Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Day of Dreams - Welcome Back!

The yellow line shows the track of Aspen crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  We wanted to get a long and good look at Africa and the Cape Verde Islands along the way!  Considering how far we traveled we were not even the last boat to arrive!!!

Aspen hard on the wind coming toward the finish line in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

1 second to go before crossing the finish line between the orange flags and the yellow flag.  Don't you just love seeing Aspen heeling with the breeze?!?

S/Y Aspen – December 22, 2013 – Log #114
Aspen Position: 14 degrees 04’ N  060 degrees 57’ W

Maria and I had a dream of seeing the world.  Her dream differed a little from mine because my dream had a sailboat in it.  Her dream most likely didn't include a sailboat since she really doesn't care for the water that much!

There are so many thoughts and words right now spinning around in our heads.  Resting quietly at Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia, nothing can come remotely close to saying what utter joy and satisfaction we feel at this moment in our lives.

'It's what we've done that makes us what we are'" as Jim Croce sang.

Well, we've done it!!!!!!!!!

Sail on, sail on Aspen - we made it around this big beautiful planet and lived to tell the tale...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers)

The Rock of Gibraltar with a cloud indicating the gale force winds in the strait!

Our marina in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Captain Steve up the mast and looking down at Maria who winched him up there!

One of the many parties for the ARC 2013 participants!

The offices for the ARC.  The workers are everywhere and very helpful!

This boat will be crossing the Atlantic with us too (French as you can see).  We're certain it will beat us!

Our number for the crossing.  It reminds us of the current year!

Carrying the official USA flag in the parade of nations for the ARC!

The dock where Aspen is resting for the time being!

The USA flag proudly flying next to the Spanish flag!

ARC costume party for the Ruby Goddess and either a Roman Senator or Slash of Guns 'n Roses fame?

Our friends on the boat next to us in the marina.  What great costumes they had!

Two fisted drinker...

Supplies for the long journey across the Atlantic!

Safety demonstration with a live helicopter, rescue swimmer and evacuation from a sailboat.  It was very impressive!

Just some of the 220 Rally boats in Las Palmas.

Another safety demonstration with a life raft in the pool.  The admiral didn't want to get wet :)

This is our tracking device onboard Aspen!

Maria making a point with a fellow sailor on the Rally.  I think she won of course!

Another view of carrying the USA flag in the parade with fellow USA sailors!

The costumes from one of the parties with spectacular entertainment!

The Spanish really know how to entertain and party!

The crowd watching the festivities at an ARC party.

S/Y Aspen – November 21, 2013 – Log #112
Aspen Position: 28 degrees 09’ N  015 degrees 25’ W (UTC Hours)

Inspections, meetings, seminars, safety drills and of course the parties have highlighted the past fortnight (2 weeks in our language) for Aspen here in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.  International crews from all over the world have gathered in the marina to take part in the largest sailing rally on the planet, the ARC.

As each day passes the tension in the air becomes more and more apparent among the participants in our upcoming voyage across the Atlantic ocean.

Food, water, spare parts and oh yes, even the crews are onboard scurrying around getting boats ready for the journey. 

It should take us around 21 days to cross to St. Lucia in the Caribbean from our comfortable berth in Las Palmas once we leave on Sunday, Nov. 24th. 

We have been fitted with a satellite transponder that will track our position, course and speed every hour of the day and night.

If you would like to follow us online at any time just go to:
(Right at the top of the Map there is a TAB that lets you choose between ARC+ and ARC.  Choose Atlantic Rally for Cruisers without the + to see Aspen!)

Look toward the back of the massive fleet and you will see Aspen dancing among the waves.

So when you are enjoying your nice Thanksgiving dinner sitting around a warm crackling fire with family and friends maybe give us a thought if you would, far far away out on the endless sea, traveling ever so slowly with only the wind and sea for our Thanksgiving company.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Rock

I returned the Rock of Gibraltar; the icon that was given to me by my fellow sailors when the 20 boats in the Blue Water Rally safely arrived in Marmaris, Turkey after surviving the piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Here is why I returned THE ROCK:  

To Members of the 2009-2011 Blue Water Rally

Fate brought us together as sailors.  Sailors who had a dream of sailing around the world on our own sailboats. 

Together we overcame the constant challenges in the vast expanse of the unforgiving sea.

Our eyes have seen wonders that are hidden from ordinary people, yet lay before our bow each day that we sailed. 

We have experienced the wonders of the world through the eyes of a sailor, of which we are now one.

Phyllis was our dear friend and a member of our Blue Water Rally family.  Bob was our dear friend and a member of our Blue Water Rally family.  Scott and Jean were also our friends and members of our Blue Water Rally family.

Fate stepped in to create a tragic memory that will live with us forever.

The crystal Rock of Gibraltar has now completed the circumnavigation upon its' arrival back in Gibraltar, where this was sent from.

This crystal Rock of Gibraltar belongs to no single person in this rally.  Instead this Rock of Gibraltar belongs to each and every one of us, no matter how small a role we played in this grand adventure.

