How many degrees separate you from, well, anyone?

When I made a run south from Greenport to Ft Lauderdale last week, I spent some time getting to know the crew, Captain Mark, First Mate Pete, Engineer Anthony, Chef Mark and Stewardess Heather.  A great crew and a real change of pace for me after years heading here and there on small boats.  Well, my boat Pandora is not that small but at 47′ she’s a shrimp, canoe, dink, whatever compared to a the 130′ motor yacht that they crew on.

Anyway, along the way Pete, the first mate, and I got to talking and it turns out that, along with his working aboard mega-yachts, he’s also an accomplished yacht illustrator.  I had actually seen his work in the past in Showboats International, which I subscribe to.  It’s a VERY glossy, and apparently successful magazine of super yachts, if thickness is a measure of success.

One of the features of the publication is a page each month that includes illustrations of notable yacht launches along with some details of the build such as where she was built and the number of crew.    This is a layout from a recent issue that was done by Pete.   boat-international-april-2016-in-this-issue-01
To be a reader of this publication and to then run into that same illustrator proves once again that it is indeed a very small world.  You know, the whole “six degrees of separation” thing?  Interestingly, Facebook has determined that there really isn’t six degrees of separation, it’s more like 4.74, not to put too fine a point on it.   Check out this link to Facebook to learn more.   Twitter did a similar analysis and they think that the number is 4.67. Close enough.

As I used to tell our boys when they were younger, “watch what you
do in public, you never know who might see you…”.  Indeed.

So, Pete’s process is to take a number of photos of a boat and to create an illustration.  Most of them are done in profile, like this piece that he did for the South Street Seaport Museum.  lightship-ambrose-print-rgb-03

He also does pieces in perspective like this sell sheet that he did for Palmer Johnson, the yard that built the boat I headed south on. khalilah-ad-mockup-01Most of his work seems to be focused on large yachts.  I particularly like this one of Foggy.  Frank Gehry, the famous architect, designed and owns her. foggy-01Here’s a shot of the boat herself.  She’s a real work of art in her own right, with some very unusual features.  One of the standout features of the boat are her “portlights” in the hull and deck. Pretty arresting and, it seems, pretty leaky.  Oops. landscape-1444054183-tcx100115gehryboat003A shot of Gehry himself aboard.  He’s the one on the right.  I guess it was a sunny day.  No leaks. foggy-2I show Foggy in particular as yet another example of “degrees of separation”, when I was at Newport Shipyard last summer.  Foggy was there.   I did a post that had some information about his boat.  The yard owner, where she was built is Steve White, grandson of E.B. White, the poet.  In a video I included in my post, Steve talked about the challenges of making the deck lights leak proof.  Ok, perhaps he has to rethink the engineering on that one.

The boat pushed the boundaries in every way.  Not your typical bowsprit. downloadLighting?  Talk about complicated construction.  Can you say points of (water) egress?1-2-16-018I guess pushing boundaries isn’t new to Gehry when you consider this as one of his designs.images-1I wonder if the windows on this building leak.  I’ll bet that he doesn’t have to live in it on a rainy day at anchor, so perhaps that’s OK. images

Another boat that Pete illustrated is Kismet.  I spied her in Ft Lauderdale and included her in a post, last year.  She’s so big, at over 300′, that my blog won’t fit Pete’s illustration of her.   kismet-02Oh yeah, if you get the itch, you can charter her for $1,200,000 per week.  Plus fuel, of course, crew tips, etc., etc…kismet-running-shot-1Want to learn more about her?  Check out her charter site.

So, what’s all this leading to anyway?  I really liked Pete’s work and commissioned him to illustrate Pandora.   I just received it today and am thrilled.  Nice work Pete.
pandora-profile-01

He even included a special piece commemorating Pandora’s trip to Cuba.  It needs a few tweaks but it’s great. pandora-cubaSo even if you don’t have a megayacht you can have Pete illustrate your “super” yacht.  If you want to connect with Pete yourself here’s a link to his site.

So there you have it, 4.74 degrees of separation from you to, well, anyone, or at least Pete and even Frank Gehry.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to watch what you do in public.  You never know who may be watching.

What makes her go? An engine room tour.

Well, I am back home now and will be taking the sails off of Pandora later today to prepare for hauling her out on Monday.    Plans include an upgrade of her water maker as I have one from a prior installation that is dual speed and makes either 7 or 14 gallons per hour.  The current one has a speed and plugs along at a very modest 5-6 gallons per hour, not enough for what Brenda and I use each day.   With the “new” Spectra unit I’ll only have to run it for less than two hours each day and we will be all set with plenty of H2O.  I’m feeling cleaner already.

I’ll also be sending out the sails to be checked as there are a few small issues that need to be addressed.  Nothing big but there are lots of miles on them since their last checkout  and I don’t want any problems.

As far as other projects go, well, let’s just say etc., etc…  Details to come.

If you somehow missed my posts from last week, I was lucky to be able to crew on a 130′ motor yacht from Greenport LI to Ft. Lauderdale.  Want to learn more? Check out the last 4 or 5 posts.  Anyway, this was the boat that I was on.  She’s very pretty and wonderfully appointed in every way.  Here she is as she pulled away from the dock in Greenport.9-8-16b-024Well, four days and 6,000 gallons of diesel later, we arrived in Ft Lauderdale.  As the crew was getting her settled in her berth, I asked the engineer Anthony for yet another tour of the engine room.  It was better to go down there when the engines were off because it’s REALLY, REALLY NOISY when she is underway and we’d have to wear hearing protection. In spite of all the noise in the engine room, it’s very well insulated so it’s quite quiet elsewhere on board.

