LOG - CIRCUMNAVIGATION OF WESTERN EUROPE

by the sailing vessel NEW CHANCE

APRIL 21 TO DECEMBER 16, 1997

ACROSS

2 OCEANS. 4 STRAITS. 8 SEAS. 73 LOCKS TO 1250 FT ABOVE SEA LEVEL

16 COUNTRIES. 13 LANGUAGES. 4 ALPHABETS

LEG ONE

SAN JUAN TO AMSTERDAM

This was truly a "Voyage of Discovery", as much so as our voyage around South America in 1994/95. Adding the 11,141 nautical miles sailed in 1997, New Chance has logged a total of 36,209 nautical miles since 1992. In doing so we covered 447 degrees of longitude, equal to a 1¼ circumnavigation of the world and 246 degrees of latitude, more than one and a third of the distance from pole to pole. And she’s ready for more!!

Fair favorable winds and seas turned the trip with Chuck Adams and Mike Stoughton from San Juan to the Azores into a 24-day "Hollywood Cruise". Mike flew back from Horta while Chuck and I promptly headed North in an attempt to beat a low pressure system moving East out of Newfoundland. We lost. On the third day out winds increased to 35 knots on the nose. Instead of continuing into the Iberian Peninsula as it was supposed to do, the Low Pressure cell stalled off Portugal. Steady 30 to 45 knot head winds, monumental seas, and a nerve shattering 10 days followed. Just as the weather began to improve a second gale moved in. In the midst of this howling tempest, a carrier pigeon circled the boat twice, spotted Chuck, fell in love with his pony-tail (or thought he was mom) and made a crash landing unto his lap. With two-way love at first sight and obviously with no intention of leaving, we christened her Lucy, but that’s another story. She lost no time christening the deck, cabin, forepeak, as a matter of fact, the entire boat, with her interminable greenish-yellow souvenirs.

The Northeast gale wouldn’t blow out. Twenty foot, thirty mph waves continuously washed New Chance. Wherever we headed, the wind was on the nose. Chuck and I kept to our bunks as the boat struggled to maintain semblance of a course. Every tack was fruitless as breaking waves pushed New Chance off course. In search of a potential landfall, we spent hours huddled over charts of the North Atlantic. Cork, Ireland appeared to be our best hope, that is, if we were lucky. Then the barometer zoomed down again and a third gale roared in. A strong southwesterly produced mast high treacherous seas that quickly overpowered the self-steering gear but did push towards the English Channel. We literally flew past Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles, Penzance, and the Lizard into the relatively calm waters of the Channel, delivered once again from the gates of Hell. Lucy, filled with scraps of spaghetti and snug up in the bow, took it all in stride.

New Chance, with our trusty engine, better know as Bertha, out of order, ripped sails and broken hardware generated by the three gales, needed to find a port before running the Straits of Dover. Cowes or Southampton required sailing up narrow channels against fierce tides. At a loss as to where to head, Chuck hailed a fishing boat late one evening. "Steer for Portland Head, mate. Weymouth Harbor is your bet. Look up Tony. He’ll get you fixed up. And, by the way, don’t enter at night" was the friendly answer over VHF 16. Off Portland Head at 0300, Chuck eased sails as the Skip snoozed. At first light we ghosted past the outer breakwater and into the cozy harbor at Weymouth. British heaven waited with the most friendly of people, a fun environment (it was New Orleans Jazz week thus every pub lifted us back to the Mississippi), an incredibly picturesque village on the water, and all the help we needed to get New Chance back on her feet. Weymouth harbored a good portion of the D-day invasion flotilla back in ‘44, landing craft packed in as tight as sailboats are today. On the second day we were up against the wall with 7 boats outboard of us.

Lucy promenaded on deck as she dodged dozens of sailor’s boat hopping to shore. I kept reminding her that she was back home (one leg band read GB 95 and the other H00600) and though she jumped to shore a couple of times, she still loved Chuck. Besides, conditions on New Chance were OK by her, particularly after we loaded up with pigeon feed. Lucy was now Crew but barred from her bow quarters, which had taken all of Chucks energy to totally strip and de-pidgeonize. Off we sailed, straight into a Royal Navy firing range. A RN patrol boat warded us off and into the hands of a HM Customs and Excise Services’ gray, menacing gunboat. Boarded and questioned by six tough Brits, they had a tough time reconciling what two conchs in a Miami registered boat were doing cruising in this part of the world with a pigeon. Their curiosity satisfied and at the end very friendly they still refused to repatriate Lucy who by now had worn the crews’ patience ultra-thin. After exhaustive observations by the Chuck and the skip, we concluded that pigeons poop four times more than what they eat.

