The 2010 Atlantic crossing – 12 Short stories.

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In an effort to give as varied a perspective as possible, I suggested to team SAGA (Simon, Agatha, Gavin & Andy) that we each set a topic for each other and with 3 topics each we will come up with 12 short stories from our individual perspectives.

The idea was embraced wholeheartedly both in terms of setting varied topics and in writing detailed accounts of what we experienced.

Here are the topics by Author, in alphabetical order.

    Agatha’s Stories

  1. Crossing an ocean – the expected and the unexpected
  2. 2 weeks 3 guys and 4 square meters
  3. Training and strategy for a JB encounter

    Andy’s Stories

  1. The boat or my body – Trimming for performance…
  2. Adaptation – from racing yachts to cruising yachts
  3. Triple hookup and other fishing tales from Squander

Gavin’s Stories

  1. Breaking the banana curse
  2. Boat speed vs boat safety – the ongoing debate
  3. Sail-ability & availability

Simon’s Stories

  1. Passage food  &my 3 most memorable meals
  2. Cabin A & the vertical hammock
  3. Training & strategy for a pirate encounter

Crossing an ocean – the expected and the unexpected

by Agatha (topic suggested by Gavin) | BACK TO TOP

I will start this story with an element of seriousness. It took some time to decide to take on this crossing and I was gripped with anticipation and secretly freaked out.. Taking myself back to the airport lounge when I was leaving Paris I was overcome with a feeling I had not experienced since I was 19 and leaving for my first overseas adventure to Vietnam. The constant questions racing through my head: what to expect, how I will cope, who I will meet and how it will all come together?

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Having spoken to Gavin extensively before my departure the following was to be expected… I was in good hands!

Gavin the skipper who is very serious about safety preparation and planning..

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Leading by example, with harnesses on.

Andy a young gun with much racing experience under his belt and Simon, Squander’s longest standing crew member who instills confidence with his physique alone.. I had a strong crew – That was expected.

This was a serious challenge I was taking on.. So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived in Las Palmas and found the skipper was skipping off on a romantic getaway and I was left with Simon and Andy.. My booty chasing crew buddies. Unexpected!!!

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I soon adjusted to the fact that a large part of sailing is drinking and having fun! And so joined my new crew buddies as we played Frisbee and volley ball on the beach, put in a few solid games at the ten pin bowling alley, got the dinghy out for a skurfing session practice run before the boys invited the girls over so they could show off their skills of balance and strength.

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The skipper soon returned from his romantic getaway and we were all whipped into shape.. Toilets needed cleaning, spreaders on masts needed protective covering, provisions need to be bought… Before long all was done and we were underway.. Leaving Las Palmas behind us! Whoo hoo.. I was ready.

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Las Palmas in the Distance – Goodbye Canary islands.

Well land had not yet disappeared behind us, the boys drank their last beer and the swell was building. As expected my general sense of good feeling was disappearing with the land and nausea was settling in.. Then with darkness setting upon us, I was slowly sinking deeper into my seat in the cockpit convincing myself that all will be well, when there was a loud click and the whizzing of rope… I knew this was not a good sound.. Voices were being raised to get over the blowing wind to work out what went wrong.. A block slipped on the furling line.. Ok that was under control, only to be followed by the snapping sound as the main halyard shredded.. I sunk lower into my seat pulled my hood over my head and kept quiet.. Maybe I had been too quick to assume what was to be expected.. Can I still change my mind about this adventure? I’m not feeling so good….

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With the rising sun came a new day. I had put myself to bed soon after the teething problems and was surprised to find that sleeping on a sailing boat was ok.. The nausea still there and it hung around for the following 48hrs or so but soon after I was starting to feel like a seasoned sailor.

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With dolphins on our bow and the fishing line going off on day two I was beginning to understand that many of my hopes could be expected and may be realized. Still I took it easy this first week, I was not doing any night shifts and was exempt from anything that was making me feel unwell… Hmmm I could have milked this situation.

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Agatha learning the finer points of rope work.

But from the moment of deciding to take this on I made a decision to get involved and so I was the number one assistant for anything that needed doing.. From cooking to tidying up ropes in the cockpit to being the celebrity guest on night watches, joining whoever was on deck if I woke in the middle of the night.

I was finding my routine and before I knew it the first 6 day leg was over. We were in Cabo Verde and would stay there for a week waiting for wind. Ah, this is where the drinking part comes back into sailing, being an adaptable soul I didn’t have too much trouble here.

