Thursday, February 16, 2017

Marina le Marin, Martinique

Now sitting in a bar watching the sun go down enjoying a small beer with the Admiral.
Our trip across the Atlantic was quite uneventful and that is a good thing. We did not start the engine from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands to Martinique as we had strong trade winds the entire cruise. We had to dip far south to get into the trades and on occasion they were stronger than I would have liked but we had a very good sail under the Amel twin poles and jib and ballooner.
Lagos to Las Palmas was a little slower and we did have to motor a bit to get there but diesel is cheap there. My battery bank failed on the first leg and we had to get new ones in Las Palmas. There was a little delay but I installed them without problem.
The 2900 miles to Martinique took us just under 17 days for an average speed of 7.1 kts.
The boat and crew are all cleaned up and rested and we are enjoying the balmy weather.
Many thanks to David and Marian, my crew for this crossing. All went well with nary a cross word.
Callisto is now listed for sale with Joel F. Potter in Fort Lauderdale and we are looking forward  passing her to new owners.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Las Palmas, Canary Islands

We are now in Las Palmas, Canary Islands. and plan to leave for Martinique tomorrow. I put a new battery bank in today as the batteries were looking very weak after the run from Lagos.
We are fueled up and the weather looks good for the next week as long as we can get south to pick up the trades.
We had an easy cruise from Lagos but did have to motor for about 24 hours. We hope the next two weeks will bring good breeze.
Other news includes our daughter Jennifer's engagement to Ed today. Nuptial date to be announced.
Next post from Martinique but the Admiral may post a position report from time to time

Monday, January 9, 2017

San Diego, California, USA

I know that this post is a long time coming and I note that the last time I entered anything here was November 6, 2016! Mea Culpa.
Much has happened since then.
As were most people, we were extremely surprised to wake up to the unexpected news on November 8, of Mr. Trump's victory in the presidential election. No political comments from me, favouring either side but these certainly are going to be interesting times.
We have moved apartments! From one down town condo to another about 300 metres down the road. We now have much nicer views and about 30% more living space but it's been a lot of work, moving and getting the new place habitable. Considerable progress has been made but there is still much to do.
On a positive note, I can still sit here typing this note with glorious 180 degree views of San Diego Bay, Pt. Loma, Coronado Island and the airport and we hope that this will remain so, for many years to come.
The increased living space has allowed us to have lots of guests over the holidays and a gigantic tree.
Four of the five offspring have graced us with their presence and a fun time was had by all.
The weather has been mostly good, especially compared to the rest of the country and northern Europe.
The Admiral and I have decided that we are going to swallow the hook and quit our long term cruising plans. Our health is good, and the boat is fine and we thought we might have wanted to spend another 2 seasons cruising the Med and the Adriatic Seas but the decision has been made to sell Callisto and get back to living on dirt on a full time basis.
Our son James is getting married in April on the east coast  and we look forward to that.
Tomorrow, I leave for Portugal to get Callisto in shape for her final trans-Atlantic crossing with me at the helm. There isn't much to do, other than put the head sails back on, check out the systems and get the sat phone working, so if the weather looks favourable we may be off to the Caribbean via the Canaries as early as the weekend.
The Admiral flies to London on Thursday to be with her ailing Dad and the rest of the family, while I make the trip across the Atlantic.
I promise to be more forthcoming with posts of the upcoming cruise.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dupont Circle, Washington, DC. USA

We are now visiting James and Katie in Washington, DC on our way home. I put Callisto to bed at the Marina de Lagos in Portugal and left for London on October 24. We did have a good time there and I would strongly recommend this marina a s a very safe place to leave a boat over the winter season. the weather there is excellent for most of the year and there are many excellent bars and restaurants to choose from.
London was rainy and cold as usual and I got to visit with my sister and new grand niece and then on the Amersham, Bucks. to see the Admiral, who has been hard at work looking after her ailing Dad.
We left the UK on November 1st. for Iceland where we spent a few days in Reykjavik, Iceland is a fascinating place and despite some terribly gloomy and cold weather we got to see quite a bit of the southwestern corner of the country.
We did a tour of the golden circle and saw the Gundfoss waterfall, the Bingvellir National Park where the American and European tectonic plates are moving apart at a few centimeters per year. Also, the incredible horticultural endevours where they grow vegetables year round in illuminated, heated  greenhouses powered by geothermal and hydro power.
On the next day we went to the famous Blue Lagoon. It was a bit touristy but an amazing place with a huge outdoor naturally heated seawater pool which had a luminous blue colour due to minerals in the water.
Very cold and dark in November and also seriously expensive but I think well worth anther visit in the summer to see the rest of the island.
We arrived in DC on November 3rd. and we have been running around ever since. It's very good to be back in the US of A.
We did a monument tour on Friday and met with our prospective in-laws yesterday. We had a very enjoyable lunch together and look forward to seeing them again at James and Katie's wedding next April.
We wandered around Georgetown all day today and tomorrow we hit the museums.
We have a flight back to sunny California on Election Day and will get to work immediately on our move to our new apartment.
Bingvellir National Park

The Blue Lagoon. It really was blue

A view of the Jefferson Memorial across the tidal basin

The happy couple contemplating the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial

