"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them intouch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…fornow.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not.Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
May 30, 2014
Position: On anchor, Moab, Utah.
Hello mis amigos, this posting is different from our usual weekly ramblings, it is dedicated solely to high latitude cruising with obvious lessons for more benign adventures. It will be similar to a magazine article but with no meddling editing. This is one person’s opinion based on fact having done most of it and when we actually haven’t done something, we have very good reason to say what we say from living with high latitude types for years.
Nordhavn 46 Egret completed a 4 ½ year, east to west, 5 Great Cape circumnavigation beginning and ending in Grand Canarias, Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. Cape Horn was the first of the Great Capes. This adventure represents less than half of Egret’s total miles over the past 12+ years of full time live-aboard. Currently, Egret is berthed in Isafjordur, Iceland and will return to the U.S. this summer.
So with those details in mind to lend a bit of credibility to this posting, let me say that Mary and I are no smarter or braver than any of you reading this narrative. We had normal jobs. We started as you have or will, at the beginning with plenty of doubts and nervousness. The first offshore trip in Egret was from our hometown of Ft Lauderdale to St Mary’s inlet at the Florida/Georgia border. That trip was nervous city, tiring, fun and exhilarating on arrival. What we didn’t know would fill volumes. After we completed the trip we were so proud of ourselves. Then we went on to make a lot of mistakes, ran aground a few times, got lost for a while but nevertheless, we wuz voyagers! And it went on from there. You will have/had a similar experience the first time you step/ed offshore.
I believe we first must describe high latitude cruising. High Latitude Cruising (HLC) is not for 99.99% of the folks enjoying boating in more reasonable latitudes. HLC is NOT TV. HLC can be, and is at times dangerous. HLC is NOT TV. HLC can be, and is at times dangerous. This is important to understand. As a captain, the only one you can ultimately depend on is yourself. Plastic isn’t taken here. You are responsible for yourself and any crew. A HL boat is expendable and you have to accept that. All that is important is the safety of your crew and yourself. This may sound harsh and it is meant to sound harsh. HLC is not a game or something taken lightly.
HLC is not a trip to Glacier Bay, Alaska, the northern tip of Norway or to Tasmania (from a staging Australian mainland port). These areas are in high latitudes but it is a coastal cruising venue with day hops or short overnight hops and places to hide and wait for good weather. In the South Pacific we met a group of people who were Pacific North West cruisers who felt they had done their homework and sailed downhill for 3k or so miles and felt they were accomplished. This was until the first real blow came along and they were terrified for their life. One lady was screaming just that on VHF 16 (WE’RE GOING TO DIE!!! Over and over). And this was mid-latitudes, not high latitudes. The difference is almost immeasurable.
Sorry, I’m getting carried away here but at times I have all but gotten on my knees to plead with folks who wrote announcing grand plans with an inferior boat not meant for extreme weather. Or even more important, it was easy to tell THEY were not ready for HLC by the questions they asked looking for information.
What we are not going to talk about here are the specifics of HLC, destinations, what boat to choose, if yours is qualified, or whatever. However, if you are reading this you may begin to become interested in HLC or reading just out of curiosity. The closest to answering a question about a singular HL cruise, is a 4 part series I wrote in Voyage of Egret a few years back. (www.nordhavn.com , Voyage of Egret is on the home page.) A reader on the Nordhavn Owners site was good enough to dig up the information. This link will take you to the series. http://www.nordhavn.com/egret/captains_log_sept10.php You will have to putter around a bit to find the information within Egret’s usual cruising posting, but it’s all there.
The series is my personal dream trip that begins in the Falkland Islands, continues to South Georgia Island, Elephant Island, South Shetland Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula and returning across the Drake Passage, past Cape Horn to Puerto Williams, Chile. The trip is basically a reverse of Shackleton’s epic voyage to save his crewmen. The posting was written with a theoretical boat as well. What I chose was a N56 Motorsailor “without the silly stick and more fuel”. I chose this boat for its low profile, its extreme efficiency and with the ability to carry the fuel load for the trip including the main, generator burn and diesel heat.
Egret lived full time on the Beagle Channel between Ushuaia, Argentina* and Puerto Williams, Chile for a year. During this time we learned a fair bit from first of all, Egret’s trip down the Argentine coast, rounding Cape Horn twice (the Horn was easy with great weather forecasting and nearby staging) and most importantly for this proposed voyage, gaining the confidence of the adventure charter sailboat captains once they learned Egret was not invading their charter turf. They gave us priceless information you can’t easily obtain including hand drawn sketch charts of the Antarctic anchorages.