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Cabo Verde was great.. Mindelo was a small cobbled street town that I got to know quite well going from the market to the street vendor looking for the best fruit and veg to provision for our next leg. The week went by quite quickly and we even managed to take the local ferry and spent a day visiting St Antao, a great island again with a perfect cobbled road taking you over the mountain from one side to the next.

Before long we were moving the boat from the marina to the fuel dock for a fill up and leg two was underway… The trade winds had not yet started and so we were in for a slow start. This is the part I was dreading the most, 2 weeks at sea with no land in sight, nowhere to get away, no way out.. Here we go!

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Leaving Sao Vicente Island in Cabo Verde

I think it was a blessing in disguise that the winds were low.. Our first week was so cruisey, with an a average speed of 5 knots I was happy going about my daily routine. I had decided that I wanted to do night watches so we came up with a schedule where I shadow each of the boys on their watches. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed this, even if on one night watch I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I think that being awake in the middle of the night and stargazing as the boat glides through the water is an essential part of any crossing.

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As good as the slow week was it was bearing its toll when we realized that at these speeds we would get to the other side on January 4th!!!! So as much as I enjoyed an unexpected BBQ on deck in the middle of the Atlantic, and the endless UNO challenges without a worry that the cards may blow away, the building wind was a welcome sight. The change came in at sunset and before long there was wind and rain.

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This was to be the first of a few wet night watches to come, but I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed standing in the rain for three hours, searching the blurry horizon for lights that may indicate passing ships and then dodging their course.

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We had a good 4-5 days of Squalls and fresh winds.

The best thing about that is how good if feels when that last second clicks over and it is time to wake up the next person and take yourself to bed.

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Other highlights have included dragging off the back of the boat with 6000m of water below us….

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The skipper getting dragged behind Squander as the wind and current push us along at a couple of knots

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Agatha doing some underwater acrobatics with only 5,000 metres of water below her!

….seeing 10 shooting stars in one 3hr night watch, being woken by a 48.5 knot gust with Gavin at the helm and finding myself sleepy eyed and standing at the foot of the companion way with my crew buddies all in our undies and wondering what the hell the skipper was up to, being on an evening watch with a grumbling tummy and the sweet smell of freshly caught mahi mahi curry escaping into the cockpit – my favorite squander meal,

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baking banana bread whilst flying along at 8 knots, catching three fish in one go and watching the boys pull them in simultaneously and now with potentially only two days to go the anticipation of reaching the other side!

Bring it on… Expected and unexpected the whole thing has been an amazing experience and one I will never forget. Over and out.

2 weeks 3 guys and 4 square meters

by Agatha (topic suggested by Simon) | BACK TO TOP

Looking at this topic certain stereotypical scenarios immediately come to mind, luckily for me they were not my reality, although bad smells, flatulence, toilet humor, discussions of female conquests and general macho behavior did feature in the two weeks that passed.

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Innocent until proven guilty!

Actually I was in the most pleasantly surprised by the level of personal hygiene on board.. With favorable weather conditions we all had daily salt water bucket showers off the back of the boat, there was everything from shaving beards to conditioning hair.. All from the boys.

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There was a no sharing of soap policy and ‘happy days’ body moisturizer could also occasionally be smelt wafting through the cabin below and some toothbrushes had individual germ covers on them when not in use. When it came to laundry there was boiling of boxer shorts for that extra fresh clean and an impromptu salt water with detergent boxer and boardies wash too.. Impressive!

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Andy leading the charge in the dental hygiene department

To me the most notable of experiences was the consumption of food. I quickly came to realize that I needed to ask for 1/3 portions and even then I walked away well fed.

As for the menu I have to say it was varied and always delicious, but onion featured in every dish.. My claim to not eating onion fell on somewhat deaf ears and so I soon gave up trying.. If possible I put the onion aside and it never went to waste.. And any leftovers I may have had were also soon snatched up.. Although that didn’t happen that often.

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3 Dinners and 2 lunches in one fish!

Consumption of food went hand in hand with fishing.. As the more we caught the more there was to eat! I was really hoping for tuna and I did get one but the rest were all Mahi Mahi and the menu that followed was extensive: mahi-nara, fish curry, fish burgers, baked fish, pappa G’s famous fish soup, Samoan style ceviche with lime and coconut milk… The list goes on.

