Sunday, December 25, 2011

Changes of Scenery

Christmas Day, I'm sitting in San Juan Airport waiting for my next flight and I thought that I would try and make a post about something that's been on my mind for some time.

I'm sure that many of you think that the scenery must get awful booring when making an offshore passage. Oh sure, you've probably heard that the ocean looks different each day or even throughout the same day, but how different can that really be? It's not, after all, like driving around the USA, where the scenery changes constantly. It must get awful old.

Well I have to tell you that while I certainly welcome and even prefer the variety of land based scenery, a funny thing happens to me whenever I sail offshore. I don't know if others experience this or not. Now it doesn't happen when I take a cruise has to be from the more intimate setting of a small boat where your connection to your surroundings is much more intense. Let me try to explain.

You might look at a map of our trip, or of the Atlantic, and just see one big ocean... To me however our trip was broken up into... Well let's call them neighborhoods for lack of a better word. Areas where the scenery was similar... At least to me.

Sailing from Gibraltar to the Canaries you might recall that I commented on the reddish haze caused by the fine sands blown off the Sahara. This gave that whole portion of the trip a particular ambience if you will.... This was one neighborhood.

For the first 12 days or so of the long leg to Grenada we had strong winds of 25 knots and greater. This built up big seas with breaking tops, the whole sea was a mass of whitecaps, the sea was a beautiful deep blue during the midday, the top curls of the breaking waves would occasionally show that beautiful translucent blue spot, and the sky was dotted with fair weather trade wind clouds.... This was another neighborhood.

For about 36 hrs or so we were in an area of heightened squall activity. Looking ahead a few miles or so, sometimes you would see a line of dark clouds that stretched down to the sea blotting out the horizon. You knew that you were going to have to penetrate that storm and best be ready for whatever it intended to dish out. Other times there would be a little break between the dark clouds... A small passageway to the light area just on the other side.

One time in this squally area there was a long line of flat clouds crossing our path. As we passed under them they looked like some sort of heavenly highway overpass that we were passing under. This 36hr period became another one of my Atlantic neighborhoods.

There were several more on the trip. Each some distinct change in the scenery. Each sharing some intangible quality that caused my mind to group this section together. Mind you - this was not a conscious choice on my part. It was only after we left that neighborhood that I started to remember it as one.

Each of the offshore passages that I've made in my life have always self organized in my mind this way. I've made a dozen or so and it was always the same.

So.... No the scenery never gets boring for me. It's always changing quite dramatically.

Greg Kerlin

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Friday, December 23, 2011


We are now safely berthed in the Port Lewis Marina in Grenada.  My 1 month sail from Gibraltar to Grenada is over.  Right now I've moved off of the boat and settled into a hotel near the airport to start getting caught up on work that has woefully piled up due to my inability to do as much underway as I had expected.  Tomorrow however I am going over to La Phare Blu to visit with my friends the Wards on a similar sailboat to mine.

We had a contest on the boat to guess our time of arrival at a point off the coast of Grenada.  The first round of guesses was made about 8 days from landfall.  Many of the guesses were off by as much as 1 or 2 days but the closest over all was.......   ME!!  My estimate (notice it's not a guess but an estimate) was within 1hr and 10 minutes of the actual time.  Not too shabby from 1400 miles or so out from the destination.

Here are a few quick pictures from yesterday as we approached.
First the coast... notice the wave... It's blocking alot of the island...  Waves were about 10' or so.

Then of course a self portrait.  
Taken just as we were putting out fenders and dock lines about an hour before tying up at the marina

I think I'm down about 10-15lbs over the month.  
I've been trying to keep up the weight loss even in the face of the bacon and sausage onslaught.  
It will be interesting to see what the total is when I get home.

I'll try and do some wrap up and pictures in a few days once I get settled in at home and rested up.  
I fly home on Christmas day and I'm real excited to reunite with Kate and the Doodles as its been over a month since I left home.  
See you in a couple of days Mama!!  I can't wait!

Things that break in the night Dec 20 Day 16

Barbados got in the way...

We sighted land about 20 miles off the coast.  Our course took us right across the island - not an easy task for a sailboat so we needed to divert a bit to the south to make it past the southern tip of the island.  Our winds were not entirely cooperative in this endeavour as everytime we tried to divert just enough to pass the island safely, the port side jib would start collapsing due the the angle of the wind.  Hours of tweaking (pinching) our course and we passed about 1 mile south of the island just before sunset.

Also - just before sunset, all of a sudden both jibs developed a wrinkle at the bottom of both sails where they connect to the deck.  A couple of seconds and we realized that the jib halyard had separated (broken).

Now for you non sailors let me try and explain the rig that supports the jibs...

Picture a pull down type window shade.  When you pull the shade down it unrolls from the wooden roller and tightens a spring.   When you pull down again - the shade will pull up automatically due to the spring tension releasing.  Well our jib furling gear is sort of the same.  Picture that wooden shade roller being in a vertical orientation, the sails (like the shade) get pulled by lines and unroll.  Instead of a spring, there is a line that wraps around a drum when you unroll the sails so that when you want to roll the sails back up (furl them) you pull on that line, it turns the drum (and tube) and rolls the sails back up.

Here is a picture of the rig taken underway in the middle of the Atlantic...  you are actually looking at 2 jibs (normally only one is used) one jib on the right and one jib on the left.  The roller that rolls them up is right in the center of the two.

What happened is that another rope that is used only to haul the jib (s) vertically up the roller (it's used only to install or remove the jibs) broke.  The sails were about to slide down the roller and dump into the sea....  being trailed over the side by their control lines.   Not a good situation.  Quick action by all of the crew & we were able to roll the jibs back up before they wound up in the sea.  Considering that each jib probably weighs about 100 lbs or so you can imagine with the wind blowing, the seas rolling us, it would not have been an easy task getting the mess cleared up.  Had it happened an hour or so later after dark - it certainly would have presented a more difficult challenge.  As it turned out - it was a minor inconvenience for the remainder of the journey.

It was like a twin engine aircraft losing one of its engines.  Had it happened in the middle of the Atlantic it would have slowed us considerably and forced us earlier to move to our backup position.  The timing has been fortuitous in many respects.

