Photo by Lilly
Apparently the old man is getting desperate for blog ideas as is reduced to posting ancient photos of himself and Steve on a previous adventure.
This photo was taken a day after SSI’s arrival in the Dry Tortugas (see Ft Jefferson in the background) in early spring of 1979. Both the captain and Steve had hair and no flab at that time.
March 13, Arrival in Fajardo, Puerto Rico
It looks like the old man finally got off his increasingly lazy rear end and has once again begun to perform his editing duties in support of my blog (the least he can do since I am writing so much about his travels). As you must know by now, I’m a dog writing a blog and can’t be expected to execute menial human tasks such as spell check, grammar check and any other check that enables me to update this blog. I leave these very simple tasks to my person and he consistently fails to keep up with my ability to catalogue his activities, as he is too busy having all the fun.
My last post found the captain and crew of SS3 freshly arrived in St Lucia after enduring 21 days of eating, drinking (very limited drinking [well, this is what they say]) and laughing their way across the Atlantic Ocean. As most of the laughing was at the expense of the captain, landfall in the new world could not come soon enough for him.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the voyage, according to the captain, was the lack of internet access; no news of the outside world (and what a wonderful, screwed-up world it is) was received during the course of the Atlantic crossing. Imagine, 21 days without hearing or seeing the word “Trump” or “Bernie”; it was sheer bliss.
For all of you sports geeks who love statistics, here are some numbers pertaining to the voyage:
Average speed of Starsplitter III……………….……………………………..…6.2 kt
Number of bad storms encountered……….………………………………………0
Highest wind speed encountered………………….42kt (short duration squall)
Number of countries and territories visited……………………….………………19
Number of crew serving the captain and doing most of the work………….24
Number of new friends…………………………………………………………………..…32
Number of islands visited………………………………………………………………………….16
Favorite islands……………………….…………Culebrita, Tobago Cays, Les Saintes
Least favorite port………………………………..Rabat (night arrival, complicated entrance and docking, sniffer dogs)
Number of beach bars visited………….> 36, but I lost count in Martinique
Number of times “Don’t Worry, be Happy” listened to at beach bars….> 95
Number of dance floors abused by the captan……. see beach bars and add 3
Number of good eyes belonging to the captain ……………………………….……1
Number of heroic livers belonging to the captain.…………………………………1
Number of happy feet belonging to the captain…………………………………….2
Following is a list of the people he encountered on and around SS3 during his eight-month voyage. As usual, first names only to protect the captain from adverse legal action. (crew/passengers designated by *):
Aden*, Anderia, Andy, Andy, Anina, Anne*, Ann, Bill, Billy*, Brett*, Charles, Clent*, Clyde*, Deb, Emily*, Fiona, Gary, Gene*, Glen, Harper, Isabelle*, Izzy, Jack*, Jameium*, James*, James, Jessica*, Jim*, Jim, Jonathan*, Joyce*, Julie, Kay, Keith, Kelly*, Laura, Linda, Lori*, Margaret, Marge*, Marina, Mark, Maury*, Megan*, Megan*, Miguel, Mike, Nadine, Patty*, Penny*, Shannon*, Shar, Steve*, Trevor, Tony, Warren* and Woody*.
The captain and Joyce are busy organizing and packing all the boat stuff so that it will be ready for the next adventure. They return home this weekend where battery of doctor visits awaits the captain. I too am looking forward to seeing my person as he has promised to take me out west again this year for more mountain adventures.
March 20, 2019 (the Spring Solstice), Annapolis, MD
The captain’s retina surgeon had good news and bad news for him today; his retina is looking good and she will take the oil out on April 10; the bad news – after three surgeries he has developed cataracts and another surgery is require for their removal. If all goes well he will be operating with two good eyes by mid-May.
I will be updating this blog with additional details and photos of SS3’s island adventures over the next week. Please remember – for all your pet supply needs shop at Pet Smart and be sure to tell them Coach sent you (I get free treats for every referral).
If you have enjoyed reading my blog please consider a small donation to The Parent Project for Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) as several new drugs are in human trial stages that could lead to a cure of this terrible disease.
November 24 – Las Palmas, Grand Canaria
The latest video cam observations show the old man and his crack crew making last minute preparations for the 2,700-mile westward voyage to the New World. Water, fuel, food and wine are all topped off and the fishing gear is ready for action. The final ARC happy hour party was attended; fortunately, everyone was limited to two small beers so the fleet stands a good chance of departing on time tomorrow.
However, I still languish here in cold, rainy and dreary Annapolis, abandoned by my person once again while he continues to abuse his internal organs by eating and drinking his way along the Atlantic coast of France, Spain and Portugal and onto the Canaries.
My cockpit cam has exposed several dramatic moments (none that involve the crew of SS3) on the family pontoon (no one is exactly sure why SS3 was assigned to the family pontoon however, the adolescent behavior exhibited by the captain and his crew is the most likely reason).
A US-flagged Lagoon 40 owned by a family of four had to dismiss a crew member for non-disclosure of a medical condition just two days before departure. They successfully landed a substitute crew from the numerous contingent of hopeful people seeking passage on an ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers)boat. The old man is constantly combing the docks for a crew upgrade however he has yet to find anyone that can replace his current compliment (they respectfully laugh at all his lame jokes in order to give him the illusion of being in command).