Outside the Dunbarton House in George Town

The Vietnam Memorial and glorious, fall foliage

James and Katie

The Korean War Memorial

George Town across the Potomac

Jefferson Memorial

James and Katie again

Freezing in Iceland. Foul weather gear was very handy

Iceland's famous geysers. Just getting ready to spout

The amazing greenhouses in Iceland growing tomatoes year round

The Gundfoss waterfall

The American tectonic plate rising up due to seismic activity

The blue lagoon

Relaxing after the blue lagoon experience

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lagos, Portugal

The Admiral and I are at our final European destination for the sailing season. Callisto left La Rochelle in France after a fairly extensive refit, including replacing all standing rigging.
I was impressed with how much better the boat sailed, especially going to weather in both light and heavier air. Who knew? I'm very glad that the recommendation to do the re-rig was made and that the work was done without problem. The run across Biscay and around Finisterre was uneventful from a sailing point of view but we did have a significant problem south of Porto that I will get into ina moment.
My crew were Ian and Matt and we left in a northerly F4-5 breeze and we made good progress all night. The wind lightened considerably on the next day and we had to motor sail for a while until the breeze filled in again. We progressed nicely under sail past Finisterre until the wind failed once again..
We motored and motor sailed down the Portuguese coast in very calm conditions, surrounded by dolphins until the motor stopped dead. It would run in neutral but I could not engage forward or reverse without massive vibration. I thought we had hit something and damaged the prop. We got on the radio and fortunately a British boat about 5 miles away agreed to give us a tow to the nearest port which was a place called Peniche, about 15 miles away. Fortunately, conditions were calm and clear and we picked up the tow without problem. Slow progress down the coast and it was very dark when we were picked up by the local maritime police and towed the last mile into the small town of Peniche. We tied up to a concrete wall in the fishing port and by this time it was already midnight, so not much to do.
On the following morning, the local authorities and there were a lot of them told me that it was forbidden to dive on the boat myself, even though we had the equipment. I had no choice but to employ a local dive company who fixed the problem in about 10 minutes. It would appear that we had picked up a huge piece of heavy duty fishing net. So, just bad luck but no  damage to the prop or transmission.
After a lot of paperwork and some bills to pay we were again on our way around midday down to Cascais. We berthed at a very nice but seriously expensive marina and had a nice dinner in this very pretty Portuguese town next to Lisbon.
We anchored out in the bay next day and by this time the Portuguese trades had resumed and we had some great sailing the past 120 miles to Lagos with following wind at F5-6 all night. Lots of fishing boats but fortunately no more nets.
Lagos is just as I remember it. A bit touristy and some drunken Brits and Germans but very pleasant with excellent restaurants and amenities.
We have done some road trips to Sagres and Silves and other areas of interest in the Algarve.
The climate is outstanding and there are some beautiful and remote spots to visit.
The Admiral will stay until next week and I remain to put the boat to bed by the end of the month.
Then it's back to California, via London, Iceland and Washington DC.

The fishing net we picked up south of Porto. Apparently, there is a lot of this stuff floating just below the surface. There is no way to see it or avoid it. Day or night.

climbing up the street to the cathedral and fort in Silves

Callisto at the Marina de Lagos

The western Algarve coast. Remote and beautiful. Much different from the concrete jungle further west


A stork nesting in Silves. Lots of migratory bird here

the beach at Lagos

Atlantic coast of southern Portuga lremote beaches north of Cape St. Vincent

Callisto tied up to the sea wall in Peniche

downtown Lagos and the marina

Saturday, September 17, 2016

La Rochelle, France.

We are now a sailing boat again. The masts went back on last Tuesday, a day late as the painters sprayed the mast the wrong colour white. The difference was quite noticeable and I felt that it was worth waiting an extra day to get the job done correctly.
So now all the rigging jobs have been completed and the mast went back on without a hitch.
All the running rigging has been replaced and new block placed for the external spinnaker halyard and a new ballooner halyard. New sheave bearings for all the halyards and all new nylocks.
New bearings and printed circuit  board in the  B and G  masthead unit.
Both of the masts have been compounded and polished and the lower third of both of them have been repainted.
Both electric furlers have been dismantled, re-greased and replaced and the manual furlers for the main and mizzen have been rebuilt with new bearings.
All the original standing rigging has been replaced with the exception of the triatic stay which seemed as new.
I have new motor mounts, the prop shaft brake has been rebuilt with new pads the bilge degreased  and cleaned and the electric bilge pump rebuilt.
Alternator has been bench tested and all the grounding circuits tested and all check out
I have bought some new parts from Amel, including some electric solenoids as spares, new helm seat and new mirrors for the forward head.
Callisto has been compounded and waxed and is looking quite spiffy!
I spent a few hours reconnecting the lights, antennas, radar and wind instruments and miraculously everything seems to work.
Ian arrives today and Matthew tomorrow. The weather is looking good to leave to cross Biscay tomorrow afternoon with the tide.
preparing the mast for the crane

up she goes

lowering the main mast

almost there

A sailing boat again

sparkly new  turnbuckles

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

La Rochelle, France

I've  been back in La Rochelle for about a week now and La Belle France has magically come back to life on September 5th. The work on the masts is professing well. Both masts have been cleaned and polished and yesterday I did the preparation work for painting the lower ten feet of the masts.
All areas that had corrosion bubbling through the paint were ground down to bare metal and two coats of base  primer were sprayed on.
The rigging arrived from the ACMO factory today and all the bits and pieces are being checked as we speak.
All being well, if all the rigging measurements are correct, the masts can go back on next Monday. I'll have another day of hooking up all the electrical connections for the radar, lights and wind instruments etc. and if the weather remains good.
The inverter that powers the TV's and computers decided to quit upon my return but at least they have everything one needs to fix anything here. Unfortunately, at European prices. One out of two isn't bad.
I'm looking forward to getting going again.