Watching The Others Go

Scheduled Start Day +1

It’s hard for us now, looking at the positions of the boats on the BPO tracking web site (http://cornellsailing.com/sail-the-odyssey/blue-planet-odyssey/follow-the-rally/track-the-boats/), while we remain behind. Today had some positive news (the rebuilt engines ran okay for a couple of hours of sea trial) and some setbacks (electrical issues related to wiring the engines into the existing systems). Oh well, one day at a time.

Scheduled Start Day +2

Yesterday, just for a moment, I thought about abandoning our boat/crew and offering to crew aboard Joyful… But no, that’s not the path I am on.

Tonight we have an updated plan to address our remaining issues:
1. “Trade in” our too-small engine that we got in Maine (and just had rebuilt), for another rebuilt engine of the right size. Our mechanic says he can do this in 5 hours on Wednesday! I know this sounds crazy, as it introduces new risks of things going wrong, but we are leaning toward doing it anyway.

2. “Trade in” our two new alternators for a different type that can be wired into the boat’s existing systems, rather than require a different/separate solution. Hopefully this can also be done Wednesday, but we need to verify this.

3. Speak with the service expert about our watermaker, which made bad-sounding noises when we tested it yesterday, even though it successfully produced fresh water. The goal is to either be reassured that the noises are normal, or take it apart again and figure out what we did wrong.

4. See if we can understand why the hydro generator, which we tested yesterday, does not show up on our electrical systems monitor as charging the batteries, despite the fact that it appears to be generating current. We may decide that since it is working (apparently), we won’t worry about the lack of confirmation on the monitor, but it would be nice to eliminate this mystery.

5. Stock up with fresh food and go.

Hoping to be off within one week of the original start date. As I’ve said before, this puts us in a better position than many of the entrants. And the tracking chart on the BPO web site shows that one of the 4 boats that left Saturday for Jamaica has turned back! An email says they have technical issues, but we don’t know any details yet. That puts us currently in “4th place” in our little fleet. But of course it is not a race.

Scheduled Start Day +4

Installed ‘new’ engine today, but the guys didn’t finish before quitting time, so we don’t yet have confirmation that it is wonderful. Electrician has been working on remaining electrical issues. Bill and I took a lot of the day off to bicycle into old Key West and look around at the architecture and eat yummy food.

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Other BPO boats (and “Rally Control”) are contacting us to ask if we’ve left yet. We’re happy that they haven’t forgotten about us. They should be arriving in Jamaica soon.  Gusto is back here after losing most of their electronics as they rounded the west end of Cuba.  Hopefully that will be a relatively simple fix and they will be off again.

Start Day

Well, the Blue Planet Odyssey has begun at last. Jimmy left the dock first, to preside over the starting line (but this is not a race, right?), after which he heads north to show his boat at the Miami Boat Show.  He hopes to catch the fleet later in Tahiti.

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Then Tahawus, the boat with the two kids that will be sailing with us into the Pacific.

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Then Chapter Two, the other catamaran in the BPO.

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Next out was Ransom, a Hinckley 49.

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Then Gypsie left, but they are the boat that is hoping they can start in March, when Jimmy sets out to catch the fleet.

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Last out was Gusto, our compatriot from Belfast, Maine.

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Left behind at the dock was Joyful, who now also hopes to start in March.  They are looking for experienced crew.  Contact me if you are qualified and interested in extended sailing!

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And Imagine, withdrawn due to health issues.

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And us, with both mechanic and electrician spending their Saturday doing a lot of swearing and trying to get us going.  Supposedly both engines are now working.  We will be giving them some exercise tomorrow.  There are still some wiring issues that need to be sorted out though.

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The progress of the boats can be seen at the following page of the Blue Planet Odyssey web site:

http://cornellsailing.com/sail-the-odyssey/blue-planet-odyssey/follow-the-rally/track-the-boats/

The positions are not “real time” in the sense that the boats do not keep their trackers reporting constantly.  If you click on an individual boat it will tell you the time of their last position report.

The three stuck-here crews went out to dinner together tonight.  It was a nice way to simply acknowledge that, well, “Here we are,” each for different reasons and each with different plans, but all part of a voyaging community.

One Day to Scheduled Start

Although we’re not ready to start tomorrow, we are doing better than some of the other entrants. Originally Jimmy Cornell was concerned that we might have too many boats to be manageable for going to small islands. Of that initial burst of interest, only about 15 boats actually registered for the rally. Seven planned to start from Key West (3 more from Martinique, plus 2 others starting in the Pacific, plus Jimmy’s boat). But one dropped out a week ago due to health problems. Another is unable to start due to lack of funds. They hope to start in March and catch the fleet in Tahiti, but that is very uncertain. Tonight we hear that there is some uncertainty about yet another boat. In the end we will be one of only four or five BPO boats to start here, plus there is one Pacific Odyssey boat (sailing only as far as the Marquesas) also joining the start. The fact that we will be several days late in departing seems like a minor point in this context.

Today has been a blur. We got our repaired saildrives back in place. Our rebuilt port engine got tested in the shop, was working in record time, and got put into the boat. Both engines need to be wired in to the electrical controls again, so we can’t use them yet. Nevertheless, we went back into the water…

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…and got a tow from the boatyard to the marina where the other BPO participants are docked. The mechanic says he is coming tomorrow (Saturday) to work on the boat. The hope is that we will be able to use both motors by Monday, so we can test them and leave maybe mid-week.

We also had our safety inspection with Jimmy. He summarized his review with, “It’s better than I expected.” We balked at that “compliment,” but he explained that given the problems we have had, he didn’t expect us to be ready with all our safety gear, and so it was indeed a compliment that we are ready. He had one suggestion for an improvement, which is a good suggestion and should not be difficult to do. Photo below shows Jimmy and his daughter Doina standing by our boat, unfortunately somewhat hidden in the shadows.

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This evening we had the “captain’s briefing” before the BPO start tomorrow at noon. Suddenly it is getting very “real” that we are about to head off around the world, despite our delay. Routes and winds and currents and forecasts and starting time and daily radio check-in procedures and satellite tracking devices and information about arriving in Jamaica and in the San Blas islands off of Panama. Exciting!  Is it safe to start dreaming about tropical islands again…?  We need to start thinking about food shopping!!

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