Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 10 Update!

Today we endured two disasters.

The day began nicely enough. Midmorning spinnakerable winds came our way. So
up went Thumper (our huge spinnaker that's not as big as Whomper). Light to
medium winds were perfect for Thumper. The boat was moving along well and,
even better, along our desired course.

The boat was a beehive of happy activity. Maintenance, cleaning, we were
almost whistling while we worked. We even had fresh-cooked burritos for
lunch. Early in the afternoon Thumper said "enough" as it split from bottom
to top. That sure fouled up the mood on the Minnow.

So we gathered up the torn spinnaker, bagged it, and put out the solent.
This is not the best sail for these conditions. But it was the best we had
for the conditions, so we carried on. We think Thumper might actually be
repairable on board. We plan to try at least.

The rest of the afternoon went without incident. In fact, spirits were
remarkably high considering our run of bad luck (which was soon to get
worse). David headed up some repair work on Whomper, which had suffered from
being omnipresent in the hundreds of gallons of seawater as we bucketed. The
bucket had ripped some small holes.

A little sail tape here, a little sewing there. OK, a lot of sewing. David,
Jim, and Bob spent about 4 hours sewing some reinforcement at some stress
points. Then we flew Whomper. It's really, really big. And very nice. We
took Whomper down, just before a squall. Considering all, things were going
well again.

And then . Serge began peeling potatoes. I started thawing chicken. We were
going to have fried food for supper. Yay! The preparation process continued
up until we needed to salt the potatoes. After losing a pepper shaker to a
fire on the stove a few days before, we were nervous. We searched and
searched. Then we looked around some more.

Yes indeed, we lost our salt shaker less than a week after losing our pepper
shaker. You know how hard it is to get salt out of the big Morton salt
container without it coming out in lumps. Bloody ashes! Two disasters in one
day. This sailing business is hard.

Fishing report:

This was not a banner day for fishing. Most noteworthy was Bob cutting the
line off of the prop and putting a new lure on that pole. It took the better
part of an hour. Not bad for us.

Arts and Entertainment:

Bob and I spent some time working on the hard parts to "In the Mood" on
baritone. Actually, it wasn't art and it sure wasn't entertainment, so

We did spend another evening relaxing to Bob's Party Mix. Some of tonight's
favs were "Les Miserables" songs, some theme song from "Man with a Golden
Arm," "Whisky in a Jar" (always a favorite), and "Stairway to Heaven."

Unfortunately, we don't have the movie "Paint Your Wagon" onboard.
Fortunately, Bob and I were able to remember some of the lines and even sang
and played a few renditions of some choruses for the others (we both wanted
to do Lee Marvin's lines over Clint Eastwood's).
Favorite line from that movie ... "Whatever the bid is . I double it .

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Daily Log for the Minnow

Wednesday, November 30, 2005
7:17 AM UTC

We're moving again! Yesterday we were sailing along in fairly light wind with the middle-sized spinnaker up, and it ripped in two.
Two sails in two days! We'll use towels for sails if this keeps up. I think we must have damaged it earlier, because the wind was
light when it tore. We're going to try to sew, tape, or weld it back together.

We sewed some reinforcement onto the big spinnaker today. I helped! We have photos to prove it.

Now we're headed 234 at 8.2 knots. Wind is from 125 at 17 knots. We're going south to get by a band of slow air. Today we should
pass the halfway point. I thought earlier that we'd have smooth sailing from here on, but this morning I noticed tropical storm
Epsilon (gusts to 65 knots) on the weather fax. It's far enough north not to bother us, but it may mess up our nice, pretty wind

A few flying fish have decided to fly onto the boat lately. Last night one flew throught the window into the living room! I was
sleeping, but Jim and Mike got a surprise.

It's staying dark later. Either the days are getting shorter, we're moving west, the sun is burning out, or some combination of the


day 9

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 9 Update!

Our bucketing line, among other things, tuckered me out last night. So I
went to bed early and slept very well. I awoke this morning before sunup
feeling pretty good. Ready to take up where we left off the night before.
David and Jim were already up and at 'em.

A hose was pumping some of the remaining water from the front right locker.
We proceeded to hang up and lay out stuff to dry, empty the remaining items
from the hold, and finally bucket out the remaining water in the hold. Pumps
are really slow on hundreds of gallons.

The wind was medium and the seas fairly calm. We were moving along fairly
nicely with the gennaker and mainsail. So we also attacked the main halyard
problem. We further assessed the rope chafing and made some "bandaid" type
repairs to it. We are fairly certain it will not chafe unless we need to
move it, like for reefing. In the next couple of days, when we hit calm
seas, we plan to put a new halyard up.

We put our pumps back together in their original configuration and fixed a
lot of minor things on the boat. It was a productive morning and continued
into early afternoon. Then we heard this loud "rrrrrip." The gennaker had
torn from the bottom to the top. It's finished for this trip. And it was a
really good sail. Now we go slower. Blah.