The Straits of Dover were busier than Park Avenue at 5. A parade of huge freighters with barely a mile between each other ran East and West, each in their traffic lanes. Ferries, hydrofoils, hovercraft and an assortment of other vessels headed North and South. Another two dozen small vessels, such as ours, tried to keep clear of commercial traffic. Hours later, the heavy traffic behind us, with last light coming up fast and dark clouds zooming in from the North, the wind started to peg at 30 knots. Seas built as we closed into the Dutch shore, found and followed the buoys that led us in to the marina at the port of Ijmuiden which lies at the head of the North Sea Canal. We were in Dutch heaven. Leg One was behind us. We’d made it to the Continent with 48 days at sea, 4788 nautical miles sailed and 1139 hours under way. Three Scotch’s, a nights sleep and we began:

LEG TWO

AMSTERDAM TO THE BLACK SEA

One lock and less than twenty kilometers saw us into Six Haven Marina, right across from Amsterdam’s main train station. Chuck promptly departed to catch a flight back to Miami. Three days later Lirio with Barbara and Reiner Schwebel reported aboard ready for a voyage that would take us from the North Sea to the Black Sea, a 3,417 kilometer trek across the heartland of Europe. But first we had to remove the 60 foot mast, package it safely, and secure it on deck, a first time experience for me. The procedure had me a lot more stressed than handling the gales of the North Atlantic. If anything should happen to the mast, the voyage is over. Once the mast is down, if anything happens to the motor the party is truly over.

Back to San Juan for a minute. On the Wednesday prior to our departure, as I tinkered aboard New Chance, I looked up to see a handsome wood boat flying a German flag stopped off our stern. I waved a hello and the skipper asked where he could tie up. I motioned for him to come right alongside, in the next slip. He swung around and backed in. On the dock, as I prepared to take his lines, I noticed the boats’ name was "Jenny Von Westphalen", her home port, Duisburg, Germany. With lines secured I greeted him with "Hello. I sail Sunday for Duisburg". Astonishment led to friendship. He was Max Von Schmelling, the boat named after Lenin’s wife. When I handed Max an invitation to our going away party on Sunday, he came back with, "Fine. I will attend if you come to my party in Workum, Holland, on June 21 to celebrate the completion of our four year circumnavigation". Besides, he says, I’ll help you lower the mast and find timbers to support it on deck. Done deal.

The Nordzee Canal, which runs past Amsterdam, took us into the Ijsselmeer, known long ago as the Zuider Zee before massive dams secured the inland waters from the ravages of North Sea gales. That night New Chance moored among more than fifty typical Dutch working sailboats, all refurbished and converted into live-aboards, some over 120 feet in length. The colorful town, a spectacular sunset, and close to one hundred masts made Enkhausen one our most memorable stops. Memorable too for Lucy as she took off never to return, thank heaven. The spinnaker is still partly green from all her souvenirs.

At Workum, where we arrived the next day, we pulled the mast, fixed it on deck, and headed for Max’s arrival party where a multitude of his friends brought more German Delis, beer, wine and schnapps than I had ever seen before. Somehow, we managed to motor out the following day, straight into a 25-knot westerly, which, because of the shallow water, quickly kicked up short 6 foot seas. The mast, hung low and extending 10 feet over the bow, dug into the seas. The tie downs loosened. Barbara steered while I winched the mast tightly against the remaining supports. Convinced that the mast was headed for the briny, we slowed to a crawl and, pseudo-tacking, worked between and around the waves. Eight tough hours passed as we covered the 20 miles to the entrance to the Ijssel River.

Thanks to the generosity of a local lumberyard in Markum, Reiner built new solid supports for the mast. Our plan now was to motor 600 kilometers up the Rhine, branch off on the Main River for another 600 kilometers which would take us to the 200 Km Main-Donau Canal. On it we would rise to pass over the continental divide at 1200 feet above sea level, and then drop back down to the Danube for the 2450 kilometer run to the Black Sea. With the mast now firmly fixed to the deck, our progress depended 100% on Bertha kicking out 40 hp on a continuous basis.

