and crew received a special award, the Spirit of World ARC Award at the completion of World ARC 2010-2011 in St. Lucia.

We met the crews of Crazy Horse and Ocean Jasper,  both Sundeers from Maryland, at the first informational breakfast we attended in Annapolis for World ARC 2010-11.  They completed their circumnavigations with World ARC and are back in the Chesapeake Bay.

About 30 yachts left St. Lucia on January 8, 2012 to begin their circumnavigations with World ARC 2012-2013 and Eowyn was there to see them off.  Captain Graham's log makes for some interesting reading, especially if you are thinking of cruising the world.

During our months in Trinidad, we had a great time socializing between boat maintenance jobs.  We met Pam and Jim, two Australians making their circumnavigation on Delicado.  We crossed paths a few times and said farewell in Port Villa, Vanuatu as they headed for New Caledonia and then to Queensland to close the loop.

Once we crossed to the Pacific from the Caribbean, we met more Australian cruisers in one day than we had met in the previous year cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean.  Another Aussie couple Pete and Penny, Innforapenny   sailed into Moreton Bay in October 2010, completing their four year circumnavigation.

We're proud of our own achievements, making it half way around in the experience of a lifetime, from Baltimore USA to Brisbane Australia.

Some of the boats who entered World ARC 2010-2011 had dropped out along the way and have re-joined the ARC to complete their circumnavigations with the 2012-2013 crews.  We caught up with them on their arrival in Australia at the end of July in Mackay.  We last saw John of J'Sea in the Galapagos and Marie and Charles of Dreamcatcher in Musket Cove, Fiji.

It was an emotional reunion for us with Nick and Suzanne of the World ARC.  Readers of this blog might remember it was Nick who was the mover and shaker, working between us, the Panamanians and the US Coast Guard to get us rescued before we drifted into Columbian waters.  In a way seeing them and our fellow cruisers again closed a loop for us.

Congratulations to all our mates in World ARC 2010-2011 and the wider cruising community who've completed their circumnavigations!  And to participants in the World ARC 2012-2013 who are expected to arrive in St. Lucia in April 2013 we wish calm seas and fair winds!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

A house full of cruising buddies.  What a fantastic way to spend Thanksgiving 2012.
Heads down in the kitchen
Everyone pitched in to help prepare the meal and clean up, and the early comers even had to make their own beds!  We all had a great weekend catching up, comparing notes and plans, playing cards, etc. etc.  

Twelve for Thanksgiving
On Sunday afternoon most of our guests returned to their boats in Brisbane.  Helen and Steve from Dignity stayed on and we had a lovely time eating fish and chips and walking around the headland at Fingal, a special place where Robert surfed during his youth.  

Thursday, 22 November 2012


Oh Say... it's an Exciting Day!

It's Turkey Day.  That might not mean much to anyone here in Australia but to everyone in the USA, it's a big deal.  

A bunch of cruising friends are sailing into Brisbane this summer to wait out the cyclone season.  Some like Gary and Jackie on Inspiration Lady, we have not seen since French Polynesia in 2010.  

Steve and Helen and their son Sam are here aboard Dignity.  You can read about Steve's medical treatment in Melbourne and consequent sale of Dignity.  

Jack and Jan are returning to Brisbane aboard Anthem.  Anthem is also for sale as they feel the need for more room aboard to continue living the dream.  

We were hoping to see Don and Marie, Freezing Rain but they are still making their way south, so we hope to catch up with them another time.

Out of the blue came A Cappella, Ed and Cornelia.  I think we last saw them in Tahiti in 2010.

So with the arrival of all these Americans and Canadians and we who were privileged to have enjoyed life in the USA, Thanksgiving makes a good excuse for a cruiser round-up.  We're excited to welcome everyone this weekend to our new home, Lilyfield, in the beautiful Northern Rivers region of New South Wales for feasting and fun as only curisers know how.

Of course the most important thing to get right for a Thanksgiving feast is the turkey.  It has to be big.  Robert ordered the turkey, 8 kg (or something over 17 lbs) a few weeks ago to be sure we weren't left turkey-less.  How embarrassing would that be?  