The reels were always out and fishing was a constant topic of conversation. Not having much to add here I soon became the fishing cheer squad.. Whenever the reels went off I could be found scurrying around looking for camera, fishing belt all the while yelling ‘fish, fish, fiiiiissssshhhhhh, fish, fish…’ somehow I think that got me some kudos as I heard one of the boys saying ‘it takes 3 guys and a girl to pull in a fish,  we need all crew on deck to have the lines out in these conditions’ .. Hmmm slowly earning my place in a man’s world.

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A still form Agatha’s upcoming video documentary –stay tuned

Then there is the aftermath. Once the fish is wrestled onto the boat, usually by either a gaff in the eye or a welding glove snatching it from the ocean as it was being reeled in, then follows the ceremonial killing of the fish.

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Now I love eating fish and so I understand that it needs to be killed, and I can appreciate that a swift hit to the head can be quick and effective, but it is the glint of satisfaction in the eye of the owner of the swinging fist that would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Then once this was out of the way there was the measure up and the weigh in.

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No records here!, but a solid feast nonetheless!

Everything is a competition, and where there is a competition there are trophies. So we had a collection of different sized fish tails hanging in the wind off the back of the boat. Not necessary in my book, and kinda gross but that’s what boys do!

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Where’s your mummy, fiiiish!

Boys also do push ups, and so the Atlantic crossing push up challenge was created.. With a boat target of 15,000 push ups. I decided to partake as my name was on the list and I did not want my list to be filled with 0’s. However being a naturally broad shouldered girl I decided that too many were not necessary and would not try to match the boys. They were pumping out anywhere between 200 and 600 a day each!!! And there is talk of 1,000 each in one day followed by a eating competition.. Maybe that’s just how they pass the time when they restrain themselves from talk of ladies conquered due to my presence?? Hmmm, I’ll never know.

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Our latest present to self– a hi definition, LED Screen… Boom!

They say that ‘entourage’ is the guys version of ‘sex in the city’, I had watched a few episodes and as much as they are watchable and funny at times it is a blokes show.. Needless to say Squander forewent Kris Kringle presents for Christmas in favor of a high definition flat screen TV for better viewing of Ari and the boys… What are my chances of watching ‘sex in the city’ one night?? Zero to none, I am after all living in a boys world.

The upside to all this is that I have got to hang out with 3 buff bare chested boys for a couple of weeks, even if one of them is my brother, no girl should go complaining about that and also being the only girl I got the only single cabin on the boat… Thanks for giving that up for me Simon and you can all read about the trials of cabin A in another story on this blog.

All in all I think I found myself in a pretty good version of what this could have turned out to be. A decent crew and never short of a laugh. Thanks boys!

Training & strategy for a JB encounter

by Agatha (topic suggested by Andy) | BACK TO TOP

(note: JB stands for Julien Bertin who happens to be Agatha’s boyfriend)

One of the things I was looking forward to on Squander was the no drinking when sailing policy. One of my vices out of the way, then there was a unanimous decision not to drink coffee, vice number two and due to a lack of good produce there was very little cheese on board. Vice number three. Not to mention no cigarettes, little bread, rationed chocolate and biscuits… This was the making of a well needed cleansing.

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This was going to be the poster shot for our New age, girls must wear no more then a bikini, meditation camp!

So coming on board this health conscious boat (only when sailing) I thought I would actually give exercise a crack too and get myself a brand new bikini body for Xmas – a present to self and JB off course.

Although at times deceiving due to my broad build, exercise is not my friend. Motivation and consistency are my two biggest foes, but with a push up challenge and numerous other tests of strength already taking place on Squander I was willing to give this a go.

They say sailing is like doing pilates 24 hrs a day.. Your body even works when sleeping to counteract the rolling of the boat. How hard could it be to shed a few kilos in these conditions??

Gathering technique from all around.. Watching Gavin do leg lifts on his back for lower abdominal training, Andy punching out sit ups between his numerous push ups, being reminded of the training program that was implemented by the female crew when Gavin was sailing on Moksha in Vanuatu last year sometime,

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Vanuatu 2009 – the training regime set by the girls continues to inspire.

….and even secretly taking a few notes from the back of the health conscious Kellogs ‘fitness’ breakfast cereal that I was unpacking when restocking the boat with food for the crossing, I developed myself a daily routine for which I would take myself towards the bow of the boat and regimentally do my sit ups, leg lifts, butt crunches and lady push ups.. I had an idea that I looked ridiculous performing this daily routine but thought I went relatively unnoticed to the boys.. That is off course until I was given this topic by one of my fellow crew members.. Not discouraged I will be up there again today sweating it out before lunch.

