Everyone aboard Sans Souci is likely to remember yesterday for the rest of their lives. Those of you who have been to the website have already seen the pictures, so this will be old news, but we had a very close encounter with sperm whales. We stopped the boat when we saw the whales swimming, and were lucky enough to have them swim directly in front of us. We had four sperm whales within a few feet of the boat. The pictures do not do justice to the experience. Everyone was blown away by the experience.
The entire fleet had an incredible day. No reports from anyone of anything except fun and silliness. Sea Fox was on the radio periodically proclaiming their status as fishing gurus. We suspect that we were being fibbed to, but I will dutifully report their claim as it was told to us. Early yesterday they caught a four-foot fish that they threw back as too small, only to have it bite again. They re-returned it to the water with a firm reprimand. Later in the day, the fish came back, but this time it just stole their lure and ran off. Sea Fox asked the rest of our fleet to try to recover their lost lure. I confess that I have expended zero effort on this quest. However, should you see a four foot fish carrying a bright yellow lure, let me know and, I’ll pass along its location.
Later in the day, a call came in from Que Linda that their espresso machine had broken and they desperately needed us to stop at the nearest Starbucks. In a true departure from life in Seattle, I realized that there actually are places on earth where it is possible to rotate through all 360 degrees without seeing even one Starbucks. Sans Souci, and our emergency medical technician St. John, did not want to see anyone go through caffeine deprivation, so we immediately fired up our espresso machine, dropped the tender, and sent a crew over to hand deliver steaming-hot lattes to the Que Linda crew, who were waiting for them in their rooftop hot tub. Yes – it was decadent and silly, but it was that kind of day…. Trust me, we’re not always like that.
St. John & Garret rush the lattes to Hal & Linda of Que Linda who enjoy them while sitting in their hot tub
To make the coffee delivery, we had stopped Sans Souci in the middle of the ocean 400 miles from the nearest land. The water was the bluest as I have ever seen it. I have no idea how far beneath the surface I could see, but would like to believe it was at least a mile. It certainly seemed like it.
Christian used this opportunity to jump off the top of the boat, which reminded me of a conversation I had with Rip just before we left land. Rip had told me about a crossing he did a few years back where they stopped the boat in the exact middle of the Atlantic for a swim. I asked if they hadn’t worried about sharks. His response: “Of course! But, we had someone circling the swimmers at all times, from a tender, with a shot gun pointed at the water.” I wished I hadn’t asked. Christian’s dive into the water prompted Garret and St. John to do the same. I know this is crazy, but my guess is that we are all going swimming when we get to the center of the Atlantic. There are no guns aboard Sans Souci, so I’m hoping our luck holds.
Looking out the window as I type this, the seas today are rougher than yesterday, but far from rough. We have perhaps 1 to 3 foot waves, and a light 10-knot breeze.
Everyone is excited that we’ll be seeing the rest of our group today. Both Emeritus, which has been running independently, and the Division 2 boats should be with us before nightfall. On watch last night, I kept hearing our Division 1 boats trying to contact our friends in Division 2 via VHS radio. There were no responses on my shift. We could at any time use our sat phones to call the Division 2 boats, but that doesn’t seem as aesthetically pleasing. Radio contact means we are close, whereas calling them on the phone says nothing about distance. Roberta and I did the 3:00am to 6:00am watch last night, so we slept through the 8:00am roll call, but my guess is that we are within 20 miles of Division 2.
We’re now 150 miles from Bermuda, and should arrive sometime tonight. The actual approach to Bermuda is difficult, or so it appears on the map, as a giant reef surrounds Bermuda and we must pass through a narrow access channel. I will be studying the maps today and will know much more about what is ahead of us later this afternoon.
My apologies for my lack of response to everyone who has sent an email, or posted a message on the website. I’ve been neglecting my inbound e-mail, but have received a number of questions and requests to say “Hi” to people. As soon as I can, I will pass along all the requests for greetings from friends and family. Where I have been able to do so, this has already been done.
Many people have asked about Shelby, our dog. One person asked whether or not Shelby could have just stayed on the boat, had we not gotten her entry permit for Bermuda. I do not know the answer to this question, but assume that she could have. The officials in Bermuda have been pleasant but firm. They return phone calls, and have gone out of their way to help us immigrate (temporarily) Shelby. They had a long list of hoops we had to jump through, but it was a fair list, and really the toughest part was the final timing. Shelby had to have a health certificate within ten days of our arrival in Bermuda. We couldn’t submit our application until everything was assembled including this final health certificate. Our fear was that we would submit the paperwork and then not receive our import permit until we were already at sea, or that our departure would be delayed due to weather, and the health certificate would no longer be valid. We were very impressed when Bermuda faxed us approval within two hours of application. My sense is that they were happy that we followed every single rule, and got it all right on the first try.
The other major Shelby question has been “where does she go?” Lots of people seem curious about this, and rightly so. This was a big question for Roberta and I. Our human children have grown and moved away, so Shelby has become an integral part of our immediate family. We perhaps take this a bit too far, and suspect we’re not the only dog or cat owners to do so. Shelby is well known to many of the restaurants in Cabo, our primary land-based home, where she usually dines with us. Getting Shelby trained was a bit of a project, and something we knew we HAD to do. She’s a Norwegian Lundehund, which is a rare, and not particularly domesticated breed. To train her was a yearlong process that started with an enormous tray on the back deck of our boat filled with sod. Shelby had a yard of her own, complete with real grass! To make a long story short, over time the grass was replaced with Astroturf, and eventually taken away completely. She now understands that the back deck is “the place.” We even asked Nordhavn if they could build Sans Souci with a doggy door. Unfortunately, they thought this was impossible, and perhaps that is for the better. When the seas are high, no one should go out alone. This way, we have a bit more control over where she is.
