A Sailor Talks About Ocean Passages

I know that we have not posted for a while. We are both doing super well. We are on Robn’s boat in Trinidad. On this Saturday, 7 July, some of us from the boats are going to help GPS Map Asa Wright Nature Centre.

I assume that you can find that online. I do not want to put two links in one post. But, the other link is below. Enjoy.

Please be sure to watch the TimeLapse video at the lower part of the linked article. A typical Container Ship cruises at about 16–25 knots, 18-29 Statute MPH, 30–46 KPH.

Re: Passages on a sailboat.

Some good friends left just a few hours after us to cross the Atlantic, in 2005. So, they had a very similar trip to us.

About the 2nd, or 3rd day, the wife was talking to us on the radio. It was her first long ocean trip. She said, "This is boring."

We replied that that is what you hope for. Too much excitement is usually bad. Storms, things breaking, etc. Boring is good news. You read books, organize files on your computer, and sleep when off watch. And, you savor the Beauty of Planet Earth.

One time, when we had plenty of electricity, I was reading electronic copies of the "Seven Seas Cruising Association Bulletin". I was learning more about the Azores, the islands we were sailing to.

I ran across a letter from a boat that had done the same trip the year before. He found that a seamount had risen to within, as I recall, 80ft (24 meters) of the surface.

I quickly checked the location and we had passed south of it a few days before. If I ever cross again, I want to confirm his discovery.



We are in the US enroute to Trinidad

Actually, I just wrote this to some friends that have not heard from us for much too long. So, readers of the Blog will know some of the beginning. Feel free to speed read down to the new info.

We are both very well. Last Summer we went from Seattle to South Africa to visit a dear friend of Robn’s. I think we were there about seven weeks, traveling all over the place. We had a great time, even though it was their winter, and many places we stayed were unheated, with doors and windows open. 14C, 57F is better left outside, in my opinion.

Due to the peculiarities of the airline industry, it was less expensive for us to get from Durban to our boat in Finike, if we flew to Cairo and Athens first. Since neither of us had ever been to Cairo or Athens, we spent about a week in each one. That was also very enjoyable.

We then went to the boat, where, several years ago, I began rebuilding the engine, due to a mysterious lack of oil pressure. At one stage I decided that the engine was so old (1974), that I bought a complete gasket set, with the intention of replacing all the gaskets and O-rings and seals. We arrived back at the boat a couple of years ago and, as I was tearing down the engine, I had a new idea on why there was no oil pressure. It would’ve been quite simple to fix, but I had already taken so many things apart, that I decided to continue with the earlier plan of replacing all the gaskets. In the process, we discovered some parts that we needed to order. For some reason, they were not available in Turkey or Sweden. It’s a Swedish Volvo. However, I ordered them from a really good Volvo dealer in the Chesapeake area, that I have bought from many times in the past.

Then the fun began. Someone in the Marina, incorrectly told me that FedEx was the shipper to use, but when the parts arrived at customs in Istanbul, they decided that I had put on the form that I was my own agent. No one could (would) ever show me a copy of the alleged form, so I assume that they were lying. Since I "had chosen to be my own agent", FedEx could not bring them through customs. They were charging me US$60 a day, for storage. No one seemed to have any idea at all what was going on. After about a week, I think I determined that I had to be a Turkish citizen in order to get them out of hock. I think I had about US$350 invested in them, and US$150 for shipping and they were going to charge me $350 duty. There seemed to be nothing that I could do in Turkey, so with the engine still mostly disassembled, we returned to America. Due to airline prices, we spent a little time in Zurich & Paris, to save money. Back in America, I argued with FedEx about getting the parts returned to the sender. For some reason, that was going to cost over US$350, or more, with no guarantee that it would work. So, I did truly abandon them. At least the FedEx person that I was talking with on the last call, refunded the shipping cost since I had never received them.

We bought new parts and hand carried them in our luggage, which worked flawlessly. I think we ended up spending about eight months in the US before traveling to South Africa, etc.

So, when we finally got back to the boat again, we finished putting the engine together. The oil pressure problem was solved, and it ran fine.

By May 2018 I would need to take the boat out of the country, just for a few hours, to reset the five-year maximum time in the country paperwork for the boat. It seemed like a much better idea to take the boat out last fall (2017), but the US and Turkey were in a spat. US citizens were not allowed visas for Turkey and vice versa. We were already in the country, and so were okay. But, if we left, we might not be able to get back in for who knows how long. That did not bode well. So, it was either move the boat to Italy or some country that was not at odds with America or get a Turkish residence permit. We ended up doing the latter. Supposedly, we now have two years of access. How long is your Panamanian residence permit?

