Riccardo's journal - English
Mon 14 Dec 2015 01:34
Following is Riccardo journal of our great sail from Oxford Md to
St. John USVI.|
(as translated by Google with some minor and quick editing)
Atlantic sailing November 13, 2015
The decision to follow the proposal from Marco was impulse, lighting fast for my normal times. I felt that it was feasible
and really at hand and that was enough to say yes. The airline tickets are easy to find on the internet and
the organization was quick mixed with time working.
Thursday 12, the departure from Rome
Taxis and airport, a few people to T5 and a quick check-in. I'm at the gate quickly. Window seat, that I do not like,
preferring the freedom of movement to the view. Too bad a neighbor scruffy, awkward, inelegant, but all in
all at the end of the nine-hour journey I cannot define him annoying; rather silly. Disembarkation and entry to the United States,
for those already in the US recently and with the ESTA still valid, it is just as quick and easy as the departure.
The controls are self service, mechanized. The custom officer, last barrier, is more bored than interested to
those who are in front. I am at JFK for the first time, I look around and I find my way easily to the point
of collection of ground transportation, where shows my ticket, bought ahead of time on the internet.
The driver of the shuttle ETS is an Indian from Phoenix, as I understood from a brief conversation with a passenger;
certainly he does not cares about the comfort of its passengers, because we throng to capacity 11 of us in a bus for 9 people,
flooded with the luggage. Lucky to be the first to climbed in the bus, I was given a decent place, behind the driver's seat.
After an interminable double row of terminals, to collect the remaining 10 lucky passengers,
we finally take the road to Newark. No traffic, but after about an hour we are at the Terminal A,
where Marco is waiting for me at Level 2, Gate 2, as indicated by text message.
A warm hug seals the mutual satisfaction for the meeting, with no surprises or delays.
More driving, with light rain at times, up to 7 of Hunting Hill Rd, Annadale, NJ, where we arrive at Marco’s house,
surrounded by woods, with illuminated windows that let you see the inside. Yael welcomes us with the joy
which she possesses in abundance. The dinner spent in a good mood after visiting the house.
I'm tired and I do not remember the feeling of being in bed and I fell asleep. It must have been lightning fast action.
The first contact with reality was the usual untimely call from my mother, at 3 o’clock in the morning,
obviously unaware of my times or where I could be.
Friday, November 13 - the boat trip and the departure - day 1
The alarm clock is at 5, but at 4:30 Marco is already up, like me, more for the time zone than emotion.
We are in the car at 5:15 am and head to the Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay, to embark on Blue Note in Oxford.
Marco has work to do to change the wind sensor masthead and set the satellite system to receive and transmit data.
Obviously operations are longer than we had hoped, but after finding that the system defect wind probably
was not the mast, but at its base, where some wires were disconnected at a junction.
After a long dialogue with the 'operator of satellite service, at the end of which we realized that the problem
was Google Chrome, which stores the old password into disuse, we cast off at 16:00.
We leave the charming bay of the marina, on the edge of Oxford, with a strong wind on the bow,
which we overcome easily with the engine in the narrow shelters the starting area, but that becomes
a tenacious enemy just outside, where shortwave and high raised from wind at 20 kt in the shallows of the bay give us a hard time.
Marco hoisted the staysail and the situation improves significantly as soon as we can take a bit 'of wind.
We have a long border almost upwind, before you can turn on the left into the right direction toward south;
when we finally succeed, after a tack to go away from shallow waters, with Genoa and staysail
navigation we settle sailing at 6 to 7 knots.
A spectacular sunset serves as an introduction to my first night navigation.
It is not exactly cold, but the constant wind behind our back and the darkness did not make it pleasant,
from the physical point of view, the two-hours on two-hours off watch we have set ourselves for the night.
At the second watch I double the layers of protection and tolerate better the test.
We have telephone signal, as we navigate between spits of land urbanized and this particular allows us to
learn of the terrorist events in Paris, without being able to have any details.
It is as if the purity of this night was violated by a reminder of the human absurdity.
My last shift is from 4:00 to 6:00, and allows me to witness the dawn, until the brightening of the sky,
always under the tireless breath of an immutable wind, that made sail a remarkable distance in about 15 hours spent so far from the time of departure.
We'll be out of the Chesapeake Bay around 10:00.
We welcome the Atlantic.
Saturday, November 14 - Day 2 - input in Atlantic
It never happened before to me to watch the sunset and sunrise consecutively, interspersed with a night
on the same liquid surface, moreover so far from home.
The dawn is brighter than the sunset, as if announced the imminent explosion of light; only a photograph
by placing a static moment, can be deceiving.
The path has been sent and the second day begins as the first had ended, on the same route and with the same speed.
The navigation in the Chesapeake Bay is forced into a narrow channel, despite its size, because of the shallow
water and the presence at the helm is challenging. However, the favorable wind helps us throughout the day
and proceeds smoothly to the exit through the narrow passage that interrupts the artificial land that acts as a support to
a road where we see speeding vehicles from a distance that they look like strange fast boats, which are immersed
in the tunnel sub vapor in correspondence of the two steps.
