Sunday, October 29, 2006

It's a small world! - by Astrid

People keep asking me: "How did you get to know Geert?"
Well, it's quite a funny story how an Austrian gets to know a Dutch living in the United States.

The story starts in the year 2002, in the far north, above the Arctic Circle: I was working as a trekking guide in Greenland, guiding camping tours in the area between Kangerlussuaq and Disko Bay. On a warm sunny August evening my group and me were sitting at the beach in the black sand of Disko Island, enjoying whiskey on the rocks (with a thousands years old iceberg ice) and mousse au chocolat, watching the icebergs drifting by. But there were not only icebergs, there was something else in between them. I grabbed the binocular and discovered a small sailing boat! Looking closer I could figure out its name: "Sea Scout". I was staring at it with an open mouth, my guests were laughing at me "What's up with you?". I had never seen a sailing boat in Greenland before and I was fascinated to see such a small one, even made of glass fiber. ... then it disappeared and I almost forgot about it.

This happened in 2002. A couple of years later the travel agency I work for asked me for pictures from Eqip Sermia, a wonderful glacier in Disko Bay where the inland ice calves into the sea. As I had no photos that were interesting enough for an advertising brochure, I searched in the internet for some ideas, just entering "Eqi" to google. Not many pictures appeared, but there was one showing a sailing boat - I recognized it as there are not many people sailing in Greenland, and if they are, their boats are much bigger. I followed the link, came to Geerts web side and asked him in an e-mail if he was the one passing Disko Island with a small sailing boat in July or August 2002 - an he was the one! Since then we stayed in e-mail contact and he asked me if I would me interested to come along on one of his next trips. Here I am!

New York - by Astrid

As there is still some time left before our departure to Bermuda I decided to see more of the States and took the Chinatown Bus from Washington to Chinatown New York. After about four hours I arrived in the middle of China, for only 35 $ for the roundtrip ticket. Exploring Chinatown was exciting, it reminded me of my journey to China quite a few years ago. Chinese signs, Chinese tastes, ... and I couldn't understand a word as everyone was speaking Chinese! As I had plenty of time I decided to do a long walk enjoying the very different neighbourhoods of the Big Apple, street theater, musicians, artists, the lively Times Square, ... . Passing through Central Park, a beautiful place in the middle of the crowded city, I finally arrived at the youth hostel at 103rd street. A long, but exciting walk. As it's a must to experience New York at night I went back to the resevoir in the park to take some pictures of the skyscrapers, reflecting in the water. Passing the colorful Times Square again, I arrived at the Empire State Building, where I wanted to go to the top to enjoy a view over the illuminated city. The weather foiled my plans, it started raining heavily and the top was mostly hidden behind fog. The day after the Statue of Liberty was waiting for me, passing with the Staten Islands Ferry. Looking at it you can somehow imagine how people might have felt when they first arrived after a long and hazardous journey from Europe a long time ago. Visiting the World Trade Center - the rest of it, just a big hole - sadly reminds of 9.11. Pictures drawn by children who lost their parents, photos of day zero, ... - a very impressive place.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Arrival in Washington - by Astrid

I arrived in Washington the day before yesterday, just five days after arriving from Italy where I was guiding hiking tours on the south Italian volcanoes - a big difference! Geert and Olina picked me up at the airport, great people! One of the first things we did the next day was visiting our future home Sea Scout, a fantastic little boat, small and equipped with everything necessary, I saw it and liked it. Today we did a shopping tour to get food four about half a year - and bought an Emergency Food Box with more than 200 servings - an interesting experiment. We discovered that you can use it for emergencies, probably for emergencies only, ... fortunately we got loads of other stuff as well. I spent the afternoon discovering Washington, at least some parts of it like the fantastic Museum of Natural History, the Washington Monument with its fantastic view, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. Washington is a great city, even much more interesting than I expected - parks and a lot of "green" everywhere and the museums are free!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

About the log...

This is the web log of the 'Sea Scout', a small sailboat due to leave the Chesapeake Bay in less than two weeks. All crew members can post their own stories and photos. Every reader can make comments, or send an e-mail. If you want to receive a short e-mail whenever news from the boat is published, simply enter your address in the form on the right.

The Plan - by Geert

This winter I plan to sail to Haiti and Cuba with a crew of family members, friends and volunteers. Travel to Cuba is restricted by the US embargo, but I think I can go legally, as a writer. Haiti is shockingly poor and unstable, but there hasn't been much shooting since the recent elections. Both countries have fascinating history and culture, and their coasts, reefs and islands are virtually unknown to cruising sailors.

I tried to make a realistic plan taking into account natural constraints like the hurricane season and the prevailing winds and currents. Also, I want to involve my family as much as possible. Finally, I hope that frequent stopovers and relatively short stages will enable many friends to join Sea Scout for part of the adventure. Here's a map that summarizes the plan. You can click on it to make it a little bigger:

We would leave the Chesapeake early November, as soon as the hurricane season is over, and head for Bermuda. Stopping in Bermuda allows for a crew change, and will give us a better wind angle for the 1,000 mile trip to the Virgin Islands. Sea Scout would stay in the Virgins in December. Olina, and Nico and Jana (both at university) would fly in for their winter vacation. Early January I'll need crew again to sail to Haiti. We'll have a following wind most of the time, and can stop in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic to change crew as necessary. From Haiti we'll sail via Jamaica and the Caymans Islands to Cuba.

I hope Olina, Nico and Jana can join me in Cuba. This is still a legal puzzle. The alternative is that we meet for Spring Break in Cancun or the Florida Keys. I will certainly need crew to sail from Miami to the Chesapeake in the Spring of next year. We'll hopefully get a good lift from the Gulf Stream. Charleston is a possible stop along the way.

P.S. If we follow the route of the above map, we avoid the infamous Bermuda Triangle, where ships and planes mysteriously vanish, without a trace...