Anyway, in no particular order, here you go…

There are two 1,000 HP Cat engines that push her along at a cruising speed of about 12kts.  At that speed the combined engines burn about 4o gallons per hour.  Push that up to 14kts, her top speed, and the consumption goes up to more than 6o GPH or 1,500 per day.  Yikes, that’s a lot of fuel.    But then, she’s a big thirsty girl.9-12-16b-048With consumption like that, she needs big tanks and a lot of them.   This is all the valves that the engineer uses to move fuel from one tank to another to keep her in trim.   All fuel for the engines is fed to the engines through a 1,000 gallon “day tank” that is replenished as needed from other tanks.   9-12-16b-050And, if you love well set up valves, and I do, you’ll love this array.  It’s the valves for each of the bilge areas.  Don’t these just make you go weak in the knees?  Ok, perhaps not that weak but they do look pretty neat.  Right?9-12-16b-054Fuel filters?  Yup, lots of them. 9-12-16b-049Interestingly, the muffler has two exhaust ports.  When she’s at rest the exhaust goes out on the starboard side above the waterline and when she’s at speed, the valve is closed so that the exhaust goes out through the bottom of the boat into the slipstream in front of the props.   The big white drum is the muffler and the white tube is cooling water injection from the engine. 9-12-16b-052And speaking of cooling, this is the heat exchanger on the front of the engine.   Seawater runs through this “radiator” along with engine coolant.    Like everything on this boat, it’s a big cooler.
9-12-16b-051And speaking of cool, how about the three AC units?  The boat has an enormous amount of cooling capacity as there is a lot of “make up air” brought into the boat so that all of the air is replaced, I think twice each hour, to keep humidity down.  Even the air in the bilges is refrigerated and refreshed.   Even when the engines are running the space around them the engine room is cool.  It takes something like 10 tons of capacity to keep the boat cool verses perhaps 10-20% of that for a similar amount of volume in a house.    9-12-16b-055And, to generate all that electricity there are two generators of 100kw each.    Yes, huge is the word that comes to mind.   See a pattern here?

And, just like Pandora (what little they have in common), they have a watermaker.  No, make that two with a capacity of 750 gallons per day.  That’s how they can have bathtubs in most ever cabin and a hot tub on the upper deck.  No need to conserve on this boat.  9-12-16b-053And all of this “stuff” is monitored on video screens just about everywhere aboard.  The galley, bridge, the Captain’s cabin, crew mess and who knows where else.    With all this complexity there’s ample opportunity for things to go wrong and plenty to keep Anthony busy.  9-8-16b-031Not sure that I look quite at home among all of this equipment.  Besides, I am wearing a white shirt.  No wait, there’s not a speck of dirt anywhere.  Anthony can even pull up the stainless flooring and climb under the engine to wipe up that last drip of oil.  I wonder if he wears a white crew shirt to do that.  Probably as he doesn’t have to do laundry.  That’s Heather, the steward’s job.   No problem.  Bring on the grime.
9-12-16b-056She’s a remarkable vessel, that’s for sure.

And, speaking of remarkable vessels, how about Global, an expedition yacht that is berthed near the 17th street bridge in Ft Lauderdale.  This sort of boat, and she was built in 2007, is designed to go, well, to go anywhere.  She sure looks like she means business.9-12-16b-061As you’d expect, she has a nifty spot to land a helicopter.   The second deck is also set up as a landing pad when the lower deck is cluttered with “toys”.   She has a submarine, of course, and you know how much room they take up take up. That crane is for heavy lifting, subs, cars, boats and all.  If you are interested, their site is pretty interesting with a good overview of her capabilities and toys.

For now the upper “pad” is covered with astro turf.  I’ll bet that it’s a great spot for Fifi to do her thing.   Somehow I have this image of Fifi being swept overboard by the downwash of a hovering copter.  “Fifi, Fiiiiiifffffiiii, somebody please find her…..”

And speaking of landing on a boat, they have a video of a helicopter landing on their back deck, and they are doing so by remote control.  As it’s on Vimeo, I don’t know how to embed it here so you’ll have to click here9-12-16b-058And of course, a pool with a lovely ocean motif. 9-12-16b-060Well, going on and on about yachts isn’t getting any work done on Pandora, much less the bathroom remodeling.

Better sign off and get on with it.  Thanks for the tour Anthony.  Awesome.

She’s back in her shed. Back to real life for me.

It’s Monday afternoon, I am alone aboard and the boat is all snug in her slip, er shed.  We arrived in Ft Lauderdale at dawn today, just as the eastern horizon was brightening.  9-12-16b-021Now, here’s an amazing coincidence…  You may recall that the first thing I saw as I boarded the ferry in New London to join the boat was a sub and, as luck would have it,  that was the last thing I saw as we headed into the Port Everglades channel into Ft Lauderdale.   No AIS but I am pretty confident that she wasn’t the USS New Mexico.   Note the port running light.   How about subs as bookends to an amazing trip?  You can’t make this stuff up.   Really…  9-12-16b-035It looked like Ft Lauderdale had it’s own little rain cloud hanging over it.  Well, not so little.
9-12-16b-031As we entered the channel, we passed this pontoon boat heading out.  Back in the early 70s everyone thought it would be a great idea to make an artificial reef out of two million discarded tires tied together and sunk off of the beach.  9-12-16b-036Well, it turned out to be a really bad idea as nothing will grown on them and now the fastenings that hold all of them together are breaking down and tires are beginning to wash up on the beach.  Some have even drifted as far north as the Carolinas.   Oops.    This guy has the contract to remove them one by one and he’s only able to go out about half the time and brings in something like 30 tires at a time.  Do the math.  2,000,000 divided by 30 tires.

