Off soundings and on our way to a 170 mile day

It’s Friday afternoon and we have been underway for about 21 hours since leaving Essex.   The wind is on our stern and blowing about 20kts.  Pandora is tooling along at between 7-8 kts and doing very well under the control of the autopilot.

Since leaving Essex yesterday we have covered 150 miles and are currently about 20 miles off of Barnegat Inlet in central New Jersey.  With about 80 miles between us and the mouth of the Delaware River, off of Cape May, we are making great time.  If the wind keeps up for the next few hours we will have put in a 170 mile day.  Not to shabby, and, particularly impressive given the fact that we motored down the river, out the race and nearly all the way to Montauk against a flood tide.  On top of that, we also had a headwind until about an hour after rounding Montauk around Midnight.  I am pretty impressed to have made it 150 miles at an average speed of just over 7kts.  Not so shabby.

The wind has moderated somewhat but we are still making a good 7kts on deep broad reach with a single reefed main.  We had the jib out but it was banging around in the lee of the main, making a racket and not doing much. 

As it was pretty windless when we left, the seas were quite flat.  However, by this morning with over 20kts of wind, things got pretty lumpy.  Happily, it has moderated somewhat but there is still a good sea running and enough wind to keep us moving along at a good clip.

We will likely make the turn up the Delaware River in the wee hours of Saturday, probably a few hours prior to the flood turning the tide upstream.  However, that will work out well as we will carry the full food up much of the time and then through the C&D canal as we make our way toward the upper Chesapeake.  I am hopeful that my crew, Roger and Jim, both great to have on board, BTW, will be happy to stop for Saturday night as I do enjoy staying in Chesapeake City on the western end of the canal.  

After a good night sleep, on to Annapolis.

I am afraid that there’s not too much to report that’s very exciting except lots of grey waves.  We did hear on the radio last evening that someone had suffered a heart attack on a fishing boa, way off shore.  And it sounded to us, based on the back and forth with the US Coastguard, that he didn’t make it.  Suffering a catastrophic event when you are miles from shore is certainly not a good thing.

Anyway, enough morbid stuff.   Better to think about what fun it will be to be back in Annapolis.  I talked to my son Rob last evening while we were still in cell range, and he’s going to stop and have dinner with me and probably spend the night on board, on Wednesday.

Well, here’s to a continued speedy voyage to Annapolis. I do so hope that the run from Annapolis to GA is as good.

Today is “A” day. On to “A”nnapolis. Really…

It’s Thursday morning and we are FINALLY going to leave for our run to Annapolis.  Our plan will be to head out around Montauk, offshore and down to the Delaware River at Cape May and through the C&D canal and down the northern Chesapeake to Annapolis, a run that should get us there by Sunday.  I will be posting our position every four hours following our departure so you can track us by clicking here or going to the “where’s Pandora” button on this site.

It’s been crazy for the last few weeks, lining up crew, picking dates and changing them again and again.  I am not sure how many crew I had “lined up” but with all the changes as to when we were leaving, I think I “confirmed” around a half dozen.  Alas, plans change for them as does the weather.

In the fall it seems that the winds are more changeable than in the spring as winter winds and summer breezes duke it out.  In the end, it’s the northerlies that win over, well at least till spring when the prevailing south-westerlies take over again.

Well, the weather systems have been battling it out for weeks now with a few days of good northerlies to take us down the coast followed by a quick change to unfavorable southerlies.   Believe me, it’s a lot more fun to go with the flow (wind that is), than against it.

Happily, it looks like today is finally going to be the day to head out.  Even as I write this the winds are still from the south west but they are expected to change, and I hope they do by this evening, to favorable northerlies.   And then that won’t last for long as it’s supposed to go southeast by Saturday.  I would expect that we will be in Annapolis by Sunday so that’s good.   Who knows, perhaps we’ll get lucky and the wind will shift to the south as we turn the corner at Cape May and head north up the Delaware River.  Stranger things have happened.

My crew, Jim (from Annapolis) and Roger (fellow SAGA 43 owner from NYC), both experienced offshore sailors, will be arriving early afternoon and then we’ll run up to the boat and cast off.

I’ve spent days, no make that weeks,  getting Pandora provisioned and ready for the run to Annapolis.  After the SSCA Gam next weekend, I’ll have new crew for the run to ST Mary’s GA in early October.  Making sure that everything we will need to make the run south as well as what Brenda and I will want to have on board for the winter in FL and the Keys needed to be sorted out.

Well, I have to dash to run to the dump and boat as well as get back and cut the lawn (I won’t be home for several weeks and the lawn continues to grow, you know) before running a few errands and picking up the guys.

