Maverick’s Atlantic Adventure Last Blog

Landfall in Cowes after 3,100 Miles from Newport
The sun was just rising as we closed in on the Needles, those chalky, wave-worn cliffs that mark the western entrance to the Solent, the Isle of Wight and Cowes, which marked the end of our 3,100-mile transatlantic passage aboard Maverick. For all of us onboard, rising the Needles from the sea after a long passage is something we had dreamed of. Now it was real and our transatlantic adventure was coming to a close.
We had made first landfall two days earlier when we had a glimpse of England in the form of Bishop’s Rock lighthouse that marks the western extremity of the Scilly Isles and thus the western-most land in England. The white-painted light rose from the sea against a gray sky so it was hard to see at first. But there it was and then reality sank in. We’d done it. Well, almost.
We had been motoring in very calm conditions for much of the last three days, with patches of breeze and good sailing interspersed. But, we knew we were getting low on fuel. We had already added diesel to the tanks from the nine jerry jugs we carried but now we were getting down to the last fuel tank and doing the fuel-burn calculations every few hours.
Prudence dictated that we stop somewhere for fuel and Falmouth, on the south coast of Cornwall, was the logical choice. That night, we steered a course toward land and followed the rural and lovely coastline into the well protected harbor at Falmouth. It was 0130 when we moored to a mooring ball and after a celebratory whiskey– or was it rum, or both?– we slept for a few hours. In the morning, we topped up the tanks and found that we had had a slim, but well calculated margin of error over our last hours of motoring.
Now, with full tanks and a following westerly breeze—just about our first of the passage—we headed along the southern English coast for Cowes. The day was spent sorting out the spinnaker, which had tangled on it’s top-down furler, and completing Maverick’s North Atlantic One-Handed Bowline Championships. Young Drew proved to be too good for the rest of us and finished with a best time of 5.04 seconds in the elimination round and a flat-out, mano-a-mano drubbing of yours truly in the final.
Our final night at sea was new moon and also completely cloud-free for the first time in many days. The stars and planets popped from the blackness so brightly they made reflected light trails on the water and illuminated the boat like a moon. The summer shooting stars were just beginning so we saw a few blaze across the sky. And then, at last, dawn came with bright yellows and pinks and the gradual emergence of the blue sky overhead. At 0530 Steve called down to the off watch that “The Needles are ahead. We have Landfall!”
We all gathered in the cockpit, took photos, drank coffee, joked and reminisced about the passage. The five of us had formed a tight crew; we had sailed well and safely; we had a very short list of repairs to undertake; and, as readers of this blog will know, we ate very well indeed.
For all the crew–Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and myself—many thanks to Nancy Jamison and Steve McInnis for preparing Maverick so completely and thoroughly for the passage and to Steve for skippering us expertly, safely and quickly across the wide North Atlantic. Fair winds, Maverick.
 Blog 11: Fast Sailing, Continental Shelf, Lamb Curry, Fuel Strategy, Generator
It’s Thursday morning and we have had a rollicking night of sailing in the right direction. We sailed over the edge of the European Continental Shelf this morning and are only 367 miles from our destination in Cowes, England. But it looks like we have to make a stop first.
Starting yesterday morning at 0430, we got onto the right side of a good breeze that saw us sailing at times at over 9 knots in moderate seas and bright starlight. Speeds in the high 8s were common so we were rolling up the miles to Cowes and made 182 miles over a 24 hours period. Steve noted that “This is how I pictured the North Atlantic.”
Last night, as Maverick was galloping over the waves, we all sat down around the saloon table to one of Steve’s lamb curries. I promise you, this is not Dinty Moore but the real deal that any Indian restaurant would be proud to serve. Of course, with food being on our minds, the topic of tomorrow’s dinner came up. Meatballs or roast tenderloin of beef? There was some discussion about saving the beef for the last night at sea and then Steve asked if we preferred the horse radish sauce or the Bearnaise on the beef or on the side?
