Crossing the Atlantic in Company
Nine Nordhavns bound for Bermuda May 28, 2007.
In Good Company
The following article appeared in the January 2008 Cruising Club News, published by the Cruising Club of America.
By Milt Baker
When it comes to crossing oceans, sailing yachts outnumber power-driven yachts at least 100-to-one. That was never clearer to me than the day my trawler yacht and two others arrived in Horta, that wonderful Azorean crossroads for cruisers, and found only one other passagemaking trawler yacht in a marina overflowing with hundreds of sailing yachts from around the world.
Our small flotilla was part of Med Bound 2007, an all-volunteer rally for trawler yachts I organized, and our arrival in Horta came after an easy 12-day passage from Bermuda . Traveling in company with my Nordhavn 47 Bluewater were two Nordhavn 55s, Moana Kuewa, owned and skippered by Christine Bauman, and Salty Dawg, owned and skippered by David Bock. Together, our three yachts had 11 souls onboard, several of them experienced sailors. According to plan, five other trawlers made the run to Bermuda with us, then returned in company to the USA .
As circumnavigator and former sailing rally impresario Jimmy Cornell is quick to point out, rallies are not for everyone. Like Jimmy, I salute the skipper who wants to point his bow to the horizon, take his leave of other yachts and people and the cares of shore-side living, and cross an ocean on his own terms, making his own decisions—no rules and nothing to answer to beyond his own preparation, sea-sense and good judgment.
Yet close involvement in organizing and managing two ocean-crossing powerboat rallies and crossing the Atlantic on my trawler last summer has left an indelible impression upon me: that ocean-crossing powerboats are especially well suited to traveling in company. Like a squadron of Navy destroyers or, for that matter, a pod of dolphins, they have the same needs and the same speeds, and they derive great synergy from crossing oceans together.
The twin advantages of cruising in company are straight-forward: safety in numbers and camaraderie. It’s the safety in numbers aspect that draws most cruisers to rallies, but it’s the camaraderie that leaves the lasting impression on skippers and keeps some coming back for more.
To be sure, crossing an ocean on a trawler yacht rally is markedly different from making a crossing in a rally for sailing yachts. Of course, there are lots of similarities too, but for those of us who have made ocean passages under sail it’s the differences that are striking. Some are obvious, other less so.
* On a sailing rally, thanks to differing performance characteristics the yachts are quickly dispersed, gone with the wind, and rarely see one another after the start, while power rallies keep their yachts closely grouped. Med Bound 2007 yachts traveled in a loose inverted-V formation with the yachts evenly spaced yet far enough apart that in 4,000 miles the yachts were in sight of one another yet no unintended course change came close to endangering another rally yacht.
* Although a sailing yacht on a rally is on its own as part of an extended group, the power boat on a rally is much more integral to the group. The trawler yachts’ close proximity to one another effectively means more people on watch at any given time. It’s almost a “circling the wagons” mindset, and it was commonplace on Med Bound 2007 for one yacht to alert the others to something ahead—a whale, a sail on the horizon, or a new ship on the AIS (automatic information system).
* With the motor yachts traveling in a small group, the rally’s weather router can provide very focused forecasts in a daily e-mail to participants, while a forecast for a sailing yacht rally necessarily covers a much broader area with less detail.
* On the only two ocean-crossing trawler yacht rallies to date, the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004 and Med Bound 2007, departure was preceded by mandatory inspections by technicians to verify each yacht’s readiness for the passages ahead, and technicians accompanied the fleet to provide en route support. Thanks in part to the inspections, en route problems on both rallies were minimal. However, one captain decided to withdraw from Med Bound before leaving the dock; his confidence was shaken after inspectors found serious problems he’d missed in his months of preparation.
* Unlike the typical passagemaking sailing yacht on a strict power consumption budget, use of electrical power on a motor yacht is rarely an issue, so autopilots, radar, and AIS are on and working 24/7, laundry is done every day or two, and “unlimited” watermaker water is a given. Running lights are bright and easily seen at a distance of four miles or more. Some Med Bound yachts ran generators full time, providing a zipped-up air conditioned environment, while others ran with doors, ports, hatches and windows open.
