The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron






Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Made it!


ice chart we used to determine our course to Ireland

Inishmor Island
We made it to the Aran Islands of Ireland on August 23rd, almost exactly 12 days from when we left Newfoundland.  By all accounts it was a fast passage.  We covered the 1800 miles sailing all but about 150 miles and averaging almost 7 knots.  We had 11 days of either overcast skies or fog and the temperature never got above 55 degrees.  We were cold, it was foggy, but it was fast and the wind was always on our stern, so no one complained.

Sunrise on the arrival day brought the beautiful cliffs of Inishmor Islands into view.  Sea birds trailed in our wake and dolphins seemed to escort us into the small bay (OK, maybe they had been there the whole time, but it was a welcome sight regardless).  We are happy to be on land and looking forward to exploring Ireland.
Z collecting H2O samples for our micro plastic study

hoisting the French flag in St. Pierre (Canada side)

First day sailing, only sunny day!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Getting close

Hello, We are 119nm from Ireland. The wind has died so we are motoring the last leg into port. We should arrive in Kilronan in the Aran Islands around 0900 GMT tomorrow the 23rd. 12 days at sea! A very fast crossing of the Atlantic Ocean but a cold, foggy and rainy passage from Trepassy, Newfoundland. Average temp was 51F and winds around 25kts. After a rest and exploration of the Aran Islands we will sail for Galway and arrive the afternoon of the 24th. All the best, Captn Mike

Friday, August 21, 2015

Day 10

This is day three of sustained 25-35 knot winds and 12-15 feet waves. Everything is difficult; cooking, sleeping just trying to sit and read. We've given up the home schooling for the last few days. Our meals come from a box more often than I would like to admit and we spend our days trying to get comfortable. As I sit at the navigation station I am doing a complete ab workout while I try to keep in my seat, keeping my hands free to type. The boat keeps wanting to pitch me out of my seat.
The good news is, we are out of the fog, we haven't had full clear skies, but we did see a semi sunset last night and a few stars. Everyone has also remained healthy, which I can't begin to tell you how happy I am about that. Extreme dehydration due to seasickness was definitely one of my concerns. I didn't have to crack open my u tube videos on administering IV fluids and everyone else is pretty happy about that. Small happiness's make up our day!
We are also super excited to be almost there. The big seas are exhausting. We expect one more day of heavy seas and then we should be viewing the Aran Islands of Ireland on the morning of the 23rd. Yipee!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Day 9

Have we only been out here nine days, it feels like an eternity. We did get some small rays of sun today, so we soaked that up between waves dousing the boat. Actually the cockpit of Pelagic is very dry and we watch these monster waves coming and totally brace ourselves for getting wet and in fact the stern just raises up and the waves crashes under us. We've only had a couple of waves in the cockpit (knock on wood). We have had 25 knot sustained winds for a day and a half, gusting to 35 and that makes for big seas. The bow has been buried in green water and looking out the portholes on a certain tact is like looking out a submarine window.....all rushing water.

The big seas are hard on my nerves. The boat is constantly lurching and even though we have everything stowed down below, the sound of cans, pans and all our personal gear slamming around behind closed hatches is nerve wracking. For the first time ever we had to take out the pot holders on the stove. Our stove is gimbaled, so even in rough conditions I feel comfortable boiling water, oil or anything else. The stove simple stays in place as the boat moves under it. As we slam around in these waves, the motion is so erratic that for the first time we have had to secure the pans to the burners.

Anyway we continue to persevere, but we are looking forward to calmer seas in a few days.

Only three more days to go.

Amy

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Day 8

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all!

Amy on Pelagic
N 52 45
W 025 03

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fifty Shades of Gray......Day 7

Sounds like a super exciting blog entry.....not quite! More gray skies and gray ocean. Our only variable is the fog density. Can we see the bow of the boat, or is a good day and we can see a couple hundred meters! It is grayness all around us. Trying to be positive we are seeing the occasional new species. The boys saw a basking shark on watch this morning and yesterday the fog layer lifted slightly to show us soaring skuas. Maybe they have been there the whole time and at a flight altitude of about 100 meters we just haven't seen them through the fog. We have tried to troll a line, but with our speed the lure rises too close to the surface and we have had too many shearwaters and fulmars dive on them.

