Ship's NEWS: Atlantic Tour
July 6, 2009 - Newport, RI
Today finds us still hanging out in Newport, RI.
We had a wonderful Independence Day weekend at Cousin Anne's Beachouse and the last 3 days have been the best since we have dropped anchor in the harbor. We have had days of miserable wind, cold, rain, foggy, then it cycles back to wind. It has been quoted by a local as the worst spring since 1927!
We rented a car for the month and have been getting around and seeing some of the surrounding sights as well as a bit of Boston but still the weather has not cooperated very much.
Chryssa and Lenny are still captive crew and seem to be enjoying the various projects we torture them with. Right now we are taking rounds at cutting grooves in the cabin top overhead planks and have most of the main salon done and it looks great. Since the last couple of days have been sunny, we managed to get up on deck and sand the waterways all the way around and got a coat of varnish on one side. As you know, the work never stops.
We aren't in too much of a hurry to get up to Maine just yet. The weather is even worse there. Once things warm up a bit we will think about heading up that way. For now we are good on the hook here in Newport (but in RI, not CA).
The happy crew of Astor hopes you all had a great holiday weekend.
June 14, 2009 - Reaching for the coast
We are continuing to do well- all in all.
Sat, June 13 at 1500 hr day 2:
Lat 37 55, Long 69 17, Speed 6.3 motoring (with triple reefed main, working sails), course 351, wind 6.5 from 127 true, clouds 90%, bar 1016, seas calm - 234 miles go go. Still on the "RUM" line.
At 2000 hr Sat, we got 15k wind. So we are back to sailing - not fast but not motoring. Our ETA at this speed is 10 a.m. Monday, June 15. Which would be just fine. The is suppose to go light & on the nose Monday a.m. Hopefully we can make it in before it goes on the nose.
We have been up the last 2 nights with me at 2 a.m. Hope this does not continue.
Sun, June 14 at 300 hr. day 3
Lat 38 58, long 69 55, Speed 5.3 (with triple reefed main, main staysail, jib) course 351, wind 12.5 from 119 true, clouds 90%, bar 1016, seas calm - 163 miles go go. Still on the "RUM" line.
Today we are just schooning along in 13 knots doing 7 in a 60 close reach. We should be in tomorrow a.m.
Sun, June 14 1600 day 4
Lat 40 16, long 70 41, Speed 7.6 (with triple reefed main, working sails) course 351, wind 12.5 from 105 true, clouds 90%, bar 1016, seas calm - 76 miles go go. Still on the "RUM" line.
All is well on board.
Well be in soon ~~~Lani
June 12, 2009 - To the east coast
We are still doing well. The wind is holding out so far. We are on an 80 reach & it is sweet. For some reason the sea is very calm - knock on wood.
We had a beautiful sunset. There was this very dark cloud system up high with rain just pouring straight (no wind) down but you could see through it to see the sun go down & it was all coral colored. Really unusual the good new is we did not get any of the rain.
Friday, June 12 at 0300 hr still day 1:
Lat 34 22, Long 68 28, Speed 9.3 (with double reefed main, working sails & adv. fish), course 339, wind 13.4 from 212 true, clouds 40%, bar 1016, seas calm - 485 miles go go. Still on the "RUM" line.
Looks like we will have another 200 miles day -??? Knock on wood again.
Friday, June 12 at 1500 hr day 2:
Lat 35 31, Long 67 55, Speed 8.4 (with double reefed main, working sails & adv. fish), course 339, wind 16.5 from 202 true, clouds 40%, bar 1014, seas calm - 395 miles go go. Still on the "RUM" line.
We did 202 miles yesterday. The wind has stayed good & not too deep. We are sailing at 115 apparent - so real pleasant. We checked the weather (of course) before we left & low looks like a bad boy is coming out of the Chesapeake later in the week headed to Newport RI but it looks like it will stay pretty south so were glad of that.
We all are sleeping well as the sea are amazingly calm. This part of the Atlantic seems good so far.
Love you, miss you ~~~Lani
June 11, 2009 - East Coast bound !
We got a small weather window & decided to go. We left this a.m. We "kinda" lead the tall ships out of St. Georges as they were headed to Hamilton. It was great fun with the cannons going off. We were followed by the SPIRIT OF BERMUDA, PRIDE OF BALTIMORE, TECMA, EUROPA, & many more. Out side USCG EAGLE was set to come in. WOW.
