At noon today, I thought I would have nothing to say in today’s report.
That’s when a call came in from Goleen trying to suck us into another water balloon fight. I said yesterday that I was “beyond” water balloon fights, and wanted to find some new pass-time. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that, and within minutes I was back in the action. Things got a bit more interesting when St. John and Garret dived into the water and swam to Goleen. We assumed they would be right back, but then Crosser called on the radio to announce that they were surrounded by whales, so everyone headed to Crosser.
The whales turned out to be a school of dolphins, but they were fun to see anyhow. As we were standing on the front deck admiring the dolphins, Kirk said: “Let’s launch the tender and visit the other boats.” Rip was in the engine room at the time working on the water maker. I was fairly certain he wouldn’t support the idea, so I said: “Let’s hurry.”
We have the tender strapped down TIGHT on the front deck. We keep hearing that the waves can be big out here, and want to ensure that the tender doesn’t get swept off the deck. But it wasn’t so tight we couldn’t get it in the water in 10 minutes, which we did do. Kirk and Phil took off in the tender to visit the other boats, collecting cookies and cigars. At this time an area of at least five miles of sea separated the boats.
It was also about this time that Rip came up the stairs to ask what was happening and where Kirk had went. Being a man of honor, I pretended to know nothing, and blamed it all on Kirk.
That’s when Grey Pearl called (on the radio) to say they were going swimming. Roberta automatically started heading in that direction, and we noticed Que Linda turning back to join us. Goleen also joined in the fun. This kicked off a great swim time, with all of the boats emptying into the 16 thousand foot deep water. After the swim, we were able to lure St. John and Garret back to Sans Souci by promising them cigars and cookies.
We were returning to Sans Souci when we had our first injury of the trip. Phil was jumping into the tender – which was being cast about by rough water – from Grey Pearl’s swim platform, when he somehow caught his finger on something on Grey Pearl. We still don’t know exactly how it happened, but the middle finger on his left hand was suddenly pouring a LOT of blood, and had a deep 2-inch long gash.
Quickly returning to Sans Souci, we alerted St. John, our EMT, that it was time for him to get to work. I must say that he took the matter very seriously. He grabbed an emergency kit the size of an average suitcase and started scrubbing, cleaning and bandaging Phil’s finger. He also called the Doctor on Atlantic Escort. I doubt a cut finger has ever had so much attention. No stitches were needed, although Phil now has a large gauze-wrapped cylinder protruding from the center of his left hand, where his finger used to be (actually, I’m fairly sure the finger is still there hiding beneath the gauze).
Demonstrating how concerned we were, I heard several people asking St. John if he could hurry, because we were hungry and needed Phil to get back to work. Phil is sitting next to me now trying to type an email. It’s hilarious watching him trying to work around his bandaged finger. He’s smiling too, so I assume all is well.
Earlier this morning, I listened in on a radio conversation between Que Linda and a nonrally boat that is 10 or so miles ahead of us. It was just idle chit-chat amongst passing strangers, but was the kind of conversation that reminds me of why I bought a Nordhavn. They didn’t know each other, but were swapping tales of where they had been and where they were going. Que Linda was talking about their run from Alaska to Florida and that they were now heading for somewhere in the Med, and maybe to the UK, but that they didn’t know exactly where yet. The other boat, a 48’ motor-sailor was talking about some of the places they had recently been, like cruising the east coast of the U.S., Trinidad, the Caribbean, and more. It was just a very cool feeling to think about boats wandering from country to country. While listening, I had to look at our own engine hours gauge to see how many miles San Souci had covered. It says “1535.2”. That means Sans Souci has logged somewhere around 14,000 miles, and we still have a lifetime of cruising ahead of us.
Also this morning, Roberta and I were starting to tie down our plans for where we’re going after Gibraltar. I hate being on a schedule, but some of the nicer marinas in the Med require reservations. We can always anchor and tender in, but I prefer having the boat in a marina. Our tentative plan has us going from Gibraltar to Puerto Banus in Spain, then to Cartajena (another port in Spain), and then Ibiza and on to Mallorca (Puerto Portales). That’s as far ahead as we have planned. We know that ultimately we have to get the boat to France, but want to think only as far ahead as necessary.
A few days ago I mentioned that one of the passengers on Four Across, in the Division 2 boats, had a medical issue. We now have heard that all is well, and that the individual is back on their feet.
Here’s an issue I’m tracking closely: Fuel. I am positive we have plenty of fuel, and will arrive with 500 gallons left over. However, knowing there isn’t a problem has never stopped me from worrying. All I could think of as I was swimming was that Sans Souci was burning fuel and we weren’t moving. We have five fuel gauges for six tanks, all of which have a certain amount of round-off error. Rip’s calculations show us with 100 gallons more than my own. Under normal circumstances there is no need to know exactly how much fuel is on board, but this is not a normal trip. We had planned to run around 8 knots to minimize fuel consumption, but have been running between 9.5 and 10.5 knots all day. The sea is flat and it’s a good time to move fast. We have a gauge here in the cockpit that shows actual consumption. It claims we are burning 12 gallons of fuel per hour. My goal was to use only about 8 gallons per hour. I was told before the trip that the gauge is wrong by 10-20%. I personally would be happier if my personal tank readings, and analysis of what the instruments say, weren’t so inconsistent.
