North Atlantic, NY-Azores10/05/2014 08:46
Finn.no is for me, like many others, the ultimate supplier on everything we want and need in life. The fact that I have an office job where one of two screens constantly stood up with boat-advertisements did that I could all sail boat ads by heart.
One December day an immensely interesting boat apperared, a Baltic 37CR from 1980. Good old uncompromising quality from Finland, equipped for the long trip. Perfect !! But it was a minor inconvenience of it all, the boat was in Panama. Anyway, this had to be examined. I picked up the phone and called the seller, on the other end answered a very pleasant Bergenser, both willing and eager to sell. The information I got out of the phone call became like fuel to the fire. It was just this extremely small issue with Panama! Reasonable people would probably have chosen a safer solution, buy a boat in the next village or something like that. But not everyone is favored with proper sanity. In my opinion this is a blemish you find frequently in sailors. It became quite a few phone calls to Bergen, and in consultation we found a solution. Seller was not quite finished with the sailing, and could maybe sail a distance, we could meet somewhere so the tranport home became a little more affordable. Hmmm .. not stupid .. New York maybe ?? An insane plan began to take shape. Seller sailing from Colon in Panama to New York, buyer (me) flies to NY in April. Good plan, both parties extremely satisfied, madness in a contract and both parties get started on their own sides without any further form of security for anything. Funding was paramount, the wife was skeptical but became bought and paid for with new sofa, -corruption at home!! People around us shook their head. Purchased boat, what, Panama ?? Well, geography wasn`t your favorite subject ?? Have a good novel you should read, -The world atlas . Since the wife had no sense for me to sail alone, crew was required. Fortunately, there are several of these "reason dyslexics' out there who do not quite understand what they are getting into. There is a common word for such, they are called explorers. After a surprisingly short time, I had two guys that were willing to forsake a warm an safe home and tempt a cold, wet and miserable existance in the north Atlantic. So began a long waiting time from July to April, spended with packing, planning and reading of "storm tactics." I ordered new genoa with SuperSailmakers in Florida, wrote lengthy shopping lists since I would provide what was beneficial to buy in the US when I was there. Then finally came the day of departure, with a large bag and a sail bag with extra storm sail trooped I up at the airport. Wifey remained dry until I went in the security check, then came crying, snot and tears. But I didn`t see that as i had to buy tobacco.
Fly one does only when one must, because all airplanes have a black hole installed onboard. (Time passes slower near a black hole, event horizon etc) Often hidden in a black box. The purpose of this is to make the time to go slowly on board, so it will be extra uncomfortable to travel by plane. A flight hour equivalent of four normal hours. This is a well-guarded secret and consequently this hysteria find the aforementioned black box after the plane crash. Poor those who spend much of their lives travveling with plane. So after four hundred and forty-two hours of flight from Trondheim via Island to NY I was finally arrived.
The ship was in the North cove marina, smack in the middle of Mathattan. 1250 NOK day is a stiff price for mooring, but compared to the hotel is not so bad. The crew had nevertheless agreed to share port fees with me so it became affordable to stay there a few days. For the first time I saw "Værbitt" and met two very pleasant owners who had done their utmost to get the ship shipshape. We went through the whole boat from bilges to masthead light, things looked good. I transferred money and then we drank beer. Both I and the seller was incredibly relieved, and purely out pleased that we had carried off with something thatthe man in the street wouldnt dare. Sometimes it pays to be less gifted regarded to common sense.
Hectic days in NY, my crew came by a few days. Magnus, a former work colleague and Lars, a buddy from college years. New 135% genoa diaper delivered, water maker, clothing, food, AIS, diesel cans ol. A certain holder of West Marine was fit till measured when I came on Monday. But on Friday he stood ready in the door and shook hands when I came in. Well, after having shopped there all week as visa card caught fire in the payment terminal. Anyway, this was the equipment we needed before crossing, too late to act when you are out. Tips For those of you who at one time or another to act 15 diesel cans and take taxi back to the boat in Rush in NY; Take taxi to the store to let the taxi wait. Do not stand on the street with 15 cans to scream on a taxi when you cry for a while. I had to.
A lot to drink and eat in NY, always a dehli or beerhall nearby. On one occasion we came ambling into a beerhall having robbed West Marine once again. Had browse an entire bag full of rope I threw down by the table. A waitress in a lederhosen costume came to take the orders when she saw the bag full of rope, after which she exclaimed - "my god, what are you boys up to ??".