It was sad to leave Bermuda. We loved it - definitely one of our favorite places.
We cleared the island on the east side & are headed to Newport, RI.
June 11 at 1600 hr:
Lat 33 05, Long 65 2
5, Speed 9.0 (with working sails & adv. fish), course 327, wind 13.4 from 208 true, clouds 40%, bar 1016
We are on the "RUM" line & we have 575 miles to go ETA 3 days. Hopefully this will hold but time will tell.
Looking forward to using our ATT phone again well also: Sams Club & Trader Joes.
Lenny & Crissa Anderson are still on board - great crew.
All is well on board
Miss you ~~~Lani
May 31, 2009 - Bermuda
We have arrived in Bermuda from St Thomas, 850 miles, this morning at 8am Bermuda time, one hour later than St Thomas time. We motored the last day and half as the high filled in over us but we still got here in under 5 days with great weather for the entire passage. The motoring was a good thing as Bermuda is supposed to get hit with a front tonight and Sunday with up to 30+ kts.
We are anchored in St George's Harbour which is very secure and land locked so we are very snug in flat water. Bermuda is surrounded by reefs so the passage in is narrow but well marked.
We checked in this AM and did a quick walk of the town, restored 18th century buildings with nice shops & pubs. All very British. We will do the big recon on Monday. We plan to be here at least a week so we will have time to explore. 20 tall ships are supposed to arrive here over the next week on their passage from Europe to the States so there should be lots to see.
Cheers, Richard & Lani
April 27, 2009 - After the Regatta
Apologies for the lack of contact, we have been too busy with racing - partying and recovering from all of the above to play computer. And yes we are in Antigua. We got here on the 7th, I think, to polish - varnish - clean for the Antigua Classic Regatta and Concourse.
Mariah & Daniel arrived on the 11th, David & Jenny & Nathan Lovell on the 13th, Jim, Marion, Ross, Cryssa & Lenny arrived on the 14th, Rudolf & Linda the 15th, Chiss & Dale Frost on the 17th. Only Lani & I, Mariah & Daniel, and Kyle & Amanda stayed on board while the rest had shore accommodations.
The Concourse was first (before the regatta) so Astor could stay polished and tidy. Shock of shock Astor won Best of Show over all the other yachts. I guess all the work has been worth it. As for racing, Astor won her class and fasted schooner on both corrected time and real time, She's is not just a pretty face!
Kyle and Amanda flew home on the 21st, they will be greatly missed as they were great crew. They are now replaced by Cryssa and Lenny for the trip to Maine.
We will hang around Antigua until the first part of May recovering from all the parties before heading north. We will go to St Barts & St Thomas before heading for the States.
April 20, 2009 - Back to Antigua
(notes from the Web Janitor)
News from the 2009 Antigua Classic Regatta has been very quiet from our sources (one would think they might be having a good time???). I know they are in Antigua. Some of our local hands are even on the boat. Astor is one of 62 classics ranging from 24 ft to 140 ft on the entry list. The official site seems to be giving us a tiny bit of what has been happening:
---- 17 Apr 09 -------
The crew of the immaculate staysail schooner, Astor woke happy and proud this morning having not only won their own class, the Vintage Class in the Boat International sponsored Concours d'Elegance - but also the overall winners prize in this much esteemed competition.
The results from the days racing have also finally been posted: 2009 Antigua Classic Results
The breakdown looks like this after four days of racing:
Vintage Class A (CSA - 4 Boats)
1. Astor, Staysail Schooner 74', Richard & Lani Straman, Long Beach, CA, USA - 1, 2, 1, 1, ; 5
2. Charm III, Schooner 50', Richard West, Sandy Ground, Anguilla - 2, 1, 3, 2, ; 8
3. When And If, Schooner 63.5', Paul and Candace Ruitenberg, Midland Park, NJ, USA - 6/DSQ, 3, 2, 3, ; 14
4. Mistral, Gaff Schooner 82', Dieter Kruegel, Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, GER - 3, 4, 4, 4, ; 15
Not too shabby. Great job people... I can't wait for the pictures and the tales!
March 18, 2009 - Change of scale - St Lucia
Today we can be found in St. Lucia with our anchor down in Rodney Bay.