*The southern most city in the world. 80nm from Cape Horn.
As important, or even more important than what model you choose is you and your crew being prepared mentally, physically and with the knowledge to voyage in extreme conditions. In HL areas, there is little help. Because it is HL’s, invariably there is a small population base even when you can land safely. HL areas have little or no recreational boating* and support service only in areas of commercial fishing. So what I’m saying is; you are on your own for the most part to fix any boat issues. You must carry extensive spares AND KNOW HOW TO FIX WHATEVER. I don’t believe many if any HLCers are qualified mechanics by vocation. However, today’s boats are much better than ever before and the electronics are much better as well. However, things happen and trust me they do so you must be prepared.
*A good example of a high latitude, small population country is Iceland. Iceland has 45 registered recreational sailboats in the entire country. Do you think there is dedicated support service for the short sailing season with this few boats? Nope.
Typically, it isn’t the big things that fail. It is small items. However, something as simple as a fridge door opening in big seas can cause more grief than a few spilled goods. What if glass breaks? What if during cleanup someone get’s cut? What’s next? Its really rough weather, you are tired because of the weather and now you are down one person plus the person to tend to the injured. Once that is resolved the tiredness really sinks in which leads to poor decisions. And then it get’s worse. Who is in charge? Can they deal with extreme weather AND take care of business. And this is just a fridge door opening. What happens when something happens in a hot engine room? Typically it is the captain who deals with the problem because he or she knows the most. A hot engine room in way bad seas isn’t much fun. It saps your strength, physical and mentally very quickly. What’s next? Who is making decisions? And so it goes. YOU MUST BE PREPARED FOR ANY OF THIS TO HAPPEN BECAUSE THERE IS A VERY GOOD CHANCE IT WILL HAPPEN. HLC is not TV. These things really do happen. They have to us as described. However, we had the skills built up over time and we were prepared. Even then it wasn’t easy.
So let’s talk about cruising skills. First we must say that all boating, from small skiffs or sailboats on up to a proper world voyager, has it’s merits. Skills learned in nearly any boating venue contribute to your overall knowledge. Hands-on knowledge can’t be bought, learned from the internet, or by reading magazines. It must be earned. These venues may provide the spark to go cruising and give you some text knowledge but it is up to you to put this knowledge to practical use. If you don’t feel comfortable working on your own boat early on, pay to watch a mechanic and have them explain what they are doing and why. Then try it yourself. If you goof up, no harm done because you are near help.
As far as operating the boat during your offshore education, don’t do just the easy stuff. Test yourself in uncomfortable seas (but not dangerous seas) continuously with the ability to run to shelter when it goes all bad. You will be surprised how fast your comfort level increases if you do just that, test yourself as if your butt depends on it. It does. Years of PNW cruising or Med cruising, Scandinavian summer cruising or U.S. east coast or whatever is a big help but it only helps a little when it comes to HLC.
In Egret’s personal case, we had 15 years of pretty intense fishing in small boats, a few Bahamas cruises and later a small Grand Banks which all contributed to our personal skills. Next we took delivery of Egret and went full time cruising moving nearly constantly for 2 years with cruises as far north as Nova Scotia and south to the Dominican Republic. This included an 1100nm offshore run from Ft Lauderdale to Nantucket. It was our first offshore run of any consequence and believe me, we were thrilled landing in Nantucket. Next we crossed the Atlantic, cruised the Med for 2 ½ years then re-crossed the Atlantic to Brazil. All the while we did our own maintenance. This was barely enough cruising skills to attempt the Argentine coast with no place to hide for over 1,000nm, shallow water, extreme current driven by up to 35’ tides and plenty of wind. Without the years of fishing offshore in rough winter weather and other cruising, we would not have had the skills. Two years aboard Egret alone was NOT enough to tackle HL’s.
If you take the time to go back in time and read VofE’s postings from late September, 2006, until late December, 2006, you will read real time what the Argentine coast is like. If you spend any time reading VofE you will see we present things matter of factly without drama. At times it wasn’t quite so matter of fact. Our goal as always is to educate the new generation of boaters, not scare anyone but present the facts as we see them so they may make an informed decision to do what makes them happiest. The facts as we see them with experienced eyes and seen by a newbie would be very different. Sorta like the first time you drove the family car by yourself and today.