Coincidentally, way back when, the project was christened “The Osborne Reef”. No relation, I assure you.  Besides, they spell it with an “e”.

Like so many best laid plans, the reef “seemed like a good idea at the time”, Oops!  It’s going to take years and years to fix as they began removing tires back in 2009 and they aren’t even part way done.   This guy will probably be at this project for the rest of his life.  And you wondered where those tires off of your old AMC Hornet went, Sheryl.  Now you know

Just after clearing the 17th street bridge we turned left into the first canal.   It looked impossibly tight to me. 9-12-16b-045We approached the boat house on the left.  It’s the only facility like it in Florida. It was originally built to house a boat that one of the owner’s cousins has and still keeps there.  It costs $12,500 a month to keep your boat here, and they have to pay year round, even if they aren’t there, so they don’t loose their spot.

Sometimes they find themselves paying for three slips at the same time in various places so they won’t loose their spot. Speaking of “slips” that word sounds entirely to tiny for such a big space.  Perhaps “maw” would be more descriptive word.  “Let’s keep the yacht in the MAW tonight boss”.9-12-16a-005As we approached my pulse started to rise and I was just a spectator.   “No biggie, we’ve done this thousands of times although it’s a bit trickier in the dark.”  Show-off!

The distance between the shed opening and the far side of the canal is shorter than the boat is long.  This means that they have to put the bow into the shed on an angle and slowly work the stern around without raking down the side of the 80′ sailboat that’s tied up across the canal.  As all of this is happening, the captain can’t even see the stern and has to rely on the First Mate Pete to guide him.  “2′ clearance Cap, you’re in great shape.”  Really, 2′?
9-12-16a-010The chef, stationed up on the bow, held up fingers to let the captain know how much distance there was between the starboard bow and tons of concrete.  At one point just two fingers went up.   Two feet and they didn’t even have a fender out in case things went south.   No fenders out because there wasn’t enough room to squeeze in a fender between the boat and dock.  YIIIKES!9-12-16a-013Easing into the slip?  Maw?  Cave?  Oh S#$%!   For scale, the three doors in front of the bow are full sized garage doors.  9-12-16a-023Anybody have a tub of KY?9-12-16a-017I couldn’t believe it.  No fenders and a perfect fit with less than two feet on each side…9-12-16a-029And it looked like less to port.  Like a glove.9-12-16a-027“Look Captain Mark, I can touch the bow with my hand.”9-12-16a-035She doesn’t look all that big in the shed after all.  Besides, she shares it with 5 other boats.   Big shed indeed 9-12-16a-033Cool as a cucumber, Captain Mark, completing his log.   All settled without a scratch.   9-12-16a-025What do you say Brenda?  Want to try that with Pandora.  No, that would be a CLM (Career Limiting Move) for sure.  I’ll leave this sort of maneuvering to the pros.

So here I am alone aboard as everyone bolted shortly after securing the last line and washing the salt off.  I can’t say that I blame them as they haven’t had a break in 3 1/2 months.

In a few days they will be hard at work again chipping (poor choice of words) away at Captain Mark’s to-do list.  No rest for the weary.

Me?  I’m flying back home tomorrow to renew work on my own list.  I expect that the lawn will need mowing.  Real life, here I come.

Captain Mark?  Need crew?  Take me away.  I may be available but not until I finish remodeling the master bath.

Oh yeah.  I had a blast.

Sunrise at sea

I’ve been teased about putting so many pictures of sunrises and sunsets on my posts over the years.  Perhaps, with the exception of mentioning Brenda’s name in posts, I have written about sunrises and sunsets and included more shots of the sun in all her glory more than anything else.

Just in case you think that it’s been too long without a sunrise fix, and you probably don’t, here you go.   Last night’s sunset was spectacular as well but I was up on the bridge and to run three levels down to my cabin and get the camera and head back up three levels was too far, or so I thought.   By the time I realized that it was going to be one that was not to be missed, it was too late.  With no photo to prove it, you will just have to trust me on this. It was a great burning sunset.

All is not lost as this morning, as the eastern sky began to brighten, I dashed to my cabin and brought up the camera.   Not missing this one.  9-11-16a-008As I headed out of the bridge, I was struck by how humid it was and I am pretty confident that the camera felt the same way as the lens steamed up immediately. In the cabin I have taken to wearing a jacket as it’s fairly cold most of the time.    “Poor downtrodden Bob, he has to wear a little sweater.”

Never mind…  We are traveling south along the western wall of the Gulf Stream to avoid the north flowing current.  At times we catch a small counter-current of about one knot so generally our speed over the bottom is between 11.5 and 13.5 knots.

I had mentioned in one of my posts that the boat burns 1,000 gallons a day at about 12kts and that raises to nearly 2,000 per day if we push it to 14kts through the water.  That’s a lot of fuel.   It seems that I was wrong.  She burns about 1,500 per day when at cruising speed.  That’s 60 gallons per hour.  The first winter Brenda and I were in the Bahamas I think that we burned less than that one hours worth in four months.

They are scheduled to have her hauled out in a few weeks for some bottom painting and their gross weight is a consideration for even the largest lift.   In order to keep her weight down, they will drop out their anchors and chain before they head to the yard which will reduce their weight by about 10 tons.   They will also have some fuel taken off as well or run extra hard as we get closer to burn more than normal.   Fully loaded, they carry nearly 125,000 lbs of fuel.   Imagine that, between the anchor gear and fuel, that’s something like 80,000 tons.   And that doesn’t even include the boat itself or all the water that she carry.   Big girl.

