We have been at sea for about 27 hours now and are beginning to settle down to a routine.
The departure from Ft. Lauderdale was CHAOTIC to say the least. We had a well-rehearsed departure plan, which had been discussed in several meetings. It was important to leave in a pre-arranged formation because there were 3 different helicopters in the air for magazines and the documentary.
While circling in the turning basin, we delayed the departure several times waiting for traffic to clear while the helicopters were hovering. Just as we were committed to the path towards the harbor entrance, we realized that a ship with assisting tugs was entering and coming towards us. We all squeezed past the ship (which was in the middle of the channel) and entered the very choppy and bumpy Atlantic. Right away, things went awry. We (Sans Souci) were to be the lead boat, but we headed out on the wrong course due to a temporary case of CRS. Some followed us, and some proceeded on the correct course. Our formation was thus mixed up. After 30 minutes or so, we got reformatted and back into a proper line-up – except Sans Souci ended up in second place.
The filming commenced and I am sure that some incredible shots were taken as the brave fleet pounded into the 6-foot seas. The helicopter pilots are amazingly skilled. With a 20-knot head wind, they were flying sideways within 50 feet of the boat.
The confusion and noise together with multiple radios and a cell phone call caused a case of TMI (Too Much Information). Also, I should add that at the very crescendo of the chaos, the refrigerator in the pilothouse flew open and a dozen soda cans poured out. One of them exploded and drenched us. Undaunted, we stayed the course and smiled for the cameras…
After a bumpy 24 mile ride into head seas to our first way point, we cracked off for a more comfortable ride to our next way point about 160 miles north. This gave the crew a chance to relax and settle in.
We are quite pampered aboard Sans Souci with 3 professional crewmen. Rip Knot (I’m not kidding) is our courageous Captain. Several years ago, Rip moved Sans Souci from Seattle to Florida and later spent time on Sans Souci in Europe.
Phil Strable is our chef and is in charge of the galley. In his real life, Phil is a chef aboard private rail cars, so he is quite comfortable in the spacious galley of Sans Souci. He is very gracious and “at our service” 24 hours per day. Last night’s chicken Caesar salad and this morning’s scrambled eggs and bacon were served with a smile. Phil’s mysterious persona is enhanced by his collection of brightly colored tattoos… The seven boats in our group have drifted apart somewhat. All but Emeritus are within radar and VHF range. Emeritus turned to starboard last night and has taken a different track. When Emeritus didn’t answer this morning’s radio roll call, we called them on the satellite telephone and found that they were 90 miles from us (VHF radio range is about 30 miles). We conduct a roll call each day on the radio at 8:00AM and 8:00PM to check on the condition of each boat. It is now about 4:30 PM, and afternoon will soon turn to evening. All of the boats will close in a little for the night. It is very comforting to look out and see your compatriot’s running lights.
Our EMT is St. John O’Neil-Dunne. “Singen” is a student from Tulane with a wry sense of humor and is a look alike for Kramer on Seinfeld (especially the hair). Singen took great delight in telling us that extreme seasickness is best cured with suppositories and that he has them safely stored in the freezer…
Also aboard are: Owners Ken and Roberta Williams. Ken and Roberta purchased Sans Souci 6 years ago after selling their software company. They have used their boat in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico, Florida and Europe, but until now have not made any open ocean passages. They are a lovely couple and easy to get along with. With their software background, they are very “techy” and thus have Sans Souci equipped with some nice gadgets. The gadget I like best is the “always on” Internet connection purchased thru Stratos net. That Internet connection is distributed throughout the boat by a common wireless system, so I can use my laptop anywhere on the boat and get my e-mail. Is that good? The cost of the Internet connection is based on usage and will probably amount to several thousand dollars or more by the end of the passage.
Christian Fittipaldi. Christian is a world-renowned race driver who has competed in Formula 1, CART and NASCAR and most recently was a winner in the 24 hours of Daytona. As a racing fan, I had followed Christian’s career for many years before meeting him when he called our Dana Point office several years ago with interest in a Nordhavn. Christian and I have formed a friendship and Marcia and I have been his VIP guests at several races. Christian has owned several boats and is very passionate about boating and the sea, but until now has not made an offshore passage. If Christian gets hooked on passage making, we already have the headline of the ad figured out… “Fast guy learns to go slow” or something like that.
Garret Severen. Garret is a fine young man who has worked for PAE for about 3 years. He started with the commisioning crew on the docks in Dana Point and moved to Stuart Florida when we opened the office there. Garret is “First Mate” aboard San Souci and as part of the PAE response team is prepared to help with problems on any of the boats in the fleet. A small inflatable is at the ready to take Garret and the EMT to the other boats if an “event” takes place in open ocean.
SEVERAL HOURS LATER…
I just finished a great two-hour afternoon nap and am gradually getting caught up on my sleep. When Marcia and I flew out to Florida on a Jet Blue “red eye”, I lost one night of sleep and couldn’t ever seem to catch up during the busy week in Ft. Lauderdale prior to departure.
In a radio chat with Seafox, we learned that Tom Selman has been battling with seasickness. We told him that we would launch the boat and rush over with the suppositories. He has miraculously recovered.
The seas have calmed somewhat and a lovely long swell is starting to dominate. Chef Phil is going to produce a magnificent dinner tonight.
Best Regards from the happy ship San Souci,
The seven boats in our group have drifted apart somewhat. All but Emeritus are within radar and VHF range. Emeritus turned to starboard last night and has taken a different track. When Emeritus didn’t answer this morning’s radio roll call, we called them on the satellite telephone and found that they were 90 miles from us (VHF radio range is about 30 miles). We conduct a roll call each day on the radio at 8:00AM and 8:00PM to check on the condition of each boat. It is now about 4:30 PM, and afternoon will soon turn to evening. All of the boats will close in a little for the night. It is very comforting to look out and see your compatriot’s running lights.We cooked our main 24V alternator today in a smoky event. At this point, we are not quite sure what happened but think that it might be the regulator. Despite the fact that parts of it were glowing red, we think that it might still work. Mickey Smith and I are going to have a post mortem e-mail chat about it later to try to figure out what happened.