Sophie’s Circumnavigation on Google Earth

After our family returned to Seattle this past summer, Jenna and I put together a tool that maps out the route of our entire circumnavigation on Google Earth. It turns out that this is a great visual aid in presentations we give to local groups. It is very cool.

To build this, we created a project in Google Earth and entered in all of the waypoints from our entire nine-year circumnavigation. Each year of sailing is represented by a different colored line. As you rotate the planet, you can see the route we have sailed for each year of our adventure cruise.

You can literally scroll the globe and “see” where we traveled. For example, the picture above shows our 2015 route, where we sailed from the Raja Ampat region of Indonesia to Phuket, Thailand. This was one of my favorite years of the passage and included stops in Komodo, Bali, and Singapore.

In most locations, you can use the tool to zoom in and see the actual harbors where we stopped. Here is a screenshot of where we stayed in Venice. The red line shows our track in and out of the inner harbor.

Zoom in some more, and you can see the Marina Santelena in Venice and the actual DOCK where we stayed. By the way, this marina was a spectacular location, just a 5 minute walk to the Biennale and the Piazza San Marco.

Anyway, I have no idea if this will work, but here is a link to the Sophie Circumnavigation Google Earth Project. Click here to access the web page. Once you are there, click the Present button and off you go! Please leave me a note in the blog comments if you have any questions or feedback.

Merry Christmas 2021!

2021 was a busy and eventful year for the crew on Sophie. We sailed our longest passage, completed our circumnavigation, returned to Seattle, bought a tugboat and a car, drove back and forth across the United States, and settled into liveaboard city life. 

Let us walk you through our year of transitions …

Panama

12 months ago Sophie was on the dock at Shelter Bay Marina in Colon, Panama after completing a non-stop passage from Florida. We spent most of 2020 on the boat and had Sophie up in New England during the summer and early fall. When we learned that Panama had opened up their borders to cruising boats, we decided we would complete our circumnavigation by sailing first to Panama, then to Hawaii, and then on to Seattle, which is the port where Sophie began her adventure cruise back in 2012. So after leaving Connecticut in October of 2020 we made quick stops in Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Florida before making our second nonstop passage through the Bahamas and on to Panama. Some day we will actually visit the Bahamas instead of bypassing the islands.

We arrived in Panama the week before Christmas. On December 23, 2020, my mother Patricia died. It was a difficult time for us on the boat. We celebrated a low-key Christmas and New Year’s at Shelter Bay. Our friends on Dragonfly and Fearless were at the dock with us, but Panama was in lockdown mode and we pretty much stayed on the boat.

We kicked off the New Year by preparing Sophie for the 4,500 mile passage from Panama to Hawaii. We chose this route because we did not want to deal with Covid in multiple Central American countries while also sailing thousands of miles upwind in the “Baja Bash” to San Diego.  To get the boat ready for the passage, we installed a new autopilot and a new cockpit refrigerator that we purchased on Amazon for $200 — I am so done with 12 volt marine refrigerators that cost $1000+ and last 3 years. This new fridge has worked quite well over the last year.

We transited the Panama Canal on January 22 and 23. This was Sophie’s 5th canal passage after the Suez, Corinth, Cape Cod, and Chesapeake & Delaware canals. We shared the Panama locks with some big boats, but things seemed under control. When the last set of doors opened and the Pacific Ocean greeted us, we felt a sense of accomplishment and excitement for what was to come.

After our successful canal transit we spent three weeks in Panama’s Las Perlas Islands moored off the same beach where the Shah of Iran spent his last years in exile. This was a self-imposed quarantine for us, because the last thing we wanted was to discover that one of us had Covid when we were 500 miles offshore. The only time we left Sophie during this time was to dinghy over to the beach to collect groceries from the local merchant. On weekends, this anchorage filled up with pleasure boats that came out from Panama City. Otherwise, we were alone.   

On February 7 we departed Panama for Hawaii. The first part of the trip was fairly uneventful. We caught a big Wahoo early on and filled our freezer with 10 meals of tasty fish fillets. A fitting on our watermaker membrane housing snapped off — this would have been a catastrophic failure for us, but fortunately we had some spares on board and were able to fashion a repair. The mainsail leach clew ripped off of the sail (in light air) due to prolonged UV exposure to the stitching, and this forced us to sail most of the trip with at least one reef in the main. Since we had two weeks of very light air during the first part of the trip, we believe this tear added two days to our overall passage time.