Meanwhile, Pandora’s at the dock waiting patiently. Next stop. Annapolis.  I am looking forward to spending some time touring around town.  There are plenty of wonderful sights to behold. Well, wish us luck and keep those cards and letters coming.  Well, at least leave a comment so I know that there is someone out there.

Hello, hello are you there?

I know I’m going to Annapolis but not sure when.

Well, it’s Wednesday morning and I just finished talking to Chris Parker, the weather router, about my upcoming trip to Annapolis.  I’d like to be there by next Thursday in time for the SSCA Gam but the weather forecast has been changing daily for the last week.  At one point it looked like we’d be able to leave this coming Monday with good winds to get us there in time, my first choice.  Now, it looks like that’s not in the cards and that I’ll have to leave tomorrow Thursday evening to make the run.  Yes, there might be a window on Monday but that’s nearly a week away and if the front moving east changes it’s tune, I might be stuck and unable to make the run to get there in time.

Unfortunately, Brenda’s away this week at a tapestry weaving workshop in Rockport, MA and I had hoped to see her for a few days prior to my departure as I’ll be heading to GA after the Gam and that will keep me away from her for too long.  Alas, nothing is simple.

Complicating things further, nailing down crew, with their own shifting commitments has been tough and each time the weather changes, so does crew.  Sadly, this is the nature of using crew and it’s even more complicated in the fall as I need winds from the north, which only come through when there is a front, which never seems to last long enough or is too strong to make for a decent window.  Oh, the trials of being a “snow bird”.   Feel sorry for me, if you can.

The good news is that Pandora is finally ready and almost totally provisioned for the run, whenever we leave.   More on that later today when I make my calls to crew.  Hopefully, I won’t be reduced to begging.

Yesterday I did a lot of running around to get the final details of my new anchor installation in order.  I have had a Bruce anchor, the one that came with Pandora, for years and after two winters in the Bahamas and the frustrations of trying to anchor with the Bruce,  I decided to replace it with one of the “modern” types.  The fact that I bent the shaft on the Bruce last winter did provide an “incentive” to finally deal with the anchoring problem.   It’s amazing how much it bent, actually.  At the time I wrote about what happened in this post.Bruce anchors were popular for many years but they, like all anchors, have limitations.  In the Bahamas, with lots of firm bottoms and grassy areas, the Bruce has a particularly tough time digging in.  My friend Dick has an amusing saying for boats that drag their anchor on a windy night, “if it’s loose, it must be a Bruce”. Well put Dick. 

So, time for a new anchor.  After much review (wading through it actually) of info on the Internet I had narrowed down to two types, a Spade or Rocna, neither of which would fit on the bow roller that Pandora currently has.   As I have spoken to quite a few folks about their anchors (there’s plenty of opinion about anchors out there) the Rocna seems to be an excellent choice and the folks that have them seem to love them.  I understand that they are particularly good in weed, perhaps the toughest bottom type to deal with.   The problem with testing anchors is that there are many different bottom conditions that can effect anchoring efficiency and it’s hard to cover them all in a single test.  Having said that, Bill Springer’s blog had a review of a very well thought out anchor test that he and others, had conducted. The results do show that the Rocna performs very well.  So, I bought one.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that it didn’t fit Pandora’s roller.  What to do…

I have been thinking about a possible modification of the roller for sometime and here’s what I settled on.  I think it’s pretty neat.   The idea is to have an attachment that will hinge up and support the anchor when it’s needs to be secured and yet drop will down to deploy when I am anchored.

The problem is that the Rocna anchor just wouldn’t go far up into the roller as the shank of the would not fit.  Here’s what It looks like when it “won’t fit”.  Not too elegant.So, first, I had a local machine shop drill some holes in some bar stock so I could try a number of configurations.    When I pulled it into position, it seemed to work just fine. Then I made a cardboard template for the machinist so he’d know what I wanted.  That took a few hours of head scratching to get it just right.   Then I went back the next day and measured all over again.   The machinist was to make it out of 1/4″ stainless steel with a bent leading edge so that the chain would pass through it easily.  Of to the machinist.  They turned out great.  Then I took them to a metal finishing shop to have them cleaned up and polished.  Not as shiny as I’d  like but still pretty slick. After a few attempts to get the bolt setup just right, here’s the finished deal.  Anchor down.  And now, in place and secure.  I like it a lot.My only fear is that the extension might bend.  We’ll have to see.  The 1/4″ steel with the bent lip is pretty tough but only time will tell. 

So, now I am ready to go, nearly.  Wish me luck with crew and weather.  I do want to sail, of course.   Not too much wind please…

Enough with blogging. Time to “get the lead out’ and get on with my day.

Heading south soon. Yes, in about a week.