“Well,” Mark leaned back and said, “this is not a conversation you’re going to hear on most boats out here crossing the North Atlantic. But, I would say, I’ll have my roast tenderloin of beef medium rare, with the horse radish and Bearnaise on the side, please.”
We all agreed, medium rare, sauces on the side.
Steve uses PredictWind as his weather source and it has proven to be remarkably accurate. They called for the breeze that filled in at 0430 on Wednesday and they called for the onset of light winds and motoring conditions on Thursday at noon. That is exactly how it panned out. By Thursday afternoon we were motor sailing again and contemplating stopping in either the Scilly Isles or Falmouth, England for fuel.
This afternoon, we started up the generator and it soon clicked off with a heating problem. Steve discovered that the raw water impeller was malfunctioning and when he and Drew inspected it, they found all six blades broken off. Steve had several spare impellers onboard but not one for the genset so he emailed Nancy at home in Newport. She got right back to let him know that West Marine had two in stock and she would bring them with her to England. Problem identified and solution on the way. And, what a fascinating modern world of communications we live in.
We’re hoping to be in Cowes by Sunday and we’ll have a full wrap up for you on Monday. Have a great weekend.
Maverick’s Crew
Steve McInnis, Skipper
Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and George Day
Note: I’ll be posting on bwsailing.com, BWS’s Facebook page regularly and on Cruising Compass every Thursday. Thanks for the support of Inmarsat and Ocens. You can track Maverick’s progress at
https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Maverick
Blog 9: Week Two, Omelets, Showers, Great Circle Route and Ships
It’s Tuesday morning here in the high North Atlantic aboard Maverick as we steam and sail our way toward England from Newport. We have been underway for a full two weeks and as of this morning have 695 miles to go with 2,400 miles in our wake.
Over the last 24 hours, we have seen just about everything the North Atlantic can pack into a day of passagemaking, but have been lucky enough thus far to have not seen a storm, just patches of stronger winds from time to time. The day broke with sunshine, puffy clouds and light winds. The water temperature was 65 degrees and the air temperature in the sun was near 70. We all remarked we could be crossing “the Pond” in the tropics.
We began the day with omelets from Steve’s galley that set us up for whatever would come. If there is a better fed crew on the Atlantic this last two weeks, I challenge them to come forward and prove it. With the engine on as we motor sailed, Steve made water with the water maker and switched on the Espar heater to fill the hot water tank.
Warm air, flat water and a full hot water tank meant that Monday was shower day. One by one we enjoyed peeling off the underlayers of long johns, base layer tops and steamy socks to soak our carcasses in a jet of hot water. The atmosphere aboard was significantly improved by this and is now tinged with the smell of soap instead of the raw, locker room odor of us. By afternoon, we were in shorts and T-shirts before the cool northeast breeze filled in and began to build. By then it was back into full battle dress for the night.
Clouds started moving over us in the afternoon as we motor sailed eastward and by early evening we had enough wind to sail, which we happily did considering that we are low on fuel. With the new NE breeze came a weird, short Buzzards Bay-type chop that Maverick, in all her thoroughbred need for speed, leapt over and crashed through with abandon. There are times when we have to say whoa to the girl and this was one of them. It was only blowing 15 knots but we needed two reefs in the main and a quarter reef of the jib to settled her down. The wind, heavy drizzle and poor visibility lasted for about six hours and then we were back motor sailing on glassy seas with fuel consumption very much on our minds.
Since we are sailing only 15 miles north of the great circle route from the US East Coast to the English Channel, there are plenty of ships around going both east and west. There are times, such as last night in a heavy blinding drizzle, when we have five or more ships up on the AIS/chartplotter at a time. They keep us alert. Last night our closest encounter was only 1.7 miles.
The crew is all well, hearty and hale – and clean– after showers and a wholesome beef stew for dinner last night. And, we are all looking forward to making landfall on Bishop Rock, The Scilly Isles, UK, on Friday.