* While a sailing yacht’s daily runs are weather-dependent and may vary by scores of miles, daily runs for an offshore passagemaking motor yacht are boringly consistent and predictable. Whether the wind is on the beam at 5 knots or on the quarter at 35, with RPMs set the same a trawler yacht’s daily runs rarely vary by much more than 10%. That makes daylight arrivals easy.
* Because the power yacht rally group travels as a close-knot group, it’s limited by its weakest link. That could be a yacht with a serious problem, but more typically it’s the slowest vessel, usually the smallest. On Med Bound’s leg to Bermuda with eight yachts, our weather router recommended increasing speed to beat a bad weather system to Hamilton . The smallest yacht, a Nordhavn 40, had a hard time making the 7 knots needed to beat the weather, earning the unhappy title of “hold-back boat,” but the rest of the group hung with him. My own Nordhavn 47, significantly smaller and slower than the two 55s that went on with me to Gibraltar, became the hold-back boat beyond Bermuda .
* Unlike a sailing yacht which relies on its sails and ballast for stability, the rolly, round-bottom trawler yachts on Med Bound depended on active fin stabilizers or paravanes—or both. Motion at sea in a trawler yacht is seriously different from that on a sailing yacht, and some Med Bound sailor-crewmembers found they didn’t like it, especially the pitching in big head seas. Good stabilization helps keep the crew comfortable, and it also keeps them from being tossed around in a seaway, reducing the odds of injury. Moreover, a well stabilized motor yacht allows crewmembers more and better rest, especially when the going gets rough. On both the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally and Med Bound 2007, active fin stabilizers were the most troublesome onboard system. My own yacht’s overbuilt active fin stabilizer system failed midway across, and I resorted to Bluewater’s backup paravanes for stabilization for more than half the crossing—very comfortably I might add.
* While a good skipper on a sailing yacht pays meticulous attention to his sails and rigging, on the power boat it’s the machinery that gets the attention. Most Med Bound yachts had engine room and lazarette cameras, but we still did physical engine room checks every hour or two. On a power boat, nothing can take the place of a walk into the engine room to stop, look, listen, feel and smell what’s happening there. Engine room checks on Med Bound sometimes led to discovery of small problems before they could became big problems. They also provided peace of mind!
* As a matter of course, on Med Bound 2007 all yachts did a full power run for about 15 minutes at noon each day. Since we were usually running slow to conserve fuel, one reason for this was to blow out the carbon. The other was to prove that the engines could deliver high RPMs in the event they were needed and to uncover potential problems early.
* Although we did twice-daily Med Bound roll calls, in truth the roll calls were unnecessary. AIS or a look out the pilot house window showed us the position of each yacht, and the yachts were in almost constant communication on our own “private” VHF channel while monitoring channel 16 on another radio. Anyone with a question or who wanted to chat needed only to pick up the mike.
The track of MedBound 2007 from Fort Lauderdale to Bermuda, the Azores, and Gibraltar, showing noon positions each day. The trip covered 4,039 nautical miles and the three yachts were underway 25 1/2 days.
Three Med Bound crewmembers had significant offshore sailing experience in the past few years, and I asked for their impressions.
David Plumb and his wife Mary Ann were aboard the Nordhavn 55 Moana Kuewa from Fort Lauderdale to Gibraltar. Dave has been a sailor for more than 50 years, and was commodore of the Berkeley Yacht Club in 1996. With Mary Ann as crew, he sailed his own yacht to from San Francisco to the Sea of Cortez and back in 2005 including offshore passages up to four days, then sailed back to Mexico in 2006. Dave considers himself a performance sailor and is proud of Star Dancer, his Outbound 44. I asked him about ocean-cruising on the Nordhavn 55.
