We have just completed the last leg of our journey that actually began when we left Turkey back in October and headed West across the Med, across the Atlantic, up through the Caribbean and Bahamas, across the Gulf Stream to Florida and then North mostly up the ICW to were we are now safely docked at Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth Virginia just across the river from Norfolk. My last post “Skinny Dipping our Way to Florida” update on May 18th covered our travels from Florida up to South Carolina and this is now the final Update from there as we are now safely docked in Tidewater Yacht Marina in Portsmouth Virginia just across the river from Norfolk. We arrived here on May 24th having covered just over 8200 nautical smiles since leaving Turkey and we will now hit the “Pause” button and stay here for the next few months. But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s go back and pick up where we left off in the last Update.
When I last left off in the “Skinny Dipping” post above, we were anchored in a bend on Bull Creek just off of the Waccama River in South Carolina where we were enjoying the serenity of that great spot we shared with the alligators and waited for three days while a storm front went through.
Our patience was rewarded with none of the wind or other effects from the storm reaching us in our little hideaway in Bull Creek and this map is my best attempt to show you our route and anchorages from there all the way up to our final spot at Tidewater Yacht Marina. The many riverways, canals and Inter Coastal Waterway ICW we were on are too small to show up at this scale on the map so I’ve just put a Red marker for each anchorage along the way and then connected those Red dots with the White line you see here. We first made our way from Bull Creek up to the small Mile Hammock Bay where we anchored for the night with a few other boats. This spot is also right beside the somewhat infamous military Camp Lejeune but was a very peaceful anchorage for us. Next stop we anchored in was just outside the very cute little town of Oriental where we went ashore to the local grocery store which kindly and conveniently offered a free shuttle service to bring us and our groceries back to the dinghy dock. This whole section of our travels through North and South Carolina has been this kind of small and laid back towns that have been a real treat to enjoy their hospitality. And as if that weren’t enough, Oriental also treated us to yet another fabulous sunset on this trip. Captain Christine managed to catch this fun shot of that sunset in our SkyBridge windows. For our next stop Christine found the tiny R.E. Mayo Seafood Company that offered us a night tied up to what was left of their dock. We also took advantage to stock up on freshly caught shrimp and Cod. Möbius continued to perform flawlessly and our eXtremely small wake was a very big plus as we motored past all the many docks in front of riverside homes and marinas along the way. We are doing just over 9 knots in this photo so you can see how small the wake is. We still slowed down when passing through “No Wake” zones but we got a lot of waves of appreciation from home owners and boat owners along the way.
Our travels through these inland waterways has also treated us to a fascinating variety of bridges and locks we need to pass through on our way. The bridges are all quite different as well such as this “swing” bridge that rotates on a central foundation in the middle of the river. Some of these bridges have specific set opening times so we do our best to time our arrival to get there just before they open while others are “on demand” such as this one where we call the Bridge operator on the VHF radio when we are a few minutes out and ask for an opening. And then through we go. These lift bridges are perhaps the most common and vary a lot in size. We missed the opening of this Great Lift Bridge and we had to wait two hours for it to open on our last day of the trip just before the lock at Great Bridge just inside the Virginia border. The Great Bridge Lock (yes, a bit confusing as Great Bridge is the name of the town as well) is immediately after we passed through the Great Bridge opening and we had to wait for about another hour as the Alexander Duff tug and barge had first priority to go through the lock so we all had to wait for him to arrive and get into the lock. We had passed him a few hours earlier but he got the last laugh as he now passed us to be first into the Great Bridge Lock. Fortunately Möbius is very skinny at 5m/16ft beam so the lock attendants were easily able to have us pull in a long way up the Port/Left side of the barge and this allowed them to fit a few more ships behind us to pass through the locks in the same go. This trip has also been fascinating with the huge variety of boats we have seen such as this good sized commercial fishing trawler. If you think our paravane booms are big, click on this photo and check out these ones! They use these booms for suspending their nets on either side but if you look closely you can see their paravane hanging off the end of the boom. There was some nasty weather on its way so we decided to put in a bit longer last day and go all the way up to Tidewater before it got to us. And Wow! what a difference in scenery and culture as we covered the last few miles after entering Virginia and found ourselves going through the large commercial industries and military shipyards surrounding Norfolk. Turned out to be another very good decision as we pulled into Tidewater Yacht Marina in the late afternoon on May 24th with blue skies, sun and almost no wind and were soon able to side tie ourselves up to this long T-dock. We stayed there for the past week and then two days ago the great staff at Tidewater had us move over to our new home dock. I’ve labelled both of these docks on the aerial photo above to give you a better idea of our new home for the next few months. Christine has been exploring the fun town of Portsmouth and was able to find the Memorial Day parade for a bit of experience with the local culture. She reported that the parade consisted mostly High School bands, gym clubs and the like so very much the feel of the small American town vibe which is part of the reason we chose Tidewater for our extended stay. So this is our and Möbius’ new home for the next few months. And that’s a wrap folks! Both for this set of Updates and for our latest series of voyages for the past seven months. We’ve successfully completed our plan to bring Möbius across the Atlantic and up the East Coast of the US to this area where we can now hit the Pause button for several months as planned and let the severely overworked Captain Christine hang up her Captain’s hat for awhile and FINALLY be able to restart her life as a best selling author and get her next few novels written and published. I can’t begin to tell you what an immense set of responsibilities she has taken on to get us here so safely and comfortably and just how proud and grateful I am that she choses to be my Captain aboard Möbius and in my life. Thank you my awemazing Bride!
This is also mission accomplished to put us closer to our Grandchildren and other family and friends as we have definitely been lamenting the lack of time with them. As you may have read in the last few blog posts we have already been able to have our Grandson Liam with his parents come stay with us twice in the last two months and up next we have our two Granddaughters from California and their parents flying in on July 4th to stay aboard with us for a week or so. Life doesn’t get much better than that!
