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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

I wrote my last post as if we had left Porto.  We expected to leave yesterday, then today, and now it will most likely be pushed back until tomorrow.  Weather is still strong out there and they have not opened the river bar.
In expectation to our departure, we celebrated Halloween a day early.  Although celebrate is a relative term.  Halloween is not a big deal here, so the kids were bummed about no trick or treating.  Last year we trick or treated the other Haha boats in Turtle Bay and that was a huge hit.  This year they settled for a scavenger hunt around the boat for treats.  For their 5 minute costume prep we came up with Little Red Riding Hood, a serial killer and a bandit (not to be confused with a Mexican fisherman that often look like bandits when you see them at sea as they are avoiding the sun).

Galicia and Porto

offshore wind 

the bookstore in Porto that was the inspiration for the Harry Potter library

Michael and Jens in Germany
Galicia and Portugal

We spent 4 days in Galicia, on the NW corner of Spain, after crossing the Bay of Biscay.  It was a relief to be back in a Spanish speaking country.  Mike has some French and German skills, limited ones mind you, but I have zero such skills, and it is frustrating to be in a country and not speak any of the language.  You miss so much.  Sure, more and more people speak English, but it seems so presumptuous to expect the locals to have to speak to you in a second language for them, in their own country.  Anyway, we missed the small conversations that are much easier in an English or Spanish speaking country.  Granted, my Spanish is not great, but I can get anything I want, get my point across in Spanish.  Of course when I fail, Mike and his perfect Spanish usually save the situation, so for obvious reasons we love being back in Spain.  
In Galicia the local specialty is boiled octopus, served in olive oil and paprika.  Mike and I loved it, Zander tolerated it and Porter and Kena enjoyed taking the suckers off and sticking them to their faces!  The boys bought an octopus trap, so even though they don’t like eating it, they really want to catch one.  Octopus are very abundant here and they even have aquaculture farms to raise them.  Considering the octopus is the smartest invertebrate and arguably smarter than many mammals, I warned the boys to watch their backs if they ever do catch one.  I can just imagine an octopus wrestling a knife away from one of them!
From Galicia we spent a week in Portugal before heading back into Southern Spain.  We spent most of that week in Porto.  It was a lovely place to stop, but the weather was so nasty, we didn’t really have much choice in the matter.  We crossed the river bar in Porto and tied up in a marina to rest and explore after our 24 overnight crossing.  The weather deteriorated shortly after crossing and the port captain later closed the entrance to all boats due to the dangerous conditions.  There are worse places to get “stuck”, but unfortunately it rained most of the week we were there and we had to time our excursions to take advantage of the drizzle and avoid the torrential downpours.  Even it what the locals call the “sad” conditions, Porto is an interesting city to explore.  
Porto is the second most important city in Portugal.  The wine trade flourished here in the 18th century after English merchants began to lace the best of the local (Douro) wines with brandy.  Today you can still visit the warehouses where the Port is stored and wine tasting is a favorite activity.  We are, by no means, big drinkers, but you’d think from our visits we are alcoholics; The Guinness breweries in Ireland, Whiskey distilleries in Scotland, Calvados from Normandy, French reds and now Port from Porto.  Our bilges are being packed with “souvenirs” from our visits. Five years from now we will still be nursing the Port we bought after touring the warehouses of Porto.  And, the distilleries provide good science lesson for the kids in filtration, condensation, fermentation....any sacrifice to educate them!  Making moonshine is still a job skill in some places in the US isn’t it!  Anyway, Porto was fun to walk around, we wandered through the little alleyways and up through colorful markets.  Portugal is still a developing country, so it is still a little gritty, but very charming.

communal washing house in Porto

Port warehouse


Port tasting


Porto by dinghy

drying outside the communal wash house

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Black and blue, but across the Bay of Biscay

We just arrived into Espana, after crossing the 300 mile wide Bay of Biscay. Whether it is global warming, the effects of El Nino (shouldn't be in the Atlantic), or just a strange weather pattern, the mighty Bay of Biscay has not been it's normal ferocious self. The sailing books suggest not crossing the bay between August and November, because the wind is usually very strong. As we've watched the weather, it has been uncharacteristically calm with winds from the NE. Not normal conditions! We will take it though, that is exactly what we need to cross.
We left Brest under clear skies and light winds from the East. We sailed on flat seas for about 10 hours, the wind actually died for a few hours and then came back with some intensity. For 36 hours we had a steady 30 knots of wind on the stern quarter, but with winds building from the east, they don't have too many miles to build and it was a constant 5-10 foot seas. It was rolly, even under a reefed main and later just the jib, but we made great time. After two weeks on land I worried that we would all feel sick, but we got our sea legs back quickly (with a little help the first day from senora mecclazine) and the kids rallied. We rolled, we pitched all over the place, the boys really helped entertain Ana and after two days at sea, we sailed into Cedeira in Galicia.
We will be black and blue from getting pitched out of bunks, thrown against bulkheads and banging into corners, but we are across and it is nice to have this bay behind us!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Arrival in Northern France