“Surprises were minor,” Dave said. “The power boat and cruising sailboat and what it takes to manage them safely are not all that different. In both cases they require thorough, careful preparation and maintenance, and good seamanship counts for a lot.”
“Moana Kuewa is like a three-story house with a basement and offers lots of chances for privacy and comfort,” he told me. “Electrical power was much more plentiful because we nearly always had a generator on. Generally, we kept the boat closed up and air conditioning on, and we controlled the boat from the protection of the pilothouse. It was never necessary for us to go out on deck in tough conditions.”
“On a sailboat, you’re always aware of the sea state, the winds, the sky indicators, and the phase of the moon,” Mary Ann said. “On a power boat, insulated inside, these things are remote. At one point, I remember saying that we were ‘cheating’ because it was all too easy. We were very reliant on electronics to tell us what was going on.”
That feeling was echoed by Bernie Francis, Med Bound’s onboard technician and chief engineer. A former U.S. Navy submarine service senior chief petty officer, Bernie has cruised on his own Tayana 37 with his wife, holds a USCG 100-ton license, and has done two Atlantic crossings as captain of Chimera, a 60-foot Alden-designed Hinckley-built sailing yacht. On Med Bound he also crossed on the Nordhavn 55 Moana Kuewa.
“The largest difference I found on the Med Bound crossing,” Bernie said, “was the lack of ‘feel’ of the sea around me. I’ve always been used to the sounds and smells of the ocean underway, but on this passage I had to open the pilothouse door at night to hear the ocean slide by the hull or check the stars and the sky.”
On the other hand, Bernie said, “I did not miss the healing decks, and having to hold on to whatever I was doing below with one hand, though in rough weather it was still one hand for yourself and one for the ship—just not as often because the stabilizers did a wonderful job of keeping the boat steady.”
“As a group, the ability of many pairs of eyes as opposed to just your own makes a very big difference,” according to Bernie. “The ability of many to look for contacts, sight debris or anything else in the water is simply just much greater.”
Unlike night watches which sometimes drag by slowly on a sailing yacht crossing alone, Bernie found his Med Bound night watches breezed by because watchstanders on the other Med Bound were up and there was always someone to talk to on the radio. Often conversations dwelled on navigation, operation of onboard equipment, or fine details of onboard software. “This allowed crewmembers to enhance and enlarge their knowledge and increased their contribution to the overall effort,” he said.
Dave Plumb’s previous rally experience was sailing to Mexico , a decidedly different experience. “When we participated in the Baja Ha Ha,” he said, “none of us had AIS, and until Med Bound I had not sailed in a formation. We had some tense moments on the Ha Ha when a hundred or so of us converged on narrow straits or approached anchorages, especially in pitch darkness.”
“Collision avoidance was easier in Med Bound because we kept to the inverted-V formation,” he said. “We found the formation somewhat restrictive, but it reduced the chances of hitting other boats and made us a bigger, easier-to-see target for others to avoid.”
Cruising in formation also got Bernie’s attention. “On Med Bound we traveled with about one mile between boats, which I found comfortable at our cruising speed. I remember one night between Bermuda and the Azores seeing the boat just over a mile to port make an unplanned 180-degree turn due to autopilot problems. The mile between us gave us plenty of room.”
But a formation can bring its own problems, as the Med Bound fleet found while dodging hundreds of ships in the approach to the Strait of Gibraltar . “As a group, planning a maneuver to clear a ship is more difficult because the fleet is spread out over a greater distance,” Bernie pointed out. “A course change that will work for one boat may put another vessel in the fleet in greater jeopardy if it’s not done soon enough or great enough.”
Med Bound crew in Horta (left to right):George Howerton, Lowie Bock, Christine Bauman, David Bock and Danforth, Esther Bruckel, Milt and Judy Baker and Katy, Dennis Bruckel (standing), Bernie Francis, Mary Ann and Dave Plumb.
Can a crossing on a power boat rally turn a sailor into a power boater?
“We’re still sailors at heart,” said Dave Plumb. “We like the simplicity, quiet, reliability and satisfaction of sailing.”