We had a short lull in the wind and motored through the night, but we are back to sailing with some bigger winds headed our way. We are hoping with some increased speeds to be in Ireland on the 23rd. The Guiness is calling our names.

We continue to read, cook and daydream just to keep busy.

Crew thoughts (complaints):

Amy - Started Game of Thrones and didn't bring the second book in the series. Argg! She is also wondering why we went left when we hit Florida instead of right like all the other sane cruisers sitting on the hook in the Caribbean sun.

Cole - Misses not being able to walk more than 42 feet and staggering at that. His complaint is "no stars at night"!

Mike - Misses the sun, warmth and a warm toilet seat. He's a simple man!

Zander - Can't wait to be able to put a glass of milk down without it flying away with the next roll. He also misses flan and his siblings, in that order. In addition he misses not having to brace himself while taking a shower, but as we reminded him, he has only done that once the whole trip, so it is the rest of the crew that should be complaining.

Enjoy those 90 degree days we keep hearing about. We will be thinking about you at night when we are pulling on our 5th fleece layer. 725 miles to go.

N 52 03
W 029 25

Amy on Pelagic

One week out and half way there

More fog......we just crossed the half way point and we now only have 850 miles to go. We are excited with our progress, but we sure could use some clearing to boost morale. We saw a brief glimpse of blue yesterday, but today we are again in a veil of fog. Thank God for GPS, or we may have ended up in Greenland. It would be hard to celestial navigate without seeing any celestial bodies for a week at a time; no moon, no stars and no sun.

Last night we did have an amazing bio luminescence showing. All the white caps were lit up like ships in the distance and our wake left a neon trail marking our path.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bradford's on Pelagic Update

We are now in the middle of the North Atlantic ocean being equally 860 from Newfoundland and also Ireland. At this point we are closer to Greenland than our destination. It took us 6 days to get here so we expect to arrive in Galway, Ireland in about another 6 days. The weather has been terrible with rain, fog and 50F degree air temp. We often run with the radar on and the fog closed in about 40' around the boat. We haven't seen a single ship but did hear one low flying prop airplane pass over this morning. The only good thing is that the 20-28kts of wind has all been on the stern which is pushing us along at 7-8 knots. I have only run the engine for about 5 hours in the last 6 days. Our forecast for the next 6-7 days is also quite good. No gales are predicted and we should have tail winds all the way into Galway. We are getting lotsa sleep and eating well. However, I'm really looking forward to getting the boat into a marina, securing everything on deck, flicking off the switches on the electrical panel, then proceeding to a local Irish pub for a pint of Guiness.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Day 6

We are still out here, freezing our butts off in the North Atlantic. The fog has finally lifted and we were able to catch a glimpse of the sun today. A beautiful sight. Days are cold, but nights are freezing on watch. Tomorrow morning we expect to be half way, and although we are going north in latitude we are hoping for slightly warmer weather as we leave the Labrador current and hopefully catch a little of the gulf stream. We are still moving steadily and the wind continues to be consistently on our stern. Yesterday we had a short lull and actually flew our spinnaker for a few hours in the light winds.

We are in the midst of what has to be one of the hardest parts of sailing passages; boredom (sinking is probably the hardest part, but I don't plan to ever experience that). We've read a dozen books between us, watched a 5 disc documentary on the US space program, played countless games and we still have hours of the day to fill. Mike continues to fix things as they need repair. Fortunately nothing major, just upkeep. He is perpetually checking systems, looking over every inch of the boat and trying to anticipate future problems before they arise. And still, he has time on his hands. To interrupt the boredom we love seeing dolphins or watching the countless seabirds soar around the boat. At night the birds squawk at the mast head lights and while we can't see them, we can hear them out there. The phosphorescence is always a thrill and one of these days we expect to have a clear enough night to watch the stars. All I can say is with all this fog, I'm so glad we are not celestial navigating.



950 miles to go.
N 51 08
W 035 19

Amy on Pelagic

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 5

The wind has died today, not completely, but compared to the wind we had been experiencing, it is quite low. We tried coasting along with the spinnaker out, but the seas are still somewhat big and every time we go into a wave trough, the sail loses its wind and collapses. We will probably try for a little longer and then start the old iron mainsail. Since we have sailed the first 4 days, we feel like we could motor a half day or so and still have a good reserve. Wind is forecasted to return tomorrow.

