Sunday, 17 April 2016

April 17 2016 on the hard at Canoe cove marina

yesterday, captain Gerry and first mate Lars motored Octopus 1 to Canoe cove marina in Sidney. BC. There Octy will stay, she will receive some badly needed TLC and hopefully next sailing season we will be able to enjoy her again!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

April 12 2016 SY Octopus & captain Gerry have made it to Victoria!!

MV Dolfijngracht has docked at Victoria's Ogden Point. The unloading will start shortly!

Gerry and SY Octopus I will be lifted off at approximately 14:30 local time!

There are a few options for Gerry, motor to the nearby harbor of Victoria or motor a bit farther to Oak Bay marina and dock there for a few days until Lars and maybe friend Matt will join him to motor to Canoe cove marina in Sidney. Update to follow!

Visited the Canadian Border Security Agency downtown, as I had to get the papers signed for our stuff in the container from Switzerland. In the process they wanted to see the paperwork for Octopus again, no problem. Showed Lars around the Dolfijngracht and introduced him to the captain. Invited for lunch. Cape Horn vane steering gear was damaged when unloading, but the folks in Holland say they will make good. Motored to nearby Oak Bay marina. The trip on the Dolfijngracht was interesting and I learned a lot. Was also a good deal at USD 50 per day for three square meals and a private cabin. These guys work hard when the are working and have a work ethic many companies can envy.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

April 10 2016

well, the captain has not been updating the AIS site and hence I have decided that MV Dolfijngracht must have moved North since they left and so I advanced the position.....I will check again later today to see if we have a more precise location!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

April 9 2016

motoring this point (I would think) the trip is getting a bit long in the tooth!

But they are making progress, steering West in order to be able to head North direction Victoria shortly.

Vessels avoid the low sulfur zone along the US coast, hence sail 200 nm off the coast. Takes a little longer but is cheaper in the end. Visited engine room, wow, on three levels!! The noise is something else and you would lose your hearing without serious ear protectors.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

April 6 2016 Happy birthday to me!!!

getting closer to Ensenada, Mexico

Called Brigitte for her birthday and spoke 15 minutes, now the credit on the phone is really getting low.  Arrive Ensenada 7:30 am. Just two officials. Docked with the help of two tugs. Cost 28 k/day including the tugs. Two boats loaded.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

April 3 2016

MV Dolfijngracht anchored early this morning in the bay of La Paz and started to unload some serious ships and yachts!

All should be done by tonight and they will leave again as soon as possible.

Three offloads, four vessels loaded. Got there in the morning but had to cut through some islands to achieve this. One of the officers unhappy about this, but lots of searoom port and starboard. Apparently a Russian captain had misgivings one time about leaving Japan, as the forecast was for three typhoons: he got himself fired. Only four officials boarded in La Paz. Have to say that Mexico looks a lot better organized than the way I remember it from 40 years ago: the officials give a professional impression and seem to know their business. Called my Dad at 01:30 am to congratulate him with his 99th birthday. 

Friday, 1 April 2016

April 1 2016

moving right along....currently offshore from Acapulco. ETA La Paz Sunday early morning.

Spent more time on Octopus, cleaning bilges, checking the bolts on the pedestal etc. The wind is amazing: the vessel does 15 knots, the wind is on the nose to the tune of 20 knots, making for a howling headwind of 35 knots or almost 70 km!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

March 31 2016

sailing along the West coast of El Salvador and Guatemala, now along the coast of Mexico, at the height of Salina Cruz.

Gerry will try to get off the MV Dolfijngracht on Sunday when they should be docked at La Paz. He will try to find an Internet cafe and go online, hopefully he will manage to download some emails and call Henk. Mind you, the 9 hours time difference are a bit of a handicap.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

March 30 2016

making good progress toward La Paz....where Gerry will attempt to actually get off the boat for a change!!!  and maybe we will be able to talk and not just text!

No, the only guys getting off the boat were the bachelors, something to do with food, drink and titty bars. Apparently Brigitte has bought a house near Victoria and there were some issues about the inspection. Tried to call Lars for his birthday but was unsuccessful. Also running out of units on the satphone.

Monday, 28 March 2016

March 28 2016

well, the paper work for the boat to be loaded was not in order! That is going to cost someone a hefty penny!

Sunday, 27 March 2016

March 27 2016

Golfito, Costa Rico:

1 sailboat is unloaded here in Golfito and tomorrow a new sailboat is loaded and after that it is onwards and upwards.... next stop La Paz Mexico, AGW WP (all going well, weather permitting) April 3rd!

HAPPY EASTER  everyone!

One boat was unloaded and three were loaded. We were anchored in the bay with about 50 meters between the ship and the beach, interesting! Eight (8) "officials" came on board for various aspects and had to be appeased with bottles of wine. Corruption? Nah!