Needless to say - we switched to our main and staysail and flew "wing and wing" with gusts to about 36kts and continue to fly downwind towards Grenada.  Our miles to go is now about 140 and the anticipation is starting to build big time among the crew.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Trades are Back - Day 15 Tuesday Dec 20

377 miles to go!

After days of motoring, last night on watch I noticed the winds start filling in and building and by 1100 both twin headsails were back up, the wind was filling them and JCD was once again headed direct to the mark under sail. Last night I also noticed the first contrails from a jet since we left tenerife 15 days ago. Even seeing a jet airliner go overhead is a big deal out here. We have not seen a plane or another ship in over 2 weeks. Now at 1800z 1400 local - I just spotted what looks like a square rigger off of our port bow headed in our direction, soon to cross our path. A regular traffic jam at sea.

Only 377nm to go! Land fall is expected in about 48hrs or so, late afternoon/early evening on Thursday the 22nd.

Tomorrow evening we will have to make a slight diversion as our current course takes us directly across the island of Barbados which is 150 miles short of our destination.

We've caught several dorado, one wahoo which we had for dinner last night and the fridge is stocked with fish.

Other than than, not much to report... too hot below to spend too much time typing. This might be my last post prior to Grenada, well have to see.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Weather the Weather Dec 17 Day 13

Sorry for the lack of blogs lately.. If I remember correctly my last post left you at the "egg incident". Since then there has been a distinct lack of forward progress due to an annoying low pressure trough that sits smack in our way but that we are now finally steering out of.

The good news is that we are now motor sailing direct towards the mark (Grenada). The bad news is that for the past several days this trough has thrown adverse winds at us that at time caused us to move further away from the mark. Yesterday for instance our forward progress was only 88 miles!

We had a variety of weather, south winds, squalls, rainstorms, cloudy weather, and generally unpleasant conditions. I think this lack of forward progress affects me more (but we really don't talk about it so who knows) since I'm the only one on board who has time pressures such as a job I need to get back to, the hope of Christmas at home with Kate and so on. Charlie and Jen are together and staying on JaySeaDee till Johns wife arrives, John & Bud have nowhere to go once we hit Grenada... So there are no real time pressures as to when we get to Grenada for them, other than perhaps wanting to be off the boat for a few minutes. Everytime someone says "I'm in no rush we'll get there when we get there" I secretly cringe inside. I'm dying to get this leg done with and get back home to my sweetie who I miss very much. Oh well - we are headed to the mark, we will be under 900 miles left to go in less than an hour, and I hope to be on dry land sometime on Dec 23rd... be pati
ent Greg.

Conditions below have been extremely difficult. It's hot, humid, all the hatches must remain closed due to spray, its hard to walk, stand, type etc so I've fallen behind on my work and I fear that it's going to be tough to get back caught up till I get home.

I hope this is not all coming off as me whining. I really don't mean to present that sort of picture. It is what it is and I expected exactly what the sea is dishing out... no surprises here. Just trying to give you all some insight into what life aboard is like.

Tomorrow will be Galley day for me again. I expect that this should be my last turn at that. Another positive.

I've heard Jimmy Buffets Cheeseburger in Paradise at least 50 times on this trip. So much that I am dreaming of a nice juicy cheeseburger with lettuce and tomata... some heinz 57 and french fried potata. And then a big, extra icy cold beer in a frozen mug. Thats goal number one. Yum.. I can taste it now! Goal number two is getting off the plane in New Berne and giving Kate a huge hug and kiss. After that a nice looong shower, some clean sheets, and some doodle time on the couch. My needs are simple.

So with about 6 days left and counting - about 899 miles from Grenada.. This is a very eager to hit land crewman saying:



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eggs that Fly Day 9 Tues Dec 13

1330z 19, 56.773N 37, 18.341W
1,486NM To Grenada
Seas 10-12' Winds 25-30kts

Today has not been my finest hour. The day started off on the wrong foot - and went downhill from there.

The seas continue to run pretty big and the boat will from time to time pitch pretty hard to port without warning. You're kind of used to the motion but sometimes there's still nothing you can do to prevent clamity. And today is Galley day for me.

My good sense told me that Oatmeal & Toast would have been a sensible breakfast but some passive protests from some of the crew overrode my wishes and below I went - hanging on with one hand, and trying to fry up bacon and scramble a dozen eggs with the other. Long story short is just about the time the coffee was done, the bacon was almost ready we were hit with another wave and the dozen (10 to be exact) scrambled eggs went flying.. All over the counter, the floor, into lockers, on me.... everywhere. So now I'm on hands and knees, battling some mild nausea and overheated, trying to stop the flood from getting into even more places as the boat continues to roll and add insult to injury. It took me about 90 minutes to clean up the mess and then prepare breakfast.... Oatmeal and Toast.

Yesterday Jen was able to prepare a wonderful meal of Rice and Beans with sauted Mahi for dinner. We all gave her credit for being able to do such a good job under difficult conditions. Tonight I am taking one of the frozen prepared dinners out of the freezer and add some rice to it and call it a meal. From now on if anyone is not happy with my menu plan they can eat.... you guess it... Oatmeal & Toast.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Fish on - Squall on... Monday Dec 12 day 8

1730z Pos 20, 03.976N 034, 43.904W
Seas to 12' Mostly sunny and warm
Winds east at 20-25kt 1,631nm to Grenada

Well yesterday Buds diligence paid off and he landed his first Mahi. It was a smaller guy about 20" or so and filleted it yielded enough for about 3 people. He followed that up with an encore today (right as lunch was being served) with another larger Mahi so between the two we now have enough for a good dinner.

The winds continue to blow pretty strong, the following seas are up to about 12' or so and we still have an occasional cross swell which makes the motion uneven. Last night I got propelled out of bed several times but was able to catch myself before I wound up on the floor. Needless to say I did not get alot of sleep last night. All the wind and waves are coming from an advantageous direction however and continue to push us quickly towards Grenada so its all good. Our 24hr distance from 11am to 11am was 190 nm. That's good time for this type of boat. Our average over the 7 days thus far is about 165nm per day so we are making good progress. We should be at the halfway point on Weds and it's all downhill sailing from there.