I’ve also received questions about Christian Fittipaldi from his fans. Someday I’ll have to watch him race, to see another side of him. Before meeting him, I had tried to imagine what he might be like. Nothing I envisioned compares to the person who is here. He is intelligent, shy, polite, considerate and very serious. Last night while the rest of us were checking our e-mail, Christian was watching a National Geographic DVD on his laptop. He is now on the back deck reading. At 4:00am this morning, Roberta and he were deep in discussion about the subtle distinctions between some similar, but different, Portuguese and Spanish words. He also seems to have no fear. When we were stopped yesterday to do our coffee delivery, he was the first to dive off the boat. While I was wondering if there sharks in the water, he was swimming. He loves the sea, and you could see the passion in his eyes as we looked at a map of the Bahamas and he showed us his favorite cruising grounds. After talking to Christian, do not be surprised if Sans Souci winds up in the Bahamas someday…. I received an e-mail asking what he has on his iPod play list. According to Christian, he listens to older groups like Supertramp, and Prefab Sprout (which I’ve never heard of), After Hours music, New Age and techno.
On an unrelated to anything note, during watch last night, I was able to chat with our son Chris, who is living and working in Tokyo. Chris loves challenges, so I just typed in our latitude and longitude with no explanation whatsoever. Within a few seconds, he responded “Boring. There’s nothing there but water.” I’m not sure why this struck me as funny, but it did. I am also not so spoiled by technology that I can’t still be awed by the idea that a dad on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic can chat with his son in Tokyo.
I received an email from one person correcting the formula I posted a few days ago. Thank you to Henry Rothberg for this clarification:
“ … I do believe that it should be stated as: Hull speed (NOT maximum speed) in knots = 1.3 x the square root of the length of the boat IN FEET at the water line. THIS formula is not valid if the length is expressed in meters/metric
– Henry Rothberg firstname.lastname@example.org … “
I inadvertently stirred up a bit of controversy when I mentioned tossing my paper plate overboard in an earlier update. Dan Streech answered the gentleman far more eloquently than I could have, so the original e-mail, and Dan’s response follow.
I LOVE reading your reports and the San Souci weblog … And I DON’T mean to sound like a “know it all” or “holier-than-thou,” but … reading comments such as
“We’ve been lucky so far – no one sick, and dinner went well. I experimented with throwing my paper plate overboard, and discovered that throwing a Frisbee shaped object loaded with food is best done downwind. Double oops…”
I am reminded that while LEGALLY, throwing paper plates into the sea may be “OK” when you reach the legally specified distance from land, I note that good sailors & cruisers THROW NOTHING over the side unless they have eaten it first … and even then it should be “treated / macerated” first, if possible.
A GREAT cruiser’s guideline: Save & hold ALL trash and dispose of it at the next port of call. (aren’t trash compactors just great !)
We can (still) legally litter and pollute the sea …but that doesn’t make it right …!
It would be nice if you could diplomatically relay this message to the entire NAR fleet … I’m not very diplomatic so I’ll leave it to you to ignore my message or relay it to the entire NAR fleet, and everyone else you meet and cruise with.
Not trying to be a pain-in-the-butt, I’m just doing my small part looking out for the seas…
Thanks for your (provocative) email. It is going to provide some interesting debate for our readers as I am going to post your e-mail and my response on the web site.
First I want to say that the pollution subject didn’t pass un-discussed on board Sans Souci. The 8 of us on board range from college student knee-jerk liberal to Bush conservative, but we all share one thing in common – a love of and respect for the sea and the need to protect it.
The experience yesterday with the sperm whales and a speechless awe at the deep blue crystal clear water was a reminder of the priceless pristine beauty that still exists and our collective responsibility to protect it.
The pollution enemy (of course besides oil and chemical spills) is PLASTIC. Wretched hateful plastic takes years or a lifetime to disintegrate. In my travels over the years, I have walked remote beaches from Borneo to the Bahamas, and my pleasure of the moment is nearly always spoiled by a Styrofoam cup, plastic bag, 6-pack holder, or worse. I have never seen a paper plate, magazine or an apple core washed ashore. I have not wanted to mention it in my reports, but we have seen numerous floating objects during this passage – all of them plastic. In an amazing confirming coincidence, Crosser just came on the radio to report a floating plastic barrel.
I have never been one to practice silly robotic PC perfection and prefer to act sensibly and responsibly. I will continue to throw paper and organic garbage into the open ocean as well as pump the holding tank without remorse. I know that these things are eaten by the marine life or absorbed easily by the sea.
As mentioned above, I am going throw this debate on to the web site and see how people react. I could be convinced to give up my paper and garbage throwing if it would help foster a better ATTITUDE towards protecting our precious seas.
P.S. – Prior to departure from Ft. Lauderdale, it was discussed in a Sans Souci crew meeting that the paper plates could go overboard but the plastic utensils DEFINITELY could not. Not one molecule of plastic has gone overboard. Also, we DO NOT use any holding tank treatments (which contain formaldehyde) aboard Sans Souci. The chemical treatments are worse than the sewage itself.
|(re: Day 13 — Almost to Bermuda) Submitted 5/21/2004 |
What website? Where are the pics? I get the daily email updates and bookmarked the sanssouci talk spot, but I can find no pics of whales.