November 25 – Las Palmas Marina – Day of Departure for St. Lucia
As I viewed the live video stream from SS3’s cockpit I could tell something was up; the old man and his crew appeared to be somewhat organized and relaxed and not scrambling about like headless chickens buying, schlepping and stowing all kinds of boat gear; food; water; beer; wine etc. in preparation for departure.
As mentioned above, for some unexplained reason, the ARC organizes placed SS3 on the family pontoon, containing numerous kids ranging in age from 2 – 17 (the two-year old was not making the voyage, just getting her last daddy-time for a while).
The kids were fun to be around and made it easy to meet their parents who were also fun. Since the average age of the SS3 crew is north of 60 (the Captain doing his part to keep the average high with his team-leading 71 years) the ARC organizers figured the kids needed some grandparental figures to assure them that their parents weren’t being irresponsible by exposing them to the whims of Neptune for the 2,700-mile crossing. The thinking being that if six old geezers with absolutely zero ocean-crossing experience can pull this off it must be a fairly benign undertaking (they are correct of course, but don’t tell that to the old man as he thinks this is a big deal).
After the grand send-off, with bands playing along the marina entrance and SS3’s crew looking very dapper in their matching navy-blue polo’s with Starsplitter III above the pocket (my take on this marine fashion statement: “in the eyes of the captain, uniforms don’t make the man ((or woman)), they are judged how loud and convincingly they laugh at his attempts at humor).
Lori, Chief Chef, has the second most important job on SS3 after Clyde, who is in charge of repairing the heads in case of emergency breakdowns.
Dinner tonight was fresh lentil stew full of veggies and potatoes. Crepes for breakfast with real Canadian maple syrup.
With the help of an IT consultant from PETA, I was able to hack into the navigation system to see for myself how SS3 was being sailed (as Joyce will tell you, the captain routinely exaggerates his sailing skills and most of his crew do as well, so I wanted to chart their progress myself). They logged a decent 127 miles on their first day, which if maintained, will put them in St. Lucia on December 21, standby for updates.
The big news of the day was the viewing of a “green flash” at sunset, a very rare happening and a very good omen for the captain and crew (This is only the 2nd green flash seen by any of Starsplitter III”s crew).
November 26, 19:00 – 86 miles west of the western Saharan desert. C.O.G. = 210 degrees, S.O.G. = 6.2kn.
It looks like a moonless, cloud-free sky on my video feed, so star gazing should provide the evening’s entertainment. No green flash tonight but Lori’s homemade lasagna pared with a fine Spanish red made the old man smile.
November 27, 06:30 – C.O.G. = 270 degrees, S.O.G. = 5.5 kt
I see the captain fumbling on his laptop keyboard attempting to capture the night’s activities on his computer. The sun is about to rise and for my readers that are paying attention, you have noticed that a course change occurred sometime last night. SS3 is now pointed due west, directly toward Cuba. There is a good reason for this (for a change it is not the captain’s lack of navigational skills) rather the boat’s inability to sail directly downwind toward St. Lucia (consult your google machine or the Alexa lady for a more in-depth explanation).
November 29, 15:05 – Sailing under full main and jib on a direct course to St. Lucia at 7.5 kt.
It’s a bit sad that on such a wonderful day for sailing (18-20kt winds off the stern quarter, 8-10’ swells to the stern) I must report that SS3 is almost bringing up the rear in his class (Class B, cruising catamarans under 46’). He is currently in 16th place out of 20 boats; let’s hope he and his crew get their act together and coax some boat speed out of Starsplitter III.
My video and audio feeds confirm my previous observations about the old man’s ability to adapt to life at sea (see my entry after the Bay of Biscay crossing); when the boat is going well and the sailing conditions are right there is no finer way to spend time. To quote Steve’s Norwegian sailing friend “ It’s nice when you run out of things to think about”. So far things have gone well for SS3 and her crew; however, as we know bad stuff can happen at any time, so standby for some potential drama later in this voyage (and don’t forget; for all your pet’s needs, shop at Pet Smart and be sure and tell them Coach sent you).
November 30, At Sea, C.O.G. 265 degrees, S.O.G 6.5 kt
SS3 had her best day over the past 24 hr. making 160 nm almost directly on the St. Lucia heading. She is no longer bringing up the rear of the fleet so crew members with tight schedules are happier today (the captain doesn’t really care as long as the boat is sailing well, and nothing is breaking down).
The following conversation is a verbatim (well, almost) transcription from my audio and video feeds this morning:
Clyde: (seeing that the captain is struggling to adjust his lifejacket strap): “Jeff, why don’t you ask Brett to help with that, he’s really understands how these life jackets are put together”
Captain: “Thanks Clyde, but I need to figure this out for myself, I am smarter than these French life jackets, and besides, Brett won’t always be here to help me.”
20 minutes later, Clyde: (seeing the captain continue to struggle with his life jacket straps): “Jeff, if you don’t ask Brett for help you may miss breakfast.”
Captain: “No worries Clyde, I just about have this figured out, I know I’m smarter than this life jacket, after all, I have a master’s degree in science.” (author’s note – as my most intelligent readers well know, geology is not really science)
20 minutes later, Captain: “Brett, can you help me adjust these life jacket straps, I’m getting hungry?”
December 1, At Sea – Reefed main, full jib, making 7 kt toward St. Lucia
Sailing a southerly course for much of the past day has cost SS3 a few places in the overall fleet standings however the boat is sailing fast, and well and daily runs are due to increase because of the westerly heading.