That is until we get spinnakerable winds. If we get spinnakerable winds.

We proceeded into the night with a full main and solent.

Fishing report:

We caught a nice dolphin. Even at 7-8 knots it skidded it's way toward the
boat. It's in the fridge now. Our other pole caught our prop (we think that
might have happened during our gennaker salvage maneuvers). We just left it.

Arts and Entertainment:

There were lots of moans and groans and gripes. Old men doing manual work
that they are not used to (1) get a lot of funny marks on their bodies (2)
walk around a lot more gingerly than normal (3) moan and groan and gripe
when they get up from a sitting position.

We ended the evening with a nice music-filled movie featuring George Clooney
singing called "Oh Brother Where Art There." "You are My Sunshine" was the
boat favorite. (we enjoyed a baritone version of it around 3:00am, but
that's officially day 10 info)

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 5 Thanksgiving Update!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to you,
Happy Thanksgiving to everybody,
Happy Thanksgiving to you.

On to sailing.

We had very good wind most of the day . We sailed fast and most of the time
not too bumpy.

Weatherwise, there's this big low that's some kind of a tropical something
west of us. We were going to go north of it so it could slingshot us into
the lead. It got bigger and is supposed to move north (in our way). We
chickened out and turned south now.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was Mexican fajitas prepared by an Australian. Very

Everyday we are supposed to report our noon position (latitude and
longitude) to the ARC people. Bob has been emailing this each day. Today we
were looking at the current standings and we were doing pitiful. Then we
figured out that Bob had sent in yesterday's noon position. The current
standings improved, but our standing still didn't look very good.

We got periodic updates on the Dallas Cowboys v. Denver Broncos game. Patty
sent messages to our sat-phone periodically. However, they ended with the
score 21-21 and we still don't know who won!

Fishing report:

We caught three small ones (two dolphins and a tuna). We cleaned one

Arts and Entertainment:

We broke out the baritone today and Serge, Bob, and I serenaded. The rest
suffered. It was kind of wet outside from rain and splashing so the piano
got put back in it's case.

Baritone solos included "Anchors Aweigh," "She'll be Comin' Round the
Mountain When She Comes," and "Rock of Ages."

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 6 Update!

Sailing was good today. We had up Whomper (our biggest spinnaker) most of
the day. We're still heading south of the big low (tropical storm?) to
avoid the really big waves and stuff.

Before this trip we bought an Iridium satellite phone. We also bought a
block of minutes so it would be cheaper to use. The cost is about $1.50 per
minute when we call out using our block of minutes. It's somewhat higher to
get minutes "by the minute." We expected we would get more blocks of minutes
when these minutes run out and in any interim we would just pay the higher

On Tuesday Bob and I started talking about getting another block of a few
hundred minutes. Getting weather is eating up a lot of these minutes. We
talked about it again on Wednesday. And we talked about it again on
Thanksgiving, although we didn't expect them to be open on the holiday.

After going to bed last night wondering about the Dallas v. Denver outcome,
I got up this morning and connected on the sat-phone to retrieve email. I
got a couple of emails, but they didn't tell me the score (!). Then I
decided to pull up a sports web page and see the results. I tried several
times, but it would not stay connected.

After digging into the problem, I discovered that we were out of minutes.
And I further discovered that our phone was not set up to be used unless a
block of minutes has been prepaid. Hmm . that's not what we wanted.

So we were down to weatherfax's and SSB talking broadcasts for weather. This
is plenty of good information for making a crossing. And we could still
receive sat-phone calls and sat-phone text messages. However, we had no way
to call out to family or friends, and we had no way to send and receive
email. (this update, and others, will be sent after the fact).

So there we were waiting for the phone to ring so we could ask someone to
buy us more minutes. Bop spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to
contact someone via email on the SSB radio. We didn't want to break down
call another boat. That would be embarrassing.

Eventually, Bob's wife Cathy called about something. Bob asked her to email
our wives and let them know the predicament. He also asked her to buy us
some more minutes. She called back later and informed us that it would be
Monday. Our phone supplier was still closed for Thanksgiving.

Fishing report:

Caught two fish (both dolphins). Cleaned one fish.

Arts and Entertainment:

Today's musical entertainment was a small amount of baritone playing, and
some opera. Verdi's Aida.
We also played chess. So far Serge beat Bob, then Serge tied me, then I beat
Serge, then Bob beat Serge.

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 8 Update!

Sunday is a relaxing day. A day of rest for many. In the Fall, Sunday is a
day that I look forward to relaxing and watching some NFL games in the

The sailing continued nicely today. The seas were getting rough and the wind
was staying strong. But the Minnow handles waves very nicely. We were
staying tight on the wind (sailing as much into the wind as possible). We
reefed the main sail about 5:00am and were using the solent up front.