Another very important part to a bikini body is a good even tan.. There is one person that will back me up on this, my long lost tanning competition buddy Amanda Dormer who coincidentally is coming on board at other end. Whoo hoo! Can’t wait to see you and have our dream tanning holiday together – sailing in the Caribbean!

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Although sailing life leaves you exposed to the sun all day everyday, a great scenario for working on your tan, most of that time is spent sitting or lying on one’s back. This is not ideal for tanning the backs of the legs and so along with my daily exercise routine I also made an effort to find a good back off leg and butt tanning position again somewhere towards the bow where I thought I would go unnoticed – apparently not!!

As a final note on this I would like to say that all crew have their own routines.. With push ups being pumped put by the hundreds in all places from the bow of the boat to the cockpit and even kitchen floor. So I dare say I am not the only crew member trimming up to impress – it’s just that some crew members don’t yet know who they will be impressing. Look out you Caribbean ladies the buff Squander crew will soon run rampant.

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The sad part to this story is that as soon as we hit land all vices are on again, and embraced, so I dare say what effort has been made will not last long, but hopefully just long enough to be dully noted by JB.

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Agatha speaking to JB on the wall mounted Satellite phone – we couldn’t find the headset!

JB I will leave you to be the judge of the outcome, but please be kind as much work and it seems humiliation has gone into this exercise.

The boat or my body – Trimming for performance.

by Andy (topic suggested by Agatha) | BACK TO TOP

Exercise plays an important part in the day to day life aboard Squander. Whether it’s in preparation for an ominous pirate attack, making it easier to handle the big fish, or to rip up for the girls in the Caribbean (or for JB in Avatars case) – it keeps us busy for an extended period of the day.

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Andy making light work of holding up Squander’s record catch.

We have a rigorous daily exercise program that consists of push-ups, push-ups and more push-ups. Before we left we set a boat target of 15,000 to be completed whilst crossing the Atlantic. About a thousand a day.

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We managed to punch out xxxxx, which saw a solid effort put in by all. However finding that happy balance between trimming the boat and trimming your body for performance can be difficult, as seen in this following direct quotation.

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Andy – “Simon, should we put up the Spinnaker?”

Simon – “Yeah hang on mate I’m just smashing out another 200. I’m really seeing the results; I’ll be with you in a minute”.

So as you can see it can be difficult to find a happy medium.

Adaptation – from racing yachts to cruising yachts

by Andy (topic suggested by Simon) | BACK TO TOP

The progression from race-mode to cruise-mode didn’t occur overnight for me. The racing mentality that has been engrained in my blood since I was a child is forcefully being diluted. My main priorities whilst sailing in the past had been the following

  • get there as fast as possible
  • destroy as much equipment on the boat in order to achieve optimum speed
  • obliterate as many sails as possible
  • Walk away at the end of the race leaving the boat owner with a little trophy, bragging rights at the bar and a $20,000 cleanup bill

Needless to say this is why I sail on other people’s boats and have never purchased my own.

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Andy getting used to ‘creature comforts’ around him – which of the items in the above photo would you not see on a racing yacht?!

However now thanks to Gav’s “Go-Slow” program, I’m happy to roll away a little sail while eating dinner, put in a reef on a calm night just in case and delay putting the mainsail up until the current episode of Entourage has finished. Even if it means we arrive a day later, and look like a pack of stiffs at times.

Triple hookup and other fishing tales from Squander

by Andy (topic suggested by Gavin) | BACK TO TOP

Fishing is the upmost important daily activity onboard Squander. Without it, we don’t get to dine on some of finest seafood cuisine a boat galley can produce.

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So some people are happy to experience a double hook-up, the process in which two fish are hooked and reeled in simultaneously. Those people are generally referred to as Stiffs.

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While we were enjoying our little halfway party on the back deck one afternoon, our centre line took a hit, then our starboard rod, then our port. For the next 15 minutes, Gav, Simon and I fought with 3 Mahi Mahi which were all successfully landed. Once on board a few quick jabs to the head is usually all that is required to subdue our dinner. 2 around the 90cm mark, and Simon’s poor excuse was around 70cm.

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Yet no fishing story is complete without “the one that got away”. Early on in the crossing, while Gav was asleep, I put out his favourite lure which he had been selfishly saving. Within 2 hours I was on the other end of a 2 metre Marlin which was leaping out of the water, completing double back flips with twisted pike reentry’s for our viewing pleasure.
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However it’s sad to say the Marlin won the day, and alas, another favourite lure gone. Which leads us into another favourite pastime aboard – lure making, but that’s one for Gav to elaborate on.

