"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
Ed. note: On February 10, 2011, Scott and Mary Flanders, on board their Nordhavn 46, Egret, arrived in the Canary Islands. In doing so, Egret became the eighth Nordhavn to circumnavigate the globe. It had been four years, five months since the couple departed Gran Canaria, intent on seeing as much of the earth as possible, although not necessarily with an end goal to circle the globe. Voyage of Egret do cuments the Flanders’ entire trip, an endless adventure that has put them intouch with the most fabulous places and interesting people. Much route planning and forecasting was required in order to get to some of their ports of call. But the days of detailed planning are over…for now.“Egret” is now back in Fort Lauderdale, the place the couple called home for so many years, and, ironically, the starting point of their world wide cruising escapade that began with the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in 2004. They currently travel hither and yon, sometimes by boat, sometimes not.Here, the latest update from the Flanders as they keep us continually apprised.
March 26, 2014
Position: On anchor in Page, Arizona
Hello mis amigos, OK, so I’m just sitting here waiting for MS to get back from Wisconsin. Won’t that be nice?
Rubi is as clean as she has ever been with 2 coats of wax and lotsa detailing*, including the running gear. Of course the cleaning will evaporate the first time she goes off-road.
*In another life early on, I was a concours judge, judging the underneath of Porsches during Porsche Club of America regional events. Like many things today, I had my own sense of rules, even back then. AND I was the judge so I could do anything. You can get spotless with a can of spray paint or a healthy dose of 3M’s Body Schutz, an undercoating material that could be made to duplicate Porsche’s undercoating. I judged on effort, not just clean. Plus I can tell the difference in a nano-second because I did it, and not just with a spray can.
I’m not going to get up on The Box, but like any endeavor you reap what you sow. Just like cruising. Work at it, learn your new craft and it will grow fruit beyond your wildest imagination.
Today we heard from cruising friends from m/y Tothill we have talked about off and on over the years. They are the Glitter Coat* folks on a well maintained, semi-displacement trawler. They, like us, retired early. We met in the Bahamas during both of our first winters Out. That was winter 2002/03. The next winter we met again by chance in the Bahamas and later traveled separate paths to Luperon Harbor, Dominican Republic. There we met another newbie, s/v Blueprint. After the DR, both Tothill and Blueprint headed south into the Caribbean and South America for years and became good friends.
*In lay terms, Glitter Coat could be called brightwork (varnish). Tothill Still has acres of Glitter Coat that can be seen from space, even on cloudy days. In fact, CCB, (world famous dock dog Coco Bear) has cataracts in his old age from not wearing sunglasses like he should have around all that sparkle.
The Tothill folks have always lived aboard including their working years. For the first time ever they bought a Dirt Dwelling a couple years back. Now after more than 10 years in the Caribbean, Columbia, Panama, etc, Blueprint is circling to roost in the same waterfront neighborhood as Tothill in Punta Gorda, Florida. They too want to keep their boat out back and mix it up between cruising relatively local and Dirting.
As these couples throttle back their full time cruising with a mix of whatever makes them happiest, at least they Did The Deal. You can’t imagine what they have seen and done. We haven’t done what they did and they haven’t done what we did. However, in the big picture it doesn’t matter. All cruisers have their personal memories that are important to them. Even though they are happy with what others did, they are happiest with their own memories because They Made Them. They Lived Their Lives themselves. Here’s the best part. Because they Lived Their Lives long term cruising, they now have a different perspective on life than ordinary Dirties that mostly believe they are different but in the end are very usual and predictable. It’s a choice for each to make, but of course I believe it is best to choose wisely and choose Life.
OK, so a lot of time has passed since I wrote the drivel above but the most important words are: MS is back!! Oh happy days.
So let’s see. While MS was gone, ex-N55 New Paige, Roger, Joan, Paige and her friend Catherine arrived in Phoenix. There had been a sprinkling of rain before we arrived and the desert to the east looked like a giant landscaped park. You can’t imagine how pretty it was with everything green, theflowers in bloom and everything seemed alive. The first photo is an ocatilla plant. (oak a ti ya) during the winter they have multiple branches rising from a central base. In the spring the red flower you see in the photograph appears. With the first rain the leaves spring from the branch as you see here. The next photograph is a cactus flower. In a couple months the desert will be brown again waiting for the next sprinkles in late summer but the blooms won’t reappear. So it was special. Roger and I took an off-road trail before Mary returned. We got lost but eventually found our way out. It was a great day.
After Mary returned we took Paige and Catherine along the same trail. About half way along where the road descends from a plateau, there is a steep hill named Widow Maker Hill. Roger and I had done Widow Maker a couple days before so when we got there we Had to do it again with the girls. So we did.