I’m going to describe three real life episodes that happened during Egret’s HL cruising. The first was the first storm on the Argentine coast. Egret was 60nm offshore in 60 meters of water, plenty of current and 25 knots on the port stern quarter with 4-5’ following seas. It was a nice comfortable downhill run. When the first storm hit, the seas changed within a couple minutes from la di da – ho hum this is nice, to something very different. (I’m not going to be a drama queen and say overused, unappreciated words but you get the picture.) Within these minutes we rounded up into the waves and faced the seas. The waves were Huge and super tight. Every 9th or 10th wave had no back. Egret would climb until the wave no longer support her weight then she would free fall submerging to the bulwarks. Her portlights were well under water. At one time she was running at 1630 rpm matching rpm to hold station and the GPS showed minus three tenths of a knot! The wind was screaming! It was wild!! This went on for 12 hours. There were 3 more storms, each 12 hours. We were lucky. Egret had zero damage, not even a gelcoat stress crack. A lesser boat could easily have ruptured their hull to deck joint, loose its rigidity and be in mortal danger. Belgian sailing friends on a low profile steel sloop had their welded steel stern rails bent to the deck, their dinghy washed overboard and so on during the same storm.
The next incident was a 7 of 9 day slog from South Island, New Zealand to Tasmania. It was my worst weather forecasting ever. The forecast was for no more than 15 knots. It was, for a few hours. The seas were staggeringly huge and tight. A few waves broke on the flybridge. The only good thing is the seas were on the bow. Had they been from any other direction, that is where Egret would have to go. Any less than bow to would mean a roll job.
The third incident came off the east coast of South Africa, south of Madagascar. Egret left the French island of Reunion with 4 sailboats. Three of 4 were knocked down and had their dodgers and solar panels ripped off. Egret barely had spray on the pilothouse glass. We routed ourselves differently than the conventional route the 4 sailors had taken. We based our routing decisions from intuition and experience, not what was passed from sailor to sailor. If you, your crew and your boat are not prepared to face any of these incidents or worse, don’t even think about HLC. When you are ready, you’ll know. Just remember, you can never fool yourself.
These are real life incidents and we consider ourselves Chicken of the Sea. Actually we borrowed the words from 2 time circumnavigators under sail, the second of which was a very intrepid, west to east 5 Cape Circumnavigation. They call themselves Chicken of the Sea and they continually preach safety at sea and have for years. We do the same as well, more on safety later.
It takes years of hands on cruising including at least one or two sure enough ocean crossings to even think of attempting HL’s, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. Any HL voyage must be researched to the smallest detail. Two musts are Jimmie Cornell’s, Cruising Routes of the World, and hours spent printing information from www.noonsite.com. Noonsite is a great resource with postings written by cruisers for virtually the entire world. Blogs like VofE with real life, real time experiences are priceless. VofE technical items and cruising details can be mined and printed for study. Joining Seven Seas Cruising Association gives researchers a big head start. SSCA produces a monthly Commodores Bulletin, written by cruisers, for cruisers without a venue. These short articles cover the world and they are priceless. SSCA has CD’s available of the articles which can be researched by geographic areas.
Once you have completed a 1,000nm or more ocean crossing in a 70’ or smaller boat under power or sail, you qualify to join OCC, Ocean Cruising Club based in the UK. OCC has a yearly handbook with articles from members’ cruising destinations from around the world. This too is priceless for planning. Both organizations have volunteer Port Officers in locations around the world. The Port Officers are there to help their fellow cruisers with whatever.
Let’s talk about safety. HLC can be made as good as it can be with careful planning. For example, you wouldn’t plan a trip to leave Newport for Bermuda to the Caribbean during August, September or October. It would be risk taking as you know with a chance of non-survivable weather. However, if you took the same trip in May or June, no problem. The whole world is 6 months on and 6 months off for responsible cruising. HL’s has a much shorter window of settled weather. You must choose carefully. Everything must be planned with ZERO SCHEDULE to allow for weather opportunities. A schedule is the most dangerous thing on a boat. Never, Ever take a chance with weather in HL’s. You may push weather a bit in mid latitudes but Never, Ever in HL’s. Ever. You get the picture.
