magnify
formats

Stars, stars and more stars

The moon rose a few days ago just before the sun so at night there is no moon and dark is really dark. But the stars are so many and so bright and last night the starry sky was alive with action. ‘Shooting Stars’ were flying everywhere about 10 per minute for hours. These incoming bits burning up as they enter earth’s atmosphere are of course not falling stars, thank god, but meteors and in such profusion is called a meteor shower. And if one doesn’t burn up completely and actually lands on the earth its remains are called a meteorite and since there is no land out here we had our ears out for any loud splashes.

Without newspaper delivery, no bars on the cell phone, no WiFi to search the internet we have no way of knowing if this meteor shower was predicted or has a name. We don’t know if the Mayan calendar followers are talking world’s end or what. Time to tune in the shortwave radio. Bits of noise here and there, a garble, an eerie sound like a spaceship is landing and then out of nowhere is the clear voice of a storyteller. But this storyteller seems a little mean. His voice is elevated and occasionally yelling. he’s telling all to repent, the end is near. I wonder if he sees what I see looking into the heavens this starry night. Probably not because I know I’ve heard this same story before. Hell, he might not even be live, could be a recording – a virtual nightmare. I turn the radio off. Who cares if this meteor shower was predicted, has a name or has something to do with the end of the Mayan calendar – these ‘shooting stars’ are mesmerizing and entertaining all by themselves as we sail through this big starry sky tonight.

As the day begins this morning the winds have softened to under 10 knots and we are gliding along at a monohull’s snail pace of 4-5 knots. And at this speed our over-optimistic ETA slows way down but just as I say this the wind has freshened to 11 and we’ve added a knot. So our ETA is ‘up in the air’ but may end up in the wee morning hours of the 15th.

The crew will be working on their suntans again today. Sure I’ll still feed them even though there just lying around napping, chatting and know over the shortwave radio I’ve tuned in our first real radio station LOVE out of Barbados and its Christmas music Reggae-style even the commercials. It’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas – the water is 85.4 degrees and we can’t wait to jump in real soon.

Brian

Captain of the INNcredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on Stars, stars and more stars  comments 
formats

Excitement grows on the INNcredible Sea Lodge

No land in sight yet. Of course not we’re 220 nm out but the excitement amongst the crew grows by the hour. The excitement to get there has a bucket full of reasons, not all of which are found in each crew member’s bucket. ‘To get it over with’ is hardly number 10 on the list and why would it be – a moment in time that will be cherished by all here for the rest of our lives. And as time goes by the discomforts (which can’t be many short of a long shower) will be long forgotten and only the good will prevail in our memories. Almost universally number one reason of excitement in getting there is to swim,snorkel and dive in the gorgeous 85 degree sky blue water. Nate might be the only hold out on the water love affair. Life on a vegetarian boat ( with a bit of seafood) didn’t seem to leave anyone with an insatiable craving for that big steak except maybe Nate. One thing that one will look back and appreciate is the peace that existing without internet, phone, TV, nightly news, etc. affords.

For everyone except Andrew and I the Atlantic crossing is the Big event and they’ll be home for Christmas. For Andrew and I the INNcredible Journey will hit its halfway mark about 5,000 miles from where we started in Les Sables France in June 2012 and about 5,000 miles to go heading for home in California in May 2013.

The excitement is growing on board and we’re moving up in the rankings making headway on a number of boats. There’s still a whole lot of water between us and St Lucia and the winds should hold in their NE direction but may slow a bit. ETA could be 40 hours from now.

Andrew created a treat for all of us last night – Pizza, homemade dough, sauce and creative toppings. I made ripe banana, date, walnut oat muffin this morning as we looked out at a beautiful rainbow arcing from within a lone cumulus cloud in an otherwise sunny clear sky. I wish I could send pictures but not over a Satellite phone but I’ll catch up with pictures soon.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

All crew happy, healthy, well-fed and accounted for.