St. Lucia is very upscale compared to Dominica. There are big resorts and many restaurants. There are the high prices to go with that unfortunately. The island is very pretty and the beaches are big. It is not as lush as Dominica but that means more sunshine.
Our sail from Dominica to here was fast and fun. We did 8.5 - 9.5 kts the whole way on a close reach. For much of the trip we were sailing with just a double reefed main and both staysails doing 9+. We plan to spend about a week here before heading back north.
March 10, 2009 - Antigua and Dominica
I guess it's been a while since our last update. Here is a quick summary of what we have been doing.
Astor was hauled in Antigua at Antigua Slipways for a much needed bottom job. They are one of the few yards in the Caribbean/South America/Central America that can handle her draft. They did a great job and quickly, not your usual boat yard experience at all.
We really enjoyed Antigua, lots of huge yachts but still very laid back. Falmouth Harbor and English Harbor are very protected and beautiful. English Harbor was Admiral Nelsons base of operations and has been completely restored back to a working center. Today yachts dock there instead of English Men of war.
We left Antigua on the 27 of February for Dominica, 90 miles south. We were going to Stop at Guadaloupe but there are national strikes against the French Government currently so we gave it a pass. We are still in Dominica and loving it. It is one of the poorest Caribbean islands but the people are happy and proud of their island. Dominica has high mountains and lush jungle, The closest thing to the south pacific that we have seen. We finally feel like we have escaped from US style civilization.
We are anchored off of Portsmouth which is a one street town. There are a few shops where you can get necessities but no tourist shops. We did the Indian River tour by local boat and guide up through the jungle. It is a national park area so it was untouched and filled with birds and fish.
Today we are going down the island to Roseau, the big town, to anchor for a few days so that we can provision before heading for the next island. We will be back in Antigua The first part of April but for now we push on.
January 24, 2009 - US Virgin Islands
We have had a whirl wind of sailing for the last couple of weeks. We sailed back to Puerto Rico on the 9th to pick up our West Marine order (bottom paint and new batteries) anchoring off of Fujardo. We spent 3 days there installing the batteries etc. On the 13th we sailed to Culebra Island half way back to St Thomas and waited for the wind to ease. On the 18th we sailed
back to St Thomas for a few provisions and then on the 20 we sailed to Road Harbor, Tortola BVI. From there on the 22 we sailed to Virgin Gorda BVI. We are currently anchored off the Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda BVI waiting for the NE breeze to return, tomorrow we are planning to sail to ST. Martin, 80 miles.
Last night we had outdoor sundowners and dinner on at YC. This Caribbean sailing is hard work. The sailing in the BVI's is all flat water with 12-15 kts of breeze & air temp of 84 day 76 night, just perfect. We sailed here yesterday on a tight reach, from the Baths (10 miles), passing all the Moorings Catamarans, without a fisherman. The Baths are very beautiful except for the crowed of French charterers who thought they owned the beach. The snorkeling was good with clear water and lots of fish but the coral is not anywhere near as nice as Fiji.
December 24, 2008 - US Virgin Islands
Hi to all,
We are now in ST Thomas USVI for the holidays and loving it . We feel that we have finally made it to proper cruising grounds after a long passage through the Latin Countries. The passage from Puerto Rico was easy and there is no check in here because we are still in US waters. We plan to spend a few weeks here in the USVI cruising from island to island. The longest passage is about 40 miles so it will be hard work.
Have a great Christmas and New Years.
December 9, 2008 - Puerto Rico
Hi to all,
We arrived in Ponce, Puerto Rico yesterday at 2:30pm after a good sail from Curacao. It took us all day to check in, the joys of Homeland Security, so we are officially on U.S. soil/water. Once again after a long paperwork filled check in not one official set foot on the boat, I feel so secure. Today we will tidy ship and settle in. Tomorrow we will explore.
Ponce is Puerto Rico's second largest city so there is lots to see. The anchorage has a great view on the container port and metal scrap yard so I'm hopeful that the city will be much better. We are anchored next to the Ponce Yachting and Fishing Club which is very nice so don't feel too sorry for us.
We will stay here for crew change which happens on the 16th. James and Rainer have to head back to reality and
we have a young couple that will join us. The cab driver told Lani that there is a Sam's Club,Wall Mart and a Large shopping mall close by so that all she can talk about, I on the other hand want to see boat yards and marine hardwares. What is she thinking?