In addition to weather safety, in addition to boat prep we won’t go in to, we feel it is best to have at least one extra crew aboard. Obviously choice of crew is paramount. A good crewperson must be able to eat anything, have an iron stomach, be able to handle weather and get along with everyone. There can only be one captain on board. A cruising boat is not run by committee. A crew person must be able to accept that. Did we say get along with everyone? In a confined space for weeks or months on end? With Everyone? Accept the captain’s decision? Every time? Egret has been lucky with crew without any incidents. Other cruising friends have told nightmare stories. Particularly in HL’s, a crew person has to be someone special.
What crew buys you is 4 hours of sleep a night or 8 hours during 24 hours (with 3 crew). A crewman also buys peace of mind if one or the other is disabled for any reason, it is easier to have two watch standers instead of one person trying to do everything. Normally aboard Egret, the crew is assigned the difficult midnight watch. This is to keep the captain in good nick along with Mary who obviously has tons of experience and could take over if something happened to me. We tell our crewmen their only responsibility is to watch the radar on their watch, wake me if there is the slightest incident and get along. It’s pretty easy.
Watches. Mary and I tried different watch schedules over the years. What we evolved to is something we interpolated from Swedish sailboat friends. They set an egg timer for 15 minutes, which is the shortest time a vessel out of radar range could possibly close on their position. The key here is, the egg timer takes the responsibility of waking the watch stander so they may instantly return to sleep after a radar check, AIS check, horizon sweep, etc. We took the egg timer’s responsibility and transferred it to the watch stander. Egret has never-ever had a moment in time where there wasn’t someone on dedicated watch. Ever. However, the routine now is the watch stander says to the off-watch, I will wake you when I’m tired. This takes the responsibility off the off-watch to wake and get ready for watch. Sleep comes quickly without that responsibility. When it is just Mary and I on passage, she takes the tough midnight watch and gives me around 4 ½ hours sleep. On my early morning watch the sun rises and I could go forever so she gets 5-6 hours sleep. This works well for us and even better with a third person. We had 2 crew for the first Atlantic crossing which worked well because they were such great guys, but since we only had one other person. Egret is a small boat and it is easier with one. If Egret were a larger boat with more room, 2 or 3 extra would be fine.
Weather and communication. We struggled for years with SSB and gave up. However, what we have works and it works every time. We switched to an Iridium phone with an external antenna. This works well, anywhere in the world. The Iridium phone allows for text e-mail, free SMS between Iridium phones, voice communication 24/7 and access to weather files.
We use three sources for weather. With internet availability for coastal work and long range looks at weather patterns, we use www.passageweather.com. This is a free service based on NOAA information and it is fairly accurate. We have found close to shore, passageweather is not accurate. The weather close to shore is usually more benign than forecast. www.ocens.com is our go-to weather via the Iridium phone for short term forecasts. It is quite accurate but we found we needed to add 5-10 knots to the forecast in the South Pacific. For the long hauls, you can’t beat professional weather forecasting. Since the get-go we have used OMNI Bob, Bob Jones, Ocean Marine Navigation, email@example.com (e-mail). Bob can look way in the distance for patterns that may affect the voyage days down the road.
Cruising guides. We’ll only mention a few we are familiar with and have used ourselves. If Patagonia is your destination, Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Nautical Guide is the go-to guide and the world’s best cruising guide. The authors put 8 years of their lives into this masterpiece of information including history, flora and fauna of Patagonia, not to mention 400+ dead accurate anchorages in the Chilean Channels, the Argentine coast and the Cape Horn area. The guide is a labor of love that serves such a small audience there is no monetary return. Georgio and Mariolina took much of the danger out of Patagonian cruising with their effort. Buy one today even if you think you may or may not make the voyage in the future to support their tremendous effort.
If your destination is to the north there are several guides. CCA, Cruising Club of America publishes guides to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. These guides are written by CCA members and are the best for the regions. For even higher northern latitudes there is a new publication from RCC – Royal Cruising Club (the UK equivalent of CCA) Guide to the North Atlantic. The new guide has many updates and also includes the NW Passage, Greenland and Iceland.
