Tuesday, September 27, 2011

what propeller??!

The weather has gotten noticeably cooler as we're still at a fairly high altitude, New York/Virgina zone and swimming has been less of a priority for the girls. Usually we can hardly keep them out of the water unless it's lunch time :)

Last Saturday, I woke up early and just before sunrise decided to take a swim to help wake up. It's pretty fantastic having a bay all to yourself and a refreshing dip in the sea is a pretty great way to start the day. (Strong Italian coffee doesn't hurt either!) 

Swimming back to the boat, I decided to check a propeller we've been having problems with for some time. It is a brass folding propeller. Which means that while we're sailing without the engines, it's supposed to fold up and not create drag to slow us down (hey....on this beast, every bit helps!) but it's been acting up in that it sometimes won't fold closed or when we do motor, won't fold all the way open. Well, as I swam over to check it, I realized it was GONE!! The whole propeller! It is a very expensive item ($2000-3000) and it was totally missing!

I needed some breakfast to recover, and think about what we could do from here. Thankfully, we have two engines, so we could at least move to a marina, instead of trying to rely solely on sailing, but what then?! I remembered as we entered the bay the night before, I had revved up each engine separately and saw that they were creating wash behind the boat, something a missing propeller would not have done, so I cam e to the conclusion we must have lost it recently, maybe right after we shifter into reverse getting ready to anchor or something. 

After breakfast, Levi and I thought we'd take a trip around the bay snorkeling, hoping we'd be lucky enough to find it, although it as a bit of a needle-in-a-haystack proposition. We started swimming in gradually larger circles, scanning the sand and roughly tracing our way back out of the bay. 

About 400 yards away, lying in 30' of water, I spotted the prop laying on the bottom!! I couldn't believe it! I called for Levi to swim over and he dove down to retrieve it. 30' is a long way down, especially with a heavy propeller coming back up, but he made it on the second try and we were really stoked to have it back in our hands!!

I had a strange feeling of peace the whole time that I just 'knew' we were going to find. It was really bizarre, and I can't remember having that much peace about something that should have and normally would have totally stressed me out. I don't know if it was a 'test' or if I was, I passed, but thanks to God! we found it...................now we have the chore of getting it back on!

We'll see how that 'adventure' goes. 


Saturday, September 24, 2011

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Headin' for Spain

After a couple weeks in the absolutely gorgeous Balearic Islands of Spain, it’s time already for us to head on to the mainland of Spain. We have a few stops we want to try and see while on the mainland. Levi and Erik want to see an authentic bullfight and we all would like to see some Flamenco dancing (and flamenco guitar for the boys!) So we’ll be aiming to stop in at Categena, Spain and maybe Granada or a bus trip to Seville.  

We have heard that it’s a good idea to be sailing out of the Med by October 1st and heading down toward the Canary Islands and on to the Cape Verde Islands getting ready to cross by December. At first we thought that was kind of early…….isn’t it always warm in the Med?? Last night I finally checked to see where we were compared to the U.S. as far as which latitude we are sitting at. We’re still quite a way north! We are about the same latitude as New York City from where we are sitting in the Island of Mallorca, and as you can imagine, by late September it is getting cool and by October we’ll be in full autumn. So I guess we need to keep keepin’ on as we say, even though these coasts in the Balearics have been some of the most beautiful coast line we’ve seen anywhere in the Med. It’s taken a lot of self-control to not stop in at real estate offices to see if anyone wants to trade for a catamaran ;)

So, as soon as we exit the Med in the next couple of weeks, it’s time to make some major passages heading south towards the Cape Verdes Islands. It’s basically getting to the same latitude as the south part of the Caribbean, which is where we are aiming for as we head across the Atlantic. We are looking forward to stopping in at Morocco and spending a few weeks there, taking an inland trip to Fez and Marrakesh, maybe a trip to sleep in a tent in the Sahara desert………we’ll see.

Anyway, that’s the latest from the sailing Hems! Love you all!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wandering around the Balerics.

We arrived in Mao, Menorca after a long 4 day sail from Rome. We are now in the Baleric Islands of the eastern coast of Spain. We’re almost out of the Med, and I can’t believe how far we’ve come this year!
The town of Mao was really cool! The landscape here is really green with lots of trees everywhere and on these islands the houses are all built right on the edge of the water so they all have waterfront views. But from the water it all looks really cool.

We sailed onto another bay on the southern side of Menorca Island. We had heard from a friend that there was a Spanish Festival involving horses happening that night at a town we were going to be anchored at. The horse festival turned out to be really cool! Well, of course! We’re in Spain!! That’s epic enough! So we went into town at around 7pm and they had set up like a ring with a floor of sand. A single horse with a rider would enter from one side of the ring. The point of the night was for the crowd to try and spook the horse into rearing up and then all rushed in and hold it up as long as they can manage. Then after about five minutes or so the horse and rider leaves the ring as another comes in and the whole scene happens again. They went on for about five hours like this. I’d say there was probably 20 horses total. The later into the night, (and the more people had to drink) more people would join in the excitement of holding the reared-up horses. They also had a local band playing traditional music which we could hear at anchor til at least midnight.  Levi joined in for a bit as well….helping to try and spook it long enough to get the horse reared-up. He said it was crazy being that close to the horse with 20 other people all trying not to get hurt by the horse or by the other people!
Levi is in the jeans and black shirt
Next we sailed on to the island of Mallorca (Pronounced: may-or-ca) and stayed in two small bays on the eastern side. (One night in each.) Both bays we’re cute and very calm.

