Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas at Sea

I need to make this posting short and sweet, but plans have taken a 360 degree turn and I want to keep everyone updated. We're back on the hard, and have pulled out both 30 meter long prop shafts. Unfortunately, they are in less than stellar condition. To make a long story short, we are shipping them back to Europe to be re-machined, and no prop shafts on the boat. We don't know exactly when we can have them back, but it will be at least until late January, maybe longer. So for Christmas and New Year's the Athena crew will be in Freeport, Bahamas. Not exactly a pleasant thought.

Just as Athena was breaking down, her owner's other boat was having trouble with a crossing from Florida to St. Bart's. This boat is a J-Class racing machine. She is a replica of Endeavour II, a famous America's Cup racing boat. Beautiful and perfect in every way. However, due to her unforseen circumstances she was forced to stop in Freeport as well. Now, ready to make the trip again, she is headed down to St. Bart's. Fortunately for me, they needed some delivery crew! As it turns out, three lucky crew from Athena have jumped ship, and are headed south with Hanuman. After five day sail we will arrive in St. Bart's, and then race in the Around the Island regatta, an annual regatta for superyachts.

Christmas at sea, and I couldn't be happier. So to all my friends and family, Merry Christmas! I hope yours will be as good as mine.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Purgatory

I know that it has been three weeks since my last posting, but I have had absolutely nothing to report. Athena has been berthed in West Palm Beach, Florida, just waiting for something exciting to happen. Well... Something has happened, but exciting is probably not the best adjective to describe it.

Before I get on with the most current events let me get up to date. The boat sat in West Palm Beach for a few weeks, with a bored crew. Once again, we drew too much water to dock at the nice marina, and had to sit in the commercial docks. Right across the channel from a 24 hour container loading operation. I haven't taken a single picture. There is nothing to take a photo of. Nothing but soulless high rises, and six lane thoroughfares. Typical Florida.

However, Athena did get a chance to sail on the day after Thanksgiving, and it was absolutely beautiful. When her massive sails fill with air, and the Captain gives the order to shut down the engines, I just can't help but grin from ear to ear. She sailed like a dream that day, all 1100 tons of her cutting through the seas ahead. The crew hanging from various parts of the rig, signaling to the officers her reactions to their control. Sailing this ship is truly an awe inspiring experience, and makes every previous day of work well worth it.

Provisioning the vessel for several months in the Caribbean is also certainly worth a mention. Imagine trying to get ready for such a trip. Imagine trying to feed 20 crew and an uncertain number of guests for months. We have walk in refrigerators and freezers stacked to the brim. Several large trucks dropped off food for three days straight. Three days of taking on food. Three trucks with diesel fuel also stopped by. Seventy-six tons of diesel she took. Spare parts for the engineers, enough boat soap to suds a small lake, and enough metal polish to shine the Statue of Liberty. We sit a bit lower in the water now, that is for sure.

This morning, with all of our provisions aboard, we set out on a course for St. Vincent in the Grenadines. We expected a six or seven day long voyage, with rough but manageable seas. However, I regret to inform you that I am not sailing right now. I am not on my way to St. Vincent, and I am not exactly happy about where I am.

To make a long story short, we have some bad bearings on our port prop shaft. Bad enough that we can't even engage the port side shaft. We could never spend an entire season in the Caribbean with only one prop, and the problem needs to be fixed. To make matters worse, the only way to change the bad bearings is to pull the entire prop shaft out of the boat. In order to do so, we will need to be on the hard. Again. So we stopped in Freeport, Bahamas... Again. Back up on the drydock for Athena.

So with a disappointed crew and a crippled boat we will sit in the Bahamas for an undetermined amount of time. Nobody knows how long it will even be before they have room for us on the drydock. Rather than being underway to a beautiful island, I'll be waiting out this purgatory while I try not to pickle my liver with beer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Back in the U.S.A.

I know it has been a couple of weeks since my last posting but I have a good excuse. The crew and I worked our butts off while Athena was in drydock. Six am to Six pm. Polishing the hull, painting the bottom, and lots of caring for our yacht while she was treated like a commercial container ship. Freeport was a whole lot of work, with little time for anything but sleep during my off hours. However it was well worth the work, she looks beautiful as ever, and is closer and closer to being ready for our around the world cruise.

Athena has a long, tentative list of destinations, but we do know she is headed for the Pacific. Currently we are in West Palm Beach, Florida, and are soon headed for the Caribbean. Once we leave here we are headed for St. Martin, St. Barts, Antigua, Panama, Galapagos, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia; with a 5 month stint in Australia. Of course there will be many places in between, but I will keep you all updated.

I'm keeping this post short and sweet. I've worked all day, sailing the boat from Freeport to West Palm, and washing the salt off her hull. I'm tired, and happy. Click here for some photos to make up for my inability to type any longer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Diving with the Sharks

After spending an entire week helping out in the engine room I decided to head out for some diving here in the Bahamas. We hired a local guide, and a couple of us went on a diving excursion.