I’ll briefly mention expense. Most people believe that fuel is our biggest yearly cost. Egret has averaged something over 6,000nm per year for 12+ years. She gets roughly 3nm/U.S.G. At a worldwide fuel price of $5USD/USG (its actually less) it means she burns $10,000 USD/year in fuel, not including generator or diesel heater burn. Some years like when Med cruising the fuel cost is less but wintering costs are more. When making long passages, fuel costs are more but wintering costs are less. So it averages out. However, flying from far flung places is expensive. Serious repairs in far flung places are expensive if you don’t have spares to fix whatever. I figure it at 4-1. Four times the cost, EVEN if you can get it. Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Greece and others are near impossible to have parts flown in. This said, we found you can carry anything thru the nothing to declare lines around the world. One time we carried 350lbs of Stuff thru the nothing to declare line in Istanbul including a complete diesel heater.
Now let’s look at the Big Picture. HLC is one of the highlights of our boating years. However, it was just one highlight. It was difficult at times, exhilarating, did I mention difficult, cold, expensive, scary, super fun with unbelievable scenery and hiking but the largest gain to ourselves personally was meeting such an intrepid group of peer cruisers along the way. It’s always about the people. This is a very exclusive club where respect is earned and not bought. The experiences can never be taken away.
We mentioned that HLC is just one highlight. You do not have to embark on some difficult journey to have fun. Cruising is not a competition. After all, having fun it is what cruising is all about. Whatever makes you happiest is what you should do.
This is what we did to continue the fun. After the circumnavigation, from Grand Canaria, Egret raced back into the Med. We spent time in Gibraltar we never did before even though we had been there twice. Egret re-visited Mallorica in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain. It was wonderful. Corsica, then south to Southern Italy, the island of Ponza and even circumnavigated Ponza in a rubber boat with a 3hp outboard. We paid a deposit to winter in Southern Italy. Unfortunately I had a medical scare so Mary and I returned to the U.S. on a delivery type trip. Seven days straight from Italy to Gibraltar, day and a half turn around, 8 days to the Azores, 11 days to Nova Scotia then fast tracking down to Florida. However, we still, somehow, would like to get back to the Aegean Greek Islands, more time in Southern Italy, did we mention Scandinavia where we’ve never been? So you can see its all good. It’s really good. It is a big world with a lot to see. The only problem is time and money. I will say money is just money, no biggie – you spend what you have. However, time is priceless.
Give these words some thought. They are offered freely without venue. And from experience. We wish any of you with plans to HL cruise in the future good luck. Actually, you make your own luck.
Now that we’re on a roll and very excited about rejoining Egret in less than a month, we’ll do another VofE special on World Cruising. There is a very big difference between world cruising and high latitude cruising. You’ll see.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
May 22, 2014
Position: On anchor, Buena Vista, Colorado
Hello mis amigos, we are going to begin with an unsolicited commercial for Geico Insurance Company. If you remember, we had a small problem with Rubi, our 2013 Jeep Rubicon. Rubi was declared a total loss from a series of photographs we sent to the adjuster. The accident and claim was our worst nightmare because as you know, a car depreciates around 30% the first year of ownership then the value declines more slowly after, so naturally we felt we were going to take a big hit (Rubi was 15 months old). We kept Rubi PERFECT with fresh wax every few weeks, no dirt beyond a couple days, etc., and we planned to keep her for years. To make a long story short, Geico not only stepped up the plate way beyond our expectations; they presented a settlement that is almost too good to be true. All the while we were dealing with caring and professional staff that took away any apprehension. Bottom line: we have paid more for a single camera lens than our settlement amount and the difference for a 2014, 4 door (not 2 door like Rubi) Jeep Rubicon. It’s amazing. We will never leave Geico as long as we live. And, I asked if they have boat insurance. They do.
We shopped Jeeps via the internet from Utah, to nearby Colorado to Arizona. We found Gracie (new Jeep) in Phoenix, Arizona. This transaction went as well as the Geico settlement. We talked to a number of salesmen at different dealerships once we located a prospective Jeep, and only one came thru as we asked. All we wanted was a bottom line; no sales pitch, no add-on’s, no nothing but a cash price out the door with an out-of-state delivery. Only one salesman did what we asked and didn’t try to dance. Mike Phenix, from Earnhardt Chrysler – Jeep – Dodge – Ram in Gilbert (a suburb of Phoenix 909 380-9116 Mike’s cell) was professional, gave us the information we wanted and stuck to what he quoted right down to closing. After closing at the dealership, Mike drove a company car, Mary drove Gracie and I drove the Blue Flame (rental car) to Blythe, California (nearest out of state town), met with a notary who stamped the papers to keep everything legal for an out of state delivery*, and off we went back to Moab, Utah.
