Throwback Thursday: Alien Encounters

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Since the last TT, there has been a lot that’s happened, yet at the same time, nothing.  All of these days were spent at sea, sometimes getting a little monotonous, but somehow I managed to find something special in each one.  One of the most important to mention is I found out, I actually like sailing!  When conditions are right and I’m the only one awake and tending to sails, figuring it all out on my own.

We also found ourselves in the middle of a front, which did increase our speeds for awhile, bought also brought some very uncomfortable conditions with it.  12 ft seas that would constantly crash against the side of our hull as it rained and misted outside, us miserable down below deck.  Not only were we dealing with that, but we also found out there was a stationary gale with 40 knot winds sitting between us and Horta.  Rather than going for one crazy ride that we didn’t know how well we’d make it out of, we opted to change course and make miles south and out of harms way.

Lastly, is that we had our first winged visitor on board.  A little song bird that landed on our lifelines to rest for awhile, which I’m sure it needed since we over 500 miles from any land.  We were enjoying it’s company and beauty…until Georgie decided it needed to leave.  She attacked the poor bird before we even knew what was happening.  Prying it from her mouth, we thought it would recover, although sitting in a makeshift hospital bed we made for it, it did not survive through the night.

Which leads us to tonight’s post.  Strange lights out on the water in the middle of nowhere.  What were they and where did they come from?  We’ll never know…

You can find the original post here.

Thursday July 31, 2014

I’m not going to lie, it’s starting to get really hard (and boring, probably for all of us) for me to come up with something to put for every single day of this crossing.  So until we make landfall, I’m only going to put down things that are worth putting down.  And then hopefully, just hopefully, I can start getting pictures and stories up of what I’m assuming is amazingly beautiful Horta.

On that note though, something happened that I thought was kind of cool and noteworthy.  Today we crossed a spot on the globe where we had the exact same coordinates for latitude and longitude.  I wonder how often that happens for people?  I obviously haven’t done a lot of research on the subject, but it seems like a lot of areas covered by land (or at least the United States) are higher than 80 degrees West, meaning there is no matching latitude.  So to find numbers close enough to match pretty much means you’re going to be over water.  Maybe something random I can add to my bucket list?  Seems like a cool enough accomplishment.

matching latitude and longitude

Oh, and if you can tell from the photo, we’ve now passed the stationary gale (which has all dissipated now) and we can begin heading north and directly toward Horta again!

 

Friday August 1, 2014

There’s just something about me and night shifts and strange lights. Don’t get me wrong, that fireball I spied just a few days outside of Bermuda was probably a once in a lifetime sight that I’ll never forget and may be worth crossing the Atlantic for itself (mayb-be), but the past few nights seem to be surprising me with questionable lights amidst the dark. Yesterday morning around 2 am I was popping my head up on deck between relaxing with my podcast on the comfortable settee below to see what looked like a flashlight beam oh so briefly shine on our American flag flapping at the stern. There is nothing on the boat that could have illuminated it at that angle so brightly unless Matt decided to sneak up behind me with an actual flashlight, unnoticed by me, while I still stood on the steps. Very unlikely. As my heart quickly jumped into my throat I thought it was another boat trying to identify us, but after frantically searching the horizon and then turning to the radar, we were the only thing out there. Alien encounter? Apparently once they realized we were American it was enough to make them leave us alone.

Which brings me to this morning’s odd light. More astrological than extraterrestrial, but still startling nonetheless. It was moments into my 12-4 am shift when I was just climbing up the steps to do a cursory glance before my more in depth check that would be coming up in ten minutes (what can I say?, I like to stick to my schedule), the sky directly in front of us suddenly lit up as if the deck light had been thrown on. In the split second it took my mind to register that this shouldn’t be happening I saw a very bright greenish-white sphere fall from the sky leaving a bright trail behind it. My first thought was ‘Oh my god, it’s a flare!!’. Although from what I’ve been told, flares are red or orange and nothing else. But this was close! As in, someone must be lighting off fireworks next to our boat close. Surely it couldn’t be a meteor?

Quite startled and still not fully registering what had just happened in the two seconds it took to happen I let out an audible and nervous “Ummm….” as Matt was still settling himself into bed. Asking what was the matter I told him that I’d just seen a very bright light that looked flare-like just ahead of us, and as he raced to untangle himself from the sheets he had just slipped under, I added “But it was greenish-white”, knowing that his first thought would be that someone in a life raft was trying to alert us to their existence. By now my head was finally wrapping itself around the fact that it probably was a meteor. Just a very, very close meteor, and that there was no need to worry. Not taking any chances though, he dove into full rescue mode, not wanting to risk the possibility of missing someone out there trying to signal us. Asking me question after question of exactly where I’d seen the light, how close it was, and what kind of shape it took, he set about trying to figure out our drift and trajectory while trying to find out when and how close we’d come to the source of the light After ten minutes of more horizon scans, scrutinizing the radar, and follow up questions such as ‘If it were you, how long would you wait to set off a second flare?’, I assured him that, as amazing and unlikely as it was, I think we were just incredibly close to a meteor that happen to be falling in this vast ocean that we’re traveling. He finally relented and went back to bed as I promised to stay up there for a while longer, keeping an eye out for any more lights or loud signaling noises.