I will continue to keep you updated here and I do have the promised Part II to the review of our experiences of these last 8200 NM of voyages on Möbius that I will get posted in the next few days so please stay tuned for those.
Just before I sign off and post this, I want to extend our most sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of you for taking the time to join us on all these adventures for however many months or years in many cases that you’ve been following along here via these blog posts. Your presence has been a HUGE part of what has made these experiences so special and we can’t thank you enough for being there and taking the time to also add all your comments, questions and suggestions along the way. We’re not yet sure where to from here but that’s what we have the next few months to figure out and will let you know as our ideas evolve and form.
Another 2+ weeks go zipping by and May is already half over! Lots of changes for us in this time as we crossed over from the Bahamas where we left off in the last update, and entered US waters for the first time on Möbius as we begin to make our way North along the East coast of the US. Here is a quick summary of our travels the past two weeks.
Bahamas to Florida
In the last update we were anchored off of Coopers Town on the NE coast of Great Abacos waiting for a storm front to pass and provide us with a good weather window to make our second “Atlantic crossing” over to Florida.
We left Coopers Town on May 3rd and anchored for the night on the NE corner of a tiny little island Mangrove Cay which Christine knew from past visits here on her boat, would provide us with a good jumping off point for the crossing.
Speaking of jumping off, SpaceX was thoughtful enough to provide us with quite the send off as you can see in this great shot Christine captured with the twilight launch of their latest “Falcon Heavy” rocket on our last night off Coopers Town. It was much more spectacular when seen from this distance compared to the close up view she got when we were anchored off Cape Canaveral last week.
Not to be outdone, Mother Nature also helped to send us off on our crossing with this beautiful sunset as we were anchored off Mangrove Cay.
My reference to “skinny dipping” in the title is because we have spent most of the past month dipping our very skinny boat in the very “skinny” waters with depths of under 3m/10ft in most places. In the Bahamas this is known as “The Banks” and you can see this very vividly in the sat photo here with all that light turquoise coloured skinny waters. This is one of the many reasons we worked so hard to keep Möbius as “skinny” as possible with a draft of about 1.3m/4.3ft so we are good in up to about 5 feet of water. Seeing these skinny depths is a bit disconcerting at first but you soon get used to it and just pay a lot more attention to depths on the charts as you go.
Our spot off Mangrove Cay was very peaceful and next morning we had the anchor up by 7am and headed for West Palm Beach which was just a bit south of due West. In this heat map you can see the warm waters that create the Gulf Stream that flows North at up to 6 knots at times so we “crabbed” our way across it with the boat pointing ESE at times in order to make the straight line across to West Palm Beach. Our Furuno Auto Pilot worked well to make this very easy and the crossing went without any problems taking about 10 hours with an overall passage average of about 8.2 knots in spite of fighting the current a bit.
Back in the USA!
We have both been into West Palm Beach inlet on previous boat trips in the US and it provides a very easy entry and is an official Port of Entry which we needed as this was our first landing in the USA. As with most countries the checking in process is getting much faster and easier being done online and with aps on your phone. In the USA this is done with the “CBP Roam” app from US Custom & Border Protection which we have been using in the USVI and Puerto Rico so it all went without a hitch once we had anchored inside the inlet near the bottom of this photo.
With one more passage in the logbooks, it seemed worthy of a celebration so we popped the cork on a cold bottle of bubbly fresh out of the fridge and took in all the entertainment provided by all the commercial and recreational ships and boats in this very busy spot in the good ‘ole USA.
We anchored in the lower Right corner of what is labelled as the “Turning Basin” in this chart as this is where lots of the big cargo and cruise line ships dock over on the far Left of this chart. We were also back in more skinny waters anchoring in 5-8 ft of water but all worked out fine. Next day we took the dinghy ashore in the dinghy and I went to the nearby CBP office to get a Cruising License while Christine headed for the grocery stores to top up our fridges and freezers for the next few weeks.
Fun with Family & Friends
Our Grandson Liam lives just a few miles South of West Palm so Christine had made arrangements for Liam, Tim, Ashley to drive up for some more time aboard on the weekend. Ashley’s Dad Dan was also able to make the trip so he got his first visit onboard and even caught a feisty little Mangrove Snapper from the Aft Deck! Christine and Tim cooked up some burgers on our grill to top off the evening. Tim & Liam stayed for a sleep over to put the icing on the cake and then Ashley came and picked them up on Sunday afternoon. Way too short but a great visit none the less.
From West Palm we made our way North along the coast before heading into the Intercoastal Waterway or ICW at Fort Pierce near Jensen Beach were our dear friends Steve & Kathleen live. A good anchorage on the South side of the bridge with a very well done dinghy dock to make it easy to come and go ashore and we spent three days anchored there enjoying some extended time with Steve & Kathleen both on Möbius and in their home where Kathleen treated us to a “low country boil” meal of shrimp, sausage, corn and more. Steve was kind enough to loan us his pickup truck for our stay so we were able to get lots done and had a great visit with them.
We continued up the ICW to Coco Beach that is close to where our friends Pam & Dave live and we were able to host them aboard Möbius for their first visit and then go ashore for a craft market that was going on that day. In the next few weeks we will be day-tripping our way North to Norfolk and we will do quite a bit of that travelling along the amazing ICW that you can see in the map above. The ICW is quite fascinating and though it keeps you busy steering the constantly winding narrow channel we enjoyed more “skinny dipping” our way along this scenic “Ditch” as it is often called.