The captain has done nothing to embarrass himself today so there is not much of interest to report on, although I did pick up some babbling from his cabin which seemed to indicate he may be interested in sailing on to the south Pacific sometime in the future. As you can imagine, this would really piss me off (excuse my language) and I would be sure to report him to the Annapolis Animal Welfare Agency, the ASPCA, PETA, Robert Mueller, Bernie Sanders as well as the Trump Administration, if he so much as thinks about leaving me for the “islands of the half-naked women”.
Authors note: (For my readers who have known the old man for over 35 years, you will know the genesis of this desire. For younger readers, check out a copy of the front-page article in the October 22, 1979 (approximate date) edition of the Marietta (Ohio) Times. It describes my person’s plans to launch Starsplitter I and motor 1,500 miles down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans and then to set sail to the “islands of the half-naked women” in his partially home-built Southern Cross 31 (the paper actually printed that quote from the captain given to the reporter assigned to cover the launching).
December 2, At Sea – Port Tack, heading 220 degrees under full main and jib, making 6.5 kt
One week at sea in the books and Steve’s chart plots show SS3 900 nm from Las Palmas with 1,800 nm to go. Everyone on board appears to be happy and healthy while I’m freezing my furry ass off here in wintery Annapolis (my person is evil).
December 3, At Sea, on a direct heading to St. Lucia, 1,725nm to the WSW. S.O.G. averaging 6.5 kt under Code 0 and full main
The cockpit video cam reveals the following activities:
- The one-eyed captain is banging on his laptop keyboard busy editing my last several blog entries. As you know there are not may keyboards that can accommodate typing by paws, so the old man has his work cut out for him and since spelling and grammar were never his strong suites in grade school (where he excelled in gym, recess and lunch room behavior), the editing process may take some time.
- Steve is playing some nice music on his guitar. Earlier in the day, he tried to figure out how to operate his sextant that would become their only means of navigation in the event of a GPS and/or power failure. Although this navigational skill should have been mastered before leaving the dock the captain and crew figured that under the worst case scenario they will keep heading west until they encounter land and then proceed to the nearest beach bar. Steve is also is reeling in his fishing line, with, hopefully, tonight’s dinner on the other end (no dinner, but a nice lunch-size Mahi).
- Clyde is on the helm, keeping us on course and properly trimmed, a very easy task as the auto helm is set to steer 30 degrees off the wind regardless of direction. This keeps SS3 moving along at maximum attainable speed for the wind strength. When the crew attempts to steer by hand the boat can be seen spinning is multiple directions, none of which are the correct course to St Lucia.
- Lori, the Food and Beverage Director and Chief Galley Organizer, can be seen prepping the next meal. She puts all of her substantial energy into the task of feeding and cleaning up after five high-calorie eaters who all appreciate the top-notch meals she serves on a 3×7 basis (i.e. 3 squares a day). Curries, pasta dishes, Mexican dishes, French toast with real Canadian Maple Syrup are just a few of the culinary delights routinely enjoyed by the five lay-abouts pretending to be busy steering the boat west.
December 4, sailing at 7 kt direct course to SL, under Code 0 and full mainsail
SS3’s sister ship, Glory, reported a Code 0 halyard failure that caused the sail to pitch forward into the water thus damaging the bow sprit when it caught under the keel. Glen, the owner, had to dive under the boat to free the sail which led to its recovery by the crew. As best Glen can tell, the block attaching the head to the halyard failed causing the sail to fall forward. The SS3 crew immediately doused their Code 0 and examined all of the Code rigging. It looked good, so the Code is flying downwind again. For my non-nautical readers, most of the dogs and many of the humans, Code 0 is a fancy name, no doubt dreamed up by sail manufactures, that refers to a big headsail deployed on its own halyard just forward of the jib.
December 6 – passed the halfway mark at 06:00 today
1,350 nm under their keel and 1,350 nm to go. Ten days for the first half of the voyage, the captain is hoping to better that mark on the 2nd half…standby for the results.
It appears that SS3’s merry crew has adapted well to life at sea, a typical day’d activities include: 1) watching the deep blue ocean go racing by (the most fun), 2) keeping watch (the second most fun), 3) catching fish and actually landing them (3rd on the fun-o-meter), 4) eating, 5) happy half-hour and, 6) sleeping (tied for 4th most fun). That’s about it, except for reading, guitar playing (Steve only) and blog editing (the old man only). I almost forgot Lori’s cooking, which is the best thing they have going for them.
An email was received by the crew alerting SS3 to a whale situation that occurred fairly close to their position. A west bound sailboat was hit by a whale and suffered damage to their rudder and they were taking on water. Another boat was in sight of the damaged vessel and was standing by to assist if required. No further reports were received about this incident, so they assume everything turned out ok.
The captain and crew are now keeping a sharper lookout for whale sightings although there have been none on this passage. Penny and the captain had spotted a whale blowing just 25’ from SS3’s stern off the coast of Portugal in early November.
December 8 – At Sea, 1000 nm to St. Lucia
My cleverly installed video cam (the old man and his crew still have no idea that I’m monitoring their every move) has SS3 sailing SW at a robust clip of 7.5 kt with easterly winds of 20 kt pulling and pushing them nicely toward their Caribbean destination.
Although the boat and crew are generally performing at a high level (no pun intended) SS3 experienced a gear failure yesterday afternoon when the clevis pin on the jib sheet block failed and the block separated from the jib clew. The block took a nose dive into Clyde’s open hatch and almost bonked him on the head while interrupting his pre-watch nap. Because the jib is cut at a high angle to the deck they couldn’t reach it to re-install the block, which was intact minus the failed clevis pin.