The approach to the output channel takes place under cover of a group of dolphins, and glossy blacks,
with powerful fins and tails, which rhythmically jump above the water on the sides of the boat.
Lunch was eaten early, around 11:30, together with the first beer; not having schedules gives
us an advantage in the freedom to choose.
Offshore sailing is almost on the same route and the same sea conditions.
We were visited by two birds who apparently found refuge on Blue Note to their fatigue.
The first a sparrow, the size of a big blackbird, stopped for a couple of hours with us in the cockpit,
well protected from the wind, until he regained the strength and continue his flight back to earth.
Next, a small sparrow, bolder, who broke into my cabin while I rested and has seen fit to sit on
my nose provoking a sudden alarm and also a bit 'shocking, having for a moment had the feeling that
I was hooked alone nose and opened his eyes still bleary, wincing for fear of having to face something
unknown, afraid of me, he jumped away with a chirping.
Marco thought I had a nightmare resulting from Stugeron that we take in small doses as prevention
of seasickness and my hallucination has laughed a lot until he himself found the second clandestine perched on deck.
The two or three restart attempts of our second visitor have all ended with his return to the cockpit,
until, after having wandered throughout the boat, we have lost track with the arrival of dusk. Marco,
given the direction of the wind set sails for the route to St. Thomas, mounted spinnaker pole and we
sailed butterfly in the direction to our destination.
At dinner we warm with a soluble Knorr soup after a good ham sandwich and I, after the turn of
the night ended in the morning, I had only tried the rest abruptly interrupted by the sparrow,
collapse in bed where I stay from 22:00 to 24: 00.
I wake up with the power of the engine by Marco, who tells me that the wind has dropped
and we need to recharge the batteries, it was appropriate to maintain the pace and direction
with the help of the engine.
The sky is incredibly starry invaded by bright spots made brilliant sunset from the small crescent
moon that we saw yesterday and today was already appear more substantial.
The occasional shooting stars light for a moment the black night sky.
Observe the universe from here, on a surface liquid infinite, it feels crushed between two immensity.
The temperature is warmer, at 15 degrees, and I can sit in the cockpit, where I can also update
these travel notes.
Sunday, November 15 - Day 3 - Gulf Stream
The aurora also find me today at watch, this time clearing through low clouds on the horizon.
A few more dolphin with us, attached to the stern, which I notice more for the noise than
for seeing them in the semi-darkness.
I go to sleep at 6:00 and when I resurface the cabin two hours later, Marco tells me that
we entered the Gulf Stream.
The Gulf Stream is a river of warm water off about 80/100 nm wide, traveling from north to
south parallel to the coast at a speed of more than 3 kt. The surface appears wrinkled because
of the contrast between the wind, at this time from the north and the current.
The water temperature is increased to 24 degrees and that of the air at 18; a big jump compared
to 7 degrees water of Chesapeake when we left, and 12 C when we exit from the Chesapeake bay.
Even the air is softened.
I realize I do not feel good this morning. After breakfast with cereal and milk, consumed in
the dining area right in the maximum roll, it climbs a malaise that has lasted all morning and that,
while not full-blown seasickness, it's pretty close.
Alternate waking from sleep almost narcotic and I can not get warm, if not at 13:00, when
a nice warm sun bakes my clothes blacks.
11:00 about the wind dropped and we turn on the engine; we proceeds at about 5 kt.
I get distracted watching the distant horizon, to which come up scattered clouds, almost
a formation of countless airships in regular order.
Occasional a jellyfish caravel floating on the current with the result of tentacles on the water.
Algae floating orange-yellow tell us that the Sargasso sea is not too far.
I do not eat. I save myself from discomfort with the “taralli” di Puglia Recommended by Bianca.
Marco fortunately has no problems, quietly maneuvering as an experienced captain,
eats and takes a refreshing shower.
In the morning, we were contacted by radio by a catamaran that is following us about ten miles behind;
but they are motoring faster than us and they also head for the VI.
At 14:00 Marco place the fishing rod aft and we start fishing.
At 15:00 or so, while we were opening the genoa, a Mahi-Mahi bait the lure, forcing us to abandon the operation.
It is a shiny yellow fish, like our dolphin fish, but much more colorful.
He fights a bit 'hopeless until the guff catch him and it was hoisted aboard.
Cleaning operations are laborious and it takes Marco almost half an hour.
No need to fish again. We have enough fish for a while '.
I feel better. The ocean was paved for the lack of wind. We motor in perfect solitude,
after being overtaken by catamaran we saw scroll to our left in the distance.
We eat in the dining area; we end the green beans and roast beef that was prepared by Yael on my arrival.
Night falls early.
It seems incredible but the days are proving to be different from each other, full of incidents and changes,
that here, in this time is stretched and in a confined space, take on a value that never would be noticed in the city life,
where chaotic events successive daily distract thought us from reflection.