A sailor for more than 30 years, Bernie Francis sees it differently. “I remember a cartoon that showed a sailor kneeling before his bed and confessing that he had gone motor boating that day and he liked it. I feel the same way.”
“As I’ve aged I find it is getting less tolerable being soaking wet in salt water because I forgot to duck before I was hit by that wave in the first place—if I even saw it,” Bernie said. “I really do like passagemaking under power, simply for the comfort if nothing else. But I will always have a special place in my heart for sailboats—there’s nothing as graceful as a boat under full sail on a shining sea or under a star-filled night, slicing through the water with just the sound of the water washing by the hull.”
“Yes,” Bernie said, “I may go over to the ‘dark side,’ as we sailors say. But there will always be a bit of bright light inside me.”
For further information on Med Bound 2007, including daily logs, Click Here.
Reflections on the Med Bound 2007 Crossing
Editor's note: I was the organizer and leader of Med Bound 2007, and I wrote the following a few days after our three Atlantic crossing yachts arrived at Gibraltar in July 2007. MB
The Atlantic crossing segment of Med Bound 2007 is history, and crewmembers of our three ocean-crossing Nordhavns are just beginning our Mediterranean adventures. After the cold, hard North Atlantic, we can already feel a kinder, gentler Mediterranean , and we're eager to get on with the more benign cruising offered by the Med. If the accomplishment of crossing the North Atlantic this summer was the main course, cruising in the Mediterranean is surely the dessert.
At Med Bound 2007's closing dinner I noted that, with just three Nordhavns crossing the North Atlantic in company, Med Bound didn't make history or set records. Other motor yachts have taken far more arduous and adventuresome voyages and completed them successfully--witness my good friends Scott and Mary Flanders' crossing from Gibraltar to South America and subsequent rounding of Cape Horn, just one example.
Nonetheless we Med Bounders have the right to be proud of what we accomplished: three motor yachts captained and crewed by ordinary people made a safe and seamanlike trip, crossing more than 4,000 miles of open ocean without incident—-no heroics, no accidents, no injuries, no health problems, no engine stoppages, no catastrophic engineering problems, no fires, no flooding. For the most part our yachts and our gear just kept working, and our crews handled the trip just like their machinery--without complaint. We're all in awe of our Nordhavns and their fine John Deere and Lugger engines, which never missed a beat in more than 26 days underway--some 611 running hours from Fort Laduerdale to Gibraltar .
On being prepared: seminars for all hands at CRYC in Fort Lauderdale.
One key reason for the lack of problems was Med Bound's seminars and inspections. In the few days before departure, we heard from industry experts on the care and feeding of stabilizers, autopilots, radar, watermakers, satellite communications, as well as enroute weather, Med cruising, and trouble-shooting Nordhavn systems. The most popular seminar, an all-day affair, was on keeping Lugger engines and Northern Lights generators up and running. Lugger trainer Bob Senter, who crossed most of the Atlantic on the NAR, was our enthusiastic presenter. Everyone gave Bob high marks for his ability to connect with his audience and for the depth and breath of his knowledge. "Lugger Bob" is the real deal!
Our captains learned first-hand that preparing to cross a large ocean in a small yacht takes large doses of time, discipline, money, organization and a lot of plain hard work. Each Med Bound yacht was meticulously inspected by Nordhavn expert James Knight of YachtTech and Med Bound chief engineer Bernie Francis.
The idea was to have experienced technicians take a final independent look at each yacht and its systems to help the captain assess the yacht's readiness for the passages ahead.
Although we captains were confident we had arrived at Coral Ridge Yacht Club with our yachts ready for serious ocean passages, James and Bernie challenged us, spending hours going through each yacht and making recommendations -- replace this, tighten that, add another of these, have you noticed this, did you consider that? How tough were the inspections? After James and Bernie found a number of problems with one yacht, its captain became discouraged and dropped out before the rally start. From my perspective as rally leader, James' and Bernie's findings provided just the kind of benchmark I needed on the readiness of each yacht for the passages ahead. Indeed, the inspection results gave me high confidence in our fleet's readiness. Bob Senter did his own engine room visits which served to confirm what James and Bernie had found.