If they arrive at the yard with too much fuel they are required to have it pumped out by the yard and when they leave, the yard will “sell” it back to them. Otherwise, they would have to pay storage for the fuel in the tanker truck while the are on the hard.  What a racket for the yard.

Anyway, great sunrise today.  As the sun rose higher in the sky the view was spectacular with towering white clouds on the horizon. 9-11-16a-005Interestingly, the sky was clear of clouds in every direction except to the east over the Gulf Stream.  Because of the massive amount of warm water pushing north, the GS creates it’s own weather with thunderheads popping up without much warning.

A short while later we were visited by a pair of dolphins that swam in the bow wave.  I had to lean way over the bow to get a shot.    Notice the fogging of the lens on the lower right hand of the frame.  9-11-16a-027Today is going to be a beautiful day and we will be blessed with another easy smooth day powering our way down the Florida coast.

We anticipate entering Lauderdale inlet sometime around dawn Monday.   After our arrival, time to clean up the boat and remove all of the salt that has accumulated over the last few days.

What a great way to begin the day.  A beautiful sunrise and dolphins frolicking off of the bow.

Onward we go…

Settling into life at sea

It’s Saturday morning and I just got off watch.  We passed Cape Hatteras last night, shortly after midnight, which marks the half way point to Florida.  At the current pace, we should arrive in Ft Lauderdale on Monday, making for a four day trip.   With Pandora, the same distance would take about twice as long.

Actually, as going south is against the prevailing SW winds, it’s not likely that a run with Pandora could be accomplished in much less than two weeks, with time spent waiting for good weather.   Motoring into seas like we encountered yesterday would be very uncomfortable.

However, the fact that Pandora only burns about 2% of the fuel takes some of the edge off of the longer time needed to get there.    Running through 4,000 gallons of diesel for each run would be pretty painful to our budget and when Brenda groused “that damn boat”, she’d really mean it.

With six of us aboard, we are split up into three groups, with two on the bridge at all times.   Mark, the captain and I share watches from 04:00 to 08:00 and 16:00 to 20:00.   To be sure, Mark is the guy that does most of the work but I am there to be and extra set of eyes and to keep watch if he has to leave the bridge for any reason.  With all of the systems on board, there is always something that needs his attention or some alarm that is going off.   Also, somebody has to go below and take a look in the engine room several times during a watch to be sure that everything is running well.

I set an alarm for about 30 minutes before I have to begin my watch and it is customary for the incoming watch to arrive 15 minutes before so they can observe traffic in the area and to become accustomed to the dark before the standing watch is relieved.

Yesterday was quite rough and we were pounding along with the boat seeming to fall off of a wave periodically.  In a normal seaway, every now and then, perhaps every ten waves or so, one will come along that is much larger, perhaps twice as big so it isn’t uncommon to have the boat lurch unexpectedly when you least expect it.  As we were powering into the waves and against the wind, yesterday was a noisy and bumpy day.   The steward, Heather, wasn’t feeling too well which I can understand as the crew quarters is set way up in the bow where the motion is the worst.   In the nanny cabin,  I have it great as it’s near the center of the boat, where the motion is less.

Overnight things calmed down considerably and we should have a smooth ride for the second half of our trip.   It’s a beautiful day. Nice view from the bridge. 9-10-16a-006I haven’t poked my head outside since we left Greenport NY and was stunned to see how much warmer it is after just two days.   It’s pretty chilly aboard as the AC is running all the time.  And it has to be on as the carpets are silk and the wallpaper is delicate bamboo.   Very light and airy.

This is one of the owner cabins.   The spread and pillows are beautifully monogrammed but I had to block it out as the owner is sensitive about privacy. You’ll just have to imagine lovely gold letters of the boat name.  Quite elegant and you can see a women’s touch in the decor.  Of course the owner, and it’s a woman, isn’t aboard for the delivery.   Just love the rope lighting under the bed. 9-10-16a-011There is a very nice and secure walk area down the side of the boat.  It’s a beautiful spot to stand and watch the world go by.   Beautiful teak decks and a perfectly varnished rail.  It’s a lot of work to keep up all of this and hours a day are spent making sure that all parts of the boat are clean and polished. 9-10-16a-012I spend 8 hours a day sitting in the right helm seat.   Very comfortable.
9-10-16a-005My four hours spent in each watch passes quickly as there is a lot to keep track of .  And, when Captain Mark isn’t filling in the log each hour with all sorts of vital stats, we have plenty to talk about.  I’d love to share some of his stories he’s told me about his years afloat but I might be tossed overboard if don’t keep my mouth shut.

I can only imagine what this instrument panel cost to assemble.  No coffee on the dash.  Spill something here and you are….  Well, it wouldn’t be pretty. 9-10-16a-003As my watch was ending this morning Chef came to the bridge and asked what we’d like for breakfast.  How about an omlet and toast?  Ok, if you insist.  I resisted the impulse to photograph what turned out to be a perfectly cooked cheese omelet.  Yum!  Ten minutes later I took my plate down to the galley to put it in the dishwasher and you’d never know that anyone ever cooked there.   If Pandora had a galley like this my biscuits would be even better.   Of course, the weight of the granite counters alone would sink her.  9-10-16a-010This is the crew mess, where we take our meals.  The TV is always going and there is an endless selection of chips and cookies.  “Bob, pace yourself!”  “Ok, I’ll have an orange.” 9-10-16a-009Safety aboard is key so there is a laminated disaster plan and boat schematic posted for everyone to see. 9-10-16a-008Perhaps I’ll spend some time today hanging out at the stern watching the wake behind us.  What a sight.  9-10-16a-013So what next?  I asked Anthony, the engineer, to spend some more time with me checking out the engine room and systems.   The machinery that keeps us moving, comfortable and safe is very complex and he has to be capable of fixing just about anything that can go wrong along the way.