The night goes quiet, with 20 degree weather and no wind, the water just rolling, I have to concentrate to place me on the globe,
in more than 100 nautical miles from the last strip of land that we have left behind us, Cape Hatteras.
The propeller leaves behind us a luminescent strip on the night aquatic; plankton that is shaken by the rough water
from the keel propeller thrills emits its own light.
Monday, November 16 - Day 4 - Fishing
For the third consecutive day I witnessed the dawn.
Today the clouds prevail on the light and the show is less striking.
From 6:15 and until 8:00 I sleep in the cabin, now with a great climate, given the 22 degrees we have.
I have to figure out what is the ideal diet for me, as the malaise of yesterday must be started from the difficulty of digestion.
Then I eat an apple and a banana crunch and a couple of “taralli”. I feel nourished and light. We hope well.
9:00 we add the diesel to the tank with 2 of the 4 5 gallons that Marco brought.
I realize that nothing is left to improvisation; Marco really knows what he's doing!
We continue using the engine. According to the forecasts we have good wind in the evening.
A shower in the Atlantic in mid-morning of Monday, November 16, makes less painful the
removal of taxes from my checking account, book ahead to today.
Paola and Yael right now are in Jerusalem, Marco and I are here. An absurd conjunction of events has made this unlikely circumstance.
It's nice to have been able to seize the opportunity that the event provided us.
Lunch Marco cooks the fillets of Mahi-Mahi taken yesterday, accompanied by white rice and an Italian pinot grigio.
We feel the king, with flat sea, warm sunshine, temperature rising and relaxation.
Relaxing atmosphere and warm that Marco asked me to stop for a swim, which I refused with cowardice, that I admit without shame.
I could not stand to hear me do 5000 meters of water under your feet.
Coffee is served in the bow, where the engine noise does not reach, we see fish on the surface.
It triggered the instinct, dormant, of the fisherman and I drop in water the lure.
After half an hour the clutch and we have to stop the coffee break to run aft.
The line is stretched, the fish pulls strong, is fighting, is showing two jumps and golden yellow in its entirety.
The second jump jumps makes him free, that I would have made anyway liberating it, having still half of his twin yesterday in the refrigerator.
The night comes fast and the welcome with a toast of red wine of Spain, accompanied by taralli from Puglia.
That there is not enough and we have dinner, without sacrifice.
The sunset is spectacular.
Start the night.
Tuesday, November 17 - Day 5
We attend the fourth dawn again today, greeted at dawn by two dolphins under the bow, which I realize for the event,
seeing an arched back with the straight fin, which was slightly away on the left.
Breakfast with apple, toast, Nutella and coffee.
It's hot now: boat 24 degrees, outside and 22 stable. Water temperature 22.7.
8:00 we fill the tank with the two 5-gallon cans and left, around 8:45, finally turn off the engine,
saw the arrival of wind still weak but a little 'more stable.
However the pace is slower, with sudden drops in wind and short reinforcements up to 10-12 kt, but it fails to blow constant.
We have come a long way still, about 100 miles from Oxford in Chesapeake Bay and other 400 from the open sea.
500 Mn in all, in three and a half days of sailing. Today at 16:00 we will end the 4th day and start the 5th.
I write not to lose the count and to get an idea of the average daily number of miles traveled, which until now is around 125-130 / day.
There remain before us 900.
Several hours later ... Friday, 20 November - Day 8 - seasickness
I was right to write that note on our trip. Shortly after the wind has risen far beyond forecasts, ranking between 20 and 25 knots,
with peaks of 27/30, from the south instead of east to northeast.
The upwind is tough on the keel and very uncomfortable; we say that the experience to navigate about 60 hours
under these conditions is not really necessary, since at least the effect it has had on me.
Seasickness immediate, vomiting several times, even when I had nothing in the stomach except my own gastric
juices now streaked with blood, inability to carry out any slightest movement without worsening the situation.
I spent the night between Tuesday and Wednesday in the cockpit, hoping in the effect of the fresh air,
but it was more the discomfort of cold that the benefit; Finally I saw the sun rise on Wednesday without the wind to weaken at all.
The boat miraculously kept his course and his gait jumping and sliding on slopes of water, between one wave and another,
they could not measure less than 7 or 8 meters. The sounds of sails and hull, the peaks, the blocks, the background was
a deep roar coming from the water, all day.
In the afternoon gusts intensified, as my seasickness, until a wave stronger me driven back at dusk, but all wet, in the cabin.
There I found, unexpectedly, a fetal position I've held all night, which allowed me a minimum of rest after such a long vigil.
Sleep was accompanied by nightmares, docks to reach, houses invaded by water, eastern ports with boats that
we risked our path blind.
The shifts have been abandoned and so, locked in and on autopilot, we went forward in my swoon, thanks
to the incredible calm and strength that Marco did not give up a moment from keeping control of the situation,
of course, except one moment of weakness resulted in a sudden vomiting that seems to have
no effect on him whatsoever left. I nicknamed "The Terminator".