This morning I came on watch at 0900 (it was still dark cause we are not moving the clocks remember? so it really was 0700) and just as the sun started to come up we hit our first decent squall. I saw it on radar and was watching it so before Charlie went below we did our fire drill and reefed the jibs and no sooner than we were done the winds and rain hit gusting to 45kts or so. As quick as it started, it passed, we reset the sails and an hour later another squall came and we did it all over again. This is going to be a real pain in the butt at night. Speaking of the clocks, we have now crossed into another time zone - our second since leaving Europe. So as far as daylight and nightime - we are now 3hrs later than east coast time. We have 2 more time zones to cross before Grenada which is one hour later than EST.

It is Jens turn to cook today so this morning for Breakfast we had porridge. Soup and sandwiches for lunch and tonight is one of the Boat Recipes consisting of chicken, artichoke hearts, and sun dried tomatoes. Considering the seas and difficult conditions below to cook in she is really doing a great job. Tomorrow will once again be my turn in the Galley. Oh Joy!

Since my camera is now on the fritz, I am down to using my iphone for photos and videos. Not the greatest solution but it at least does a half way decent job so it's good that I have it.

Well that's about all from here for now. Not much else that I can think of at the moment.

From pretty darn near the middle of the Atlantic Ocean I'll sign off till next time.

At 12/12/2011 03:54 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 20°25.71'N 032°55.14'W sailing at 7.6 knots on a course of 254T

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rites of (Tradewinds) Passage ... Sunday 12/11/11 day 7

Many elements of sailing offshore are similar... The motion, the watchkeeping, etc. But Tradewind passages (at least those I've read about) seem to share a common collection of experiences. Sure each of the experiences can be found on other passages but the total package is part of the Tradewind experience. Just about ever Tradewinds Passage that I've read about shared the holy trinity of Gear Failures, Flying fish on deck, and nighttime squalls.

Last night we achieved all three in short order. First a snatch block (big heavy pulley that rope feeds thru) busted. It was the snatch block that was on the end of our boom and feeding the sheet to the leeward jib. So we waited till this morning to fix that and instead had to fly that jib like a normal one by falling off the wind some and allow the wind to keep it full. I was off watch and slept thru all of that excitement.

Later on my 0300-0600 watch I heard some thumping on deck just outside the enclosure. I figured it was flying fish and sure enough this morning there were 2 big fatties laying on the starboard deck. We are now in flying fish territory and see schools of them taking flight from some unseen predator. I never get tired of watching those beautiful little sea oddities skimming across the water.

Last was the squall... No big story here. I was still on watch when I saw one coming up behind and to our north. As the clouds blotted out the full moon I could see the rain bands off about 4 miles and it passed by harmlessly. It still was a reminder to me however that soon we will be getting into squall country where nightly fire drills are not out of the question.

Sailing conditions since yesterday have been awesome. We have these big 10'+ rollers coming up from astern, the winds are blowing a good 20-25kts from the east and we are trucking along at a high rate of speed. Last night on watch I saw the boat speed exceed 11kts down one of them! This is downwind sailing at it's finest!

First thing this am we gybed the whisker pole (moved it from one side to the other) and was able to set our course a little more westerly as the winds were pushing us a bit south of our preferred track. We continue to pretty much sail the Rhumb line to Grenada.

At 1100 WE PASSED THE ONE THIRD OF THE WAY TO GRENADA MARK!!! Charlie Jen and I whooped it up in the Cockpit for a couple of minutes to celebrate the mark. I'm currently estimating our 1/2 way point to be reached at noon zulu on Weds. All my calculations to date continue to point to a 18 day passage with arrival in Grenada on 12/23. If this wind however keeps up just like this and the gear all holds we could even do better. Keep your fingers and toes crossed folks.

We have some big cross swells coming from a storm up by Scotland that occasionally toss us hard to port. Previously all the waves were tossing us to Starboard so we had already discovered and tied down those things that wanted to travel across the boat when we heeled to Stbd. With our early morning Gybe onto a Starboard tack we learned about the rest of the things that wanted to travel in the other direction. One of them was the coffee maker just as we were making coffee this morning. It had been velcro'd down but the velcro was not enough to hold it and off to Port it went flying. One more example of Life underway. Taking a shower underway turns you into a human pinball. This morning I had PinBall Wizzard Playing in my head as I bounced around. I keep discovering new black and blue marks and wonder where they came from.

The coolest thing about sailing downwind in these seas is watching them come up from behind. Every once in a while a series of extra large ones comes along and you sit on the boat watching them catch up to you... Soon you are looking up at the top of the big baby as it towers above and just as it catches up to us, the boat rises up and starts surfing the face of the wave, the foam from the boat hissing as we pick up speed. The wave is still faster though and so up and over the crest we go like a duck in a big pond. At the top of the wave you look down into the trough between this one and the next. At the crest the boat slows down and we ride the back of the passing wave down into the trough to begin the surfing experience all over again. Down in my bunk I can listen to the hissing and feel the acceleration and deceleration as we ride up and down the waves. It's a great experience. Add a full moon to it and it's just awesome.

The sea is totally covered with whitecaps. As we watch some of the waves break, it if breaks just right you can see thru the top little section where the wave is curled and it is the most beautiful blue color. I am going to try and get some pictures of it if i can and my camera works... did i mention that my new (and only camera that I brought) is not working correctly. The video function is totally shot and the photo function questionable. I might have to settle for shots with my iphone.... Oh the humanity!

Oh well - that's pretty much it for now. No real food items to report. Jonathan is cook today and i think that he is making steamed vegatables, tofu & fruit cups for dinner. We've scheduled yoga for 7pm followed by daily afirmations at 9 with tonights movie being Willie Wonka. A clean and healthy boat.... that's us.

Thanks for riding along. If you are enjoying the blog or would like to hear about anything else drop kate a line and she will get word to me.

Till tomorrow


Saturday, December 10, 2011

What's more than a quarter but less than a third? Day 6 Sat Dec 10

Position: 22, 43.962N 028, 01.146W
Wind 18k at 090 variable
Seas 6-8 w/ 10+ swells
Overcast and 70ish

The answer to the above question... Our position.
With 2,028 left to go, and 1,967 being the one third done point we are not quite there. I expect around this time tomorrow plus a couple of hours we should be one third done with this leg. Extrapolating that average forward yields an 18 day trip with an arrival on 12/23. Time will tell of course.

