"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…fornow.“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.
April 16, 2014
Position: On anchor, Canyonlands Campground, Moab, Utah.
Hello mis amigos, so another week has gone by and the Egret crew have been taking nearly daily trips into the back country to see what was whipping. One particular trip was a super fun trip of dirt roads, state parks and even one of the U.S.’s premier national parks, Bryce Canyon National Park and after that a bit of an adventure in a sand dune state park.
So here’s the deal. We left Page (Az) mid-morning to time the late afternoon light at the other end for the best photography. The trip took us northwest on Highway 89 to Cottonwood Valley Road in Escalante National Park, then east on the dirt/clay road that winds here and there along the valley, sometimes at river level and other times high on a plateau. One colorful section we have shown before but we still can’t get over this colorful landscape in the middle of nowhere with nothing like it for miles around. As you can see from the photograph we were driving into a storm but that ended up being a good thing because we could shoot Kodachrome Park early and continue on to Bryce Canyon the same day.
Kodachrome is interesting with a number of rock pinnacles lit now and again by light passing thru opening in the clouds. It was OK but nothing like Bryce Canyon so we beat feet after an hour or so to arrive at Bryce before dark. Along the way we stopped and got a room at a flea bag motel then hustled to Bryce but it didn’t look good. It was raining with snow flurries at Bryce and that was a bit different than shirt sleeves when we left Bubba back in Page. Fortunately for emergencies we keep two sweat-shirt hoodies in a box full of tools and Stuff in back of Rubi. Of course they said NORDHAVN in giant letters across the front and with both of us dressed alike we looked like dorkers but at least we were reasonably warm. However, our little hands still froze. Nevertheless we shot a few pics of the rain in no light.
After a giant meal at Rubys, no not Rubi’s where we keep a jar of PB&J and a loaf of bread for getting caught out, we retired to the fleas. We arrived back at Bryce early and had great light. Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon have to be two of the most jaw-dropping sights in the world when you walk up to an overlook and see either for the first time. The Grand Canyon is immense and Bryce is much smaller with more detail. As the light moves across either, both are spectacular. After shooting around the rim, we walked down a trail to around half way to the bottom. As we got lower it became shaded, the light went away and it got cold again so we returned. But not before catching Thor’s Hammer glowing in the early light which is somewhat unusual without the spring heat haze. So that was cool.
To continue the day, we hit the bricks and planned to simply return back to Bubba. However, along the way after leaving Kanab, Utah, (where we spent a couple weeks last year) we saw a sign to a sand dune park so off we went to see what was whipping. Well, it turned out to be a state recreational park where you could Drive on the dunes. We drove on dunes in Oregon for a day and had a great time. We have a dune required safety flag on a tall fiberglass pole we keep in Rubi so we paid a fee and off we went.
Early on we had to drive town a very steep hill to get into the interior of the dunes. Wellllll, it was super soft sand. After an hour or so of playing and getting trapped by super high dunes we returned to go back up the hill. Yea, right. After three attempts it was a no go. There were no trees to attach the winch to (we have a new winch on front of Rubi – it’s sorta like a windlass for a truck) so now we had to find a way out. Off we went but everything we found early on ended in a death dive down a super steep dune and then we didn’t know how far we could make it from there. So we drove to where we could easily return and walked for what was probably a few miles but seemed like much farther. After all, we were in sand dunes which aren’t exactly like walking on a hard surface, it was dry desert air and even though it was cool, it felt like we were steaming in the Sahara. So anyhow, after 2 ½ hours we found a way that still required driving down a steep dune but it was a windward dune that was somewhat more stable with the soft sand blown away. Off we went riding the gearbox* down the grade and in the end it wasn’t any biggie but it was nice to get back to the road with no harm done.
*If you try to slow your descent down a sand hill using the brakes it can get Real Bad, Real Fast. It’s a potential roll job city.
So that was a fun two days. Another day we did another big loop that connected paved and dirt roads thru the Escalante National Park plus a couple half day trips here and there. On the second big loop we came across the remnants of a sure-nuff ol’ West town that needed a bit of fixing up.
So that brings us to today. Tomorrow we leave Page and will take Bubba and Rubi to White Pockets* and camp for a couple days. It rained last night and today so we hope the 20.9 mile trip on a dirt/gravel/clay road from the paved road to the turn-off is passable. The remaining 15 or so miles into the interior are fine sand and the rain will make the sand more passable for Bubba. We have never had Bubba in deep sand so we’ll drop the tire pressure and see what happens.