December 7, 2008 - Headed for PR
We are 90 miles from Puerto Rico, although heading west-time to tack. It has been a good sail so far, 50 degree reach up from Curacao, With about 15 kts of breeze from the ENE. The weather forecast was supposed to be a bit more east than we got which is why we will tack as soon as this email is done. The breeze has gone more north and is down to 9 kts. There has been a little rain at night but the conditions have been great for a passage to weather.
All is well on board and the crew has learned that passage making is a lot better that coastal sailing. We did 180 miles the first day hitting 9+ kts often. This is the best sailing we have had since leaving California.
Position: 17.27 N, 68.32 W, Breeze 9kts ENE, Waves 3-4 ft ENE, Cloud 10%, BAR 1015
December 3, 2008 - Curacao
We are in scenic Curacao, we arrived last Sunday after an over night sail from Aruba. It was hard to weather the whole way with about 15 kts of breeze, double reef main both stay sails and #3 jib doing 6-7 kts across the bottom. We are anchored in Spanish waters down island from Willemstad.
Spanish waters is like Newport bay except boats are anchored everywhere, lots of boats. We went to Willemstad on Monday to check in and see the town. It is a slice on Europe looking like it was shipped directly from the Netherlands, very colorful and quaint with canals and draw bridges. The people are charming and helpful.
Our stay here is a short one though as we plan to leave for Puerto Rico on Friday. Its about a 350 mile sail from here and the forecast is for east winds of 12-15 kts. If that is true it should be a reach which would be nice for a change.
November 20, 2008 - Aruba
We arrived in Aruba yesterday at 9AM Local time (one hour later than Colombia), and spent the morning checking in with Customs, Immigration, etc. All the cruisers told us not go to Aruba because the check in was hard and you had to tie to the big cruise ship wharf. Well, you do have to tie to the wharf with the big tires but it is only 4 ft tall so no problem. The check in was easy and pleasant as all the officials come to the boat. I had to personally go to the customs office but they drove me there and back and there is no cost to check in or out.
After we moved Astor to the anchorage and tidied ship we spent the afternoon in town and had dinner at a local restaurant. We are in culture shock, as it is very US here with Fast food chains and all manner of designer shops, and the new Bond is playing in the theater.
Aruba is a cruise ship paradise and there are 2 here this morning to prove that. Today we will explore more if the rain stops. We think we will spend about a week here before heading to Cuarcao which is about 50 miles to windward.
November 18, 2008 - Hard to Weather
We spent the last 24 hours tacking up the final section of the Colombian coast dodging squalls here and there. The conditions are much better that the first leg with 12-14 kts of breeze and calmer seas so even though it is on the nose- the sailing is pleasant. The wind quit at 1Am and we have been motoring since.
We are 80 miles from Aruba. This is a notorious stretch of water that usually produces 25-35 kts on the nose, so motoring in flat conditions is the better choice. The forecast says that it will stay light, time will tell.
All is well on board.
Position: 12.33N, 71.30W, 7kts of breeze on the nose, 40% cloud, 3' swell from the east.
November 15, 2008 - Santa Marta, Columbia
We left Gayraca Bay (bay # 3 in 5 bays) yesterday morning about 9AM and tacked north in lighter winds, 12-14kts, until the after noon when it went light. We motor sailed and sailed the rest of the day. Evening brought thunder storms so we spent the night playing dodgem running offshore and back to avoid the cells. The good news is that we missed all the lighting and most of the rain. Early morning things settled down and we motored up coast on a favorable east wind, still hard to weather but almost making our waypoint.
It is now 10AM and we are sailing under plain sail tacking up coast in an 11kt breeze with the sun out. We have 170 miles to go to Aruba as the tuna swims but it will hard to weather all the way. The forecast is for 10-12 kts from the east which would be as good as you can get on this passage.
All is well on board.
November 14, 2008 - Santa Marta, Columbia
Hi to all,
We arrived at 8 am and are anchor down in 5 bay point by Santa Marta, Colombia. We have sailed 260 miles, tacking into a head wind to move 127 miles towards the ABC islands. We have 270 to go as the dolphin swims but he does not have to buck a head wind. It's a good thing that Astor goes to weather well.