Our winds have failed to increase to forecast as of yet but they are blowing hard enough to keep us moving along at a nice clip and much more would just make things uncomfortable but not add much to speed as we would need to start reefing (shortening sails), so basically all is good.

Its now been overcast for about 3 days in a row but I think it is likely keeping things here a bit cooler so no complaints from me in that dept as well. Last night it was thin enough to let the full moon shine thru, and show an occasional star so what's not to like. When you are sailing along at night, sometimes a star that is low in the horizon gets mistaken for a ship or vice versa, so the lack of stars makes the watchkeeping just a bit easier. Speaking of ships, its now been about 4 days or so since we've seen one. Since we are not on the shipping lanes it will likely be many more before we do see one.

Now that we have established our routine at sea, our bodies are adjusted, our mental clocks set for the odd sleep hours etc, I think the days are starting to move a bit faster as well. Our world out here is about 50' long and 16' wide, and really most of that is outside of the cockpit where most of us don't spend too much time unless necessary due to safety. That reduces the size of our world considerably. At first it seemed like every tick of the clock was an eternity and the days lasted for weeks but now as things begin to blur time is starting to move back into something more like the hyperdrive I am used to on shore. Well maybe hyperdrive is a bit of a reach, but the time is moving faster. Also being fully adjusted has allowed me to get back to taking care of my work responsibilities for my job - I'm working on next years budgets out here believe it or not - so that work is a welcome diversion and time killer.

Last night Charlie and I were talking and started joking that with so many days left to go we were going to run out of stories... While I'm not too afraid of that happening I told him if we do then lets just start making some up and keep on going. Charlie replied that at our age we might not remember what we said two weeks ago anyway and we can just tell them all over a second time.

John and I have been spending the last couple of days tracking down a small leak in the boat. Now before anyone gets all worried it's not a big deal. Boats often have some seawater coming into them. We have electric and manual pumps to take care of it. We figure the leak is a few gallons an hour. There is alot of eliminating to do to track down the source. Is it fresh or saltwater? (taste it) From the front or back of the boat? Poke your head down every hatch looking for wetness, and so on. This morning at 0400 I was on watch and John came up and we started talking about it again, I had a few more hypothithses, and soon we were back at it being leak detectives. I think I've found it on a waterline that goes into a shaft seal. It would only appear when the engine is running which fits the profile. John is not certain I've found it but I give it 80% so we'll just have to see next time the engine is running. Either way - it's not a big deal just one more thing to keep us occupie
d and out of trouble.

Last nights dinner was Shepard Pie prepared by chef Charlie and was a hit among the crew. Today Capt John is back at it and for B-fast we had Breakfast Burritos, egg, sausage, cheeze on tortillas.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Plowing Along... Day 5 Friday Dec 9

1745z 1645 local
Pos 23,43.747N 026,07.273W
Winds 18k From the east seas 4-6' and building
Temp 70 thin overcast

After about 30hrs or so of lighter wind and motoring, the winds have returned as forecast and are slowly building, and along with the wind so builds the seas. Still, the wind comes from a perfect direction so the waves are coming from behind and helping, along with the wind, to push us ever so steadily towards our far off island destination.

I survived my turn as galley slave with minor damage. (we'll just call it the towel incident and leave it at that) Last night i could not find the chicken that I needed in the freezer so I took the easy route and made some spaghetti with jarred sauce. It was not my finest moment but no one threw me overboard so I guess I passed, and now have 4 days to recuperate. After sweating in the galley, cleaning up the dishes, it was time for a nice cool shower and then into the rack around 9pm for a few hours of sleep before my midnight to 3am watch. Tonight I have the 0300-0600 watch.

Today Charlie is on Galley Duty. For breakfast he offered up toast and/or cold cereal and the Dinsmoor boys started protesting the lack of meat and for a moment it looked as if it could get ugly but cooler heads prevailed and we stayed with the healthier option. I was considering that I might have to up my cholesterol meds as a preventative. Tonight Charlie is whipping up a shepards pie. Is there whipcream on that? Tomorrow we will have gone full circle and John is back on duty and he has promised us a Dennys Triple Slam Meat Lovers Delight. Bud better hurry up and catch a fish!

If it seems like I've been talking alot about food... well I guess that I have. When day after day the biggest difference is what you eat it becomes a focal point.

Our wind today has increased like I said. It is blowing nicely and with our two big headsails pulling us, we are racing along leaving a hissing trail of foam in our wake. The winds are forecast to continue to slowly increase the next few days and peak out in the 25-30k range so the seas should get back into the 10'+ range. It should be an excellent sleigh ride east, pushing us steadily towards Grenada.

Our trip meter is now down to 2,148nm to go. Starting out with about 2,800nm total distance for the leg we are pretty close to the 25% done mark for this leg. I think tomorrow around this time we should drop below 2,000 miles. YAY!

Bud has had several bites on his fishing lines and 3 dorado (Mahi Mahi) right up to the boat where they were lost. I told him not to lose faith - they were all small ones and should have stayed in the Atlantic anyway. The big one is just up ahead.

I guess tonight is supposed to be a lunar eclipse, but my friend Bobby (has the same boat as me) emailed me and told me that it will not be visible to us. That's ok, I'm enjoying the full moon brightness for now. I'll be seeing Bobby & his wife Lesley in Grenada as their boat is there.

I hope everyone had a nice week and enjoys the weekend. Out here there will be no weekend until we hit shore.

Till next time.

At 12/9/2011 06:02 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 24°06.44'N 024°44.89'W sailing at 7.2 knots on a course of 263T

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Galley Duty - Thursday Dec 8th

1215z 1115 local
Positon 24, 24.12 N 022, 38.523W
Wind E 14 Seas 2-3' Temp 70

Last night was close to a full moon. My 2100-2400 watch was under a bright orb casting the best moonglow on the waves. It was a quiet and peaceful time to just enjoy the sounds of the foam, the gentle breeze, and the motion of the boat.