Please accept the return of this priceless sailing relic to commemorate the bond that we all share, together, as fellow sailors in the 2009-2011 Blue Water Rally. 

Cherish THE ROCK!

Epilog: THE ROCK will pass to each boat who is heading to Gibraltar to complete their circumnavigation.  By doing so THE ROCK will keep arriving back home until the last boat completes its' circumnavigation.

Of course there are still members of the Rally who probably won't be going to Gibraltar because of their new route back to the northern hemisphere via South Africa.  So that point is up for discussion :) 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gran Canaria

Aspen in her berth at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.  Notice our ARC flag flying high!

 Cruise ships like visiting our marina too!  This is Princess Cruises.

The museum in Gran Canaria holds more than 1,000 Neanderthal skulls in their collection along with mummified remains.  The caves on the island helped preserve the remains in excellent condition.

Behind Maria is the flag for the Admiral of the Oceans - Columbus.  From one admiral to another!

The main shopping street and McDonalds in Gran Canaria.

Endless sand dunes along the southern coast of Gran Canaria.

Yes the sand is one huge beach!

The interior of Gran Canaria.

Inside the caldera of the volcano.  Gran Canaria is a huge volcano!

Remnants of the volcanic cone.

Maria hiking in the caldera on Gran Canaria

We saw this tree changing colors on the flank of the volcano - oh boy, is winter coming before we leave?

S/Y Aspen – November 4, 2013 – Log #111
Aspen Position: 28 degrees 09’ N  015 degrees 25’ W (UTC Hours)

Aspen rests quietly with her stern pointed at the dock and two bow lines holding her in place at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.  The Mediterranean salt has been rinsed away and more provisions are being loaded onboard every day.  Soon we will be on our way across the Atlantic Ocean and bound for the Caribbean once again to finish sailing around the world.

We joined what was called the Atlantic Race for Cruisers (ARC).  Now the name has been changed to the Atlantic RALLY for Cruisers.  But this is still a race for a lot of the boats waiting here in Gran Canaria.  The start that is not too far away and there is excitement in the air.

More and more boats are arriving daily in the marina.  At the end of this week there should be 250 sailboats with their crews preparing for the long journey ahead.  That number doesn't include the 50 sailboats who leave this Sunday to sail for the Cape Verde Islands before they sail across to the Caribbean.

We will have some company out there this time!

The next couple of weeks will be filled with briefings, safety seminars and boat inspections, along with getting Aspen ready and her crew rested.  Rested???  With happy hours, nightly entertainment and parties we wonder how much rest we will get!

We will just have to endure!

The route we will be sailing is the Columbus route:  Sail southward from Gran Canaria toward the Cape Verde Islands and then don't turn west until the butter melts.  But Columbus ended up in the Bahamas, a lot further north than we plan to sail! 

St. Lucia is our intended landfall in the Caribbean.

Before we leave we will give you a website where you can track us across the ocean.  Every one of the 250 boats with us will have a transponder onboard so you can see how fast we are going and where we are headed.  Tracking us may be a lot like watching grass grow, that is how fast we will probably be going!

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...

Friday, October 18, 2013


Maria's berth off watch while we are at sea.  Doesn't this look comfortable? 

Captain Steve not enjoying sailing in temperate waters!  It is cold out here and this is during the daytime.  You should feel how it is at night - COLD!

Atlantic seas.  You can't see the horizon because it is below the 9 foot roller coming behind Aspen!

Landfall at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at daybreak!

An offshore drilling rig we passed in the harbor.  I think they might have drilled my last well?!?

The anchorage and beach at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.  We are in the marina and not the anchorage, just to the right side of this picture.

S/Y Aspen – October 18, 2013 – Log #110
Aspen Position: 28 degrees 09’ N  015 degrees 25’ W (UTC +1 Hours)

We sailed south along the coast of Africa.  Sailing south on the coast of Africa???   Could we ever have imagined anything like this when we were kids?  Never.  But here we are!

Sure the greats like Columbus and Magellan sailed here but they were sailors.  Oh, I forgot, I imagine we are sailors now too!  As Jimi Hendrix used to say, it kind of blows our minds.

So many places on the dark continent roll along with Aspen's wake:  Tangiers, Casablanca, Timbuktu.  Their orange glow lights up our horizon during the black of night and helps us find our way among the towering seas cresting all around us.  The waves roar like freight trains before they reach Aspen, telling us to beware.

Ahhh the seemingly endless ocean once again.  We seem to have forgotten how unforgiving it can be out here!

The admiral wrestles with the wildly pitching stove as she prepares great meals every day.  I'm glad I am only the captain and don't have to deal with that!

The voyage to the Canary Islands was challenging as you might expect in the Atlantic Ocean.  12-15 foot seas blasted Aspen but luckily they were on our stern.  We had 40 knots of wind at times so the sail choice was critical to keep us out of trouble too.

One stormy night on Maria's watch she saw a Celebrity cruise ship pass by Aspen less than 1 mile away.  It was all lit up like a city and I think Maria wanted to have dinner onboard!