In the reefing process we discovered that the main halyard (the rope that
raises the main sail) had chafed to the point that the rope cover was worn
all the way through. This was not a good thing. The sailing ropes we use
have a cover made out of normal nylon-like material. The center core is
where the strength is and it is made out of something like Kevlar. The
center part was unmarred (but wouldn't stay that way without fixing the
chafing problem.

We also found that the hydraulic winches quit working. This meant a lot of
hand winching. This is not desirable for five middle-aged men. So we
hand-winched. And we got the main halyard in a position we considered safe
from chafing and continued on.

Throughout the morning and early afternoon the waves got bigger. Generally
our consensus was that they were 10-12 feet most of the day, but for a few
hours they were up to 15 feet. The Minnow behaved remarkably well in the
rough water. But it was still rough. Waves were crashing into the boat and
the entire boat was constantly covered in spray. It was fun!

We noticed the autopilot was keeping the rudders turned real hard one
direction. We adjusted sails and other things. Nothing helped. The left
rudder was even coming out of the water quite a bit. Early in the afternoon
the autopilot quit. This required someone (David volunteered) to go out into
the rough seas and drive by hand (he got wet and stayed wet). Our first
thought was that the autopilot was overworked and broke.

By rerouting some communication wires we temporarily fixed the autopilot. It
was just a bad connection somewhere we think. David went below to take a
shower (his fourth of the day) in the front right part of the boat. When in
the shower he looked out the window and noticed the water was way too high
on the boat.

He came out and went forward to check the forward locker (beneath the hatch
where we put Whomper the day before). He came back and, using colorful
language, informed us that the boat was sinking and instructed everyone to
put on a harness, grab some buckets, and go forward.

This was about two hours before sunset, and luckily the waves were a lot
smaller (6-8 feet?) What generally ensued, and in no particular order, was
(1) ) we turned downwind and pulled in the solent (2) we hooked up two
garden hoses to two water pumps and began pumping the water out (3) we
bucketed water out. (4) we yelled a lot (5) we began trying to pin the blame
on Bob (6) we laid down in front of the hatch to reduce the amount of water
from coming over the bow into the hatch. (7) we turned on the generator and
hot water heaters so we could have hot showers later (8) we tried to siphon
the water out of the hold (yes it was a couple of feet over the sea level)
(9) we yelled more (10) we took items out of the hold and put them into the

For about the first 30 minutes we made little progress. We would get some
water out, and some would wash back in. This locker is huge. There was a LOT
of stuff in the locker. About 8 suitcases, a spare watermaker, a spare
electric wind generator, lots of toilet paper, lots of paper towels, Whomper
(Whomper is really, really big), our dinghy, lots of sail bags, large Catana
flags, blankets and comforters, and lots of other miscellaneous things.

We estimated that we captured about 660-800 gallons of seawater. That's
about 3 tons. With two pumps pumping, we gave up on siphoning and finally
got most of the bigger items out of the locker. Then we concentrated on
bucketing. We bucketed in shifts (two people at a time) until it was too
dark to continue safely. We had removed probably 80% of the water and
probably 80% of the stuff.

We closed the hatch, set the sails and turned back on course into the wind.
We proceeded to lash down all the mess in the cockpit. The rudder issue
disappeared after we removed most of the 3 tons of water from the right
front corner of the boat. Imagine that, haha.

After things were under temporary control we licked our wounds and
considered the damage. We had gone 11.9 miles backwards in about 2 hours. IT
would take almost 2 hours to get back to where we were. Four hours lost .
not nearly as bad as it could have been.

Cathy called that night and told us that we had gone from 212th place to
34th place. Wow. That seemed impossible.

Oh well, we were too tired to celebrate much. Sunday is a relaxing day?

Fishing report:

Blast it! No bites.

Arts and Entertainment:

There was nothing artistic about the day, save the interesting red bruise
pattern on Bob's back. For entertainment, see above.

"The Minnow" ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing

Mike's Exciting Day 7 Update!

Another good day of sailing. And another day without email and outgoing

We started out the day in medium to light wind following from 120-140
degrees off of the boat direction. And we were flying Whomper.

Whomper is really, really big. In 10-15 knots of true wind we were doing
8-10 knots. Perfect. The wind gradually increased and we found ourselves
doing 10-12 knots. Even better. With the true wind varying from 15-20 knots
we had apparent wind just over 10 knots.

But with the true wind increasing, and already on the top edge of wind for
Whomper, we were keeping a close eye out. We would need to pull Whomper in
quickly if we got more wind. We did, and we did. True wind hit 25, apparent
was still below 15, and . boat speed surged to 17+ knots. Very nice. But
time for a new sail.