So what would you do when you are responsible for two teenagers out in the middle of the desert miles from anywhere? (Paige is on the left) Of course we offered if either of them would like to climb Widow Maker, turn around at the top and drive back down (hanging by their seat belts). Paige jumped on the chance for a little adventure. Of course Page was a many year Boat Kid so what do you expect? So up we went with Paige following instructions, turned around at the top and eased back down. Now that was pretty cool.
Paige did such a good job we asked her to keep driving and soon Rubi entered a deep sand wash winding here and there to a highway a few miles away. So she did. Along the way we spotted a desert watchdog making its way across the sandy wash. Of course this called for a few quick snaps so I jumped out and ran over to cut it off and shoot away. The warning drones from the car almost drowned out the warning rattles from MrDiamondback Rattler. The rattler was moving quickly so I tried to head it off and make it coil for the classic shot but it didn’t buy in and kept charging. So I threw sand on it and it still didn’t coil, much less slow down. Now the drone from the car was nearing crescendo but I’m not stupeed so I moved out of the way all by my own self and let it pass. So that was pretty cool as well.
We were invited to spend a couple days farther south with many-year, long distance cruisers in Tucson (Arizona). These folks (Skip and Linda) probably have more dinghy miles than Egret’s sea miles. So it was nice to meet and in addition to being boaters, they are very good photographers. The first evening they invited another boating couple for dinner that are also photographers. It was a good evening and their guest helped me with photo editing. Of course after a visit like this checking out the other’s toys, it always costs money. Trust me, it did. So what? What are we going to spend it on, a solid gold bed pan?
While there we visited a raptor park. They had a half hour show that was interesting as well as informative. The birds are wild, not tethered and they don’t have leg bands. The narrator said it takes around 7 months to train the birds. The birds are released from an aviary to fly free. The trainers use 3 dead trees where they put small pieces of red meat on a branch. The birds fly around for a bit then land for a goodie, pose for a while then off to the next branch. The visitors are kept in a relatively narrow area but its arranged where everyone get’s to see the birds. Here’s my favorite shot. We have a number of good hawk shots but none of an owl.
Then it was back to the Bubba camper in Page, Arizona. Page is in mid-central Arizona, around 5 miles south of Utah and the same from Lake Powell. Page is central to Escalante National Park and a couple other preserve-park type areas. This area is laced with off-road trails, most of which are for Jeep type vehicles but there are some mild gravel/clay roads where an ordinary boring practical ho hum car may travel.
So the other day we took one of those more adventurous trails into the park that wound around thru black mound areas that looked like the coastal areas of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. We later learned this area was once a salton sea and why nothing grows in the soil. Once we hit vegetation again we came across a herd of mountain sheep feeding on new shoots. After dropping down from the mountains, the trail entered a series of sandy washes before climbing back to a high plateau. For the first time we saw hoodoos that were formed relatively quickly by flash floods instead of the usual, very slow erosion process. One hoodoo had quite an overhang so we had to park Rubi under it for a photo opportunity. Then we got lost, it was nearing Time to get back before dark so we took the smart way out and reversed our route instead of continuing down a goat path hoping it was the right road. We talked a couple days later to the BLM folks (Bureau of Land Management) about all the missing signs. They said because of cutbacks their Off-Road Rangers are down to half and there is no money for new signs. So we got lost.
Nearly every day we take trips like this. Yesterday’s day trip was really special. We went to an area called White Pockets. It is a 30.3 mile round trip off a connecting gravel/clay road, most of it thru soft sand. We dropped the tire pressure to 18lbs and blasted thru in 2wd, not even bothering with 4wd to see if we could. Rubi is so awe sum! White Pockets is quite something*. The area is a multi acre swirl of colored rocks. Some areas look like giant brains, others have colored bands from top to bottom and yet others are flat that look like a giant was swirling a batter of colored cake that dried into rock. We left at 5:00 to reach the main road before dark. After dodging a few cows on the trail we made it back to the 20 mile connecting road to the highway. The sun was setting and it lit the rocks to the south east so orange they looked photoshopped. Then deer began running across the road. There were mule deer everywhere by the dozens. One herd was around 50 or so. It was pretty cool but we slowed down just in case.
*We plan to take Bubba to White Pocket within a few days. Mary will follow in Rubi as a precaution if I get Bubba stuck in the sand. We plan to camp for a couple days and snap a few. The White Pocket area is quite extensive and it deserves a lot of time. This area is so prolific with off-road trails and sights to see, we signed up for another week at the campground. So anyhow, we should have some more White Pocket snaps in the next posting.