*We will register Gracie in Florida, same as Rubi.
So as I write this; Gracie is getting the first of her upgrades, aluminum bumpers and Rubi’s new winch. Because she is heavier than Rubi we also have a mechanical brake system being installed that works as a surge brake when towing. The system literally applies Gracie’s brakes via a cable connected to the brake pedal that is activated by a spring/lever combination in conjunction with the tow bar to Bubba. There are more upgrades coming when we return to store Bubba for months as we return to Egret in Iceland.
Summer will be here soon and all of our cruising buddies in the Northern Hemisphere are on the move or will be on the move. Spring is always an exciting time of the year for boaters. The anticipation of this year’s travels are driving the ‘can’t wait to get started’ meters to near tilt. Friends on a larger N have giant plans for this summer. We hope to meet in Greenland as we pass, they heading east and we west, so that will be not only fun but also pretty historic. Not only that, G&M have a new Way Cool Toy. Yup, a helicopter drone with a Go Pro camera. We saw videos of them under way in the Abaco’s (Bahamas). Can you imagine shooting your boat under way dodging bergs in the fjords from a couple hundred feet up? We would have killed for one of those toys last year navigating a 3-mile winding channel in East Greenland. It was the most difficult and most exhilarating 3 miles in Egret’s travels. We didn’t know if we could make it thru the ice but we kept at it, at times with one foot on the beach. It was pretty wild. With bow and stern thrusters as G&M have, and if the ice is a little less dense, they too can do the deal AND video at the same time. Of course with their weight, perhaps they can move the ice even if it’s a bit dense. Now that would be cool.
One thing we missed was the N. Rendezvous and the 10 year anniversary of the NAR – Nordhavn Atlantic Rally, in Dana Point (Calif). A number of rally participants showed up for the get together. It would have been great fun to be there and swap sea stories. The rally was one of our most memorable times aboard. It was a Big Deal for all of us, particularly because none of us had captained or crewed a boat across the Atlantic. As the rally moved along from port to port we all felt a special kinship growing, culminating in Gibraltar. This was the first ever powerboat rally across the Atlantic. Our hat is off to every Captain, Admiral and crewman who made the voyage and every single one knows what they did and he or she will never forget. It was an incredible adventure.
Unfortunately, Mary and I had signed up for a Jeep event before the dates of the NAR reunion were announced. However, with Rubi’s demise, we had no Jeep so we thought seriously about making a mad dash for Calif but at the same time we were dealing with insurance issues and couldn’t. It’s a shame.
Now let’s talk about Egret and our coming plans. (Of course you know this is a shameless commercial with a venue, perhaps for the first time ever (venue).) As you know, Egret is for sale. We have had a number of inquiries including several from Europe but we feel the opportunity to sell our precious quickest is back in the U.S.
We have been getting ice reports every 2 days or so. So far, it looks grim but we are still early in the season and we are roughly 2 months from a near-sure time to pass thru Prince Christian Sound in the southern tip of Greenland. Right now there is heavy ice a few miles offshore of the coast, to the coast so I’m sure the Sound is plugged and today’s report also shows ice wrapping offshore of the south west coast.
We plan to move Egret from Isafjordur in the West Fjords to the yacht club in Reykjavik (Iceland’s capital and largest city). We plan to depart Reykjavik on July 15th, weather and ice permitting, for the 4-day hop to East Greenland. We will most likely spend a week re-exploring Greenland then will make the 3-day hop to Labrador. Where we land in Labrador we don’t know just now. It must be a Canadian port of entry but we don’t have the guides here in the States to see what would be best.
In Labrador we will re-visit the out-village we spent 3 days exploring last year. This particular out-village has around 50 homes in various stages of decay. Almost without exception, the traditional fisherman’s out-villages (no land access) are now defunct. Within a few years the only evidence of these out villages will be photographs and the memories of their former residents. The cod are gone and the coastal fishing villages can no longer support themselves. The families were paid a nominal sum by the Canadian government to relocate to land accessible centers where they may find employment and obtain basic governmental services.
From Labrador we will be fast tracking along the west coast of Newfoundland for Halifax or Lunenburg (Nova Scotia) then off to Maine for a bit visiting friends and taking a peek at the great cruising down east. We plan to have Egret available for viewing in Maine, Boston, and Charleston, probably Ft Lauderdale or at least somewhere in South Florida.