Exactly 5 days and 6 long hours after leaving the Pillars of Hercules we made landfall at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.  It is really good to be here!

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gibraltar - "Nec plus ultra"

My favorite South American client! Their headquarters are in Spain of course.

A pod of dolphins in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  We saw these everywhere!

The Rock of Gibraltar at last!

The Rock from our Marina at La Linea, Spain.

Maria crossing the active runway on the British side of the Rock!

The fuel dock in Gibraltar.  Fuel here is duty free and cheaper than anywhere else in all of Europe!

The shopping street in Gibraltar.  Doesn't Maria look happy!

Official British post office in Gibraltar.

Yes it is an active runway!

The view from high atop the Rock of Gibraltar!

It was cold and windy at the top.

You can see how windy it was!

Stunning view from the Rock and out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The famous Barbary Apes on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, and Maria too!

That is our marina on the far wide of the runway.  We love the breakwaters that protect us!

British foods right on the waterfront in Gibraltar.

Admiral Maria standing where Queen Elizabeth stood while walking on the Rock.  We don't think the Queen walked all the way up!

He has a nice view of the harbor from the Rock!

The tomb of Columbus at the Seville Cathederal in Seville, Spain.  Wow!

Part of the Seville Cathedral where the tomb of Columbus sits.  DNA evidence says that yes this is Columbus.  However, the Columbus tomb in the Dominican Republic also has a few of his bones.  Just to make sure we saw all of him, we have visited the new world tomb too.  Columbus continues to travel a lot even in death it seems!

S/Y Aspen – October 10, 2013 – Log #109
Aspen Position: 36 degrees 09’ N  005 degrees 22’ W (UTC +2 Hours)

The Pillars of Hercules!  We have arrived at last!!

"Nec plus ultra", Nothing further beyond, a warning to sailors and navigators to go no further.

These words are from the ancient Greek poet Pindar (522 BC) and repeated by Plato a few years later when talking about the Pillars of Hercules.  Plato claimed that Atlantis lay beyond the Pillars of Hercules as well and we know what happened to them?

It was not acceptable nor wise to venture beyond the Pillars of Hercules, legend had it.

We had a very uncomfortable 2 day sail from Cartagena.  Tacking over 20 miles out of our way was necessary because of large seas and big winds.  Eventually we arrived with more fuel this time but a lot more tired!

Welcome to Gibraltar, welcome to England and welcome to the Rock!  British fish and chips, the British pound for currency, English spoken (well kind of English since it is British) and Bobbies in the street.  That's Bobbies, British police, if you were wondering.

We tried to get a berth for Aspen at the Rock but the marinas were all full since it is high season for sailors in this part of the world. No problem, we just went 1 mile away and are still at the foot of the Rock but in Spain.

We are staying on the Spanish side of Gibraltar in a great marina called Alcaidesa Marina that is in the town of La Linea.  It is a huge marina with nice finger piers beside Aspen so we don't have to moor stern-to, the Mediterranean way.  The prices are reasonable in Spain yet things change when we walk 10 minutes, clear customs from Spain and arrive in British Gibraltar on the Rock.

The view from the top of the huge limestone Rock was spectacular.  Morocco lay to the south and monkeys played at our feet.  On the way down from the top we had to stop at a pub of course for some nourishment.  Pubs rule in the Rock and you are never a few steps from another one.

Each day we troop across the flat expanse of land and across the active international runway separating the Rock from mainland Spain, along with a few thousand workers.  Spanish and British make the walk every day to work in the Rock.  Some drive but walking is much quicker because of the security and customs check points.  British workers live on the Spanish side because it is cheaper and with all of the comforts of Spain.

The weather is changing to a more winter weather pattern with cooler nights (60 degrees) and very high humidity.  We have to get south quickly before we freeze in these higher latitudes!  Hopefully the sea will cooperate and give us a nice weather window soon to the Canary Islands.

After the voyage Columbus made to the New World the Spanish changed the words "Nec plus ultra" to: "Plus Ultra" (further beyond).  The New World beckoned and voyagers took to the sea in their quest for adventure and new lands.

Look at the symbol for the US dollar: $.  The symbol used to have two vertical pillars (it still has one for most of us).  This is the symbol for the Pillars of Hercules and was taken from Spain so long ago.

Speaking of Columbus, we visited his monumental tomb at Cathedral Seville in Seville, Spain.  It was really amazing!!!  We have never seen a more elaborate church or a larger church, ever.  Not the Vatican, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or you name it.  It is truly a setting fit for someone of Columbus' stature in Spain at that time in history.  Of course that was when Spain ruled the world and we know what happened to them :)

We also stopped at the Archives of the Indies where all of the logs and books from the voyage of discovery and settlements are kept today.  They don't let people check out the books however!

Aspen and her crew are on the threshold of a new adventure.  We will pass between the Pillars of Hercules and begin our journey to the New World, as sailors have done at least since the time of Columbus.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen...