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Trans Atlantic Crossing



Starting in Palmetto, Florida, then thru the Lake Okeechobee canal in Florida, onward to Bermuda and the Azores, past Gibraltar, and finally cruising the north shore and EuroCanals of the Mediterranean Sea.


August 19, 2014

After a whirlwind tour of night anchorages up the Spanish Costa del Sol, stopping at Almerimar for a break, and waiting for the wind to die down at Cabo de Gata, we finally docked in Cartagena on the town quay for a week of sightseeing. Touring the 2200 year old archeology sites included the Roman Theater and the Punic Wall. Then onto Mar Menor for a therapeutic mud bath.

Cartagena


August 10, 2014

We stopped for a day at Ceuta on our way to Marina Smir in Morocco. The Moroccan beaches were very modern. We toured the Medinas(walled old city) at Tetauen and Chefchouan, each loaded with shops, for a taste of old Morocco. We saw a mosque that was over 1000 years old. A traditional Moroccan meal in the restaurant inside the Tetuauen Medina was a highlight.

Morocco


August 2, 2014

Dolphins greeting us in the bay and photobombed our pictures of the Rock. We stayed at La Lenia at Marina Alcaidesa, ate some grilled cuttlefish and toured the whole of Gibraltar. I hiked to the top using the Mediterranean steps trail and met the Barbary monkeys on the way back. I also toured the caves and tunnels which are abundant.

Gibraltar


July 30, 2014

We first anchored at Mazagon, where Columbus passed by 500 years ago. Then we journeyed to Cadiz and spent a week touring the city and the forts.

Spain


July 20, 2014

Cabo de Saao Vicente was the first mainland sighted, then a stop at Sages and Baleeira for some spicy snails. Portimao was a great anchorage with beaches. Cabo de Santa Maria was the last anchorage in Portugal and full of sailboats.

Portugal


July 3, 2014

Sao Miguel offered a great port at Ponta Delgada and very nice hiking at Furnas around the lake and fumeroles in the volcano caldera.

Sao Miguel


June 26, 2014

The beautiful landscapes of Pico with the volcano always above you. Clouds often cover the volcano above 3000 ft. The harbor at Madalena is small and we were the only sailors, sharing it with tuna fishermen and ferries.

Landscapes of Pico








June 23, 2014

Horta was full of yachts with transAtlantic sailors everywhere. There were a lot of French, Dutch, and German boats coming back from the Caribbean. A visit to Peter's Sports Bar is mandatory and we had to examine the marina wall full of painted posters of ships that have passed this way across the Atlantic before. A short stay and we were off to Pico, the volcano seen behind the yachts in harbor.

Photos of Horta.




Querencia at anchor in Horta Harbor.



June 14, 2014

Bermuda was quite fun. Biking and hiking and just exploring were the norm. St Georges was full of sailboats passing through from the Caribbean and the US on their way to Europe.

The passage to Flores was somewhat tiring and lasted 14 days. High winds and heavy seas were the norm unfortunately. 20 hours into the sail, we had an accidental jibe and tore 2 holes in the mainsail at the reefing points. The second night, we heaved to for 10 hours in front of 12-15 foot waves. The third day the spinnaker caught at the top of the mast and we couldn't free it. It stayed lashed to the foredeck until we reached Flores. The last day we encountered 16 hours of 30 knot winds and 7 meter seas.

Photos of Flores and the Querencia at anchor with the spinnaker still up.




May 16, 2014

All of the new equipment is working great on the Stuart/Bermuda transit(870 nautical miles). The sea is unbelievably smooth and the weather calm, sunny, and hot - nice for getting a tan but very slow for the sailor. It was so smooth that I believe I could have driven my bass boat across to Bermuda and gotten there in one tenth the time. Very light winds caused many slow days. The shade of the canvas was a welcome relief.

Photos of a ship crossing and sunrise on the ocean. My cup of mate is at the helm.


There were beautiful sunsets and sunrises along the way, including the elusive green spot. This sunset about 300 miles from Bermuda.

At night we watched shooting stars and bioluminescent algae in the water. A school of dolphin came by on night watch, scary at first as you couldn't see them but heard them blowing air loudly next to the boat. Fishing filled in the days: one barracuda caught and released, one dolphin fish missed, one huge bull dolphin fish lost at the boat, and one very nice sized dolphin fish for dinner. One day, we crossed two other sailboats traveling together in the middle of the ocean.

