Nov.1, Halifax

We're still in Halifax waiting for Hurricane Noel to pass or dissipate. Winds are from the South so it's senseless to go against them. We might have to wait a while. The way it looks now it will be at least Monday before we can leave.

During our absence Dad had befriended somebody walking his dogs, who invited him to this meeting of the oldest officer's club in Canada, the Royal Artillery Park Officers Mess. A lot of old Navy officers there as well, who were fascinated by Dad's stories and invited him back along with us for Friday lunch. There will be somebody picking us up at 11.30 to drive us there. Gunter and I are thrilled.

Nov.2nd

Rod Morrison picked us up and took us to the officer's mess. We drank copious amounts of beer and talked to many of the old salts. Mayo, Ivor, Bill, Tom etc. all gave us a piece of their minds and Dad was the absolute celebrity.

Frank took us to the "Sackville", a museumship corvette left over from WW2 that is being restored at the dockyard of the Department of National Defence, flashed his card and gave us the tour with more drinking at the ship's mess. Dad corrected Bill, a historian but not a veteran, on the gyro compass bit. Bill said that at that time they only had magnetic compasses. Dad told him that on the minesweeper in 1942, "H.M.S.Hound", he had to maintain the gyros. Another proof on how easily history is distorted.


Then back at the officer's mess Bill interviewed Dad with a tape recorder. Ivor joined us for dinner at the "5 Fishermen" which was superb. I had mussels and Bouillabaisse.- When we got back to the marina "Katmar" had pulled into RNSYS and we had a last beer aboard with Anke, an ex-eye doctor from Hamburg and Dieter. They had sailed from Holland, Scotland, Orkney and Faroe Islands to Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland and are now leaving the boat here for the winter.

Nov.3rd, Halifax

Storm "Noel" is starting to blow and we secured the boat as well as we could. Hans Himmelmann who owns the 51 foot Swan next to us lent us his car to do some shopping, so we took advantage of that and replenished the supplies. I woke up a couple of times during the night as it was blowing quite a bit but the dock and the lines held.

Nov. 4th

By noon we had blue skies and sunshine. Power in a lot of places, including the Yacht Club building are down, therefore also our Internet connection but our shore power feeding the boat is still on. We hear stories of containers being blown around the harbor. I cook lentils and rice in preparation for tomorrow's planned departure. Gunter rents a car and we drive to Peggy's Cove where we arrive just in time for sunset and big surf. Back in Halifax we have a nice dinner at McKelvie's on Lower Water Street.

Nov.5th

Still no wireless Internet, but the club house lets me plug in. Downloading weather info, we're probably leaving.

 

 

Bermuda, Sunday, Nov.11th

We arrived at 7.00 in St.George Harbour and cleared customs, then tied up at some make shift marina with the stern towards the dock and a gang plank to shore. It has been an eventful voyage. I wasn't able to write aboard because everything moves too much but I will take the next days to update. Stay tuned.............!

Here are the events that unfolded during our journey:

After leaving Halifax around noon we ran into some big swells that were leftover from the 50 foot waves that had come to Halifax Bay during Hurricane Noel. When I’m below eating or doing something I get queasy and can’t really eat very much. I still haven't quite gotten my sea legs back. Len let me take the 8-12 watch so I can get some uninterrupted sleep later. On deck I’m fine. Dad also does all of the cooking. He doesn’t get queasy like Gunter and I would.

Tuesday, Nov.6th
I take the watch at 8.00 and we spend a great day sailing but the night gets stormier and stormier until a severe electrical storm with winds gusting to 60 knots rattles us about.
Everything is flying all over the place, books and a fruit bowl break through their constraints and lightning all around. We’re motoring against wind and seas, our speed is choked at times to 0.68 knots. Gunter and Dad get knocked around the cabin and bang themselves up a little.

Wednesday, Nov.7th
Sails out we’re making 7.5 knots and recovering slowly from a rough night.

Thursday, Nov.8th
After a while without wind and motoring we’re nearing the Gulf Stream, It’s sunny and warm and the wind increases during the evening to 30 knots and we’re making at times as much as 11 knots under sail.

Friday , Nov.9th
We get in some good sailing, had a very enjoyable dinner in a warm cockpit although moving constantly, then again some strong winds of 40 knots at night for a certain period.

Saturday, Nov.10th
When I come on watch at 4.00 there are strong winds and the furling line is jammed around the winch, luckily with not much of the fore sail out and we’re motoring. I wait until daylight at around 7.00 and manage to free the jam and set sail again to save fuel. We have a great day sailing making 7.5 knots all day and expect to be at our way point just before turning to Bermuda’s South shore.