David, Bob, Serge, and I quickly pulled down Whomper, stuffed it into the
forward hatch on the right, and let out the gennaker. (this part is
interesting as it narrows the blame for leaving the hatch open to four of
us) The wind increased more, as we passed near a squall (rain shower). Out
went the solent and in came the gennaker.

The wind let up a bit and we let the gennaker back out. The solent was still
out with the gennaker and we went fast. By pulling the solent in and out
while we left the gennaker out we found that we could go a little faster
with three sails up. The books say don't do it, but we experimented and
found it gained about 5% or better speed in these conditions. Most of the
rest of the day was spent with the gennaker and solent out.

It seems like we should be making really good time compared to the other
boats. But we didn't really know since we weren't getting email. They might
all be going faster than us.

Fishing report:

Fishing is interesting when the boat is moving at 10+ knots. On one pole we
have heavy line (50lb.). The other pole has something about 200-300lb. line.
When we get a fish on at this speed, it's almost impossible to reel when the
fish is in the water. When it comes to the surface, it's time to make hay.
Ideally the fish just kind of skis and skids along the surface. If the fish
dives, you just have to wait until it surfaces.

I was reeling in a fish today and it jumped out of the water. When it hit
the air, the tension on the rod and the line was enough to pull the
three-pound dolphin about 50 feet in the air toward the boat. It was kind of
scary. It's the same kind of action that occurs when Jerry is removing a
bass lure from a tree.

Anyway, the line wrapped around the tip of the pole. After some thrashing, I
got the line clear and reeled the fish in. Dolphins are notoriously hard to
kill. This one was dead on arrival from the pounding across the waves. Thus
easy to clean!

Arts and Entertainment:

Today's musical entertainment was comprised of Bob and I practicing the
sousaphone parts of "In the Mood" on the baritone. It was ugly.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Daily Log for the Minnow

Monday, November 28, 2005
late night

Today we finished baling the water out of the front hold and started drying stuff. By this afternoon, everything was back to
normal. We even got most of the instruments back on line. Apparently there is a short, or bad connection, or broken instrument
somewhere in the seatalk network. Everything is fine now except one of the external autopilots and instruments in one of the

Then the gennaker ripped in two. That was pretty exciting. We took it down, bagged it, and dropped it into the formerly flooded
hold. We still have a smaller foresail called a solent, and three spinnakers, but that will cost us some time. Apparently the
gennaker bottom chafed on a cable at the front of the boat and began the rip there.

Jim caught a dolphin today. The movie tonight was, "Brother, Where Art Thou." It is a fine motion picture. I think I shall play You
Are My Sunshine about 3:00 am on the baritone.

I just got the last weather faxes from New Orleans, and I dialed around on the radio to see if there were any others. Now I'm
picking up one from Hawaii. That's not very useful to us at the moment, but it's pretty cool.

Water temperature is 84.3, air temperature about 80, and the wind is from 190 degrees at 10 knots. Mars is out, but the moon is not.

Daily Log for the Minnow

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Last Thursday or Friday we ran the Iridium satphone out of minutes. We thought when we used up our bulk minutes, we'd go to more
expensive minutes, so we were in no rush to re-up the bulk minutes. However, when we ran out of our bulk minutes we couldn't make
any more phone calls. Oops.

Cathy eventually called us. We asked her to buy some more minutes, but the place was closed until Monday. So we've been using the
technology of the ancient seafaring vikings, with weather faxes and voice HF communication. And Cathy's been calling with the
weather reports. She's not quite as ancient as the vikings.

The tropical storm has fizzled a bit, and is 200-300 miles to our northwest. The water was pretty rough yesterday and this morning,
but we still averaged 9 or 10 knots. We guessed the waves were over 12 ft. today. This boat handles really good in that kind of

Today I woke up early, as usual, about 10:30 or so. Serge had planted a cooking timer behind my back. A fishing pole holder was
loose, and I tightened it. Then the hydraulic winches stopped working. But we have winch handles. Then the autopilot quit. But we
got it working by turning off some stuff on the seatalk network.

When messing with the autopilot, we noticed that the rudder was being used more than normal. And our speed seemed a bit slower than
it should be.

Then David took a shower and noticed that the boat was lower in the water than normal. At least on that side. This is not good in a
boat, particularly if the boat is hundreds of miles out in the ocean. He checked the forward watertight locker. It had about 5 feet
of water in it, maybe a couple of tons. Someone didn't close the hatch well, and water had been splashing in for a day or two of the
rough weather. Then David got really loud.

We spent a couple of hours going east, with the wind, away from our destination, pumping, bailing, and otherwise evacuating the
water from the hold. There's still some there, but we quit when it got dark. The majority of the water is out now. Now the autopilot
doesn't use the rudder as much as it was earlier today. The speed is still slow, but that's because the wind is slower and from a
bad direction -- mostly in front of is.