It’s Sunday morning and the sun is out.  Yesterday began as a sunny day but deteriorated as the day went on, delivering some much needed rain.   It’s cool, no make that COLD, in the low 50s, the coldest morning yet As we head into fall.  I am always struck by how quickly the temperatures fall once you get past Labor Day here on the CT River.  One day it’s in the 80s and the next…

A friend years ago remarked that “you could hear the iron gates slam shut on Labor Day” and that seems about right to me.   Before you know it, we will all be complaining about the cold.   No wait, I am complaining already.  And, I can’t wait to rake leaves!  NOT!!!

Anyway, I have not written much about our plans for this winter but they are coming together, so here goes…

In about a week I will shove off with Pandora to take her south with crew to ST Mary’s GA where she will be pulled out of the water for a few months.  Brenda and I will be joining her there right after the New Year to sail down to Miami and probably the Florida Keys.  We have wanted to explore this area for some time and are looking forward to trying it out this year. We are also looking forward to spending a leisurely time heading down the Intra Costal Waterway, down the coast of Florida, a trip that we enjoyed two years ago.

We may head over to the Bahamas at some point but that’s unclear right now. Brenda needs to head back to CT in mid March for a conference for a week and certainly heading out from Miami will be easier for her.  We also have a wedding in SC in mid April so when you add it all up, staying in the US might be prudent.  Heck, it’s warm in the Keys too… Right?

Perhaps we can head down to Key West and then on to the Dry Tortugas and see the old fort.  I have heard that it’s pretty neat by friends of us that are avid bird watchers.   It seems that the remote location of Ft Jefferson, built during the Civil War, is a favorite stopover for migrating birds.

Remote or not, the fort is now a national park and it’s easy to get to by high speed ferry.  I don’t know if it’s practical to take the 70 mile run from Key West to the fort on Pandora.  I guess we will have to think about that.  However, this National Park Service video of the park is interesting.  Watch it and you will probably guess where the phrase “your name is Mudd” came from.Who knows what the winter will bring, but for sure we’ll be warm.

Between now and then, Brenda’s heading to a week long weaving conference in Rockport MA and I will be heading to Annapolis, aboard Pandora, to a Seven Seas Cruising Association event.   After that a “quick” run to GA and then I’ll fly home around October 10th.

Then, Brenda and I are heading to Portugal.  That will be my first extended visit outside of the US beyond the Bahamas.  As Portugal was a major sea power, I bet that there will be lots of fun things nautical to write about.

Well, there is certainly plenty to look forward to between now and May when I will bring Pandora back to New England in the spring.

Now, all that’s left is to provision Pandora, do some last minute repairs and upgrades.  For the next week, I’ll be pretty busy, that’s for sure.  You’d think that after months of summer to take care of it all that I’d be all ready to go.  Think again.

However, with the threat of frosty air, I’ll be motivated to “get the lead out” and head south.    And, now that you have probably guesses the origin of  the phrase “your name is Mudd” perhaps you are curious about the phrase “get the lead out”.

I am so pleased that you asked, even if you didn’t.  Well, it’s origin isn’t clear at all.  Some say that in early horse racing, lead weights were added to a horse’s load if the jockey was below a minimum weight.  However, “boys will be boys” and some jockeys, it seems, dumped their weights during the race to gain an advantage. However, it’s uncertain if that’s the actual origin.  I guess you will have to be the judge.

This is so great! Now I am really on a roll…   D0 you know what the origin of “three sheets to the wind” is?    Well, according to the UK based site, Phrases.org, the origin is as follows,

The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation that I can find is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821:

“Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”

Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness; three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’, or ‘a sheet in the wind’s eye’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:

“Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.”

 

Well, I’ll bet that you never knew that there were degrees of “sheets to the wind” on a scale of one to three.

Ok, Ok, I’ll quit now before I drive YOU to drink.

Well, just a few (hundred) more things to do to get Pandora ready to sail. Wish me luck.  On to warmer climes…soon for Pandora and her crew.

A huge regatta with 200,000 entries?

I have been writing a number of posts, probably more than you want to read, actually, about our recent time aboard the superyacht Marie, when we sailed in the Newport Bucket Regatta few weeks ago.

Well, to provide some balance, I did some research and found a “regatta” with a lot more participants.   However, while the total displacement of all 200,000 entries in this “fleet” is somewhat less than even one in the Newport Bucket, there is certainly no less excitement from those who finance and participate in this event.

However, I doubt that there is a regatta worldwide that has more folks involved.  Here’s a short video of the “start”.  Ready?Actually, there are other regattas using the same “one design” vessels. However, I am hard pressed to imagine one with more participants.  200,000 duckies is a lot of “foul play”.  Right?  And, with the opportunity to win a new car, the stakes are high indeed.

Here’s a local news report…
Who won? Well now you know.