Major credit to Clyde for devising a clever method to get the jib under control and the block and sheet re-attached to clew. It involved a fishing pole, a small sinker and a messenger line. Brett adroitly inserted the sinker through the clew thimble while the boat was bounding on 10’ swells and the wind blowing at 18 kt. An hour later SS3 was again sailing under reefed main and jib direct to SL.
It should be noted the Steve and Clent also participated in the re-attachment procedure while the captain stayed safely at the helm pretending to look in control of the situation and occasionally shout an order to the crew on the bow (most of which they ignored).
December 10 – At Sea, 750 miles from St. Lucia
The captain recently finished reading A Voyage for Madmen by Peter Nichols, the cover caption reads: “Nine men set out to race each other around the world. Only one made it back.” It is the story of the nine participants in the London Sunday Times– sponsored solo, non-stop, around the world race in 1969. Please do not confuse SS3’s transatlantic walk in the park with the heroic and insane voyage undertaken by these nine crazy men. The loan finisher, Robin Knox-Johnston, is a national hero and Britain’s pre-eminent sailor. Others did not fare as well; Donald Crowhurst committed suicide during the race while “hiding” in the southern Atlantic Ocean and filing false position reports. Another competitor, Nigel Tetley hung himself from a tree several years after the race, despondent over numerous rejection letters from sponsors for his latest offshore adventure.
The captain’s favorite participant was a Frenchman, Bernard Moitessier, who, upon rounding Cape Horn for the home-stretch to Britain (with a good chance to win the race), decided to keep sailing east around the Cape of Good Hope for a 2nd time and make for Tahiti. According to numerous accounts, he thoroughly enjoyed these islands of the half-naked women where he remained for the better part of the rest of his life.
December 11, At Sea – 600 miles to St. Lucia
Today finds the captain and his crack crew sailing briskly towards the Windward Islands of the southern Caribbean. To date, the voyage has been fairly routine and uneventful, much to the delight of all on board. Drama is nice in books and the movies (and of course in the White House and on CNN), but NO DRAMA is what you are looking for in the middle of the ocean. So far so good.
December 12, At Sea – 436 miles from St. Lucia
A glance at my cockpit cam shows typical activities aboard SS3 today. Early morning (02:00) saw Clyde and the captain putting in a second reef in the mainsail as a dry squall came up from nowhere to blanket the boat in 34-38 kt winds. These were the highest winds experienced by the crew to date and all hands were awake and on call in case of increased drama. However, things quickly settled down and SS3 continued on until dawn with double reefed main and the jib.
Daybreak brought decreasing winds thus slowing the progress to St. Lucia. By late afternoon the winds had stabilized between 12-15 kt resulting in an average boat speed of around 5kt for the day. St. Lucia is still feasible by Saturday afternoon however the winds need to increase to avoid the ignominy of motoring to the finish line.
Author’s note: I feel obligated to inform my female followers of the visual sufferings endured by Lori, the lone female crew member and master chef and organizer. Once SS3 entered the tropical trade wind belt last week , the “flab four” (the captain, Clent, Steve and Clyde) decided to prance around shirtless during daylight hours. Sailing a boat equipped with electric winches and push-button flush toilets, combined with Lori’s tasty meals, the boys are actually adding additional layers of flab on a daily basis. Lori’s husband, Brett, is the exception to the flab four (being a stone mason by profession, he has the prototypical body of his profession – i.e. he is buff). Being stoic, Lori has refused to so much as drop a hint to the flab four that her visual space is under assault every time one appears shirtless on deck.
Editor’s note: In our defense, Coach, pretty much all you do at home is lay around all day except when you have your wet nose in the food bowl, although I will admit you are very energetic while on your walks around town.
December 14, At Sea – 205 miles from St. Lucia
After 19 mostly pleasant days at sea, the skipper and crew of SS3 are beginning to anticipate the delights offered by landfall in St. Lucia. Visions of exotic fruit-laden rum drinks accompanied by the pulsating rhythms of steel drum bands are coursing through the flab four’s reptilian brains (I’m guessing Brett and Lori are just looking forward to a nice dinner alone).
The goal now is to arrive just before sunset on Saturday in order to avoid any last mile miss-steps by the captain as he navigates the entrance to Rodney Bay (He and his long-time mate on Starsplitter I, Steve, diligently planned their numerous landfalls between Biloxi, Mississippi and Key West (including Panama City, Tampa, The Dry Tortugas, and Key West) to occur in daylight hours. This was very important back in the 70’s as their only navigational aids were a radio direction finder and a hand-bearing compass – they failed to achieve this important safety goal for all of the above ports of call, entering everyone well after dark).
To ensure a stress-free arrival in Rodney Bay, my boat cam indicates the captain has fired up his twin Yanmar 57’s and is motor sailing with the main down and jib out for directional stability. This is the first time he has used the engines to advance his position in the fleet (SS3 is near the back of the pack anyway so there is no reason to hold back now – full speed ahead for the rum drinks).
December 15, At Sea – 12 miles from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia
I see that the captain is getting antsy for a rum drink thus has fired up the motors for the final day’s voyage to Rodney Bay (he also would like to enter the harbor in daylight, so motor-sailing is required).
SS3 weathered the most severe squall encountered on the 2,700-mile voyage, not very severe with top winds at 38 kt off the stern. The squall was exciting for about 45 minutes and there is no drama to report. Final preparations are now underway to cross the finish line and enter the marina in Rodney Bay.