So that brings us to today. As a reminder, we aren’t selling camping or off-roading or photography. What we are selling is Living Your Life every day. Boating, and particularly long distance, long term cruising will give you more Living than you can imagine. Again, if we had a car in Iceland we wouldn’t be here but Living Our Life in Iceland. We can always do this. We can’t always do Iceland. Same for you. You get the picture.
March 11, 2014
Position: Phoenix, Arizona at a cruising friend’s house.
Hello mis amigos, let’s take a last look at Sedona (Arizona) and move along. This photograph sorta sums up the Red Rock area of mid-desert town of Sedona. In the photograph there are Red Rocks, an ancient pinion pine tree, a member of the yucca family plant, cactus and general desert scrub. When you drive into Sedona from the south you just can’t believe the beauty.
Leaving Sedona heading north, there is a narrow winding road thru a deep canyon with spectacular scenery along both sides. It is tedious and certainly the slow way to travel so for those exact reasons we had to do it. We enjoyed that trip, didn’t see any Elk in the Elk Area but did have snow flurries driving thru Flagstaff, (Az) on the way to one of America’s most spectacular and visited National Parks, Grand Canyon. So we got a berth in a cheesy campground near the park where you have to PAY for hot water in the shower and the Turkey Lips Park Guy gave me a hard time for hosing the road grime off Rubi. &^$#@$&*. So we’re outta here asap but in the meantime, Grand Canyon is really special. We try to avoid places with crushing crowds no matter how special they may be, but in this case there was terrible weekend weather forecast and it’s before spring break and the summer crowds.
So back to the positive. Grand Canyon is every adjective you may want to describe. The canyon has exposed rocks half the age of the earth. So Mary and I did the tourist deal and hung out in the Visitor’s Center and watched a movie during rain showers and headed out when the stopped. In a sense we were super lucky because it was nearly dark early in the afternoon but we hung out just in case it cleared before sunset and it did.
The Grand Canyon is difficult to photograph because you can never get the vista in a single photograph. Most people leave disappointed in the photographs they felt were so special at the time they took them. The trick is to isolate areas and try to tell a story that way. In this case, the sun peeked thru the clouds and isolated small to larger areas with brilliant light leaving the balance in shade. Mary and I set up cameras on tripods in different areas with a great view and waited on light. You could see the light marching along the canyon floor. Some areas would stay lit for seconds before the light moved along leaving it in shadow. In the first photograph we managed to capture a relatively large area and were treated when Zoroaster Temple (the triangluar pinnacle) in the background turned gold for just a nano-second and we got the shot. In the second photograph, the sun lit the tips of the peaks around Isis Temple and Cheops Pyramid again for an instant before the sun sunk below the horizon and Mary’s light show was over. So that was cool.
Back to boats. There are 10 cruisers who receive regular e-mail ice reports from Greenland’s Danish weather station, one we met last year. As grim as this report looks, it is better than last week’s report where the East Coast of Greenland ice extended farther offshore. You can see the ice eggs with numbers from 9 down to 1. 9 is the surface area covered by 9/10ths ice. An experienced ice cruiser may be able to negotiate 4/10ths ice for a short distance but most likely 3/10ths. We are not experienced in ice and 1-2 is about our limit. Also you can see the wind barbs are not particularly friendly this time of year. However, like every year, this too will dissipate and when it does, Egret will make her way back to the U.S., unless of course she goes to Europe.
(Later. We received another ice report today and the East Coast of Greenland is much improved; however the ice on the West Coast is about the same. We’ll include another ice report in a month or so and you will be able to see the ice recede as we approach spring.)
The second day in Grand Canyon was a bummer. There was heavy overcast, rain, hail and heavy snow at times. With cold weather predicted for Grand Canyon, we looked at places nearby with better weather and found Page, Arizona to the north has great weather forecast for the next week so we be gone. I suppose Grand Canyon will be around for another billion years so it will most likely be here when we return. We stayed in Page last year and its pretty special. More to follow.
Apparently there was a major landslide on Highway 89 to Page so there is a temporary 89T heading thru Indian cattle country to Page. Wow, what a drive! We are soooo lucky to have this opportunity. Our map shows half of the road is gravel but it has been re-done and was perfect with very little traffic. So weputtered along at 50mph enjoying the scenery. Today’s anchorage is much better than the cheesy, ill run campground outside Grand Canyon. And its 40% less so we signed up for a week to explore locally. For one thing, Page is home to Antelope Canyon. If you google Antelope Canyon you will see beautiful photographs but not like Mary took last year. Well, ok, I had a couple good as well. Antelope Canyon is not The Antelope Canyon we visit. We did the tourist deal to the most popular Antelope Canyon then discovered a little gem known only by photographers not far away.