The winds began to quiet down yesterday evening and along with it the seas. The problem with that is our speed decreases in lock step. We are now averaging about 5.5kts where as yesterday we were averaging closer to 7.5. While 2 kts might not seem alot - it is an almost 50% decrease in speed. I did download some grib files (graphic weather files that I can use on my Mac's navigation software) yesterday and this calm period was forecast for about 24hrs or so and by tomorrow this time the winds should fill back in the 20-25kt range from the East and propel us towards Grenada in fine style.

Today is my turn as galley slave. Yesterday was Jens turn and she is a hard act to follow. For dinner we had roast chicken, sautéed potatoes and gravy. For Breakfast this morning I made French Toast with a hint of cinnamon and some almond extract, and sausage links. I think for lunch I will take the left over chicken and potatoes and make open face chicken salad sandwiches on a slice of bread and tomato slices. For dinner perhaps lemon chicken with capers and corn and rice. After that I will be totally exhausted. Cooking at sea is not an easy task for an experienced galley slave. Take a rookie like me and it's an exercise in yoga. Reaching this way to stop the eggs from rolling, then the other way to catch the silverware that's headed for the deck... oh crap there go the eggs again... Meanwhile the stove is gimballed - that is it rocks with the motion of the boat so that the pans don't slide off or spill. But something as simple as pouring a cup of coffee into a mug takes time, skill, and patience. So does drinking from a cup. If you start to sip as the boat rolls, it's all over your face! That's a taste of what it's like to cook and eat underway.

Our distance to go meter now reads 2,344 miles. We have close to 500 under the keel so far this leg and about 1,250 since leaving Gibraltar.

Today is cloudy - not looking like rain - just your garden variety cloudy day in the middle of the Atlantic.

Oh well - I need to go and start getting lunch ready. It will be time to eat in a couple of hours and it might take me that long to slice a tomato.

At 12/8/2011 03:09 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 24°36.12'N 021°42.27'W sailing at 6.1 knots on a course of 262T

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I don't think this is the Trades but it sure feels like it

Weds 12/7/2011 1300z 1400 local
Position 24-55.668N 20-19.062 W
Winds 090 20kts Seas 6-10'

Our route from Europe to the Caribbean is no accident. It is following the classic route sailed since the days of Columbus. The winds at this point on earth blow generally from East to West just as in the Northern Hemisphere they blow from West to East. To sail from Europe to the New World the classic rule is to "head south till the butter melts" then turn west as by then you should reach the Trade winds, those winds that blow from East to West. Of course no rule is absolute and weather is never 100% consistent. The old timers had to rely on the classic rules. In this day of weather forecasting however we rely on the experts to help route us to find the best winds at the shortest distance. To that end, our forecast told us we didn't need to head as far south before making our turn west to find winds that will carry us to Grenada, possibly saving us 300 miles in the process. So based upon their advice we set a waypoint of 25N and 20W to head to from Tenerife, and once we hit that point we would turn west and run the rumb line to Grenada. We hit our waypoint today around noon thirty, and then turned about 30 degrees west and we are headed on the great circle route to our destination.

For those with Sailing Knowlege:

The winds on this trip have been very cooperative thus far. Today after making our turn we are close to running dead down wind so we just got done setting our two headsails. It is quite a sight to see. We set 2 big jibs on a single furler and one is poled out to weather with the whisker pole and the other is held out with a sheet running thru a snatch blog on the boom which is set out to leeward to act as a quasi whisker pole. With the 20kts winds, the 10 foot swells, we are at times surfing down some of the waves at 10kts. And it is an easily controlled rig. Should we run into any squalls we can easily shorten or douse the sails by furling the headsails all or partway.

For my non sailing friends:

The above means we have two big white sails flying at the front of the boat. One on the right side and one on the left. It is quite pretty, makes us go fast, and is safe.

Today is Jens day to cook and we are going to have roast chicken for dinner. All of us are eagerly looking forward to dinner. Tomorrow is my turn and I think she will be a hard act to follow.

Since setting the new foresails the motion of the boat has calmed down some. The last couple of days we have been rolling quite a bit, especially to the port side, and at times moving about down below has been quite challenging.

The weather continues to be sunny days with puffy clouds, cooler nights with a waxing moon. Each day gets a bit warmer as we continue to journey south, but so far it is not uncomfortable down below. I have a feeling in a week or so it will be warm enough to be harder to sleep below during the day.

Our trip meter shows 2,476 miles to go to Grenada, and about 320 miles made good in that direction. A positive way to look at it is we are 13% of the way towards or destination.

We have now crossed into a new time zone but are not moving the ships clock forward. What that means is slowly we will be going onto a super daylight savings time as we keep crossing time zones. Thank god my watch is a chronometer so I can set the local time on one setting and the ships time on another. It is 4hr time difference from zulu that we are staying to to Grenada time so by the time we get to Grenada the sun will be rising at 11am or so, and setting at 10pm ish.

Charlie and Jen are an excellent addition to the crew. They are both very knowledgeable, full time cruisers and a lot of fun. They will certainly help us pass the time even faster.

Well that is about all to report from here for now. We continue rocking and rolling our way south west at a nice clip.

Till next time.

At 12/7/2011 06:34 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 25°19.33'N 019°23.35'W sailing at 7.1 knots on a course of 238T

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Enroute to Grenada day 1

Tuesday 12/6/2011 1330z
Position 26 42.773N 18 10.502W
Winds 20-25k Seas 6-8+
2,660nm to Grenada

Well we passed our first 24hr mark for this last leg of the trip at noon today. Our mileage log shows about 140 done and about 2,660 to go. That of course assumes we travel in a straight line. Our sail out of Tenerife was uneventful. We initially motor sailed for a few hours due to uncooperative wind angles, but soon we set the main and then the staysail and have been sailing a broad reach with the wind over the port quarter for 20 hrs or so. The waves are fairly big so we are doing some rocking and rolling - mostly to starboard due to the sailplan we are currently flying.

Our current course has us steering for 25N and 20W - an imaginary point in the ocean. This gets us a bit further south, this point being important that most low pressure systems that cross over from the states would cross north of there so it lessens our risk for heavy weather on the nose or otherwise. Once we get to 25-20 our next way point is Grenada following a great circle route.