Now we have only a few boat problems:

1. A little water in the forward hold.
2. Wet stuff that was in the forward hold, such as suitcases and toilet paper.
3. A spare watermaker and windmill that is still underwater in the forward hold. They need rinsing in fresh water, drying, and
hopefully that's all.
4. Flaky hydraulic winches. We have to use winch handles! This was "fixed" before we left France.
5. Fishing line is tangled on the rudder or prop. It shouldn't be too bad because we haven't been motoring.
6. The main halyard is chafing where it goes through the deck. It's worn through the cover. We need to make the hole bigger.
7. We have some failure in an instrument or connection on the seatalk network, so now either the autopilot or true wind speed and
direction display work, but not both.
8. Three or four of our live vests auto-inflated today during the thrashing. Oops. We have recharge kits for most of them, and
9. We're missing some setscrews on one of the furlers of the foresails. We have to be careful about that.
10. A saltwater leak, maybe coming through a window in the living area.
11. Some wooden trim around the freezer fell off 3 times.

The baritone and sousaphones are still in fine shape, as are the stereo/dvd player, so we're in excellent condition overall. Except
Mike is a litte chubby.

Today we got into 4th position in the catamaran division, and 26th overall. We gave back about 25 miles this afternoon when we were
thrashing about. We haven't run our motors, and we got behind when there wasn't much wind for a couple of days. Once I even went
swimming and could keep up with the boat.

Fish caught so far:

Nov 21: 2 dolphin, big one 19 lb
Nov 22: zip
Nov 23: tuna and little dolphin
Nov 24: 2 dolphin
Nov 25: 3 dolphin, one at 11 knots.
Nov 26: 3 dolphin
Nov 27: One flying fish. It flew to my feet when I was messing with the sails a few minutes go. I sent him on his way.

It's tough to reel in a fish when you're moving 8-12 knots! We lost several. I'm surprised they'd bite anything going that fast.

The water temperature is 86°F. That's warm! Maybe even warm enough for a tropical storm, huh? I'm the only one up at the moment
(2:15 am). We are at 22°19'N, 31°53'W, headed west at 7.5 knots. Wind is out of the west southwest at around 15 knots.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

“The Minnow” ARC 2005 Atlantic Crossing


Mike’s Exciting Day 4 Update!


Bob is 50 years old today!!!


Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday dear Bob,

Happy birthday to you.


He’s 50 years old today! That’s really old. Old enough to be a grandfather. But he doesn’t seem any more senile than he has been for the past 40 years. Serge made him a special birthday loaf of bread. And a special birthday piece of fish. And I made him a special birthday chocolate cake. We figured he would be pretty depressed being that much older than us.


Scenic Photographs:









On to sailing. Lighter, light, some, very nice. That was the wind today. We finally got moving. We put up our biggest spinnaker and were going nearly as fast as the wind was blowing. For you sailors out there, we did this with an apparent wind angle of about 90 and a true wind angle of 140-160. Good wind continued for most of the day. In fact around 11:00pm we had to take down the biggest spinnaker (which David has dubbed “Whomper”).


With Whomper down, we put up the next biggest spinnaker and continued into the night. OK, OK, I was downstairs reading when all the spinnaker-changing activity took place. But I did come up and hand them a flashlight at one point.


One thing about this big sail is that someone has to be watching it almost all of the time. Most people don’t use the autopilot with a spinnaker much. Well, Bob and I use the autopilot almost always, and the other three have begun to come around. Not only can we be a lot lazier using the autopilot, so far none of us can keep the speed up as well as the autopilot. It’s hard to argue with more speed and less effort.


Yesterday there was a lot of book-reading going on. Today there was more sailing. Imagine that.


This morning was very nice eggs and fruit salad (thank you very much David), at noon fish, birthday bread, and green salad (je-ne-se-pa? Serge), and tonight was fried chicken and fried potatoes (Mom still cooks potatoes and chicken better than me durndoggit). Don’t worry. We had plenty of our “Four C’s” (cookies, cakes, colas, and candy) all day long.


Arts and Entertainment:


There was some piano playing, but it’s a little more difficult to rock and roll on the keyboard as the boat rocks and rolls more.


The highlight was “Bob’s Party Mix” blaring on the boat-wide stereo from 8:00pm till the wee hours. “Bob’s Party Mix” is a collection of several hundred unrelated tunes. Some of the favorites were “I Am the Frito Bandito,” “Stars and Stripes Forever,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Whisky in a Jar,” and “Smoke on the Water,” and the theme song from “MASH.”





Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Daily Log for the Minnow

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
10:38 PM UTC

It's my birthday! Last night about midnight I was out on the back of the boat playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano. About the end
of the first movement and beginning of the second, the moon started up over the horizon. That was pretty cool. Maybe even 68

Early this morning when I got up (about 10:00) there was some racket, movement, activity, and general confusion on the boat. We were
finally moving! The spinnaker was up and there was a little wind! It's gotten better throughout the day. Now we're doing 7-8 knots
in about 12 knots (true) of wind with the big spinnaker up. The wind is from about the 8:00 o'clock position.