The deepest sections are typically about 8-12 feet deep at best but is well marked on the charts and with Red/Green markers like this one to guide your way. Popular amongst the animal kingdom as well! Traversing the ICW involves going under lots of bridges, some that are fixed such as this one and others that are draw bridges where we have to time for an opening to get through. We have an air draft of about 8.2m/26.9ft so there are also some bridges with clearances of around 30ft that we can go through without needing them to open. From Coco Beach we decided to head back out of the ICW to make the jump up to Charlottesville South Carolina offshore and avoid the tighter sections along Georgia that Christine is not too fond of having spent a LOT of time cruising the ICW in many of her previous boats over the years.
Launching Off Shore
Even better though was that this gave us a chance to go have the very interesting experience of traversing the lock at Cape Canaveral and
….. have a truly front row seat of the launch of yet another SpaceX rocket in the wee hours of the 14th that Christine stayed up to grab this photo.
If you click to enlarge this photo, the one below and the chart above you will see how interesting this route out to the Atlantic was. We took a hard right turn off the ICW just North of Coco Beach as per the chart above, to traverse the canal you can see at the top of this photo. That involved just making it in time for the 17:00 opening of the bridge that is just off the top of the photo that is looing due West.
Here is the opposite view looking due East towards the Atlantic with Cape Canaveral off to the far Left. We anchored just to the Left of the breakwater sticking out near the bottom of this photo to put us right beside the entrance into the lock on the Left. The Canaveral lock opens for business at 6am so we had the anchor up about 5:50 to catch the sunrise and round the end of the breakwater into the lock just after six. Christine slid us alongside the well built rails on our Starboard/Right side and I tied two lines fore and aft just to secure us while the doors closed behind us and then soon opened in front. Not too dramatic as there is less than a foot of height change but still a fun experience. Exiting out of the lock we called the bridge keeper to ask for his next opening and soon slid our way through. Passing several large cruise ships and then some commercial docks you see here as the sun rose to welcome us back out into the Atlantic. As usual, Weather Wonder Woman Christine continues her masterful work at scheduling our passages in just the right weather windows. The passage up to Charlottesville was about 300 nm/345 miles/556 km and we had the anchor down in the ICW just North of Charlottesville just under 31 hours after entering the Canaveral Lock. That averages out to 9.7 knots which is our fastest passage time ever thanks to getting off shore enough to catch some of the Gulf Stream which had us doing up to 13 knots at times. Fuel burn for this trip was equally as great averaging 1.38L/nm or 2.75 USG/nm We knew when we left that we would likely get “spanked” a bit by Mother Nature just before arriving in Charlottesville and things were a bit more “sporty” for the last two hours as we made our way back to shore and into the welcoming arms of the breakwater. However we were soon back into calm waters once inside the breakwater leading into Charleston.
Back in the ICW
Once inside we turned Right to get back into the ICW for about an hour of smooth sailing up the ICW and pulled over into a small waterway in the tidal grasslands where we enjoyed a very peaceful anchorage and a great sleep that night. The green on this screen grab from Google Maps is all grasslands and marsh and will give you a bit of an idea of our fascinating scenery the past few days as we snaked our way along rivers that all interconnect to provide a shallow passage inland. We anchored for the night of May 15th just off the SW corner of Butler Island which I’ve tried to show on this crude little map. There was a big blow forecast for last night (Wednesday May 17, 2023) so we motored about 15 nautical miles (28km/17 miles) further up the Waccamaw River and then took a fork to the Left at Bull Creek where we have now been anchored for the past 2 nights just off to the side of this narrow river. So far we’ve only seen two small boats with local fishermen go by so we’ve been enjoying the eXtremely relaxing scenery and wildlife. The tidal based currents flowing through these rivers gently swings us around about twice a day and this our view looking South. It is quite the amazing feeling to be so truly isolated in this magical wilderness where the only sounds are the wild birds ashore, the buzzing of dragonflies like this one that wildlife photographer eXtraordinaire Christine managed to capture on one of our lifelines. and the occasional splash of alligators alongside the boat. Click to enlarge and look close in about the middle to see one that stopped by yesterday. Turned out to be a smart spot to lay over as we have been far enough inland that we hardly got any of the 40+ knot gusts apparently happing over on the cost beside us. Today (Thursday) has been an overcast and drizzly day so we’ve been enjoying a quite day in the SuperSalon surrounded by this ever so peaceful greenery surrounding us allowing us to catch up with some online jobs such as getting this update put together and posted for you. We’ll pick up the anchor tomorrow and continue to day hop our way up the ICW and various rivers as we make our way North to Norfolk where we have a reservation in a marina there starting on June first and where we will likely stay put for the rest of the summer. Lest you think I’ve forgotten I am still working on the second installment of what has worked out best and least well of the features and equipment on Möbius and will get that uploaded in the next week or so as time allows with cruising every day. The logbook says we just passed 7900 nautical miles in the past 8 months with an eXtensive range of experiences along the way and hope that sharing those with you will be of interest and use so do stay tuned for that and my chronicling of our travels as we work our way North through all these awemazing waterways.
Thanks for taking the time to join us here and please do leave any questions, comments and suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.
Not much change since my last sitrep on our stay here in Tanja Marina Bay in Tangier as we continue waiting for a break in the weather to start our passage South to the Canary Islands.
However in her most recent Sailingwriter newsletter, Christine has put together a great summary of our travels all the way across the Mediterranean from Kalymnos Island in Greece to here in Tangier so I will let her do a much better job than I ever can of taking you through all the spots we visited along the way with her photos and prose.