With Winston Churchill’s "Triumph and Tragedy" in hand, we motored up the historic Rhine, a natural barrier with many lingering scars of the war 50 years past. We overnighted at Xanten where the British XII crossed. The Ninth US Army fought at Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Cologne. The First crossed at Bonn, Remagen and Koblenz. The Third Army hit Mainz and crossed there. Air raids and the land battles totally destroyed most cities on the Rhine but most all have been rebuilt, as Max instructed us in Duisburg, with the same bricks and to the same design as the original. Truly, I needed to see the "before" pictures to appreciate the level of total destruction Germany suffered and to fully admire the rebuilding process and the resilience of the German people.

With the Rhine running 3 to 4 knots against us, we quickly learned how to beat the fierce current. Water flowed fastest on the outside of the bends, which because of the fast flow, is by nature deeper than the inside. To find minimum current, we motored just inside the marker buoys, one eye on the depth indicator the other on fast moving barges. When the Rhine zigged we had to cross to the opposite bank without getting run down by barges or cruise ships, those going up-river struggling against the current while those headed north zipping by at 30km per hour. Two thousand ton barges with every conceivable commodity, from coal to new cars, passed as if on parade.

One of the ladies kept tract of elapsed time between kilometer markers and another watched the depth. A conversion chart gave us our speed. For instance, 10 minutes per kilometer yields 6 km/hour, 20 minutes is 3 km/hr. We averaged 13 to 16 minutes per kilometer though often, by hugging the shore, we got it down to 9 minutes. But then, the ever-present bottom waited. By the time we passed Cologne we had hit a half dozen times. Guided by our pilot book of German rivers and canals the ladies helped select overnight stops. A page out of the ship’s log is typical of our journey: 

Monday June 23

1000 DEPART MARKUM AFTER REBUILD OF MAST SUPPORTS. HEAD SOUTH ON IJSSEL RIVER. RAINY AND COOL

1600 PASS DeVENTER

1800 ARRIVE IN ZUTPHEN. FOUND SMALL MARINA. PULLED IN AND TURNED AROUND. TIED UP WITH HELP OF DOCKMASTER. DINED AT SMALL RESTAURANT. MET FRITZ AND WIFE WHO GAVE US DANUBE BOOK

Tuesday June 24

0630 OFF

0900 PASSED DOESBERG. COLD. 62F.

1300 PIT STOP AT FUEL BARGE NEAR PANNEIDEN. FILLED UP WITH 72L FUEL. LADIES SHOPPED AT STORE ON BARGE.

1800 KM 838 STOPPED AT WASSERSPORTVEREIN XANTEN, A SMALL YACHTHAVEN INSIDE ABANDONED GRAVEL PIT. TOUGH DAY. CURRENT RUNNING 3 KNOTS. LOTS OF TRAFFIC. LOCKED OURSELVES IN TO SLEEP.

And so our days passed. In Duisburg we filled up with diesel at a fuel barge where we were allowed to overnight. Max picked us up, gave us a tour of the town and took us home where his wonderful family treated us to a host of German delicacies and Lirio to a bubble bath. Past Dusseldorf and Hitdorf New Chance, now a 60-foot vessel with the mast overhangs, barely squeezed into the marina just south of Cologne for a couple days of R & R. At St. Goar, one of our most picturesque stops, we entered the picture book Rhine. Castles appeared around every bend, perched on hilltops high above the river. The river picked up speed to at least 6 Km/hour. We pushed Bertha to her limit. Nearing Rudesheim, fighting a hellish current, we followed a deep water channel inside of the buoys when suddenly we hit rocks. Friendly Vasserpolizei pulled us off and soon we were touring the most infamous Beer Halls along the Rhine.

 At Mainz, a hard left and one lock took us into the Main and calm waters. Reiner took over the Lock Meister-New Chance interface, a critical task whenever we entered each of the next 68 locks. In Frankfurt the skip sprung for a "real" bed for his bride on July 4, our 5th wedding anniversary. In Schweinfurt, tied up along the town park, we shooed the ladies off the boat while Reiner and I tended to a leaky fuel tank. After Nurenburg we entered the Main-Donau Kanal, a waterway envisioned by Charlemagne that would connect the Danube with the Main and Rhine Rivers. He began construction in 793 and the original works still stand near Weissenburg for all to see. After a short delay, the Canal was completed but four years ago, in 1993. Authorities confirmed we were one of the first foreign sailboats to cross from the North to the Black Sea.