*White Pockets is an area of colorful rocks swirled into streaks and wild patterns. It’s a photo deal.
More to follow.
But first, a flashback. Occasionally when you go to the N.com site and open VofE, there is a photo header at times showing Egret anchored in a wooded corner with 2 lines ashore. There is fresh snow on the trees behind her. This brings back memories so we’ll bring this simple photo of an anchored boat to life. The anchorage is Bahia Pescadores – Fisherman’s Bay, Chile, on the Glacier Loop. That morning we left Estero Coloani across the way in perfect weather to move just a mile if that. By the time we got to the Beagle Channel it was blowing 55 knots and I was in the flybridge. (Mary was smarter). So we got blasted and snugged into the corner of Bahia Pescadores. We were sitting in a wind shadow from the westerlies but on occasion the wind would twist its way around and give us a rock job. Snow would stack up on the port side verticals and fill the trees until the wind blew it away. However, the snow on the stbd side would fall gently straight down. As you know, you can’t spray paint into a corner and neither can snow blow into a corner. It was wild! After a day things went back to more normal and we began dinghy exploring and hiking ashore. One day a group of dolphins started playing with the dinghy and we went in circles chasing them. It was a game for both sides and Mary even reached over the bow of the CIB (Catamaran Ice Breaker dinghy) and pet them. This went on for about 20 minutes until they tired of the game. And that’s not all. One late afternoon, Mary saw motion out back and it was a family of rare Chilean otters that lived in a cave behind the boat. Apparently they kept out of sight until they finally had to come out to feed. Now that was pretty cool. So anyhow, it isn’t just a pretty picture but something much more precious; memories.
The 20 mile connecting road was just as we left it a few days before. There were even 2 Cruise America rental campers in the parking lot of a popular hiking area around 8 miles in. We hadn’t had Bubba in the sand before so we lowered the tire pressure from 70lbs to 28 in the rear and 30 in the front. Actually, that was a little much but all went well. Bubba flew thru the sand like pavement. It was great. In fact, when we left the next day I found Bubba in 2 wheel drive, not 4 wheel. I could have sworn I put it in 4WD but apparently not. It didn’t matter. So we went back to White Pocket. We met a couple real photographers and one helped me with a *&$##%* computer/post processing problem I didn’t have a clue about, so that was nice. They invited us to go with them before daylight to a similar place only 9 miles away. So we did. We won’t bore you with the details but all I can say is this area is an amazing place in the world. After the morning’s shoot we drove Rubi back to White Pocket, picked up Bubba and returned to Page for 1 more night. Tomorrow we leave heading slowly north to Moab, Utah.
We have campground reservations in Moab beginning April, 7th until around the 26th or so. It’s all about Jeeping and attending the Jeep Easter Safari. We have signed up for 5 events. Can’t wait. We might even have a few snaps to show what it is all about.
I wasn’t going to write this, however it is for everyone’s good even though we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings if this couple happens by slight chance to read this. I really is for their own good. We met a recently retired younger couple who sold everything and bought a take no prisoners, extreme duty off road camper. It is one of the best of the best. It has All The Stuff and the factory that put it together knew what they were doing. We invited them to join us on the trip to White Pocket. Right away we could see the veiled nervousness. However, they still have a take no prisoners camper that would make short work of the trip we did in both Rubi and Bubba in 2 wheel drive. Even boxy rental campers made a portion of the connecting road they were so worried about. So when it was time to leave they didn’t go. This really isn’t about them, we were just tying to help this enthusiastic couple get going on their adventure and offered our help. Obviously in time we hope they figure it out.
Using the camper we described as an example isn’t about campers at all but it is about boats and those of you who haven’t Done The Deal. I can’t count the times we left other boats at the dock and went on our way when they had the same basic plans but always found something else to do instead of throwing off the docklines and heading Out. They were nervous. So were we when we started and even down the road a bit but nevertheless, at least we gave it a go. This attitude of trying and learning and has taken us a fair ways. Obviously not everything we tried worked as planned but we built experience on good and bad and kept moving ahead. It isn’t difficult. You just have to try and keep trying and learning when its Your Time.