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on Excitement grows on the INNcredible Sea Lodge  comments 
formats

200 mile days – that’s truckin’

Until you experience it you won’t know how fast moving 200 miles a day sailing in a 13 ton catamaran feels. A 18 wheel truck running downhill with no brakes is close but without being scared half to death that you’re about to crash. There’s no worries at all, this freight train is on a track shared by no one, this 18 wheeler is barreling down a highway without toll gates, stop signs or on ramps. So we sit back, relax, even in the pitch black of night, and marvel at this massive sailing house cutting, sliding, gliding through the sea simply propelled by the wind.

Luckily the wind is blowing in the perfect direction now, and has been, for this will be the third day  of strong easterly trade winds. First Mate Andrew Starr a couple days ago creatively set the running rigging up to establish a wing-on-wing that captures downwind sailing perfectly. Normally the spinnaker would be hoisted with DDW but since our halyard was getting chaffed through way up the mast we had to abandon flying our spinnaker or Big Blue, our gennaker. Wing-on-wing is letting the main sail forward on the starboard side and the jib flying out to the port side creating a wide-open V to scoop the wind blowing directly behind us and pushing us forward at speeds from 7-15 knots. Of course the 11-15 knots come when the random timing of the swells passing underneath us peak perfectly behind and in sync so the INNcredible Sea Lodge catches a wave for an accelerated drop down the wave’s face, surfing and there’s nothing virtual about it – just pure excitement.

Just two and a half days ago we were 900 nautical miles from St. Lucia, now 60 hours later we are only 405 nm away. What’s our ETA? Do the math. We’re doin the Tradewind Boogie.

Cabbage keeps, as do potatoes and onions without refrigeration and that’s a beautiful thing on day 14. So you can guess what’s for dinner – Ireland’s staple farmhouse one pot dish called Colcannon.

Between the new parade of whales rocketing by much of yesterday and the boat speed over 8 knots, fishing was not to be part of day 14.

All crew is happy, healthy, fed and accounted for as we wrap up Day 14 crossing the Atlantic. Water temp is 84.5F.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on 200 mile days – that’s truckin’  comments 
formats

Sea Monsters and the end of the Earth

Out here bounding over the bounding ocean for 12 days now looking out over the vastness of same, I can only begin to imagine what the ancient mariners believed. Sea serpents, sea monsters, Neptune, those bold forceful weathered faces blowing from each cardinal direction were real beliefs or maybe just fantasies for the storytellers to entertain the landlubbers. But no one had been round the world to even think the world was anything but flat. After all how can one imagine that water could stay put if it wasn’t flat. Spill water on a table and it runs down to the lowest end and then falls off the end, in this case the table, the earth. How frightening! But how could one be assured the Earth was round?

I believe the Earth is round but I’ve never been round it…..yet. I believe because others have done it and lived to tell the tale.Those ancient mariners had guts just to go beyond the sight of land. The great navigators during the Age of Discovery had bits of new science and calculation that the Earth must be round despite what the church said and demanded that one believe. My hats off to all those over the ages that tested the waters and pushed the limits of imagination all under sail to discover not only that the world is round but there is a lot of us living all over it too.

No, I have not seen any sea monsters in this monster of a sea. But I marvel how all this water can stay put on the outside edge of a globe spinning around every 24 hours rotating rapidly around the sun with the moon spinning around tugging on our water trying to pull it away twice each day. Its amazing especially when you’re out here with the curved horizon dropping off in a circle of directions filled with bouncing water everywhere. I believe it because I see it and its working so don’t worry, the Earth is working just fine.

Here on the INNcredible Sea Lodge we have 699 nm to go on this leg of the INNcredible journey as of 2100 12/10/12. All crew is full on Nate’s noodles with carmelized onions, pine nuts and olive oil topped with Romano, olives and chopped tomatoes, happy, healthy and accounted for – I counted 6 including the captain (me).

