The boat

So what was the deal ? Well, the boat was a charter boat for the Caribbean seas, complete with mosquito nets, air-condition in all rooms, TV/video, recessed lighting. A dinghy with a 25 hp provided power for waterskiing. We had to drag two open-sea kayaks with us too.

It was a 1½ year old Moody ’46 with three cabins, center-cockpit bathtub-formed and a cutter rig. It had two electrical jib sheet winches, a dodger and a bimini. It had the full nine yards in electronics : radar, GPS with chart plotter, auto pilot, wind vane and speed, knotmeter, sounder (depth), all very nicely integrated together with a NMEA communications bus.

“So, this a new boat. It got ‘new boat’ problems. Especially being a chartered boat” I told Bill after he tried to convince me it was a new boat, so nothing could go wrong. I poked around for all sorts for stuff : Was there a manual bilge pump? Emergency steering? Search light? EPIRB? Boltcutter, knifes, seaplugs ? Voltmeter? ... but the boat seem well equipped even with tools. A radar reflector was missing for the Boston area, where fogs are common. “Ah, we are so big, we can be seen anyways” said Bill, not that I believed him. I found the stern light didn’t work.

The boat had plenty of seaplugs, but also had maybe 20 seacocks, a sailor’s nightmare. It had two bathrooms, in each there was three separate seaplugs one for the sink, one for the shower floor, one for god-knows-what...


The crew

Well, we had Bill Happel, the captain. Bill is an avid smallboat racer, and sometimes works as “deckmeat” on bigger boats. He didn’t really feel qualified, but his friend Ned figured Bill was good for the job.

We had Brice, who cruised everywhere, our designated navigateur, our oldest crewmember. I was a bit worried to learn before departure, that Brice has diabetes 2, deaf on 1 ear, blind on one eye and can’t feel anything in his legs. But he is a hell of a yachtsman, that stops for nothing. However, he hasn’t sailed for years, as he owned a trawler.

Brice during packing.


Then, Paula, our model/actress/documentary reporter to-turn-cruiser girl. Paula’s boyfriend bought a boat, and they are supposed to cruise for 1-3 years when they get ready. Paula never really sailed much before, and we worried she might get very seasick. She and Brice did the provisioning and (pre-)cooked the food. Paula is another “downsized” person (join the club, Paula).

Finally, me , Klaus. My only two comparable experiences were sailing from Göteborg to Copenhagen, Denmark,  and to Bimini (50 miles from Miami). I remembered being very tired from the Göteborg trip , and was somewhat nervous about a weeklong trip with 24 hour watches. I am an electrical engineer; reluctantly I admit I even have a Ph.D.. Since February 2002 I have not worked thanks to the post-bubble economy.

Text Box: “Wait a minute” , I thought for myself, “he didn’t even check the boat out before leaving?”...


Saturday Day 1

So, low and behold, Saturday appeared, we all packed our warmest clothes. About 10am we met, and started “packing” the boat. Chris, Paula’s boyfriend, came around, and seemed nervous about it and came with comments like “Oh there is another day in packing this boat, unless you do it underway, and then Paula can’t make it for work reasons.” But we got it all loaded in a rush, got to the fuel dock and got our 152 gallons of diesel.

So we went out the Palm Beach inlet, and were immediately met by thunder and a hailstorm. Bill could not get the autopilot to work and a bunch of other instruments. “Wait a minute,” I thought for myself, “he didn’t even check the boat out before leaving?” I thought about the diesel engine, I once sailed, that overheated after a couple of hours, and of people in Denmark, who spend up to a year using their boat to be sure of malfunctions et cetera before going anywhere far.

We hit the gulf stream about 25 miles offshore. Brice started to talk up and down about the autopilot and we couldn’t live without and blah-blah-blah. What a leisure cruiser, I remember thinking. We can sail the boat.  Well, on the GPS chartplotter, indeed we did sail a bit in an S-form (map at no.2 on page 1), but hey, we’ll get better.

I saw a barracuda jump in the air for a fish it missed. Bill decided to go for 3 hours watches. So Brice would go from 10-1am, me from 1am-4am, Bill from 4am-7am. Paula would go whenever she felt like it. The weather was Mickey-Mouse weather. Sure there was some showers and thunderstorm mostly in the distance. But even when we got hit by them, it was like there was no wind in them. Although Bill did appear to work a lot during the night. He said he tried to avoid a storm. “Don’t lose the miles,” I warned, “you fool around for a ½ hour every 2hours, you lose 6-10 miles a watch or 36-60 miles a day”.

The boat with Paula on the side.


Previous 1 2  3 4 5 6 Pictures Next page ...