Serge caught a fish today. We never did figure out what kind it is, but we (Serge) cleaned it. Do they have poison fish in the

This afternoon I was up messing with some ropes and other sailing stuff. I came down into the living room and there was a cake with
50 (or more) candles, all but one lit (the slackers), and a bunch of balloons. Party time! Being 50 is really good. Now when I
forget stuff I can say I'm just too old to remember, instead of dealing with the harrassment I've had to put up with since I was
about 12.

We're behind in the boat race, after having a couple of 50-mile days. I think we're going faster than most of the other boats at the
moment, so maybe we'll catch up.

There's a giant low-pressure system a few days in front of us. Well, it's not really giant, but it is significant. The 24 and 48
hour forcast today said there's a chance it could become a tropical or subtropical cyclone. According to our boat book (Chapman),
that means hurricane. That is hard to drive a boat through.

But it probably will weaken. We are thinking about going over the top (north) of the low and catch some tailwinds into St. Lucia. Or
we may go south and have some headwinds instead. Or the weather may change to something completely different before we get there.

We're north of most of the other boats, but there are several boats in the racing division up here with us. We're hoping they know
what they're doing.

Since I started writing this the wind has come up to 15 knots (true). We may have to pull down the spinnaker before long, because
it's a pretty flimsy sail.

Yesterday I cut into a piece of bread that Mike cooked in the breadmaker. There was a big chunk of metal in it. That guy can flat


Mike's Exciting Day 3 Update!

Light, lighter, none. Lighter, none, light. Lighter, none, none. None,
light, lighter. I'm describing our wind today.

In the middle of the afternoon, Bob decided he could out-swim the boat. So
he dived in and took off. He was able to keep up with the boat for a few
minutes but it was close to full-speed swimming so he didn't last very long.
He made a few tries at swimming a circle around the boat but never made it.
It seemed like every time he tried, we got a puff of wind that shoved the
boat a little faster than his stroke.

If you are wondering, we were dragging a rope in case he needed to grab it
while he was swimming. We were slow enough he didn't need it.

We had pancakes for breakfast, fruits for lunch, and a fancy fruit/veggie
salad for supper. Then we ate freshly baked bread later in the evening (I
used yeast this time). Sounds healthy. We need to eat healthy in order to
offset our daily intake of the "Four C's" (cookies, cakes, colas, and

Fishing was a lot more normal today. We let the lines out in the morning.
When it got dark we pulled the lines in.

We use a lot of water on this boat. We have a watermaker that uses some kind
of hocus-pocus to make water. To run the watermaker we have to run the
generator. It makes 20-some gallons an hour. We were expecting to need to
run the generator extra just for watermaking.

We also use a lot of electricity on this boat. When we bought this boat, we
wanted a lot of solar panels. It had four on it, and we wanted 8-10. The
boat salesman (David) told us that four was plenty. We told him that we
didn't turn off lights all that well. And that we normally had computers
running, and cameras and stuff charging, and breadmakers cooking, and
printers and radios on, and so forth. We ended up settling for six.

"David the boat salesman" is the same as "David our boat-mate for this
crossing." He seems a little surprised at how often we have to run the
generator. But I think he's already given up on trying to control electrical
usage. At this point, we only need to make water about 20% of the time that
we run the generator. I'll try to keep you updated on this interesting

When the wind is "light, lighter, none" on this boat I observed two things.
One, there's a lot of time to do whatever we want since sailing takes about
1-2 minutes of every hour. In other words, if we divide the workload evenly,
every five hours each of us needs to sail for 1-2 minutes. Two, the other
people on the boat are a little more edgy when the boat speed is 0.7 knots
than they are when the boat speed is 7.0 knots.

Actually, it was an extremely relaxing, pleasant environment. If we were not
trying to go fast we would have been completely enjoyable. (of course, I was
able to completely enjoy myself since I've never been edgy)

There is one other thing I observed. When we got the position report of the
other boats it showed that the ones that chose the southern route made good
time. We are taking the northern route and we made really bad time. When the
other people read that report they were somewhat more edgy (maybe even a tad

Arts and Entertainment:

Bob broke out the piano. We had entertainment live from the cockpit off and
on throughout the afternoon and evening. And into the night .

Ps. This was Bob's last day to be younger than 50.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Daily Log for the Minnow

We are now flying along at the incredible speed of 0.5 knots! Modern sailing technology is amazing. We got our positions last night.
We're in pretty good shape compared to the other boats, ahead of all but one catamaran. But the other two Catana 52s didn't report
their positions.

Mike cooked bread yesterday. He was apparently observing a religious holiday because he didn't use yeast.

