Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Newport RI, USA

Our week in Newport has been so much fun and we have met really wonderful people- from the lovely customs lady who cleared us in, to other cruisers, the fabulous Oyster USA team and our OCC port officer, Janet, who with her partner Henry have been amazing.
Our home in Newport RI

We entered Newport Harbour in thick fog and found our way to a dock at Fort Adams. We are not sure if we weren't moored as part of the exhibits as the who boats next to us were historic and the crews were in costume!! They were all really friendly though and said we could wait for customs and even let us wash the boat off. We arranged a mooring at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club for a few days and they gave us a spot with a stunning view of the Harbour and both their yacht club and the New York Yacht Club's impressive Harbour Court. We loved the history of the ILYC named after a woman lighthouse keeper famed for saving over 18 lives before women had the vote when it was considered unladylike for a woman to row a boat.

We explored the gorgeous yachtie town of Newport, had a great meet up with OCC boats and then hired a car for a few days to explore the area.

The OCC crowd at ILYC

Leanne and Janet
Storm approaching

After the storm
While we had the car we did a huge shop, went to get boat parts and dropped in at a gorgeous spot up the river where they served the best local fried seafood with a stunning view, then drove down to the coast stopping at a Vineyard called Carolyn's on the way back - the rolling hills and river side properties were just stunning. We are totally loving the New England countryside....

The next day we went the other direction and explored the local metropolis of Providence; it wasn't very exciting but the area known as Federal Hill was a delight - a really great food district, mainly Italian and that afternoon they had a festival with food stalls in the street. We had a fantastic Italian lunch and then got overwhelmed in the Italian Deli - it was so exciting to be in such an amazing footsore after 6 months in the Caribbean...

We celebrated Leanne's birthday with Oysters and huge steaks at a restaurant in town and then the next day all got invited to Janet & Henry's to watch the Americas Cup finals on their TV. They put on a fantastic lunch complete with brownies and of course dark n stormy's to drink.

Monday, June 26, 2017

20th June Arrived

We arrived 10 am in thick fog but the afternoon was so special-Newport looks so great 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Askari Report 1200 Bermuda Time 19 June 2017

Position 39 47 N 69 59 W
Course 310 degrees
Speed 4.5 - 5 knots
Wind South 20-25 knots
Distance in 24 hours - 154 miles

We popped out of the Gulf Stream about 2pm yesterday and the conditions calmed down so quickly it was amazing. The sky was clear blue and we had a fabulous sail all night - I even wrote 'glorious' in the log at 1800.

Just before sunset we were treated to a stunning display by a group of dolphins - they didn't come that close but they were leaping and spinning out of the water. At one point four did a synchronised leap - just beautiful. The night was really cold and we had incredible clear stars all around but we could see poor visibility ahead. This was confirmed when Andrew brought in an up to date weather forecast and the report was to expect a band of dense fog from New Jersey to New foundland. When we spoke to OCC boats in Newport on the radio this morning they advised visibility was less than half a mile. We had better start practising our radar skills….

The wind was great all night and we sped along so by 7.30 am this morning we had less than 150 miles to go. The latest weather update gave a mixed report - the fog was still there but was set to move off as a cold front moves off the US east coast tonight. The cold front would possibly bring squalls with strong winds, thunder and lightening. Our fast progress meant we could find ourselves in shallow water, with reduced options and storm force winds plus dark and maybe fog - great! Hence we have opted to slow down and head more west to give us more sea room to deal with any squalls. This also means we will make landfall in daylight, hopefully without fog and lighter winds. That's the plan anyhow!!

It kind of feels like we are sneaking along right now as it's pretty windy but we only have a smidge of both sails up so it's a slow motion and very quiet aboard. We have removed our solar panels, stowed the bimini and tidied everything away inside just in case things get a bit rough as the front passes - we didn't have anything else to do and its good to be prepared.

119 miles to Newport, RI - even if we are not on a direct course for it right now.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Askari Report 1200 Bermuda Time 18 June 2017

Position 37 45 N 67 58 W
Course 345 degrees
Speed 6.2 knots
Wind South 18 knots
Distance in 24 hours - 158 miles

Yesterday turned out to be a glorious day sailing, with slightly stronger winds than we had expected that stayed with us until just before dark, when it eased off and we furled the genoa and stowed the pole; just leaving the mainsail set on it's preventer line. We were expecting any new wind to come from a more westerly direction so wouldn't need the pole. We had a fabulous roast lamb dinner, nice and early then got organised for our night entry of the Gulf Stream…..

So far we have made a faster passage than Andrew had planned for, which has been great and right now we should be clear of the Gulf Stream in the next hour or so. We have not had any squalls yet and the wind has steadily built as expected. I was on watch as we entered the Gulf Stream at about 2am and only noticed a gradual change in our course over the ground over the first hour before I ducked off for a 'quick nap', waking up at 7.30 this morning!

By the time I woke we were right in the middle and had a 'set drift' to the East of about 4 knots - that's mostly current with a bit of leeway too. With full sails, 15 knots of wind and the engine to help we were making mostly due north around 5 knots, on our fixed heading of 340 degrees. The sea was confused; but not too bad and it was mainly sunny with a few clouds. We sat in the cockpit and had a coffee admiring the ocean - then we spotted an 11m yacht Prarie Gold just ahead of us on a slightly different course making around 3 knots - I guess they were not using their engine, plus they're a bit smaller than us.