Again, the airline peculiarities dictated that we fly from Finike, actually Antalya, to Oslo Norway, to New York, to Trinidad, as the least expensive way that we could find to get to Robn’s boat.

We were doing quite well on our to-do list before leaving, but, the night before our flight, we accidentally learned that the road between our city, Finike, and the city with the airport, Antalya, was washed out. A friend’s father had just made the trip, and instead of two hours, it had taken 4 1/2, traveling by tiny, twisty, side roads. It didn’t take much imagination to wonder, with all the rain we were having, if some of those roads might wash out, also, which would make it almost impossible to get to the airport, without a several day bus ride starting off in the wrong direction and doubling back.

So, we had a major change of plans. We finished our last-minute packing, and instead of getting a nice night’s sleep, before a leisurely trip to the airport, we hired a car to drive us. The roads were not as bad as we had feared, and we got into town about midnight, so we got a hotel room, and had them drive us to the airport the next morning. At least we got a little sleep.

Since we had not been to Oslo before, we spent a week there, in the snow. But, we had enough clothes that it was not a problem. A Finish person once said, "There is no such thing as bad weather, but sometimes people make poor clothing choices."

Then we flew to New York and rented a car and drove to Old Sturbridge Village, which is a collection of old buildings and has employees that are demonstrating what life was like about 1830. I had never been, and Robn was last there a very long time ago. We both had a great time. Then we continued our rental car to our AirBnB in Cambridge which is a suburb of Boston. Perhaps you’ve heard of Harvard and MIT?

We visited the Boston area for a couple of days, but cut our visit short, because they were expecting a snowstorm, with high winds, and perhaps 12 inches (30 cm) of snow. We made it safely to Lincoln Massachusetts, where Robn grew up, and she took me on a tour of her old stomping grounds and we saw the house that her parents built when she was 6. It was the first privately funded Solar Heated home in America. Her dad was an MIT Mechanical Engineer.

We are presently visiting a friend of Robn’s that lives here. Then we will visit Robn’s brother and sister-in-law, in upstate New York, and then fly to Trinidad.

More as it develops.

Dave & Robn

Still in Turkey

Date: Mon, Jan 22, 2018 at 8:54 PM
Subject: Still in Turkey

We have been busy in a leisurely way for the past few months. Nothing much worth writing about. We got residence permits for two years so that we can come and go without worrying about visas. We were told that there was no minimum maximum lengths of coming or going but afterwards found information that indicates that if we stay away for more than 6 months it would invalidate the permit. So we need to take a closer look at that. We need to take Alegria outside the country to reset her 5 year permission to stay but right now the weather is not very conducive.

Rain and excess wind every few days. Last night we had hail. The only weather windows have been on the weekends which, of course, means dealing with officials outside normal hours. So we have used that as an excuse to sit tight and wait for better weather during the week. I must admit, though, that we have not checked to find out whether our assumption is correct, that there are extra costs to doing paper work on the weekends! We also have been doing preparations for the outing at a snail’s pace. To the point where even with a weather window during the week we might not be able to go out. Dave got the prop cleaned enough but that was a month ago so it probably needs redoing.

A couple of days ago we had a fascinating call from a guy on FB. We had gotten really curious about the thinking of Flat Earthers, and Dave had gotten into an exchange with one who, not being able to defend his position, simply called him names. He moved on to another believer and posted a question. Instead of getting a written response, the computer rang! Never had that happen before. It was 4 AM his time but we ended up spending an hour (?) talking with him. It was fascinating. I would sum up my take of him as openminded, courteous, brainwashed, evangelical. He was certain of his position based on his logic and the conviction that we were duped by our lying government. He was the first flat earther we have talked to who was able to articulate his position and actually acknowledged some of our points with “that’s interesting” and seemed to be trying to figure out how to square it with his views.

As near as I can understand him, he started out with a belief that the government could not be trusted. They lie all the time. So that created doubts about the claim that the earth is a globe. I mean come on, how can anyone be expected to believe that New Zealanders could live upside down on the bottom of a globe and not fall off? Anyone knows that kids have to hang on to the spinning merry go round or get flung off, so why should we believe that we can spin so much faster on a global earth and not get flung into space or even feel the centrifugal forces? And when presented with the issue of boats dropping over the curve of the ocean, it is dismissed at “perspective” by which I believe he means “optical illusion”. I mean, it is pretty obvious that we can’t trust our eyes — because of perspective – when parallel railroad tracks appear to converge in the distance. Water is ALWAYS flat, there is no way that it could be shaped like a ball (unless frozen) and if it appears to be, then that is just another example of “perspective”, i.e. optical illusion.

