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.