Here are answers to some questions sent to me by Team Rock, seventh graders at Lewiston, Maine Middle School:
1. So many problems with the boat; why not sell it and get a new one?
Several reasons…The first is cost. We bought a 15 year old boat because that’s what we could afford. A new boat of a similar type would cost 2 to 3 times as much, and be beyond our means. Also, remember that we thought we had taken care of our major problems last summer. By the time we discovered that was not the case, it was too late to switch boats even if we could afford to do so. It takes time to equip a boat with all the right gear, and “get to know it.”
2. Have an of the boats had a lot of problems?
As far as I know, the other boats have not had the kinds of problems that we have. (But we haven’t spoken with the boats coming from Martinique yet. They will rendezvous with us in the San Blas Islands off of Panama.) The boat “Gusto,” also from Maine, had problems with their electronics, possibly due to a lightning strike. They turned back to Key West for repairs. We’re hoping to see them restarted soon, but according to the daily position report we get over the radio, they are still in port. One boat had to withdraw due to health concerns. One boat is indefinitely delayed due to crew problems. Another is indefinitely delayed due to a shortage of money. So there are many kinds of problems that can arise. Ours appear to be manageable (though we were in doubt about that for a while!).
3. What kind of weather are you expecting on the 800 mile tour?
This is a major topic of conversation on board right now. When we cleared the western tip of Cuba, we thought that we would be able to sail a direct course to San Blas. The winds along the way commonly blow from the northeast, but we’ve had southeast winds. As you probably know, a sailboat cannot sail much closer to the wind than 45 degrees. Catamarans, ours included, cannot even sail that close unless the water is smooth. We’ve been doing a lot of bouncing around, sometimes with spray blowing over the bows, and we’re feeling pretty uncomfortable. Not much desire to cook, or eat. We’re hoping for a wind shift soon. Wind aside, it is mostly sunny and warm.
4. How far away from you will other boats be at any given time?
The three boats ahead of us that left from Key West have been staying close together — probably within sight of each other. But we are 400 miles behind them. We saw one sailboat as we rounded Cuba; it was headed west to Mexico. We’ve seen perhaps a dozen ships since we left Cuba. We have to pay attention to them — where they are and where they are headed, so we can be sure to avoid them. Once we catch up with the other boats, I expect we will commonly be within a few miles of one or more, except for the long ocean passages, where the boats will likely spread apart.
5. Did you go through the Bermuda Triangle?
Nope. Maybe on the way home…
See next post for answers to questions 6-10!