18 days into the passage, at 11:37 in the morning on February 25th during Leo’s watch, we crossed the imaginary line that marked our 2013 passage from San Diego to the Marquesas, making us official circumnavigators! It was a good day.

As we neared Hawaii, the wind picked up to ~30 knots, and we decided to drop the mainsail and sail downwind under reefed jib. While I was at the mast securing the mainsail cover, a block snapped and bounced off my shin, creating a nice gash that was big enough to see some leg bone. I had recently watched the John Wick trilogy and wanted to stitch the leg up myself, but Jenna insisted she do it. She did an excellent job and my wound has healed nicely.

Finally, on March 9th and after 29 days, 9 hours, and 19 minutes at sea, Sophie made landfall in Hilo on the rainy side of the Big Island. Our 4,500 mile offshore passage was complete. We celebrated another big family accomplishment!

Hawaii

After a few days in Hilo, we sailed around the northern coast of the Big Island and were lucky enough to secure a spot on the pier at the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor on the Kona coast. Our berth was adjacent to the spot where the local sport fishermen came in on a daily basis to unload and weigh their catches. Tiger sharks swam under our stern, looking for scraps. It was a great spot, and we spent seven weeks there.

Covid avoidance still dominated our approach to life onboard, even in sunny Hawaii. Once again, the Sophie crew was stuck in a tropical paradise spending our days doing schoolwork and boat projects. One day we were able to rent one of the few available cars on the island and drove up to the snowline on Mauna Loa. We would occasionally take Sophie out for quick sanitation “cruises” and generate waves for the local paddlers while we exited the small boat harbor. Jenna, Leo, and I all got our Covid jabs in Kona, and we were even able to pull together a decent birthday celebration for Jenna.

After six weeks in Kona, we scooted up to Oahu via an overnight stop in Maui and were able to score one of the few available berths at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor in Waikiki. This was our first urban dock experience since we spent a few weeks in Barcelona in 2017. On the one side of Sophie was the Honolulu skyline, and on the other side was the surf break. It was a fabulous spot.

The Sophie crew spent six weeks in Honolulu, with our days still filled with Sophie school and boat projects. Leo volunteered in a homeless shelter. Hazel was able to get two Covid jabs. We certainly enjoyed local takeout city food.

In May I flew from Hawaii back to Massachusetts to spend time with my father, who has had a very difficult year dealing with his grief and loneliness. I love him very much. Right before my visit, he bought a beautiful custom wooden fishing boat with a lobster boat house on a dory hull. We spent several days together in Maine sea trialing Selchie 3. It was nice to celebrate the spirit of Ohana with the extended family during my visit.

After I returned from Boston, we still had one more 2,200 mile passage to make. On to Seattle! Our departure was delayed by insurance/marine survey problems and a short-circuiting autopilot controller (the part I didn’t replace in Panama), and on June 18th we finally left Hawaii heading north and then east. The first ten days of the passage were uneventful; the last five days involved one of the worst stretches of rough weather of our entire circumnavigation. We had to motorsail upwind in 20-30 knots of wind with steep waves and “green water” on the deck. Sea water leaked in from multiple deck hatches and windows, our wind instruments failed, and one of our dinghy davits snapped in half (at 4:00 AM, of course!) Worst of all, the air and water temperature continued to drop as we slowly sailed away from the tropics and towards the Pacific Northwest. We sailed from inside of the cabin with the heater on.

Sophie finally entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca in a morning fog on July 3rd, and in the middle of the day our friends Jeff and Melody on the crab killer Saltbreaker emerged from the mist and greeted us with some champagne and fresh berries from their garden. We were home!

Sophie spent the night on the dock in our old stomping grounds of Port Townsend. It was weird to sail 2,200 miles across an ocean and then make landfall without having to clear customs. Interstate travel for the win! The next day was July 4th, and we celebrated the holiday by motoring down Puget Sound to our home port of Seattle. We cleared the locks and the drawbridges along the ship canal to reach our final destination for the summer, dock 4 at the Seattle Yacht Club.

Our circumnavigation was complete. We were home.

Seattle

Now What?