We’ve settled in nicely to life at sea and it’s turned out to be a terrific voyage. When we get to Ft Lauderdale I’ll be giving a presentation about Brenda’s and my two months in Cuba to the crew along with the captains of some of the other boats.   That should be a lot of fun.  Besides, I have to earn my keep.

I understand that they keep the boat, all 130′ of her, in a shed, along with a half dozen other boats in Ft Lauderdale to keep her out of the weather and safe in the event of a hurricane.  It’s hard for me to imagine a boat shed big enough to house this boat along with several others.    That will be something to see.

Oh yeah, I guess Mark is happy with me so far as I found a few crew t-shirts neatly folded on the foot of my bunk this morning when I returned from watch.   Well, it is either that or I am beginning to smell a bit off.  Whatever the reason, happy me.

As Steve Martin exclaimed in the movie “The Jerk”, when he saw his name in the phone book, “Now I am somebody!”.   “Yeah, yeah Bob, nice shirt…don’t get ahead of yourself”9-10-16a-017Say what you will, this is fun.  Totally!

280 miles to weather in one day

It’s Friday morning and I just got off my 04:00 to 08:00 watch with Captain Mark for our first night at sea.  We have made great time heading south at a steady 12kts even though we are headed directly into a 25kt SW wind.     Actually, all it takes is 2,000 HP and the willingness to burn 1,000 gallons of fuel a day.  Spray or not, we don’t get a drop as nobody goes outside unless it’s absolutely necessary.

We rounded Montauk around noon yesterday and are currently between the Delaware River and the mouth of the Chesapeake.  I’d guess that we will  pass Cape Hatteras sometime tonight.

I haven’t been able to post since leaving Montauk as the satellite receivers weren’t properly lined up to receive the signal.   However, it’s all fixed now so I can get this post up, thanks Captain Mark.     Oh well, a bit of technical issues with the receiver dishes.  Such is life on the open seas.

Yesterday at around 07:30, we slipped off of the dock and moved over to another spot where the fuel  truck could reach us.  I had to stay on the dock to catch the lines at the other dock where we took on fuel.   She looked great in the early morning light. 9-8-16b-024The fuel truck pulled up and fed her 3,000 gallons of diesel.    The boat carries 15,000 gallons, about the same amount that a semi truck that services gas stations holds.   The truck looked pretty small next to us. 9-8-16a-001For the trip we will use about 3,000 gallons or 1,000 per day of fuel.  Don’t worry, that includes the 100k generator too.   Whew, for a moment you thought that was how much the main engines used.  Nope, they only use about 900 gallons per day.  The generator uses a little less than 100 gallons per day.  Oh yeah, and nobody worries about water.  Use all you want as their water maker puts out, well plenty.

While we were waiting the hour or more that it took to put in all that fuel, they stowed some of the last items aboard including this scooter.  Up she went. 9-8-16b-025The bridge is amazing with redundant equipment for everything.   Very comfy chairs.  9-8-16a-005And, then there is the communication equipment.  That’s Captain Mark.  Nice guy.   Besides, he loves catboats, just like me and Brenda.  Double nice. 9-8-16b-040There are monitors everywhere to keep the crew appraised of any possible problems.  This screen monitors the fuel and water tanks. 9-8-16b-033Love the schematic to let you know exactly where in the boat something may be amiss.9-8-16b-034The engineer, a great Aussie, gave me a tour of the engine room.   We had to wear hearing protection as it’s REALLY NOISY in there.  However, outside of that room, it’s very quiet and on the upper levels, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the engines are on if it were not for the low vibration.   It’s so clean you could eat off of the floor.    I expect that isn’t allowed as someone might leave a mess.  “who left that banana peel in the bilge?”9-8-16b-029There are monitors all over the ship but this is “command central” in the engine room.   Looks like the control wall for a power plant.
9-8-16b-031The engineer says A-OK, ready for liftoff…9-8-16b-032Amid all the high tech gear Mark has put together a simple Captain-Mark-made sling cyclometer for measuring the dewpoint.  It’s funny to see such a rudimentary piece of equipment among all the other amazing gear.   Aboard a yacht like this nearly everything is complex, by design and EVERYTHING has an alarm built in to keep you on your toes with the possible exception of this nifty gadget.   No wait, if someone was to “sling” it and rap it against something I expect that Captain Mark would make quite a noise.  9-8-16b-038So, how about the view from my cabin?  Of course, there are blackout shades on these portholes in the cabin and head to make the cabin dark as night.  They are motorized of course.   9-8-16b-041Last but not least, there’s Hillary.  It’s alarming to see her just standing there in the “media room”.  How appropriate given her near constant presence in our lives these days.   I have to pass her each time I head to my cabin.9-8-16b-026Well, that’s all for now. With nearly 300 miles under our keel in a single day, that’s a lot of peddling, especially directly into the wind.

They say that “gentlemen never go to weather”.  Well, those guys must not have been aboard a motoryacht.

Oh yeah, almost forgot.  Steak filets, perfectly done, for dinner last night along with roasted baby potatoes (they never stood a chance) and mixed veggies.   Thanks Chef.  Awesome!

Of course, we do have to keep our strength up.

Time for a nap.

Heading south in grand style.

It’s Wednesday evening and I am all settled aboard my “ride” to Florida.  The boat I am on is amazing.  She’s 130′ and a real stunner.  The captain has put me into the “nanny cabin” which is more like a nice hotel room than a cabin on a boat.