The bay here is a beautiful fiord with tall mountains behind. The water is crystal clear and warm.
We will probably leave tomorrow AM for the next leg.
November 13, 2008 - Headed for Curacao
Hi to all:
Thurs. 11/13, 1500 hr:
Lat: 11 29 W, Long: 75 22,
Course: 111, speed: 6 kts, wind: 17.1 true NNE.
We got underway yesterday at about 1100 hr. We have not made much way as of course the wind is on the nose, so we are tacking our way up and now are half way up Columbia.(The good news is that we are really sailing) The wind is supposed to go lighter tomorrow (we hope) & we will press on to Curacao as we hear Aruba has a rough check in policy. Otherwise we may anchor at 5 Bays in north Columbia (70 miles a way).
We have excellent crew David Frankel (22)has returned after a walk about in Venezuela. We are also joined by James Kroger(20) from Rhode Island & Rainer Jooss (44) from Germany.
October 2008 - Columbia
We sailed away from Panama and the San blas on Tuesday the 30th of September headed for Cartagena, Colombia. It's a 200 mile passage straight across. It's easy this time of year as the trade winds have not kicked in yet, so we had a light following breeze. We sailed for about 5 hours and motored the rest of the way arriving in the anchorage at 1:30AM. I never like to enter a new place at night but Cartagena is a huge well marked harbor (easier to enter than San Diego) so we slowly came in in the dark of the night.
We had 3 crew for the passage, Nils & Meredith-a well qualified couple with captains licensees, and David- 22 years old with a masters degree who has been backpacking around Mexico and Central America since completing his studies. He had sailed a lot with his father when he was younger. They were all great crew and we had a good passage. Nils & Meredith have left the boat to travel back to the Caribbean where Nils has a racing cat that he charters. David is currently backpacking around South America before returning for the sail north to the islands-first part of November.
Cartagena is a beautiful city, very clean and safe, much better that any other city so far on this trip. The old walled city is restored and lovely. The stone wall is complete with its original cannons. There are many small restaurants and shops along with restored hotels. It is very clean and safe, it's almost like a movie set. We are anchored outside of Club Nautico, the cruiser hangout, and use their dingy dock for a nominal fee which includes safe water and showers along with a restaurant and bar. The harbor water is too murky to make water here so we are jugging water out to the boat. Here it is low 90s everyday with rain occasionally, much nicer than Costa Rica or Panama. We have been doing some varnish and a little touring, mostly waiting for the hurricane season to end.
We will stay anchored here until November 1-? getting some boat projects done. The next port will be either Jamaica or Aruba depending on the wind. We have crew that is supposed to show up the first week of Nov for the sail into the Caribbean.
September 20, 2008 - On to San Blas
Out brief stayover in Shelter bay provided us a well sheltered marina with great docks but a very average restaurant. After 3 nights there we could not eat there again so we took off to Isla Grande.
We left Shelter Bay Marina Sunday morning the 14 for Isla Grande, about 28 miles. The island is about a mile off the mainland with a 30 foot deep channel between to anchor in. The island has a lovely little town all painted up in bright Caribbean colors. We stayed 2 nights and enjoyed lunch out every day at a waterfront restaurant. There is almost no tide on the Caribbean side so you just tie up to the patio rail and step on. The food was great and inexpensive.
On Tuesday morning after a big rain squall we up anchored for Porvenir. We arrived just in time to get the hook down before it was too dark to see the reefs. The San Blas is a series of small white sand islands with palm trees and lots of reefs and shoals. It only safe to move around when the sun is high in the sky so you can see into the water.
Thursday we moved to Lemon Cay which is a series of small palm isles almost reef locked. As with all the San Blas the Kuna Indians come by in their dug out canoes selling Molas (beautiful hand stitched tapestry) and lobster & large crabs. The ultimate shopping for the girls, everything comes to the boat. We spent 4 hours yesterday cooking and cleaning crab and lobster, now we are trying to figure out how many different ways to prepare it.
The trials of cruising!
September 13, 2008 - Dockside in Shelter Bay
We made fast time through the Canal, motored at 7 kts and even motor sailed for a while. It was a very quiet day in the locks so we had to get to the Gatun locks as they were going to close down for the day with the green ship just ahead of us. We got there just in time to sneak in front of the green monster for the down locking. The good news was that we were tied up at Shelter Bay Marina before dark which is unheard of.
