Tuesday, July 5, 2011

South of France

From Monte Carlo to St. Tropez, the French Riviera is all you could imagine and more. The turquoise water, the ancient buildings, the art, the history, the food, the shopping, and the Rose! I love the French lifestyle, taking each day as it comes, buying fresh meat and produce each day, walking everywhere and 2 hour leisurely lunches. Could I do this forever, easily.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Atlantic Crossing

Over the month of May from the 4th of May to the 31st, I embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean. It was an experience that taught me a lot about myself and below are some photos from my time at sea as well as some of my journal entries during those 27 (long!) days.

My Journal Across the TransAtlantic

May 4th, 2011

We left Fort Lauderdale at 5:30 am. The seas were slightly rough and I was definitely not used to the rocking. I was a little nervous about being at sea but another crew member, Ricardo, voiced the same concern which made me feel a little more at ease knowing I was not alone. We ended up having to turn back around due to a faulty sensor in the engine and once we arrived back to port around 2 pm, they also found the SAT phone was not working. Once all was fixed, we were back out at sea by the evening.

May 5th, 2011

I needed to get used to my new routine, which consisted of watch from 10 am – 2 pm during the day and 10 pm – 2 am at night. We had a fire drill at 3:30 pm and went over our muster stations and roles in case of emergency. I was given the task to help dress the fire fighters and also the cooling procedure which means I would be spraying water on all four walls of the compartment aflame. We ran through the drill and learned all parts of the breathing apparatus. My night watch also consisted of engine room watch where I checked hourly for smells, sounds, temperature gauges and leaks for the air compressor, hydraulic tanks, main engine, generator, air conditioner, fuel separator, engine room bilges, air pressure seal and water maker. In the beginning this task took me half an hour and with the log entry as well documenting courses true, gyro, magnetic, wind direction and force, sea force, sky, visibility, nautical miles and the long/lat points, I was constantly busy! After a week or so, I became more efficient at both and could accomplish it all within the 1st 15 minutes of the hour.

May 6th – 16th, 2011

The days were pretty much all the same. I woke up at 9 am, checked the crew mess for laundry, the fridge to be restocked and emptied the dishwasher to prepare for lunch. Once I got on watch at 10 am, I spent the first 2 hours studying for my yacht rating. I learned collision regulations, ship terms, bridge watch keeping duties, sound signals and lights, buoyancies (cardinal, lateral and preferred channel markers) and knot tying. After lunch, I typically vacuumed, polished, and wiped down the boat. I didn’t do this daily, but every few days me and the other stewardess would give the boat a good cleaning. We had more drills including Man Overboard and Abandon ship where we learned the procedures for these and all necessary equipment on board.

One of the best parts about being at sea was the endless horizon and the sky at night filled with so many stars. I saw a lightening storm that lasted over 4 hours and it was as if Mother Nature was providing her very own light show. It was incredible! And of course the marine life. Dolphins jumping into the bow of the boats waves and whales blowing up water from their air holes. Aaron took some amazing photos of the dolphins.

On day 6, you are 6 days away from help… kind of scary to think about. If anything bad were to happen, well, you’re screwed! Luckily, everything ran smoothly and we arrived at our first destination right on schedule.

May 16th, 2011

After 12 days at sea, we reached a Portuguese Island in the Azores called Horta. The first thing we had to do was wash down the entire boat from all the sea salt. It takes about a day to do wash down, but we had four of us so it only took a few hours. We spent 2 days in the Azores, mainly checking our internet (which we were supposed to have the whole time at sea but had mast block the whole way!) and having a much needed glass of wine! The boat is a dry boat during a crossing so it was almost two weeks since our last drink. We went to a world famous bar in the yachting industry called Peters Sports Bar and lets just say, it had lots of character, not only the décor but all the yacht’s inside drinking away. Horta was a beautiful little island with lots of greenery and a very old town feel. There was an island nearby with a huge mountain that always had a bit of fog splitting it in two, and it was picturesque. Aaron and I went to dinner on the other side of the island one night and we couldn’t communicate with the waitress due to the language barrier, and she ended up brining us a burger and fries, I guess assuming us Americans want our standard American food, which was the exact opposite of what we wanted! We ate the burgers and fries to not be rude and then ordered two more dishes, hoping to get some real Portuguese flavor. We ended up with two fish dishes with rice, salad, veggies, and potatoes and a nice local bottle of local red. Lets just say we were full by the end of it!