* If you would like to automatically receive updates each time Christine publishes a new newsletter on Substack, just click the “Subscribe” button in the top right of the Sailingwriter page. If the current weather forecast holds we hope to leave Tanja Marina Bay on Wednesday morning the 21st December, to make our way south to the Canary Islands. This passage will be about 600 nautical smiles (1100km/690 miles) which will likely take us about 3 full days and have us arriving on Christmas eve. Depending on weather and timing, we will likely make the most northerly island of Lanzarote our first stop to officially check into this Spanish group of islands. Christmas in the Canary Islands has a nice ring to it don’t you think?
There are seven main islands in the Canary archipelago and we hope to visit as many of them as we can while we move West through the Canaries and keep a keen eye on the weather forecasts for the best departure date to begin our two week crossing over to the Caribbean. We will update you all here when we are in the Canaries before we start our Atlantic crossing so stay tuned for that.
From all of the crew of the Good Ship Möbius our sincere and heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for joining us throughout this past year. Knowing that you are there and all your comments and questions are a big part of what makes this whole experience so special and rewarding for us and we are truly grateful.
Wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate the upcoming holidays, we wish you great joy and happiness as 2022 ends and we all set our sights on making 2023 the best year yet.
Not too much to report from my side of the past two weeks as we continue to wait for a weather window to open up and let us make the passage south along the West cost of Morocco to one of the Canary Islands from where we will start to cross the Atlantic. Lots of daily boat projects configuring some of our Maretron monitoring system, dialing in Furuno Radar, adding insulation to fridge/freezers, etc. but nothing too photogenic to show.
However, Captain Christine has been using our extended time in this fascinating city of Tangier to get out and explore so I will mostly share some of her great photos.
Picking up where I left off in the last Mobius Update we were exploring “The Rock” aka Gibraltar as the great sunny weather we’ve been having for months for both shoreside explorations and passages continued. Taking advantage of the good weather, we waved goodbye to Gibraltar as we put it in our wake on Monday the 28th and made our way back across the Straits of Gibraltar heading SW over to Africa and officially out of the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic. As this satellite shot from space shows the Strait is VERY narrow and the only place where all the water of the Mediterranean flows in. Not surprisingly then this tremendous volume of water flowing for so many years has also made this Strait VERY deep, which makes for some pretty significant and wild currents. Oh, and of course this narrow passage is also the only passage for all ships going In/Out of the western end of the Med so it its a bit busy as well. Each blue triangle on our chart screen is a commercial ship. It was another sunny day with winds below 20 knots most of the passage and you can see the seas starting to churn a bit as we headed West to get over to good spot to turn South and get across the shipping lanes as quickly as possible. You can see this pretty clearly in this screen shot of our actual track coming out of Gibraltar and heading over to Tangier. With such varied currents and sea conditions our speeds ranged from as slow as 4kts up to 13 and Möbius handled it all eXtremely well and we made the 37nm passage in 5 hours for an average speed of 7.4kts. We entered this lovely Tanja Marina Bay in Tangier where we went through a very smooth checking in procedure before moving over to our spot on N dock which is in the top right end of the photo here. The marina can hold up to 1400 boats and is relatively new having opened in 2018. We had heard from other cruisers that the marina was very full due to the poor weather off the coast preventing all the boats trying to get down to the Canary Islands but we were treated to this excellent spot with an empty slot on the Starboard/Right side and nothing on the other. A good spot for a few days, or so we thought at the time. Mother Nature apparently had different plans in mind for us and our weather maps since just after we arrived have looked like this one, which is from today, Dec. 11th. We’re looking for Blues 0-10 kts and Greens 10-20 kts but as you can see it is mostly all Yellows and Reds which are winds up to 50+ kts. These are being caused by a series of Low pressure spots that keep marching East across the Atlantic one after another for the past few weeks with no end in sight yet. This legend will give you the details of wind speeds and colours if you’re interested. Fortunately we live on The No Plan Plan and so the only date we have for making the Trans Atlantic crossing over to the Caribbean is whenever Mother Nature gifts us with a nice Blue slot across. And so we wait until we see something more like …..
…. this! I’ve marked up this forecast weather map for next Saturday 17th December (click to enlarge) to help visualize the difference and what we’re waiting for. The challenge is that the passage down to the Canary Islands will take about 3 days and then the crossing to the Caribbean will take about 12-16 days so we are waiting until the forecast calls for the typical “Blue slot” or Green with winds behind us, across the Atlantic like the one you can see here, and one that will hold for 2-3 weeks. Historically those are the conditions here from about the end of November through February and hence the time when sailors come to the Canary Islands to cross the Atlantic. But as we are all experiencing no matter where we are, weather patterns are changing and often not following patterns from previous years and so this year we are getting this parade of Lows coming across and so the marina here in Tangier is chock full of boats all waiting like us for the weather window to open up to let us get down to the Canaries or Cape Verde to the south, and then make the Atlantic crossing with good winds and seas. Being a power boat we have the significant advantage of being able to go in anything from Blue to Green whereas sailboats want Green winds of up to 20 knots from the side to behind so we will likely be able to leave before many of the other boats here. But not for at least another week or two by the looks of the current forecasts. On the flip side, the local weather here in Tangier all last week was beautiful and this is an eXtremely fascinating city with a very long and diverse history so a pretty good spot to be for a few weeks or however long it takes. Being such a strategic location Tangier has been very highly fortified since about the tenth century BC, and all the ensuing occupations since by Romans, Berbers, Greece, England, France, Spain, Portugal, and more. Today fortifications like the one in the photo above have been restored and updated such as we saw here. We spent an hour or so wandering through this sprawling fort with views like this which make it easy to see just how advantageous this location was for defending the Straits. As we moved further in the historic preservation areas soon transformed into scenes like this with shops of every description on street level and apartments above. Diverse does not begin to capture the tremendous variety of everything from architecture and colours to ….. …. butchers …. …. fish … … spices …. … pastries … …. and dress.