Saturday, 26 March 2016

March 26 2016

Today, the day after, Gerry texted that they were fueling up at Balbao, just inside the Bahia de Panama! Within 24 hours they should arrive at Golfito, Costa Rico.

Hopefully Gerry will be able to access internet for the first time since leaving Palm Beach on March 21.

According to the AIS system MV Dolfijngracht is about here

March 25 2016

Today was a busy day!

Early in the morning I (Bri) checked to see if I could find MV Dolfijngracht on the AIS site, no luck. After that I checked the Panama canal system site and I started playing with it and I managed to look way up the North entrance and voila there was our vessel, just outside the North entrance, just "hanging around". I kept on checking and by about noon I could tell that clearly the captain had received a "good to go" call, as MV Dolfijngracht started to line up with the entrance. In short order they were inside and again the waiting game started. I checked periodically and finally, just before 10pm VIctoria time, midnight Panama time it got serious!!

I was hoping that Gerry would send a smoke signal, stand in a great spot on the fore-deck and do a little dance to identify himself, but no!

I decided to do a few print screen shots and I upload a few of the pictures.

Cost of passing through the ditch is 120k USD. The pilot is in control the entire time and, contrary to elsewhere, is responsible for the vessel, I couldn't determine which cameras were being used and waved at a few from the bridge, but obviously the wrong ones. The captain wondered whether I was allright in the head. Apparently the Americans had misgivings about handinmg over the Canal to the Panamanians, but apparently the operations run better than before. Certainly the beacons form a six lane highway at night. The ferry behind Octopus I is intended for Victoria and will perform ferry services there-

Thursday, 24 March 2016

March 24 2016

116 nautical miles to go to the Panama canal!

Transit likely tomorrow 4 pm local time! That would be 10pm in Holland and 6pm in Ottawa, and 3pm here in Victoria! (I think!)

here the webcam for the canal:

March 23 2016

I did not hear from G however I found the MS Dolfijngracht on a AIS vessel tracking system!

He can not hide from us!!!

I was allowed to board Octopus I and spent some time re-attaching the backstay, cleaning the propeller ans emptying both bilges (contaminated with fuel) into two spare canisters. The Dolfijngracht is 157 meters long and burns 30 tons of fuel per day. We will be bunkering 800 tons just past the Pacific end of the Panama Canal.

Monday, 21 March 2016

March 21 2016

Gerry and SY Octopus 1 left Palm Beach this morning on MV Dolfijngracht. First stop is the Panama Canal. Not yet sure when they get there, as soon as I know I will advise. Yes, the stay at oldport cove got a little boring in the end.

URL for a video of the loading of Octopus1

Time was spent on getting two physicals and a yellow fever shot. Had to walk 20 km for the latter but was a conditio sine qua non from the folks at Sevenstar After the first day I was told I could go anywhere, including the bridge, excepting the engine room (only by invitation). Nededless to say I spent a lot of time on the bridge
This is a url of a webcam in the Panama canal:

below is Octy nicely attached to MV Dolfijngracht

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

March 2 2016

Richard made it back to Ottawa Canada on Sunday, the get going was not easy, R&G were still on UTC minus 4 hours, whilst the taxi driver was on UTC minus 5 after a few phone calls and a few swearwords Richard was off and he made it to the airport (where he happen to look at a clock!!!!) and he made it back to Ottawa!

Gerry got busy with the Octy clean up, the boat could most certainly do with a bit of  attention, most important was the washing off of all the salt. Monday morning G had to visit the US customs people and he had some explaining to do as his crew member was already gone! Thankfully Richard entered the US Virgin island "correctly" and hence he was OK!

Now G is busy with more clean up and prep for the voyage of a different kind for Octy.

I (Bri) have added a few comments which Gerry has written yesterday. As with every other long distance trip I have been asked by the captain to "keep it light" which is what I did, as in "all is well" or "they are making good progress" etc....

if you would like to read the uncensored version, go back to February and re-read! Gerry's comments will be Italic

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Feb 27 2016

after refueling they are off again, having head wind and waves, but benefiting from the strong gulf stream current, they are moving right along....

 and they are attached to a dock at old port cove marina in Palm Beach!

Gerry's comments:

added 30 us gallons to the tank which should be enough for Palm Beach, where we arrive late afternoon, with speeds to 9.8 knots, carried by the Gulfstream.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Feb 26 2016

making progress, not fast but steady! (Head)Winds should lessen as the day goes on.