The ham is in the fridge taking up a whole shelf at almost 9kg!  It will be glazed and presented along with the fried (yes fried) turkey, Boston Baked Beans, mashed potato and gravy, pecan pie, and other Thanksgiving essentials.  Sorry, no pumpkin pie in this house.  A true blue Aussie (me) eats baked pumpkin at every opportunity and the popular sweet pumpkin pies served with cream in the USA really were a mental block for me.

I would say Thanksgiving is second as a major US holiday only to Independence Day on the 4th of July which commemorates America's adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in 1776.   

No matter where you came from, cultural background, your religion, the sporting team you follow, you can relate to the sentiments of Thanksgiving.  The US and Canada are the only countries I know which celebrate Thanksgiving.  The US always celebrates on the fourth Thursday of November while Canada celebrates their own version in October.  

I wonder is there room in Australia's holiday calendar for something like Thanksgiving?  A coming together of family and friends with a feeling of gratitude for what we already have, Christmas without the presents?  Thanksgiving is for everyone.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Where Are They Now? Cruisers Round-Up.

Time to celebrate.  Nine boats crossed the Mona Passage as a group, April 2009.  
Aboard BR we often think about all the amazing people we met while cruising.  Many of those we crossed the Pacific with during 2010 are sailing their way towards a circumnavigation of the globe.  The majority stopped off in New Zealand during the 2010-11 cyclone season for an extended stay to explore, do boat maintenance, leave the boat to visit their home countries, etc.  Thanks to technology and the nautical grapevine tracking their journeys and keeping in touch is quite easy.

So where are they now?  Here's our unofficial Cruisers Round-Up.

Astarte  (link to Astarte blog) Barbara and Michael are headed our way, currently discovering beautiful French Polynesia.  We're looking forward to welcoming them to Australia, perhaps this year.
Anthem   (link to Anthem blog)  Anthem and Bristol Rose sailed together overnight in March 2009 from Turks and Caicos to the Dominican Republic.  We crossed paths many times since then.  We got together with Jack while he was visiting Brisbane.  Jack and Janis have been exploring New Zealand and are currently heading to the Solomons. 
Inspiration Lady   (link to BR posts on Inspiration Lady) Jackie and Gary took time off the boat to return to Canada for a few months.  They're now back on board and after exploring New Zealand, they've moved west to Fiji.
Jackster    Jacqui and David are currently enjoying the underwater delights of Fiji.
Dignity    Since we last saw them Helen and Steve have become grandparents, spent time in the UK, New Zealand, and recently Fiji.  Unfortunately Steve is currently in hospital in Melbourne.  All their cruising friends are thinking of them.
Emily Grace  Perhaps the most adventurous family I have ever met!  Anyone thinking of cruising with children should read their blog.  Tom, Kim and Emily have just reached Madagascar.
Lilith  Krista is famous for her calm at the height of a storm.  In darkness, while hove-to, unable to navigate the waters of the Tuamotus of French Polynesia (the Dangerous Archipelago), Krista spotted the lights of a vessel close by.  Robert answered her call and had to laugh as she asked, "Bristol Rose, what are you doing out on a night like this".  That was the start of a lovely friendship.  Little Lilith is up for sale in New Zealand where Krista and Richard are settled for a while.
Oso Blanco was one of our neighbours here in Manly, Queensland for some time.  Another great blog for anyone considering cruising with children.
Whoosh was sold here in Manly and Jack and Patricia are now back in the USA.  We still see Whoosh around, now flying an Aussie flag from her transom.

Some of the friends we made while cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean in 2008 and 2009 transited the Panama Canal this year and are are now cruising the Pacific.
Slow Mocean is hanging out in Panama.  Blake and Sunny made our time in Puerto Rico a lot of fun.
Spectra  We met Joe, Mel and David in the Caribbean and happily shared many anchorages.  We last saw Joe in Panama.  Spectra headed north up the Pacific coast of Mexico and BR headed west.
Nighthawk  Genna and Ray are in Panama, we think.  Looks like Ray is really enjoying the fishing.
Voyager  Lynn and Byron were part of our group who jumped off together from "Chicken Harbor" (Georgetown, Bahamas).  We enjoyed their company in the Caribbean and hope we'll see them in Australia some day.