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on Sea Monsters and the end of the Earth  comments 
formats

At times it was almost like a stampede (a whale of an exaggeration)

Yesterday I reported our wonderful close encounters in the morning with a whale or several whales. At first most on board were quick to say that the same whale is just playing with us, doubling back to swim by and have fun diving under the boat, staying with us as we sail forward at 6+ knots toward the Caribbean. I didn’t think so. My thought was the whale was headed for its winter home and had only so much energy and wouldn’t be so foolish to waste too much doubling back just to entertain us. I thought we had found the path, the expressway to their respective winter calving grounds. We’d look out portside then starboard, sometimes scanning the distance out toward the horizon but would never see any whale activity except right near the INNcredible. This continued all day until the dark rendered it impossible to see them even if they did surface right next to us.

At times it was almost like a stampede (a whale of an exaggeration), more like a parade of whales in twos, threes constantly coming in from behind surfing toward us mostly on starboard. Some would roll over as if to position their eye so they could get a good look at us on board. I would always wave back to let them know we acknowledged them with great excitement and admiration. Most of the visuals were the whales 5-20 feet below the surface but with the water so clear that was no an impediment. We would catch site of them 100 yards to our rear and watch them approach. Their black bodies were brightly accented with their white side fins and when they rolled their bright white bellies. They would surface now and again going every which way. Some would come up face first exposing their big smiles and eye. Others more often would do the more classic up enough to show their back and overall length. We used the boat length as our yard stick as they breached right next to us. These whales ranged from 12-30 feet.

So for at least 12 hours this parade of Pilots marched right by, each saying hi in its own way. We definitely were right in the parade line because we never saw any whales outside our 50 feet to either side of the boat. We thought maybe they liked our music, the vibration of which would radiate from the hulls. Either the Chieftain’s The Wide World Over album or Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits was their favorite. In the night another saliboat came near and communicated over radio with us but said they never saw any whales where they were yesterday. How strange, we saw a hundred or more.

To start the day yesterday, I put a pot of Pinto beans to soak and then pressure cook. While that was on its way I mixed and kneaded a couple loaves of bread, set off to rise, made corn bread muffins, baked the bread and by then the beans were ready to enjoy with the cornbread. No fish yesterday because all the endless whales kept them away.

Crew is well fed, happy, healthy and all accounted for (still 6 of us on board).

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on At times it was almost like a stampede (a whale of an exaggeration)  comments 
formats

All morning we’ve been entertained with surfing whales that we can spot 100 yards out just under the surface of this beautiful clear water.

How do you tell a classy redneck fisherman from just any? The “beer can” he spent hours on forming into a fishing lure is a Guinness. Andrew cut the black shiny Guinness Draught can into strips to create feathered plume effect maintaining the rim, crimping into an aero-dynamic water dynamic foil, then adding weight and a giant hook on a wire leader making what he hopes will be the ultimate big tuna lure. I’ll give an update tomorrow.

All morning we’ve been entertained with surfing whales that we can spot 100 yards out just under the surface of this beautiful clear water. We watch as the whale(s) surf the swells then surface nose up, back up, tail up then dive and speed toward the boat and zoom under the hull so fast they must be doing 20 knots. Then minutes later one or the same show  up 100 yards off the starboard stern and start the sequence again. I’m sure there’s more than one because they’re in too many places too quickly to be one but I can’t say I’ve seen two next to each other this morning. That’s today’s whale of a tale.

The ENE trade winds have set in but only at 9-13 knots after a speedy night on a near beam reach but going a little north of west where eventually would take us to the BVIs. So Andrew on his watch gave a try to a wing on wing approach with the wind DDW (Dead Down Wind or the wind right on our back) pushing us in a better direction of 250 COG (Course Over Ground). We’ve whittled the distance down to 910 straight nm to go. Anything is possible with weather and wind change but at a conservative average of 6 knots per hour we could see St. Lucia late on the 15th.

Our stalk of bananas ripened, as expected, all at once after waiting a week for any. So after eating bananas for 4-5  days it was time for banana pancakes. With the bounty of Dorado caught yesterday sashimi was on the menu complete with wasabi, soy sauce and fresh lime. Lines are back in the water today because we’re all out of fish – we ate two Dorado all raw. Bert made a wonderful presentation with each chunk of Dorado on a square of onion aligned in circles on the serving round with dollups of wasabi on the outside circle with an inside out half of lime made into a mini-bowl to hold the soy sauce – very creative.