Sunday, Nov.11th
I come for 4-8 watch expecting to see Bermuda up close but to my surprise it is only a faint glow on the horizon off our starboard. Gunter is hesitant to go in at night but we decide to turn into the South shore as the wind is coming directly North from behind and if it increases it can jeopardize our making it at all. Especially since we still have problems revving the engine high without causing some heavy vibrations. (The consensus is that it is caused by the Max-Prop feathering propeller’s internal gears getting out of sync. We manage to correct that by going into reverse and revving, but the problem persists.) The timing is perfect as we go into St. George’s Harbour shortly after 7 in daylight.

We're happy to be on Terra Firma again and settle in. St. Georges is pretty quiet on a Sunday, the high season is over, most places are closed but I find an internet cafe. We take a walk around and find out a bit about the history and sites, have a drink and snack on a terrace by the sea, chat with the locals and tourists and fellow boaters. Around 20.00 Gunter takes us to the Carriage House Restaurant where we have another impressive culinary experience. Wahoo is the catch of the day. After a night cap back on board we settle into our bunks with a gentle cooling breeze blowing that clean sea air through the port holes and I fall into the best 9 hours of sleep that I've had in a while.

Bermuda,Monday, Nov.12th

Remembrance Day holiday and again most stores are closed. We clean the ship and talk to technicians on the phone trying to get our Nobeltec software to recognize the GPS. I don snorkel gear and check out the propeller. It looks ok but I seem to detect a little extra play in one of the blades. It seems negligible but at 3000 rpm it can make a big difference.

We take the bus to Hamilton and enjoy the tour guide bus driver who points out the sites. Old US Navy base with one of the biggest runways in the world at 10000 feet. Airport closed at night but the lights can be switched on via New York computers for emergencies, and of course residences of various celebrities hidden in the lush vegetation off the narrow winding roads. We walk around Hamilton a bit and have dinner on Front Street, then take a cab back to the boat and watch one of my "Blue Planet" episodes before hitting the sack around 2200.

Tuesday, Nov.13th

We have some shopping to do and are probably leaving today.

Tuesday, Nov.13th and Wednesday
We left Bermuda, which still has a British flair with their high tea and left lane driving, at 1700 after checking out at customs and a bit of effort to secure the 2nd anchor. We motored all night and finally started sailing under a soft breeze around 800 on Wednesday. The lack of wind is making us motor more than we’d like and we’re worried about fuel.

Thursday, Nov.15th
Wind NE building to around 17 knots. Good day sailing.

Friday, Nov.16th
Strong winds up to 30 knots right on the nose. We’re motoring and only beating into seas at 0.5 to 2 knots but at 600, during my usual 4-8 watch, the wind changes direction in our favor and I can set sails and shut off the engine to make
between 5 and 8 knots under sail. A bird landed on our deck with the nearest land about 400 nm away. It is not a sea bird and looks tired. We feed it some bread and it rests a little on our windy deck before taking off again. Dad made a valiant effort at supper, as usual, but the boat is rocking and rolling heavily and the more than soft eggs squirt all over the place.

Saturday, Nov,17th
Fitful winds. We’re trying to sail as much as possible but eventually it dies and we have to motor again. Slow progress but it is nice and warm and the water a promising blue.
We seem to be the only boat on the ocean as we see no one for days.

Sunday, Nov,18th
Another wind less early morning but around 600 we use the preventer to keep the main sail and boom out and running a decent 5 to 6 knots with a light breeze pushing us.

Monday, November 19
Our loyal ENEast wind is pushing us on and is easing our worries of running out of fuel. I sight land, Eluthera Island around 8.30.
The wind increases to 28 knots and we’re surfing towards Nassau at up to 8 knots.
The timing is perfect since we want to arrive in daylight. We have enough time left to pull into Atlantis harbor and coast the neighborhood before tying up in strong winds at the Nassau Yacht Haven around 1600. Immigration comes swiftly but customs is slow.

In the next day or so I shall sum up the trip, get into a little character development, edit some photos and post again...........

Nassau, Tuesday, Nov.20th

Since so far this was mainly a log I want to sum up this journey and tell you a little more about these different characters that make up this motley crew.
Leonard is a real inspiration and source of innumerable interesting stories. He was on the “Prince of Wales” during the famous battle with the “Bismarck”. He was trained to maintain the electrics on the sighting mechanisms of the gunnery, became an electrician and later engineer. He was on merchant ships as chief engineer for many years and worked as a surveyor, salvage expert, standards inspector and troubleshooter for insurance companies and government agencies. Finally he had his own company before retiring.

