Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel

Division 1 of the NAR fleet, with the exception of Emeritus, left Horta at 4:00pm GMT, headed for St. Miguel, another island in the Azores. As I write this, it is 8:00pm, and we show 121 miles to our destination. We’re running at 9 knots, and anticipating arrival around 10:00am tomorrow morning.

Thus far, all is smooth, but our departure on Monday for Gibraltar looks dicey. Here’s the weather forecast I just received:

“…There is some indication that Monday/21-Tuesday/22 will bring some 25 kt SW-W winds and waves above 10ft to the Azores waters and eastward to 20W-15W. These conditions could impact directly on the scheduled vessels’ departure Monday/21st for Gibraltar…”

I’m not sure what this means for our Monday departure. The Division 2 group is scheduled to leave on Saturday, and pass by San Miguel sometime on Sunday. By Monday when we depart, they should be 150 miles or so in front of us. The goal is for us to get on exactly the same track, and close the distance a little each day, catching up to them just as we arrive together in Gibraltar. Hopefully the outlook will improve. We have always known this third leg had the potential to be the roughest, but hoped for a positive surprise. Given that the last leg, which we thought would be the smoothest, became a very rough passage, it seems like we are owed good weather. Fair is fair.

Our departure today was not without incident. Just hours before departure, one of our boats chose to continue without one of their crewmembers. I do not know what was behind the surprise crew change, but it was quite an event, as a very large pile of bags suddenly appeared on the dock, and the person involved started going from boat to boat seeking a ride. I do not know what ultimately happened, or what will happen with him. Sans Souci also had a crew change during the final hour in Horta. One of the Division 2 boats had a gentleman with a kidney stone problem during the Bermuda to Azores leg. After a few days of pain, the gentleman involved, one of the boat owners, believed himself cured. A visit to an Azorean hospital indicated otherwise. He underwent (I believe it is past tense) a minor medical procedure, and will need to miss this next leg. As this left the boat in question with only three crewmembers, we agreed to transfer Eric Leishman from Sans Souci to the other boat. We now have eight persons on board.

I am happy to report that our departure was without incident. I did take pictures of our logo, which we painted on the dock, and will post that picture later tonight or tomorrow. Earlier this morning, Phil accidentally spilled a can of black paint on it.

He had a scary hour as he hurriedly repaired the damage. As you will see from the photo, no permanent damage was done. I drove the boat away from the marina, zigzagging through a minefield of sailboats that were anchored within the approach to the marina. The wind was light, so I wasn’t really tested. Yesterday, I watched a 130 foot powerboat, without a stern thruster, side step into a 135 foot opening, with multiple sailboats rafted together in front and in back, of the space he was assigned. In nonboater talk, I’ll compare it to parking a car. It’s as if he had to parallel park a car, in a space that was only marginally longer than he was. A car simply could not do it. We had 20 knots of wind at the time, directly on his nose. Dozens of us stood on the dock for the entire 20 minutes it took him, admiring his valiant efforts. I’ve had situations approaching strange marinas where I’ve been asked to accomplish similar feats. I know what I can and cannot do, and for now, choose to anchor out in these situations.

Many of you have written to me in the last couple of days asking that I send them a manual for arriving crew that was put together by Scott Strickland of Strickly for Fun. I have asked Scott for it a few times, and do expect that I will get it – but, I’ll have to keep bugging him. I had a printed copy in my hands yesterday, and wished I could have had a copy prior to this trip. I tried to get a copy immediately, but Scott wanted to “depersonalize it” prior to giving it to me. As soon as I get it, I’ll post it immediately on the web site and alert everyone to its existence in my daily update. Scott and I are different people, and that came through in my reaction to his “rules and regulations.” He laid down very strict guidelines for crew. There was even a rule requiring that play with a Game-Boy was to be done outside, on the rear deck. Aboard Sans Souci, we were much more laid back, perhaps too much so. The document will be valuable for all boaters who download it, and customize it to reflect their individual preferences. It will force us to think through what we consider to be appropriate crew conduct, and ensure that our wishes are clearly communicated.