Our original plan was to spend the summer in Seattle and then continue our adventure cruise in the fall by heading down the west coast and spending the winter on Sophie in Mexico. That plan quickly dissolved. Why? For starters, Covid was still rampant in the US. Leo was entering his senior year of high school and wanted to tour potential colleges on the east coast, and this could be difficult to do from Mexico during a pandemic. Sophie had taken a beating on the passage from Hawaii and needed some TLC, including new standing rigging and navigation electronics. Hazel wanted to take a break from cruising and live in the same place for more than 3 months at a time. So the family decided to stay in Seattle for a year. But where would we live? We still owned a house in the Seattle suburbs that we rented out, but we did not want to move completely onshore, and if we did, maybe we could live in one of Seattle’s houseboats or in a condo near the water? We just did not know what we would do.

Then Owl happened.

Jenna and I were sorting through all of these questions when one day in July we went out for a kayak paddle in Seattle’s Lake Union and saw a tugboat with a little “For Sale by Owner” sign in the window. We called the number, and three weeks later “Owl” was ours. We bought a tugboat.

Owl is a 1942 wooden boat converted to a pleasure craft in the 1960s and has been lovingly preserved by her former owners. She runs like a champ and has tons of charm. Owl came with rights to a liveaboard dock in a cute little marina on Seattle’s East Lake Union waterfront. The dock even includes an inside parking spot in the marina’s condominium building across the street. We had found our new long-term Seattle home. Sophie will continue to be our cruising platform in warmer climates, and Owl will be our cruising home in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest. Even though we have returned home, we are still “cruising” and are not yet ready to move into a house on land.

With the Owl purchase, our family’s plans for the rest of the year quickly fell into place. We decided we would buy a car and drive across the US to visit family and colleges on the east coast. We did not want to risk getting Covid from multiple airplane flights, and having our own car would save us money from car rental fees.

So we went ahead and bought this “Mediterranean Blue” compact and prepared for the big cross-country road trip. We were on such a positive karma roll at this point that we were able to find a permanent berth for Sophie on Lake Union less than a mile from Owl’s little marina. (We didn’t realize it at the time, but buying Owl included entree into Seattle’s community of wooden boat owners, and one of them, upon hearing how we were desperately searching for a dock for Sophie, made a quick phone call and presented us with a solution.)

So in September, we pointed the car east (still a new direction for us) and couch-surfed across America, staying with our niece Caroline in Utah, with Ventus in Colorado, and Dragonfly in Chicago. During this trip we were also lucky enough to connect with Serendipity, Summer Kai, Mimzy, Endless Playtime, and Aphrodite. Cruisers together, forever!

It was a great road trip. In Massachusetts, we cooked a pig with my daughter Sara and her family. We visited with my Dad, visited friends and family in Maine, visited my son Max in New York City, and saw Jenna’s family in Pennsylvania. Leo toured ten colleges and developed a good idea of what he wanted to do in the next phase in his life.

Upon return to Seattle, we settled back into the routine of Sophie school and boat projects. The two boats are exactly .9 mile apart, and it is a pleasant walk between them on a tree-lined street. We have a neighborhood grocery store and a neighborhood pub. For Thanksgiving, we took both boats out across Puget Sound to the Seattle Yacht Club outstation in Port Madison. Owl needs to be in salt water every three months, and we do not want Sophie to get too lonely. We are presently living on Owl but visit Sophie every day.

We are not sure what the future will bring for us, but we do know that our cruising life is not over. Continuing to live and sail on a boat(s) is one way to make sure of that. Overall I we are closing out 2021 in a spirit of peace and thankfulness. We have completed the circumnavigation. Everyone is healthy. We have reconnected with family, Seattle friends and continue to connect with our awesome cruising friends around the world.

We are extraordinarily lucky, and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sophie’s New Ride

20200828_1137095491924300216143357.jpgWell, it has been 30 months and thousands of miles since we crossed the Atlantic on Sophie, and it has also been 30 months and hundreds of false starts since we wrote our last post on this blog.

Today Sophie is moored at the Dolphin Marina and Restaurant in Harpswell, Maine. What on earth would motivate us after all of this time to finally get off our butts and write a new post for all of you to read?

Would it be to regale you with tales of our three seasons cruising the Caribbean, exploring Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, BVIs, USVIs, St, Vincent and the Grenadines, St, Lucia, and Grenada? Nope.