Some of our cruising mates are quite happy cruising around the Caribbean.
Beach House  Last seen Pat and Geoff were in St. Vincent.  Their blog is one of our favourites because the writing and images are always entertaining.
Where II  Matt and Karen picked up their Lagoon 420 in France and we met them in Martinique.  We parted in Grenada.  They worked their way north.  They're enjoying some shopping time in the USA.
Beausoleil Shawna and Jon have made it to the Virgin Islands.  Their leisurely pace is quite enviable.  How we wish we could re-visit some of the wonderful places we've been.
Merengue  We met Jim and Wendy in Montserrat where we toured the island together.  They are really enjoying the Caribbean.  Jim does a beautiful job of capturing the imagery with his photography.
Starshine  We met Dave on the Chesapeake Bay when we shared an anchorage in 2008. Starshine is a Shannon 38.
Homewood Bound   When our first boat, Sandpiper, was at White Rocks Marina we got to know Pat and Randy.  They are now proud grandparents, living in the beautiful town of Charleston, South Carolina.  So many good memories!

Cruisers' blogs are an informative and entertaining literary resource for anyone contemplating casting off the dock lines and sailing the world's oceans.  If you look in on some of the above you're sure to get a real insight into the range of experiences to be had - the good, bad and ugly of cruising.  Our next blog entry will include our friends who have already completed their circumnavigations.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Bad Luck Be Gone. Racing with WAGS.

Back in the slips at RQYS
Women on board a ship bring bad luck.  A naked woman on board will calm the sea, hence the naked figureheads on large sailing ships.  So go the old sea farers' myths.

I might have banished a bit of bad luck during the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron's WAGS (Wednesday Afternoons Go Sailing) race this afternoon.  

On the spur of the moment we accepted Glenn's invitation to crew for him aboard his Bavaria, Simpatico.  So along with Glenn and Roel, another one of our neighbours at RQYS, we headed out into Moreton Bay, with about 20 to 25 knots of wind for the WAGS race.  Glenn seemed to think that having a crew of 3 cruisers with experience crossing the Pacific was a bonus.   We had to confess that we  sometimes stayed on the same tack for weeks and would have barnacles growing only on the leeward side because of the constant heeling.   This was also my very first race.  

Our start was not perfect but not too bad; just 15 seconds after our official start time.  Flying the genoa and mainsail, we were moving along nicely between 7 and 8 knots.  Glenn's racing skills are complemented by his calm and confident manner making it a truly enjoyable experience for his crew.  It's been a perfect sailing day.

As far as racing tactics go, well I don't want to give away any secrets, but we laughed at old myths as Simpatico crossed the line first in the monohul division.   And no one on board had to get naked!  Glenn jokes that his crew stuck to what they learned while crossing the Pacific.  The long tack.  It really paid off this time with a convincing win and a couple of bottles of wine to celebrate!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Relative Calm on Moreton Bay

It's relatively calm here in Manly Harbour, Queensland today.  Maybe some white caps on Moreton Bay, 20-30 knot southerlies, bright blue sky.  Yesterday afternoon was a completely different story.  It was around 4:30pm, just as the boats participating in the RQYS WAGS race were coming back into the harbour.

I took this picture in light rain with my phone camera.
Look closely, you can see people standing in the water beside the keel.
The storm came across from the west pretty suddenly.  Tied up to our slip in the marina, I raced to get the portholes and hatches closed before we were pelted with rain that sounded more like hail.  Before I knew it our wind instruments registered 48 knots.  

Bristol Rose was healing over so far that the locker doors flew open and pots, plates, books, bottles, and anything not secured on the starboard side flew to the port side.  I thought of the damage done to boats during a hurricane that came through White Rocks Marina on the Chesapeake Bay and all I could do was hope "please let our neighbour's boat lines hold her so she doesn't come down on top of us".

The lines held and the storm passed leaving everyone in a state of shock.  As we all compared notes, we heard that someone registered 60 knots in the marina and the Coast Guard registered 70 knots at the entrance to the harbour.  

The big casualty was BlackJack Too, a 40ft racing boat.  She was one of the last to make it to the entrance and not having a big engine, the wind pushed her towards the rock wall.  Luckily, the tide was at its lowest and she stuck in the mud before reaching the rocks.  At high tide during the night the crew were able to float her off and back into her slip a few boats along from us.  To look at her this morning you'd never know anything had happened.