Yesterday I went part way up the mast to fix a lazy jack line. Today David went up the front sail to fix a loose set screw. We've
had some chafing here and there. Other than that, everything is working well.


Mike's Exciting Day 2 Update

Today we had some medium-to-light wind to start the day which was pretty
nice. We were expecting to have some lightish wind much of the first 2-3

On the Minnow we have a number of strict rules. On the open sea, in order to
maintain order it's important to adhere strictly to a set of rules. We have
a zero-tolerance policy onboard the Minnow.

The first rule is "no falling in."
The second rule is "the fishing poles have to be in use during the day."
The third rule is . well, we don't have a third rule yet, but there is
currently no rule against adding another rule.

So far we have not had a problem with rule breakers on the Minnow.
Therefore, we were fishing this morning. A couple of dolphins (mahi-mahi)
bit our hooks. David grabbed the first one (a 19-pounder) and Bob started on
the second one (a little one). While the fish were being dragged toward the
boat, a gaff hunt commenced. A gaff is a broomstick with a curved hook on
the end for grabbing the fish out of the water and onto the boat.

It was exciting. The big one jumped out of the water a lot and was fun to
watch. When we finally got the fish to the boat we just left them dragging
along about 10 feet behind the boat. This was due to the failure of the
gaff-hunting expedition.

This prompted a fish-glove hunting expedition. It failed, too, but I did
find a pair of slick leather gloves. So I donned the gloves, grabbed a fish
cleaning knife, and headed down the steps to take on the fish. Bob dragged
the little one up on the steps and I wrestled with it quite awhile before I
finally got some fingers in it's gill.

Since dolphins are notoriously hard to kill so I stabbed it in the head
about 100 times. This worked pretty well. It did quit flipping, although it
was bleeding all over the steps.

Then, as I started to turn my attention to the bigger fish, it returned to
life with a vigor. So I held it down best I could with both hands. Wet,
slimy leather gloves are very slick. It kept flipping, and flipping, and
flipping. This would have been OK except it was flipping right in the pool
of blood and slime. I was covered.

After the other guys stopped laughing, they began a discussion about how to
kill the thing. Apparently alcohol in the gills will kill one. We took a
verbal inventory for booze on board. None. Rubbing alcohol? None. Could I
sever the spine? I tried but couldn't. Bob decided that a hammer was the
ticket and fetched one. Some spirited blood-splattering, skull-crushing, and
fish number one was pronounced officially dead.

The next one succumbed to skull-crushing quite easily and the rest of the
fish cleaning went without incident.

The ensuing clean up took longer than the fish catching and cleaning
combined. It required a long session with our
newly-installed-saltwater-washdown faucet in the back. But the freshwater
shower and clothes washing took even longer.

The good thing . we seemed to be going noticeably faster since we were about
240 pounds lighter (30 gallons of fresh water).

Oh, the other good thing . the fish was tasty.

Arts and Entertainment:

After dark Serge, Bob, and I watched Smoky and the Bandit. Serge learned
some new English phraseology from Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie

Monday, November 21, 2005


Very light air right on the nose all day long. The day’s highlight were two dorado, quickly converted to a delicious lunch.
Again, we could not reach Don SSB, but the GRIBS we received by email forecast several more days of light wind. We expect a long
passage and discussed conservation of both fuel and eggs.



The send off today was spectacular. Marching bands serenaded us at the dock. hundreds of well wishers lined the harbor and the
jetties to see us off. Our Sousaphone-playing crewmembers performed over twenty national anthems as we headed out to the starting
line, putting their instruments away at the five minute warning. We had a light spin run down the east side of Gran Canaria and got
walloped with a 35 knot WESTERLY as we reached the south end of the island. Lots of excitement on board as we pounded thru
initially steep seas and sorted-out a mis-run main reef 2. Tonight we tacked out into the Atlantic leaving the Canaries to


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Our first day!

Our race started today at 1:00pm Canary time (7:00am in Oklahoma). The start
was interesting. There were 225 boats all around and trying to position to
cross the starting line in the right position at the right time. There were
also a lot of other boats watching and taking pictures.

Serge, David, and Jim were all getting the sails up and ready. Bob and I
were playing tunes on our sousaphones. We were in the middle of a
rip-roaring rendition of "In the Mood" when the other three started yelling
and running around. We had a rope stuck somewhere it shouldn't be right at

Anyway Bob and I played a while longer and then actually helped sail.

So far today we have used 5 different sails. The main sail (full up, first
and second reef), the gennaker (big jib), the solent (little jib), a huge
spinnaker, and an even bigger spinnaker. The wind, starting at 10-12 knots,
has been as low as 2-3 knots and as high as 35 knots. All in the fist 3

Currently we are sailing upwind heading 200 (south southwest) about 60
degees off the wind. The wind speed is about 25 knots and our boat speed is
about 9 knots.