I enjoy just taking it all in and observing details of the buildings, the people and the businesses. Christine is the researcher and she found out that this was where many scenes in the Jason Bourne Ultimatum movie were shot including the Gran Café de Paris scene. Where she walked there last week for her afternoon coffee. and to this patisserie with her “Freedom machine” parked out front. Meanwhile, back at Tanga Marina Bay …….. We aren’t the only eXpedition type of boat here when this little fellow showed up about a week ago. Christine met up with the crew on one of her walks and they were very familiar with our boat and some of the similar ones built in by Circa Marine in New Zealand. I think their “tender” on the back is bigger than Möbius! The weather may have turned cold and wet this past week but what was really hot was all the celebrations of the Moroccan national football team competing in the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. We are docked beside a long row of cafés and restaurants and the Moroccan fans have been bringing down the house every night their team plays. This is closer to what it looks like inside these spots. We aren’t much into sports but the story of the Moroccan team is quite incredible being the first team ever from Africa to compete in the World Cup and as of last night’s win over Portugal, who were favored to win the whole tournament apparently, the Moroccan fans have been partying hard and loud ever since. An amazing story and they play top rated France next so I’m sure that the feverish support will reach all new highs on Wednesday. Great timing for us to be in this mix and Go Morocco GO!
So there’s your update from the Good Ship Möbius and I will update again once the weather window arrives and you can join us in the trip South to the Canary Islands. Till then, thanks for all your comments and questions, please keep them coming and we’ll do our best to keep you entertained and informed.
It has been a very busy 17 days since I left off on the last update “Bye Bye Kalymnos” on the eve of us leaving Kalymnos Island in Greece and finally starting our travels westward across and out of the Mediterranean as we set up for crossing the Atlantic probably next month.
It was with the full spectrum of emotions that we put Kalymnos in our wake as we left on Oct. 30th after first arriving back on July 7th. This little island had been our home base all that time and we had definitely felt part of the community. However we were also eXtremely happy to finally be heading back out to sea and back the life we love of exploring the world on our latest floating home, Möbius. Fast forwarding to today, Wednesday Nov 16th, 2022, I am writing this update after we just pulled into a lovely little marina in the town of Melilla which is about 200 nautical smiles West of the Algeria/Morocco border. Interestingly enough we are actually not in Morocco as Melilla is as you can read in the link above “.. is an autonomous city of Spain located in north Africa.” So officially, we are in Spain! At only 12.3 km2 / 4.7 sq mi Melilla is not very large but has a population of 86 thousand and a very rich history that will be fun to explore in the next few days.
Hopefully you not as “geographically challenged” as I am and will have figured out that we have now travelled the majority of the Mediterranean from the far Eastern end in Antalya Turkey and are now only 200nm away from Gibraltar that marks the far Western end of the Med. I’ve put in an orange line on this map tracing our approximate path of this trip so far.That will give you some idea of how pleased we are to have made such progress and how well Mr. Gee v2.0 has been propelling us along.
Quick Statistics Overview:
Since leaving Kalymnos 17 days ago, we have put about 1600 nautical smiles under our keel and the all new Mr. Gee has now accumulated 194 hours purring away in his Engine Room. We are still breaking the new engine in so I’ve been keeping the loads at about 75% of the 100% continuous duty rating, which would be 150 BHP @ 1650 RPM that I currently have the fuel injection set up for. I am able to very accurately gauge and control the engine loads by varying the pitch with the Nogva CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller and then watching the EGT or Exhaust Gas Temperature gauge which is pretty much a direct proxy for engine load. Full load would typically generate an EGT of about 450C/840F and I’ve been keeping it below 330C/626F and running about 1440 RPM. At these settings our Speed Over Ground SOG runs between 7-9 knots depending on wind, sea and current conditions and overall we are averaging a bit more than 8.2 knots at these conservative loads. Over the coming weeks and months I will start to vary the engine loads with different RPM and pitch settings and record all this data to help me find the Goldilocks combination of SOG and fuel burn. For those interested, in the 1600 NM so far Mr. Gee has been consuming about 1.78 Liters/NM which would be about 0.47 US Gallons per NM for my Imperial measurement friends and followers. Our design goal had been to get about 2L/NM doing 200NM per 24 hour day which would equate to averaging about 8.3 knots SOG. So we are very pleased to have exceeded this already very ambitious design goal and we will see how this changes as Mr. Gee breaks in and we vary SOG and engine loads and encounter more varied sea and weather conditions. I will do my best to keep you posted as this data accumulates.
We have also been varying the length of each passage as we hop our way West across the Mediterranean with passages like the one today from Saidia Morocco to Melilla Spain being just 35NM in a bit more than 4 hours and our longest passage so far was our jump across the top of Algeria which was 625NM in just over 3 days (79 hrs)
But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s jump back to where we left off back on Oct. 30th when we finally were able to motor out of the lovely little Greek Island of Kalymnos which had been our home base for almost four months.
For our very first trip with the all new Mr. Gee, after completing all the paperwork needed for us to leave Kalymnos and Greece we motored over to a lovely little anchorage on the South end of the tiny Greek island of Ios which was about 83NM away. We anchored in to the beautiful little “Never Bay” on the far Left in this photo at 23:00 under an almost full moon and it felt SO good to be on anchor and back at sea again after so many months. Next day, we got an early start and pulled up the anchor just after sunrise and made our way west to another lovely night anchorage on the South end of little Elafonisos Island which was about 120NM west. We averaged a bit more than 8.5 knots taking 14 hours and had the anchor down just before 22:00 for another peaceful nights sleep on the hook, aka at anchor.