Maverick’s Crew
Steve McInnis, Skipper
Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and George Day
Note: I’ll be posting on bwsailing.com, BWS’s Facebook page regularly and on Cruising Compass every Thursday. Thanks for the support of Inmarsat and Ocens. You can track Maverick’s progress at
https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Maverick
Blog 8: Calms & Wind, Navy Ships, Movie Day, Star Sights
It’s Monday morning here and we have 858 miles to go to Cowes.
Since Sunday afternoon, the dreaded calms that have been forecast for a week have finally arrived. We have had patchy winds since with a good six hours of sailing Sunday in overcast and drizzly conditions.
As we sailed eastward, we were standing watch under the dodger to stay dry and keeping an eye on the chartplotter for AIS signals from passing ships. Out of the gray and drizzle, two gray ships appeared off our port bow about five miles away. But we saw no AIS signals for either of them. That usually means it’s the US Navy, whose ships run electronicaly dark for security reasons.
The ships parted company with each other and one changed course to the south putting it in a collision course with us. This made them the “burdened vessel” according to the rules of the road. We raised the ship’s bridge via VHF to ask their intensions and got a quick reply: “We have you passing 1.5 miles behind our stern,” the young American said. And that’s what happened, despite the rules of the road and the ship’s initial failure to communicate its intention to pass close to us. Since the two fatal collisions of Navy ships in the last year, we’re all a bit skittish about close encounters with them.
A rainy Sunday afternoon called for a movie so Steve raised the big screen TV and Mark brought out his collection of 25 Westerns for $12 that he had bought in a truck stop. We settled on watching a black and white John Wayne film called “Blue Steel” from 1935. Yikes. Were we ever that innocent? But it was good for a lot of laughs.
Maverick is showing great character as cruising boat. We’ve had all conditions from stormy, rough weather early on to a lot of moderate breezes and light stuff. She is easy to sail from the cockpit, easy to reef and control in variable conditions and consistently fast. For the first half of the passage she averaged 7.6 knots. That’s fast for a cruising boat. Now motor sailing, she slips easily through the water at low revs as we try to preserve fuel.
Steve baked two Italian loaves of bread Sunday afternoon to go with the spaghetti, sausage and meatball dinner from the larder. The whole dinner was spicy and delicious, although we all wondered what we had done all day to deserve such a grand meal. It wasn’t a thought to dwell on for too long.
Last night Mark was able to continue shooting planet sights right up until 10 pm and got very good fixes on Venus and Jupiter. We are far enough north, now, that the horizon stayed illuminated all night. Not quite the midnight sun, but close.
Through the night we were visited by dolphins that zoomed around the boat playing in the wake and checking us out. The cool northern waters of the Atlantic are nutrient rich so the boat kicks off a wake full of phosphorescence. And, as the dolphins swim by us, they create a luminous halo around their bodies and a trail of stardust in their wake.
Maverick’s Crew
Steve McInnis, Skipper
Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and George Day
Note: I’ll be posting on bwsailing.com, BWS’s Facebook page regularly and on Cruising Compass every Thursday. Thanks for the support of Inmarsat and Ocens. You can track Maverick’s progress at
https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Maverick
 
(Due to holidays and emails going awry, there are two blogs being posted now. Earlier this morning blog # 6 was posted. Check Cruising News for previous blogs)
North Atlantic Crossing: Eight Bells for Bjorn, Roast Tenderloin, Black Night and How We Live Out Here
On July 4, Steve and the crew of Maverick paused at the halfway point on our voyage across the Atlantic to commemorate Bjorn Johnson who suddenly and sadly passed away before he could join us for this transatlantic passage. We raised a glass of his favorite wine, remembered him fondly, put a message in the wine bottle and committed it to the sea for someone to find and, finally, tipped some of his ashes into the sea he loved. This is the message in the bottle:
 
SAILING YACHT MAVERICK
TRANSATLANTIC VOYAGE NEWPORT RI, USA
TO COWES, UK
July 2018
Our voyage is dedicated to our friend Bjorn Johnson (1955-2018) of Newport, RI, USA, who was to be our shipmate on this voyage. Bjorn was a well-known yachtsman, Newport-Bermuda Race past chairman, Quartermaster of the Cruising Club of America and the Executive Director of the Offshore Racing Association, which administers the ORR rating system used in the Bermuda Race.
