We are having a lazy Friday.  Our southerly breeze is dying.  Matt spent the morning coaxing 6-7 knots of boatspeed out of a diminishing breeze.  Oatmeal Sundae for breakfast.  Bill now at the helm motorsailing.  I tried celestial navigation for about 3 hours.  Man is it tedious.  My brain hurts.  Matt has taught himself on this trip and yesterday figured our position within 2 miles, an impressive feat. He now eschews the Nautical Almanac and Sight Reduction Tables and uses some cosine formula he found in a book. Glad somebody on this boat is smart.

Warning – sailing talk: The real wind direction and speed is, logically enough,  true wind.  This is what you feel if you are standing still.  When you move you create wind; think sticking your hand out of a car window.  On the boat the true wind combines with the created wind to form apparent wind.  This is what you feel on your face when moving.  True and apparent winds have speed and direction.  When sailing, your sails are driven by the apparent wind.  Sailboats like to go at certain angles relative to the wind. So right now we are motorsailing.  This means we have the sails up but also the 100 hp engine running, spinning a propeller and helping us along. We do this because the true wind speed has dropped to 6 knots, which is anemic. Our GPS has an “are we there yet” computer which computes time to waypoint at current speed.  The waypoint is a digital “x” that gives us a target to aim for, currently just south of Gibraltar.  With six knots of wind and no help from the motor the computer said “forever”, so we fired up the engine. The cool thing is, the movement created by the engine creates higher apparent wind speed and changes the apparent wind angle to make the sails work better. So in true motorsailing the engine and sails work together.  We have used the engine about 15% of this trip, which is very good.  As our South wind dies and we await the North wind to fill in today and tomorrow, we will have slack wind and we will motor, or motorsail.  We have extra fuel, but not unlimited.  We will make it!

The engine on the boat is not like a powerboat engine, zippity.  It gently moves us along at about 6-7 knots.  (A knot is a nautical mile per hour, which is equal to 1.15 statute (land) miles per hour.) I used to have a Yamaha motorcycle. I sold it because it was cool but dangerous.  It had 100 horsepower and weighed 400 pounds, and would outrun lightning.  Moondance has a 100 horsepower engine and weighs 22 tons, so it is slower.

Yesterday’s TED talk was Liz, on municipal water systems and waterways.  Very fascinating. Liz works for the EPA so knows her topic.  Today Tom and Cam will team up and discuss cribbage.

We have been asked for some brief biographical material on the crew.  I will be very brief, to protect our information.  The “kids” all went to BU and sailed together on the BUDs (BU Dinghy Sailors).  They are awesome in every way. They are all mid-20s.  Matt is an engineer who does HVAC design.  Jackie just finished culinary school and is a chef extraordinare.  They have been married just over one year.  They live in Boston but are moving to San Diego.  Cam works in Cancer research and wants to pursue that field.  Liz, as mentioned, works for the EPA.  They both live in Boston.  The four of them are mature and capable and helpful and neat, all important crew criteria.

The old guys are also mid-20s, just on the inside.  We are all startled by pictures of our outer selves.  Tom is a world-class economics teacher at a first-rate private school.  He is, to a large number of bright young people, the best teacher they have ever had.  I have now seen him with tousled hair, a rarity.  It becomes him.  Dana is a retired lawyer who now splits his time between Montclair and Vermont.  He was a successful lawyer despite being a terrific person.  He doubles as a sailing instructor on Lake Champlain and races his new J-88. He has fantastic taste in music and will trim sails until they squeak.  Bill is, no exaggeration, one of the worlds foremost ocean sailors.  He holds records (like San Francisco to Sydney), writes books and articles, and gives seminars on weather and navigation and safety.  He knows everything about sailing but never, ever acts superior.  He is one of the nicest and most genuine people you could ever meet.  Me, I am just a blogger.

You can see why this trip is successful.  We have, quite simply, the best crew ever.



11 thoughts on “Friday

  1. We always had a “Anchor pool” I was very lucky and won three times over all the ports we hit. Always a $100.00 pool. $2.00 each square with 60 squares. So it was luck you didn’t know what second you had until after you dropped anchor. Fun game for “Y” all to play. Again I wish you Fair Winds and Following Seas. (my bet ETA 6/30/15 13:45)


  2. Mike,
    Thank you for the sail talk, informative and humorous blog! I look forward to your daily posts! You are an excellent writer!
    Love, April


  3. Michael, your “sailing talk” is so enlightening even for a novice like me. You would make any topic interesting — Absolutely an “excellent writer”!
    Thank you for your introduction to Moondance Crew. All appear to be extraordinary individuals living life to the fullest. Obviously, their personalities form the perfect blend of qualities required to run a happy, tight vessel. Kudos to the Skipper!! Teamwork is superb! Hope that North wind is cooperating. Be Safe Xo


  4. Thanks for the crew introduction they all sound exceptional. I know they are grateful to have such a kind, humble skipper.
    Do you have any time to read and if so what are you all reading?
    Love and prayers❤️M


  5. Another great post! Love the humor! Thanks for keeping us updated, truly appreciated! And, hello to the awesome lot who make up the best crew ever! Xo


  6. Thanks Mike for sharing a glimpse of your wonderful crew biography, very impressive, and sounds like you are a fine Captain too my friend! They say (well I say, lol) ‘behind every great crew is a magnificent Ship!’ Seems in every snapshot there is the ship you sail. Mike, could you maybe share with us also, a bio of this majestic “Moondance” (age, size, make, and model) ship you sail too? And, as always, I look forward to your daily journal of “living the dream” aboard the “Moondance”, enroute to Spain. Safe travels you all.


    • Moondance is a Swan 56, built in Finland by Nautor. Her hull was designed by German Frers. She is 56 feet long, has a beam of 15.5 feet and draws 9 feet. She has a fin keel with a lead bulb on the bottom and a spade rudder, which makes her very responsive to the helm. She has a triple spreader rig She is hull number 22 of the Swan 56 line, built in 2000. She weighs in at 43000 pounds. We purchased her in 2011 and had a total refit done by the inestimable Jamestown Boatyard. Ironically, Mary and I first laid eyes on her in Palma, Spain, where we bought her.The aft cabin (kid’s cabin, for this trip) has a double berth and two bunks (Liz volunteered for the top bunk, the torpedo tube). The forward cabin also has a double berth and two bunks. Each of the two main cabins has a head with a shower, ish.The main saloon has two setees that double as berths. The very forward cabin, the v-berth, also has two bunks but the motion at the very front is inhospitable to sleeping under way, so this becomes our overstorage garage. She has a small engine room to house the generator and Yanmar auxiliary diesel. She is nurturing and kind on the inside but tough as a battleship on the outside. She appreciates all the interest and sends her best, and wishes all to know that she will take very good care of us.


      • Thanks Michael! That was an informative well described description of your amazing vessel! Much appreciated!


  7. I know all of the crew will be bonded together for life after this incredible experience . Michael, you have so many talents, I never realized you are also a very gifted writer!


  8. And, yes, without question, this crew would not be all the greatness that they show themselves to be, … working as the harmonious team that they do, without the terrific leadership of the wonderful Captain they have in you Michael. Our regards and thanks to all! Continued happy sailing! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Forever grateful that you provided this amazing opportunity for our youngsters! I am the most fortunate mom in the world that Liz met you all through her BUDS sailing career. The lifetime friends are clearly the world’s best of the best and the education they got is a by-product of what I believe is even more important and extraordinary! Thank God for the Blogger and Captan! Also Extraordinary! Thank you from every bit of my being! Happy sailing.


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