During the Bismarck battle they were not sufficiently trained, had been drafted and only quickly trained in Northern Scotland's Orkney Islands to go out and fight. The admiral whose orders they were following was on the doomed "Hood" battle cruiser, which was sunk by the Bismarck. A shell from the Bismarck hit the bridge of the "Prince of Wales" and killed all 11 people except the 12th, the Captain.
He had to wipe some brains off the intercom telephone to talk to the engine room to tell them what happened.

As they were closing the respective decks to keep the ship from sinking, Dad was the last one to wriggle out before it was closed. All the others were trapped below and went down with the ship. It was the first battle where ships were sunk by torpedoes that came from airplanes, as was the case with the Bismarck and the Repulse etc.
He then went on to get torpedoed by the Japanese in the Pacific where he swam in an oil slick for an hour before getting picked up.
He continued his Navy career on a minesweeper clearing mines for the Normandy invasion under constant barrages from German shore batteries and danger of directly hitting a mine.
Maybe realizing his talent or inclination to survive disasters he continued in his civilian career to salvage ships that were sinking or sunk, sometimes going on board by helicopter with loads of pumps and hammering in rivets as other rivets were bursting from their seams and flying around like bullets, getting ships back to port that had already been given up. He is calm and indestructible below deck where he cooks and does things in conditions that I and even Gunter would have a hard time doing.

Gunter is full of energy and has a passion for boating the like I've never seen. He's had some health issues to deal with and he's barely off the operating table when he's back on the boat going through all kinds of contortions to reach that elusive valve or wipe that hard to reach spill. One cannot help but be touched by that spirit. He constantly worries about everybody's comfort and organizes every last detail, a trait that has served him well in building up the successful business that he has. Just getting to know a boat of such complexity and to maintain it is a full time job and Gunter knows every nook and cranny, valve, switch and circuit.

Flirtation is a fine boat. She’s extremely seaworthy and sails well in all kinds of seas and wind. Her hull is Twaron ( stronger than steel) reinforced which gives her almost an overkill of structural stability, if that were possible. The anchor set up is a bit awkward and I’m glad we didn’t have to use the anchor. There is a plow anchor as the main and a Danforth as second anchor. The chain is not marked so one has to calculate the length.

The 75 hp Yanmar engine was giving us some worries because of the strong vibrations that start at 2600 rpm. We think it's due to the propeller. This can compromise the ship when you have to go against strong currents and have to rev it up.

The Raymarine Electronic Navigation System is a pleasure to behold. All the sensors as wind speed and direction, boat and over ground speed, water and air temperature etc. merge in a central box called SeaTalk and can be displayed on all different displays. GPS, electronic charting and the autopilot interact so well that you can set the tracking function to keep you on the straight line to your waypoint, eliminating any need to compensate for drift. If you get the wind right from astern or in front you can set the wind function on the autopilot to keep the wind at a certain angle and thus ensure a good sleep without fluttering sails and set an alarm if the wind changes beyond a certain degree. The electronic charting shows you where you are in different zoom levels and if you have purchased the respective charts you can get great detail. The furling sails are easy and convenient to handle. As with all sophisticated technology there is more that can go wrong than with the basic set up but the convenience is great.

Personally,I believe this trip gave me a chance to shake all that landlubber dust out of my brain and bones and get closer to Mother Nature than I’ve been in a long time. The ocean has a profound cleansing effect, whether it's the clean air or the shake, rattle and roll that vibrates throughout one's body while going watch at night and not seeing anything but total darkness, not knowing where the water stops and the air starts as they are churning together. Of course you also have the dreamy nights, swaying gently under a starry sky. It also made me feel the joy again that I felt when I graduated Seaman’s School in Travemunde, Germany in 1978 with the conviction (at that time) of having chosen the most beautiful profession in the world. It was a wonderful trip and the company was great. There are not many people one can spend 24/7 with for extended periods and we never had any arguments. Any difference of opinion was handled civilly and I think that we all have a deeper friendship and appreciation of each other than we had before. Thank you Gunter and Leonard for the experience, the camaraderie and the fun that we had. May all your voyages be safe ones!

Leonard and I ended up staying on board in the Paradise Island Yacht Club for another 2 weeks, enjoying the beauty of the island and getting some rest and relaxation. We finally flew back to Montreal on December 5th.


 

 

 

 

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