Would it be to document our May 2018 1,800 mile passage from Antigua to Newport, RI via Bermuda with Jeff and Melody? Nah.

Would it be to share our summer of 2018, where the Sophie crew visited with family and friends while exploring the sailing grounds of my youth, including Newport, Cuttyhunk, Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, Cape Code, and Boston? I do not think so.

Would it be to record Sophie’s first visit to New York City, where we stopped in front of the Statue of Liberty and anchored in the Hudson River for a week? Fuggedaboutit!

20180923_1205121530994863715309636.jpg

Would it be to chronicle our November 2018 sloppy mess of a passage from Virginia to the BVIs with the Salty Dawgs — the passage where Sophie was the first in the fleet to reach our destination, beating all other boats including some brands allegedly “much faster” than Lagoons? Nope, but in hindsight it would have been fun if we had.

Would it be to celebrate of all the life-long friendships we have made with fellow cruisers on boats including Ventus, Saphira Blue, Aphrodite, Solan, Saorise Mor, Party of Five, Serendipity, Saga, Endless Playtime, TouRai, Archer, No Plans Just Options, Summer Kai, Sand Star, Sun Splash, Mimzy, Clarity, Britican, Gray Matter, Life of Reilly, Valhalla, Satori, Abeona, Mrs. Chippy and so many more? No, and I actually feel quite  guilty right now because I really should have written about these friendships and because I am unintentionally leaving boats off of this list.

Would it be to showcase the FIVE 5 PIG ROASTS we participated in, including the one we promised No Plans Just Options and Nikau as an incentive to get them to cross the Atlantic a year after we did, and then when they arrived we actually cooked them a pig,  making them realize that we are the kind of people who cook a pig when we promise a pig? No, but man do we have good pictures.

Would it be to invite you to party with us at the FOUR Carnivals we attended? Not sure I remember.

Would it be to announce the news of the arrival of our grandson Jacob, a little man who is as cute as a button? Probably should have but didn’t.

Would it be to relive the horror of Leo’s accident in Bermuda, where we thought he died in front of our eyes after being hit by a motorcycle in a way that that left him lying unconscious and coughing up blood in the middle of the road? Thank goodness no! (He only had a concussion and a mouth laceration, but this remains the scariest moment of our lives.)

Would it be to log all of the upgrades and repairs we have made to Sophie during this time, including a new roller furler, mainsail cover, refrigerator, television, stereo, dishwasher, barbecue, spinnaker halyard sheave and guy rigging, windmill bearings, thermostats, and lots more? Nope.

Would it be to bore you with the details of our 3 months of pandemic self-quarantine on a mooring in Christmas Cove, a pretty little bay off of Great St. James Island in the US Virgin Islands? Probably best that we did not, even though we were pretty bored.

Would it be to log our second trip north from the Caribbean to the Northeast United States, this time a straight shot from USVIs through the Bahamas to St, Augustine, with subsequent stops in Charleston, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New York? No, because we were supposed to be in the southern Caribbean this summer, preparing for our fall passage through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific. But, you know, Covid.

Would it be to celebrate Sophie’s first voyage to Maine, our 2020 summer cruising grounds that make us so thankful we own an excellent diesel heater that we run almost every day? Brrrrr! Too cold!

20200819_1122486470513960731502303.jpg

Would it be to share with all of you the ongoing transformation of Leo and Hazel from the little kids who left Seattle with us almost 8 years ago into the young adults who still bring us happiness and joy every day? My bad.

No to all of these stories that could easily fill a book. So what on earth would cause me to finally pick up a pen to write a blog post?

WE BOUGHT A NEW ELECTRIC SCOOTER, AND IT IS REALLY COOL!!!!!!!

20200828_1603246297203749049037706.jpgYep, that is why we are finally writing a blog post, and yes, those are lobsters on my shorts. Maine!

This week we took delivery of a Segway Ninebot Max, and I am excited to say it will be a game-changer for us. The Segway has a range of 40 miles and can hit a top speed of 18.6 miles per hour. It weighs in at 41 pounds — the equivalent weight of a 5 gallon jerrycan of gasoline — so it is luggable to- and from- the dinghy. It is much easier to assemble and takes up less space then our folding mountain bikes, which we have not used in over two years. Most importantly, as we like to say in New England, it is wicked cool!