We plan to have one more overnight sail to the mainland of Spain, spend time going down the coast then on through the Strait of Gibraltar and out of the Mediterranean. We can’t spend long in Spain because we need to be though the Strait of Gibraltar around the beginning of October, due to weather, which is just about 2 weeks away.  So it seems we will be quite busy seeing as much of Spain as we can in the next two weeks before we head out of the Med and then on to Morocco. 

A mess of new photos.....

Here's some photos of the last few weeks:


We've been moving a lot the last weeks in the Spanish Balearic Islands of Menorca, Mallorca and now heading to Ibiza. We'll try to post some blogs soon!

~ Hems

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ciao Italia!

It's hard to believe we’ve been in Italy for two months already! (Except for a small detour to Malta for a couple weeks) And while Italy isn’t really a boating or cruising destination per se……as we’ve mentioned in other blogs, our overall impression of Italy is fantastic. Whatever it misses in "cruising grounds" it more than makes up for in sheer epic places like Rome and Florence. The history is out of control. The people are super friendly and helpful and we absolutely loved staying near Rome and taking a road trip north into Pisa and Florence. It was really great staying on the river in Fiumicino and a big thanks to Max and Enrico for all your help and letting us stay, I hope our paths cross again!!

So, after dragging our feet a few days waiting for what looked like the right weather sending us west, we left under the bridges at “0-dark-30” Friday morning. Once we were through the two bridges and into the ocean, we were treated with some big leftover waves right on our nose as we headed out and through most of the first day of the passage. This was to be our longest passage to date with almost 400 miles to go and while we were going through the Bonifacio Straight, the passage between the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, we weren’t planning to stop, just continue on to the island of Menorca, Spain.

The trip was pretty uneventful, with the typical range of weather for the Med, rolly waves the first day, very light winds on days 2 and 3, too light to sail, so mostly motoring and then medium to strong winds the last 24 hours which we were able to sail, but with 20’ waves coming from the side, made it pretty uncomfortable and we all skipped a couple meals and were really glad to pull into a flat anchorage on Menorca at 0600 on day 4. Having an amazing sunrise out at sea didn't hurt one of the mornings!

A big breakfast was had by all followed by some mid-morning naps!

So, we’re in the Balearics and after a day to catch up……we’ll be exploring the islands.

Thanks for your love, support and prayers!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Looking out over St. Peter's Square

Video from inside St. Peter's basilica

This is the biggest church in the world......to give you some perspective, the statue of liberty can fit INSIDE the dome. Pretty awe inspiring in there. Levi and I hiked to the top of the dome, and were able to look all over Rome. Hey....that rhymes!

View From inside the Colesseum

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Florence and Tuscany

Florence and Tuscany
How do you describe something that has been written about, filmed, painted, and made into legend a thousand times?
There’s not much I can add to all that, except that it is every bit as beautiful as we thought and had imagined and were so glad we made the effort to make the road trip. The country had a very relaxing feel just driving though it with the windows down. We made a pit stop at an amazing winery for some wine tasting, a picnic, and found an ice cream/gelato shop that was rumored to be ‘the best’.

I’m not a big foodie, and don’t claim to be an ice cream connoisseur, but she had a dark chocolate gelato there that absolutely changed my life! Thanks Sylvia from “Ostello del Chianti” for the recommendation and the encouragement for our adventure, all the best to you and your son on your journeys.

We stayed in another youth hostel in Tuscany and its location in a small village was epic. It was nice and cool in the mountains and we all slept like rocks. Touring does that, lots and lots of walking and fresh air all day (like we don’t get that on the boat :), but you wind up with big appetites and sleep great! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Road trip

As we mentioned a few blogs ago.......our first adventure was a road trip north to Pisa and Florence with our sailing friends from Imagine, the Adams'

Our first stop was Pisa, and we found a youth hostel which was a lot less expensive than the other options, and it was a clean place, packed with shoe-string, back-packing youths. With our group, we filled two rooms, so didn’t have to share rooms with strangers.
We set out for the tower of Pisa, and had a wander through some really epic, quaint shopping areas on our way.
Coming near the tower, the kids spotted it first and all started shouting how out of place the tower looked. When you come around the corner and first see it, it is truly amazing. You really have to do a triple look, and it’s crazy to see such an old ornate building looking like it’s about fall over!
The whole area is surrounded by grass and loads of people hanging out and relaxing and of course taking millions of pictures of each other ‘holding’ up the tower and messing around.
We took our share of goofy photos and made a pit stop for some scrumptious pizza, and I was glad to find someone who likes pizza as much as I do. Marc, the dad from Imagine could eat it 3 times a day like me, so it there was going to be a LOT of pizzas over the next few days…..fine by me!

We’re working on some photo albums, and will get them uploaded when we get to some free internet…..