Of course, preparation for the Atlantic crossings began for Bluewater, Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg months before the yachts arrived at Coral Ridge Yacht Club in May. For Judy and me the most difficult part was deciding what spares and supplies to take aboard for the crossing (and an estimated three years in the Med), then sourcing them, loading them aboard, inventorying them (so we could find them when we needed them!), then finding room and stowing them. That took us hundreds of hours, maybe thousands--but who's counting? When we took in our lines for departure there was barely a cubic foot of stowage space left anywhere. With full tanks and jam-packed lockers, Bluewater was close to eight inches deeper in the water than her designer intended! Our speed and fuel mileage on the rally were just what you'd expect of such a fat girl, lower than we expected. (For details, see the "Med Bound Mileage Summary" below.)
After close involvement in planning and managing the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally and then planning, organizing and leading Med Bound over the past four years, I'm a strong proponent of passagemaking in company. With a few exceptions, Judy and I covered our first 10,000 miles in Bluewater without other yachts in company, but the truth is we enjoy company on ocean passages long and short. The downside is that a group is always limited by the slowest yacht--usually the smallest. On the way to Bermuda, that was the Nordhavn 40 Beso, which was hard-pressed to keep up 7 knots to beat coming bad weather into Bermuda . To the Azores and Gibraltar, the "hold back boat" was my own N47 Bluewater. Our two N55s could easily have picked up the pace, but they hung with us. While I felt badly about holding them back, we all recognized it was the price we had to pay to make our passages in company. Given the benefits, it was a small price to pay.
This sign in Bermuda reminded us how far we had to go.
The twin advantages of a passage in company, of course, are safety in numbers and camaraderie. Our three yachts remained within sight of one another every mile of the crossing. As skipper of the boat on the point of our loose inverted-V formation, for me it was comforting to be able to look back and always--I mean, ALWAYS--see Moana Kuewa off my starboard quarter and Salty Dawg off my port quarter. At night, the bright running lights were easily visible. The legal range of those lights might be only two miles, but the truth is on a clear night they're probably visible for at least twice that.
Any Med Bounder on watch alone in the pilothouse on a black night (or at high noon) could find a friendly voice nearby simply by picking up the VHF microphone and saying a few words. Some watches were passed with barely a word between the yachts, while others were chatty. We played a few trivia games, but unlike the NAR we had no "chick chat" channel and trivia had no major role on Med Bound 2007, especially the legs to Horta and Gibraltar .
Another key advantage of a rally like Med Bound is that most important arrangements are made in advance. Pre-arranged berths were waiting for Med Bound yachts in Fort Lauderdale, Bermuda, Horta and Gibraltar. Bermuda customs met us at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, meaning we had no need to stop at St. Georges on the way in. Agents handled our inbound clearance in Horta and Gibraltar, and duty-free fueling was part of the package in each port. Several social events were pre-arranged too. That left captains and crew free to focus on enjoying the ports, and it's something that worked well on Med Bound.
One hard-and-fast Med Bound requirement was that each yacht have the ability to send and receive e-mail at sea. Most of us elected to use an Iridium satellite phone coupled with Ocens service, a combination that worked reliably. While Iridium will win no prizes for speed, it provides a reliable and cost-effective means of sending and receiving e-mail at sea--exactly what we needed.
A good electronics installation is a thing of joy, and a bad one a source of endless frustration. Electronics are so good these days that we tend to take them for granted, but interfacing everything requires a great deal of technical knowledge. Nearly all of the electronics aboard the Atlantic-crossing Med Bound yachts functione well--the GPS receivers told us where we were within yards, the electronic charting systems showed us the way, the AIS and radar told us what was nearby, and the radios allowed us to talk with one another. One word of advice: if you're planning to make ocean-crossing passages in a yacht, be sure to get an AIS receiver--or, better yet, a transceiver; you'll come to love it!