Elafonisos was our last anchorage in Greece as we continued our way West and crossed into Italian waters on our way over to Sicily. Total length of this leg was 415NM which we did in just under 49 hours so average speed was about 8.45 knots. It was a great two day passage.
Captain Christine has acquired the new title of “Weather Wonder Woman” or W3 as she hones her skills using various weather software, most notably PredictWind, to do what I’m calling “No Wind Hunting” as ideal conditions for us have changed dramatically from our decades of sailing and we now ideally want no wind and flat seas or perhaps even better, following seas and winds which give us an added boost in speed. As you can see from the sunset photo above and this moon setting shot the next night, W3 has become the master No Wind Hunter!
We headed for Marina di Ragusa which is about 40NM North West from the SE bottom corner of Sicily. Our friends Matt and Cindy were there on their new Amel 50 “Speed of Life” and it was great to be able to catch up with them over several meals and good wine while we waited for the next good weather window for the next leg of this adventure to leave the EU and head over to Africa. When entering or leaving a country by boat, you need to do so at an official Port of Entry so we made the short 40nm trip up the cost from Ragusa to Licata which was the closest Port of Entry on our way West. We left Marina di Ragusa as the sun was rising and were docked in Marina di Cala del Sole at Licata just before noon and were able to get a taxi to the Police station where the immigration and Port authorities were located. This all worked out eXtremely well with neither the marina nor the checking out process taking any time at all or having any fees! So we were back on Möbius and leaving the dock in just over two hours. After the days and weeks and non stop fees trying to get our Schengen visa time extended in Greece you can imagine how delighted we were to have this final exit out of EU and the Schengen Area all happen so quick and easy. Africa, here we come!
As you can see, it is not a very big jump, about 195NM from Licata in Sicily to Bizerte up on the NE corner of Africa so an easy overnight sail in just less than 30 hours. We pulled in and were side tied for a nice change in the very nice Bezerte Marina by 14:00 on Tuesday the 8th of November. Tunisia has very good prices on diesel fuel, 0.66 USD per Liter, so we took full advantage and did our first filling of all six of our diesel tanks. We took on a total of 6792 liters and with exchange rates for the Tunisian Dinar and a credit card fee the total came to $4510.18 USD which at today’s fuel prices was a very good deal we think. We now had about 11,000 liters of fuel onboard and so we were finally able to see how well Möbius sits on her waterlines. As you can see, the hull was now eXactly on the lines! A bit closer shot as it is difficult to see where the 120mm wide Black Bootstripe on top changes to the Black InterSleek bottom paint but if you click to enlarge you will see that indeed sits eXactly on that line which is a great testament to our eXcellent NA Dennis Harjamaa! Well done Dennis and thanks for creating such a fabulous hull and boat for us.
Oh, and just in case you needed any proof that we are definitely not in “Kansas” anymore, check out this shot Christine took of the breakwater across from where we were tied up in Bizerte Marina. Yup, that’s a camel, well actually a dromedary with just the one hump, casually strolling along the breakwater. There was a small herd of them which we saw at various times during the day. While we were only in Bezerte for a few days before the next weather window opened up we did get time to walk into the the very colourful old town and enjoy the sights and smells of this waterfront city. We were also able to fit in a great date night eating some street food and then a delicious full meal at a little restaurant on the water. And enjoy one more beautiful sunset evening to finish up our all too short time in Bezerte and Tunisia. We had originally hoped to fuel up in neighboring Algeria where the fuel prices are even lower at about 22 cents per liter, but it turned out to be too long and difficult to get the required visa to allow us to stop there so we had to make the jump from Bezerte to Saidia in Morocco in one go and sail about 10nm off the very long Algerian coast of North Africa. It was a very smooth passage as W3 worked her weather routing skills perfect yet again and we had exceptionally calm seas with some following seas to help out several times. On one of her 6 hour watches Christine snapped this photo as she had fun surfing Möbius down some of the larger following swells and hitting speeds above 11 knots. Most of the time though it was more like this and we enjoyed some beautiful sunsets and sunrises along the passage. Christine had several opportunities on this passage to enjoy watching the large dolphins that came over to say Hi and play in the pressurized area ahead of our bow. I’m not sure who was having more fun, Christine or the dolphins but they all had a great time. This is a relatively busy shipping route and so we saw our share of other ships on this passage such as this little fella. We have a very good Class A AIS (Automatic Identification System) onboard, with several backups so pretty much all the other ships show up on our charts along the way and give us full information on each one including boat size, heading, speed, CPA Closest Point of Approach), etc. so makes it very easy to contact them on the rare times we need to and otherwise stay well informed of where they are in relation to us. I took advantage of the calm conditions to do the first test run of the Paravanes I had built. These are what we are going to try out for stabilizing Möbius in seas that want to cause us to roll back and forth sideways. The paravanes or “fish” as they are often called, are rigged to a fixed line of Dyneema off the end of each A-frame boom which is lowered off each side at about 45 degrees. The fish run about 5 meters or 18 feet below the surface where they “fly” through the water very smoothly. When the boat tries to roll to one side the paravane that is being pulled up resists this motion and the one on the opposite side dives down as its line goes slack and sets up for its turn when the boat tries to roll the other way. I particularly like iterative design and I start with the simplest approach and then adjust from there as I test. This first setup was a fully manual one with the orange line being the fixed length line that the paravane is suspended from and then a smaller Grey retrieval line attached to the rear of the tail fin. Christine slowed the boat and I lowered each fish into the water and they quickly zipped out and trailed behind the boom attachment points and then bring the boat back up to speed. A bit too busy to take photos but you can imagine how this works. It worked quite well but the retrieval required more effort than I thought was safe so I will re rig these lines so that the retrieval line goes up through a block mid way out on the boom and then over and down to a winch on the large Arch on the boat. I’m in the process of doing this rigging now and we will try it out on the next passage and let you know how it works and can get some better photos and details on their performance. We pulled into Saidia Marina which is just inside the border between Algeria and Morocco our longest passage so far at 625nm which took us just under 79 hours with an overall average SOG of 7.9 knots. As you can see, they had plenty of room for us! The marina is very large with an entire mall of shops and restaurants surrounding two sides but it has seen better days and Morocco had been closed for two years due to Covid restrictions so it was a bit sad. However the people and all the officials were extremely kind and engaging and we were quickly checked in and had fresh Moroccan stamps in our passports. We were about to loose the good weather we’d been having so we took advantage and made the quick 35nm trip from Saidia over to Melilla which as I mentioned at the beginning is actually part of Spain so we pulled in just after noon time and were quickly tied up and checked in.