All the locks went without incident. Peter Stevens, our ships agent, Got us 4 of the best line handlers and they did a great job. Tito the the lead man has been through the Canal about 350 times. Because of Astor's size we were assigned a pilot. I drove Astor while he gave me very exact instructions. He made drawings of each lock and the currents in and out. He told me where to place Astor to avoid being pushed by these currents. He was very much the gentleman at the same time and a great asset to the Canal process.
The only down side to the trip was that the pilot boat that brought him bent a stanchion (already repaired) . Other than that we had no damage not even a scratch or tire mark. The weather was perfect with no rain, very uncommon. and little breeze. The trip across Panama through the Canal and across the lake is very beautiful, very lush jungle, complete with monkeys and crocodiles. This morning, while tied to the marina dock, we had a squall go through with heavy rain and a peak of 52 kts of wind, so we feel very lucky about our Transit.
We have been in the marina for a couple of days to get our stress level down. Tomorrow AM, weather permitting, we will leave for Isla Grande, our one stop on the way to the San Blas.
September 10, 2008 - Astor in Canal System
At 9:11 am Local time (7:11 am Pacific) Astor entered the Miraflores Locks and made the first step in the path to the Atlantic.
A few of us watched the website cams as the boat cycled through the locks and continued on. At 9:46 the second set of doors in this set opened and the Miraflores locks were cleared.
Continuing to watch the next camera at the Centennial bridge, Astor came into view at around 11:34 local time.
Estimates are about 8 hours to get through to the other side. If timing is right, they will be going through the Gatun locks near the end of the day.
** UPDATE ** Astor Cleared the last locks well ahead of projected schedule. Around 4:30 (2:30pm Cal Time) the boat was seen on the Gatun Locks Camera. All went very well and everone is pleased.
(Pictures will be up shortly)
September 7, 2008 - Canal Preparations
With the canal transit in just a few days we are in last minute prep and stow for the big event. Guests/Crew are arriving and their gear is being shuffled around to fit. Assorted projects are being completed and most of all, the big mooring lines are all being brought up on deck. We are scheduled for Wednesday 10th in the early am. We won't know the exact time until that morning, but we will try to get a message out as soon as we know.
If you want to watch for us, there are several webcams available along the canal.
On the pacific side are the Miraflores Locks. You can access that camera here:
Miraflores Locks Camera
Along the journey is the Bridge Camera
And on the Caribbean Side are the Gatun Locks
Gatun Locks Camera
Remember- Canal time is 2 hours ahead of all of you West Coasters so we may be well into the transit before you all go to work!
August 28, 2008 - Jump to Panama
We are in Balboa, Panama-the canal zone. We had a great trip down, stopping every night except the last. we anchored at Isla Parida first night, Islas Secas the second with heavy rain and lightning a bit too close for comfort,
Our third stop found us at Isla Canal de Afuera. This island is part of Coiba Nat park and the park boat stopped by and demanded $100 to anchor for one night, it was raining heavily on the main land sooo we paid (welcome to Panama).
The forth night we anchored in Ensenada Naranjo bay behind Punta Mariato with a little rain,
On day five we planned to stop behind Punta Guanico but found only a marginal anchorage and decided to push on because the weather was very settled (odd). The following morning we had a beautiful offshore of 10-12 kts so we could sail on a beam reach (almost forgot what sailing was) all the way to the Canal Zone.
We are currently berthed at the Flamenco marina on the tip of the Amador causeway. There are at least 6 restaurants within walking distance so Lani is Very Happy. We spent Tues & Wed with our canal representative Peter Stevens getting checked in to the country and getting Astor Add Measured for the Canal. Mark Randall (found him through FindaCrew) has just left for the airport to fly home to Seattle and Colin flys out tomorrow. We are going to tour the town today with our adopted cab driver Mario.
Jim & Marion and Ross & Lynette arrive on the 6th and stay until the 24th. We are scheduled to transit the Canal on the 10th so it will be a busy time until then. Once we are through the Canal we are going to the San Blas Islands with the group. Jim & Marion and Ross & Lynette fly home from there. We will be doing more San Blas and next stop will be Cartagena.