I learned only later what Marco had to, by himself: reduce the mainsail to the third reef point,
after a tear caused by the wind had torn a large part in the lower zone.
Thursday is spent for me in convalescence without leaving the cabin, until this morning,
when the navigation has returned magically comfortable and sweet.
We take a shower reinvigorating and the day is slipping away serene.
I also ate again after my only food was a banana on Thursday and half a bottle of tea, consumed during the entire day.
Today penne with tomato sauce and coke for me, wine for Marco.
Now it is 15:30 and it does not seems true to feel well enough to update these travel notes.
We have before still about 450 Mn to St. Thomas and at 16:00 today will be exactly a week since we cat off from Oxford Maryland.
Fortunately I made it useful in the first 4 days of crossing, because these last three I was just a burden for my Captain.
The night comes early here in the tropical zone. At 17:30 the sun leaves us in a good mood and the evening.
We're not hungry and at 20:00 I enter the cabin for a night's of rest at last.
Saturday, November 21 - 9th - seagulls, fish and showers
At 5:00 we are already awake. We took the rhythms of the sun and the alternation of light and dark marks our time.
All night we traveled streamers in parallel between the cables of the waves, winds at 15 kn and 7 about speed.
Upon awakening we are 362 Mn arrival.
A lone seagull, small but adult, it turns around, too far from its rocks, who knows what,
perhaps reached so far by following a boat in the opposite direction, as he now follow us.
He does not trust to get too close to our wind generator, so he glides a few meters away, in search of support that he does not find.
After long he finally stops several times in water, for a moment of rest, disappearing between the high waves and moving away quickly,
to then rise again at the water and reach us again. His effort is rewarded by Marco, who throws cackers on which first timidly,
then decided to dip, it immediately launches soon as they touch the water.
A couple of flying fish seem a mirage of other seabirds, diving back that disappear after long glides beneath the surface.
The Sargasso are in large numbers to mark yellow orange the blue crystal water.
Everything is immutable, yet infinitely changing.
The height of the waves, whitecaps gusts, the sky, the temperature, the shape of the endless clouds.
I think it can be defined as the condition most similar to the journey of two astronauts on a space ship.
We compressed between two hard water and sky, blue on blue, transported by natural forces ably exploited,
without hope of being able to fight a single second with the energies that might erupt from this immensity;
that no effort or human instrument could change in any way.
Our thoughts go to those who are living his normal life while I am suspended in this abnormal condition,
but certainly natural, more natural, or more ancestral than in urban living; it is sweet to think of the family,
to friends, to the things that surround us, the objects to which we value and which have undoubtedly
because the flight will end soon, with the pleasure of returning to normality, but now knowing better
because an hour that goes by, it can be dilated a day, because the human brain can process images
and thoughts autonomously, while the body lies in the confined space of the ship.
I think it can be in these times the key to the interpretation of before and after such an experience.
The real difficulty, or talent, will be to not forget.
At 8:30 local time, I sent a message of greetings to Lydia and only now realize I'm late for a day.
The day continues with good wind and good speed.
We put the line in the water and almost immediately a Mahi-Mahi bites but he is free just a few meters from the boat;
continue with snack of cheese, crackers and beer Corona and almost the
last sip another strong pull of the fish indicates aggression.
This time the fight is tough but we win; port the Mahi-Mahi bottom edge where the Marco gaff and hoisted on deck.
It is more than a meter long and weigh about 5 kg .; the showdown against my seasickness ends with skinning
and cutting up the big fish into fillets, with large waste and laughter of Marco, due to my inexperience as a cutter of sushi.
But baptism ocean is now complete.
The day ends quickly slipping into the sunset and in the dark early at these latitudes. 17:30 seems night,
illuminated by powerful lighthouse lunar growing rapidly.
We are surrounded by splashing water localized, due to strong evaporation of sea day, to over 27 degrees,
after sunset favors the formation of cloudiness very low discharging sudden as brief showers.
In those moments winds suddenly change and may weaken practically disappear or reinforce violently.
We reduce the sails and we avoid the big rains. Going into the night the situation stabilizes and
proceed fast on our route, walked blindly sleeping, except occasional resurgence of prudence
exhausted in hasty checks, trusting in solitude Atlantic.
Sunday, November 22 - day 10 - the upwind infinite
Night upwind but in a balanced position at berth. At first light of the day we are out.
The day is presented as it ended, with a wind from the southeast that engages us in a grueling upwind.
Blue waves streaked Sargasso rise impressive before and after us, that we slip-free but with continuous
pounding the bow in the ridges that the upwind beat.
Breakfast of toast, butter and orange marmalade, coffee, consumed with difficulty in an inclined position.
There is talk of classic Homeric, influenced by the adventure of the crossing.
But later, to seek relief in more comfortable positions, we alternate in restless sleep until mid-morning.
Also in the afternoon, after a lunch of dry bread and cheese with mandarin final refresh mouths salted,
passes between talk and sleep.