But wait, there’s more… In other cities.
“Bob, Bob, enough already!!!

Ok, got it.

So, if you’ve had enough of rubber duckies here’s yet another, really well done, video of yet another regatta, but this time it’s one for some really, really “big duckies”, the Palma Superyacht Cup in Palma Mallorca. And, like the “Cinci” regatta, this one has also been going on for nearly 20 years.   Good to know that there are so many events with “staying power”.Alas, I am afraid to admit this but the one in Cincinnati is probably more my speed.

However, I enjoy writing about Marie and she did sail in the 2011 Palma event.  This video was commissioned by Vitters, her builder and it’s pretty impressive.  Well, I like it…
I’s pretty clear that some regattas are for the .001% crowd but it’s good to know that there are regattas for the other 99.999% of us. Whew!!!, what a relief.

Great videos, right?  Well, eclectic at least.  And, I’ll bet that you thought I was straying from my course.  Nope…  However, I do enjoy most anything that takes place on the water.

And, as if that’s not enough, Pandora heads to sea in less than a week. Where’s Pandora…going?  Good question.  Mallorca?  I am afraid that will have to wait a bit as I’d have to cross the “pond” first, and I am not quite ready for that.  I KNOW

Brenda’s not ready…

Where’s Pandora…going… I guess you’ll have to pass this way again, if you care.  I hope you do.

 

Marie, booming fun.

It’s Wednesday morning and I need to dash off this post so I can hit the road to go shooting with a good friend of my late father.  Shooting skeet was a favorite pastime for my dad and to shoot with Milan, one of his best shooting buddies, will be nostalgic.  It wasn’t that long ago when the three of us would shoot most Wednesdays.   Well, today will be fun too, as it’s been quite a while…

Anyway, as I was gathering up dad’s shooting gear which I will use at today’s outing, I thought that it would be fitting to write about another noisy pastime, firing the cannons aboard the Yacht Marie.  If you have not read any of my posts about Marie, the 180′ superyacht that Brenda and I sailed on a few weeks ago, I should mention that the owner Ed, LOVES antique weapons.  Aboard Marie there are a number of cannons on display as well as two mounted on the stern quarters that are fired REGULARLY.

When I say “often” I mean that Ed fires them whenever he has a “good” reason, and sometimes just because the mood strikes.  Good reasons include, but are not limited to, leaving the dock, returning to the dock, passing a boat or a resort on shore and finishing a race.  Of course, finishing a race, or better winning the race, calls for a “double broadside” or firing of both cannons together.

Well, when we were racing in the Newport Bucket Regatta, a few weeks ago, the “mood struck” often.   The first time we heard Ed holler, “fire in the hole” was as we were leaving the dock for race one.  Everyone instinctively covered their ears (the “ladies” were issued earplugs of course) and BOOOM!!! the cannon “spoke”.

These cannons are not the little sort of “pop-guns” that you hear at yacht clubs shooting 10ga blank shells at sunset.  These babies fire custom packed 8oz charges of black powder packed in aluminum foil packages.  For fun, I asked Rich, Marie’s engineer, to guide me through the process of preparing the cannon for firing.

Here goes..

The first thing that Rich does is get out is the “charge”.   It’s an 80z prepared slug of black powder wrapped securely in aluminum foil and rammed down the barrel.  I don’t know how much explosive force that much black powder has exactly but let me tell you, it’s plenty LOUD and it spits out a very satisfying cloud of white smoke.  Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself.

Here’s Rich patiently posing for me.  Note the foil “package” in his hand. That’s 8oz of black powder that provides the “business” portion of the cannon. Caution:  No open flames!!!Ramming the charge home to be sure it’s well packed into the bottom of the barrel.Next, Rich jams a narrow metal rod into the priming hole at the back of the cannon.  This allows him to pierce the foil in the charge. Note the protective canvas on the cabin side.  Don’t mar the varnish.   Also note that there are ropes on the base of the cannon.  They were added after someone inadvertently put two charges into one of the cannon and the resulting recoil was so great that the cannon slammed into the cabin side.  Oops! Next, he pours a cap-full of powder into the priming hole. Then,  he fully packs the priming into the hole to ensure that there are no gaps that might lead to a misfire. Finally, a “primer” is placed into the hole.   The “primer” is a small brass tube with a flint, sort of like striker on a match.  Note the little wire loop on the primer.  A lanyard is clipped to this so it can be pulled from a safe distance.

When this is deformed, or pulled, the flint gives off a spark which lights a small charge in the tube. This “spark” ignites the powder in the primer tube and, you guessed it, BOOOM!!! or should I say BOOOM!!!All set!  All that’s left is for Ed to bellow, loud enough to be heard from one end of Marie’s 180′ deck to the other, “fire in the hole”.  Oh yeah, Rich, closest to the “action” dons a good set of ear-muffs himself.