Our two weeks around France, touching into Germany, Switzerland, and Italy was fun, but we are officially broke and we will be eating Ramen until the first of the next month! It was well worth it though! We left the boat in Brest, France on the Northwest corner of the country. Brest isn't a super exciting town, but it has a safe marina that isn't too expensive and it is a good jumping off point to explore a little of the continent. We stopped in Saint Malo, a beautiful walled city with one of the most beautiful cathedrals I had ever seen (that is until I got to the next town, French cathedrals are amazing). It had been rebuilt having been mostly reduced to rubble in 1944. We had fun walking the ramparts despite the torrential rain.
After visiting St. Malo we drove a short distance to some of the D-day sites. The historic importance of these sites is still a significant presence in this part of France. Although visited, the sites are strangely quiet, as many of the veterans from this era are no longer with us and able to visit. Our first site was Omaha Beach, where the most brutal of the D-Day fighting occurred. It is hard to imagine the scene here during the fighting, today it is a serene 7 mile beach and quiet little beachside town. We also visited the American Cemetery and the importance of the site is palpable even today. 9500 Americans are buried at this site, which only accounts for about 40% of those killed in Normandy, the others were repatriated at the request of their families. We walked through the perfect rows of crosses and stars of David and pondered how many mothers lost their sons, how many wives lost their husbands and how many smiles the world lost on June 6, 1944 and the days that followed. It was a very somber afternoon to say the least.
After a quiet evening of reflection the following morning we were back in tourist mode and Versailles and Paris were our next stops. Paris was a definite hit, although it certainly has a different feel when you are trying to cater to the interests of kids. I attended a sunrise mass at Notre Dame, which was pretty spectacular to be in the church as the sun started to shine through the brilliant stained glass rose windows. Later Mike took the kids to the war museum, which they loved. Apparently their collection of medieval armor is fantastic. The museum also houses the tomb of Napoleon. In the afternoon we climbed as far up the Eiffel Tower as we could and it only took 68 peanut m&m's to bribe Ana up all the stairs. Actually Kena was great in Paris, she walked all the way from our hotel to Notre Dame, to the war museum, to the tower, by way of the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees. The boys and Mike toured the catacombs and saw the bones of 6 million Parisian's. They check your bag when you go into the catacombs beneath the city and they check your bag as you leave. I wondered who would want to take something from down there, but as the boys were leaving, police had been called because someone had tried to steal a skull. Ew! While in Paris we had some nice French meals, some good red wine and plenty of cheese and baguettes. We decided we are going to do a no carb, dairy or gluten product left behind diet through France. Zander judges countries by their food, and France was up at the top of his list.
From Paris we drove to Dusseldorf where we spent two days with one of Mike's good high school friends. He happens to be a Ferrari enthusiast, with a garage full of cars, and he has an 11 year old son, so needless to say Porter was a happy camper. It is always great seeing friends as we travel, but this was particularly sweet as Mike hadn't seen his friend in almost 25 years.
We then drove down the auto ban (and of course we had to test the engine on our small little rental car) to Hiedelberg and the Black Forest. Hiedelberg was a charming city and located further south in Germany, it managed to escape much of the Allied bombings. Most of the towns in Northern Germany were leveled and retain very little of their original buildings and grandeur.
South of Germany we drove through a little of Switzerland. Every time you pass a bend in the road in Switzerland, the scenery is more beautiful than the bend before. We passed villages, with steeped churches, clinging to the side of verdant peak, as perfect as any postcard. We drove up through the St. Bernard Pass, along the old highway, foregoing the tunnel through the pass. Historically the pass is significant as Romans used the road to invade the north and Napoleon even crossed the Mountains here going south. During the winter when the snows block the road, travelers could take refuge at the monastery at the top of the pass. Even today if you walk from the bottom they will give you a place to stay. This is also where St. Bernard dogs were traditionally raised as they were good rescue dogs. The pass was foggy and dusted with snow, but we had a small snowball fight and called it our one hour of winter this year. From the pass we descended into Italy where more chalets dotted the alpine slopes and every view was more lovely than the last. Chamonix was our last mountain stop and unfortunately it was covered in clouds and we weren't able to see Mount Blanc. Instead we indulged in Fondue and other cheesy dishes.
The last few days of our trip found us in Provence, France and then the medieval city of Carcassonne before heading back to Brest.
The trip as a whole was mostly awesome. We weren't without our fights over who had to sit in the middle seat, who got the roll away bed, etc., (and then of course there were the squabbles between the kids) but all in all we enjoyed our foray on the continent.
Its funny to hear what the kids get from these trips. There are the obligatory reports they have to write, they now know a lot about WWII, Napoleon, Notre Dame among other things and it amuses me to hear Kena say, when she sees a picture of the Arc de Triomphe on a book cover in the bookstore, isn't that the arch that Napoleon built for his armies? It will be interesting to see what she comes away with from this trip. But the boys sure have different highlights than I would have picked. Both boys were fascinated by the way the French use a different typing pattern on their computers to adjust for two fingers holding a cigarette, Porter loved getting "bone juice" from the catacombs on his shoe and all three love the chocolate croissants and speeding on the auto ban.
We are now headed back to Brest where we will ready the boat for a trip across the Bay of Biscay to Spain.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