The U Tube link at the bottom of this posting has photographs of Egret and our e-mail address (once we leave the States we will have intermittent internet access).
Mary and I left Moab with Bubba towing Gracie for a hop over to Jeeping friends’ home between Albuquerque, New Mexico and Santa Fe (NM). We left late so the first night we stayed in a Wally Mart parking lot, our first time ever. That was interesting. The Only highlight is other Jeeping friends pulled in in their motorhome towing their Jeep on the way home to Georgia. So we still kept up the happy hour routine and yacked until dark.
We spent 3 nights with Gene and Cheryl taking day trips here and there including Santa Fe. Santa Fe is a way cool town of around 70,000 folks whose past is Spanish, beginning with Coronado in the 1600’s. The town center is quite old and these days it is thriving with small shops and restaurants. We took a few snaps in town. Being an artsy town we took artsy snaps. Here’s a few.
So we left G&C and took the day trip north to Buena Vista, Colorado. Mary and I were here years ago on our last family driving vacation with the 2 boys until relatively recently in New Zealand and again in Florida. BV is a small, main street town that explodes in summer with tourists and motorhomers. There is good Jeeping in the surrounding mountains and around 200 or so show up every year for a couple months.
Yesterday, Mary and I took our first driving trip out of town. This photo of Gracie was taken at the top of Cottonwood Pass, around 12,000 feet or so. The pass was closed but we talked to the operators who were clearing the snow off the dirt road on the west side of the pass, and they said the pass should be open today (Thursday). However, it rained big time last night with hail so in the high country that may mean more snow or worse, ice. That wouldn’t be much fun on a shelf road with giant drop offs. And no guard rail. On the trip back down to BV we passed this beaver dam. In areas with beavers, the aspen trees were mostly gone with nothing but telltale stumps left. However, they don’t get them all.
Later in the day we returned back to town and took another dirt road that paralleled the Arkansas River. River rafters rule here. INSERT PHOTO 6076 HERE. There are rafting companies up and down the river who transport the rafters upstream in school busses loaded with rafts, drop them off and they work their way down the river rapids to the pick up point. We did this years ago with my sister from Denver. Great fun.
Gracie has her first upgrade as you see in the photograph. She has the aluminum bumpers we ordered for Rubi, plus Rubi’s winch. A week from today she gets her next upgrade, a lift to raise the body to help clear rocks. That will be it until we return west, whenever that may be.
We heard from Maik who has been watching our precious back in Isafjordur (Iceland). During the entire time we have been away, Maik has been aboard every couple days. Other than adjusting the dock lines a couple times, Maik has done nothing more to keep Egret safe. We found this to be true ourselves here and there. She just takes care of herself.
Maik has also spent nights aboard with his 5 year old son, Felix. Maik said recently there isn’t anything in Egret’s engine room that Felix hasn’t seen or asked about. So when Felix grows up perhaps he can take Egret for a spin around the world. Hopefully the next owners will as well so that would make at least 3 loops. Now that would be cool.
I wrote the majority of text a week ago and since then the ice in southern Greenland has begun to break up. This is the latest ice report. You can see the fjord (Prince Christian Sound) at the southern tip where boats transit from E to W or vice versa. Once the coastal ice clears, the Greenlandic weather service sends helicopters to survey the passage. We have those reports coming as well.
The ice eggs show the percentage of ice covering the water. The heaviest is 9/10ths, from the chart you may also see 5/10ths and some lesser. Skilled ice veterans can push thru 3-4/10ths, however we Are Not Skilled in ice so 1-2/10ths would be our limit, and even that would be for short distances. I’ve said it a hundred times, we don’t take chances. Ever.
So that’s it for this posting. We are getting excited about returning to Iceland. We really enjoy Iceland and only wish we would have a car to use for the shoulder seasons before winter. Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries we visited in our travels.
Happy Memorial Day to we Americans. Let us never forget those who serve and served. And particularly to those who gave their all so we may enjoy the freedom of every American.
May 5, 2014
Position: On anchor, Canyonlands Campground, Moab, Utah.
Hello mis amigos, the Egret crew is still in Moab, Utah in the middle of red rock country. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, the American South West on a north/south corridor beginning in Tucson, Arizona north to Moab is one of the most scenic areas in all our travels. What lies farther north we don’t know because it is waiting to be explored by ourselves and we can’t comment.