By Mike

We're Off!

We're off! We started the ARC to Stars & Stripes and In the Mood, sousaphone on the tramp. (naturally)

Here's a crew and some periscope pictures.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

26 hours to start! Mike and Serge are out picking up up fruits, vegetables, and our last laundered laundry for a while. Jim is asleep (after 25 hour flight plus a night out). David is cooking eggs. Most of our "to do" list is finished, and all of the "required" items are done. I think we need to break something.

Mike and I plan to play 25 national anthems in two-part sousaphone harmony today, and tomorrow on the boat at the start. It could start a war.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Las Palmas

Mike, Mathieu and I are on the boat in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. I think that's Grand Canary in English, but I'm not sure. We joined the opening day parade today. We didn't get a written invitation, but that must have been an oversight. Next year we will probably be explicitly invited NOT to play...

There are a bunch of boats getting here preparing for the Altantic crossing, and more are on the way. I think will be somewhere between 225 and 250 boats in all.

Here's what we've got to do this week:
1. Hook up and test spare anchor.
2. Fix loose batten.
3. Clean props and check zincs.
4. Clean boat bottom.
5. Change engine oil.
6. Rewire light over chart table.
7. Inspect all rigging.
8. Varnish some wood.
9. Add missing washing next to cotter key.
10. Install sat phone antenna.
11. Put straps on helm seat cushions.
12. Add salt water faucets in back.
13. Replace board at washer/dryer thru-hull.
14. Raise microwave cover.
15. Mount life sling and man overboard module.
16. Vacuum engine rooms.
17. Make water filter mount more sturdy.
18. Make TV more sturdy.
19. Mount knife near cockpit.
20. Reorganize food and storage areas. (Mike and Serge will do this alternately for most of the trip.)
21. Install third propane alarm, in Kitchen.
22. Get groceries
23. Get the right number(?) of sheets, blankets, towels, etc.
24. Get some wood and fiberglass epoxy to hold eyescrews to fasten the propane tanks to.
25. Tie wooden plugs in the bilge near each thru-hull fitting.
26. Get toilet paper, pillows, hand towels, rubber feet for microwave, printer paper, 1 red hand flare, 3 red parachute flares, 4 white parachute flares, ziploc bags, frying pans (2), dish drainer, tea-brewing glass, paper bowls, towels, and cups, trash bags.

There's a swedish girl named Emma looking for a boat to join, but there are probably 5 wives who would object to her on this boat.

We were thinking that, at 225 boats, 4 people per boat, 3 meals per person per day, 20 days, that is a LOT of food people are buying here this week!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Getting close to Las Palmas

Mike called and said they'd get to Las Palmas in a few hours. He actually said ten hours, but that was some time ago. He also said he'd gone 21.3 knots. But the phone connection was bad, and I'm not sure if this was boat speed or Mike's speed on the way to the bathroom.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

ARC Progress Reports

You can check the progress of The Minnow or any other boat in the ARC here:

You'll have to wait until the crossing starts on November 20, though.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Minnow will cross the Atlantic (hopefully) in the ARC, Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, later this month. The crew of the Catana 52 is made up of

Serge Bigotto, Paris

Jim Forquer, Southern California

David Renouf, Southern California

Mike Webster, Pryor, Oklahoma

Bob Webster, Pryor, Oklahoma

Serge, Mike, and Bob have a history of sailing together. However, much of it was in a 15-foot open power boat. Last summer the three, along with a couple of their offspring, managed sail a Bahia 46 from Norfolk, VA to La Rochelle, France without sinking. Catamarans are notoriously difficult to sink.

Jim and David are competent sailors and allegedly know what to do with all those ropes. It is not known, however, whether they'll be able to untangle the gorilla knots commonly used by Oklahoma farmers.

Sailing with multilingual crews has been a challenge almost as long as there have been sailboats, and this voyage will likely be no exception. While French-English communication is not a problem, there may be a considerable language barrier between English and Okie, as nautical terminology is nonexistent in the latter.

The Minnow is fully outfitted with modern maritime equipment necessary for a transatlantic voyage, such as an electric piano, a baritone, and two sousaphones. Bob and Mike Webster are threatening the Canary Islands in general and the ARC specifically with loud 2-part sousaphone renditions of the national anthem for each of the 25 countries represented in this year's ARC: Australia, Austria, U.K., Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Leichtenstein, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, U.S.

Mike and Bob have performed in prominent locations such as the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (they were eventually escorted out) and the Navy Pier Auditorium in Chicago (where they were asked to leave by the police). Research may be undertaken during the crossing by Jim, David, and Serge on the effectiveness of sousaphone bells as a series drogue.

In case anybody is interested in joining in, here's the music.


Mike, Patty, and Mathieu are headed from Spain to the Canary Islands!