Bri's additional comments:
once again I get a text to say "help" please find us a place near Miami, we need to get fuel. I still do not know that they need fuel for any other reason than normal engine usage!

they kept on motoring, now docked at  Miami Beach marina fuel dock. The will refuel and leave again tomorrow or the day after! BUT first they will sleep

Gerry's comments:

2:30 am, we add a canister of fuel after the tank finally runs dry, but this is only good for about three hours. We add another 2.5 canisters but now aim for Miami, where Brigitte has discovered a marina close to the sea. We arrive shortly after the fuel station closes and spend the night in a slip, get some sleep and have our first shower in a while the next morning.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Feb 25 2016

plowing ahead, little to no wind unfortunately.....

but still making good progress,

Gerry's comments:

at 3:30 am we turn around the Bahamas Banks (Andros), and now have the wind  from the NW, motorsailing at 6 knots with only the full mainsail. Speed later 4.8 at 1000 rpm. Eta now friday night or saturday morning. 04:45 staysail up, engine off, speed 4.5kn. An hour later motoring again, slow progress. At 11:30 sails down, motoring straight up. Huge waves straight on (wind against current, Gulfstream), lots of water inside, miserable day. Gulfstream now carries us along at 2 to 2.5 kn and we advance at 4.5 kn.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Feb 24 2016

using the stinkpot as a means of transportation due to lack of usable winds.

To be fair, one should give the engine a bit of a workout every once in a while.

It becomes clear now, that I was clueless, I (Bri) did not know that they had a fuel problem (again) sorry for misleading you all!

Gerry's comments:

still motoring at 12 noon at 1200 rpm. We raise the spinnaker, speed 4.5 to 4.8 knots. Three hours later dead calm and we stow the spinny. Motoring again.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Feb 23 2016

they are making good progress

Gerry's comments:
good sailing during the night. Then a few gybes, then nothing. Motoring, with the attendant fear of not having enough fuel.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Feb 22 2016

waving goodbye to Haiti, the place we love to dislike, have friends who were poorly treated after a boating accident there....

G and R are pleased with their progress.

Gerry's comments:
main increased to 2nd reef, 5 knots. Slow the rest of the day.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Feb 21 2016

they are moving right along, now south of Turks & Caicos. Avoiding close proximity of Haiti (for now obvious reasons!!)

Gerry's comments;
variable winds, we sail, motor and motor-sail. At 3:30 pm the genoa commits suicide. It starts with a small rip but extends along the foot of the entire sail as we try to crank it in. We raise the stay sail and the main with 3 reefs.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Feb 20 2016

moving right along......just a bit bouncy but really fast   :)

...and here Gerry's update:

Richard returns 10 days later and we leave the following day,  on the 18th. The following morning we are approached by a RIB, with a man, covering his face, a woman and a child on board. He wants to know if we've seen Sargasso fields for him to fish under. We say, yes, but way back, and he heads back towards the Puerto Rican coast. We suspect that we were being cased but that, when they saw two males, one of whom being Richard, AND the fact that our sailboat has a canoe stern and not the usual easy access of a sugar scoop they decided to look for easier pickings.I have set up hourly satellite telephone text messages with positions with Brigitte. She phones the PR coast guard, who call us for a full description of vessel and crew.
Another problem is discovered: the primary fuel tank leaks a little and we don't know how much fuel we have left. It is situated a little higher and thus the entire tank doesn't drain, as before, but now we have to worry about fuel if we can't sail.
We sail close hauled, there is a fair bit of wind and the genoa gets cranked in  by about one third, still we move at 5.5 to 6.3 knots. Early morning we reduce the genoa to about one half.

We are getting bounced around, big waves but good progress. Less wind, so genoa 100 %, eta Palm Beach now friday 26 between 2am and 2 pm... discover that I have forgotten to reconnect the vhf antenna: no wonder we have heard no traffic. Later we change course for Great Iguana (Bahamas), wave action easier, speed 6.8 to 7.5.

OK, now here my additional comments:
G usually sent me the updates between 1 and 2 pm; as usual I made the blog update quickly and was just minding my own business when the mobile told me once more that I had a test message. Another message from G. G saying, do not worry BUT we are being bothered by a RIB with a masked man and I will send you hourly updates! 
Well isn't that swell! I went online and realized that US Virgin islands as well as Puerto Rico "were American" and there was a US coast guard station on PR. I called them via skype and told them what G had told me and they decided we would cut out the middleman (woman), they would contact G directly!! GREAT and thanks!
However this did leave me a little on edge and I have to admit I did not have the best of nights. The days are usually easy, the nights are worse. I knew that Dominican Republic could be a bit tricky as well and most certainly so could Haiti!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

18 Feb 2016

..........and they are off again!

Should be able to make daily updates as of tomorrow!

Monday, 15 February 2016

15 Feb 2016

They are still at Crown Bay marina.

Mind you, not quite true, Richard flew home to Ottawa, Canada on Wed Feb 10. He worked a few days and he will be back on board Wednesday later afternoon. At that point they will look for a weather window and get going again.

