Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sun sun sun ..... that is what is awaiting in Thailand! but what of the advetures of the last week or two?? We have had a good relaxing time here in England. We took a plane to Brussels in Belguim last weekend, the trip was really good but I have to say that Begium is let down in big way by the French speaking people! they would have to be the rudest people on the planet! but that is enough of that. We arrived on friday and had a bite to eat in the Grand Market place lunch was ... well ... interesting to say the least the menu that was thrown down on the table was in french and dutch and the waiter was unwilling to assist us with thetranslations even though he spoke fluent english. So I ordered 'toast canibale' (I know what toast is) it came out to the table four halfs toast with some salad on the side. Spread on the toast was a mixture of raw beef and pork mince with some capers and parsley. So being the culinary evil kanevil that I am I ate it, even Claire gave it a go. I wasnt bad it was actually quite bland ... so I splashed some tabasco over it and cleaned it up! Over the next couple of days we checked out the city and went on a day trip to Brugge which is an old town towards the coast. We enjoyed the beer and chocolate in Belgium. On our last night we went into a little pub and met some really cool people, a newspaper editior from Norway and a couple from Antwerp. We spent a couple of hours talking and laughing with these guys and before long I had consumed about six beers (good beers) I didnt think this was alot but the beers came in litre glasses! woo hoo.
We then came back to England and headed to North Wales to visit the relatives, who were most welcoming! we had a really good time it was good to catch up with family that I have not seen for around 9 years! We were welcomed in to the Ogwen valley by a snow storm, Claire was not to impressed and asked me where on earth I thought I was taking her. The weather did not really improve the entire time we were in Wales but it did not snow on us again!
We left North Wales on friday and travelled to Clutton which is between Bristol and Bath. This is where Tracy and Russ have bought their pub the 'Railway Inn' we spent the night with Tracy and Russ and had a really good time there pub is really cool! I while there I had some traditional english 'faggots' you may laugh but Russ recomended them! (they were not to bad).
We are back with Claires loverly friends Tess and Grahams and are having dinner with them tonight before we fly to bangkok for phase four of the adventure! see you soon! Photos to follow shortly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Claire and I went on a drive through Brooklyn one evening and this is a night shot of Manhatten Island, New York. We saw the Black Eyed Peas were playing live in Time Square this night, only played one song but it was still pretty cool!

I some how thought Samuel would be taller and ..... bigger I reckon I could kick his arse! or melt him with a match (he was made from wax after all).This was in LA

While walking around New York you see these patrol cars everwhere, I had to take a photo becuase I really believe that the Tasmania Police force could benefit from these. I would also like to see CSI Deena rock up to a job in one of these bad boys!
Hello everyone - still in England at our friends place in Winchester. Winchester is a typical old style English town, small streets, old churchs and the like. We are relaxing really not doing a great deal. We are heading to Brussels for a long weekend - I am looking forward to some good beer and old gothic buildings! should be awesome. The weather he has been very grey! typical I suppose and averaging around a sub tropical 10 degrees. I have been hearing some pretty shit news from home about work which has taken the shine off my little adventure some what. Not much I can do from all the way over here and what I would like to do would probably see me unemployed when I get home!
I hope everyone is ok, I will have some more exciting stories to add on my return from Brussels over and out. (oh the beer here is still warm!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

This is in Central Park New York as you can see it wasnt tropical!

Pizza this bad boy was about 1 metre across you can work out the size by doing the 3.14 pie r square thing if you want.

Dont know what this statue was called but I have seen it on the movies a few times so we thought we would take some photos of it. It was on a little island of Manhatten ... nice views

This is the entrance to were the oscars were ... heaps of people.

WOOHOO got the blog fixed back on track now !!!! some arse clown put some kind of malicious device in the paint ball shooter at the bottom of the blog that re-directed everyone.