My boat cam recorded a strong finish by SS3, sailing over the line at 17:23:29 on December 15, 2018. They were greeted by the ARC staff as well as Charlie and Anina (sailing friends from Annapolis and NY) in their dingy. The old man looked very happy and relieved to have delivered the entire geezer crew safe and sound to the islands. As you can imagine there was a considerable amount of celebrating taking place on the dock once SS3 was secure in her slip.
October 25 – November 7, Rabat, Morocco – Canary Islands
Author’s note: My readers may have noticed a dramatic decline in the frequency of these blog postings. When the blog first launched in 2016 the old man and I were bound at the hip for the better part of the spring and summer and I was able to give him my musings on a daily basis for final editing, photo enhancement, uploading and posting. The summer of 2017 saw the posts, which initially were updated every few days, decline in frequency to maybe 2-3 per month while this year we are lucky to get an update once every two months. This is entirely due to the old man’s proclivity to procrastinate (a very human characteristic, he notes) although I fear that he is reverting to his natural position in nature; that of a world class slacker.
I read him the riot act yesterday, telling him I need more frequent posts as I’m trying to monetize this blog and I’m in the middle of negotiating a sponsorship deal with the American Kennel Club and Pet Smart. In return for advertising, they will provide me with a free lifetime supply of doggie massages and stylish groomings. Hopefully he will do the right thing and post more often (not likely).
November 6 finds the captain and crew sailing along the northeast coast of the two western-most Canary Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, on their way to Las Palmas on Grand Canaria (beam reach, 10-15kn wind speed, Code Zero flying off the bowsprit and making 6-7 kn over-ground…for all you boat types). They intend to pick up Joyce (aka the Admiral) at the marina when she arrives from Annapolis on November 8.
November 8 and Joyce has joined SS3 and her crew here in Las Palmas after a three-flight air voyage from Baltimore. She powered through the afternoon and they topped off the day with a fine seafood meal served by Janet from Cuba (when Brett asked for her last name however she respectfully declined to provide it).
November 9 – My cockpit video cam shows Steve, Brett and Lori loading their bags into the dingy for a ride to shore, they plan to take a bus to the ferry bound for the neighboring island of Tenerife for some “off the boat time”. Meanwhile, it appears that the arrival of Joyce has greatly improved the old man’s spirits, so life is all good on SS3 (not that his spirits were all that bad to begin with).
His bucolic mood, however, was impinged upon by an email form a fellow L42 owner drawing his attention to a service bulletin from Yanmar altering him to a re-call on a faulty gear on the salt water pumps. The local Yanmar dealer has the part in stock (the good news) but cannot carry out the repair until November 16 (the bad news, only because the pumps could fail if the engines are run excessively). The captain and crew decided to sail to the island of Fuerteventura, 55 miles due east, for some beach time on the six-mile strand at Morro Jable. SS3 spent three nights at anchor just off the beach; morning beach walks and swims were followed by long afternoon lunches and mandatory siestas back onboard SS3.
November 16 – Las Palmas Marina, Gran CanariaSS3 has taken her slip for her final preparations for the November 25 ARC departure. The initial safety inspection triggered another round of purchases at the local chandlery.
November 21 – Las Palmas Marina, Safety inspection is now complete and my person and crew are taking on supplies for the 2,700 mile crossing to St. Lucia (water, food and somewhat minor amounts of beer, rum and wine).
He told me that if I download the YB Races app on my doggie I phone I will be able to track his progress across the ocean. The event is the 2018 ARC and the boat’s name is Starsplitter III (he will likely be easy to spot as his track will be more wobbly that the other 199 boats in the fleet). He promised a final blog update prior to Sunday’s departure; don’t hold your breath.
October 1, Annapolis, MD
You may, or may not, be wondering what has occupied my person’s time during the past month, therefore what follows is a brief synopsis of his activities during his planned 10 day stay in Annapolis which commenced on September 11. (Note – I was the only one home to greet him upon his arrival from Portugal the evening of Sept 11; both Joyce and Woody were out at separate parties leaving me alone to make feel welcome home – he said I was very excited to see him after two months away but I really needed to pee and was just glad someone was home to let me out). His activities included, but were not limited to, the following:
- scheduling an MRI for his prostrate (nothing serious)
- Scheduling a routine colonoscopy
- Scheduling an eye exam for post retina surgery vision (surgery was in May, 2018)
- Attending followup appointment with retina surgeon
- Having 2nd retina surgery as first one didn’t do the job
- Attending followup appointment with retina surgeon to discover a 3rd surgery was necessary
- Having 3rd surgery which employed different technique said to result in better outcome
- Waiting for clearance from surgeon to travel back to Portugal and get on with his voyage
Other than these minor speed bumps my person is in high spirits and eager to get back to SS3 in Cascais where crew member Steve Korte is keeping watch in his absence. In keeping with the captain’s MO Steve hosted a party on board SS3 last evening and a good time was had by all. The old man hopes to return as soon as possible as Korte is capable of setting sail any day for the islands.
October 22, On board Starsplitter III, 25 miles north of Cabo de Sao Vicente, Portugal
As you can see by the heading above the old man finally gained clearance from his eye doc to return to SS3 and continue his voyage south to the Canary Islands and then on to St. Lucia. Permission to leave came none too soon as his long-time friend and crewmate, Steve Korte, had been living on board keeping an eye on things while his eye was being abused by the surgeons (unlike others, Steve doesn’t mind if his last name is used in this blog as his reputation can only be enhanced by being associated with the old man; i.e. it is already in the toilet). My adoring readers may remember Steve and his dog Sky from our adventures together in Utah and Colorado during the summer of 2016.