We crossed the English Channel a little earlier than planned, we checked into a marina in Brest, France and we are currently touring France, Germany and Switzerland.

Let me backtrack a little. We left Wales and expected to tuck into Penzance, England, about 110 miles south of us.  After an overnight sail (actually a motor) we were ready to take a break, having sailed everyday of the last 5 days.  The tides are so strong in the Irish Sea that you don't really want to try to sail against the tide, so instead of doing longer passages, covering a little more ground, with more down time in port, we would only sail about 8 hours a day, a full tide cycle plus a little slack water on each side.  We got some great tide assist and averaged 7-8 knots for all the passages, but the downside was we spent a large part of each day on the water.  Have I mentioned, the passages are not the highlight for us, it is the destinations that we crave, so low mile, full days at sea aren't our favorite.  So, we are tied up in Penzance, walking out of the marina when we think to check the weather for the coming days.  This high pressure system that we have been enjoying is going to end in about 36 hours and if we don't leave soon, we are looking at 40 knot winds for about a week across the English Channel.  Bummer!  So, Mike heads back to the boat to do a few chores, the kids and I take the bus to see Mount Saint Michael, a castle set on a small island that is only accessible at high tide.  We spent a few hours exploring the nooks and cranny's of the castle, we picked up some groceries, grabbed the obligatory fish and chips and motored out of the harbor just as the sun was setting, having spent less than 12 hours in England. For the next 16 hours we dodged tankers in the English Channel and motor sailed into France just as the sun was rising.  So much for England, but I've probably mentioned plans and cruising don't always mesh well!

Anyway, as I mentioned we are land touring and trying to see as much as we can in two weeks (possibly less if we run out of money first).  Until you travel by land, you forget how cheap traveling by boat can be.  We will keep you posted as to our adventures on land.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Getting off the boat

Porter waited on us and cooked us a three course meal for our anniversary

broken scallop shells covered this beach

Ruins of the castle at the Isle of Man

Isle of Man

Birthday on the boat

kids returning after checking their crab pot

The beautiful Notre Dame lit up at night.  I went to an amazing sunrise mass in the cathedral.

Kids can have fun anywhere.  This is Porter sliding down the bike ramp on a bridge steps.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Indian summer

There is a high pressure system that has been sitting over the UK for the last few days and is forecasted to stay for at least the next few days. It is bringing brilliantly clear days with a nice easterly warm wind. It is as if we are getting an Indian summer after no summer at all to speak of. The weather in Maine was cool before we left, Newfoundland was unseasonably cold and foggy, in Ireland the locals complained about the abysmal summer they had and in Scotland all we heard was that this was the summer that never came. We can't really complain after almost a year in the tropics, but we will take any crystal clear days thrown our way. We can open hatches, get some air flow and dry things out that have been wet. We constantly battle mold in these cool, wet climates and I am constantly bleaching walls and surfaces. Recently Zander pulled his baseball mitt out of a corner in his cabinet and it was covered in a green fuzz. So, we bleach, we wash clothes frequently, we sponge up any condensation we see and we rotate items that are up against the bulkhead and more susceptible to mildew.

The tropics beckon us, but we've got an exciting couple of months of exploring Europe before we get too far south.