Amazon has these babies in stock in the US for $800.

Why is Sophie and her crew entering the Personal Electronic Vehicle (PEV) era, and why are we doing so now? (As far as we can tell, we are PEV pioneers in the cruising community.)

Well, for starters, with the pandemic we are no longer taking taxis or buses on shore when we run errands, and this practice has resulted in some long walks for us. Examples include 6 miles round trip to a drug store in St, Augustine; 4 miles round trip to a hardware store in Maryland, and 5 miles round trip to a West Marine in Newport. Earlier this month in Southwest Harbor, our freezer was malfunctioning and I had to walk 3 miles round trip to a Napa Auto Parts store TWICE in one afternoon. I know, I know, walking is healthy, but this last double trip in Maine broke me. Did I mention that each trip to the car parts store also included an 8 mile round trip dinghy ride?

On Sophie, we do own a couple of folding bikes, but we have not used them in over two years. I guess they are too awkward to get to shore in a dinghy, set up, use for a bit, break down, and then take back to the boat. Besides, it turns out that many Caribbean Islands are not well-suited for bike riding. We will keep the bikes, but the Segway gives us another option for errands.

If one of us is in the middle of a boat project and needs to go to a store to buy some random part in order to complete the job, our current transportation options simply weren’t cutting it. In theory, the Segway will be much easier to use in this scenario.

Besides, just look at the smile on Jenna’s face (behind the mask, of course) as she tools around on our new baby!

Earlier this week, I took the Segway out on a 9 mile roundtrip trial run to buy beer and soda (you know, the “spare parts” scenario described above.)   Mission accomplished! It took me 40 minutes, and I had so much fun gliding silently along the side of the road at a constant speed 15-16 miles per hour, including going up and down hills.

We even accessorized this baby with a bag hook and a cellphone holder. Spare parts, here we come!

20200828_114447265235332677198237.jpg

So this is our new blog post. Between Covid and the BLM reckoning take place right now, there are a lot of people hurting in the US. It is clearly affecting us on Sophie. I hope reading this blog post has provided you with as much of a distraction from the news as writing the post has provided me.

I also hope that we all do not have to wait another three years before we write another post. By that time, our circumnavigation will likely be completed. (It has been almost eight years and counting since we departed.) Leo will be finishing up his first year of college. Hazel will be eligible for a learner’s permit (assuming we owned a car and lived in a place that could issue her a permit.)

In the meantime, all that I can say is that we continue to be incredibly lucky with this life that we live. Please stay safe, everyone.

received_228799411883553.jpeg

Sophie is One Knot Faster With Her New Sails

Greetings from our anchorage at Isla Graciosa in the Canary Islands!

We have sailed 1,000 miles since our last update from Ibiza, with stops along the Spanish coast, Gibraltar, and Madeira on our way here. Sophie and her crew are very excited to be doing ocean passages again, and we think we will be ready for our big Atlantic crossing next month.

Here is what’s going on with Sophie as we continue to get ready.

New Sails!

While we were in Gibraltar, we upgraded Sophie’s mainsail and genoa. We think the new sails have added a knot of boat speed to Sophie, which is a big big deal for us.

Our old main and genoa came with the boat when we bought her almost 10 years ago. They’ve served us well during this time, propelling us 3/4 of the way around the globe without any major tears.

But over the years, these two babies became tired, baggy, and a little threadbare. Jenna and I were worried we would suffer a major blowout during our Atlantic crossing in January, so we decided earlier this year to replace them. After 10 years of service, these two sails had given us all they could give.

Taking them off one last time was a family affair. Sophie’s sails are big suckers. The main alone is almost 1,000 square feet.

For our new sails, we worked with Phil Auger from Zoom Sails in Malaysia. We met Phil when we were in Langkawi a couple of years ago, and we are extremely happy with his work. He designed a new square-topped mainsail for us as a replacement for our big roach original main, and he did so in a way that enabled us to use our existing battcars and 5 of our 6 original battens.

The new main weighed 80 kilos and arrived in a box bigger than Hazel!

Phil used the same approach Lagoon uses for the top of the square-topped mainsails, with a length of Dyneema rope running through two ring bolts on the top battcar. This enables the sail to lie flat while in the bag and snug to the mast when raised, regardless of the reef. The result is a great shape with more power.

