Day 46 – 389 Miles to Gibraltar

It is 2:30pm GMT, and we are 329 miles from Gibraltar, and the end of the rally.

For the past few hours, we have been trying to catch Goleen. Chris Samuelson, owner/Captain of Goleen, is setting the pace for our group, and wants to outrun bad weather. Chris’ interpretation of the weather reports is clear, and unambiguous – “The weather is nice, so let’s go as fast as we can and get into port, before the weather turns nasty.” The seas are smooth today, with the wind behind us. But starting tomorrow, the wind could start reversing directions, which will make our voyage a LOT less fun. Chris put an exclamation point on how nasty things could get by reminding us that our marina is “around the corner” from a beach that is rated as the top beach in the world for windsurfing.

Our race towards Goleen started when Georgs, a reporter aboard Goleen, called to ask if we would mind catching up to take pictures. Each of the boats has been taking their turn. Crosser is the fastest boat, and quickly covered the three miles to reach Goleen. Que Linda, Grey Pearl and ourselves have had to work harder to narrow the distance. Braun Jones aboard Grey Pearl had my favorite line of the day when he called (via VHF radio) to Georgs on Goleen – “Georgs, could you pass along the following statement to Chris,” he began. Then in his most serious voice he said: “I’ve been doing some math here on the Pearl. After a couple of hours of studying my arithmetic, I’ve arrived at the following conclusion: Two objects proceeding along the same course, moving at the same speed, never converge.”

Sans Souci maintained our pace so that Grey Pearl could get its picture taken. Even after Braun’s radio comment, it was at least another hour before the Pearl was close enough for pictures.

When Georgs called me to the radio, I assumed he wanted us to start crawling forward for pictures. He did want that, but made an additional request. He wanted to speak with Michael, our Emergency Medical Technician. It was reported yesterday that Bransom had stumbled on the swim step and bruised the side of his foot. No one took this seriously, and many jokes were made about the matter at last night’s roll call (several people offered to cut off the offending member). Apparently we joked too soon. Bransom had a painful night, and his toe was expanding at an alarming pace. After Georgs described Bransom’s foot situation, Michael said that it was possible that Bransom may have broken his foot, and that he should lie down, with his foot elevated. He could then get an x-ray in Gibraltar. A Doctor riding along on Crosser, who had been listening in, concurred with Michael’s assessment.

I thought that that was the end of it, but then we started thinking that perhaps we should send over some ice packs, pain killer and anti-inflammatory drugs. Michael spoke with the fleet Doctor, Dr. Hare, who is traveling with Division 2. After a brief discussion, a “care package” was agreed to. We all suspect that Bransom is fine, and have heard that he is sleeping peacefully, That said, we’re bored, and his foot could be broken – so the decision has been made to transfer the care package to Goleen, and perhaps send over Michael – whether Bransom will be happy to be awoken or not. What else do we have to do? And, our documentary maker, Bruce Kessler, doesn’t have much in the way of undersea medical rescue footage, so we’re hot in pursuit of Goleen.

Now that we have a semi-serious medical emergency, we have been able to persuade Goleen to drop speed, and we are approaching them rapidly. Rip has made up a transfer bag, which looks remarkably like what it is: a blown-up garbage bag, attached to a long rope, with an Evian water bottle at the other end. I am uncertain why Evian was selected over Perrier, but suspect that it was not relevant one way or the other. As we are still moments from intercepting Goleen, I will pass on to other topics and report back in a few paragraphs.

At this mornings roll call, all boats reported in fine – including Emeritus, which is so far ahead of the fleet that we have given up all hope of seeing her prior to arrival in Gibraltar. At the 8:00am roll call, we were 389 miles to Gibraltar (running at 9 knots). Division 2 was 322 miles from Gibraltar (running at 7.5 knots), and Emeritus, running alone, had only 254 miles to go (at 9+ knots).

The sea has not only been smooth, it has also been quiet. We haven’t seen another boat for a couple of days. Bob, on Emeritus, reported seeing groupings of fishing vessels, which could mean nets in the water. After Autumn Wind’s run in with a net, I’m not looking forward to being anywhere near a fisherman. On the chart it shows some undersea mounds that rise to within 25 meters of the surface. Perhaps these collect fish, and explain why the fishermen are out so far. The fish MUST be somewhere, as they certainly have been avoiding our fleet. No one in either division has caught a fish in days.

We did stop for swimming yesterday but the sea, which felt smooth under way, was much rougher standing still. Aboard Sans Souci, we were rolling back and forth at a rapid pace, and everything was flying in every direction. Our swim-stop was hastened by the need to get going again before someone got hurt. Several people dove off the top of the boats, which was highly dangerous, as the boats were being tossed from side to side with each wave that passed.

And, while I’m still killing time as we close-in on Goleen…

Today, I was looking at the Nordhavn site, and discovered that they have daily commentary from journalists, two of which are traveling with Division 2. I’ve enjoyed reading them, and seeing what our friends up ahead are up to. I started to excerpt comments from the commentaries, but thought you might prefer reading them yourself. Check out the following link: http://www.nordhavn.com/rally/underway/commentary.htm

I mentioned yesterday that Kirk had been encouraging activities, to keep us all motivated. Last night, Grey Pearl lead the evenings activities with a trivia game. They made the mistake of focusing on TV trivia, primarily Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy. Roberta and Phil seem to have mastered this particular subject and were on the microphone responding before the questions were finished being read. One question stumped everyone though – “How did they ever get off the island?” After Grey Pearl admitted that they didn’t know, I surfed the internet for the solution. Curious? The answer is that they didn’t. The series ended without a final episode, although it was followed later by three “made for TV” movies, which had them off the island and back on.

