It's been sometime since I've written a blog update. In the interlude Braun and I have been working on a plan to cross an ocean.
After we tragically lost our previous boat 'Grey Pearl' to a fire in Phuket, Thailand, you can bet we did our fair share of soul searching. Whether or not to get back on the horse, so to speak. We sought advice from many. Our friends counseled us to proceed slowly, consider all alternatives and use the liberated time to reassess our priorities. Our confidant and church Rector, Pierce Klemmt advised in classical Biblical fashion "let the ashes speak".
Well it did not take long for Braun and I to realize ocean cruising and exploration is our passion and a huge part of our lives which we enjoy doing together as a team. We also believe that this life is a short one act play and we're not getting any younger. In fact, Braun opined that if we didn't get cruising again soon the only ashes that would be speaking would be ours.
Our plan to get back on the water is unfolding in steps. First, before we set out on a long cruise to cross an ocean we wanted to become accustomed to the new boat and so we purposefully set up several 1000 mile ocean legs as sea trials. We wanted to learn the boat's mechanical and physical operational characteristics. We also were very interested in how she performed in rough sea conditions. Finally, operating the boat would produce the proverbial "list" of necessary additions and repairs to get her ready for ocean work. In maritime lingo this is known as refitting. On the good side it creates jobs but on the negative side it radically reduces the bank account.
The sea trials included voyages from Annapolis north to New England, south to Florida, the Bahamas and back to the Chesapeake Bay. So far the boat has performed well and as we become more experienced with her we are gaining confidence in her ability to carry us across an ocean.
The refitting "lists" have been attended to at Spring Cove Marina in Solomon's Island (excellent work professionally done) and Old Port Cove in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We are at home now in Virginia and Ocean Pearl is currently lying at Solomon's Island, Md., with the final work to be accomplished in several weeks.
We've decided to mark our one year anniversary since taking possession of the OP to do some north latitude cruising. Our plan is to make an unconventional North Atlantic passage from Canada to Ireland. The conventional route to Europe from the USA is to cross the Atlantic around the belly of the globe USA to Bermuda, to the Azores, and enter the Mediterranean at Gibraltar. This popular route is the way we crossed in 2004 with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally. However; the most direct and fastest course is the Great Circle route which the airlines fly. This northern pathway is closer to the poles where the world gets smaller. Although a shorter distance there is the downside of fog, ice and generally nastier weather vs. the more southern belly routes.
So we'll set off to the north for the Canadian Maritimes and explore Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. These lands are north but also reach far to the east, toward Ireland. We'll stage to depart St. John's, Newfoundland sometime after July 1st and make way for Crookhaven, on the SW tip of Ireland, approx. 1700 nautical miles in 8 days. Captain Braun would have to point out that it was near Crookhaven (Queenstown) that was the Titanic's last port of callhmmm. Of course we will monitor the weather and particularly the ice flows closely. July and August are the best months to make such a crossing having the least chance of severe gales, fog and, ice. Yes, again ice that funnels down from Greenland through the Labrador Sea. Reminiscent of Alaska, the Aleutians and the Bering Sea. Didn't I say "never again"?
~ Our North Atlantic crossing route ~
As you might imagine, there's an enormous amount of planning and preparation for such an offshore passage. In years past, we had the luxury of dividing and conquering the plotting and planning of similar long voyages with our GSSR buddy boats, N68 'Sans Souci' and N62 'Seabird'. However; this time we plan to go solo. So we've spent many months getting the boat and ourselves ready. Here's just a sample of some of the work that we've done:
- Some bridge modifications to include; electronics upgraded, low fuel alarm, watch commander, satellite phone up and running
- Large spotlight installed
- Dinghies serviced
- Hydraulic alternators on the main engine installed; all new batteries installed
- Boat hauled out; shaft inspected; bow thruster cleaned; keel coolers inspected and cleaned; bottom painted; the entire boat beautifully buffed and puffed(waxed)
- Emergency life raft repacked; you can bet we had all the fire extinguishers inspected! Ditch bag packed and ready to go; survival suits purchased
- European electrical plug adapters; electronic and paper charts ordered
- Pumps and hoses replaced, parts upon parts ordered, inventoried and stored
- Portable scuba hookah compressor(Brownie) for diving the boat
- Medical kit updated
- Anddon't get me started on the provisioning! I'm burnin' up my vacuum sealer making ready-made meals to have on boardit's all about the food (Osso Buco, Split Pea & Ham, Chili Mac, Lasagna, etc)!
~ The 'Pearl' being hauled out ~
~ Fresh bottom paint and shiny props...is it any wonder we refer to boats as "she's"...?! ~
~ Captain Braun and one buffed & puffed Pearl ~
~ Getting ready for splashdown ~/aspx/TMCEH.ashx?idesc=751%7Cuploads%7C19965%7COP%20Blog%20513%7COP%20&%20BJ.jpg
Back to the voyage some anticipated stops for the good ship 'Ocean Pearl' are Lunenburg, Halifax and Bras d'Or, Nova Scotia, the fjord coast of Newfoundland, coastal cruise eastern Ireland to Dublin, Belfast, cross the North Channel and cruise Scotland's Caledonian Canal, head south though the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel, stop by the Scilly Isles and go along the English coast visiting the historic English ports of choice, Dartmouth, Plymouthhome ports of explorers and adventurers such as Sir Francis Scott Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Charles Darwin and Captain Cookto name a few, and ultimately arrive in central London at St. Katharine's Dock.
Does that itinerary scream adventureor what..?! We are excited, ready for this next chapter and very grateful to be able to go on this journey.
Next transmission will be from Canada, eh? Over and out from the bridge of the Ocean Pearl.
Tina and Braun
A side note - Our GSSR buddy boats, N68 'Sans Souci' and N62 'Seabird' have reunited...in Gocek, Turkey. They'll enjoy some cruising in the Med this upcoming season and winter in Croatia. Possible reunion of the three boats...?
Stay tuned ~