(Claire) We have now left the yacht to travel a little further around the USA before we leave for the UK. Our initial plan was to island hop around the Pacific to get home. This proved to be quit difficult. We could only really go to one island before straight home and that did not sound like the kind of adventure we had in mind. So…….one night after a couple of mojitos, Bruce and I came up with our alternate plan. We will go the other way around the world to get home! I have some very good friends in the UK and Bruce has family in Wales so we will go to visit these people for a couple of weeks, then stop off in Thailand for some sun before visiting my brother in Sydney. This means we can enjoy a bit more time away from home and still have an adventure.
So, now you are up to date! Before we leave the USA we are doing a short circuit of California and flying to New York before departing for the UK.We arrived here today after the drive back for Las Vegas. We are staying at a hotel close to the airport as our flight leaves at 6.30am tomorrow for NY. That means we need to be at the airport at 4.30am……..Ahhhh! We went on a limo tour of the sights of LA this afternoon. We visited Hollywood and the Hollywood sign, Beverley Hills and Rodeo Drive on the tour. The Hollywood sign used to say Hollywoodland, but an earthquake took care of that. The land part dropped off during the earthquake and was never replaced! We then went down into Hollywood which was particularly interesting today as the Oscars were on last night. The Oscar statue as still out the front of Kodak Theatre and the red curtains were in piles on the floor. A small patch of red carpet was left for people like us to stand on and feel famous for a minute. We were walking where the rich and beautiful had been hours before! But there were lots of other people there too so we were only a couple in the crowd.
We continued down Hollywood Drive to look at the stars on the footpath. These included the expected people, but also stars like Snow White and Winney the Pooh! I really did not think cartoon characters would have stars in the pavement. We then reached a pizza place with a pizza in the window maybe over 1 meter in diameter! We had to have a piece of the ‘party size’ pizza! It fed 2 of us easily.

We went back to our pick up place for the limo outside Madame Tussuad's wax museum. Bruce stood next to Samuel L Jackson’s wax version. I think they are the same height!
Our tour continued through Beverley Hills where the driver pointed out some well established trees including fully grown orange trees with fruit and mature palm trees. He said the week before, these trees did not exist! The owner had them planted next to his newly built home. Probably costing in excess of $1million US!

Rodeo Drive looked beautiful, but I really could not have gone into any of the shops so it was good to drive past. All the shop fronts are very glamorous and I would have felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman had I gone in! Here are some of the shops….but all the big brands were there.
Tonight we are headed to the rooftop bar of the hotel for a quite drink to sedate us before our early night and even earlier morning!

(Bruce) Well we are sitting in JFK airport waiting to fly to Heathrow via Dublin on Aer Lingus. We have had a good time here in the United States of America! We drove from Newport Beach to San Diego last Friday and spent the night there. We found some really good little Italian deli’s in San Diego. We had a really good meal in the Little Italy district, every Italian meal we have had in the US so far has been outstanding. We drove 450 miles to Las Vegas on Saturday and spent two nights there on the way to Vegas we drove through a shadow in the Valley of Death, actually Death Valley but it doesn’t roll of the tongue quite same. Vegas was not really what I had expected it to be. We drove up and down the strip – it was pretty amazing. But on entering the casinos I felt somewhat disappointed, every casino is kind of like a big mall with a different theme. Not the ‘Ritz and Glitz’ I had imagined, so on our second day we decided to go for a drive around the desert. We ended up on some snow covered mountain at 4500 feet and a temperature of 39 degrees Fahrenheit. We turned around and headed to Red rock valley and then onto the Valley of Fire – some awesome scenery. As it was getting late in the afternoon I decided to head to he Hoover dam. We drove for some time then it got dark and started raining. Not ideal for our first time into the American wilderness. We eventually got to Hoover dam, drove over it and in to Arizona stayed for around three minutes and turned around. We got home to our accommodation around 2030 after driving in torrential rain at 75 miles an hour on a six lane freeway – it was an experience!

We left Vegas and headed back to Newport Beach to drop of the rental car and head to LA. We spent an afternoon in LA being chauffeur driven around in a black Lincoln town car. LA to New York was a six hour flight that we got up a 0345 to make. Slept most of the way but when I woke up and looked out the window all I could see (from 37,000 feet) was snow covered flatlands. New York turned out to be quite cool but the best place we have visited in the USA yet. New Yorkers seem to be genuinely friendlier than the locals of the other cities we have been to. We have seen a lot of the city in three days, even saw the Black Eyed Peas performing in Time Square (for free thank you city of New York).