The trick to locking without damaging the mast came quickly. Normally we were ordered to follow a large self-propelled barge into the lock. We quickly learned to head for bollards on the side opposite from the one taken by the barge for, in that way, when the barge started up, the prop wash wouldn’t wash us away. With 10 feet of mast hanging off both ends of the boat, line tension had to be kept tight. As the lock filled, we had to change bow and stern lines to ever higher bollards. Reiner and Barbara worked the bow lines while I handled the stern. If we missed one, the in-rushing water would swing the boat violently and push the mast into the wall. Once the lock filled, we had to motor out at full speed or we’d get yelled at by the lockmeister. In our first four days on the Main our log ran 6, 6, 7, 8 locks per day, many locks a 90 foot rise,  CLICK HERE TO VIEW PICTURES

Tourists packed the rolling countryside. As rain and more rain pelted us, we sorrowed for all of these poor tourists who, sandwiched together in large German cities, were now in knee deep mud, packed into trailer parks in conditions even more crowded than at home. Chilly winds kept all of us bundled. River banks overflowed. While tied up in Lynz, Austria, police closed the waterway to all traffic for three days as high fast water made navigation dangerous. We kept moving though, by train to Prague, still worn out from their communist experience, and then on to Salzburg, a tourist Trappe. Lynz became by far our favorite town; picturesque, friendly, laid-back, just the right size, with good public transport and never ending activity. Tied up 20 kilometers north of Vienna, we were adopted by the Schmidts who took us on a tour of sights seldom touched by the tourist; the Cafe Central, a favorite with Karl Marx and Hitler, Cafe Landtman, where local Parliamentarians and VIP’s hang out, and Cafe Dremel, dug deep underground hundreds of years ago.

The attitude of people relative to their neighbors down river amused me. People we met in Germany and Austria told us in no uncertain terms to be extremely careful, for civilization, as we know it, ends at the Austrian border. We did skip Slovakia. Bratislava is a prime example of the worst Russian post war architecture and industrial construction. Dense clouds of industrial fume continuously bathed unpainted time-worn high rises.

We entered Hungary at Estergon, eyes open and senses wary, only to find charming people, a fabulous historic town where most of the Kings of Hungary were crowned and are buried. Don’t miss the crypt in the cathedral. Budapest was as lively as Washington, D.C. with well presented and cared for historical museums and monuments that range back to Roman times though the Mongols in 1241, the Turks in the 16th century, and the Russians in February 1945 worked diligently to level both Pest and Buda.

Reiner and Barbara flew off, and with Neill and Gretchen Martin aboard, Lirio and I headed down river from Budapest, but not before being warned to be very careful in Slovakia and Yugoslavia. They are barbarians. It’s dangerous. Be armed and ready to repel boarders. Get rid of the big US flag. Just in case, we loaded the Mossberg with 8 rounds of #2 shot before we entered the Danube and headed down river, the star spangled banner yet flying. A German couple aboard Doria, a 36 foot steel sailboat, had joined us for mutual protection/aide for the trip down river. Together, relying upon our river guides, we’d select our stops for the night, since night-navigation would be even more hazardous than during daylight hours.

Our carefree days of no paperwork ended abruptly. At Batina, Yugoslavia, the "authority" that handled our paperwork was straight out of the Bolchevik Keystone Cops. Each motion, such as to rubber stamp a document, took 5 minutes... he’d study document.. open drawer.. search for stamp.. find stamp.. close drawer.. put stamp on desk.. pick up stamp.. hit stamp hard on ink pad.. study document some more.. hesitate.. think some more.. take stamp in hand.. lift stamp.. study document again.. slam stamp on document.. study results.. open drawer.. replace stamp.. close drawer.. study results.. and each document had to be stamped a half dozen times with a variety of seals. Since most of the afternoon had passed before we received clearance to proceed, we ran out of light, which forced us to enter a large barge staging area down river and tie up to a large coal barge for the night. Lucky for us, it didn’t go anywhere.

The fast flowing Danube delivered us in a few hours into Yugoslavia where a half dozen members of the Klub Danubius, the Novi Sad rowing club, ran to take our lines and make us fast to a small boat pontoon. These wonderful friendly people quickly took over. We had to see the town, join them in refreshments, and stay longer. The town, as we found in most of Yugoslavia, sported little traffic, a slow pace, and much lower prices than we’d found up-river.