For the first time, being now about 24 hours of arrival, we talk about the land and its proximity,
constantly poised between the leeway that drives us towards Puerto Rico and a slight gain of wind that directs us to the east, the BVI.
But the wind that we would have liked would have to come from the east-northeast.
It is dark again. It’s 18:00.
We are now purged of any residual citizen, needs to be purified and habits, released by the use of
digital connections and materials. We are the natural state. Man and elements, with a little 'of electronic navigation
enough to make us feel stupid than the real surfers, just a few years ago, not to mention the pioneers
who first sailed these waters, in identical views on these, without even knowing if their journey would have a landing.
We think that maybe we will taste an aperitif at about this time tomorrow night.
Our purity is not yet complete.
The night passed more agitated than usual from the absurd dreams, interspersed with squalls and vigils
to prevent the correct route to the USVI, avoiding Puerto Rico.
Monday, November 23 - day 11 - Earth!
We diverted, while not wishing, to the west and then to the awakening we tack for a border to the east, which,
although short, put back us in the right direction.
The wind is dropping and soon we turn on the engine, as provided by Marco, who had played well the forecasts.
I no longer have any desire to eat. I think I lost a few pounds; I closed my stomach to any food available.
Dream fresh tomatoes, grapes, apples, San Pellegrino sparkling water.
The course deviation sees us resigned to delay the arrival of at least 12 hours, but it is nothing less than
a tenth of the time already spent on board.
I try to imagine what happens in Rome; I think the fact that with this trip I was excused from fatigue and discomfort
of the work of cleaning the house, all left to Paola.
Today, as communicated to me by Paola in the only email that we exchanged, we should start our bedroom and,
perhaps, to put a little 'order in the living room furniture.
These trips to the USA, the second this year, they have provided a new perception of the dimension of the world,
making it appear that we have many possibilities at hand, far more than we ourselves can imagine, each for himself.
Today I'm craving the arrival, probably because it is near; so far the acceptance without even a shadow
of impatience with the constraints on board was absolute, compulsory and indisputable, but not removed.
I am very pleased to have been able to adapt so serenely to the days pass, the long hours of discomfort that,
I will not deny, have made some heavy moments.
I had to stop writing and reading on various occasions; I deleted the milk, coffee reduced to pediatric doses,
such as food and water that seems to me that does not calm my thirst. Perhaps a "Negroni" would put things back in place.
Today I'll try a beer.
We are at 60 Mn from St Thomas, are 9:45 am and now I try to go back to reading the Orlando Furioso, another great discovery of this trip.
Contains root in the American action movies, superheroes of Marvel, "the Lord of the Rings",
and in some ways even the magic of Harry Potter.
Having Ariosto court had to be better than today to offer the entire program schedule of Sky and Netflix together.
The wind comes and goes and goes against our arrival; I realized who it was Homer, just one,
as well as with poetic spirit, evidently sailed, and must have taken several disappointments in the vicinity of the landing,
due to winds and storms against sudden. Besides, now we are able to help us with the engine,
otherwise we would be going exactly in the opposite direction of desired.
Lunch, for me is a suffering, forced ingestion of white rice and Mahi-Mahi, proves to be a time of great pleasure.
I eat very little, declaring immediately my nausea for fish and I refer to the Pinot Grigio,
as well as with peaches in syrup final.
We talked so much that we did not even noticed that a light favorable wind was back and it was good to take the opportunity.
Rinaldo has been with us in our speeches; we think and consider what would have relished these moments,
even days, in the ocean; his boat is similar in size to this and also for equipment,
so that now he only have to start his exploration of the Tyrrhenian Sea, for a start and there is a lot to see there.
Even San Vincenzo returns often in our talk. It's our place of memory, where are our roots of small children,
long sitting on the wall in front of the house to watch the horizon. Capraia seemed the more ambitious goal,
background, Corsica called us to adventures abroad and then, imagination brought us to the west,
more as an idea than as a possible program.
The programs of the kids are like dreams that fade away at dawn of adulthood, sent back in time that, sooner or later,
perhaps, who knows, they will materialize.
However, too much dreaming and too much delaying does not bring in any place; We grow old without doing anything.
Better take what comes within our reach, when it passes, if only to take the roads he never traveled close to home.
16:00 am. In an hour, a little more, it will be dark. We will arrive in the islands of Jost Van Dyke and Tortola at night.
We will make watch to reach the mooring, for which Marco after lunch prepared the mooring line.
The plan is to pass the remnant of the night is left to rest, to wake up with the sun, take a dip,
to inflate the dinghy and go in Tortola, West End, to breakfast. In a few hours we will know if our program will end as scheduled now.
16:30, Marco sighted land !!! A straight left St Thomas and Tortola.
Immediately after open the genoa with comedian attempt on my part that I this time I was assigned to the release
of the top of the winder, to thwart the efforts of Marco who tried in vain to pull it out, while I was pulling it in.
Laughter were added to the sighting of the earth, after 10 days and 30 minutes after having dropped the moorings in Oxford Maryland.
