London, Day 1, May 22, 2016


Slept late after getting to the above hotel around 3AM!  Ryanair has cheap flights but crazy schedules!  Anyway, took the Underground or “Tube” (not called subway in England) to central London and this is first thing we saw walking out of the “Tube”!  BIG BEN in all its glory!  Just loved seeing it this close without even trying!!





Above and below is Palace of Westminster at right base of Big Ben.  We attempted to see Parliament in action one day, but Steve was carrying his knife, which we found out is illegal to even carry anywhere in England!!  Thank goodness they did not confiscate it or fine/jail him!



Above and below are Westminster Abbey, a Gothic church, coronation site since 1066, and site of 16 royal weddings, including Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  It is also the resting place for 17 monarchs, among the 3300 people buried or commemorated here.



A fountain in St James Park with just the top of Buckingham Palace in the background. Below is a cottage of the caretaker for the gardens and some of the beautiful gardens.


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And below are pictures of Buckingham Palace!!!  (Only one flag up, so Queen not in residence)

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Steve in front of Victoria Memorial Statue.

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The Horse Guards.




A memorial marker for Princess Diana on our walk around London.


Above and below are Wellington Arch monuments, built 1826-1830.  The “Quadriga” statue on top is a 4 horse chariot.


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Steve at one of the many war memorials in London.


At this point, we were tired, so decided to hop on a double decker bus and see the sights the easier way!!  We toured almost 2 hours, so here are a collection of sites around London.





Animals in War Memorial.  The worn out animals go in this side and the other side has beautiful, energetic stallions emerging.


Above and below are pictures of the Marble Arch, 19th century, ceremonial arch.




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Above and below shows “The Monument” to the Great Fire of London (1666),  a 202 foot Doric column with urn of fire on top.   It is 202 feet from where the fire started in a bakery, destroying 13,200 homes, 87 churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and city buildings.  The death toll is unknown, as many were not recorded.

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The London Eye, a 443 foot high ferris wheel taking 25 people in each of its capsules for a 30 minute rotation.  it is on the south bank of the Thames River, costs about 19 pounds per ticket.

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Liked the color and architecture of these buildings on our bus tour!


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Above and below are the 1020 foot skyscraper, called The Shard.


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The Virgin and Child with Saints, by Carlo Crivelli, (1476).




Finally a break for dinner and a drink!!  Our first steak pie in London!


Thus ends, our first day in London!  Much more to follow!





New mast, and now in Gibraltar

It has been a long time coming, but we are finally underway again.  Laura says I have a tendency to get focused (my word) “obsessed” – (her word) when I have a project to finish. Well, replacing the mast, boom, and standing rigging in Lisbon was a major project.

empty cradle

All of this is done now.  We finally launched on July 29.  The picture above is our empty cradle where we have been since November.  Everybody was wonderful to us while we were here, but I can’t tell you how happy I am to see that cradle empty!  If you look in the center of the picture near the fence you can see our old boom.  The mast was moved out of the way to make room for the travel lift.

So, on to the Straits of Gibraltar.  This is something we have been thinking of and planning for for a long time.  There is something special about sailing your own boat through the Straits.  It is a very busy area for shipping, I read somewhere that a quarter of the world’s shipping passes through these straits.  And we were about to bring our little boat in there with them!

Gibraltar fighting tide

Here is a photo of our chart plotter just before going though the straits.  We have this display at the helm so the person steering can see exactly where we are and also all of the information needed to safely navigate.  Each of those triangles is another vessel, and almost all of them are large ships or ferries.  There are a few private yachts that show up on our display, but in Europe, not many people have installed the transponder necessary for their vessel to be displayed.  So, in this case, almost all of these triangles are ships.  All of the triangles are the same size whether they are a 150 foot ferry or a 1000 foot tanker.

The purple cross-hatched line on the display is a separation zone to make sure that no collisions occur.  Think of it as a shipping lane.  Traffic into the Med goes in the lane on the south (bottom) side of the dividing line and traffic coming out of the Med stays in the top lane.  Vessels crossing are usually ferries that run back and forth from Tarifa, Spain to Tangiers, Morocco.  Small vessels like us are expected to stay close to shore and out of everybody’s way.  If you zoom in on the photo you will see a black dot near the center, and that is us.

Our speed is 5.0 knots, and that is mainly because we were still fighting a contrary current.    A LOT of water flows into and out of the Med as the tide changes and this sets up some pretty significant tidal currents.  COG is “Course of Ground, and we were going just south of east at 99 degrees.  Water depth was 130 feet because we were near the shore.  It is over 2000 feet deep in the middle of the Straits.

IMG_1562So here we are about an hour and fifteen minutes later.  We are no longer fighting current since we had timed our arrival to coincide with the tide change.  Coincidentally the wind picked up a bit, so we are now zipping along at 8.2 knots.  Our course changed a little to 78 degrees as we rounded the point at Tarifa, Spain.

Legend has it that the Straits of Gibraltar are flanked by the two Pillars of Hercules – the Rock of Gibraltar to the north and the Jebel Musa (a huge mountain on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco) to the south.  Here we have a large cargo ship passing in font of the Jebel Musa.


She may be indistinct, but she is the cargo vessel YM World, 1207 feet long and bound for Felixstowe, Britain.  How do we know all of this?  Simple.  All of those triangles on our chart plotter are from AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponders.  These are required by all commercial vessels and really help out in avoiding collisions.  Here is the display on our chart plotter for this particular vessel:

IMG_1564This screen gives lots of useful information – position, course, speed, and her callsign if you need to reach her by radio.  For us the most useful information is near the bottom of the left column.  The chart plotter takes our speed and course, and the speed and course of the other vessel and calculates the Closest Point of Approach (CPA) and the Time to Closest Point of Approach (TCPA).  So in this case, in 56 seconds we will be the closest to this big cargo vessel that we are going to get – 2.56 nautical miles.  This display has been a real handy tool for keeping us out of trouble on our trip.

So we are now safely in Gibraltar and will be here for another month or two.  It’s amazing that we are here.  We think back on our trip and it still doesn’t seem real.  I have to give thanks to God that we are safe.  I also want to say one more thank you to our son Cory, my brother Mike, and our good friends Geoff Knowers and Alex Bettencourt for sailing across the Atlantic with us.  It was a fantastic trip and we would not be here without you!  Thanks again!