We are now in little old England which I can say has turned on the good weather for our arrival! they had a two month high the day we arrived of .... ten I think it got to twelve yesterday but that is not so bad as there were areas in central park (NewYork) that were still covered by a foot of snow! I thought this trip was going to be bikinis and cocktails instead its been beanies and hot chocolates! (I am sure you can feel my disapointment!) any way the bikini should be reveiled when we arrive in Bankock, hopefully it wont be covered by riot gear as the locals gear up for anti government protests! (this could be fun also) .... however I am in hope of hot weather somewhere! I heard today that it is nice and warm at home right now. I will attempt to upload some photos next havent had much luck with this! bye for now or should I say 'Tally ho old boy time to chase some foxes - fetch the hounds will you butler!'

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Has anyone seen the movie The Perfect Storm?.....I think I might need to watch it when I get home to do a comparison of our time a sea versus that! The first day out from Catalina Island we were actually becalmed. Little did we know what was to come. Day 2 saw a large storm brew towards the evening. The boys very valiently took watch while Kym and I stayed in bed. Kym was there because she felt sick, I was there because I thought the waves were smash a huge hole in the side of the boat and cause us to sink! I did not sleep at all because every time there was any kind of noise I would jump and my heart would race even faster. The next day the waves were still big but towards the end of the day everything seemed to get even worse. The barometer had dropped from above 1030 to low 900's. After this the barometer took a huge crash off the top of the cupboard in the main cabin and we thought it may not have been working properly. Upon reflection, it was working fine! On that note, all the stuff in the boat was slopping around. Draws were opening, all the things in the cupboards were sliding, we had to lock off the toilets and basins so the water did not go everywhere and in the really bad bits various stuff would just launch itself across the boat! The waves were bad enough, but the wind and rain was absolutely awful. The rain was so hard. You know how you see they make rain noises in movies where they run hoses flat out against a surface? That was magnified x 10 for this. A storm may be ok to watch at home when you are behind the glass and the washing is off the line, the dogs are happy inside and all the windows are up in the car, but this was something else. It was pelting against the boat so hard it sounded like that alone could break through the boat - are you starting to get the ideas going through my head? I really thought we were going to blow apart - really, really. I can't tell you how scarey that was. The wind was howling unlike wind I have ever experienced. So the waves are crashing and pushing us in all directions, the rain is pelting so hard it sounds like boulders, and the wind is whipping through the rigging as well as off the top of the huge waves making the most angry howling noise ever. Bruce has actually said he felt the port side of the yacht flex inwards as each wave hit while he braced himself against the wall to prevent being thrown around.
At the end of day 3, things were looking pretty bad. I had been hiding in my cabin towards the end of the day as it was getting quite rough. Stuart asked us to all get dressed into our full wet weather gear and life jackets. Tonight we would sleep in all this gear and remain in it for the next 5 days. Stuart took us all on deck. The grab bag was out and ready, the spot tracker was attached to it. We put extra supplies into the grab bag and torches into our pockets. This was real. We went through the exact procedure for launching the life raft to evacuate the boat. I was shaking. I told Bruce he was not allowed to die before bursting into tears. I was petrified of the big seas. While on deck I clung to the edge of the doorway even though I was tethered to the safety lines above deck and Bruce was holding me. The life raft thing was very sensible but at the same time panicking for me. It made it all much more real and made me feel everyone else was getting as worried as I was. This was real. It wasn't just me having a moment, it was necessary. That night the weather was so bad, the boat was put on autopilot and we were all below deck rolling around at the mercy of the sea. It was just too dangerous to be above deck. Once again, I did not sleep. Instead I tried to lay on my bed, waking every couple of minutes to panic some more. At this time the swells were about 10 to 20 seconds apart so there was no recovery. Every few waves were bigger and would smash onto and all over the boat. Poor Bruce. He probably did not sleep very well either with me squeezing his hand so tight every time this happened! He was very good to me, telling me I would be ok and we were alright. Had I been there alone I think I may have lost it. I reflected on the last thing my Aunty Pam said to me before I left " If it gets bad, it won't last forever". Five days was quite a long time though!