The new main has three reef points, just like the old one. We replaced the reef blocks and reef lines, and on our 270 mile run from Madeira to the Canaries we reefed multiple times with ease. There is much less friction than before.

The new genoa is the same basic size and shape as the original one. We opted to forgo the window this time because the old one kept tearing. We also went with a blue Sunbrella UV strip that matches the blue of the mainsail bag and bimini.

All in all we are very happy with this work. Both sails are made from high UV resistant dacron. They feel stiffer and stronger. Phil was able to do all of the design work remotely, and he was very responsive throughout the entire process. We are happy customers.

So why do we think we are a knot faster? It’s mostly a gut feeling based on multiple moments on our Madeira-Canaries run this week. When we departed the Quinto Do Lorde Marina 3 days ago, we were immediately hit with 25-30 knot winds directly on the beam along with steep 2 meter seas. With 2 reefs in the main and 1/3 of the jib rolled in, we sailed at 9-10 knots. Later on that day with 15 knots of apparent wind on the beam with 1 reef in the main and a full jib, we sailed at 8 knots. A day later with 10 knots apparent wind @ 70° with full main and jib, we sailed at 7 knots. This all felt faster to me and Jenna and reminded us of how Sophie sailed when we first bought her. The sagginess of Sophie’s old sails clearly affected her performance. 

Sophie’s sailplan is based on a very large mainsail and a smallish foretriangle for the genoa. Newer Lagoons use a more balanced design where the mast is located farther aft, reducing the relative size of the main compared to the foresails. I think the square-topped main adds more power to Sophie, especially when reefed. Since Jenna and I reef much more frequently than we did when we bought the boat, this added power actually translates to more speed with greater stability and safety in winds greater than 15 knots because that is when we start reefing.

Like I said, we are very happy with these sails

Newish Spinnaker


In addition to our new main and genoa, we also bought a second-hand, barely-used Parasailor spinnaker from some friends earlier this year. This sail is sized for a Lagoon 450, so it is small for Sophie. That’s perfect for us. For the last 5 years, Jenna and I have been looking for a solution for straight downwind sailing in 15-30 knot winds. Our existing spinnaker is too big for winds at this speed, and our other three sails are suboptimal for wind at this angle. The Parasailor has a foil cut into the middle of the sail, giving it lift in lighter air and resilience during heavy gusts (because the wind blows through the hole in the middle of the sail.) Friends who own Parasailors love them, so we decided to buy one. The price was right, and the previous owner even threw in some extra sheets and blocks as part of the deal. 🤣

Our exit from Gibraltar provided us with the perfect opportunity to test the new chute, and again Jenna and I were very happy with the results. The wind blew 20-30 knots in the Strait as Sophie sailed dead downwind into the Atlantic at 8-9 knots. With our big chute, these winds would give us white knuckles and heart palpitations while we constantly worry about when we should take it down. The new chute felt stable and controlled in this situation. It didn’t jerk around in gusts, and the foil provided lift to Sophie’s bows, giving us a bit of a surfing feel. 

The wind died down  after the first 50 miles, and we decided to leave the new spinnaker up overnight. This is the first time we’ve done this without additional crew on board. This sail is a great new option for us and will hopefully cut a day or two off our Atlantic crossing time next month.

Other Preparations in Gibraltar

By the time we reached Gibraltar, it had been 18 months since Sophie had sailed in the open ocean. Jenna and I wanted to make sure that the boat was once-again passage-ready, so we went through our usual series of pre-crossing checks.

For starters, we had local riggers Sean and James inspect our mast and rigging. They believed that our rig was tuned too tightly, resulting in some extra bend in the mast. They also discovered that some of the bolts that hold the mast to its supporting compression post in the cabin had come loose. Yikes!


There were no signs of cracks, water leaks, or structural damage in the area. We also contacted Lagoon, and they did not indicate it was a problem. So we tightened the bolts and re-tuned the rig with less mast bend.

Sean and James also discovered that one of our diamond stays – the steel cables that hold the mast in column – was showing signs of deterioration so they replaced it. They also machined some new bearings for the gooseneck on the boom. It now wiggles a lot less.

We replaced all of our running rigging – the ropes that we use as sheets, halyards, reef lines, guys, and traveller controls. We had some of these custom-made in England.