Speaking of fuel: The largest boat amongst us, Crosser, is actually a much faster boat than the rest of us. Whereas Sans Souci is happy at 9 knots, Crosser would be happier cruising at 13 knots. She wasn’t really designed to be run for days on end at a slow speed. As I’m typing this, Crosser is on the radio saying that they were going to do a few laps around us, at full speed, just to give their engines a chance to run at full speed for a bit. When asked what their fuel consumption was at 13 knots they responded: 44 gallons per hour!
Following are excerpts from emails by St. John and Phil that I’m including for your perusal…
=========================== From St. John ============================
Everybody aboard may think I am funny or wish to correct me but I think the lingo that I choose around the boat is a perfect description of what this is, our temporary home. The front bow of the boat I have named our front yard. As that is where we lay out to read, tan, and have water balloon fights with our neighbors, the Goleens, water gun fights amongst ourselves, or just plain get out of the house (inside of the boat), to clear our heads with some fresh air. The door to the yard, or Portuguese bridge, if I have it correctly, is our picket fence keeping us safe at night inside our study, or pilot house where we get the work of running the boat done, and also our own work of writing emails, managing finances, etc. The aft deck I view as our porch, a place to sit and read quietly, by far the least bumpy place on the boat. Here you can sit on a nice comfortable seat and watch the sun rise, or set, read a book, take a quick snooze, do some exercising, or just get lost in the ocean. One could also transfer each of these areas into a little suburban house and no one would know the difference.
The crew, dressed as pirates, stands behind the “picket fence”
The seas are calm and the sun shines during the day. At night the moon spotlights us providing a nice light almost as if someone is saying, “Hey we know you are out there, and safe travels.”
My first impression was that boredom would set in and everyone would be acting like the family on Seventh Heaven, with too many problems that not even a minister could handle. Luckily, I couldn’t be more wrong as we each find something to do and someone else who by the end of the trip we can call our friend.
=============== From Chef Phil ===========================
11:50 pm, Thursday June 3, 2004
Tonight as I turned off the lights in my cabin I looked out of my porthole and I saw the full moon just above the horizon and it all hit me as to how amazing this experience is. Here I am about to fall asleep and I have left my safety and well being in the hands of two people who are standing watch in the pilot house while the boat moves forward through the darkness at about 9 knots via an automated system called an Auto-Pilot. I have no idea how it works, it just does. I simply cannot describe the sight right now as I look out my little porthole and see the moon reflecting off the water and watch the waves roll and move as we cut through the water at a steady speed.
I soon will fall asleep and all throughout the night this boat will continue moving forward. The engine will continue to run, the boat will continue to move in an easterly direction. I will awaken several hours from now and begin my task of feeding everyone on board. And then again tomorrow night this same pattern will repeat itself. I know this is not the way our ancestors crossed the ocean so many years ago. They did not have the luxury that I have right now as I sit comfortably in my cabin typing away on my laptop sending messages via a satellite up in the sky. But this is my experience none-the-less and it is nothing short of amazing. But I can say that I do know how they felt as they looked up at the full moon reflecting off the ocean and were in awe of the vastness of the waters surrounding them. This planet is so amazing and I am just a spec in the middle of all this water. I am but a spec.
=============== Chef Phil – Second Posting ========================
Well guys, the first official injury that required Singen our EMT on board to jump into action happened today and it happened to yours truly. Before I go into the details of the injury let me backtrack to how it happened. It seems that so far, on a near daily basis, we all put our heads together and devise a plan to have fun with the other boats in our group. We were the first ones to launch a pirate attack complete with hurling (bio-degradable) water balloons at the first unsuspecting boat, Goleen. Today was no exception. Kirk and I launched the dinghy and headed out to visit all the other boats knowing we may meet with similar retaliation given the fact that we were an easy target.
After a time of extreme laughter and fun it was time for all of us to go back to our respective boats and continue on the journey. Kirk was still driving the dingy and he delivered those who were just too tired from having too much fun back to their boats. I was on the rear platform (stern bustle) waiting for my ride back to the boat and it was at the moment that I boarded the dinghy that the tragic event happened. I still don’t know what I cut my finger on but as I was jumping into the dingy, whatever I was holding onto with my left hand (and I still don’t know what it was) sliced my middle finger open. I felt it as it happened and prayed when I looked at my finger that it was nothing more than a scratch, but unfortunately that was not the case. I had a two-inch rather deep gash, on the inside of my middle finger, from the tip right down to the middle. I knew the best thing I could do was to hang my hand in the healing salt water and I told Kirk to make a b-line for the Sans Souci.
As I boarded the boat I said to Singen, “Grab your medical bag, I’ve got a job for you” and showed him my bloody hand. Singen went immediately into EMT mode and after a sterile saline wash he applied 4 or 5 butterfly steri-strips and wrapped me up. His assessment was that no stitches were needed. So all is well, just ask the crew. I was up making hamburgers for lunch with an hour. So you see, if we aren’t gazing at the seas on a moon lit night we are having a blast in the ocean and rolling with the punches. This won’t stop me from experiencing everything I can everyday of this trip. Besides, I’m right handed and I injured my let hand.
Best regards to all,