Arizona has what they call slot canyons. These are very narrow canyons of orange sandstone that are carved by flash floods. There are many slot canyons in Arizona and southern Utah, but our favorite is the best of them all. You have to climb down a 2-3 story vertical steel ladder into the canyon and walk the canyon floor for 2 miles to the exit. Part of the canyon is open to the sun and part is closed. All the rocks are the same orange colored sandstone. However, when the sun filters thru, the light show is one of the best in the world, if not the best for abstract colors and shapes.
Of course we just got here but I’m sure you are chummed up for a few samples so I suppose we’ll have to show a couple after the trip thru the canyon. Oh ho hum, more slot canyon photographs but I don’t see how we can top Mary’s abstract angelfish from last year. January and February, 2013 VofE’s shows some of the examples from this area. These are very low resolution photographs which don’t show the detail like the higher resolution photographs we are using today. In any case, you get the picture.
We’ve had a change in plans but first let’s wrap up the past week. We made a number of daily trips out of Page. The first was to Monument Valley, the setting for many westerns over the years beginning in 1939 with John Ford’s, Stagecoach, starring a young John Wayne. There was poor light that day so we didn’t get any super shots but we did meet a native Navajo photography guide who takes folks into restricted areas for before daylight shoots as well as sunset shoots. Here’s a picture of Mary after she scaled a mountain to stand on it’s top most rocks as I scaled a nearby mountain and used a giant telephoto lens to compress the distance between the iconic ‘Mittens’ in the distance.
Well, OK, she climbed two rocks just outside the Visitor’s Center and I stood in the parking lot to get the shot.
We visited a slot canyon called Elephant Canyon that was pretty good but not as good as The slot canyon. We walked for a mile along a wash and took a hiatus off the main trail to follow a narrow wash to the west so see what was whipping. It twisted here and there and eventually came to a dry waterfall. So up we went and found a giant natural amphitheater of red rock just as if the Romans had built it years before. We spent an hour wandering this natural formation. One thing that was interesting was lichen growing in Native American art type designs.
Then we returned to the main wash and followed it to the slot canyon. Here’s Mary at the entrance. It got relatively narrow right away and then got Real Narrow with two major obstacles to get over. The first was this log leading to the bottom of the first step. The second obstacle was a large rock jamming the canyon and a big step down to the canyon floor beyond. There was a few built up rocks I managed to get down and then re-built the rocks so Mary could make it as well. Then the light was finally right and shortly after the light went away and that portion of the narrow canyoncame to an end. Overall, Elephant Canyon is 11 miles long plus the entrance wash.
So after a few more days here and there including the highlight, a 30+ mile one-way dirt road trip on the way to Kodachrome Canyon inside Grand Staircase - Escalante National Park, we returned to Page. Oh ho hum, here is where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Our plans got cut short but more on that in a moment.
Here’s a small world story. The farthest we made it along the trail was to Grosvenor’s Arch, a double arch named in 1947 by a National Geographic expedition in honor of their founder, Dr Gilbert Grosvenor. Dr Grosvenor was in the area to photograph Kodachrome Canyon with a batch of prototype color film. Grosvenor owned a company called Kodak. He named his new color film, Kodachrome after the colorful rocks in the canyon.
(Grosvenor married Alexander Graham Bell’s daughter)
In 1922, Grosvenor and five other cruisers met in Maskell’s Harbour, Bras d’ Or Lake, Nova Scotia. During this gathering of yachties they formed CCA, Cruising Club of America. Egret joined the 90th anniversary of CCA in 2012 in Maskell’s Harbour. Small world, eh?
Today I am in Phoenix staying at cruiser friend’s house and Mary is in Wisconsin. Her mother entered Hospice so time is short. I will say it’s OK with her mom. She hasn’t been ill, she is just wearing out. It’s sad but it’s life. Mary will be back Saturday and life will go on.
The ice reports from Greenland have been coming every few days. From the first ice report we showed above, the ice has changed drastically. The southern tip of Greenland is now clear. The east coast, near-shore ice is departing fast but appears to be moving offshore and blocking the way and it’s the same with the west coast ice. I don’t know much about ice but it seems to me that once the ice looses its purchase on the shoreline and the bottom, it is exposed to wave action on both sides and it should break up and move along relatively quickly. Perhaps with any luck we can return earlier than we originally planned.
So that’s it for this posting. It will be nice to get MS back and off to the next adventure. I almost forgot, we went to the Phoenix Zoo. Check out this urge to itch.
Egret is for sale. http://youtu.be/AAR5wK-sWRs
Ed. Note - The glossary of Egretism terms will be posted on the Captain's Log home page for easy reference.