As per my opening photos and comments, this marina and town is the opposite of what we found in Saidia, being very full and busy, very modern and diverse and is already proving to be a great spot for us to hunker down for perhaps as much as a week while we wait for the winter storms to pass through and provide us with the next chance to motor our way along the Moroccan coast as we get closer and closer to the Straits of Gibraltar that are now less than 150 nm WNW of us.
The other fun thing that recently happened is that we crossed the invisible Prime Meridian or Zero degree Longitude and so we are now into officially in the Western Hemisphere! Antalya sits on about 30.7 degrees East and Melilla is at about 3 degrees West so we have now traveled more than 33 degrees of latitude on Möbius. Looking further ahead, we are setting up to cross the Atlantic next month and will mostly likely take something close to the Southern route as shown on this map. These are typical routes for sailboats and thus based on favorable winds circling the Azores High pressure zone so we will just wait and see how that is positioned this year and figure out the best “No Wind Hunting” route for us to take across the Atlantic. Stay tuned for more as these Nauti Nomadic Grandparents do our best to continue to keep you all well entertained! Thanks and hope you will join us again for the next update to see just where Möbius is in a week or two.
Reminiscent of the line from one of the Godfather movies I believe “Just when I thought I was out; they pull me back in” Möbius is now back in Finike. Multiple factors driving our decision including that Christine needed to go back to Antalya for one or more consultations with her surgeon who did the arthroscopic operation to fix her torn meniscus and we needed to get the new beam for the Davit Arch brought to Möbius from Naval Yachts in Antalya. As you may recall, Setur Marina here in Finike was our “home port” since last July so we are very familiar with the area and know where to go to get things, who to talk with in our network here to get things done and a good safe spot to have Möbius tied up for a few more weeks while Christine continues her recovery and I get boat jobs done.
Marmaris to Finike
I spent most of the day on Monday going to different marine stores in Marmaris to pick up some of the lines and hardware I need for rigging up our Paravane stabilization system and doing some grocery shopping to stock up for the next week. Christine had found a lovely little anchorage on the charts that was just about 10 nm (nautical miles) from the marina in Marmaris so we untied from the dock and headed over there on Monday afternoon leaving Marmaris in our wake as per the photo. Though I must point out “What wake?” as I am just so pleased with how clean Möbius slices through the water. Thanks Dennis for the great hull design! We tucked inside a small bay with this small island just outside and enjoyed the sundown with some wine up in the SkyBridge with views like this. We had a bit of a rude awakening when a ferry went past the entrance at about 3am which rolled us so bad we almost flew out of bed. After picking up some of the items that had ended up on the floor we decided that we were wide awake and had a long run ahead of us so might as well just weigh anchor and head for Finike. We were rewarded with what was apparently a special “Rose Moon” and very flat seas as you can see so made the decision pretty easy. It was ideal motor boat conditions with glassy flat seas and no wind.
This is a shot of our wake or lack thereof at about 8.3 knots And this is the bow wave.
It was about 110nm down to Finike and these conditions continued the entire way. It was the longest continuous voyage we’ve yet taken aboard Möbius and gave us a good chance to test out running the boat for longer and longer runs as we get everything broken in and learn more and more about running this very unique and new to us boat.
I’ve discovered that our fuel flow meters have not been connected correctly so all my previous fuel burn numbers I’ve published are out by at least 40% so for this run I measured the actual volume of fuel removed from the Day Tank and used this to calculate the true fuel consumption. 109nm total distance traveled and we burned 169 liters so an average of 0.64 nm/L or 2.4 USG/nm which is right on my original estimates and MUCH better than the numbers I had been getting from the fuel flow meters. Just like the oil pressure gauge problems that vexed me in the past, I have once again been tripped up by assuming that the gauges were correct. Silly me!
The Turquoise Coast of Turkey was on full display for the whole day and this photo is typical of what the rugged rocky and forested coastline looks like.
Total trip time anchor to dock was about 13.5 hours so our average speed was 8.1 knots. We will continue to play with the various combinations of Mr. Gee’s RPM and the CPP pitch settings to bring the speed up more and more and find the Goldilocks “sweet spot” for speed, fuel economy and ideal loads.