Now that Charlie and Jen have joined our crew our watch schedule is somewhat luxurious. We stand 3hrs on and 9hrs off then 3hrs on and 12hrs off. Every 5th day one of us is on Galley duty and does not stand watch. I dread my Galley duty day as cooking is not my forte. I can wash dishes till the cows come home but cooking.... Well being married to my Italian Kate I just don't spend much time on Galley duty anymore. Hopefully when my turn comes, I don't poison the crew.

Getting started on the trip throws your systems off for a loop. You have to get used to the uneven sleep schedules, the constant unending jerking movements the sounds, etc. I - like alot of sailors - take seasickness medications for a few days to just make sure and give your body time to adjust and there are no problems in that regard. When we got to Tenerife, we had been out about 5 days and were finally getting into the groove, your body is used to the whole environment and good to do. Now we are all back in that getting adjusted stage again. This leg there will be plenty of time to get adjusted and in the groove I guess.

Capt John announced his arrival estimate today. Dec 23rd 2pm which would make for an 18 day 7 hr passage. That would be great! It would allow me to get home on Christmas day. (don't make the plans just yet Kate). I made my flight reservations for Dec 29th (our anniversary) but paid for the fully refundable type so that I have the flexibility to do whatever I need when we get to port. Either way I'll be the winner... Kate will be my x-mas present or my anniversary present.. with a Doodle bonus!

The weather is comfortable during the day but still a bit chilly at night. Soon as we continue our trek Southwest we will hit warmer weather in the Tropics and I'll be complaining about the heat.

The moon continues it's waxing (getting bigger) and soon we will have a full moon. It is already quite bright at night due to the moon and I just love the way it dances and shimmers off of the wave tops. I understand that there is going to be an eclipse of the moon on the 10th but don't know if it is going to be visible from here.

Well I think that covers all from here for now.

At 12/6/2011 08:49 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 27°02.88'N 017°44.78'W sailing at 6.5 knots on a course of 235T

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Monday, December 5, 2011

JaySeaDee Underway to Grenada

Crewmates Jen & Charlie McNamara arrived yesterday and after an excellent dinner at a local restaurant we all retired for the night.

This morning we completed the final prep, then cleared customs, and at 1230hrs Monday Dec 5 we cleared the breakwater and are now underway for the 20 day passage to Grenada West Indies.

More to follow.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Posts up to date

Sorry about all the posts at once...

I fixed the problem that prevented my blogs from appearing and now at least when I write them while at sea they will show up.

The previous 3 posts tell a bit about our 5-day sail from Gibraltar to Tenerife.

Sorry again.

Weds Gibraltar to Tenerife - DAY 4

Pos: 30-50.828N 013-40.515 W

We are starting to get near the 24hr mark for our port of call in the Canaries.

Last night the moon was a bit fuller as it keeps getting a bit bigger each evening and rises a bit higher up in the sky. For the early night watch (mine) I had this shimmering moon glow in the water ahead of us. It was a peaceful scene. Winds, waves are all about the same as yesterday. We've only had the slightest bit of traffic since leaving the shipping lanes off the Strait of Gib, but today about a hour ago all of a sudden we had two targets on radar, both closing in on our position. The two ships passed simultaneously, one to Starboard and one to Port, the Starboard container ship about 1/4 mile off of our beam. Seems like its feast or famine as far as company out here.

Today we had Baconfest. Turns out we all like bacon and cheese sandwiches so Jonathan got to work in the galley and whipped up some to the best artery clogging treats this side of Grenada. Grilled Bacon and Cheese sandwiches. I'll have to take an extra fish oil tonight.

He's been busy fishing for over 500 miles now but still no bites with 185 left to go to stop number one. We will probably stop at one marina tomorrow afternoon as we will be too late to make it to our preferred port on the south end of the island, then move the boat the next day or so.

Tonight I have the 2100-2400 watch so I get to go to bed at midnight and sleep to 6am. That's the sweet watch as it's more like normal. When we get to port and I have some bandwith I'll try and upload a few photos of this leg... so far I dont think I have any that will make Life Magazine.

Next post will likely be from shore side.

Till then

At 11/28/2011 23:29 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 32°05.77'N 012°11.90'W sailing at 7.0 knots on a course of 223T

At 11/29/2011 14:57 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 30°50.09'N 013°41.29'W sailing at 7.2 knots on a course of 224T

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Gibraltar to Tenerife - Day 2

Position 33-0.713N 011-03.857W
Winds 10k Seas 2-3' with NW Swell of 10' or so.
Temp mid 60's and sunny

Its Monday here on JaySeaDee and we continue motor sailing at 235 degrees towards Tenerife. Last nights dinner was the final Thanksgiving Turkey and Salad. This morning I woke up to the smell of a fresh Banana bread baking in the oven courtesy of Chef John. The conditions have been fairly benign. A 2-3' following sea with a long period swell of about 10' coming in from the NW just to add a little spice to the rock and roll and keep you on your toes.

Yesterday around 1400 or so we had a pod of a dozen dolphins playing around the boat and surfing the waves and jumping in the air. I think I got some decent photos but know I will do better as the trip progresses. Last night was another beautiful night with lots of stars and shooting stars, and a slightly larger crescent moon that set and hour or two after the sun. Each night the moon is rising a little higher in the sky as it marches on towards the full moon - I'd guess in 8 or 9 days.

Our expected time to arrive in Tenerife is after sunset on Weds so we will have to decide when we get closer what we want to do. It's not a good idea to enter a strange port at night so we might slow down, or stop at a nearby island. Either way I'm looking forward to our first landfall of this trip. Even in my Navy days - there's something sweet in the air when you've been at sea for a while and all of a sudden get downwind of land and can smell mother earth. When we approach Grenada we will be coming from upwind and eventually swing around the back of the island so I cant wait for that smell. After 17 days out and then having it hit you all at once it will be pretty cool. Oh well, I'd better stop focusing on Grenada for now as that's still a ways off.

Underway someone must always be "on watch". That means you are responsible for the boat - and more importantly - the lives of the people sleeping below. Our current watch schedule with 3 of us is 3hrs on and 6hrs off. So for instance Today I am on the 0000-300 watch then off to 0900. Then do the 0900-1200 watch then off to 1800 and do the 1800-2100 watch and off till 0300. So you can see each day your watch advances so that you are not on watch the same time each day. when we have 5 of us we will do 3 on and 9 off with one person designated as "Galley Slave" for the day. The Galley Slave cooks and cleans and doesn't stand watches that day.