While the old man is recovering from eye surgery, Hurricane Leslie is bearing down on Portugal.
While in Cascais the old man and Steve were able to meet many wonderful and fun people of various nationalities (mostly American and British with a smattering of Australians, Kiwis, Romanians, Dutch, Belgians and Russians) who had discovered this gem of a town on the Atlantic coast 20 miles west of Lisbon. Many parties where attended by Steve and my person – in bars, at local homes and on SS3 during her two-month layover (most of the boat parties were hosted by Steve and many of his new friends thought he was the captain and owner; it was definitely time for the old man to return).
I addition to Steve, the current crew now includes Clyde and Penny (Australia) and Brett and Lori (Colorado). Joyce and Clent will be joining the boat in the Canary Islands in early and mid-November, assuming favorable treatment of the vessel by King Neptune.
You will notice that since our adventures in Wyoming last summer there are no selfies to be seen of the old man on The Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp or Tinder. Apparently a study conducted by a reputable Wall Street brokerage house (Dewy, Cheatem & How) analyzed the relationship between the hourly stock price of these firms vs the posting of the old man’s selfies. The study found a 90% correlation between the time of his selfie posts and a decline in the share value of these firms. These social media sites have now blocked his ability to upload selfies unless, of course, I am included. Apparently my cute and lovable face is able to neutralize his aging puss. The old man isn’t taking this lying down as he recently petitioned the Trump Administration and Congress to overturn this blatant form of censorship “Putin can still post selfies, Congress needs to look into this” says he.
October 23, Lagos, Portugal
After an uneventful 11-hour sail from Sines averaging 4-5 kn with light and variable winds they were seen rounding Capo De Sao Vicente at 15:35 under power as the winds came into the nose after the rounding. The plan was to anchor in a bay protected in three directions but exposed to the southeast. It was a good plan as the winds were very light out of the east and there was little to no swell. Things got exciting as the captain rounded the western terminus of the bay and came upon a light marking a fish contraption. He incorrectly assumed that the contraption ran from the lighted buoy to the nearest shoreline, of course he was wrong, and the night was saved when Clyde yelled as loud has he could “STOP, STOP”. Although the old guy is visually challenged, his hearing remains substantially unchanged since childhood so he immediately rammed the boat into reverse and skidded to a stop less than one meter from the fish net stretched out before SS3. All crew breathed a sigh of relief, happy to have avoided disaster, or at best two fouled props.
The celebration was short-lived however, as the captain asked Steve if the fishing line was still deployed – of course it was because the captain failed to have it secured before anchoring, resulting in the line being wound around either the port prop or rudder. They all hoped it was fouled on the rudder as that would not be a big problem. Because SS3 has two engines they decided to continue to another anchorage running only on the starboard engine in case the prop was fouled by the line. Steve went for a swim in the 65 degree water the next day and found that the prop was clean; the voyage continued without further mishap.
October 24, Lagos Portugal
It appears they have hoisted anchor and are motoring-sailing due east along the southern coast of Portugal bound for Lagos, known for its limestone cliffs peppered with arches, sea caves and pocket beaches – not to mention the numerous bars and restaurants that are continuously and relentlessly depleting Woody’s inheritance.
October 26, Leaving Lagos for Rabat, Morocco
Due to visa issues the captain and crew abandoned plans to sail to Maderia and are now heading south to the Atlantic coast of Morocco where they will stay for at least five days at the King’s Marina in Rabat. US citizens cannot remain in the EU for longer than 90 days during a six month period; after he did the math the captain decided that Morocco would be an interesting place to spend some time while waiting out his exile period.
October 27, Rabat, Morocco
October 28, In Route to Marrakesh via train
Although the captain and his crew (minus Clyde, who decided to stay on the boat) are taking a three-day trip to Marrakesh and are out of video coverage, I still have the audio feed from the old man’s eye phone that will allow me to follow their adventures. Before I get into their inland activities I should let you know that last night Penny reclaimed her title as the queen of catamaran pole dancers as she was writhing to the tune of “Living in America” by James Brown, a title she first won five years ago while anchored off the west coast of Culebra, PR on Batubara. Although the pole on SS3 is square and located inside the salon area it didn’t show Penny down. As luck would have it, her husband Clyde had just retired to his cabin for the evening and was not able to witness Penny’s frenzied pole routine. The fact that Clyde was not present seemed to spur Penny on to new heights on the pole (unfortunately the video feed for this event did not record so I am not able to share with my readers).
I’m pleased to report that my person and his crew (less Clyde) are enjoying the exotic charms of Marrakesh. Brett and Lorie purchased a beautiful Berber rug this morning while Steve, Penny and the old man looked on from the comfort of a cushy sofa in a nearby carpet emporium. They bargained well and put only a moderate dent in their kid’s inheritance; they are not looking forward to their next red wine party.
Editors note: As mentioned earlier in this blog the Captain is responsible for correcting Coach’s spelling and grammar mistakes. As I can’t spell my way out of a paper bag please don’t waste your time pointing out any mistakes to Coach, he doesn’t care.