Much later. We have been so busy I haven’t taken the time to write a single word for well over a week. So OK, why are we so busy if we can do anything? It’s because we want to be this busy just now. The Egret crew is in Moab, Utah. Moab is ground zero for all things Jeep and we have been working on our Comfort Zone for over a week. As you know, life begins beyond your comfort zone. You can live or wonder. So we’ve been working hard on trying to live, literally and figuratively so we don’t have to wonder quite so much.
So here’s the Jeeping deal. First you have got to have The Stuff. Its kinda like a disease like most hobbies unless you’re content to be normal, rational and sorta vanilla. So first Rubi got a CJ body lift (CJ – Cheapie Joe) which raised the body 2” keeping the original springs. (You raise the body to keep from hitting hard things like giant rocks with the underneath and body sheet metal) I know a little about springs and they were to soft for anything but street driving. So we took out the CJ lift and put in a la-di-da 2 ½” lift with new springs and shocks which measures 3” of lift. Next came a winch. Then a hi-lift jack and mount we had for Bubba. And a CB radio so you can communicate on the trails. Then of course our air pump to re-inflated the tires after trail riding was too slow so we now have a Big Dog air pump that will fill a tire in less than a minute. And a trail GPS I’m still trying to figure out. Three days ago we added new 33” tires instead of the factory 30.6” tires that were like new. But now we need a 3” lift and 35” tires but 35” tires means new rims so there’s more boat units. But we’re going to be patient and do with what we have which is pretty good and we have been keeping up with the Big Guys anyway.
So that’s The Stuff.
The World’s Biggest Jeeping event is going on this week in Moab, Utah. Easter Jeep Safari. There are between 800 and 1500 Jeeps each year that register for the event plus the others that show up to spectate. So there’s lotsa Jeeps in this small, main street town and its really wild. The Jeep vendors are here with their semi trailers peddling Jeep goods along with the off-road tire guys with their semi’s and the local outdoor merchants doing a screaming business. It’s a Happening.
We had a real stroke of luck getting a campground spot in downtown Moab. Not only are we within walking distance of everything, the long-timers with real experience keep their spots year after year. A small group of them invited Mary and I to join them for a run a few days ago. So here’s That deal. The trails are named and have difficulty ratings from 1-10. 8,9 and 10 are basically guaranteed carnage and we’re not interested. So this trail is called Poison Spider and is rated at a 6. Little did we know.
So off we went and the first real obstacle was a bit intense but I have watched hours of U Tube on Jeep Easter Safari trails and had a pretty good idea what the deal was, so we just had to do it. Well, we did every obstacle, didn’t take any by-passes and it was pretty exhilarating. So we’ll just show a single picture that is a bit different. This obstacle is called The Wedgie and at its highest spot, Mary could walk under Rubi pictured here. We really didn’t want to slip. The large individual rocks in the far background are called the Terra Cotta Soldiers. So enough of this trail. We now have more.
The next day we went out on our own with new enthusiasm and did another 6 rated trail, Kane Creek Canyon. The trail alternated between high shelf roads to the top of a plateau then back down to the narrow canyon stream bed. We had water over the tires, got lotsa ‘pinstripes’ down the side, but the not so fun part was heavy obstacles on the high shelf roads themselves, one in particular. Because of that one obstacle we won’t do this trail ever again. It’s not worth it. Because we are limited in pictures we won’t show any of this trail but we would like to show a photo of a 4 door Jeep that got caught in a flash flood during the July-August monsoon rains. The car is totally destroyed with sand and large rocks filling the interior.
Then Mary got the call no one wants to get but it was expected. She flew out on a day’s notice and she is going to miss most of the Jeep Easter Safari.
The day after Mary left, our new Jeeping buddies decided they needed to do The Pickle (rated 7) and Mashed Potatoes (not rated but I would rate it at a strong 4 or perhaps 5). So off we went in a group of 8 or so. All the others are long term Jeepers and I was the rookie. The first obstacle is an obscene near-vertical wall with humps along the way. We gave it 3 tries then had to get ‘strapped’, meaning Rubi got pulled up the wall by another Jeep with a tow strap. About half made it without the strap. The remainder of the obstacles Rubi made on her own and the rest were impressed that this near stock little Jeep did the deal. Of course they all have All The Stuff. The Pickle deserves two photos so here’s the deal. The first shot is a Jeep on the approach to the second obstacle and the second is at the top. From where the second photograph is taken, the Jeep has to keep its LF tire on top of the ledge to the end then the RF, which by now is dangling in space returns to earth. Rubi made this one. It’s pretty wild. And so went The Pickle.