Yank the cord. and yes, BOOOM!!!  Of course, there are the occasional miss-fires.  Not to worry, Ed has TWO cannons, so there’s always a backup.

So, there will always be a terrific BOOOM!!!  Sometimes they are fired in close quarters, like in this shot.  I’ll bet that the neighbors really appreciated the attention.Other times he fires when Marie is “at sea”.   I am not sure that his little foiling sailboat aptly called  a “moth” would fare well against Marie and her cannon.Interestingly, these little boats are REALLY fast and when they get going they rise up on hydro-foils and scoot across the water.   I’ll bet that they are tough to sail but a real thrill if you master the technique.

I wonder what the FAA would think of a surface-to-air cannon bombardment from Marie toward this helicopter?  Probably a pretty dim view, I would expect. This little red chopper circled around Marie quite a bit taking pictures.  Hey Ed, want to buy a photo of your boat?  Take this…”fire in the hole!!!” This stately yacht might be a cause for a “salute” from Marie.   What a lovely vessel.    She looked right at home in the waters off of Newport. All and all, I can’t think of any pastime that goes quite as well with sailing as firing cannons.  And, it seems that Ed has the resources, combined with a teenagers love of LOUD NOISES, and the cannon to make the best of both,  to “puncuate” his outings in a way that makes his point “loud and clear”.  What fun.  I LOVED IT!!!

Yes, today is a good day to go out and make some noise shooting skeet with Milan.  I am sure that Dad would have approved, and would have liked Ed’s toys too.

I guess that Boys will be boys on land and on sea.

 

Marie, a truly “gastroMarieque” experience.

Sailing aboard the 180′ superyacht Marie in the Newport Bucket Regatta last week was an experience, that’s for sure.  And even beyond the thrill it was blasting around Block Island Sound at 10+ kts every day for three days, the parties that we were treated to each evening were just as memorable.

As Ratty famously said to Mole in the beloved book, The wind in the Willows, “There is nothing- absolutely nothing- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”  I’d have to add to that that good food aboard ranks up there as well worth doing as well.   Yes, there is absolutely nothing that goes better with sailing than good food.  And, what tops everything is “yachting” (eg: sailing on boats bigger than yours) and eating food that’s been prepared by someone else.  Yes, that’s the best.

Well, let me tell you, the crew of Marie know great food and they know how to throw a great party.  While it “takes a village”, or crew to put on a truly great party, the heart of the operation is the chef and Tami on Marie is a great one.

Chef, or is that “Cheffess” Tami grew up on boats and it’s obvious given the way that she manages to produce great meals, one after another, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Here’s Tami looking right at home in her galley aboard Marie

The galley is the full width of the boat on starboard with the crew mess to port.  Yes, it’s a big galley but it starts to look pretty small when you see how many great dishes she turns out when things are hopping aboard.  Lunches were terrific with sandwiches served on freshly baked baguettes.  Would you care for a lobster roll and bean salad for lunch?  Well, yes!!!  I won’t even mention what was for desert!!!  Frankly, it was so decadent you should get a permit to eat one.

On each day of the race, she turned out over 50 lunches for racing crew, guests and the permanent crew.  That’s amazing and that doesn’t count snacks along the way.  Her days over the course of the event began at 04:00 and ran to nearly midnight.   At least she was able to catch a few ZZZs while we were racing between meals.  I guess she’s right at home on the water to be able to sleep while we were blasting around the race course at double digit speeds.

On the first night, after a full day on the water, the crew put on quite a feast for the “Yacht Hop”.  I wrote about this a few posts ago.  And, as you’d expect, Marie was in great form and ready to “compete” with the best of them.   What a nice spread.Even in costume.  But, more about that later.When superyachts congregate there is competition on every front.  And Tami is “superchef” competitive.   I understand that there is a chef competition at the charter show in the Caribbean and I am sure she’s already thinking about how to take top honors.

On day two we really saw what Tami and the crew are capable of when they threw a theme party aboard Marie for the racing crew and guests.  The regatta hosted a Beatles review band under the main tent so it seemed only natural that Marie would have a 60s Beatles theme too.  In fact, they won an award for the best crew theme.   Here’s the cockpit all decked out and ready to party. (you can click on the photo to make it full screen)Tami, “with a little help from her friends, er, crew”, came up with a wonderful collection of nibbles to feast on, all with a Beatles theme.  How about these to make your “fab four palate” water?