N 50 26
W 039 31

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Day 4

It is a another groundhogs day out here. This day is shaping up to be very similar to the one before and very little to report. The wind are consistently 20 knots, the fog is heavy and because of the poor visibility we are relying on our instruments to navigate. The seas have crept up to 12 feet or so, but we don't expect them to get much bigger, so that is reassuring. We are running downwind, with a wing and wing sail configuration (main out to one side and the headsail poled out to the other side), so we roll gunwale to gunwale, which gets a bit old when you are trying to get something done, but it isn't a violent roll, and we are learning to live with it. We are making excellent time and excited about possibly making it to Ireland a little earlier than planned. Only 1250 miles to go!

Amy on Pelagic
N 49 42
W 043 31

Day 3

Another fast day and night to report. We managed about 165 miles in the last 24 hours with relatively comfortable seas (5-7 feet). One casualty was our autopilot, which seems to need new seals or something like that. Fortunately we do have a second autopilot, but we've decided to save that for motoring. Instead we are using our wind vane, which we haven't used much. It is a little harder to adjust course with, you have to go to the stern of the boat and you can't adjust it from the cockpit. On a long passage with winds that are pretty consistent, we hope we won't have to adjust course frequently. The good news is the wind vane doesn't require any power, so that will save our batteries some. In addition the cold weather doesn't tax the refrigeration much and it all helps when it is foggy and you aren't getting much of a boost from your solar panels.

We are officially out of the ice zone, so we can breathe a sigh of relief there. We are on a mostly downwind sail, so it is pretty comfortable and it is probably the least taxing on the gear, so hopefully this keeps up. Looking at the weather forecasts, we should be in for more of the same for at least the next few days.

Otherwise we are trying to keep busy. Today I am making raised doughnuts, so we'll see how deep frying goes on a rolly boat. I plan to cook with all my foulies on just in case! Everyone else is reading and relaxing. Today we checked into a cruisers net that we expect to be able to reach for most of the trip. There is a woman south of us solo non stop circumnavigating, using only her sextant, so Mike was able to nerd out with her a little regarding celestial navigation. We are feeling a little like underachievers just crossing an ocean with 3 watch stander's and full electronic navigation equipment!

Anyway, hope all is well with everyone on shore.

Amy on Pelagic

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day 2 Atlantic crossing

We had as nice a first day out as we could hope for. Everyone was feeling good and the winds were light, but we were able to sail all day and night. We made about 125 miles, but more importantly made it into "iceberg alley", a phrase I just coined. When we looked at the current ice charts of this area, we noticed an area north of St. John that was completely free of ice for at least 60 miles on each side of us. The iceberg chart is comprised of quadrants, 60 miles on each side. The Canadian government has an agency that maps the icebergs daily and reports them to this grid chart. Fortunately most of the icebergs have melted, but many of the quadrants had at least one berg in them. The frustrating thing is they could be anywhere in that 60 mile zone. Anyway, we left and had to watch for icebergs throughout the day as we were transiting two zones with bergs, but by about 11 pm last night we made our way point north and we are now in a zone of relative comfort (supposedly ice free) and we can level out and make our course to Ireland. By tonight we will be even further away and by tomorrow we should be out of the ice reporting area altogether. As long as the icebergs get the same memo, we are all good. Actually we were hoping we would see one during the day light, the photos people have of towering columns of ice in every shape imaginable are amazing. I think by now they are probably not as impressive; maybe just growlers (mostly below the surface) and bergy bits, but the ice reporting agency doesn't differentiate between a berg the size of Rhode Island and bergy bits on the chart. Apparently a large iceberg takes 3-5 years to make it from the ice shelf off of Greenland to this area, so they don't move fast.

At the moment we are trolling a few lines in the water, but considering this area is a famous ground fish fishery, we aren't that hopeful about catching something near the surface. We managed to see quite a few seabirds while we were going around Cape Race, but only one Atlantic Puffin sighting. Otherwise there were more Great Shearwaters, maybe Sooty Shearwaters, Leach's Storm-petrels, Northern Gannets, Guillemots, and plenty of terns.