All the arguments in the world won’t help him overcome that childish logic because his trust in the explainers is zilch. There were a couple of times when he actually acknowledged that there were internal inconsistencies in his view but a lack of understanding of some points did not translate to a problem with his view but only with his understanding of it. At which point he admitted that he was going on faith. On his belief in God.

He remained polite, acknowledged that we had different views, did not call us stupid, but did seem to be convinced that if we studied the correct information from sources better able to explain reality, then we, too, would ‘see the light’.

He did understand that there are people deliberately trying to confuse people so that they would not know what to believe, including themselves, and would trust no one. The puzzle to me, is why he decided that the flat earthers were not in that category. I can only figure that basic science and math never made sense to him. Other wise he said things that made total sense, and we had the feeling that he was not shy of brain cells.

Meanwhile, we watch with disbelief the childish behavior of partisan bickering not only on FB but also in the hallowed halls of Congress. The ruling oligarchy has definitely gotten the hang of multiple tactics for maintaining their monopoly on power and access to ever more wealth. Divide and conquer. Fear. Mix fact with fiction to create self doubt and confusion. Attack every little pushback. Overwhelm. Wholesale spying. Overrule rights. Ignore laws. Election fraud. Harp on the negative.

Scarily, maybe we are underestimating the effect of poor schools, poor nutrition, and poisoning. If we are as smart as we like to think, then why could we not explain the global earth to some one willing to listen? That is really scary.

I want to plan for a better future rather than just slow down the march to a worse one. With many people fearful of too much change too fast and everyone arguing over what we would like that future to be, it appears that we are stuck. With discussion limited to sound bites and ‘likes’, ideas are not being generated as fast as they could be. We ARE making advances on all sorts of fronts and I need to stay positive and believe that we will find solutions in the time available. Talk about a leap of faith!

I’d be interested in your view of a ‘better world’. What would it look like?

Cheers, Robn.

Athens till now w/pictures

Subject: Athens till Nov 6

Date: November 6, 2017

Athens was definitely cooler than Cairo but I was still exhausted and it really interfered with our ability to do any sightseeing. We did go to the Acropolis and the museum there and thankfully I was up to it. I had been worried since one has to climb quite a bit – at least it looked like a lot in my current energy state. But in the end I was fine. There is a great deal of restoration work going on and a great deal more to do. I always have far more questions than there are explanations available. I always wish I could view a time lapse video showing the full history of construction, decay, damage, and restoration cycles. Ah well.

The previous day we had gotten dropped off in town by our host with plans to sightsee but I simply wasn’t up to it. Even getting to the bus stop to return home seemed a chore. We had stopped at a proper restaurant – not a fast food place or street vender – for some lunch and as is often the case had trouble finding vegetarian fare. But we selected a couple of dishes. Mine was a beet root salad with yoghurt. I tried the yoghurt and it tasted really weird, but I tried a second bite and this time it ‘bit’ me. I was startled – it was almost like a mild electric shock. Dave tried it and said it had spoiled. We told the waiter and ordered a different dish in its place.

Later they told us that the salad dressing was not spoiled, it was a mixture of mayonnaise, yoghurt, and vinegar! Yuck! I doubt I would have tried it if I had known. But I suspect it was more the difference between expectation and actual taste that bothered me – if I had been expecting mayonnaise and vinegar flavors then I might have diagnosed it as ‘not to my taste’ rather than spoiled. Despite that, I am still far more adventurous with food than I used to be. Not that I’m ready for chocolate covered insects, yet.

Our stay in Athens was brief. We were eager to get back to Alegria – almost a year since we had left her. We had finally given up on the idea of going by ferry. The information was just too vague and or complicated as to how to get to the ferries, how to handle all our luggage – if they would even allow it – what would happen if trips were canceled due to weather, etc. So we had bought airline tickets and had to go by way of Istanbul to Antalya, followed by the long taxi ride to Finike.

While waiting outside for a couple with whom we were sharing the taxi ride, I felt assaulted by all the smokers who were understandably lighting up after being deprived of their nicotine for hours on end. It all smelled vile to me and made me feel physically ill. I tried to stay away from the smoke but it seemed to be everywhere. Cigarette smoke has always bothered me to some extent but never to this degree. Not sure what the difference was.

