Day 36 – Still in Horta

We now have a new plan for leaving Horta.

Our original plan called for us to be here through Sunday, another six days, and then to go non-stop the 1,200 miles to Gibraltar. Now, we are planning for a few of the boats to leave early Thursday morning, to go to an island called Terceira. We will anchor out for the day, swim, picnic, and then run overnight to St. Miguel. The total distance is around 200 miles. We’ll rest there for a couple of days, and then have “only” a thousand mile run to Gibraltar.

I’m still not 100% certain that the trip is on. Sans Souci is the escort vessel, so I feel an obligation to stay with the group. Having said that, my division, Division 1, is only five boats. One of these boats, Emeritus, will not be ready in time for an early departure. A technician is arriving on Wednesday to work on Emeritus’ stabilizer problems. Their stabilizers froze during the last hour of our trip from Bermuda. Originally we thought something had tangled in them, but then found that there was a far more serious problem. That leaves only Grey Pearl, Que Linda, Goleen and us.

I had a noteworthy conversation last night with Bob Rothman of Emeritus. Those who have been reading my updates for a while will remember that Bob has an independent spirit. On the run to Bermuda he ditched us to run alone, with no warning. He announced again on the second leg that he was leaving us to take a short cut. We didn’t want to lose him, so we also took the short cut. He was a good sport about it. His sense of humor surprised us all as we got to know him better. One time when we called him for roll call he did a perfect imitation of an answering machine, explaining that “Emeritus is not here now, but you may leave a message after the beep.” It had all of us rolling with laughter.

Since St. Miguel is on the way to Gibraltar, Bob could easily join up with us after his repairs. I was certain that Bob wouldn’t object to us departing four days ahead of him. All that would be required would be for him to run the 200 miles alone. Having said that, I felt I needed to get his permission. What I was feeling bad about was that if he experienced a problem en route to St. Miguel, he would not have anyone to provide assistance. When I raised this issue with Bob, he looked at me like I was a total idiot and said – “Ken, I’ve run 25,000 miles alone. I think I can handle getting to Gibraltar by myself.” I explained to him I was talking only about having him meet us in St. Miguel – not Gibraltar. It will be interesting to see if he joins up with us or does the entire Gibraltar run alone. I’m hoping he joins us. As much as he likes his independence, my sense is that he enjoyed running with us as much as we enjoyed his company on this last leg.

Today was mostly spent on my computer. Yuck. Several people have asked me to upload pictures, which I’ve been slow to do because I have been bandwidth challenged. It took a while, but I just uploaded a LOT of new pictures, including some cool pictures of Justin and James swimming to Autumn Wind to clear its prop, and a great picture of Uno Mas trying to run with broken stabilizers.

Justin and James swim out to assist Uno Mas

Uno Mas suffers stabilizer problems

On the dock today:

Autumn Wind was displaying the clump of rope that was removed from their propeller yesterday. I am speaking of the rope that was left on their propeller AFTER enough was cut off at sea to allow them to run the last 150 miles into Horta. It was a huge mass of rope, perhaps two feet across. To display the mass, Autumn Wind was dangling it a few feet off the ground from the pole of one of their flopper-stoppers (I’ll explain what these are later).

It is inconceivable to me that Autumn Wind was able to run with all this rope wrapped around their main shaft and propeller. I had thought that they had run over a net, but it looked to me like a collection of old rope that somehow was washed off the deck of a boat. Bill Smith, Autumn Wind’s owner/captain, said that when it first occurred, he had no idea what had happened. He had been running fine, in the middle of the night, when the engine started lugging, and then just quit. It could have happened to any of us. Scary…

I spoke with a crewmember from Four Across who told me an interesting story. A couple of days out of Bermuda, their water maker completely died and could not be repaired. I asked her “How were they able to continue without water?” Actually, I first made the mistake of asking her if they had a backup water maker? She thought I was joking. We are spoiled aboard Sans Souci, in having a backup for most major components. Four Across had no such luxury. She said that they continued because they felt that if they stopped taking showers, did no laundry, minimized flushing toilets (I didn’t ask), and didn’t wash dishes, they could get by. This is not the way it turned out though, and explains a picture I saw and was confused about. In the picture, there is a rope stretched between two boats, and a young man hanging from the rope. If you look closely, there is both a rope and a garden hose spanning the two boats. I didn’t upload the picture to my website because I didn’t know what it was. Now I do. Atlantic Escort heard about the problem, and decided to transfer water, using the same technique they had used to transfer fuel to Uno Mas. According to the young lady I spoke with, this worked perfectly, and Four Across arrived in Horta with a nearly full water tank.

In an earlier update I mentioned that we were parked next to another Nordhavn 62, Karma, which is not part of the rally. I was able to spend a few minutes with her owners, Marty and Marge Wilson. Marty mentioned that he sold his company nine years ago (the same year I sold mine!) and has been circumnavigating ever since. I asked if he had ever been to Horta before, and he said “Sure – on our first circumnavigation.” When people say things like that I am at a loss for words. I asked what he was doing for crew, and he said that he was running with just himself, his wife and another couple, their friends. I asked where he was going next. “Newfoundland” was his response. He had a fun story. He said he remembered being in port in Dana Point a couple of years ago, and overhearing a boater talk about his plans to circumnavigate, and that the gentleman was leaving “soon.” He said the next time he was in Dana Point was a couple of years later, and that the same gentleman was sitting at the same bar stool, still talking about circumnavigating. Marty, had just finished his first lap, and was leaving for his second. He said that the moral of the story is that you can’t just talk about it, you have to get out there and just do it.