Breaking the banana curse

by Gavin (topic suggested by Agatha) | BACK TO TOP

Until recently I was under the wrong impression that everyone knew that bananas brought bad luck on boats. To my mind you would be better off walking back and forth all day under a ladder, whilst opening and closing an umbrella indoors, spilling salt in the process and wondering why a black cat kept on crossing your path, rather then sail on a boat with bananas on it!!

So you can imagine my shock and awe when upon entering cruising circles, I noticed bunches of bananas on every second boat. And to my greater surprise these boats were still afloat the following week seemingly with no major disasters.

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I recently read a quote that summarised my position on superstition perfectly. “I don’t believe in superstitions, but I do take them under consideration”. So with increasing pressure from banana starved crew and a well timed email from my mother on the health benefits of eating at least 2 bananas per day, I set about finding a cure for the banana curse.

It seems that my little superstition isn’t that rare after all, with Google throwing up hundreds of results about boats that go as far as not allowing anything that has any reference to bananas – banana boat sunscreen, out. Banana muffins, gone. Some further research suggests that the source of this great superstition dates back to the early cross continental trading ships. Apparently bananas give off some sort of gas as they ripen which in turn accelerates the ratę of ripening and eventually spoiling of other fruit and vegetables onboard, rendering them worthless. And so back in the day, long before refrigeration became an option, trading ships would not pay their crews a wage but would spilt the profits of a trading voyage. Sailors being a superstitious bunch as it is, soon noticed that it was ‘bad luck’ to be on a boat with bananas, as much of the cargo would spoil along the way and profits, if any, would be very slight!

PC090237 Eating too many bananas makes you do weird things when you’re on watch alone at night??!  Simon caught trying on one of our rags!

Having found lots of examples of fellow banana fearing weirdos, tales of perplexed crew suffering third degree sunburn because their mad skipper threw the banana boat sunscreen overboard, as well as the historical basis of all this malarchy, I still couldn’t find any magical spell to protect Squander from the yellow, crest shaped, forbidden fruit.

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Banana bread was a hit!

In the end we made up our own approach and ran with it… First it was breakfast cereal with dried bananas in it. The next day the freezer died, we broke the mainsail halyard and the generator wouldn’t start. a mere coincidence I’m sure. Next, the guys bought bananas and lay them on the pontoon right next to Squander. The BBQ stopped working mid steak  feast, the Internet connection died, a bunch of Bosnian-Americans docked next to us and kept us awake all night with verbal diarhea of the worst kind – another coincidence…and then the final step…. We went to the source, negotiated directly with the farmers and bought 12 kilos of green bananas – two whole bunches – one of lady finger bananas and the other normal ones. We hung them onboard and boldly set off across the Atlantic…

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I had to dive over to make sure the keel was still attached!

Well the first 3 days we drifted with no wind, lost our favourite lure, caught no fish, the toilet got blocked up, the freezer wouldn’t stay frozen, the brand new speedo stopped working, the generator died again and the green bananas refused to ripen…

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But then on day 4 something happened, the bananas turned a lovely golden colour, the wind picked up and at last check, 10 days on we were still floating and happily eating the last kilo of bananas… Now pass me the salt and an umbr…..

Boat speed vs boat safety – the ongoing debate

by Gavin (topic suggested by Andy) | BACK TO TOP

Are we there yet?? When will we arrive?? For someone who generally loves pushing the limits of most pursuits, I often find myself feeling apologetic for sailing Squander in a defensive way, almost always opting for the more conservative option at the expense of outright speed. I’ve had all manner of crew onboard from absolute beginners to racing veterans. The mix has worked very well as there’s been room for everyone to get involved, however it has made it challenging to come up with a constant ‘formula’ that can be consistently applied.

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There’s no doubt that I love to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Going fast is fun. Arriving to a new place is even more fun and doing so quicker then everyone else is the best!! So why drop the spinnaker when the breeze is over 20 knots,  or put 1st reef in at night even if conditions don’t demand it, or put an extra few turns on the genoa furler at the expense of 0.4 of a knot??

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Time to take in the sights, Agatha got up every day to take photos of the sunrises!!

Once burned twice shy… Having been on many boats that were pushing the limits and seen first hand the occasional ‘oops, that wasn’t meant to happen’, like the time we lay Wahoo, a 40 foot yacht on its side in the middle of Bass strait, resulting in Todd breaking his ribs, or ripping countless spinnakers and other sails on the Farr 40 that we successfully raced offshore in Sydney for 3 or 4 seasons….