Gerry, as skipper, with 1 crew, sailed a brand new X-yacht to Saint Martin, that was an interesting experience!

Here Gerry's update:

Richard goes back to work for a week. At customs we meet the agent for the Sevenstar vessel Singelgracht, which is unloading yachts. He drives us back to the ship and we have chance to look around and meet Jay Jones, the local Sevenstar rep. A day later I see Jay in the marina with another fellow, looking glum. They confess to a problem: an brand new X-Yacht has been unloaded and the owner insists that it be delivered where contractually agreed, namely in St. Maarten.  Might I consider the delivery? I agree and wait for a second crewmember. We leave at 6:30 pm, motor through the night and the morning of the following day. Owner very happy until he discovers that the crew stays on the manifest until we can prove that we're leaving. This takes some doing and causes us to return to St. Thomas only the following day.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Feb 9 2016

SY Octopus is docked at Crown Bay US Virgin islands.
The reason for the move is the weather, the forecast showed sailable winds, but in actual fact they had to motor! Since the forecast is a mixed bag Gerry and Richard decided to turn into the bay at Charlotte Amalie, attach to a dock and see what the forecast does in the next little while!

Here Gerry's addition:

Feb 8: no excitement. We run the engine 3 hrs a day to charge the batteries, to run autopilot (he's German: Otto Helm) and plotter. Now aiming for St. Thoma US Virgin Islands on account of the forecasts from Brigitte who has arranged for a berth for us calling different marinas via Skype. The satellite telephone has come in very handy, first to find a suitable marina in Grenada and now in the USVI.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Feb 4 2016 update

Hi everyone, today was an interesting day with a few twists! Sy Octopus1 is currently docked at the Prickly Bay marina in Grenada. An unexpected leaky fuel tank is the culprit!

As captain and first mate are busy addressing the issue I just wanted to let you know that they are well. In typical male fashion, they know where they are, how they are and hence no need for communication!

Here Gerry's update:

Feb 3: trouble develop alright but of a different kind. The engine stopped (we were motor-sailing). We checked filters, changed a few, and the engine started again only to stop again an hour later. We started to go through the whole routine again and when I came to blowing into the filter's intake line I encountered no resistance. We were both incredulous as the tanks were full when we left. We finally took the floor up to look at the tank and Richard noticed that the connection between the tanks was leaking. Turned out that the idiot who installed the new tanks in Gran Canaria had used a hose that was not diesel resistant and that the hose had disintegrated. We couldn't make Grenada that day and cruised 20 nm off the coast all night. Next day we stuck the fuel intake into one of the seven diesel canisters we carry and proceeded towards Grenada where Brigitte had found a marina with fuel and a mechanic. Strangely enough the engine was consuming about 80 liters an hour (vs normally about 4) and we went through six canisters before finally the light went on. Diesel engines suck more diesel through the system than they need and return the rest to the tank, from where it ended up in the bilge and thus the sea. From that moment Richard stuck both intake and return lines into the last remaining canister and we made it to the marina. The mechanic came with a fuel resistant piece of hose the next day, we filled up the tanks and canisters  again and left.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

....and they are off once again

Gerry arrived in Trinidad on Monday January 18, he has been busy ever since, cleaning Octopus and getting everything ready for departure.
Monday, February 1 Richard flew down from Ottawa Canada to join Gerry once again. Richard has been crewing on all the long distance trips, starting in 2002 moving SY Octopus from Lake Ontario to Sidney Nova Scotia. A year later on the trip across the Atlantic, in 2012 from Turkey to Gran Canaria and in 2013/14 from Gran Canaria to Trinidad via the Cape Verde.

Tuesday, 2 Feb 2016, after some last minute jobs they were ready to leave together with an American and another Canadian sailboat. Safety in numbers!

Feb. 2 Richard arrived the day before. I had spent two weeks trying to get Octy in shape for the trip. On the day of the launch I had forgotten to open the seawater intake valve and thus burned the impeller driving to the dock. Not having changed impellers on this engine I looked for and found a mechanic to install one of my spares. He found the bits of the old one in the heat exchanger. When we tried to hoist the genoa, it got stuck near the top and we had to find a rigger in a hurry.
We left late afternoon, in order to sail away from the Trinidad and Venezuelan coasts in the dark with the lights off to avoid the pirates which had attacked two boats in December. We thought we were sailing in convoy, under radio silence, but as it turned out one of the other boats developed engine problems and turned back, while the other dropped the anchor and waited two days. This is probably why we saw no-one on either radar or AIS.
We sailed in between two drilling platforms, knowing that if trouble developed we could issue a mayday and be heard.

By noon today I (Bri) received the long awaited text message from the Sat phone announcing that they made good progress and the location.