Day 4, the seas are still huge. We really weren't eating much and hadn't been since day 2. We had noodles in a cup for breakfast and water to drink. No one really wanted anything more. We had maybe 2 mini chocolates in addition to the cup noodles and that was all for 3 days. I felt sick through anxiety. Bruce and Kym felt sea sick and Stuart was so sleep deprived he couldn't care less. It also meant less trips to the toilet, which believe me is a good thing. I could only manage to get my pants down by resting my head against the door and wriggling, using only one hand. This meant I would headbutt the door as each wave passed. I was trying to avoid anything that may randomly fly out of the shut cupboards in the toilet and hit you on the head while attempting this. To sit down you need to hold on, to wipe you need to hold on on to pump flush the loo you also need to hold on. Impossible! Give it a try! Being in this small enclosed area also puts you at risk of feeling sick for the rest of the day. I love land. The things you take for granted.
The night of day 4 was our biggest challenge yet. At about 5.45pm the headsal furling rope broke allowing the sail to unwrap. This means instead of a little bit of sail being up, all of it was able to catch the wind pushing us way too fast. Think re-packing a parchute after you have jumpedand pulled the cord! Stuart had to rush up to the front to attempt to recapture the sail. I could hear something was wrong. Bruce was calling us out to help. I was desperately trying to do up my jacket and life jacket so I could go to see what was happening. Do you know the times when you are trying your hardest to do something and it all goes wrong?....that is where I was at. Kym ran past me to go outside. I was behind her but still holding on very tightly. Kym made it to the wheel and Bruce told her to keep it surfing directly down the waves with the wind to hold the boat steady. I looked out from where I was standing. The waves were nearly bigger than the boat. I could not really see the sky when the waves were coming. I don't know the real size of waves, but they were very, very big. Bruce says 40 foot waves but captain conservative Stuart says 30 foot. I know they were very big and very scarey. Then Kym blacked out and could not see. This all went very fast. I knew I had to go to the wheel but I was so worried. I could feel my heart pounding and the adrenaline started pumping big time. I made it to the wheel somehow. Wedged my feet either side of the cockpit and then Bruce left Kym and I to it. He went to help Stuart up the front of the boat. The wheel was so huge and the waves were more it control than we were. Kym had to hold me in the seat by my leg. The waves would suck us back and tip us forward to go down the slope of the wave. I was steering a 10 ton surf board down massive waves. I was screaming at Kym "I can't do this". She said "You are doing it". What I really meant was I can't go any further on this trip, but that was not the time to discuss that. I believe I also did a lot of swearing at the sail, the boat and the ocean while being physically moved by the wheel and cramping in my legs undoubtedly due to the lack of food/water. I was also saying "Please don't die, nobody die". I was very serious about this. I really felt the danger in what we were doing and knew we were in trouble. I was the shortest person of the crew and wedging my feet meant my legs were even shorter. To see anything I had to unhook my feet then I could not stay steady. Upon reflection I probably should have just not looked! Eventually, although it seemed like forever, the sail was saved. We all sat down for a couple of minutes to recover. I however was still desperately needing to get below deck so I did not have to see the huge waves. Kym and I had a little lie down - exhausted. The boys did hour on hour off shifts all night that night as the auto pilot would not work.
Day 5 is when we decided to turn around and go back the way we came. It was still rough. We were all getting past it. We were still all wearing all of our wet weather gear and life jackets. I know Bruce and I had not changed any of our clothes since the life raft moment. Everything was becoming a bit gross. That night was another hour on, hour off shift night with Kym and I joining our partners on duty for safety. I was singing all the nursery rhymes I know to try to stay awake for one shift and for another I tried to name all the James Bond movies I know. Strange what you do to stay awake.
Day 6 we woke a little excited becasue we thought we may reach land today. The distance was just too far but the weather calmed a little. Stuart stayed up all night to watch for other ships and the three of us joined him for 2 hours shifts. This time it was just too much for me. I fell asleep 1.5 hours in with my head hanging off the backing cushion of the seat in the cockpit. My mouth was open and I was probably drooling! Stuart very gently said I could go to bed if I needed! I just had to.......very useless. My second shift that night was from 2am till 4 am. I did the whole thing proudly!
Day 7 was the day I woke to see land. Very reassuring. Noodles for breakfast to celebrate. I then happened to mention I thought I was so tired I was hearing voices, fully expecting everyone to think I was crazy, just like the people from work! But Kym and Bruce said they had heard things too. So then I went on to explain in detail the voice I heard - once again oversharing! I heard a very deep male voice like someone from the Caribean and he would say things I couldn't understand but it sounded like "Blubble, bloob, blub......Aaaaaye!" Then everyone laughed at me! Kym said she heard mermaids singing and said she can easily understand why sailors of old would jump into the water following the sounds of beautiful mermaids.