The following day, August 15, 1997, was the saddest and most emotional of our entire voyage. We passed thirty or more kilometers which six months earlier had been closed to travel because of the Balkan war. All private homes were destroyed. Not one building in Vukovar remained untouched by the war. Large gaping holes blanketed all the high rise buildings. Huge water towers were broken in half. Further down river, entire neighborhoods, with dozens of upper-class homes, lay in ruins. We passed in total silence. We saw no sign of life but witnessed a vivid reminder of the results of 400 years of Ottoman rule, a period when the Muslim faith grew the roots that maintain the Balkans in turmoil today.

In Yugoslavia we were warned about their neighbors downstream. Be careful with the Romanians and Bulgarians, we were told, for they are really bad. Again, stop after stop yielded nothing but positive experiences and lovely friendly people.

Down river both banks of the Danube are barren. The eastern bank, marshes, and wet forests run for miles. The western bank sports high clay hills broken by rain created ravines. As we approached a large ravine where a small village lay suspended from its cliffs I noticed a large white modern stretch limo, as about out of place here as our two ocean-going sailboats. I headed closer, broke out the binoculars, and found the wedding party. At that moment a huge explosion rattled the rigging. Smoke rose from shore. I got the distinct feeling that we were being invited to the wedding. Why not?? We came up with a dozen reasons to continue on our way, with yet another anecdote for the log. Soon we approached Belgrade. The commercial harbor looked liked our best bet but as soon as we tied up there the police chased us out since ONLY commercial shipping were allowed, best we could understand. And we couldn’t finish our beer. We must leave... NOW.. a-la Bolshevik. We steamed up river to the junction of the Danube with the Saba and as we passed a large park on the waterfront dozens of people, upon seeing the USA flag, stood up, came running to the shore waving and throwing kisses. Now, what is that?? So much for bad press.

With all the bad-press handed us about the Romanians, we had stayed in Yugoslavia (Romania was on our left) all the way down. At Irongate we locked through on the Yugoslavian side and we decided to approach the Prohovo Locks on the same western side. Up river, in Germany and Austria, the locks were pristine; their signal lights worked impeccably, the control towers all in top shape. As we waited, tied to the bank at Prohovo, looking for any sign of life in the dilapidated structure before us, a man at the end of a quay began to wave. When we motored over he indicated, in sign language, that the locks on the Yugoslavian side were non-operational and that we should head for the Romanian side. All went smoothly as we negotiated the last major locks on the Danube, our Yugoslavian courtesy flag still flying high.

To clear into Bulgaria we tied up alongside the 60 foot German catamaran "Echo" who in turn was tied alongside the 5,000 horsepower Ukranian tug Hankardam. Doria latched on to us. After port formalities, which were not that painful, we were all invited aboard the Tug for wine, cheese and an assortment of other Ukranian goodies whose origins I failed to detect. All had a jolly time even though 95% of the people present couldn’t communicate orally.

With so much written about the magnificence of the flora and fauna in the Danube Delta, I had a mind set to go until dozens of people along the Danube, whenever we complained of the local mosquitoes, to a person had said: wait until you get to the Delta. There, they are as big as bats. So we scratched the Delta tour. Besides, the Black Sea Canal would save us 300 miles and a bunch of days. Built by slave labor in the 50’s and 60’s, it holds the bones of more than 10,000 political prisoners. Motoring past the 50 kilometers of this hand-made canal I mourned for the tens of thousands of men who placed each of the millions of stones facing the embankment, and for those who dug in the freezing muck. At the Black Sea port of Constanta, with help from a friendly Romanian tugboat captain and a 100 ton gantry crane, New Chance once again became a sailing vessel, no longer held hostage by Bertha. Gretch and Neill Martin signed off and Lirio and I sailed into the town of Constanta, ten miles away, to fine-tune the rigging and convert New Chance again into an ocean sailing vessel and prepare her for:

LEG 3

CONSTANTA TO SAN JUAN

Following advice received at the Bulgarian Danube port of Rouse, Lirio and I headed for the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Balchic, some 70 miles away. A spectacular 360 degree lightning storm that greeted us as we approached Cape Noose Kaliakara elevated Lirio from veteran river traveler into oceanic crew. Balchic was truly a haven. Friendly warm people at the small marina immediately took care of all our needs. Milkana quickly took Lirio in tow while Milo signed on as crew out of Istanbul. Lirio stuck with me as far as Varna where she traded her boat gear for bus garb and a ticket for Istanbul. With a salute to the USS Spruance, anchored in Varna harbor, I sailed away alone with notable hesitation. During the 400 years of Ottoman rule the Turks had held hostage every country we had just passed through with incredible nasty deeds. We had on board history books outlining the Turkish occupation of the Balkans. These were the original bad guys. And I am now headed into their nest.