Well it’s been two weeks since the old man landed in Paris so it’s about time to update his progress with preparing Starsplitter III (SS3) for his up-coming voyage to the new world (although there have been reports from La Rochelle that he is finding enjoyment in the old world and may delay his departure indefinitely).
My scheme to have video cameras and live Wi-Fi (or wee-fee as they say in France) installed on SS3 by the Lagoon commissioning team (being a Brittany, I have a French Connection) has allowed me to keep an eye on the captain during his time aboard. However, because he escapades ashore are often more entertaining due to his somewhat juvenile behavior I have succeeded in getting Joyce to program his new eye phone to transmit a live audio feed whenever the phone is on (we tried video but the only thing we saw besides the inside of his pants pocket were his obsessive google searches for news on the 2018 Jets draft class – he’s such a looser).
Today finds our captain and his crack crew of Joyce, Maury and Jim (last names withheld at the request of the crew) located half way between La Rochelle, France and A Coruna, Spain, steaming at 9kn for an arrival time of noon tomorrow. The wind is non-existent today but is forecast to pick up later this evening. They left LR yesterday at 12:29 and have motor-sailed the entire trip to date.
Based on my boat-cam observations, the Captain was born for life at sea. He stays busy with the following activities: eating; sleeping; keeping a watch (when he can’t talk someone into taking over for him); staring at the stars (thus the boat name); jumping into the icy waters of the Bay of Biscay while SS III was stopped for oil level inspection; and more sleeping. He’s living the life while I’m taking care of his house and Woody, and that’s a handful of responsibility.
The captain and Joyce completed another successful passage from Vigo, Spain to Viana do Castelo, Portugal. 43 miles under motor for 85% of the voyage due to lack of wind. Spain and Portugal are experiencing a stultifying heat wave with temps well over 100 degrees F in Lisbon extending north well into Spain. The AC units on SS III are cranking out the cool breezes so the old man will stave off heat stroke as long as his generator works. He and Joyce had no problem handling the boat for this passage.
My life in Annapolis is still pretty good considering I’ve been abandoned by my master for most of a six-month period. Woody and a cadre of dog walkers (hats off to Hanna) have kept me fed and happy and I even snagged a bird the other day when Mark from “Time to Pet” was walking me in Eastport. All I manage to catch when my person walks me are discarded chicken bones from the Royal Farms chicken outlet just a block from my house (what a great location; eight great places to eat and drink plus a fried chicken outlet within three blocks of our house) – life is good, if not short.
Back in Portugal, I see the old man working on our blog while Joyce is shopping in the old town. According to Wikipedia, they sailed past the town where C. Columbus first made landfall upon his return from the Caribbean – so that must be true.
As you know my last entry was almost two weeks ago, clearly my person is way too busy to share his daily activities with my fans (he apparently turned off the boat cam) although I really don’t know why anybody would waste their time reading about some senior citizen’s daily activities which include going to the bathroom 18 times and monitoring his position on the waitlist for the “Golden Years” assisted living facility in Key West.
He and Joyce, with the great help of Ann and Warren, successfully navigated the coasts of Spain and Portugal from A Coruna to Cascais, just 20 miles from Lisbon. This voyage included a passage around Spain’s infamous Cabo Finisterre (aka “The Cape of Death” due to the many ship wrecks off its headland). He made Joyce keep watch for the rounding as he was huddled in his cabin making sure he had plenty of rest for the remainder of the voyage.
I see that he just deposited his last crew members (Ann and Warren) at the fuel dock at the Cascais Marina and he is now alone on SS3 with absolutely no excuse for not updating his activities. Joyce extended her stay an extra week at the request of the captain as well as Ann and Warren – they all realized life on board without Joyce would be rather chaotic and unpredictable. Worth a mention – Warren ordered sardines for dinner one night and had the entire wait-staff laughing at his poorly executed de-boning technique (sorry Warren, Ann reported this to me and promised to buy me a fresh chicken breast if I included it in my blog).
Cascais is unlike most seaside towns in Portugal, 20 miles from Lisbon, it incorporates the best elements of Monte Carlo, Palm Beach and Key West without the attitude of superiority characteristic of their citizens. The architecture, beaches, great seafood restaurants and low-cost, high-end wine have combined to cause the old man to book a slip at the marina for the next 35 days. Visitors are welcome!
Day three (or is it four) alone, and at anchor; I can hear the old man mumbling about how much he enjoys the solitude of life on the hook with no one around to point out his many missteps (it’s a good thing he is still not aware of the boat cam’s all-telling eye).
I saw him attempt some exercise activity yesterday as he donned his bathing suit (he thought about skinny dipping but there were too many women and children on the nearby beach and he wanted to avoid another incarceration – see last year’s Canada blog post). There is no gulf stream flowing off the Portuguese coast, so the Atlantic’s temperature here makes Ocean City water seem like the tropics. His intention was to swim three laps around the boat and then drink some wine…he missed the swiming mark by 2.95 laps although he still drank the wine. Swimming in ice water was how he described the experience.
As there are no public dingy docks in the area he is forced to pay the marina $10 for six hours of dingy-docking-time, including the use of the showers and laundry, although since his crew left I don’t think he has used either of these amenities. This may explain why, when dining on shore, his table for one always seems to in a breezy location.
Bill and Kay from Annapolis arrived in Lisbon yesterday and my person took the train into Lisbon to have dinner with them and check out their very spacious hotel digs. As you know I only have audio capabilities when he is ashore so my reporting on his trip will not be the whole truth; because he mumbles to himself with increasing frequency it’s difficult for me to discern whether he is having a genuine human interaction or merely talking to himself.