When we reached land we found out about the earthquake in Chile and the earthquake off Hawaii and the resulting tsunami warnings for both. The harbour master at Catalina Island said it had been the worst storms for decades and decades. While it is reassuring I was not worrying about nothing, I am not really happy have been in such bad weather. There was no way to tell what was coming and Stuart was very careful about leaving in the most ideal conditions so it just shows the power of the ocean. I have a great respect for the sea, which I realised once we set sail, but this respect is built on an underlying fear of the power the ocean has. A fear I am not sure I will ever be ok with.
Partly due to this and the rest due to time restrictions, Bruce and I have decided to not attempt the next crossing to Hawaii. I just can't leave firm land knowing there might be any chance of that happening again. I am not a religious person, but I was praying to whoever I thought might listen to get us back safely (plus a couple of messages to Noodle and Jill).
We hope to travel a little more arond America, then fly to Hawaii and island hop a bit before home. We will still blog but tomorrow Kym and Stu will stay on the boat and we will go on our travels. Goodbye yacht Pelon.....see you in Hobart!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Well where to start - first morning out I noted to myself, with out thinking it through properly, - mmm pink sky in the morning is a shepperd's warning. Didn't think it may apply to sailors as well, this was as we got our first Pacific Ocean sunrise. About an hour later we got buzzed by a US Navy plane. Don't know what it was, but four prop plane. It didn't look as big as a Herc, but you can never really tell. I said to Stu, "Do you recon' they want to talk to us" and he said "Nah just having a look at us on the way to Hawaii". I kept an eye on them and they banked around and did another fly by at about 100m. Stu went into the cabin and turned on the VHF radio to hear the tail end of a transmission. As they did there third flyby, Stu asked them politely if they wanted us?- they did! I saw on the chart plotter that we were in the Pacific Missile Test Range early in the night. The Pilot asked us our course, speed, number of crew, boat name and length and destination. He then told us that they were conducting a live fire exercise and we needed to divert 20 nm south, so we did. About two hours later we all heard and felt a massive explosion.
After the next day the weather took a turn for the worse. We coped a bit of a flogging with a constant wind speed of about 30 knots and 20-30 foot swells. It went up a couple of notches a few times with some massive 'monster tard' waves that looked like they towered over the yacht. The yacht has a mast that is 58 feet of the deck - so that is fucking huge (sorry for the expletive but there is know other way to express it) with peak gusts off around 50 knots. Two days ago we turned around and headed for Catalina again. The sea state stayed around the same until last night when it mellowed out and gave us a rest. We have all been in our wet weather and safety gear for five days - sleeping in it as well. At one stage we had about 4 feet of jib out for a storm sail and we were still touching 10 to 11 knots. Stu kept us safe and on the third we 'trailed a warp' which tamed the might of the ocean for us. Basically before we left Dana Point, Stu set up a second anchor line in one of the rear lazarette's (lockers) during the storm we took the chain of and let out about 100 metres rope one end secured to the port side rear cleat and the other secured to the starboard side rear cleat. We then tied a buoy onto the rope which floats (rapidly) back to the middle of the line and acts like a big brake, the change to the boat was instant. Stu says that he has never done it before and only read about but we can now attest to its effectiveness. The second last day of the bad weather gave us the worst problem we had faced yet. About 20 minutes before dark the furling line on the jib snapped and the jib unfurled and started going crazy. Claire had to take the wheel while Stu and I contended with jammed lines and crazy sails. Claire did an amazing job on the wheel keeping the yacht heading straight down the waves that were between 30 and 40 feet I can tell you she performed amazingly and kept Stu and I safe up the front of yacht pulling in and down the jib. From the up the on the pointy end the waves felt like they were a lot bigger! the wind was making it incredibly difficult but Claire was keeping it straight with no power (surfing effectively) there were a few moments that were really bad during this incident but we will tell you about those face to face. During this time Kym had to sit next to Claire and hold her in position otherwise she would not have been able to stay behind the wheel. There was a lot of back and forth up and down the boat it was hectic. When we got the sail down I had to lie on top of it because I was completely spent. I recovered shortly after we all had a sit down in the cockpit, everything kind of seemed OK.
Things are good now - they were not really that bad then, dogey but not evil. Heading to Dana Point tomorrow to get some repairs done. Oh and on top of it all tsunami's and a Tornado heading towards San Diego from where we were.... big sigh of relief. whats next! Claire is still in shock and has nothing to add for the moment. bye for now xx