We still have 25 Mn to go, accompanied by beer, crackers and salami.
We pass between Jost Van Dyke and St Thomas at 22:30 and we enter the large bay between Tortola and St. John,
where we pick a mooring in Leinster Bay at 11:15 hours NY, 00:15 hours of VI, under a moon almost full which
makes unnecessary the powerful flashlight to search for a free mooring.
We embrace pleased to have concluded the long transfer, aware that, apart from ripping the mainsail,
everything went smoothly without technical problems.
I am sorry that my physical state from beginner of long stays on board has forced Mark to do everything by himself,
when my character would have pushed me to be more collaborative in all.
After 10 days, 7 hours and 15 'of navigation, finally the keel will rest tonight, with us in absolute silence,
broken only by the gentle sound of crickets from the nearby coast covered with green on St. John.
We are lying in the cockpit, with gin and tonic and olives, to taste us the definitive loss patterns
and hours and soak up the infinite pleasure of the moment.
Tuesday November 24 - day 12 - the dip and the first day of the Virgin Islands
Awakening is naturally accompanied by daylight.
The sky is overcast, mild temperatures, the water at 27 degrees. We dive to baptize almost the
day and the arrival, after the days of sailing.
We extract the dinghy and the motor from the cockpit locker, inflate it, we keep it on deck
and we move the island in front, Tortola, precisely in the West End, where the Immigration Office we register for entry into the BVI.
Bureaucracy is the same all over the world; employees perform lazy listless and slow control operations,
collection, stamp passports. One of them. Like in any Italian office, send messages with his phone and the newspaper open on his desk,
mindless of us. But never mind, we are in the Caribbean, there is no hurry to enjoy the day.
The bar Scaramouche, owned by a guy from San Vincenzo, is doing cleaning for the reopening andwe go to a lovely bar
where Creole consume a great American style breakfast / English, with toast, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages,
potato pancakes, fruit and the beautiful, americanissimi oranges juice with ice, which would have avoided in any other
place in the world than here.
The wi-fi is perfect and allows us the long and tedious processing of checking the email.
Making calls, sending messages, we re-connect with the world left at home, from here in paradise.
We buy gas for the engine of the dinghy, that we operated rowing so far.
We return on board and it seems to me to return home. We head to Norman Island, where the Pirates Bay awaits us,
with its various appetizer and Painkiller.
We anchored in the last row of all boats present, over the last buoy tourists (we belong to another category of right now)
and install the motor on the dinghy.
Here the unexpected surprised us. The motor 8 hp Yamaha does not want to start. It was at rest for six months and,
among the various maintenance and testing of things, Marco had not verified that it was working before departure.
Change candles, dismantling it many times, hundreds of pull rope, drops of gasoline on the water surface.
Curses between English and Italian as the sun set, now around 17:00.
The evening was fading, when finally, like a champagne cork jumping, the engine is running! It is unlocked something.
Marco part in a couple of turns festive and testing around the boat, in the fire of sunset, documented by one of my movies.
We do not turn off the engine and finally we go to the ground, where we expect our aperitifs.
At the end you eat: crispy calamari and croquettes conches frites; double row of Painkiller and then return at night (21:00), on Blue Note.
As I write these notes in the cockpit, eating grapes, sweet, seedless and with a thin skin, bought at the supermarket of Tortola,
Marco falls asleep, perhaps exhausted by the effort to start the engine of the dinghy.
Now I close my diary and awake Marco to go to sleep.
It is 21:37, a great Tuesday, November 24, 2015.
Wednesday, November 25 - day 13 - Norman Island
Our nights are long dreamless sleep still immersed in a boat at anchor, but still end up at dawn,
when the natural light is calling us to action.
Today breakfast boat with juices, cereals and fruit.
Then scenic hiking on Norman Island and return to Pirates Bay for a swim.
Thousands of white butterflies have accompanied our walk on a narrow path still not beaten,
where fresh herbs with small flowers formed a delicate carpet to walk on with respect.
Red hermit crabs we cross the road, sprinkled also by changes of large shells of crabs terrestrial,
up to the highest altitudes of the small island.
The return boat is as welcoming as a return home after a trip.
Shower and ready.
The tasty lunch, with gin and tonic, cheese, gherkins English, olives, ham, bread and red wine.
The post-lunch hour of grace donated to men, in the shade of the awning and with the
wind from the east Caribbean refresh.
At 15:00 we go back to the bar for Wi-FI and to enjoy solitude in a couple of painkiller afternoon.
I think tomorrow is the last of my days in VI, I'll have to prepare your luggage and get ready to return.
I realize that with Marco I spent days of great fullness and communication, more intense than it happened
myself with many dear friends that I'm lucky to have.
Adolescence shared, but also the affinity of character and adaptability that we put in place in recent days,
have created a miracle of ease in the relationship.
Always I cherish the memory of his patience when it collapsed in the discomfort of seasickness
and in the distance I left alone to manage a large part of the crossing.
This is friendship.