That’s the word from the middle of the Atlantic.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on All morning we’ve been entertained with surfing whales that we can spot 100 yards out just under the surface of this beautiful clear water.  comments 
formats

It’s December 8th, our 12th day at sea, and although last night had a few squalls, high wind and rain, the day is beautiful with ENE winds 11-15 knots.

It’s December 8th, our 12th day at sea, and although last night had a few squalls, high wind and rain, the day is beautiful with ENE winds 11-15 knots. We could use a little more but how can we complain with 1049 nm left to go. We however will have to travel more than just a straight line because our spinnaker halyard keeps chaffing and we can’t fly the most appropriate sail in our locker for dead down wind. So we must gibe back and forth at angles to where we want to go. Its then block (aka pulley)  high up the mast that does not swivel as much as it needs to and cuts into the halyard and luckily we catch it before it cuts through averting a major disaster. If the sail suddenly collapsed and fell into the water the force of the forward movement of the boat and the filling of the sail with water would put so much pressure of the running rigging that something, many things, would tear, break and distort. We don’t want to go there so we just have to show our patience for the situation and realize it will take us longer than expected to get to St Lucia.

This morning as I was behind the wheel I looked starboard just in time to hear and see a passing whale surface just 10 feet away , checked us out, and submerged back into the sea as he carried on his journey.Another black pilot whale that I estimated to be about 30 feet long. Way Kool! Our fish stories don’t stop there our early morning trolling had a couple hits and we landed one, our biggest Dorado to date. No shortage of fish now.

Oh I almost forgot to share that we had a white bird land on the boat yesterday. It looked more like a shore bird with big legs than a long range flyer. Obviously he/she was tired, afterall it was 1100 miles from the Caribbean and about the same to the Cape Verde Islands. We not only didn’t bother it but when we caught those fish and cleaned them we gave the bird its fill until it took no more. Then it hung out for the whole day resting. Andrew and Bert picked it up and held it. Then just after dusk he/she was in flight to where we don’t know.

 

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on It’s December 8th, our 12th day at sea, and although last night had a few squalls, high wind and rain, the day is beautiful with ENE winds 11-15 knots.  comments 
formats

ZZZZIIINNNNNGGGGG! When you hear that sound and some one yells, Fish On! Day 10

ZZZZIIINNNNNGGGGG! When you hear that sound and some one yells, Fish On!, the whole boat jumps with excitement. Finally we caught two Dolphin fish (aka Mahi Mahi) back to back and guess what’s for dinner tonight. Of course we had to test the quality with some chunks of raw fish in soy/wasabi sauce and it passed with thumbs up.

Winds calmed down today to barely 8 knots at times and we could only hold on to 4 to 5 knots speed. Thankfully now as we head through the afternoon the wind has freshened to 12+ and we move at 7 knots with Big Blue scooping up all it can find. It’s early on in day eleven and we’re on the ride home with under 1200nm to go.

To prevent the gennaker halyard from further chaffing Andrew and Bert creatively utilized materials at hand like the extra shelf cover plastic and of course duct tape and so far we live another day with  Big Blue the lead horse on the INNcredible Sea Lodge.

And the report from the middle of the Atlantic is: all crew accounted for, healthy and happy.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on ZZZZIIINNNNNGGGGG! When you hear that sound and some one yells, Fish On! Day 10  comments 
formats

Clouds developing right now as we make our way to the exact middle of the Atlantic Ocean. ETA 4 hours. Day 9

Yesterday, the past 24 hours, were beautifully uneventful with the INNcredible Sea Lodge clocking 8+ knots consistently and making great gains to the west. So this is a good time to introduce you to our stowaways.