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Wahoo racing down the east coast of Tasmania as we listened to Todd  grunt with pain every 5 minutes.

Then there was breaking a boom clean in half in the south pacific on a 54 foot yacht whilst sailing in 30 knots with a full main and me personally being responsible for breaking the steering chain on the same 54 foot yacht whilst surfing down 5 to 7 metre waves at 14 knots, being encouraged to try and go faster… countless accounts of others who with the benefit of hindsight realised they should have or could have prevented their mishaps.

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July 2009 – Broken Boom on Moksha in Vanuatu

I call it having ‘something in the bank’… When you’re alone on watch at 3:00 am, everyone is snoozing away and the breeze starts building, I like the idea that you don’t need to immediately do something in order to remain In control. Like most insurance policies, it’s boring, mostly unnecessary and everytime you go to renew the policy there’s a little voice asking ‘is this really worth it??’

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Andy our resident go-fast ‘guru’!

I’m fairly certain it has crossed some of my crew’s mind that I simply don’t want them to have fun. On many occasions I have woken up to the sound of Squander cracking and creaking as water rushed past the hull at 9 knots plus… It’s difficult to brush the proud smirk off my face and go up on deck, and see a sleep deprived, adrenalin fuelled Squanderer oozing with excitement, stuck in the moment chasing that elusive 9.9 knots of boat speed… and then, rather then joining in the fun, I force myself to be a party pooper, and suggest that we slow down, often in a less then friendly, you woke me up you asshole, voice – totally unintended 😉

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Breaking all the rules on the 13th of December 2010 – Flying a kite at night, we had both fishing rods out and managed to hook a big Mahi Mahi , then 3 hours later, kite still up, the wind picked up, Squander surfed a very respectable 12.1 knots down a wave, rounded up like crazy, woke everyone up and snapped the sheet turning block – ooops!

But the reason for doing so is simple what’s fun for racing veterans makes it scary for some, dangerous for others and ultimately expensive for me when we start breaking things – and that’s not fun, but neither’s going slow. So the debate will no doubt continue. The lure of a 200 mile day is always on the horizon, (we’re up to 186 Nautical Miles VMG in 24 hrs) and no doubt if the conditions are right we will fly a spinnaker at night again, or sail downwind with a full main in 25+ knots or stuff it all up and get caught by a 50 knot gust like I did the other night ending in a nasty round up, copping a rogue wave over the stern, flooding my little sister’s cabin and sending Andy and Simon flying through thin air in their sleep – and hopefully walk away with little more then a bruised ego!

Whichever way it works out i keep reminding myself that it’s better to get there in one piece a day later, then to not get there at all… now let’s get this boat moving!!

Sail-ability and availability

by Gavin (topic suggested by Simon) | BACK TO TOP

I laughed when I heard this one… So many angles, so much scope – “Hey girls, here we are, we can sail but finding a wife is to no avail!! Boom!!

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Friends from Denmark on Squander – August 2010 in Ibiza

Hmmm… Nah I think this topic requires a more scientific approach. E=mc2 – Einstein’s theory of relativity- hmmmm…. Hello… Where did everybody go ??? Did I lose you already…

Well anyway keep that theory in mind I might get back to it, but let’s start at the beginning. Some 36 years ago, my poor little mother gave birth to an over sized bundle of joy that resembled an American size XXL thanksgiving turkey.

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Aside from my rather healthy size I was also born with the incurable SAIL virus. Male sufferers of this condition will prioritise their life as follows:

  1. Sailing, surfing, snowboarding
  2. Adventure
  3. Irresponsible behaviour &
  4. Lucky last, Love!

Unlike bird flu or the dreaded yet swiftly forgotten swine flu, SAIL has shown no infectious properties towards members of the opposite sex.

Despite holding down a number of relationships that survived that uncomfortable moment akin to telling her you have herpes… “Baby, I have something to tell you… Ah, how do I put this….??” To their credit, a number of women stuck by me, convinced that they had the magic recipe to cure me of my misery! But eventually  all relationships failed because of SAIL. In my last relationship I went as far as announcing my condition upfront and it seemed that I had at last found love with a woman who was also carrying the virus, but as it turned out she had the curable under-35 version of it that miraculously disappears between the age of 30 and 35 and is swiftly replaced with BHABBLBabies, House, And Boatless Boring Life!