We intended on diving a wreck at 110 feet, as well as diving with the sharks at about 40 feet. But once we got out to the site of the wreck my regulator was malfunctioning... Damn. I was really itching to get wet. I could've risked it, but given the depth of the dive and the fact that we would be penetrating the wreck I decided to err on the safe side. After the rest of the crew came to the surface, we quickly repaired my gear and went on to the next dive site, the shark dive. Upon mooring the boat we looked down into the crystal blue water (you can see the bottom when it's 40 feet deep) and saw the schooling sharks. There were about 15 of them, 6-8 feet long each. They are used to being fed in the area and tend to school, waiting for divers. As soon as we jumped in, they showed immediate interest, and certainly didn't mind coming close. We could have literally reached out and touched them, it was absolutely amazing. Have a look at some photos, or the video we took of them schooling.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hello Freeport

After a 4 day sail Athena and her crew arrived in Freeport, Bahamas. Every crewmember's face had a look of hesitation as we stared at the numerous smokestacks, massive cranes, and rusting barges. We wanted tropical, and got industrial. Instead of palm trees with hammocks cinched on we got blocks of concrete and rusting shipping containers.

You may wonder why. Why would we even be in a place like this.

Athena is a big girl. Very big. When she was launched in 2004 she was the largest privately owned sailing yacht in the world. She weighs 1100 gross tons, and is 295 feet long. So when Athena needs to be on the hard, she needs big facilities. Most yachts would normally use a marine travelift, but Athena is far too big. We have to be drydocked like the freighters and cruise ships. So over the next couple weeks we will be up on the hard painting our bottom and checking systems.

Of course, the weather is gorgeous, it is still the Bahamas. Sunny and beautiful. Yesterday it was 37 degrees celsius (98F, but I am trying to get on the metric system lately).

The crew and I have definitely made the best of Freeport. As soon as we arrived we caught a cab about 25 minutes out of Freeport and into Port Lucaya. We stuffed thirteen into a cab meant for nine, and had a hell of a night out on the town. Port Lucaya is full of bars, nightclubs, and of course good times. It's a cool little Bahamian town with live music in the town center where both the locals and the tourists congregate. The next day, mostly dazed from the night before, we hung out in Port Lucaya, sampling the resort pools and Bahamian cocktails. It was great to have a day off of work to just laze and hang out with the crew.

Back to work on Monday, but of course there is always time for play. I've been working on my wakeboarding skills after work. We cruise up and down the harbor with the rescue tender while the locals just watch and wonder what these crazy white boys are up to. The water tastes a bit funny (probably due to the chemical plant just 300 meters away), and the dockmaster keeps telling us about all the sharks in the harbor, but after a boiling day on deck we just can't resist. Check out some photos of the crew and I in Freeport and Port Lucaya by clicking here.

All is well on Athena. Look forward to me posting some pics of my dive trip next weekend.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Goodbye Newport

As I sit and type I can feel the gentle rolling and pitching of the vessel as we are underway headed for Freeport, Bahamas. I've spent the last couple months in Newport, RI and am excited to be moving on to new places. It's beginning to get cold in the Northesast, and I can't wait to put on a pair of boardshorts and go swimming, kiteboarding, and diving.

Newport is a great little town in New England that has a lot to offer in the summertime. It is rich in maritime history, and has a hell of a bar scene. Of course it has more to offer than that, but I personally don't care much for anything else. I've had plenty of time to work on my billiards skills, but am happy to leave the town behind before going pro.

Follow my track down the Atlantic coast in real time by clicking here. That site will always tell anyone where I am, where I am going, and how soon I will be there. It's a great resource for tracking my voyage around the world.

By clicking here you can see some photos of me 200 feet up the mizzen mast of Athena.

An Introduction

Because it is going to be difficult to communicate with friends for a long period of time I thought I'd try to keep an updated blog so that I may stay in touch. I am notoriously terrible at updating anything, but we'll see how this goes.

For those of you that don't know I am a sailor, both by trade and in my heart. Life at sea, and traveling around the world is what I love. It seems that so many people are fascinated by the lifestyle that I lead, and I get heaps of questions whenever I meet a "landlubber." Hopefully through this new blog I will be able to answer those questions, and be able to show people why it's so easy to love what I do.

I am currently employed aboard sailing vessel Athena. She is a 295' three masted schooner. Every square inch of her is built to perfection, every detail paid close attention to. Books have been written about her and records have been set by her. She is truly in a class of her own. Athena sails with a skilled crew of 20, and one of those crewmembers is luckily me. She is capable of world cruising, and we plan on using her to her full potential.

Click on the thumbnails below for full sized photos of Athena