Yesterday, I wrote a paragraph for my daily update, which I deleted moments after I wrote it. I was thinking about how many miles the group had traversed: 18 boats, each having already crossed 3,000 miles of ocean. That’s 54,000 miles collectively. I then added the following sentences to my paragraph: “And, prior to the rally, many of these boats converged on Florida from as far away as Alaska, crossing at least another 50,000 miles collectively. All of this without major mechanical difficulty or injury.” My point was that although I have spoken at length about mechanical problems on the various boats, I wanted to make sure that my comments were read in the context that we are talking about a LOT of boats, and a LOT of miles. Although there have been mechanical failures, these boats have redundant systems. None of the boats would have been “in need of coast guard rescue,” with the possible exception of Uno Mas, which lost its stabilizers in high seas. Having said that, I’m reasonably confident they would have been fine, but the point could be argued.

(re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel)
Submitted 06/18/2004
Okay, I know you’ll probably get many queries on this one but now I must know which games were developed by the outstanding reporter/voyager/software developer who is now asea! Also want to add that we, too, are enjoying your candidness in sharing your thoughts with us. Very refreshing!
Costino, Linda

(re: re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel) You’ve discovered our past!

Roberta and I founded, and ran for 18 years a consumer software company (mostly known for our computer games) called Sierra On-Line.

I was a corporate bureaucrat (the Chairman/CEO) while Roberta had all the fun designing computer games. Her best-known games are Kings Quest and Phantasmagoria. Other games by Sierra include Half-Life, Leisure-Suit Larry, Nascar, Hoyles, Swat and hundreds more!

We sold the company in 1996 and retired…

-Ken Williams

(re: re: re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel)
Submitted 06/18/2004

Well, I didn’t start this thread but since it’s going anyway…I googled “Sierra On-Line” and immediately found a history of the company at,_Inc.html 

Pretty cool!

Ken, did you know Gates or Allen personally since you were all involved with computer software in the early days in Seattle?

Rick Austin in Austin
Austin, Rick


re: re: re: re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel)


I hope I didn’t open up a can of worms! My apologies if I did as that was not my intent.

John Sytsma
Mississauga, ON

P.S. – Rick! How cool….they named the city after you! ;^)
P.P.S to Roberta – The King’s Quest games were great, and I had a lot of fun with the Leisure Suit Larry series. I got half way through Phantasmagoria, when my life got too busy to finish it.

(re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel)
Submitted 06/20/2004

Hi Ken,

Like everyone else, I look forward each day catching-up on the progress of the NAR. When I read John Sytsma’s post I ran a quick search on “Ken Williams software” as I used to be a fairly active gamer. Interestingly I found an old 1999 Business Week article regarding you and your former life.

Here’s a surprising excerpt from the article:

‘One thing those Sierra years did not teach Williams is how to relax. He tried to take time off after selling the game company in 1996, but quickly got bored. “It’s weird getting up in the morning and having nothing to do,” he says. He likes to boat and has a 62-foot Nordhaven (Sp) motor-powered yacht capable of sailing 5,000 miles on a tank of fuel. “It’s sitting behind my house,” Williams says with a chuckle. But, he says, the Internet has proved simply too tempting an arena. “It’s like being around the first few weeks after Gutenberg invented the printing press,” he says. “To sit out now for three or four years would be kind of silly.”‘

So, here’s the big question. What was it that hit you in the head to think “why work so hard…I’m going boating?”

The N47 is my dream boat and will be sitting behind my house in the not to distant future…I hope.

Wishing I were there.

Best of luck to all of you,

Larry Pike
Indialantic, Florida

(re: re: re: re: Day 39 – At Sea, on the way to San Miguel)
Submitted 06/22/2004
I must be the lamest person for not knowing Ken and Roberta Williams were the same Ken and Roberta Williams who founded Sierra On line. Still to this day there has not been a single Adventure game as amazing as Kings Quest 6!! That is just one of MANY great adventure titles that came out of your studios. I miss the good adventure games of old and I can only hope some breath is restored in the gaming world in the newar future.

Now back to business, you guys be safe with the rest of your journey, I am sure I speak for everyone who chimes in with their envy of the “real” Adventure you 2 are on right now. You hopping from Island to Island brings me back to KQ 6, of course you two will not crash into any islands!

Thanks for the great memories.







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Credits     |     Video produced by: Rock Steady Media     |     Teletype photo: Arnold Reinhold     |     PDP-11 photo: Trammell Hudson