As you may recall our crew of four sailing from Lisbon to the Gran Canaria became a crew of three due to an illness. (Steven we all hope you’re doing well) Mark was flying in to Las Palmas to become crew member four but the plan was five which works well on a watch schedule. Of the four of us, two have zero sailing experience leaving Andrew and I. What we needed more of was both youth and sailing experience so we could always have at least one sailor on watch at all times. Folks were throwing themselves at each new boat arriving asking to join their crew for the crossing. No thank you was my first response. I basically didn’t like the method of solicitation without a little due diligence and/or recommendation. We were so lucky once I quietly put the word out that within 24 hours we connected with the perfect addition to our crew.

We were looking for a fifth crew member but got two instead. Two lovebirds that were willing to nest in the bow berth (aka coffin berth) which I know was going to be a challenge. Bert and Emily, now Mainers, are snow birds going south from Maine for the winter. Bert, although grew up landlocked in the Appalachian Mountains of SW Virginia (near Walton Mountain), has about 10,000 sea miles under his life vest sailing. Bert sailed on Auburn University sailing team in Alabama. Now he skippers a charter sailboat on the coast of Maine in the summers. Emily, born in Denmark while her US Navy Admiral dad was stationed there, has lived all over but mainly south of the Mason-Dixon Line. She attended Johnson and Wales in Providence RI for degrees in Event Planning, Hotel/restaurant management with an emphasis on beverage appreciation and received her masters in Global Business Marketing. She runs a B&B inn on the coast of Maine in Port Clyde, just south of Rocklin. These two lovebirds plan on starting a sailing charter business together this summer out of Port Clyde. As you can imagine these two have proven to be great additions to our crew regardless of their resumes, because they are great people, happy and energetic team members.

Clouds developing right now as we make our way to the exact middle of the Atlantic Ocean. ETA 4 hours.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on Clouds developing right now as we make our way to the exact middle of the Atlantic Ocean. ETA 4 hours. Day 9  comments 
formats

Oh how welcome a little entertainment is 8 days out to sea. Starting with a sighting of a black fin off starboard… Day 8

Oh how welcome a little entertainment is 8 days out to sea. Starting with a sighting of a black fin off starboard, the excitement rose as the frequency increased of seeing one big black pilot whale turn into two running with us, crossing our bow, then aft and more on our port side. I was baking bread and chopping carrots and onions for our soup but the view from the galley is excellent nonetheless. But this show, starring two or more 20+ foot pilot whales was two good to miss close up. Everyone was up and took position right at the rail to watch the whales surfing waves from behind with the silhouettes visible in color just beneath the surface. Just off the port within 10 feet came the long black with white fin pilot whale, then amidship he rolled sideways to show his white belly and give us a wave with his fin. Don’t worry we have video but won’t be able to post it until we reach land in a week or so.

That made our day, as it would anyone’s, besides the fact that we kept an average of near 8 knots all day and night. We’re 1540 nm away from St. Lucia as of 11am our time (middle of the ocean time actually I haven’t changed the clocks since Lisbon so I have no idea what time it is). Nightfall always seems to rally round the clouds and by minutes after midnight the sky started dumping its load of rain on us and whipping up a bit too.

On the radar and the AIS in the middle of the night came a sudden mark of a boat. Looking out to its supposed position no lights were seen. So on watch at the time Mark hailed the unseen neighbor over the VHF (radio) and got a response mostly incompreh ensible due to its French tongue. But Mark deciphered enough to catch that the captain said his family couldn’t sleep with the lights on so he runs at night without any. Thanks a lot buddy.

When you leave port full of perishables that hopefully ripen slowly, I set my daily menu based on what’s ripe and needs to be eaten. So today I made carrot soup and if I do say so meself – delicious. Diced carrots, onions, celery, ginger, garlic,olive oil, heavy cream, salt, peeper and cumin. Tighten down the pressure cooker lid and 40 minutes latter – perfection. And with two loaves of hot bread right out of the oven life on board doesn’t get any better.

All crew healthy, happy and accounted for.

This is your captain speaking

 
 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Reddit Share on LinkedIn
Comments Off on Oh how welcome a little entertainment is 8 days out to sea. Starting with a sighting of a black fin off starboard… Day 8  comments