Progress Update on Christine and XPM Hulls #2 & 3
We rented a car for Tuesday morning and drove down to the hospital in Antalya for Christine’s checkup and to get the stitches removed. Typical of our experiences with Turkish medical treatment at least at this hospital, it took less than 20 minutes from the time Christine walked in with no appointment to when she was back out front of the hospital stitches removed and an A+ report card from her surgeon. She is still not getting off the boat too much yet but the swelling is way down as is the pain and she is able to walk more and more around the boat so a full recovery is looking more and more likely. Doc said she could go swimming as of today (Sunday) so we will probably go for our first swim of the year when I get this blog posted. While we were in Antalya, we asked Naval Yachts if we could stop by the Free Zone to see how the two new XPM builds are going and this is what XPM78-02 “Vanguard” is looking like. And this is what XPM85-01 is looking like while still upside down getting all the hull plates welded on. She is due to flip right side up next month which is always a very big milestone in a build and we could not be more excited for her owners Andrew and Lili. A view of Vanguard from the rear Port quarter. Those with detailed eyes will perhaps notice that the owners have decided to paint the hull so you can see the first coat of primer has been applied to the hull sides. One of the major differences between our XPM78-01 and this second version is that it will be a twin engine/prop boat. These are the partially completed skegs that house the prop shafts. No change here on the Swim Platform with the doghouse for entering into the Engine Room and the same stairs on boat sides leading up to the Aft Deck. With twin JD engines the Engine Room will be much more traditional with a full beam layout but this comes at the expense of the Workshop we have in Möbius with the smaller central ER for Mr. Gee. The Basement has also been eliminated on Vanguard so the ER will also have most of the systems equipment located within as well. Up above on the Aft Deck the cantilevered roof is much longer and more substantial than on Möbius which will provide more shelter underneath and space for solar panels above. These are the drawings and renderings for one of the two guest cabins, this one located at the very front near the forepeak. Construction of the furniture for this cabin has begun and this will be the cabin for the Owners’ young son. Shower and toilet in the cabin’s Head. Probably the biggest single difference between Möbius and Vanguard is that they have replaced the Basement underneath the floor of the Salon with this spacious Master Cabin. To get the additional 1.2m of headroom needed, the tank tops have been lowered and the whole Salon has been raised. Provides a significant increase in the sleeping area but comes at the expense of storage so all part of the compromises of designing and building a boat that best matches her owners. The additional height is easy to see when you notice how the bottom of the Salon windows now sit about 40cm above the deck where they are almost flush on Möbius. Another very visible difference with the addition of these tall bulwarks that run down the entire length of both sides of the deck. Will make for a much safer feeling that many prefer when traversing these side decks. Seen from the Aft Deck of Vanguard, the stern of XPM85-01 shows how it too will be a twin engine boat and the two prop tunnels are easy to see now. A worm’s eye view underneath the XPM85 shows how the upside down framing is supported by the steel structure attached to the concrete floor of the shipyard. Still a long way to go and a LOT of welding but they are off to a good start as you can see looking up into what will be the Engine Room of the XPM85. Looking aft from the bow, the plates for the sides of the hull are being held in alignment by all these sacrificial AL bars. The plates are pushed/pulled into alignment and then these bars are tack welded to hold the plates in position for the MIG welders to sew together all the seams. Same “crash bulkhead” bow design and central anchor snubber nose cone. As exciting as it was to see all the progress on these next two XPM hulls, what really got our hearts racing was finding this completed new beam for the Davit Arch on Möbius! We are ever so appreciative of Naval Yachts getting this replacement beam fabricated in record time. All thanks to Dennis’ even speedier redesign and testing of this new beam so our thanks to all. I’ve arranged for a bonded truck to bring it from the Free Zone to Finike this coming week and with any luck I’ll be able to show you the new and improved Davit Arch installed and working on Möbius in next week’s update.
We have decided to go with passive rather than active stabilization, at least for the foreseeable future and will use a pair of A-frame booms that can be lowered to about 45 degrees off each side of the Aft Deck. The aluminium booms have been installed for some time now so this week I was finally able to do the rigging to raise/lower the booms. As with most of the other rigging on Möbius I am using synthetic rope most commonly known as Dyneema or Amsteel. As incredible as it sounds this new age line is stronger than multi stand stainless steel wire and is SO much easier to rig and replace. It is easily cut with this “hot knife” and I just wrap the location of the cut with grey PVC tape and then slice through the line with the red hot blade. This leaves a very nicely fused end on the line so it does not unravel and is easy to handle. This is the setup that will raise and lower the booms from vertical when stowed to about 45 degrees when deployed. Very simple setup with the end of the line attached to the bracket on the left which is about half way up the 6.2m/20ft long boom pole and then over through the black turning block and down to the winch below.
Deploying the paravane booms is a simple matter of slipping the line on the winch to lower the boom until ……
…….. the fixed length support line at the end of the boom goes tight. Looking up from deck level where it is easy to reach and turn the winch handle. Easy to see from this view from the dock. One side all done. Both sides done and this is what it looks like with both paravane booms fully extended. I grabbed this shot from some posts on the Trawler Forum boat “Hobo” to show what it will look like with the paravanes or “fish” as they are often called deployed when underway. Each paravane/fish is suspended by a 9m length of Dyneema from the ends of each boom such that they “fly” through the water about 6m/20ft below the surface and about 5m off the sides of the hull. As the boat tries to roll, one vane resists being pulled up while the other one “dives” down and sets up to resist as the roll goes over to the other side. A bit like the tight rope walker’s pole works. Paravanes also have the benefit of working at anchor as well so no more being tossed out of bed in a rolly anchorage! Some of my fellow Canadian boaters have come up with this design for a DIY paravane and I’ll be using this to build the first pair for Möbius. Plywood is surprisingly difficult to find here so Christine and I spent a few hours when we were in Antalya searching and finally finding a shop in the industrial zone that had some left over 20mm / 3/4” marine plywood left over and kindly agreed to cut the two pieces I need to build our paravanes. When finished our paravanes will look very similar to these also off mv Hobo.
White epoxy painted plywood with aluminium plate for the fin and line attachment. We will use Dyneema rather than SS chain as shown here.
That’s the story for the week of June 13-19 here in Finike and hope your week was similarly productive. Thanks for taking the time to join us here and please do add any and all comments or questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below. Hope to have you here with us again next week.