Bjorn was always ready with a funny story, a tale of sailing voyages past, and opinions. The entire Newport sailing community misses him very much and offers Kristine and their family their condolences.
Anyone finding this message, which was consigned to the deep on July 4, 2018 at 46N, 42W or halfway from Newport to the Lizard, please contact Steve McInnis at steve@mcinnislaw,com, 001-401-864-1068 or by post to 38 Bellevue Ave., Unit H, Newport RU 02842 USA.
Signed: Steven McInnis, George Day, Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, and Drew Augustine.
 
Today’s Blog: Thursday July 5
Happy belated July Fourth from the middle of the North Atlantic at 46 North and 42 West. We have run 1440 miles thus far and have an equal distance to sail before making landfall at the Lizard off Cornwall, England. Yesterday, Tuesday, we reeled off 176 miles; since leaving Newport we have made almost that exact distance every day, despite a wide variety of winds, calms and currents.
We have been sailing in the North Atlantic Current for the last day and a half after crossing the Labrador Current just east of the Grand Banks. The sea temperatures have been fluctuating up and down from 71 degrees as we left to the Gulf Stream to 44 degrees in the heart of the Labrador Current. It is now at 57 degrees which makes life on deck cool but bearable. We all bundle up in full foulies and wear watch caps and either boots or boat shoes. Coffee and tea flows from large Thermoses in the galley and the food Steve and Nancy prepared has been amazing.
   Monday night we were treated to a full on roast tenderloin complete with roast potatoes, vegetables and tasty meat drippings. This was paired with a loaf of fresh bread Steve had made on Monday morning. He prepared the roast in a spicy marinade days before departure and froze it solid. It came out of the freezer on Monday morning and was ready for the oven later that afternoon. With warmed bearnaise sauce, the tenderloin and bread were to die for. “Who says cooking a roast at sea is difficult,” Steve said. “All you have to do is braise it in a pan, pop it into the oven for 30 minutes and it’s done. But I did think we’d have leftovers.”
Last night when we came on watch, we found the darkest night at sea you can imagine. The fog was still there and a heavy overcast was blanketing the whole sky. There was no moonlight, no stars, no ships’ lights out there on the horizon and no horizon. Just the inky blackness sailors call “as dark as the inside of a boot.” The only light in the cockpit came from the chartplotter, radar screen and instruments.
We were flying Maverick on instruments only and chugging through the sea at six to eight knots. But the instruments are set up for this. The chartplotter shows us where were are, in the middle of a featureless ocean; the radar shows us what’s around us, not much, and the Automatic Identification System (AIS) shows us all of the ships within a 30 mile radius. We’ve had a steady stream of ships coming and going to the huge EU markets. AIS is the best safety tool to come along in years; it tells us if we are on a collision course with a ship long before we see it and tells the ship that we are there, too. Best of all, the blip we make on other boats’ and ships’ chartplotter screens is just a big as a 1000-foot tanker. Yachts can’t be ignored anymore.
Oddly, the depth sounder now and then gives a reading, even though we are sailing in water that is 14,000 feet deep. We’ve seen a number of soundings in the 40 to 60 foot depth range. What is it seeing? It could be schools of fish or a larger fish, say a swordfish or shark; it could be the dolphin that have been with us often cavorting around the boat. Or, what? it is easy to let your tired mind swerve off course to sea monsters, rogue submarines or aliens at the end of a long night watch. We’ll never know.
