40:53.98N 73:25.93W

Randall B Griepp
Mon 5 Jul 2010 01:14

"Let's cross the Atlantic!"  That is how it all started. The exact time and location when this "crazy idea" was first put into words is debatable but who uttered those words is indisputable. If there is any stigma attached to such ideas I certainly would not want my boat mates be victimized by that. I plead guilty without coercion. If the fog of the years past does not completely confuse me it was sometime soon after the “Skipper” brought “Traveling Light” from Cape Town South Africa with Emre and other itinerant crew to New Port in the winter and spring of 2002 . That was their first ocean passage.  I was the itinerant crew on the last leg of that passage from Bermuda to New Port, my first and only Blue Water experience. I loved every minute of that short voyage especially the night when both the Skipper and Emre were laid up exhausted from filling buckets with their stomach contents. Of course next morning they accused me of hallucinations and talking to the “Helicopter” on the VHF six hundred miles off shore in the Atlantic. But that is a story for another time.

I found a willing participant in the Skipper incubating this crazy idea. I cannot say the same about our wives but as we have long ago learned their patience with our “crazy ideas” is almost inexhaustible. Tulin said: “Do it, I will help you prepare for it but I will have no part of it!” I do not know what Eva said to the Skipper but she seems to me not too upset about not having to spend another summer vacation cruising up and down the east coast. All these years our busy lives would not allow us to progress beyond the incubation period. It so happens 2010 is the year that the idea is finally going to hatch. Our search for a third crew happily ended in January by David volunteering to join us. Now this made me feel  real good; after all maybe this is not that crazy. I don’t think Lisa is thrilled about this trip but like the troopers all our wives are she also did not put any road blocks in David’s way.

 Serious preparations started in mid April with David and I getting acquainted with Traveling Light under the watchful eyes of the Skipper. We tried the emergency back-up  tiller. The Skipper ordered for her a brand new Head sail. She also had her bottom cleaned and painted, all the bulbs changed and the propellers cleaned. The Skipper put new condoms on the sail drives. I took a “Diesel Course” given by the main Yanmar distributor in US. Larry Berlin of Mackboring was quite good in introducing a class of about eight boaters to the vital world of the Marine  Diesel Engine. I think I will leave the “tending to the engines” part to the Skipper unless my services are absolutely positively required.

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In the meantime I tried to learn as much as I could to set-up a reliable sat-phone communication system. We signed up with “Mailasail” Express mail service for e-mail via sat-phone. Ed Wildgoose at Mailasail was most helpful in answering all the questions one expects from a novice to the subject like me . We got a new Iridium 5500 Phone through “Roadpost” and also got a simple contract for service for the old Iridium phone left from the passage eight years ago. That one went into a waterproof floating Pelican case which we lined with copper foil to make a Faraday cage out of it in case Traveling Light is lit up  by lightning. That case also contains a handheld GPS and a VHF radio and will go into the “ditch bag”.  I also explored means of getting weather forecasts and maps while underway. There is an array of free and paid services available that provide from basic weather forecasting to sophisticated wind prediction services. “Modern Marine Weather” by David Burch was an invaluable resource to sort through the vagaries and terminology of this alien subject for me. I have downloaded and tested several  “Grib Viewers” to display the weather information that we will be downloading through e-mail while underway. I have become quite familiar with these files and I think I understand what they mean. How all this will play out during the passage remains to be seen. The Skipper in his ultimate wisdom has also contracted a professional weather routing service in case we turn out to be less than amateur meteorologists.


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Traveling Light’s bottom touched water  again in early part of June. The Skipper went up the mast and came down the head stay inspecting every screw and  fastener of consequence. We put up the new head sail and took Traveling Light for a spin around Long Island Sound with the asymmetrical spinnaker up.  To all our delight we got her hulls humming at over 12-13 knots in a fresh breeze. We tested the water-maker and the miracle of reverse osmosis. Hopefully it will be “ water,  water everywhere and many DROPS to drink” on this passage. I tested the satellite phone and the e-mail system. It is painfully slow but it actually works. We have to be careful with what we send out, the incoming is taken care of by “Express Mail”.

Last Friday we loaded Traveling Light with provisions. Everyone in the crew  including the Skipper have been instructed and coached in preparing his one or two specialty dish. We will take turns cooking. I have a feeling that we will not starve but the restaurant on Traveling Light will have a hard time to making it to Steve’s List or Zagat’s List of favorite restaurants.

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Tulin and Eva organized the pantry. I hope I can find my essential ingredients. Otherwise I am in trouble. So far the preparation was a lot of fun and an  excellent means  of opening my eyes to the part of the world I never really paid much attention to before.  I am feeling the wind and looking at the sky with a different eye. I sometimes think that the wind and the clouds are talking to me telling me what’s coming. Talk about crazy(!) and hallucinating(!).

It so happens the Google Earth Satellite view has caught Traveling Light at the Wincoma dock close to the Skipper’s house. We will be ” letting go” our lines from there tomorrow. As the Skipper would say this is the last “missive” from terra firma for some time to come. Next time you hear from us we will be on our “sea legs”

We are going to cross the Atlantic….

Arisan (So far the only scribe)