When I arrived I plunked my gear down in the “TV room” and before I knew it the steward has whisked it way and put everything into my cabin along with a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo along with a little monogrammed note pad of course, etc, etc.

I have a double bed, all to myself along with a full bath, complete with granite counters and there’s even a full size tub. Happily, there is wifi all the time via satellite so you’ll have to put up with my daily posts until we get to Florida.

Here’s my ride at the dock in Greenport.  She’s the blue one.  Beautiful. 9-7-16a-098Tomorrow at around 7:30 we will shove off and visit the fuel dock. I am told that she burns about 1,000 gallons per day when underway.  Our cruising speed is 12kts.  She will make the trip about twice as fast as Pandora.   She’s big, like a floating condo and a large one at that.

Early today I caught the ferry in New London to get over to Greenport,  What a sight as we passed Electric Boat in Groton.   There is a sub under construction.  I guess that they build them in modules.  Either that or someone forgot to solder the front and back together.  I sure hope that they aren’t planning to launch in a the near future.   9-7-16a-066Perhaps more than you want to see about partially finished subs but I sort of liked the shot from this angle.   She sure looks like she means business.  Nice crane.9-7-16a-069Seeing a sub under construction was neat but seeing one steaming into the harbor was even better.  I think that she was the New Mexico, the sub that I encountered last summer off of Groton as I passed by.    I think it’s her because I had heard from the chief of the boat, who I have been corresponding with told me that they were in town, would be out for a week or so on maneuvers and then would be back.  Well, it looks like they are back and I was lucky enough to be there when she arrived. 9-7-16a-079As she passed I was able to get a great shot of the crew on deck.  I expect that there is a very well established pecking order as to who gets to ride up in the sail. They probably don’t draw straws or play rock, paper, scissors.   “get down from there skipper, I won your spot fair and square”.

Love the Victorian  home, if that’s what it is, in the background.   Amazing contrast.9-7-16a-087Big boat.  Long way from the sail to the tail fin, if that’s what they call it.
9-7-16a-089How about the gunboat riding shotgun as she came into the harbor.  I waved to him and he waved back.  Not sure he was smiling though.  Probably not allowed. I wonder why they wear camo colored uniforms.   If they are trying to blend in, it’s not working even a little bit.  I’d think that a nice beach pattern with a delicate cerulean blue and sand tan motif would be much more fetching.
9-7-16a-076Anyway, it’s going to be an amazing trip and I can’t wait to get underway in the morning.   I was warned that I’d have to watch what I ate aboard or I’d surely gain ten pounds on the trip.  After dinner tonight, I believe that the risk is real. Grilled chicken breasts with fresh tomato and shiitake mushrooms with orzo along with asparagus and well, let’s just say that it was amazing.   And my cabin.  Wow!   TV too.  The steward even left the drawers open so I’d know that there was a place for me to unpack. The bathroom is larger than mine at home.  Note:  I use the guest bath as Brenda doesn’t like to share.  I know my place.     And there’s even a bath tub.  And I don’t have to share with anyone.  I wonder how much the water sloshes in a seaway?  Hmm… Better not push my luck. Well, I had better sign off as tomorrow is going to be an exciting day.  My watch tomorrow night and every night after that, will be from 04:00 to 08:00 with the captain.

Yes, I think I’ll take a shower.  I’ll bet that they have a ton of hot water.  I’ll find out soon.

What an experience and surely a lot more comfortable than Pandora.  Good thing Brenda’s not here as this experience would surely spoil her for good as this is grand style indeed.   I do promise to work hard too.  I can do dishes, you know.

Time for a nap.   Did I mention that  I have a tub?   Thought so.

Busy day tomorrow.

 

The right place at the right time, as luck would have it.

Economist, Robert Frank, from Cornell, recently published a book about the role of luck in achieving success suggesting that those who do well owe a larger amount of their success to luck than they might think or be willing to admit.  An article about his book was published on Bloomberg.com yesterday.  Successful?Was it luck you or are you just smarter than everyone else?  It’s short and you might find it interesting.  Click here…

Personally, I have wondered many times how important luck is to how things turned out for me as I stumbled my way along over the years.  What might have happened if I had been born into another family or continued to hang out with that bad guy who lived next door when I was in my early teens.  No, don’t ask me about that.  I won’t tell anyway as it was a long time ago.

A retired friend of mine does loads of traveling and I once asked him how he managed to retire young and do so well in spite of a relatively modest background.  His answer was “I chose my parents wisely”.  Ok, got it, luck again… Perhaps Frank is on to something…

“Bob, what in the #$*& are you talking about?”

Ok, to the point…  When Brenda and I were visiting Sag Harbor the other day aboard Pandora,  we visited briefly with friends who were there aboard their Nonsuch 30 cat rigged sailboat.   Before going ashore that morning Brenda and I took our dink over to say Hi and saw that there was a launch (when dinks grow up they are called launches) alongside with two guys aboard.  It turned out that they were the captain and engineer aboard a 130′ motor yacht.

Brenda and I enjoyed talking to them and after a while I mentioned, in my always shy and retiring way, that I’d love to crew for them, unpaid of course, if they needed an extra set of hands when making a passage.

The captain, amazingly said, and I paraphrase here but you’ll get the gist of it,  “How about making the run with us to Florida next week?”   “Well, sure”, I said, after making a quick glance toward Brenda to see if I was going to get in trouble.  (I wasn’t.  Whew!)   So, that’s it.  I rendezvous with them next Wednesday and head out for Ft Lauderdale.