Through utter darkness, little traffic, and a steady north wind New Chance sailed easily into the Bosforus early on the morning of September 5. Incredible architecture graced both sides as we (New Chance and I) approached the Golden Horn, the completion of the leg CAPE HORN-GOLDEN HORN and the magnificence of ancient Constantinople, now bustling Istanbul. Firmly moored at Atakoy Marina, as modern as any in the world, I plunged into a human maelstrom that left me in shock after the many weeks cruising the slow-paced hinterlands of the world. Lirio and I almost earned our Turkish residency after two weeks touring the fabulous sights of this unique city. Dozens of friendly people contributed to an unforgettable experience. Lirio flew back to San Juan and when Milo arrived from Bulgaria we sailed across the Sea of Marmara and down the Dardanelles to the ancient town of Canakkale, a few miles from both Troy and Galipoli.

A deep blue sea followed us in stops at Linaria, on the island of Skiros, Karistos and Piraeus, next to Athens. Too cheap to spring for the $800 fee to use the Corinth Canal, we headed for Pylos, a city on the western side of the Pelopenesus where we picked up a new crew member, a 3 week old calico kitten, promptly christened Pylos. With litter box and kitty chow added to our stores, we threw up the spinnaker and sailed for Malta, the ancient and fabled land that is so difficult to describe except that it is 100% Maltese. Besides containing remnants of Europe’s’ earliest civilizations, there are traces of Phoenician, Carthaginian, Roman, Greek, and Turk incursions. St. Paul shipwrecked in Malta in A.D. 60. A determined siege by the Turks in 1565 gave way to the establishing of the order of the Knights of Malta who defended the island until Napoleon came along, At the war museum I was reminded of the more than two years of devastating daily bombardment by Germans and Italians in 1940-41. In 1942 King George awarded the entire peoples of Malta the George Cross for Bravery, its shield now part of the Maltese flag.

I prayed in the first Roman Catholic church I’d found since exiting Hungary. Barbara, Lirio and I had participated in a mass at the Cologne Cathedral where the liturgy is printed in eleven languages. A week later, in Miltenberg, at an overly ornate medieval church, packed with faithful, we prayed for the last time. Yugoslavia and Bulgaria are Orthodox. In Istanbul, with 95% of the population Muslim, I heard there were several Roman Catholic churches but I never found anyone who could tell me how to find them.

New Chance hauled at the Manuel Island Boat Yard with hopes that a serious rudder leak would find a quick fix. The project a failure, we threw three coats of paint on the bottom, splashed the boat, and set off for Sicily, an overnight sail. Night caught us near Agrigento and on spotting a Marina, we headed in. While we saw the sights Pylos, like kittens are apt to do, ran all over the marina; friendly fellow mariners kept an eye on her naughty behavior. With imposing ruins rivaling those in Athens, Acragas, as Agrigento was known 2500 years ago, was founded by Greeks in 580 B.C. then later progressively destroyed by all the local bad guys. Several Doric temples dating to 65 B.C. still stand.

With winter approaching, we had to keep on the move. A strong westerly gale forced us south towards Tunisia. Ten miles off the coast, Bertha’s transmission died, the wind followed suit, the bottom appeared at 20 feet, the current pushed us towards shore and the sun set. As ominous a combination as I’ve faced in a while. We quickly tacked north and at dawn four days later we found ourselves 10 miles south of the plush green slopes of Sardinia. A fresh easterly sprung up at that moment and since my book sez to never waste a favorable wind, we set all sails and headed for the Balearic Islands, 400 miles west.