Eventually we made it back to Alegria and still had to deal with some chores before we could settle down for the night. Then it was back to our Finike activities. Saturdays: our weekly provisioning at a large farmers’ market. Wednesdays: gap filling at a smaller farmers’ market. Lots of stairs – outdoor stairs – to climb for exercise. The tallest one where I have counted the steps is 169. Another set is 137. The first time this year, I struggled to get up that 137 steps. There is a bench about half way up where one can sit and catch one’s breath. This is one of the nice things about Finike: benches scattered everywhere. I had to stop frequently. There are so many flights of stairs that we can take a different route each day and tackle different stairs in different combinations and different orders. I felt horribly out of condition. I still wish I was in better shape but I’m probably doing pretty well. Yesterday I jogged up 300 steps! I couldn’t do more than 40 at a time and had to rest a couple minutes after each jog with chest heaving, but still! Sure a far cry from that first struggle up half that number.

We still have trouble tearing ourselves away from our computers (despite frequently lousy service) but we have put the engine back together – some steps twice – and, ta dah, it is finally running again. On Sundays (except for Summer) Sandra has a charity sale to raise money for vet bills for stray animals – especially spaying and neutering. She has something in the neighborhood of a hundred local people – in addition to yachties – who come and buy clothing, books, kitchen stuff, boat stuff, odds and ends, and cake and tea. There are plenty of donations and an amazing quantity of stuff – that all needs to be taken out of storage each Sunday and what isn’t sold put back in storage. So we help with that a bit – the unpacking mostly.

Sundays there is a potluck barbecue which we sometimes go to and sometimes skip. We are also culling the boat’s contents as she is a bit overloaded with more than needed. We added stretching exercises before our walks and there are always, as with everyone, misc unplanned activities.

Last Wednesday, Nov 1, for example, we headed off at 8:30 for a 2 hour exercise and walk and arrived home about 2:30. What happened? Well, when we go on our walks, we also pick up litter (and stop to visit cats and dogs, trying to befriend the strays). Dave more than I, but I do join in. So as we were filling an empty half cement bag that day with trash, a car stopped just ahead of us. The driver was a manager and Doctor at the local hospital and he said that he had noticed us and driven around the block in order to stop and say thank you! He wanted a picture that he could post as a lesson to stop littering and/or help clean up. He also invited us to come up to the hospital for some tea. So we agreed to come up in another hour.

We continued our stair climbing and litter picking and then bought our gap filling veggies at the Wednesday market and then met him at his office. His assistant and also his wife joined us for the tea. Much of the conversation that they were involved in was in Turkish – of which I picked up two words! But his basic English was quite good and we learned that a new hospital is being built near the waterfront to replace the aging collection of buildings that should have been torn down 10 years ago. He also told us of various interesting places to hike and view ruins.

When we were leaving, he introduced us to another gentleman – a secretary(? mayor?) of Limyra, one of the places with interesting ruins that we had been told about. This gentleman spoke some German, so I was able to understand that he was going home (7km away) and coming back in 2 hours and we were invited to go with him. So we did. It turned out that he is also an amateur archaeologist and collector of large stone building-part artifacts. He showed us his depot – one wall of which was left over from the Byzantine era.

We walked a bit on our own and saw a large tower, that was approximately a 15 ft cube, on a larger platform. About a fourth of the cross section was partially eroded away making it clear that large blocks had filled the interior as well – it was not hollow. Most sections were made of blocks which were made up of smaller stones cemented together (by man?). The Romans had excellent concrete but this actually looks like it may have been quarried – although where it might have been quarried I have no clue. But there were also a lot of solid rock blocks – perhaps it had all been faced with them and only some remained. However, as far as I could see there were a lot of solid blocks and aggregate blocks all in the same plane. A really strange mix with no rhyme or reason that I could figure out. Our host said it was the grave of the son of Augustus Caesar.

Gaius Caesar was the oldest son of Augustus’ daughter Julia from her second marriage to Marcus Agrippa. His younger brothers were named Lucius and Agrippa Postumus. Gaius and Lucius were destined by Augustus to succeed him, since Augustus himself lacked a son. Both boys were adopted by Augustus as his own children in 17 BC. In 3 AD, Gaius was wounded during a siege. He became quite ill and set out to return to Rome. By the time he had reached Turkey, his condition became worse. He died at Limyra on the 21st of February during the year 4 AD. – quoted from: https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/research/monetary-history-of-the-world/roman-empire/chronology_-by_-emperor/imperial-rome-julio-claudian-age/gaius-caesar-son/

logo.png Gaius Caesar – Son | Armstrong Economics
Gaius Caesar Died 4 AD Gaius Caesar was the oldest son of Augustus’ daughter Julia from her second marriage to Marcus Agrippa. His younger brothers were

We also saw what looked like a road paved with fancy blocks that was a couple of feet under a river. Our host
said it was a Roman road but that a 400m section of the road subsided due to an earthquake and it is now under water.

So, that, glory be, brings me up to date.

Cheers, Robn and Dave