Let’s try “Let it Brie”, “Sargent Pepperoni Pizza” and “Here Comes the Sunkist Tomato Salad”.  Would you care for some “Chicken Wingo Starr”, “All the lonely Pita Chips” with “I am the Humas”.  Still hungry?  How a bit of “Veggie Dip La Di, Dip La Da”?  Try saying that three times fast…

And who could resist “Ate Days a Leek” or “I am the Egg Man” a twist on, always popular, deviled eggs.  They even had an abundant supply of dangerous sounding “LSD”,  Little Shrimp Dumplings.  OK, OK,  a bit of a stretch but fun.

How about “Love, Love Me Noodles” and everyone’s favorite “The Long Winding Toad in a hole” and my all time favorite, “I Wana Hold your Lamb Kabobs”.  Yumm…  

Of course, each “course” was labeled so you could get the full effect.  Speaking of “effects” there was plenty of punch, wine and beer for all so the effect was very nice.  Brenda looked like she was having fun too. Right?  Nice shades!

Would you care for a “I wanna Hold Your Lamb Kabob”, served with a smile. You bet, I’ll take two. Everyone had really wonderful time. And to top it off, Tami even made a mountain, or “tower” of “tie-dyed” cupcakes.  Even the insides were multi-colored or should I say “dyed”. Amazingly presented.  YUM!  

Perhaps even more amazing is that all of this party stuff and the serving trays are aboard Marie all the time.  I guess that “super storage”, for everything, is also included aboard Marie. And, as if that’s not enough, the 8 permanent crew dressed in costume for the event.   Yes, I’d give them an “A+” for this one.  A bit blurry, but everyone was by the time we got to the dance.  What fun. And, Marie looked just wonderful in her costume too. And to cap things off there were fireworks for everyone to enjoy although given everything else that was going on, I’m not sure everyone noticed the show. I can say with confidence, and trust me on this, that the food and parties aboard Marie was indeed a ”gastroMarieque” experience.  

Oh, what a night, what a party, what a yacht.  

Marie: That’s two off my “bucket list”

It’s Wednesday morning, 3AM.  actually, that’s “3-days-After-Marie”.

There is plenty of talk about “bucket lists”.   You know, the list of things that you are supposed to do before you die?  I understand that some folks get a bit crazy about making their list and then checking these items off.

Perhaps I am missing something but I don’t actually have a formal list.  However, I am a pretty practical guy and there are plenty of things I’d like to do but would never put on my list even if I had one, knowing that  I would be unlikely to be able to achieve them anyway.  Well, being in a race on one of the largest sailing yachts in the world is one of those things that I would hesitate to put on that list. as I frankly, “wasn’t expecting that” as being something that I’d ever do anyway.  Thanks to Ed, owner of the superyacht Marie, I was able to  quickly put that on my list and, just as quickly, checked it off.

Bucket list:  Sail on a super yacht.  Check…  Sail in a regatta for super yachts.  Check… Spend three days on the BIGGEST yacht in Newport Harbor.  Check… Do it all in one weekend.  Who knew?  A bucket Marathon?  Perhaps.  

Now that I think about it, there are plenty of things that I can put on my Bucket List but not a lot like these.  Sail to the Bahamas on my own boat.  Check… Sail to the Caribbean?  Sail across the Atlantic to the Med? Hmm…  I’ll have to think about those.   Sail around the world?  Not likely.

As I told a friend about our weekend of sailing on Marie, his response was simply, “Bob, how are you going to top this?”  Not sure I can, actually. However, I’ll sure try.

Marie is the “superyacht” Marie and Brenda and I just got back from three amazing days sailing aboard her in Newport over the weekend.   Marie, for those who might have missed the many posts that I have done that have mentioned her over the last year, is a 181′ Dutch built ketch from the Vitter’s Yard.   She is a remarkable yacht and built to exacting standards. Her owner Ed, made an interesting comment to me over the weekend when he remarked, about the quality of the work that went into Marie, “if it ain’t Dutch, it ain’t much”.  Well, I don’t have a lot to compare her to but my take on the whole thing is that Ed is accurate in his statement.   And, if that’s a true statement then Marie is perhaps the “fairest Dutch girl in the land”.

I have tried to describe Marie to some of my boating friends as I have shared our experience with and am finding myself at a bit of a loss.  Even when I tell them her length, 181′ I am pretty sure that they have no real clue about what that means.   And what’s more, the level of care that went into her design and construction, setting aside the ongoing up-keep, isn’t something that most can relate to.  Perhaps the closest comparison would be to compare her to a fine Swiss watch, and a 600,000+ pound one at that.  

It took some four years from start to finish to build Marie.  And I am sure that probably way understates the magnitude of the project.  However, when you look at her details first hand, you begin to understand.  While I didn’t see every corner of the boat, ship, yacht, I saw plenty and here are a few details to consider.