Weather is all-important in any ocean crossing, and Med Bound's secret weapon was our weather router, Bob Jones of Ocean Marine Navigation Inc. Bob flew to Fort Lauderdale to brief us on climatology and weather before the start, then sent us daily e-mail updates throughout the rally. One serious problem Bob pointed out to us was that the summer weather pattern was late taking hold in the North Atlantic in 2007, and there was increased danger of gales, especially for the first half of the trip. On his advice, we altered course twice: once to go north of the rhumb line to Bermuda and once to go north of the rhumb line to the mainland of Europe, both times to get a better slant on wind and seas. We also delayed our departure from Bermuda a few days. In all cases, Med Bounders agreed that Bob's recommendations had been sound and the miles and time lost were more than compensated by for the comfort gained. With Bob's daily forecasts, we knew what to expect and when to expect it. Using a good weather router for an event like Med Bound shares the cost among yachts and, as far as I'm concerned, is a no-brainer. Bob's good counsel was appreciated by all of us.
Our only bad weather: a Force 7 gale off Cabo Sao Vicente, Portugal.
It seems that most Atlantic crossers under sail or power get hit with at least one gale. While it looked as if Med Bound 2007 might skate by without one, we were finally hammered just a day before we reached Cabo Sao Vicente on the SW corner of Portugal . Our yachts and their crewmembers handled it well. For the better part of a day we had steady winds in the range of 35 knots, seas built to eight feet--some said more--with three feet of chop on top. The highest gust recorded was 42.8 knots onboard Moana Kuewa. We never saw as much as 40 knots aboard Bluewater, but our anemometer read consistently lower than those aboard the two N55s. Nobody will tell you we were truly comfortable --some of us were tossed from bed, all of us were knocked around, and the main saloon became a popular place for hanging out on all three yachts because the motion seemed less there. Still, we all had our sea legs by the time "our" gale struck, and there were no complaints of seasickness.
We had minor gear damage: Bluewater's after-market Steinel security lights were never intended for rough stuff like that and literally fell apart due to the motion. One of our tall antennas broke loose from its upper Rupp mount and flailed around on top of the pilot house until we could secure it. Moana Kuewa took a big dollop of salt water down the engine room air intake during a heavy roll, but no damage was sustained and the water drained to the bilge as it was supposed to. By now our crews were seasoned, and we took the heavy weather in stride. It was more uncomfortable than dangerous.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Sashimi for the Bluewater crew--a small bigeye tuna on the way to Horta.
Fishing was good on leg one, and thanks to Dennis Bruckel's prowess as a fisherman Salty Dawg landed more fish than all other yachts combined. Bluewater landed a mahi-mahi and a small sailfish (which lived to fight again) on leg two, though Salty Dawg shamed us again in size and numbers. We landed another small mahi-mahi and a small bigeye tuna on leg three, but again Salty Dawg was miles ahead in the number and variety of fish caught. Unless I'm mistaken, Moana Kuewa never wetted a line on the crossing--it's hard to hear the reel go off when the doors are closed and the air conditioners are running, and Captain Chris Bauman like to keep the doors closed to keep the "sea scum" out of her boat!
At one point Captain David Bock aboard Salty Dawg head Chris talking about "sea scum" on the radio. "Is she talking about US?" he asked Dennis. Chris explained to David later that sea scum is her term for the thin coating of salt that settles on everything inside the boat when the doors and windows are left open on a passage.