Andrew went off for a sleep and the sea picked up for about an hour to be quite ugly - a bit like our Atlantic Crossing but woooshing at us from all directions. At this time the water temp had increased to 28.1 degrees (from around 25) and our set drift was a huge 4.7 knots - I was sure we were heading to Ireland. I popped inside to grab my life jacket as I felt a bit nervous and spotted our first dolphin of this trip swimming alongside the boat through the window in the side of the hull- YAY! When I see dolphins I just know everything will be okay. I also noticed that Prarie Gold had put up their Spinnaker - seriously I must stop being such a scaredy one, holding on with white knuckles….. So I manned up and made us bacon sandwiches when Andrew woke!

Over the next few hours the water temperature gradually eased and slowly but surely our course came around more and more and we look set to exit the Gulf Steam within half a mile of where Andrew put our waypoint before we left Bermuda. That's without having altered our heading all night - he's a pretty amazing navigator!! Our set drift is now only 2 knots and the water is a chilly 24.9 degrees C. I will be so pleased to have that stretch of water behind us.

273 miles to Newport, RI.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Askari Report 1200 Local Time 17 June 2017

Position 35 15 N 66 44 W
Course 347 degrees
Speed 6.5 knots
Wind South East 15 knots
Distance in 24 hours - 170 miles

Shortly after mid day yesterday the wind steadily came in and nicely came around to the East then South East overnight, it was only about 10 knots however it allowed us to put up full sails and throttle back on the engine; saving fuel. We carried on motor sailing through the night, as with the wind coming around to the aft we needed to set our genoa on the pole - neither of us fancied that exercise in this confused sea, in the dark on our first night at sea in along time.

We both managed to get some sleep even though it really wasn't a great night with lots of banging around. This morning I set all the lines for us to pole out while Andrew was still sleeping and we were able to get our wing on wing set up completed and turn off the engine within 15 minutes - a record. Andrew quite often feels a bit sea sick for the first 36 hours so getting this job done with him only being on deck for a short time was perfect. We then set about the morning radio schedules, weather updates and navigation - Andrew has so far done a great job at keeping us in good current with twice daily updates from saildocs and we haven't needed any weather routing.

So today is beautiful, if it weren't for the fact that we are fast approaching the Gulf Stream, where we know there is squalls and stronger winds this would be a perfect relaxing sail. We are gently rolling along at about 6.5 knots with a much more consistent sea around us. The clouds today are weird - they are a constant reminder of what lies ahead - it also looks like sea mist in some patches.

Today my mission is to cook roast lamb - we have to eat or cook all fresh meat before we get to the USA and the lamb joint should see us through a few meals if I don't feel like cooking tomorrow. We are also carefully managing rubbish ensuring all plastic is washed and all organics go overboard, so as to avoid quarantine fines when we arrive.

431 miles to Newport, RI - we hope to arrive on Tuesday.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Askari Report 1200 Local Time 16 June 2017

Position 32 47 N 65 06 W
Course 324 degrees
Speed 6.5 knots
Wind Absolutely None

After 4 amazing weeks in Bermuda we reluctantly decided to leave today. I promise to post pictures when we have good wifi, however it proved to be one of our most favourite places ever. We spent time with old and new friends - locals, yachties and our friend Sarah even flew in from Sydney for a few days. We watched the Americas Cup Racing in all manner of ways, experienced Burmuda Day, swam in crystal waters, were welcomed so warmly at the yacht clubs, explored lots of different anchorages and to top it off got to see the J Class Yachts all out sailing yesterday. Burmuda is a beautiful, sophisticated and amazingly friendly island, that we were lucky enough to visit during one of it's most exciting events - we feel very privileged.

Last night we had dinner with friends in St Georges, and then cleared out and left at 6.30am this morning. There were a few squalls around as we motored out through the reef and skirted the edge of the island, however as we cleared the land the day improved and is now clear skies, very hot and no wind. It's really strange for us to set off on a passage with no wind but this trip is all about planning for your arrival in the gulf-stream to ensure you don't have wind against the current.

Andrew has spent days monitoring the weather and most importantly the current. He has set us on a course slightly south of the rum line initially to avoid unfavourable current and this afternoon we have picked up just over half a knot of favourable current - excellent. We can see this too with the increase in water temperature - just another thing to monitor…… We expect the wind to kick in tomorrow so for today we are just motoring along in a bit of a lumpy confused sea.

We have another Aussie boat - David and Leanne on Perigee behind us and will be speaking to them later on as we have agreed to keep a radio schedule in addition to an Ocean Cruising Club net we are part of. For the first time ever we have also subscribed to a weather service - Andrew will use that as a second opinion on this trip given this can be a challenging passage crossing the gulf stream.

601 miles to Newport, RI, USA……

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bermuda - Sarah's Visit, Hugo and A's Birthday

Bermuda was just a whirlwind of fun, social engagements, racing, beaches, etc - I got so behind with the blog - here's a snapshot of some of what we got up to

Selfie at the beach - the great bus service takes you all around the island

a most beautiful beach ruined by the cruise ship passengers

Some quieter spots on the south shore

A real treat catching up with the White family on Hugo - last seen in the Canaries

Sarah flew in from Sydney for a whirlwind trip

Sarah and Andrew waiting for the bus

AC Village

Beers in the Grandstand

Getting close

The Kiwis celebrate

The team on board Hugo

BAR across the line for that last time

The guy next to Sarah had a flag from Fremantle in 1987 - being a BAR supporter she wasn't impressed

The view from the grandstand

meanwhile on Hugo

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Sarah surrounded by Kiwi's when BAR came out - a bit sad but still smiling

New teams

Relaxing at AC village

Tim Tams straight from Sydney on Hugo

Dinner at RHADC with Aqualuna

RHADC has the best view in Hamilton

Warm welcome on Hugo

Askari looking a bit small anchored next to that!

So many laughs - Andrew and Russ

Andrew's birthday cake - no mix

Our fav spot to anchor in Bermuda