Today for example, off we went first to Newspaper Rock, a communication board for Native Americans “from pre-BC until the 1300’s”. The first photograph is an overall shot of the pictographs carved into the rock years ago. A rock overhang protects the etchings. The second photograph is a detailed shot of ancient story telling.
However, just down the road is a small unmarked pull-off we read about on the internet, saying there are extensive pictographs along a canyon valley to the south. The directions were somewhat vague but we knew we had to cross a small stream so we parked and began looking for a trail leading to the stream. We found a faint trail and followed it down, rock-hopped across the stream and headed up the canyon along a wash then climbed to the sheer rock faces at the top of a hill. Did we find the mother load of undisturbed pictographs or what? As far south as we walked along the rock face, we kept finding more and more pictographs around every turn. So we played like kids pretending we were the first modern folks to come across these antiquities. Of course we were following footprints along a narrow footpath so we weren’t the first.
The highlight was coming across 3 flute players etched into the rock above the usual etchings of mountain goats, deer and coyotes. They wuz jammin’. Of course you can tell they wuz jammin’ if you know anything about antiquities. (only two jammers made the image)
After the rock session, off we went to Canyonlands National Park at the end of the road. But not before a hamburger in the funkiest, off-grid café’, RV Park and gas station, then off for a quick tour of the park. Like Arches National Park a few days back, we barely left the car because we were in a rush and it was mid-day so the light was too harsh for descent photography. However, Canyonlands was spectacular as you might expect and deserves way more time.
As we mentioned, Arches National Park got a visit where we walked the ‘primitive trail’ around 3 arches then back to the car. This park too deserves more time. We framed the image to make the opening appear as South America.
One weekend there was a car show that is a yearly event in Moab. There were hundreds of cars from hot rods to modern cars to trucks to rat rods and others. The first shot is of a 50’s couple displaying their early 50’s Buick complete with leaves in the engine compartment. He worked all night to get it running and did a red-eye drive to Moab showing in time to make the event. One ol’ tyme’ hot rod was the Atomic Blonde shown here.
In the days in-between we did a little Jeeping with our new group of Jeep friends. This photo is of MS at a lunch stop. How about the view, eh? Of course MS is always beautiful.
If you remember the words: “Houston, we have a problem”, you know it was the understatement of the last millennium. In our personal new millennium, we could say, “we had a small problem with Rubi”. So let’s just say that I made a mistake and Rubi did a 360 roll landing on her wheels. OK, so she sorta got mushed and we have been in the throes of working out the details with Geico. No personal scratches, no problems. Her bones left today for her new home in Arizona with an undecided fate.
So that’s the not so good news. The good news is when Geico* gets off their butt and fires off a few pesos, Gracie will enter our lives. Gracie is a 2014, 4 door Jeep Rubicon we found in Phoenix, Arizona and have sent a deposit.
*Geico has eased our apprehension with a professional and friendly staff. The delay is because our claim is above the first two agent’s pay grade and we have to get final payoff approval then work out the payment, title, etc details asap. More good news is this is my first auto claim ever. So Geico, like many insurance companies today have a ‘forgiveness policy’ if you qualify so your rates don’t change. So that’s good.
In another life, not on the street, I have wrecked a number of cars, some repairable, some not. Every incident was a disappointment but nevertheless we don’t dwell on coulda/shoulda and move forward with enthusiasm for the next adventure. This is like that. No big deal.
As far as Gracie becoming a knuckle dragger instead of a silly stock Jeep, we have to wait because we are out of time to do boy things to the Jeep. However, that’s good news because it won’t be long we’ll be back aboard and we both can get a dose of salt once again. Gracie will have to wait. However, we have a List.
Speaking of salt, just for the heck of it take a couple minutes to re-visit the October 17th and 21st, 2008, VofE postings (in that order). I did the other day for another reason and something sunk in that we have known all along. After reading the two postings I realized what a resource VofE really is. VofE isn’t, and never has been about us really, it’s about helping all of you make informed decisions if long distance cruising is for you. If it is, and you want to visit any areas between Turkey,around the world and back to the U.S. via the Med, then on to Iceland, this information is accurate and priceless. Of course the inspiration is one person’s opinion but nevertheless, the balance of at-sea and technical items are accurate and without venue.
So this wraps up another VofE posting. We’re getting anxious to get back aboard our little white fiberglass ship, get her spotless once again and ready for sea. It won’t be long.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.