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…the days before BHABBL!

I was so distressed when BHABBL ruined my ambitions of sailing around the world with the woman of my dreams, that I set up www.cruisingwomen.org – a support group for women who think they might suffer from SAIL or who have SAILor partners who insist on dragging them to far away paradise islands.

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Squander anchored in other idealic paradise

On a side note, SAIL has shown an occasional case of spreading to fellow male members of the human species and  awakening a recessive gene allowing us modern day lepers to adventure around the world in good company. Curiously, there also seems to be a high incidence of turrets syndrome being developed by associates of the infected carriers, generally known as mates. These ‘mates’ who don’t realise how lucky they are to not suffer from SAIL,  will often read our blog and start uncontrollably swearing calling us poor SAIL sufferers all manner of expletives which are not fit for this family blog.

But i digress… I have been told that there are some recorded cases of women being born with the SAIL virus and even some newly recorded cases of a female specific strand of SAIL that lasts for life!

  1. Sexy,
  2. Able & athletic
  3. Intelligent
  4. Loves sailing

I have observed a high proportion of this latest strand in Nordic countries, specifically in Norway but I’m told the Caribbean also has a high concentration of sufferers from all over the world!

So to all you female SAILors, whether you have the virus or suspect you may be infected,  Squander has three infected crew onboard and our latest outbreak is likely to last another 12 months as we cruise the un-spoilt waters of the Pacific on the way to Australia… If you’re suffering and want to exchange stories, we’re Available!!!

Passage food and my 3 most memorable dishes

by Simon (topic suggested by Gavin) | BACK TO TOP

Growing up in a family with 6 brothers and sisters (3 of each) meal times were comparable to a Tokyo train rush at peak hour. My mother would serve up the meals and line them up on the kitchen bench, then call us in from our backyard footy or cricket game. Here is when all hell broke loose with 4 hungry boys rampaging up the back steps, wrestling with the screen door then up the hall to the kitchen hopefully first to quickly eye off and grab one of the larger servings. Being the second eldest I always managed a decent sized portion which set the foundations of a rather healthy appetite

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Eight months ago when I decided to come on this trip the only concern I had was that the food would have to be compromised both in quality and quantity being that storage  and food preservation issues would result in a rather slight and bland menu. To my surprise when we went to ‘provision’ the boat in Florida we managed to stow 25 shopping trolleys full of groceries into the boats bilges.

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Provisioning in Florida – April 2010

From the many different crew members who have come and gone, in most cases there has always been a ‘specialty dish’ that he or she has cooked. Many of these recipes have deservedly left the boat with the crew member when their stint was up, but some have actually hit the spot and made it onto the exclusive  Squander Fine Cuisine list – Soy & sesame BBQ pork, pumpkin risotto, spaghetti marinara, lasagna, chicken thigh curry and rice with natural yoghurt (my mum) Thai  chicken pumpkin curry (Andy’s mum), fish soup (Gav & Ag’s dad) the list goes on.

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Simon just cracked his personal best, but that’s not why he’s smiling…. it’s LUNCHTIME!

I would have to say though that the 3 most memorable dishes for me on this leg are fish red curry and coconut using one of the now many mahi mahi we have caught. Next it is Andy’s Thai chicken and pumpkin curry. Finally the most memorable meal of this leg would be mushroom cuppa-soup with cheese and tomato on toast while the auto pilot steered the boat and we all sat down and watched a few episodes of Entourage – gotta love that show.

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Another Mahi Mahi ready for our dining pleasure!

Anyway it’s 1.00am and I’m on watch and everyone’s in bed so I think I’ll sneak down and finish off the left over beef stew that Gav made for dinner – another winner. Sorry Andy you snooze you lose!

Cabin A and the vertical hammock

by Simon (topic suggested by Andy) | BACK TO TOP

Cabin A for no apparent reason  is the name given to the starboard aft cabin. There are. two other cabins on this boat but as far as I’m aware they have yet to be named….. B & C perhaps? Who knows.

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Cabin A – and the vertical Hammock!

A few days ago Gav asked if we could all give each other a topic to write about to help with the blog. Andy’s topic for me was ‘Cabin A & the vertical hammock’. Now I’m a pretty funny guy and can usually see the lighter side of most things but Cabin A… How boring. What was Andy thinking? Maybe he wasn’t thinking. Maybe he was in front of the mirror after his third set of push ups, applying his Happy Time moisturizing cream and kidding himself that all the hard work he’s been doing is paying off.