We moved over to the other side of the Hudson River eventually, to Staten Island. Much nicer and cheaper here. Here was a small community of people who lived in their boats. We got to know with Mike eventually, he had a car and drove us around. Really okay with that kind of friendly natives. Enjoyable days with pleasant company but much work with supplies that were aboard. Here did Lars and Magnus lot of heavy lifting to get food and supplies on board. It is not easy to calculate exactly how much food is needed. So we made it easy, packed it full!! I installed the watermaker meanwhile. Food, water, boat, sail, dense toilet Repair, tens of thousands other big and small things, -Check at all. Thus only one remaining thing, fill diesel. We went to the diesel docking and lined up our 18 fuel cans. The advantage of having water maker is that we only need to have enough drinking water, tank water, we can make along the way. This way we have more room for fuel. That, in turn again provides propulsion, piping and flow further be used to create water.
Before we it know it, a journalist comes by. He saw the number of dieselcans, and suspeced that we were going for a long trip. Interview no problem, but also he had a wish to follow us out and take pictures. He thought it was going to look good with the boat fully sailed with NY in the background. Sure he's on to something there, I as skipper thought about the New unknown boat, fresh crews and world's busiest port. We were supposed to get out in the open sea before we set sails, not in the Hudson River. But a ned incident of madness came to life: yeah it should go justfine. We went clear of all traffic, 8kn and fine wind. Occasionally a little sweaty skipper, but it was worth it when we got the pictures.
The tension on board is sky high, we are finally out and the shifts are being set; four hours on, eight off. Long island disappears out of sight. When will we see next landfall, Hebrides Scotland? Well time will tell. We need halfway around 1000nm at 90 degrees before we can break the Northeast, this in order to get well clear of the waters south of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland with cold ocean currents meet golfstreem providing a lot of heavy weather, ice and fog. Another reason for course selection is that we can continue straight ahead to the Azores (2000nm) if we are out of time and speed.
There are two days of pleasant conditions, then the meteorolopgist from the new couch at home reports that a storm is approaching. We just have to make clear storm sails, drogue and fix everything on deck. Everything below deck is cleaned and stored away. Nothing gets to be loose. We eat well and rest what we can before showtime. The wind is blowing, and worse then. Storm jib is up in good time, the mainsail is furled and packed on the boom. We sail away with good speed at first, but as the wind gets the sea worked up, it gets worse. When the anemometer showed 72kn winds on stable reading and occasionally spinned out of its scale, it all became a little unpleasant. The ocean went into a whole new league, will not try to estimate some wave height since I think this is very difficult when you see the sea over the masthead traveling downhill surf. Two-hour guard was set, one hour on, then an hour on the deed and moral support to the helmsman. So far so well and we put more and more new speed records, -so long as there was daylight. What if the darkness comes? Skipper (I) proposed to shorten the time on duty for one hour. I just needed some food first. Went down to get some oatmeal, I opened the box, and the the next moment I was lying on my back over the chart table with oatmeal box upside down over my head. Oatmeal everywhere !! Do not eat oatmeal in storm over 55kn. Wet, tired, hungry and miserable after 14 hours in the storm which was now a full-grown hurricane I got enough. "We hive to dammit!" The last of the daylight went to get up a mainsail to the third reef in, we turned into the wind and set the stormsail. The boat lay flat on the wind with the wind to wave "beam two." Not good, this boat is obviously best hove to with just mainsail. But we still lacked a few degrees, so we sat the driftanchor in the bow. Now it began to look like something, we got a good angle and a nice slipstream for the entire hull length. It`s a crafty thing to heave to, waves broke fore and aft but not on the slip stream! We turned in and battened down the hatches and made an effort to eat, drink and rest. Not so easy when we felt like we were living in a roller coaster. It was mostly just to hold on. No one said anything, each one of us thought enough about the situations potential outcomes. A somewhat pressed mood prevailed while Hurricane played orchestra on the rig and it trickled water into the strangest places, so everything onboard gradually became more and more wet. Ongoing for 48 hours, interrupted only by clinging firmly in map table to check wind instrument and barometer, hoping that the storm was going to give up. The storm finally came to rest, and we woke up to old sea and wiggle. The drift anchor had been torn off and became replaced with a bucket with steel handle which we cut a hole in the bottom of.
We had 24hrs with normal conditions before the well known bad weather decided to turn around and come back. It walked all over us once more, It´s always nice to meet an old friend, but this one we din´t want to come visit. But that´s what we got. Of course, it had already used it´s youthful force to make our lives miserable. But when it discovered that there was no sailboat left to play rubberduck with, it found out that it had to come back for another turn. Well, this time it was "only" 50 knts on the detour. It has blown out four sailshackles in the top, and we didn´t have any time to fix it. As a result, the captain got to take a ride on the boom to make new ones in the storm, We could hive to, threw out the bukcet as a driftanchor, and enjoyed another 36 hrs of rubberducking again. I can´t remember to much from these hours, other than that the bucket worked excellent.