There are five of us onboard so there are only a few watch systems that fit the watch bill easily. Steve chose to go with a proven one called the Modified Swedish plan. We each are on watch for four hours and then off watch for six hours. At the two-hour mark of every watch one of the crew goes off watch so another can rotate in. The effect is that we all share watches with two other crew through the day and get a chance to have plenty of sleep.
   This week we have been eyeing a developing low pressure system with storm potential ahead of us. It looks like it is a weather mirage and instead we’re in for extended calm weather. Let’s hope we get some wind have enough fuel.
Maverick’s Atlantic Adventure Blog 7: Calms, Whales, High Pressure, Viking lore, and Henry’s Birthday
As we sit down on Sunday morning to catch up on the news from Maverick, we are sailing at good speed in a southerly breeze on the great circle course for Cowes, England. Today, we will have less than 1000 miles to go. The sky is overcast, the seas fairly calm and the occasional light rain is falling. This morning, Steve came out of his cabin to say what we are were thinking, “I can’t tell how happy it makes me to be sailing without the engine on.”
Our concern has been that a large windless low sits between us and England and we do not at this distance have enough fuel to motor the whole way. We need to sail and now we are sailing fast in the right direction.
Over the last three days we’ve had a mixed bag of winds. On Friday we had a fairly boisterous night with cool northerlies and lumpy seas associated with a large storm way to the north of us. In the predawn watch, Henry and Mark were surprised to see a large whale blow not far from the boat. They could see at least 15 feet of it’s back and two small dorsal fins. We guess that it was a humpback but are not certain. It certainly was close to us.
At midday on Friday we saw a sailboat that was heading west come up on the AIS. It would pass quite close to us. Steve called on the VHF to confirm the skipper’s intention and, once it was straightened out that we were a sailing yacht also and not a ship, the Dutch skipper engaged us in a brief conversation. He is headed to Greenland but had to divert south to avoid the large storm that is still raging in the higher latitudes.
Friday evening Steve whipped up an amazing pork loin roast marinated in rosemary and herbs of Provence and served with a homemade plum chutney. Aboard Maverick we are dining like kings and once again Henry announced that he wasn’t intending to leave the boat in Cowes.
Saturday morning we woke to clear, sunny skies for the first time in four days and a light northerly breeze that was dying away. Steve and I rigged the gennaker and got it drawing but it put us off course by 40 degrees so we rolled it up again. So began a frustrating 24 hours of light winds from dead astern that would make sailing on our course impossible. In the end, we put the engine on so we could advance slowly in hopes for more wind in a different neighborhood.
Mark has been taking sun sights with his sextant and trying to figure out if and how the Viking sunstone he brought with him could help an early voyager navigate. Saturday afternoon, in good conditions but with a big rolling swell, he shot a sun sight that, when calculated, put him within 0.4 tenths of a mile from our GPS position. That’s really good sextant work. And, Saturday afternoon, he finally got the hang of reading the sunstone. So, maybe, the Vikings had an all-natural tool for finding an approximate line of position at sea celestially.
Saturday was Henry’s birthday. We celebrated Saturday night with a tasty Chicken Marbella from Nancy and a double chocolate, chocolate cake from Janet. Plus a bag of presents and party favors from Janet. Henry managed to blow out the candles so we could devour the amazing cake.
Sunday morning broke with heavy overcast and drizzle but who cares, we are sailing at up to 9 knots on our course and every hour sailing is one less hour we have to motor when we get to the giant high pressure system ahead.
Maverick’s Crew
Steve McInnis, Skipper
Henry DiPietro, Mark Gabrielson, Drew Augustine and George Day
Note: I’ll be posting on bwsailing.com, BWS’s Facebook page regularly and on Cruising Compass every Thursday. Thanks for the support of Inmarsat and Ocens. You can track Maverick’s progress at
https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Maverick

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