May 18th, 2011

Back at sea. Groundhog day kicks in again. Wake up – laundry, fridge, dishwasher, bridge watch, clean, lunch, clean, break, dinner, clean, break, bridge watch, bed. We mixed it up one day when Kasey, the other stewardess and I drew pictures and wrote a letter and sent it out to sea ~ our very own message in a bottle. We plotted our points and wrote our emails and asked the finder to get a hold of us. How cool would that be if someone actually found it!?!?

May 22nd, 2011/ May 23rd, 2011

Crazy swells. 12 – 15 feet high with winds hitting 35 plus knots. The boats pitch on the bow was slamming into the water and from the bridge, it looked like we were submerged in the sea. It was hard to manouvre and the sound of rolling and clanking bottles seemed to be heard from all parts of the boat every few seconds. Its dark and in my head I am a bit panicked, hoping nothing valuable is broken, but more importantly hoping we make it through to the next day. It felt like we were a little hamster being tossed around in a dryer. After my night watch was over (luckily I was released from my engine watch duties because weather was too rough) Aaron and I curled up in bed and every time the bow pitched, we would fly into the air and your stomach felt as if you were on a very inconsistent rollercoaster. We both barely slept but when we came to around 8 am the boat was not only slamming forward, but now it was rolling side to side. Our starboard stabilizer was off and the speed dropped down to 3 knots. At this point, the Captain decided to alter course from Gibraltar to Cadiz, Spain because the boat wasn’t going to last much longer in this weather. The swells were affecting the coolant in the engines and we needed to get to land and wait it out until conditions were safe again.

May 23rd, 2011

We arrive in Cadiz, Spain around 4pm and once our passports had been cleared by customs, we were all allowed off the boat. We wondered around to find internet and found free wifi in the Cadiz Plaza, where we also found a bar with sangria and yummy jambon and cheeses. Once we caught up on our emails, we explored the city and watched the sun set. The sun sets late here and people are out and about exercising and what not well into the night. We then found this tiny little street café/ restaurant and had the most amazing puri puri chicken and blacked swordfish kebabs. Plus, I tired a local white wine and it was FANTASTIC, The next day we worked all day from 8 am to 5 pm and then had another night much similar to the first. We even went back to the same restaurant; it was that good!

May 26th, 2011

Back at sea and we had gorgeous weather. Smooth sailing and blue skies. Back to the daily grind. We were all shown how to steer the boat and given lessons and how to use the auto pilot, the wheel and how to read your course over ground versus your actual course which is affected by wind and sea factors. Its crazy to steer such a big boat! You feel very powerful.

May 31st, 2011

We arrive in Montenegro. Finally, we made it to our final destination!!! We have a big BBQ on the aft deck of the boat and toast to a safe and successful trip. The Captain and Chief Stewardess come aboard and are very happy with the boat conditions and upkeep and we all are given praise by the delivery Captain. We stay aboard that night due to a very busy next 4 days preparing the boat for the owners. 11 hour days of detailing, cleaning and stowing.

June 4th, 2011

We say goodbye to Northlander and head to Dubrovnik, Croatia to fly out. We have a 7 hour layover in Stuggart, Germany where Aaron has booked us a hotel for the night. We have a 4 hour sleep in the hotel room and are up and back at the German Airport by 5:30 am. Then we fly into Nice and take a cab to Antibes, France where we are today. We will stay here and look for work for the next two weeks and if we cant find anything, we will head to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

What a journey! Hope you enjoyed my recap.

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