16:30 we are at the end of the second Painkiller in Pirates Bay and are planning the next holiday. It all seems wonderful.
I can not help but think of the sonnet by Dante, which alludes to a perfect sea journey with close friends and thought of women you love:
Guido, i’ vorrei che tu e Lapo ed io
fossimo presi per incantamento
e messi in un vasel, ch’ad ogni vento
per mare andasse al voler vostro e mio;
sì che fortuna od altro tempo rio
non ci potesse dare impedimento,
anzi, vivendo sempre in un talento,
di stare insieme crescesse ’l disio.
E monna Vanna e monna Lagia poi
con quella ch’è sul numer de le trenta
con noi ponesse il buono incantatore:
e quivi ragionar sempre d’amore,
e ciascuna di lor fosse contenta,
sì come i’ credo che saremmo noi. “
It is an indescribable feeling, that I am living.
Few people and few boats today; Tomorrow, the last Thursday of November, Thanksgiving (Thanksgiving),
but there is no link, we believe, between the two things. Indeed, as the only "bridge" institutionalized in the US,
we would expect an intensification of tourists and not a decrease.
We return on board with the idea of going for a drink after dinner, which will be impossible for the early
closure of the bar-restaurant Pirates for lack of customers.
Our evening was perfect though, with the a plate of spaghetti, consumed in large quantities.
Thursday, November 26 - Day 14 - St Thomas
Night's sleep. Waking up at 7:00, with the sun already.
Today we return to Red Hook, St. Thomas.
The things to do are still many, in spite of the holiday time now running out.
However, we desire and have time, for a swim with mask and flippers to admire fishes and corals;
meeting the most beautiful and touching, a small turtle of about 40 cm long, I arrived almost touching,
to little depth, wandered browsing among the rocks; lighter and faster runoff after delighting us with his presence.
We return on board, eat something and then off we go.
We must reach the Customer Office in St. John, to check in the USVI, for those of us who come from the British Islands.
The buoys where to leave the Blue Note are on this side of a tip, behind which opens the port where the office is located;
in two with a calm sea the dinghy runs fast.
In the office all is well and goes quickly, but with the surprise that because today is Thanksgiving, we have to pay $35 for the service.
My ID is not different from that of the arrival at the airport, complete with a collection of fingerprints and photograph.
Let's go back to the boat.
We dismantle the engine, settle the boat on deck, we empty a locker fenders and peaks that
are preparing for the arrival in Red Hook, St. Thomas.
We are a bit 'late. Marco has already contacted the sailmaker for repairing the mainsail ripped at the beginning of the crossing,
in the two days when the wind blew strong, while I languished in the cabin.
Between St. John and St. Thomas just half an hour between the motor and sail, saw very little wind.
We arrive and we allocate a place at the last pier in the bay, where Marco is just in time to realize that we risked touching the bottom,
when the soft touch on the sand stopped us just 20 meters from the dock.
Do not know how, working engine and rudder, Blue Note rotates slowly, until she returns floating, without the need for external intervention,
one more touch before we had for a deer section of the marina, where finally Marco, operated millimeter,
slow and perfect, enters between the two mooring poles and we can launch the lines to stop us.
It's around 16:30 and the port that welcomed us is the other end of the line of the long journey that
began letting go of the lines in Oxford Maryland, last Friday, November 13, at 16:00.
It's been 13 whole days and then a few minutes, adventure, sea, wind, malaise, vomiting, vacation, diving,
lunches and dinners, baths, dolphins, turtles, cocktails, walking, stories, memories, readings, dialogues,
without never a moment of impatience, of disagreement or conflict even on the choice of red or white wine.
I can say that we have concluded with Marco proof of friendship which has its roots in adolescence and that
brought us together in this 2015 twice here in the Caribbean, adult, with a life of work and family stories
that have kept apart for over 20 years, but does not seem to have left traces in our spirit.
After removing the mainsail, summarily folded blanket, no mean feat, we refreshed with the longest and
comfortable shower in recent months, in large and clean facilities of the port, where the shower cabins
are approximately 160 cm x 110 cm, perhaps to compensate the sailors of the constraints of their boats.
The Thanksgiving dinner was waiting for us at 18:30, which to us seemed already night.
We have sunk in sleep around 21:30, firmly tied to the dock.
Friday, November 27th - 15th - St Thomas - JFK NY
6:30 Marco has already prepared breakfast; after a while I get up too.
We must bring the mainsail on the terrace bar overlooking the sea, to spread it, measure it and then fold
it with greater care, for leaving it to the sailmaker for the repair estimate.
The operation takes place between the curiosity of the patrons of the bar risers, consuming their breakfasts.
The measurement is in my style, with care and detail, as is fitting for a measurement for four hands
by an architect and a nuclear engineer.
The package resulting from accurate bending amazing for its insignificance, compared to what we could fear.
Exhausted the "main sail" work, Marco, tireless, climbs the mast to replace the anemometer Raymarine;
found that the old, replaced at the start, works just fine, he decides to return to the needlessly purchased.