Hope everyone is enjoying the ride with us. If you have any questions, pass them along to Kate and she will email them to me out here in the middle of the big blue.


At 11/28/2011 05:40 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 33°33.86'N 010°32.77'W sailing at 6.8 knots on a course of 223T

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Gibraltar to Tenerife Day 1

1120 UTC
Postion:35,05.869N 008,42.505W
Sea: 4-6 feet winds East 15-20kts

Yesterday we left Gibraltar on the outgoing currents.
We left the fuel dock around 0845 local after taking on almost 1,000 liters of diesel.
After a bumpy start the seas calmed down and we had a nice motor sail thru the strait into the Atlantic.
Incredibly my cell phone worked till almost 3pm when Spain was out of sight, so i had one last conversation with kate before I got out of range.
Later in the day as predicted the winds and seas picked up and by sunset we had 20k sustained and the seas built to 7-9', but it was right off the stern so it made for pretty nice sailing. Our 24hr log showed us at 162nm for the day.

Last night around midnight I noticed the winds were starting to get a bit fickle and just after I got off watch the autopilot was switched over to wind vane steering rather than following the GPS. Overall the winds thus far have been from an almost perfect position and we are making good time.

We were treated to an excellent sunset last night and when the sun dropped we had a thin sliver of a crescent moon for an hour or so and then a moonless night. There are so many stars however that the horizon is visible and the deck is bathed in a soft starglow. Then this morning I was on the 0600-0900 watch (the sun comes up here around 0830) so I enjoyed the start of the day. There was a slight reddish glow on the southern horizon which I think might be some fine sand that is blown off of the Saharan Desert when winds blow from the east.

It's now Sunday here - we are in our second day enroute. The Seas have been a bit confused so we have a basic wave train from astern but also some that come from the side and add to our motion. The crew is all in good spirits and healthy. Jonathan is now on the stern with the fishing line out trying to land us some dinner. Last night we had a fine meal of some frozen Lasagne (thanks Jodi - Yum!) Maybe tonight we'll have Mahi!

I'd like to welcome our newest eilean blog follower - Johns Mom. She told me that if John gives me any stuff to email her and she'll take care of me. Its nice to know I have my back covered there too! :-)

We are on a 3 man rotating watch system. We each stand a 3 hour watch, so it means you stand 3hrs on and then 6hrs off. Of less of course you are needed then its all hands on deck. Last night I had the 9pm to midnight (2100-2400hr) watch. When I got off at midnight I hit the sack and let the motion of the ocean rock me to sleep. When you lay in your bunk there are all sorts of sounds... The creaking of the ship, perhaps some ropes slapping, stretching or groaning, and of course the water. The water rushes and gurgles past the boat, the bow wave breaks, the sound of the foam, and then of course the sound of the waves outside breaking.. You can get a sense of what it's like outside just listening to the sounds, and feeling the motion.

Today the winds have backed off a bit and our sailing speed has dropped so we started up the engine and are now motor sailing. That is, we still have the sails up but are running the engine to add some speed.

Last for today was the ships. It's amazing how much shipping traffic is going thru the strait of Gibraltar. We were on constant watch for hours as traffic approached from all over the place but as the night wore on and we moved further off of the coast it slowly dwindled and by midnight or so we were pretty much alone. Our course is first taking us straight out into the Atlantic about 100nm where we then started to curve southwest and parallel the coast of Morocco for about 500 miles to the canaries. Last time I checked we had about 460nm to go to Lanzacoat which is one of the more northern of the islands. We will travel another 1/2 day or so south of there to Tenerife, so I guess we have 530nm or so to go on this leg. Our ETA right now per the GPS is Thursday morning.

At 11/27/2011 02:51 UTC saling vessel JAY SEA DEE was at 35°26.86'N 007°44.03'W sailing at 6.4 knots on a course of 244T

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Still in Tenerife - testing blog

We are still in Tenerife awaiting the arrival of crew tomorrow. While here I was looking at the blog and noticed that several posts that I made from sea never seemed to appear on the blog so tonight I am going to make a couple of posts to get this fixed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


We arrived in Tenerife in the Canary island yesterday afternoon about 1700.

Total leg distance was about 750 miles and 101 hours or 5 days, 5 hrs.
I'm currently blogging from my iPad as we don't have internet but are setting up the antenna outside to try and catch a signal from somewhere in town.

I've never posted pictures from the iPad to the blog either t compress their size before I upload them.

Here are a few pictures of the trip.

Leaving Gib there was a large passenger liner to clear

This is a shot looking back towards the rock. The classic view is from a different angle.

Our first night at sea begins. Sunset #1 of many to follow.

We were visited by a pod of dolphins who frustrated my efforts to get the best shot. Note how clear the water is. We can watch them swim under the surface from quite a distance off.

On day 3 John broke out the big dried ham leg that Spain is famous for.

Sunset on night #3

Chef John woke us up to the smell of fresh baked banana bread.
Next we get tucked into bed perhaps?

When the seas subsided the boys relaxed on the back patio

Bud starts off BaconFest with some grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches for lunch.

Around 1000 on day 5 we started to clearly see our destination, Tenerife. As we got closer it took on an eerie appearance that reminded me of the island that King Kong was found.

Today's self portrait, taken as we sailed down the western coast of Tenerife to our next port 
Santa Cruz de Tenerife which is both the capital of the islands and their largest city.

This photo was taken of the Auditorio de Tenerife just as we entered the breakwater to the harbor. Its architecture is meant to be symbolic of a sailboat. From a shoreside angle the symbolism becomes more apparent.

After we got tied up and settled in to the marina, we took a walk into the city last night and I found it quite beautiful with tree line tropical streets and outdoor cages. As it was dark I did not get any photos just yet. We had a few ice cold beers and toasted to our manliness finished off by a nice supper at an outdoor sidewalk cafe. I was struck by how friendly people here are as well as how happy everyone seemed.

We can,t seem to get wifi here so I am composing the blog on my iPad but can't upload photos from it so I hope to find a hotspot later where I can bring my laptop to upload the photos and finish the job.

If I'm successful I will try to include a couple of shots of the city.