First, she’s massive.  Did I say that she’s big?   She weighs in at over 600,000 lbs.  Her main mast is a soaring 210′ tall.   She’s nearly 40′ wide.  Well, again, it’s hard to fathom what all this means.    Here’s a shot of her main mast with sails up. Every day someone goes up the mast to be sure that all her rigging is in perfect shape.  It’s hard to see but there is someone up there in this shot. Here’s a closeup.   Must be some view from up there.  Me, I’d have my eyes screwed shut clutching to the mast.Her winches… There are plenty and most are big enough to be a comfortable seat.  Here I am sitting on one that controls the running back stays for the main mast.  Here’s a crew member setting the running backstays under sail.  They have to be reset every time the boat tacks. And the huge masts have to be supported by massive hardware.  Here’s a turnbuckle.  It must weigh several hundred pounds.  Notice the stereo speaker at it’s base.   They blast rousing music before the race to get everyone in the mood.  I recall Michael Jackson’s Beat It as one of the more memorable tunes. It seemed just right.The masts and rigging, all made of carbon fiber, were made in New Zealand and shipped all the way to the Netherlands.  I understand that each shroud is carbon fiber and every one was fabricated to size as a single piece using a single thread run back and forth dozens of times in a continuous loop to complete the shroud.  No cutting the wire for the rig from a spool of wire for Marie.  This is Custom-Custom.   Bespoke actually, again, like a fine watch. 

The gooseneck, that connects the main boom to the magnificent piece of work.The main mast is spare in some ways and amazingly complex in others.  It’s beautiful in it’s simplicity or complex.  Art actually.   Nice mast boot.   Pandora has a mast boot.  Well, that’s about where the similarities begin and end. Speaking of art, these are Dorade vents on Marie to let fresh air down below. However, the AC was running the whole time so perhaps they feed air to the engine compartment.   Whatever they are they are certainly a feast for the eyes. Down below is light an airy with plenty of outside light streaming down through skylights port and starboard.  Theye are magnificent.  Notice the detailing in the teak decking surrounding them.  And, in spite of their delicate beauty, they are tough enough to withstand tons of seawater crashing down in a storm.  Amazing varnish. The spinnaker is a massive 16,000 square feet.  Heck, Pandora’s entire sailplan is 1/16th the size of that one sail.  I was told that pressure sensors on the rig show loads of near 70,000 lbs on the backstay. The engine room is beautiful.  I was given an hour long tour by Rich the engineer.  I’ll save the details for another post but the main engine is a whopping 1,100 HP.  What a magnificent piece of machinery.  The engine room is large and just packed from end to end with all sorts of gear.  Note the red flasher above the engine.  It’s so loud in there that the only way to know if there is an emergency is with a rotating flasher to get your attention.   Amazingly, in spite of all the noise, when you close the door to the engine room room, latch it and step outside, it’s suddenly completely silent.  You can’t even tell when the engine is on beyond a very subtle vibration in the decks.  More to come on the engine room in a future post.  So much to say, so little time…

The level of detail in the living areas of Marie is really something.  There’s even a baby grand Steinway piano.  And it plays itself if needed.  I am sure that Brenda would have loved to give it a try.   She didn’t.The main salon, quite a spot.  Note the stair rails.  They are all gold plated to avoid tarnishing.  Of course, why didn’t I think of that?Nice spot to sit and enjoy a quiet moment.  Yes, works for me.  I’ll take another Gin and Tonic please. Ed collects antique weapons and there is a miniature coat of armor in the aft hallway.  Not a great shot but I just had to include it.    Beyond is the owner’s cabin protected by a brace of antique cannons.  His cabin leads to a private cockpit.  Off limits to all but a chosen few.  Alas… I didn’t see…  Beautiful carpets everywhere. Not exactly what you’d expect to see out at sea.  Note the red leather lined shelving and the great floor lighting.  Speaking of cannons, there are two aft on deck that are fired regularly.  The engineer, Rich took time to show me exactly how they are prepared for firing.  I’ll save that for a future post.  For now, just a look at them.  I believe that they are from the 1600s. Beautiful pieces of art.Let’s just agree that Marie is magnificent in ways that defy description.    I could go on all day about her but I have to stop somewhere.  I have lots more to say than you probably have the patience to read.

Tough luck.  It’s my blog and I am going to write more although perhaps not today.  Besides, I need to get back to reality and the yard needs tending. Believe me, yard work is definitely NOT in my bucket list.