The captain’s name is Mark.  I’ll call him Captain Mark.  (It would have been fun if his name was Ron, wouldn’t it?)   You know, the cult classic Captain Ron?  In keeping with my love of random stuff in blog posts, here’s the trailer for that flick.Anyway, I asked Captain Mark what I should bring and he said simply, “a foul weather jacket and a good appetite”.   He added that they have an awesome chef on board.  Count me in!  I can do dishes!

Based on what I’ve learned so far I expect that the run won’t be even a little bit like a trip with the “real” Captain Ron.  However, we are timing our departure to dodge Hurricane Hermaine who’s headed up the coast over the weekend. Happily, Captain Mark uses a weather router so details to come.

The boat was built in 2003 and she’s a beauty, all 130′ of her.  As she’s private and not in charter, there isn’t much on the Web about her.   I did find this photo though.  Nice ride.   Notice that there isn’t a name on the boat as it’s a top secret and if I tell you I’d have to kill you.  Besides, I am way to busy to take the time to track down and kill all four of you that read my blog. UNITY-1It will be interesting to see how voyaging aboard a yacht of this scale compares to Pandora.  Yes, the food will likely be better.  And, I am pretty confident that it will not be at all like spending time aboard with anyone wearing an eye patch.

As they often say, right place, right time.  Lucky break for me.  Indeed.   I get to go on a boat ride and yes Captain Mark, put me to work and no, I won’t forget to my appetite.  I promise.

Like you, I am wondering how their biscuits compare to Pandora’s?

Details to come.

 

 

Where the big kids play. 

It’s Saturday morning and we are on a mooring here in Sag Harbor, “the” harbor in The Hamptons, where the big money plays and play they do.

Sag Harbor has been off limits to us or many years as the harbor has the distinction of being the most expensive place on the east coast to get a mooring, even more expensive than Nantucket.  The moorings here are $2/ft per day.  So, for Pandora’s 47’, that would be close to $100 per night and we’d still have to make your way ashore in a rubber dink.  Horrifying.

However all is not lost.  Essex Yacht Club maintains two moorings here in the harbor so we can camp out here for a few days and we don’t have to pay anything for the privilege of being here.   Well, we don’t have to pay till we go ashore at least as nothing is free in this town.

However, I think it’s safe to assume that we are about the ONLY ones not paying, and I am sure that they are plenty happy to pay big for the privilege of “being seen” among the “glitterati”, the “who’s who” of New York Society and entertainment.

The local “rag” Dan’s Papers, lists benefit events being held and there are literally dozens each month, offering many opportunities for the 1% set to show that while they don’t pay taxes, they are willing and able to support any number of causes and happy to be seen doing it.  I’ll bet that this area is the ONLY one in the U.S. where there is a local paper that actually lists the top billionaires that keep a home here, include their picture, the name of their “current” wife, note what they paid for their home and how much they are worth.

Want to know who’s the “fairest” of them all?  Well, it’s Mayor Bloomberg at a cool, make that a very cool, $48.3 billion and his home here is a 22,000 sq/ft on 35 acres.  You should feel sorry for Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, as he’s only worth a paltry $1.1 billion.  Poor Lloyd.

Anyway, no shortage of folks with plenty of green to spend and spend it they do. Poor little Pandora among the big kids.  And, some of the “kids” look pretty grown up to me.

How about this one?  She carries her own Mini, complete with the name of the yacht, Indiscretion on the side.  8-27-16a 007I’ll bet that it’s safe to say that their dink has more HP than the Mini.  “Honey?” “Yes, Buffy, what is it?”  “Oh, I think that our Mini looks just adorable aboard Indiscretion but I just don’t feel comfortable as it was your ex that chose the color”.  “That’s nice honey but can we talk about it when I’m finished reading Baron’s?”

And the “dinks” on some of these “megas” are quite impressive. If Darth Vader wanted one I’ll bet that he’d pick this.8-26-16a 041How about this lovely? She’s well into the “mega” range and yet has the lines of a small sport boat.  Note the crew on the bow.  They look totally teeny tiny up there.  I’ll bet her “carbon footprint” could squash a billionaire like a gnat. 8-27-16a 013However, all the yachts here aren’t “mega”.  How about the latest in a line of beauties owned by Billy Joel, Argos.  I recognized the guy who takes care of Billy’s boats from an article I saw a few years ago in Soundings, a boating newspaper.  Billy has very nice taste in boats. 8-27-16a 010From any angle.
8-26-16a 061Scout, which I have seen in Newport, is a beauty.   Yes, I’d enjoy a G&T aboard her.8-27-16a 011And, if you can’t afford MEGA you can always put mega HP on your micro yacht.  This one has 1,400hp.  I’ll bet that she can outrun all but the fastest 1%.8-26-16a 073In the parking lot near the marina there are some very nice cars that fit just fine in the neighborhood.  Love these two, the Aston Martin and the beachy thing.  Note the mega hydrangea behind them.  It seems that flowers love the climate here too. 8-26-16a 062The florist in town was getting ready for the weekend.  All of these phalaenopsis orchids were in a room that said “all the flowers in this room are sold”.  White sells well here.8-26-16a 064Not to worry, there were plenty still ready for you to take home.  8-26-16a 065The staff had to work out on the front lawn to arrange all the flowers that had been ordered.  There were many dozens of red rose arrangements being prepared for just one Friday night party.