Photos of a nice dolphin fish, my bunk, and the cockpit.


May 2, 2014

We are in Stuart, Florida doing last minute preparations for the crossing. The Okeechobee Waterway transit across Florida went smoothly and was quite interesting. We motored almost all the way. We were searched by US Customs in Ft. Myers(the boat is Canadian). We saw 3 alligators swimming. We stopped for a couple of hours to have a drink and talk with two old friends of Jim and Liz at a waterway park. A thunderstorm hit us with strong winds one afternoon. We anchored on southern Lake Okeechobee one night. We went under a bridge that was taller than the boat(We've been through almost 20 draw bridges and 5 locks since starting.

I spent the first morning in Stuart up the mast doing various things in preparation for the crossing(straightening the antenna, upgrading the storm halyard, adding courtesy flag halyards. We are repacking the boat which means taking everything out and putting it back where it won't end up in the floor at sea. Jim's RO freshwater maker is working great at over 20 gallons per hour. A water leak in the dinghy has been repaired. We are watching the weather diligently now before the crossing. We are almost ready to cross.

The adventure isn't always on the open ocean.


April 22, 2014

It appears we'll now be leaving Friday or Saturday the 25th. We are waiting on some spare parts to arrive. There have been a lot of upgrades added to the boat. There are 6 gps on board now. One in the Garmin GPS Navigator, one in the Raymarine auto helm, one in the AIS system, one handheld being used with a laptop computer as a secondary navigation system, and 2 spare handheld GPS's.

April 18, 2014

Everyone is back on the boat now. It's nice to be back in warm weather. We are a few days away from sailing. My car has been left in Virginia. Jim is returning his car this weekend. Last minute spare parts have been ordered. We are packing the boat now for the trip; stowing necessary gear that will be rarely used in hard to reach locations to make room for food. The provisioning has started. Yesterday we purchased canned goods for the journey. Today we will add a ton of shelf stable milk, bread mixes for baking loaves, and a lot of beer and rum, of course. Fresh vegetables and fresh fruit will be the last items added to the ship's stores.

April 3, 2014

After spending most of the winter in sunny Florida on the boat, we are all back in a lot colder weather. I am in Virginia while Jim and Liz are back in Canada doing some last minute things before leaving. Spring is late this year. I've helped shovel a 10 inch snowfall just before spring and we even had snow in Virginia on March 31st. Jim and Liz still have a lot of snow on the ground in Canada. I am ready for warmer weather. We are all returning to the boat in Florida in just a few days to provision the "Querencia" before starting the crossing to Europe. We are projecting leaving Palmetto, Florida about April 22.


Photos from the top of the mast and the interior with the new refinished woodwork made of teak and Brazilian ipe wood

March 7, 2014

Most of the major work has been finished now. The interior wood and flooring has been refinished and has a new look. The new autohelm, AIS system, EPIRB, and SSB radio have been installed and tested. The fresh water RO system is installed and well be tested shortly. We have the oven working now and have made some very tasty homemade sourdough bread with it. We plan on using bread mixes and shelf stable milk on the trip, especially the longer legs. We are busying ourself with final last minute projects. Some more batteries need to be purchased, another plank needs to be installed on deck to store extra fuel and emergency water, and there's still a little more of the interior wood that needs varnishing.

We plan on leaving the boat soon to go back home a final time before setting sail. Then we are returning in about 4 weeks to the boat in Palmetto when we will do our provisioning and start our journey.

The Boat -

The boat is "Querencia", a 1982 Endeavor 37. It is being refitted from the bottom up. Among the projects so far is new canvas, new navigation systems, a windvane, new autohelm, short wave radio, AIS system, reworked fuel and water tanks, a reverse osmosis system capable of producing 20 gallons of fresh water an hour, and refinishing a lot of the interior teak. A new sound system and port windows have been installed too. She has definitely been given a new life.

Jim is from Canada and has spent most of his life around sailboats and owned quite a few so far. He is an avid racer and an experienced surveyor. He is very knowledgable about sailboat construction, rigging, sails, and diesel motors.

His wife Liz is also a very avid sailor and very experienced cruiser. She is the provisioning expert and the one that knows where everything is on the boat. Liz loves being barefoot.

Dave is a previous sailboat owner with a ton of blue water experience. His cruising travels to date have reached 20k nautical miles. This will be his first time sailing in Europe.