Internet allows easy relationships between sellers and buyers.
Since my flight has 1h 30 ' of delay, as it was communicated by the application of the Delta, on which
I had received my boarding pass, the invincible commander Mastrapasqua come down the mast with the antenna to pick up the WI-FI.
Now my luggage is ready, all that could be done was done on boat; take a last beer before going to the bar next to the taxi station,
where, to our custom we have a BLT, chips and beer Caribe, the friendly bartender defines us "easy guys", which we take as a compliment.
The hug before boarding the taxi is one of those who remember, as well as all the rest of these days.
The flight to NY allows me to update these notes of the trip.
I realize I'm tired of wanting to throw me tonight in a real bed KING size of American hotel, I feel like an aircraft carrier still in the harbor.
I see the window at the lights of New York, where we are flying.
I close my eyes and the notes.
Getting to the hotel is easy, it seems to know how and where.
Federal Circle Station by AirTrain, then call at the Marriott and in 5 minutes here is the shuttle.
The room is spacious, with new furniture, huge bed and a large window on the sixth floor.
Too bad that such abundance is not appreciated by my body, which has a sudden collapse: chills,
diarrhea and constant awakenings into a sleep at times.
Double micro fiber to defeat the creeps slowly and the situation improves.
The night is long, turn off the light when it is 21:00.
Saturday, November 28 - day 16 - visit to NY and departure
6:30 am standing; I cut my beard of sailor, now useless, I make a great shower, I feel better.
The dawn of the window has nothing to envy to the Atlantic, replacing the charm of the solitary nature with
that of the city lights in the background.
When I go down for breakfast I am the first. The hotel has a branch of Starbucks in the lobby and took advantage.
Sandwich with soft omelet and bacon, fruit, and cappuccino.
Then I throw with my English from survival to ask how to get to NY, and was also provided with subway map.
They are very friendly.
I leave the luggage at the hotel, I return with the shuttle to Federal Circle and too sure of myself, accidentally
take the AirTrain, but I notice it, the damage is limited to ten minutes to go back to the first station
and get on the right train for Jamaica Station.
Round-trip ticket to Manhattan + Air Train $ 15. Long distances between lifts much proven by the continuous racing,
hallways filthy, smells of humanity mixed with lubricating oil and hot electric motors.
The line of the subway is the "E", overrun with beggars and tramps thrown long on the benches of the head and tail of the carriages.
The audience is made up of a mixed humanity, badly dressed, battered, with hybrid extras of tourists who,
like me, have chosen the train to reach the city center.
After about 35 minutes, at 10:00, I emerge at the intersection of 5th Av and 53 St, steps from Central Park,
the hotel Plaza, from the Apple Store with its transparent cube entrance.
I am struck by the unexpected presence of obvious people shabby rummaging in garbage bins and homeless
people who sleep in the bushes of the park.
I walk about an hour until I decide to go to the Moma, a short distance.
By early, at 11:00 there is still little crowd, which will increase rapidly up to 13 when I go out. Haunt the paintings
and sculptures in the memory; is the third visit to this museum for me, I can say I know him.
Outside, I can not resist buying a "hot dog", enticed by a mother with two children stops at the kiosk on the corner.
Then I doubt that even the kiosks of the "hot-dog" belong to a chain; They are all identical, with the same signs
that reproduce the products and all managed by Indian immigrants or similar.
Strolling NY gets a first impression marked by wonder and skepticism, gradually replaced by joy and good humor.
The streets are overrun by taxis, almost no private cars. The parking spaces are very few and only on the avenue crossroads,
where it is impossible to stop.
Each intersection is monitored by one or more police officers, who will be handling vehicular and pedestrian traffic
and give the feeling of being there to perform a task for which they are aware and respectful.
An impressive amount of volunteers of the Salvation Army, collects donations simply shaking bells and with
background music in patriotic background; the Christmas spirit, as usual after Thanksgiving, has already
flooded the streets and shop windows.
I would like to get to Time Square but give up because still too far away and in the opposite direction to the
metro station I have to take it again to return to the airport area.
I am satisfied, however; I walked kilometers on foot and by public transport, in a tangle of lines and alternatives
that dwarfs our meager services.
Back at the hotel, jump on the sofas of the lobby is equivalent to a massage in a spa.
Boat, apart from the walk on Norman Island, we did not move and feet, legs and back are affected by the sudden
stop forced which I submitted them.
Now I'm sitting at the gate waiting for boarding B37, after suffering a search exaggerated by a bear species
to control post metal detectors. Fucking cops.
We are within the plane; I have the seat next to me and I'm the only one on the whole line, 1 to 7,
except late arrival, which at this point should happen.
I am updating Marco about my whereabouts, he announced that he changed the sensor switch bilge pump,
which was blocked. He can not postponed anything if he find work to do; The boat is now a part of himself.
The contact with home via whatsapp, is resumed. It's nice to be expected.
I hear the sound of the carriage that falls after the detachment of the takeoff.
I look forward to dinner.