I don’t know anywhere else that celebrates white like the Hamptons.  We saw a number of stores that only had white.  It’s tough to be a “mega consumer” so one less decision about color is a big time-saver.   8-26-16b 032While it wasn’t white, a very nice mega planter in downtown Sag Harbor.  I wonder what the statue guy thinks of what Sag has become?   I’ll bet that he wishes he had held onto the property he owned longer so he could afford something mega himself.  8-26-16a 069Nice view down main street for him though.  8-26-16a 067And speaking of flowers, which I sort of was, we rented a car and drove around and visited some wineries.  Along the way we spied this amazing field of sunflowers.  I nearly rear-ended someone who had stopped to take a photo too. 8-26-16a 057No, we hadn’t had too many tastings, not yet anyway.   I’ll admit that we visited our first winery before noon.  But, it was only a very little taste.  Ok, it was just a little tastes of five different lovely whites.  Just five or was it ten sips? Whatever… Besides, we had to be absolutely certain that we liked it.

It was also good to confirm that the wines were made in a very clean winery.  Love the stainless. 8-26-16b 027No dirty wooden barrels in sight.   8-26-16b 026What a relief.  We only drink hygienically made wine, of course.

“Look Brenda, I’ll bet these are wine grapes!”8-26-16a 049We drove along the south fork, up the north fork,  took two ferries across Shelter Island and back to Sag Harbor. 8-26-16b 030Let me tell you, it’s the most expensive per mile of any ferry that you will ever take.  Each ride takes less than ten minutes, including docking.  Total, one way,  $30

Impressive?  Don’t forget “if you have to ask what it costs, you can’t afford it”.  Well, I can for one day.  After that, not so sure.   We stopped for yet another glass of wine at this lovely hotel on Shelter.  What a spot.  8-26-16b 028Can’t recall the name but where else can you have two glasses of wine on a lovely afternoon and spend $40, with tip of course?  However, if you are willing to have sparking water, it’s only $10++.  Such a deal.

Yes, Sag Harbor is a very nice spot indeed and it’s fun to be here hanging out with the big kids even if we only sort of fit in because EYC maintains a mooring here.   Well, I expect that there are plenty of others that only look like they fit in.

Tonight, dinner at the American Hotel.  In the garden room…of course. 8-26-16a 072After that, well, we’ll be out of money and have to head home.   Yes, this is indeed the playground of the “big kids” and I while I have more in common with the “little people” I do have a boat.  Besides, my mom has always told me that I’m big and not even a little bit grey.

Thanks mom…

A job I could never have. Lighthouse keeper in Uruguay.

Those that know me would probably agree that there is no job that I would be more ill suited for than that of a lighthouse keeper.  By definition, lighthouses are located in remote, hard to get to areas and while most have been automated, some still require the constant attention of someone who lives on site to be sure that everything is in working order.  And, any mariner would agree that it’s a really good thing when lighthouses are working as they are supposed to.

To that point, the Bahamas are famous or lights on charts that haven’t worked, often for decades.  Not so, it seems, in Uruguay.

I subscribe to a daily (I think I get it daily) e-mail newsletter from Soundings, a terrific boating publication that I worked for as a sales rep for short time years ago.  However, that was a long time ago and is a story for another time perhaps.

Anyway, this newsletter titled “Soundings Dispatches” is free and is worth signing up for.  Of course, some of the videos that they feature, and they send a lot out in the course of a year.  Yes, some are pretty lame but once in a while a real gem shows up in my inbox and today was one of those days.   To be fair, it’s probably not too easy to come up with really good daily videos.  Trust me on that as it sometimes takes me hours to wade through many clips to find something worth sharing.

So, back to my story…  The joke in our family, well at least I think it’s pretty funny, is that “dad doesn’t EVER want to be alone, except perhaps when he’s going in the bathroom, and that assumes that it’s a quick trip”.  Ok, ok, perhaps it’s my joke but it’s pretty much true.

So, today’s piece from Soundings, and it’s only a bit longer than 3 minutes, is a real gem.   The editor of the newsletter describes the short documentary…

“To the south of Brazil is Uruguay, a relatively small country on South America’s eastern coast that experiences heavy ship traffic along its 410-mile shoreline.

Twenty-three active lighthouses protect ships along Uruguay’s ocean borders, all built between the late 1800s and the early 1900s. They are owned and operated by Uruguay’s navy, the Armada Nacional.

Cabo Polonio Faro (faro is the Spanish word for lighthouse) was built in 1881 on a remote peninsula on Uruguay’s eastern shore. Leonardo da Costa is one of two keepers who alternate two-week-long shifts manning the lighthouse.

Like any lighthouse, Cabo Polonio Faro requires daily maintenance. When Costa is on duty he is solely responsible for repairs and for operating the lighthouse manually if it loses power.

Costa’s neighbors are few. Seal colonies live on nearby islands, and the remote village of Cabo Polonio, about a half-mile away to the west, is home to fewer than 100 people. Solar panels and wind turbines power their homes, and they lack running water.

Cabo Polonio can only be reached by walking or by using four-wheel-drive trucks to cross dunes of sand to the road nearest the village; no public roads reach the lighthouse or the village. Life on the secluded cape is quiet and solitary.”

There isn’t a single word spoken in the documentary which I suppose is the point, actually.For sure, I just can’t imagine a job that I would be more ill-suited for. However, I thought that the piece was just mesmerizing and hope that you agree.

The group that produced this video has a number of other short documentaries on YouTube including this charming piece about bikes in Cuba.   It’s in Spanish but it has subtitles.

We visited Cuba for two months aboard Pandora last winter I am compelled to share this one too.  It provides a very good feel for the resourcefulness of the Cuban people and the story would be pretty much the same with regards to cars as well as bikes.  Make do with what you have.  That’s the rule in Cuba.   Amazon Prime?  Not likely. So, there you have it, two really nice short pieces that made my day.  I hope you enjoyed them too.

I guess that it’s time to move along with my day and get something done or Brenda will ship me off to some remote lighthouse.

The “honey do list” isn’t getting any shorter.