In non-astrological news, we’re continuing our path directly north as we ride the east winds before they shift east in the next day or two and force us to turn directly east instead. So close and yet so far away. I keep focusing on the miles remaining as the crow flies, wishing we could take that same direct path, trying to count down our arrival based on those numbers, but instead preparing myself for yet another day or possibly two at sea on top of my predictions because we’re forced to travel at 90 degree angles instead. The pressure is still steadily rising, now at 1022, 10 mb higher than we were 48 hours ago, and I guess I should just be grateful for having any wind at all as we make our way into yet another high pressure system.

In more exciting news, I saw another sailboat today. What??!! I honestly didn’t think that would happen until we were within 20 miles of Faial. For some reason this sight makes me extremely giddy. We’re not alone out here, the only thing under 400 ft and carrying cargo. Part of me wants to call them up on the VHF just to say hi and find out where they’re going. Possibly get a little encouragement from someone out here that’s just as crazy as us. Another voice to say, ‘Yup, we’re right there with you’. Except, knowing our luck, they’d come back with, ‘You’ve been out how long??!! We just left the states two weeks ago. You must be traveling extremely slow’. Yup, that’s a much more likely scenario. Maybe they won’t get a call after all.

Atlantic sunset

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Georgie of the Jungle

Wednesday October 9, 2013

Georgie on top of bathroom

When we first got to the marina here in Guatemala back in June, it took Georgie less than 5 days to realize that she could jump from the stern of the boat to the little plank leading to it, and then to dry land dock.  It took her less than 7 days to realize that she could jump from our boat to the neighbor’s.  For a few days after she found all this out we tried to keep her secure to the boat by putting on her Come With Me Kitty harness, and leashing her to one of the cleats or winches in the cockpit.  She was having none of it.  Eventually I talked Matt into letting her roam free.  For the most part, all she wanted was to curl up in a ball in the ranchito and sleep as a cool breeze washed over her.  Something she was not getting in the cockpit.

She began to enjoy her time off the boat so much, that it was hard to get her back on it.  We usually locked her below deck when the sun went down, and she would spend the next two hours sitting on the steps, whining and crying to get out again.  This happened every night.  She began despising her time on the boat so much that we weren’t even sure that going back to life on anchor, where she had free run of the whole boat all day, would make her happy again.  For a short period we even contemplated leaving her in Guatemala, entrusting her to a young girl that works at the marina whom has wanted a cat for a very long time, and has a large enclosed yard for her to wander through all day.

This was not an easy decision to come to, but we thought in the end it might be what’s best for Georgie.  I cried hard that night, thinking what a horrible person I was to adopt her, just to turn around and give her away.  Matt saw how hard this was hitting me and struck up a deal.  While we’d be gone for the boat for six weeks, Georgie was going to be staying at a bungalow with two guys we knew, their two cats, and the option to roam outside to her heart’s content.  If, when we came back to claim her, she went into her old routine of not wanting to be anywhere near the boat, we would give her up and let her live a life on land in Guatemala.  However, if she appeared to miss us and adjusted to life back on the boat, we’d keep her with us.

I had not been very hopeful, seeing how much she loved running about in the marina, and sure that she would forget us a day after we were gone.  Truth be told, a part of me wanted her to be able to forget about us right away because I also couldn’t bear the thought of her thinking that we’d abandoned her, wondering each day why we hadn’t come back to get her.  Those six weeks kind of felt like a lose/lose.  But on the day we arrived back to Guatemala and went to get her, she had nothing but love for us.  It was obvious that she remembered who we were, and instantly let herself fall back into the stage when we first got her and she would not leave our side.  Since we’ve been back on the boat now, she doesn’t whine at night and rarely strays out of our eyesight.  It looks as if her love for us is actually greater than her dislike of living on a boat.  Aawww, makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

That’s not to say that she still hasn’t also been loving her roaming at the marina.  I suspect her time in the wild at the bungalow turned her a little rogue though, and she’s becoming quite the hunter.  Before it wasn’t surprising to catch her at the ranchito chomping away on a moth or any other large flying insect that she’d caught, but now she’s starting to go bigger.  In the past week she has caught 2 bats, how she managed to get them I don’t even know, and then today she brought me this treat.

rain spider

 Don’t worry, it’s not alive here.  I actually had to steal it out of her batting paws and keep her away while I positioned it for a photo.  Then I instantly flung it in the water, fearful that it might be poisonous and that Georgie might try to eat it.  I found out later that it was a harmless rain spider.  Harmless as they may be, I still don’t want one anywhere near me when it’s alive and moving of it’s own accord.  (Ok, so I may have taken it post-mortem and stretched all of it’s legs out so you could see just how big it is in the photo.)

As for Georgie?  She seems to be finding a good balance between boat and land, and I am so happy and relieved that she’ll be staying with us now.  Our only next obstacle with her is finding out exactly what is necessary for a pet passport so we can get her into the Med next year.  Anyone have experience with this or tips they could give me?  I’d love to hear!

Georgie on top of bathroom 2

Georgie batting bugs at the ranchito.

georgie staring at fish in the ranchito

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