As of about midnight last night we could only see the distant city glow of St. Johns. From now on it will only be ocean as far as we can see. We don't know of any other sailing boats transiting across at this time, but considering the winds have been so fluky, and this looks like a good window of weather, we expect there are a few others out here with us. We will have our AIS on to let us know if there are any boats in general within 24 miles of us.

Amy on Pelagic

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

And we are off.....

Heading out of Trepassey Bay at about 9am local time. We were a few days delayed due to weather including a gale and small craft advisory yesterday. We decided gale force winds, a complete fog whiteout and rain was not a good time to leave. Instead, this morning, we have clear skies, light winds that will be building throughout the day and a good forecast. It is a great start.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Leaving Newfoundland

We entered Newfoundland in a veil of fog. Francois was the first outpost we visited along the southern coast in the midst of fjord land. While we were there we climbed up over town, hiked through alpine tundra covered in blankets of wild flowers. Alpine lakes dotted the landscape and pink granite spires broke up the horizon. The Newfoundlanders or "newfies" have had a terrible summer and we managed to hit the first day of summer where the fog lifted to reveal clear skies and T-shirt weather. The late summer meant the alpine flowers were still in bloom and it truly looked like an artist had painted the mountains with every shade of pink and purple you could imagine. We saw fields of fireweed, lupine, sea roses and twenty other varieties I couldn't identify. A new species to us was the carnivorous Pitcher Plant. Days later we got up early, before the sun rose, and entered another dramatic fjord that looked like a scene from Norway, Milford Sound or any of the other great fjords. Morning brought the most fantastic shades of pink as the sunlight hit the lofty peaks. The water was like glass and we passed waterfall after waterfall cascading down off the granite. The only thing missing was a noticeable absence of wildlife. We saw very little. Several bald eagles graced our path, but otherwise it was very quiet.

Many of these out of the way communities, outposts, are in a delicate position and many are closing. When fisheries was strong here, the outposts were in strategic locations to be close to the rich fishing grounds. Now that there is a moratorium on commercial cod fisheries, fewer people make their living off the sea. Remaining are small villages, with their livings subsidized very heavily by the Canadian government. For the last 4 decades the government has been offering a financial incentive to any outpost that will unanimously agree to leave their homes. What does this get the government? Well, for example the outpost we visited had 71 full time residents. For those residents they have to provide subsidized ferry service (they pay $4 to travel 50 miles from the nearest larger town), they have to build maintain and provide services for a post office, fire station, medical clinic, pier, streets (miles of boardwalks around the outpost). In addition they have a helipad for emergencies, wifi and a school with classrooms, a playground, gym, small library for all of the students. They currently have 11 students from K-12. They have two full time teachers and this year they had to add a third because they had an autistic students. I pondered the idea of moving there just to give my kids a favorable teacher student ratio, one they could never get at home. Residents have to vote on whether to stay or go as a community. As you can imagine this can cause a little strife within communities. An outpost closes about once every 5 years and there are only about 5 outposts left on the whole south cost of Newfoundland. It is heartbreaking to see this unique way of life slowly disappearing, but with loss of fishing as a way of life, the need for the outposts in not there anymore.

From the south coast we traveled to Fortune where we rented a car and drove to St. John. We picked up my cousin Cole who will be with us as we cross the Atlantic. It will be really fun to have someone new on the boat, and someone to share the experience with.

From Newfoundland we went to France. Seriously, France owns two islands 20 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. Not French Canada, actually considered French soil. It is kind of a geographic anomaly and if you know anything about Michael, there is no way he is going to let one of those go by without exploring. We arrived into St. Pierre in....wait for it, the fog! We toured several of the different restaurants in St. Pierre. The food was amazing, the baguettes and croissants were fresh every morning.

We are now sitting in Trepassey, on the edge of Newfoundland, waiting out a gale warning before we proceed to venture out. The waiting is nerve wracking, we just want to get out there and start making some miles. Newfoundland has been fun, but Trepassey is not the most exciting of places to get stuck. Although we have met some incredibly nice people here. People go way out of their way to help in Newfoundland. The wind is supposed to die, the rain is supposed to stop and the fog is supposed to lift about midnight tonight. We thought if we left in the morning we may be giving the seas some time to calm. So far, it doesn't seem that bad, so we may be kicking ourselves for not getting out there today. It is so hard to tell what the best course of action is. Hopefully we didn't miss our window of wind, but 35 knots, gusting to 45 didn't sound like where we wanted to be.