Finally – and one could argue most importantly – we had our liferaft inspected and recertified. It still looks brand new. Hope we never use it!

While we were in Gibraltar, we were able to carve out the time to for a 2-day visit to Cordoba and Seville. Other than that, we worked 10 hour-days getting Sophie ready for the Atlantic. Just getting the new sails off and on took 3 days! We were so busy we didn’t even have time to climb The Rock, tour the tunnels, or see the monkeys. That’s really sad, so we will have to come back.

Thunk Thunk Thunk in Madeira

We enjoyed an uneventful 600 mile/4 day run in the Atlantic Ocean from Gibraltar to Madeira. Other than the downwind sleigh ride in the Strait of Gibraltar, the highlight of this passage was a “double takedown” of two mahi mahi at the same time.

It was a funny catch. Leo was at the wheel when a fish hit our lighter pole. He stopped the boat, yelled FISH FISH FISH, and started reeling her in. I was below taking a nap and  came up to reel in the line on our other pole. We do this so the lines don’t become tangled. I soon realized that I had a fish on my line as well. Leo’s fish was 4 pounds, and mine weighed 22 pounds. Ha!

They both tasted delicious. Leo is certainly getting big, isn’t he?

We chose Madeira because my daughter Sara and her wife Julie had planned a big reunion there for November. Julie’s father grew up in Madeira, and we had 8 people from the US fly in to join 20 cousins, aunts, and uncles who live in Madeira for two weeks of family meals and celebrations. We had an absolutely wonderful visit which we will hope to cover in another blog post.

So why the thunk thunk thunk?

Well, as part of the two week reunion we invited 25 souls to come join us for an outing on Sophie. It was a calm and sunny day, and we thought we’d go out for a bit of a sail, throw a couple of lines in the water, and maybe catch us some fish.

So once we had everyone on board, I fired up the engines and heard a loud, crumbly Thunk Thunk Thunk noise from the starboard side. It didn’t sound right at all, so I killed the engines and went outside to see if a neighbour on a powerboat had started his loud, poorly-tuned diesel at the exact moment as I did. Nope. So I tried one more time and heard the exact same noise. I quickly killed the engine, went to examine it and found it was askew by 5 degrees. I knew immediately that it had jumped it’s mounts, the steel and rubber “feet” that connect a diesel engine to the hull of a boat.

Brand new engine mounts look like this.

Sophie’s starboard engine mounts on the afternoon of the party looked like this.

Believe it or not, it was a relatively easy repair. Jenna was heading to the States for a few days to attend her sister Julie’s baby shower, and we made sure she returned with four new engine mounts. The local Yanmar dealer sent a couple of guys over – one of them was a big fella – and they simply used a lever to lift the engine up a few inches to get enough space to swap out the mounts. There was no damage to the sail drives or hulls.

All four of the old mounts looked like this.

Needless to say, we were ridiculously lucky that this happened to us while on a dock. The mounts had slowly rusted during the last 10 years, and at our dock in Madeira there was a strong, sharp sideways surge that, over the course of a week, slowly nudged that engine off it’s mount. The mounts on the port engine were also completely shot, but that engine hadn’t moved. If this failure had occurred at sea in rough weather, we could have experienced some significant damage.

The good news is that our afternoon outing on Sophie was still a complete success! I took everyone out for dinghy rides; people enjoyed the marina’s salt water swimming pool; and we even had a bit of a dance party.

We had a wonderful visit to Madeira and made some lifelong friends. Jenna, Leo, Hazel, and I cannot begin to adequately express our gratitude for the wonderful hospitality this big beautiful family showed us. We’ll be back. Many, many times.

Now we are on the northeast corner of the Canaries anchored by a beach in a marine reserve. There are ten other boats here, and I assume they will all be crossing the Atlantic in the next 6 weeks.

We also met here the rarest of rare commodities on our extended adventure: an American family with kids out cruising on a catamaran. The boat’ s name is Ventus, the family is from the Midwest, and we all look forward to playing with them for the next few months. We even threw an impromptu dinner party last night with them and a French family boat. It was great to see packs of kids running around Sophie again.

So  that’s about all for now. We definitely feel like we are back in Adventure Cruise mode, and we definitely still feel lucky.

ps … here is a gratuitous photo of a pilot whale playing on our bow.

#sickeningvacationphotos

#winning