Lastly, I promised yesterday I would explain what paravanes are. Before I explain paravanes, I will give a brief overview of stabilizers, for those who might not be familiar. Stabilizers look like stubby airplane wings that poke out from the side of the boat a few feet below the surface. The stabilizers are hinged at the front, and can rotate up or down. As they move, they lean the boat left or right, with the goal of keeping the boat level. They are analogous to the elevators on an airplane wing. As you can tell from the number of stabilizer problems the rally boats have experienced, stabilizers are complex and take a beating when in rough seas. They are in constant motion, as they attempt to stabilize a 125,000 pound boat, in seas that are slamming it from side to side randomly. To add stabilizers to a boat is an approximate $25,000 investment, but for crossing oceans, they are indispensable.

Having said that, there is a cheaper solution to the problem. I believe that of all the boats on the rally, only the Nordhavn 46’s have paravanes. My recollection is that two 46’s have paravanes, two have stabilizers, and one 46 has both stabilizers and paravanes. Paravanes fulfill the same need as the stabilizers, but using a different technique. With a paravane system, large poles extend on each side of the boat. They look somewhat like giant fishing poles. At the end of each pole there is a line that hangs into the water. At the end of that line there is a metal object that somewhat resembles a cross between a paper airplane and an anchor. I call it a fish, and I believe that’s what others call it, but I am not certain. Did you see the movie “The Perfect Storm?” Paravanes figure prominently in the movie, as the waves get rough enough that the fish become flying fish, and one of them goes wild flinging itself into the pilothouse. One of the characters in the film (I think Mark Wahlberg) has to climb out on one of the poles to cut the fish loose before it kills someone. Perhaps this could occur during a perfect storm, but is unlikely in “normal” bad weather. Typically the fish fly along about 15 or so feet beneath the surface, each about 15 feet outward from the boat. As the boat moves though the water the fish fly under the water. Any attempt by the boat to lean to the left or right requires a similar motion by the fish. In any attempt by the boat to roll, one side must rise and the other lower. The side of the boat that wants to rise must “pull” the fish higher. The fish is happily moving forward under the water, and pulling it upward takes energy. The effort to pull the fish upward dampens the boats temptation to lean. Hmm… without a picture, this is harder to explain than I thought. All I can say is that if after reading this, if you are still curious, look at the pictures on the website, and go see Perfect Storm. You’ll get it.

Earlier I mentioned Flopper Stoppers. I remember looking at my first Nordhavn 62, and seeing what I thought were paravanes. I think I even took pride in explaining to Roberta how the paravanes worked, and then hearing the word Flopper Stopper and being totally confused. Here’s what they are – Flopper Stoppers are a special form of paravanes that are used for anchoring. They are identical to paravanes, except that the fish work when the boat is standing still instead of moving. Normal paravanes are useless when the boat isn’t moving. Imagine a paper plane that isn’t moving through the air. Nothing happens. It won’t fly. Flopper Stoppers function like an upside down parachute, creating tension on the side of the boat that is trying to lift. Roberta and I have used the Flopper Stoppers several times when we’ve anchored in places that weren’t as protected as one could hope. For instance, we anchored one night off of Ibiza, and were being tossed around so much we knew that sleep would be impossible. We dropped the Flopper Stoppers, and immediately, life was good again.

Talk to you tomorrow!


(re: Day 36 – Still in Horta) Submitted 06/15/2004

I figure approximately 80nm from Horta to Praia Da Vitorio, Terceira via Canal De Sao Jorge. I am assuming that you are going to Praia as there are sand beaches there in the bay protected by 2 breakwaters (ent 38-43.40N, 027-03.00W). About 3.6 nm after you pass the port of Angra do Heroiso (some protection in the lee of Monte Brazil) will be the Ilheus Das Cabras or as we used to call it “Split Rock”. We used to sail our US Army 100ft tugs thru the split, as well as take the local US Military dive club to Split Rock for diving excursions. The Port of Praia is about 3 miles from the US Base at Lajes. The town of Praia is a great place to visit. This time of year, particularly this month) there are a lot of festivals; the hilite of these festivals is usually a street bull fight and at Praia even a beach bull fight. These street or beach bull fights are totally NOT like the Spanish or Mexican bull fights in that the bulls are not killed. For the street/beach bull fights, the bull has a 20-30 ft rope trailing behind and the young macho men/boys try to imobilize the bull with varying degrees of success. Obviously it is very dangerous and visitors should be on balconies or behind walls; or in the case of a beach bull fight, comfortably veiwing from the boat. Enjoy Terceira.
Thomas, Bill

(re: Day 36 – Still in Horta) Submitted 06/14/2004


THANK YOU., Rubia Ronquillo

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