Palma de Mayorca was as much a surprise as Malta. After three months in countries where my English and Spanish were useless I was eager to reach Malta, known to me as a longtime British enclave so that I could engage in street banter. Yet lo and behold, all spoke Maltese. In Mayorca, everyone insisted on speaking Mayorquin. Palma is as continental city as any, the Real Club Nautico a relaxing and truly regal entity, and the countryside, which I visited via fast comfortable trains, laid back and friendly. Pylos jumped ship and somehow managed to break her front leg. just as Milo and I had the engine removed ready to install a new transmission. By luck, a cheerful English couple that happened by took Pylos in tow, had her leg set, and returned her just as Bertha came to life.

After a short fuel stop in Almeria, Spain, we set course for Gibraltar. With darkness enveloping the familiar outline of the Rock, we pushed along with sail and engine. that is, until we reached a point 10 miles East of Gib when Bertha died without a gasp. With Dr. Butler unable to get her to turn over, much less revive her, I returned on deck to clear the Cape and sail her into Sheppards Marina. The 20 knot easterly sea breeze, as it twisted around the Rock, appeared on the west side as either a total calm or as a 35 knot gust. To get to Sheppards we had to tack up a very narrow channel, wind on the nose, an airport runway to our left, and a rock breakwater to the right.

Twenty tacks later, the wind alternating between 5 and 35 knots, exhausted and outright scared, the bright city lights blinding us, forever looking over my shoulder for an incoming airplane, we broke out into a small basin at the end of the channel. As I tried to figure out what to do next a man on shore signaled for us to tie up to a small floating pier near where he was standing. We took in the sails and jibed, just as a gust hit. With all sails loose, we headed in much too fast. The man ran to the pier and grabbed a line tossed by Milo and secured it. When, with a not so gentle crunch, New Chance stopped I said, "Hello. Where are we." and the man replies, "Welcome to Gibraltar, sir, this is Her Majesty’s Customs and Immigration Service." Just the people we were looking for!

Again I was caught by surprise. 90% of the people we met during the following three days were born in Gibraltar, live in Gibraltar, and have both Spanish and English ancestry. The most common language spoken is Spanish. Genuine home-grown Brits are a rarity though close to 100% of the population supports the Crown Colony political status than a tie-in with Spain. We climbed the Rock by cable car, saw the sights from the top, fed the monkeys, and toured the magnificent caves.

Unable to get the engine repaired we sailed for the Canary Islands. A fresh southerly gale slowed our crossing to nine days, several spent tacking up the coast of Morocco, far enough off to keep clear of the bad guys. We fought off temptation to see the bright lights of Casablanca more closely but too much bad press about highhanded authorities and beach crime kept me at sea. We pulled into Palma de Mayorca at 3 a.m. Tuesday November 10 to be received by Rafael, my nightly Weatherman and the crew of Saga, old friends from Miami. Milo decided to fly home and for the trip to San Juan I signed on Katrin and Ernst, a young German couple. Katrin removed Pylos’ cast when the third week arrived and with Jimmy Cornell, Marina authorities, myriad’s of ARC participants wishing us a friendliest of good-byes, and a tow out into deep water we were off. Though Bertha remained dormant, all batteries remained fully charged thanks to Saga.

As on our first leg to Horta, the 3000 mile sail to the Americas was another "Hollywood Cruise". Battery power for the radio lasted all the way. Bilge water (and there was a lot coming in through the rudder gland) was pumped out by hand. Fishing was great. During two days of total calm, we read and swam. Pylos was the ships clown, whether racing around deck, climbing the deck, or wrestling a large mahi-mahi. As we approached St. Martin early one morning, Pylos sat on deck, awed, staring at this strange new sight, land. A 5 hour pit stop in St. Martin gave me a chance to attend Sunday Mass and re-stock with the bare essentials, rum, coke, and bread. 38 hours later New Chance passed under the Morro of San Juan having successfully completed another great voyage.

I’d need another twelve pages to thank all the people who made this trip possible; my family, crew, Rafael, Altino who gave us daily accurate weather data and provided the radio/Email link with my cousin Alberto and home, and all the gracious helpful people, now friends, met at every stop. Lirio won the overall endurance prize with her 90 nights squirreled with the skip into the "honeymoon suite", for some unknown reason dubbed by her the "torture chamber". The rest of the crew, Chuck, Mike, Barbara, Reiner, Gretchen, Neill, Milo, Ernst and Katrin are those who made the trip flow so smoothly. Thanks tons to everyone.

Bill Butler, 1998

January 1998