Alas, real life beckons…

Pinch me, I must be dreaming, aboard Marie…

It’s Saturday morning and I can’t stop thinking about our sail yesterday aboard Marie.  We were competing against other superyachts in the Newport Bucket Regatta.  And, what a day it was. The wind was just enough to be interesting and yet not too much to have things get hairy.  Well, to be true, I expect that the 20+ crew members on hand would have made about anything look easy.   I took loads of photos and a few great videos which I will share in the coming days. For now, I’ll just put up a few choice pieces.  This is a shot of Marie making her way as we left the dock.  With both stern and bow thrusters, she can be maneuvered sideways into impossibly small areas.  Well small by Marie standards at least.  Marie is berthed, for the series, in Newport Shipyard, home of most of the superyachts visiting Newport.    Marie was the biggest of the lot at 181′.    The owner, Ed, likes to make a statement with his antique cannons as we leave port.  Actually, he likes to make a statement of some kind with them at most any opportunity.  However, he’s very considerate of guests who are issued earplugs and warned of the impending “salute”.    We did just that as Marie left her berth for the races.   The “charges” for the cannon are made up specially for these cannons as they are antiques and not your normal type that shoot blank shotgun shells.  What a BOOM!There are plenty of crew hired to run the boat with 8 on board full time and perhaps 20 more brought in for the races.  It’s quite a production and amazingly well choreographed.   And, it has to be as they are racing against other massive yachts.  A collision wouldn’t go over well.  Here’s Meteor crossing Marie’s bow.  Meteor is about 160′ long and a real icon.  Happily, she’s not nearly as fast as Marie. The racing crew kept the stewards pretty busy in the galley making lunches and snacks.  Between sail changes, and there were plenty to keep the crew busy, food was passed up on deck and served to the crew.  Stewards, Georgia, Christen and Jen were everywhere making sure that everyone was well fed.   It was an amazing production.  Here are Georgia and Christen delivering snacks on the foredeck ,between sail changes,as we blasted along at 11kts.  They make it all look so easy.  Filet of beef sandwiches on fresh baguettes anyone?   And save room for the gooey brownies that will come after lunch for desert. Speaking of sail changes, Marie has a spinnaker that’s 16,000 sq ft.  It’s massive.  To see them jibe the chute is amazing.  On Friday evening we were treated to a “yacht hop” meaning that we could go, or hop from boat to boat and be served drinks and food.  EVERYTHING about super yachts is competitive, especially the chefs.  And compete they did.   What great fun.   The food was fab.  We were treated to lobster rolls, lobster in the shell and shrimp that could easily pass as little lobster tails.  One yacht had this amazing raw bar.  Mmm…As twilight progressed the setting was magical.  And everyone enjoyed walking the docks saying “Did you try the amazing pulled pork?  Or the fab sushi on Marie?”   Yes, yes and yes. Plenty of that an more. What a fabulous day it was.  I can’t wait for day two, and three… I hope it never ends.  And yes, it does seem like a dream in a good way, a very good way.

This Newport “bucket” flows over.

It’s Friday morning early and today Brenda and I head to Newport, in a car, not by boat, to sail aboard the sailing yacht Marie in the “Newport Bucket Regatta”  today, Saturday and Sunday.  You may recall the post that I did over a year ago that lead to our visiting Over Yonder Cay in the Bahamas last winter.  Ok, ok, you didn’t see that post, or can’t recall any others for that matter.

Well, over a year ago I was reading an article in a magazine that I get here at home and was intrigued by a guy, Ed Bosarge, who was profiled.   The article mentioned his island, yes “his” island, in the Bahamas, Over Yonder Cay as well a HUGE sailing yacht Marie.

I had to learn more so I did a bit of research (Yes, that means Google searches) and wrote this post.   That was back in June of 2013.   It seems that Ed, I hope that I can call him Ed since we are sailing with him, read the post and must have liked what he saw.

Fast forward to February of last winter and I got a comment on this blog from someone writing that they were contacting me on behalf of the owner of Over Yonder Cay and that we were being invited to visit the island and would we be interested.   Hmm… Visit a private island that rents for $75,000 a day…. Tough call…  Well, OK, we could fit it in, and actually, we were only a few hours sail away.

OF COURSE!.  We visited and it was amazing.  You can read about our visit to the island in this post.  Quite a place.

So, fast forward till a few weeks ago and I get an e-mail from Ed, the owner of Marie, inviting us to sail for three days aboard Marie in Newport.   Well, the answer of YES didn’t take long to come out.

The Bucket regattas take place in Newport and also in St Barts and these regattas are for “super yachts”.    In this case, “super” has to do with “huge”.  I can’t wait to do a post about this little outing and as I woke up early today I just had to take a few minutes to put some thoughts down.

I think that it’s safe to say that the owners of the yachts that will compete have “buckets” that are pretty full.  Well, me?  I feel like my bucket is pretty full too having been invited aboard the Yacht Marie.

Here’s a slide show of last year’s race and participants.Wish us luck, win, loose or draw, it’s going to be quite a spectacle.