We plan to stay here for a few days, the rest of the crew joining us on Sunday and then Monday we shove off for the long leg across the Atlantic to Grenada.

First of course are the daily sunsets

Friday, November 25, 2011

Good Bye Europe

We are all locked and loaded.
Jack lines are down, harnesses at the ready, boat checks are done and gear stowed.
Tomorrow morning 0800 we leave for the canaries so by the time you receive this we will be at sea.
We should arrive in Tenerife some time on weds Nov 30.
Next post is from somewhere 100 miles off of Morocco.

Greg Kerlin

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The Toilet Paper Calculations

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Minus our loved ones, we sure did and thanks to technology we got to visit via skype with them. Capt John had life sized cutouts made of he and Jonathan and had them surprise delivered for Thanksgiving dinner. Pretty funny. What a great idea!

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, we all went to Morrisons yesterday for some last minute shopping and the boat is now packed with supplies in every nook & crannie (deja vu Bill?).

But what you might not have considered are the thought processes that go into provisioning. Yesterdays conversation at breakfast revolved around our need to top off the TP supply. John has a detailed list of everything on board, how many are left, and where they are located so we needed to determine how much to buy.... Hence the The Toilet Paper Calculations.

We planned on 5 days from here to Tenerife for 3 men, then from the Canaries we are provisioning for 20 days, 4 men & one woman. After designing the algorithm we ran the calculations and an hour later the tired computer stopped smoking, spit out the answer and off we went.

So today's question... If you were us how many rolls would you have planned for?

Greg Kerlin

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving in Gibraltar

Happy Thanksgiving from the Rock!

We started our day with a quick trip to Morrisons, the only supermarket in Gibraltar.

We just had to have some good "American" Hot Dogs!

Meanwhile you can see how close the runway is to the Marina

After the Supermarket Chef John got up close and personal with the bird.

Soon it was ready for the Oven

While it was in the oven the boys went to the Laundromat toget caught up on laundry and I
went for a walk into the City Centre.  There was an accordionist playing
Andre Bocelli......  Nice touch.

Soon it was back to the boat and time for the feast.

Time to cut the Bird

Dinner consisted of Roast Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatos, & Dinner Rolls

Thanks Chef John for a fantastic meal!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Rock

We arrived in Gibraltar last night just after dark.

I got settled into my bunk and slept a good long sleep and now feel caught up and on schedule.

This morning dawned crystal clear and a comfortable 60 degrees.  After breakfast we set about rigging the headsails on the boat, testing the whisker pole that we will be using on the Trans-Atlantic leg and running some gear checks.

Then around 1pm we set off to climb the rock.  Just as we were about to take the tram ride to the top we were stopped by a tour guide who convinced us to take his tour in his mini van to the top instead.  We decided to take his tour and it was a great decision.  For about 2 hrs we drove around with him got the history of Gibraltar and toured The natural caves, fought off the Barbary Monkeys, toured the defensive caves dug for Gibraltar's defense, and got some awesome sights of the Strait of Gibraltar which we will be sailing thru in just a few more days.

The crew at the top - you can see the peak of the Rock just behind us.

Grooming time on the rock.

A time for reflection

This natural cave has an amphitheater where concerts are held.

Looking southwest from the rock at the Strait of Gibraltar.
On the right is Spain and the European Continent.
Off in the distance on the left is Morocco and the Continent of Africa.
Right down the middle is the Strait and beyond the Atlantic Ocean and home.
If you notice - there are ships everywhere as 
the Strait is one of the busiest shipping channels in the world.
Ancient legend held that this was the gates to Hades and the end of the world.

I gotta get this monkey off of my back man...

Next we went into the Revolutionary era caves dug as fortifications during the Great Siege.
During WWII the Brittish expanded the caves to over 34 miles of tunnels - some that 
are two lanes wide!

This is a view to the North towards Spain.  Spain is right on the other side of the Airport.
Our Marina is just to the left of the runway..   See the boats?

And back by request...  todays self portrait (minus Kate)

Our weather forecast has come in and all looks good for a Saturday Morning departure
to the Canary Islands.
Tomorrow is Turkey day so happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Sevilla - The Cathedral & the Alcazar

I'm working with limited time and bandwidth today so I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking:

Yesterday before leaving Sevilla we toured the Cathedral and the Alcazar.
The Cathedral is in the Guinness Book as one of the largest in the world and the gravesite
of Christopher Columbus.  It has an interesting history, first it was a mosque.
Google it for more background.
Also - getting used to the settings on this new camera so some of the photos could have been better.

Grave of Christopher Columbus

Then we went to the Alcazar, originally a Moorish fort and then Royal Palace.
The building and gardens were breathtaking!

 "The Courtyard of the Maidens"
refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year
 as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia.

After our visit, we hopped into the rental car for the 2 1/2 hr drive to Gibraltar.
The narrow streets were a maze getting out, at points we had to fold both mirrors in
on the car as the streets were so narrow and it seemed as if we would not make it thru.

Eventually after twisting and turning our way thru the maze we found a larger avenue and got on the autovia.
Next stop Gibraltar

Monday, November 21, 2011


Well I made it....  with 2 minutes to spare. 3 Countries -  9 1/2hrs of Plane rides, 1hr bus ride, 2 1/2 hr train ride, and lastly a taxi, and I made it to the Flamanco show with 2 minutos to spare.

John got me and Jonathan a front row seat to watch the most amazing show.  It's like flashdance on steroids  and with a passion that is hard to describe.  The show lasted a little over and hour then we retired for a walk around the town, hit a tapas bar for some light eats and a couple of brews.

After that I got back to my hotel room at 10pm local time and tired to get some shuteye, but since I've been going for 36 hours I think I need to decompress some more so what do I do to relax??   Blog!

I'll try to describe the passion of the Flamanco better in a later blog.  Im just too tired right now but wanted to share a few photos.

This is one Photo from the show

This is the local neighborhood.  Note the Lemon and Orange Trees growing along the street.

This is the local square just a few yards from our hotel.  Our hotel is up towards the center building in the distance then off to the right.

Behind be is the Cathederal.   I don't know its name at the moment but it's Majestic.  Tomorrow we will explore it and you get to see the inside including columbus' grave.