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Speaking of Andy he makes up 1/2 of cabin A, the other half being me. Between us is what’s called a ‘Lee Cloth’ which is a piece of canvas screwed down under the mattress and secured at the top by rope at both ends of the cabin. When in place it’s sort of like a hammock spun ninety degrees – a vertical hammock!! Gripping topic hey – nice one Andy.

For the last 5 months I have had the luxury of Cabin A all to myself with Andy enjoying the privacy of the other cabin when he came on board. That was until Agatha came along and, being the only girl and the captain’s sister, commandeered Andy’s cabin forcing him into Cabin A thus putting an abrupt end to my peaceful little haven.

Being that apart from sleeping we don’t hang out in Cabin A so there’s really not much to talk about. The only thing that may be of any interest is the other night when we were sleeping Gav was up at the helm going against all that he preaches about conservative sailing seeing what speeds he could get out of the boat in the 30 knot winds we were experiencing when all of a sudden there was a 50 knot gust of wind that caught him off guard.

The next thing you know the boat is almost  on it’s side heading north instead of west, I wake up lying on the wall instead of the mattress and there above me is Andy in the vertical hammock.

Well that’s about all I can milk out of this topic. No doubt a Pulitzer is coming my way and I’ll owe it all to Andy, Cabin A and the Vertical Hammock.

Training  and stratergy for a pirate attack

by Simon (topic suggested by Agatha) | BACK TO TOP

We’ve all heard stories in the news of pirate attacks on cruising yachts far from land, vulnerable in open waters. In nearly all these encounters with the dreaded pirate I have never heard of anyone trying to oppose the attack and giving the pirate some of his own medicine. To this I have one word…. Stiffs!

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1000 Miles form land this small ship came for a closer look.

What sort of self respecting guy could allow some filthy thieves to try and take from him what is not theirs to take without putting up a fight? None of the guys on this boat – I’ll be making sure of that.

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Simon researching the idea of a submarine surprise attack on the Pirate vessel.

I’ve come up with a 10 point pirate assault strategy that hopefully will enable us to defeat our villains.

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Not pirates, but an exodus behind us as we leave Cabo verde.

OK, we suspect a pirate attack from an approaching boat and the strategy begins.

  1. Gav to go to the sail locker and fill up four 600ml bottles full of fuel then bring the bottles, the remaining fuel and the bucket full of fish guts we’ve been saving back to the cockpit.
  2. Andy to get the gas bottle out from under the seat.
  3. Gav to go and get the flare gun and while he’s gone I’ll throw the fish guts overboard.
  4. Agatha to go down and put the kettle on and cut up the apple strudel.
  5. Wait until the suspect boat makes contact with us and ask them would they like to have a cup of tea and some apple strudel that Agatha has just made. Always try and talk about things before reverting to violence.
  6. If they don’t want tea or strudel light one of the Molotov cocktails and throw it into their boat.
  7. Three of them managed to get onto our boat – Andy  shoots one with the flare gun then I’ll punch him in the head then throw him either back into his now burning boat or into the water where there is now a shark feeding frenzy due to the earlier discarded fish guts.
  8. Gav to get the gas bottle, point it in the direction of the second intruder and turn it on. Andy to grab the matches and light the gas giving pirate no. 2 the choice of being incinerated or facing the circling sharks below.
  9. The remaining pirate will no doubt be expecting another well planned attack but his demise will be much less dramatic. Unbeknown to him Agatha has got down on all fours and crawled behind him. Then it’s just a matter of Gav giving him a bit of a shove making him topple backwards over Agatha, over the side to his peril below.
  10. Celebrate a well executed plan over a few cold coronas in the cockpit !!

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That’s all folks !

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Carol & Paul Cook

    Great reading! loved all the stories. We are in an anchorage near Charleston, SC. can’t get to FL soon enough. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

  2. Michael

    Dear Professor Gavil,

    I read with interest your most recent paper, and duly note your discovery of what appears to be a most dastardly condition “SAIL”. I look forward to more of your research on the subject, and am sure that a cure is out there (possibly multiple cures, and with any luck on the same night).

    My own research and book, The Kama Sutra (another 40 positions you didn’t think were possible) is progressing exceptionally well. Rebecca (if she is still alive) and I look forward to a peer review of said paper upon your return.

    Continue to enjoy your expedition on the Beagle/Squander, and report any further findings tout suite.

    Sincerely,

    Prof Michael (Krishnananda) Spiro

Comments are closed.