Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pirates, Flare sighting, Coast guard visit, smooth sailing

14:00 Sat Afternoon

About 24 hours ago, we were boarded and subsequently by no less than Jack
Sparrow. How we merited the honor of having such a notable (or notorious)
character is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to do with our
celebrity status since the creation of this blog. I had not thought that we
would join the ranks of pirates until at least January.

OK, maybe not Jack Sparrow, but we were joined by Jack the Sparrow at least.
We suspect that he was blown offshore by the same winds that blew us
offshore to the tune of 170 miles in 24 hours. Jack looked stunned and
confused when he boarded, and did not have the energy to be wary of
was all he could do to hop a few hops away if we reached for him. He has
since regained much of his vigor, but sensibly chooses to stay with the
boat, rather than try to fly on to St Martin on his own. He asked about the
movie selections, and I think that is what drove his decision.

He is pretty good crew and takes occasional turns at the wheel, but he is
easily overpowered when we are under spinnaker, so he requires some
assistance. Pansy flyboy. He is taking a bath in the galley sink as we
speak. He often alights on our heads which we found amusing at first.

We don't know if we have to declare him when we arrive in Bermuda.

About 0230 this morning, we spotted a bit of pyrotechnics that could have
been a white anti-collision flare but was probably just a shooting star. We
had seen lots of shooting stars, but this one was pretty different, and had
a pyrotechnic feel to it. A mariner in distress would fire a red flare, but
if you are out of red flares, you would use what you have. We got on the VHF
and issued a securite call, mentioned that the sighting was probably a
shooting star, but possibly a white flare and asking whether any station had
knowledge of mariners in distress. No response. Then we did the same on SSB
2182 kHz and did the same. Again, no response. Then we heard Puerto Rico
issuing an unrelated securite call. We listened for a while for reports in
case Search and Rescue authorities would want us to divert to some location.

Right at the end of the first REM sleep of the trip, about 0600, I hear a
voice clear and strong over the until-now-silent VHF radio Sailing Vessel
Madness, Sailing Vessel Madness, this is Coast Guard search and rescue 2005
C130 on postion and searching for mariners in distress. We chatted for a
minute and found out that the message had been relayed by the Canadian CG.
They were clear that it was proablay a shooting star, but scrambled anyway,
and were very thankful that we "did the right thing" and reported it. It was
pretty exciting. I wish that they had tried to reach us on 2182 before
coming out, but they might have come anyway.

We are sailing under spinnaker now, a little northerly of rhumb line to keep
the spinnaker drawing well. Very smooth sailing, and fairly fast. We are
well ahead of our posted distance goals for arriving in Bermuda before the
gale so far.

We have some good tunes on board. Right now I am being introduced to Amanda
Marshal's song "OMG, I woke up with a snake tattoo". Fun.