I'll probably be making daily updates, hopefully boring ones.......we don't need any excitement on a passage. If you'd like to follow along on our blog, check out our spotwalla link (I think it says follow our track with the Maine to Ireland segment, or something like that) to the right. For some reason the link I could paste only gives our last spot check in, not the track. To remedy that, go into adjustments in spotwalla and change it to the full trip. That should give you our progress thus far.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Update from the Pelagics, by Michael






Maine has been a great place to cool off from the heat of Central America. We spent all of July in Casco Bay visiting family and friends in the area. The proximity to marine stores and the US Postal service allowed us to restock spare parts as well as repair many items that had broken in the last 10 months and 9500 miles of sailing.

Departing Maine in late July we sailed directly to Cape Breton Isle. Due to dense fog, we sailed past Nova Scotia without even seeing it. Once at Cape Breton Isle, we entered the Bras d'Or lake area. Transiting a lock we were able to sail Canada's largest inland sea. The lake is salt water yet has very little tidal influence or fog. We enjoyed nice calm evenings at anchor and watched bald eagles snatching fish from the sea. Oysters lined the bottom of many coves. After 10 minutes of reaching into the water while sitting in our dingy, with my arm just wet up to the shoulder, I was able to harvest 25-30 fresh oysters.

Exiting from the northern side of the lake, we then sailed to Newfoundland. Newfoundland was beautiful and vastly surpassed our expectations. An overnight sail brought us to the entrance to the Francois Fiord. The fog only allowed us glimpses up to 50' in front of the bow so we entered using GPS and Radar. Once in the fiord, we found a small village. We tied up to their town pier and went to sleep for the night with hopes the fog would lift. When we awoke, the fog had indeed lifted; we looked out the hatch and saw towering cliffs and a colorful fishing village clinging to the rocks. It appeared as if we had magically been teleported and woken up in Norway. Onshore, the people were friendly and invited us into their homes.

From Newfoundland, we crossed over to St. Pierre and Miquelon. These islands are French Territory, not Canadian French but actual French collective territory. Once again we motored into a harbor in dense fog. Ashore we could just make out the town pier, the tricolor flag and a man from the Captainerie du Port that was waving us over. We tied up to the town pier, allowing enough slack in the lines to allow for the 4' tide and went ashore to explore. With some fresh ink in our passports and some Euros in our pockets from the local ATM, we followed our noses to the local bakery. Crisp baguettes are .80 cents here.

We are now preparing to cross the Atlantic to Ireland. It is a 1750 mile crossing to Galway, Ireland and should take us 12-15 days. The weather in the North Atlantic has been unsettled this summer but it should hopefully get back to a benign pattern this August. The Canadian ice report also shows some icebergs in our path so we will have to take care. The boat and crew are ready. We will depart in the morning. In the meantime, we are enjoying our last sunset tied to a pier. On the cockpit table are some fresh crisp baguettes, cheese from Normandy, salted butter from Brittany, Pate from Languedoc and a bottle of Bordeaux red. Vive le France!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 1, Newfoundland arrival

We made it to Newfoundland, although we could be anywhere at the moment, we haven't been able to see more than about 100 feet in front of the boat for the last 24 hours of sailing! We think we are in Francois Bay! We left the Bras'd Or Lakes region and after about 6 hours of clear skies, flat water and a good wind from the stern, everything changed. The wind died, the seas got rolly and the fog crept in and stayed. We had a full moon, but we never did see it. The fog was so thick we couldn't always see the bow lights. Thankfully the radar, GPS and AIS let us know where we were and who else was out here with us! And cold, we layered up for bitter cold watches. Not surprisingly, we were looking forward to a good night sleep, a toasty cabin (love that diesel heater) and a good meal. Alas, a quiet night was not in the cards. We decided to do a quick walk around town after we secured the boat at about 8pm. The next thing we knew we were pulled into a little stilted shack over the water and invited to socialize (super nice people here). Zander got into a wicked dart game and all of a sudden we had a little party. Amazingly friendly people here in Newfoundland! Our introduction was a good one and we are looking forward to the next couple of days.