Mashed Potatoes was after The Pickle. It is a run thru a field of lumpy white rocks sprinkled with green bushes; sorta like mashed potatoes and parsley. This is one of two cracks we had to straddle and ride down. (Mary was away so this is a friend’s Jeep, not Rubi) This particular crack is called Bashful’s Crack. There was a long time Jeep club member whose knick name was Bashful. Bashful tipped over here one year so it has been named Bashful’s Crack ever since. If you look carefully you will see a green BC spray painted in the wall to the left of the maroon Jeep. What was different here is there are deep holes at the bottom of the crack you can’t see. So here again, you really didn’t want to slip and in one place the Jeeps had to ride on their tire sidewalls because the crack was a bit to wide. We use spotters directing each Jeep with hand signals. Without a spotter, you’re done and it would be foolish to try without one.
Next came Rubi’s first event of Jeep Easter Safari; 3D (rated 3). This is a relatively mild event that a year ago would have had us freaking and streaking. Here’s a picture of lunch on top of a plateau looking down on the road to the top. The red rock scenery is outstanding.
The second event the next day was Fins N’ Things (rated 4). This is a slick rock event with ups and down and down and ups and steep walls and deep drops and water and wet sand being carried up the rocks giving a bit of wheelspin and sliding which isn’t much fun but everyone made it thru and it was great. When slick rock is dry it has well more traction than a paved road. We are able to climb vertical walls you wouldn't possible think possible with no wheelspin or drama and not just Rubi, all the Jeeps and other capable 4x4's.
So here’s an inspirational story. Lined up in front of Rubi for a while was a geriatric couple who were out there doing the deal. He sat on a small folding stool to drop the tire pressure. Then he would totter to the passenger seat and climb in. His wife drove because I believe she had to. When it was time for her to get out, he would totter around with the stool so she could reach the ground. It was great. They could have been home doing whatever but they chose to be out here Living Their Life. They made it as well and goodonem for not giving up.
What even funnier is after Totter Couple (TC) changed positions, we had a son-in-law with his father in law in a bizallion peso Jeep, two Jeeps ahead and the son and grandson in a matching Jeep in front of us. Of course they were wheat germ eaters from California. They took all the wrong lines and had a time in places when they should have marched right up or down the obstacle, whatever it was. Of course I had to take the proper line and do it without drama and they had to watch this little Jeep smoke their butt. It was great. Ok, ok, my racing days have been over for some years now but there is still a twinge of competitiveness. Here’s a snap of the group working their way over the slick rock bumps.
Today is a lay day so I puttered, nearly got caught up on this posting and later this afternoon went to check out a spot that is a single obstacle where spectators line up during the EJS afternoons to watch the crazies take on Potato Salad Hill. PSH has 3 lines of attack: Crazy Stupid (CS), Mad Stupid (MS) and Stupid is as Stupid Does (SIASD). So there were just a few folks there early on but there was two ‘wall ol’ tymers’ in purpose built Toyota trucks that little resemble their origin. We talked a bit and he showed me the line for more normal CS folks. So I watched from up top then drove around to the bottom of the hill and watched for an hour. So then I figured, we’ll just take a little peek and see what happens. So we dropped the tire pressure to 11lbs, as far as I felt somewhat comfortable. If an underinflated tire were to spill air on a side load it would be Real Bad. We took our time, didn’t do anything stupid but after 7 tries and backing down the hill after each failure to climb the last shelf, we gave it up.
Here’s a shot of a rocket buggy getting over the top after 5 tries. He took the Mad Stupid line down the middle. (CS is to the right, and SIASD is on the far left). I wrote this before I looked at the picture from a few hours earlier. Like waves in the ocean, Potato Salad looks sorta tame in the photograph. It wasn’t.
So what does all of this nonsense have to do with long distance boating? Not much really, but again it does in spades. Living by example, we have attacked this latest challenge like we did photography beginning 7 years ago and long distance boating prior to that and other interests prior to long distance boating. Its pretty simple addition to know Mary and I aren’t kids any more. However, like Totter Couple, we aren’t giving up……..Ever. We hope you are just as lucky. Of course you make your own luck.
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.