I do know this, because he is alone at anchor he is required to remain fairly sober while ashore in order to successfully execute the following late night tasks: 1) find, board and untie the dingy, 2) start the motor, 3) identify SS3’s anchor light, 4) navigate to SS3 without hitting another boat or sea buoy, 5) secure the dingy to the retrieval system on SS3 and finally, 6) remember where he hid the door key. Believe me, these may seem like simple tasks to most people but the old man is no spring chicken, so he feels a real sense of accomplishment when he is safely on board.
I remember when he told me about his good friend Andy (last names again withheld to protect the innocent) – who has a ton of boating experience and know-how – once boarded the wrong catamaran in a BVI mooring field after returning from a shore-side gig which included free drinks…“all cats look alike in the dark” was his excuse.
Photos from Cascais, Portugal
Being a dog, I’m not allowed to fly in a flat-bed seat to Paris with the old man tomorrow,;therefore I have installed a video camera in the cockpit of Starsplitter III. He departs for La Rochelle, France tomorrow evening and I will be monitoring his behavior on the boat cam upon his arrival. Standby for additional blog posts.
8/12 – Granby – Grand Lake, CO
8/13 – Grand Lake – Boulder, CO (Marge and Jack’s house)
Joyce (my favorite person) arrives from Baltimore – true to form the old man fails to pick her up at the airport and makes her take an Uber (he offers to pay) but this is going to cost him big time. He had a somewhat logical excuse but of course she wasn’t buying it.
8/14-15 – Boulder
We spent three days at Jack and Marge’s place in Boulder where I got to play with Gizmo and some other dog whose name I can’t remember (after all I will be turning 70 in dog years in December). We all had fun while the old man worked on editing this blog – as you can see it has taken him almost another three months to finally post it (can he be more of a slacker?).
8/16 – Boulder – Grand Lake, CO
8/17 – Grand Lake – Saratoga, WY
8/18-19 – Saratoga
8/20 – Saratoga – Shoshone, WY
8/21 – Shoshone – Porcupine Campground, ID (Eclipse Day)
8/22 – Porcupine Campground – Salt Lake City, UT
Joyce flew home from here – SAD, VERY SAD, I wish it were FAKE NEWS but not so.
8/23 Salt Lake City – Station Creek Campground, WY (Bridger-Teton National Forest)
8/24-25 – Station Creek Campground
8/26 – Station Creek – Jackson, WY
8/27 – Jackson – Gros Ventre Campground, Grand Teton National Park
8/28-29 – Gros Ventre Campground
8/30 – Gros Ventre – Grant Campground, Yellowstone National Park
8/31 – 9/1 – Grant Campground, Yellowstone NP – the following adventures all occurred in the park
Our next-door camping neighbors were a family of three from ….Washington State, Jonathan, Bridget and five-year-old Olivia. Of course Olivia wanted to meet me and tell me how cute I am (I hear this all the time but it never gets old) and the old man started chatting with Jonathan and Bridget. I have noticed something of a pattern with this behavior – when he becomes bored with himself (which occurs frequently because of his dull personality) he scopes out the campground neighbors and ties my leash near the ones that appear most interesting and likely to invite him over for a drink. If they have kids this tactic works 100% of the time and even with adults-only campers I am able to attract some positive attention most of the time.
He hit the jackpot with Jonathan’s family as they invited us over to their campfire to roast marshmallows and make smors. Red wine was also included in the campfire scene so everyone had a great time. As we said our good-bye the next morning they actually shared their address and phone number with him and invited us to visit their homestead where we could park our trailer anytime. (My person mentioned to me that during his bachelor days he would often get ladies to give him their phone numbers only to find that when he tried to call the numbers had been disconnected).
The Fun Bunch
The Thursday afternoon “Fun Bunch” at the Old Faithful Lodge bar: Rocky, the President and CEO of the group; the somewhat overly talkative road construction guy who is 47 and has had two mid-life crises so far (no one asked for details); Beth, who makes a living as a musician in Madison, WI (symphony orchestra, salsa band and piano lessons) so she can put two sons through college without student debt; a gentleman from Montana who didn’t say much but was laughing along with everyone; and the retiree from Illinois/Indiana who didn’t want to drive west so he and his wife are on a bus tour.
With the exception of Rocky and Beth, we were all meeting for the first time and yucking it up like a bunch of over-served millennials (this information was reported to me by the old man during our 17-mile driver back to our campground – he was right on 45 mph the entire journey which made me happy). He said he wanted to meet Beth’s son when we got back to Grant Village as it was his last night of work and there was a big party happening in celebration. Of course he did’t even come close to finding the party and was snoring up a storm by 9 – he wants me to add that he fed and walked me before he fell asleep/passed out (he’s not a full-blown slacker, just a partial).
9/2 – Grant Campground – Dubois, WY
9/3 – Dubois
The old man last visited this town in 1971 when he spent the summer in a real life bunkhouse with 30 other student geologists all participating in a summer field camp. They would spend the day tromping up and down the terrain hacking on rocks and pretending to be interested in the mineralogy and fossil content of the sedimentary and igneous strata of the Wind River region. The rocks ranged in age from very old to quite young (he wouldn’t tell me the technical terms for the rock ages as he believes my audience is composed of many dull-witted unscientific people and he doesn’t want them to have to spend extra time googling the scientific terminology).
9/4 – Dubois – Some small town in western Nebraska