After trivia, David Stone (from Crosser) and I decided to play chess. On a side note, my Dad and I have a game going at ALL times. I travel most of the time, and chess allows us to chat every day, even with me in the middle of the Atlantic, and him in California. We play on www.atlanticchess.com. The cool thing is that sometimes we make only one move per day, and other days we are able to finish whole games. The game between David and myself was even stranger. We called moves to each other across VHF. It was a great game, consuming nearly six hours, while boring the rest of our fleet who were forced, for hour after hour, to hear comments like “Rook at my Kings Bishop 3 to your Kings Bishop 4”. I lost, but had a blast!

Meanwhile, back to Bransom’s foot…

Whoa! That was scary.
I’ve put pictures on the website, under Photos – Part III http://www.kensblog.com/). Check them out.

Here’s what happened….

Rip stood on the front of the deck, as Kirk brought Sans Souci within 20 feet of Goleen (I was busy taking pictures). He then pitched his Evian bottle towards Goleen, but missed.

Do no ask me why both boats were running at full speed SO close together. We should not have been. Rip’s short throw was the least of our problems. Goleen’s wake grabbed Sans Souci and started our stern swinging. To avoid our stern striking Goleen, Kirk turned the wheel towards our starboard side, putting us on a collision course with Goleen. Fortunately, Goleen dropped power and allowed us to pass IN FRONT of her. From my perspective on the front deck, it seemed certain that a collision WOULD occur. When asked to estimate how close we came, the distances ranged from 2 feet to 6 feet, all of which were TOO close.

 

Rather than risk getting anywhere near each other again, we dropped the throw bag into the water, and Goleen picked it up with their boat hook. I’ll be very curious to see what pictures and video Goleen has of the incident. We’ve since spoken to Bransom who reports that the painkillers are working magic.


After the drop, a LONG multi-boat discussion ensued, as we all spoke about the best running speed for an on-time arrival in Gibraltar. Que Linda kicked off the discussion by stating that if we continued running at over 9 knots we would arrive at 3:00am GMT on Saturday morning. This caused us to review tide tables, current tables, wind patterns, our most recent weather reports, etc. for Gibraltar. At the completion of the conversation it was decided that our “correct” speed should be 8.2 knots. Goleen is now just a speck on the horizon, reflecting Chris’ desire to get there as quickly as possible.

Lastly…

I’ve been receiving a TON of email, and apologize that I can’t respond to everyone. I’m a computer programmer, not a writer. I tend to agonize over paragraphs for hours, and sending out my daily emails is taking more time than it should. That I’ve actually managed to write something nearly every day for 45 days demonstrates that square pegs can be put into round holes – but, it’s slow and time consuming. Thank you to everyone who has written! Please be assured that even when I don’t respond, all email IS being read.

Here is a small sampling of yesterday’s mail, with my responses:

Q. “…I was wondering if it would be possible to share with your E-mail list one of my most recent listings. A 2000 model 57′ Nordhavn named “Elin”. She has only 1100 hrs on her main and 140hrs on her wing. Properly equipped and ready to go. One of my very good clients has thoroughly enjoyed her and is now ready to move into a larger motor yacht…”

A. This is fine with me. Good luck with the sale! I see that you have posted some great information about the boat under “Open Discussion” on http://www.kensblog.com/

Q. “… I have enjoyed your web site a great deal. I was curious about not hearing much about Spirit of Zopilote. At the start of the crossing we were told that a documentary was being made of the trip. Is this still true? Could you update us on this? Thanks again for your great postings! Ken Olsen”

A. Originally, I had thought that Bruce, and his boat Zopilote, would be accompanying us on the entire rally. He and his wife Joan are flying from place to place, meeting us whenever we are on land. Their boat is still in Florida. At each stop they gather all the film from each rally boat and make a copy. They also shoot interviews with the crews. Editing of the documentary is already underway. An effort will be made to obtain TV distribution for the documentary, but no one knows what will come of this. I assume I’ll get a copy, and that they will be available to be ordered, but it’s too soon to say.

Q. “Ken: What is the patch of choice for combating Mal de Mer? Have you tried several kinds and what do you find most effective? Any side effects such as dry mouth, etc What does Dr. Ware recommend? Being a boater without a totally cast iron stomach, I do need help from these meds. Comments and inputs would be very much appreciated. Thanks Rod Sumner P.S. – I think I speak for all of us following their dream via your excellent web blog in saying a heart felt thank you for the time, expense, expertise and honesty you have shown with the Sans Souci web site. Many thanks and keep up the reporting of the great adventure…”

A. Most of the really effective anti-seasickness drugs are prescription. See your doctor. My patch is Scopalimine (or, Transderm). It works well for me – but, was a disaster for Roberta. She’s reasonably small – and it gave her a bad stomach ache, confusion, and dizziness. I definitely have dry mouth. It’s frustrating because you are perpetually thirsty – but MUCH better than seasickness. Other drugs we have along are: Bonine (Meclizine) and Promethozine.

Talk to you tomorrow!

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(re: Day 46 – 389 Miles to Gibraltar) Submitted 06/24/2004

Interestingly, you and Goleen have demonstrated the very real effects of bow pressure and stern suction created by vessels making way. Although I would have thought that 20 feet of separation in an unconfined body of water would have been a sufficient interval. These effects are commonly used by large ships meeting in very narrow channel. Particularly the Houston-Galveston Ship Canal where it is called “Texas Chicken” (or at least it used to be). It can also be experienced by a lone vessel in a cut or canal such as the Atlantic ICW. Thankfully, Goleen chopped power in a timely manner. The force of a collision, even with both on the same heading, could have been disaterous. The forces involved are tremendous. Glad it didn’t come to that, and good luck for the rest of the adventure.
Thomas, Bill

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