N55s Moana Kuewa (left) and Salty Dawg enroute the Azores
As on the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally 2004, the single most troublesome system on these complex passagemaking yachts was active fin stabilizers, which we all consider vital for both comfort and safety. When it came to trouble on Med Bound, Naiad and ABT/Trac--the two major stabilizer makers--were equally represented. The first problem came aboard the N50 Downtime the first night out from Fort Lauderdale, when first one Trac actuator and then the other failed, leaving the yacht without stabilization. With reluctance, skipper Walter Smithe made the decision to turn back, then managed to regain some stabilization with a jury rig, and made it safely into Charleston two days later. Aboard Bluewater our heavy duty Naiad 254 system developed a serious actuator leak on the way to Bermuda, and the servo on the same side failed a couple of days into leg 2. Naiad is wonderful on warranty service, and they flew a technician to Bermuda to replace the failed actuator and another to Gibraltar to replace the bad servo. A system without problems would have been even better!
Although old fashioned paravanes slow a yacht like Bluewater down by close to half a knot when they are towed, they proved an excellent backup system after my active fin stabilizer system failed. Paravanes are simple and require no electricity or hydraulics; if you understand sailboat rigging and have a little practice, they're a cinch to rig, launch and recover. Ours were in the water and gave Bluewater a comfortable ride more than half the way across the Atlantic .
Paravanes deployed, Bluewater puts her shoulder to the stiff wind and currents as she enters the Strait of Gibraltar.
In the heavy going, our "little" Nordhavn 47 seemed to ride noticeably better than the big Nordhavn 55s. Was it the paravanes? Probably not. I suspect our attention to minimizing top-hamper—extra windage and weight up high—played a bigger role in minimizing the rock and roll. As compared with Moana Kuewa and Salty Dawg, Bluewater has no flying bridge, no big fiberglass stack, no satellite domes up high, a light dinghy with a two-stroke 15 HP engine, and a very lightweight heavy-lifting davit. The reduced weight and windage up so high above the waterline aboard Bluewater did not happen by accident--it was a priority in spec'ing, outfitting, and commissioning Bluewater. In the heavy stuff, Bluewater rarely rolled more than 20 degrees yet the other two yachts reported frequent 30-degree rolls.
Med Bound's two dogs fared well on our crossing. Bluewater's 14-pound Schipperke Katy weathered the crossing like the trooper she is and is now in charge of our pier at Marina Bay in Gibraltar. Even when the weather was at its worst, she was playful and ate her meals like clockwork. In heavy weather she did not want to go on deck and do her business but could usually be coaxed into it. At one point she went for more than 24 hours with lots of intake and absolutely zero outgo, but it seemed to bother us more than it did her. The gale was tough on her because Bluewater was taking big sheets of spray, the decks were wet, and the boat was really salty--Katy would creep around inside the Portuguese bridge trying to find the right place to do her stuff and position herself, then we'd take a roll or some spray would come aboard, she'd slide sideways, and have to start all over again. Danforth, the golden doodle aboard Salty Dawg, had similar experiences, and her 60 pounds didn't make it easier. As our small fleet came through the Strait of Gibraltar Dani was busily sniffing the air—as if to say, there's grass nearby!
Med Bound 2007 was an all-volunteer, non-profit rally, and volunteers carried the virtually the entire load. Chief Engineer Bernie Francis was Med Bound's only hired gun, and Bernie's vast knowledge--not to mention his ready smile and can-do attitude--made him a pleasure to have on the rally. He rode Moana Kuewa and stood a full round of wheelhouse watches, was ready to spring into action at the hint of a problem. Bernie told me in Gibraltar he actually felt guilty at how little he was used for his engineering skills and expertise on the rally. My response: "Bernie, you're like Med Bound's engineering insurance policy—-we're all delighted we never had to make a claim!"
As with the rest of cruising, it's the people you meet who really make it memorable. Med Bound 2007's people have been terrific--the crewmembers from all nine yachts, the volunteers, the helpful staff and members at Coral Ridge Yacht Club and Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, and the staff at Horta Marina and Marina Bay Marina in Gibraltar , and all the others we met along the way.
Med Bound 2007 has been a truly wonderful experience for the crew of Bluewater. And we now we begin the next chapter.
--Milt Baker, Med Bound 2007 Organizer/Leader
4,000 miles from Fort Lauderdale: Bluewater arrives at the Rock of Gibraltar with a bone in her teeth.