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Ed note: After a summer filled with cruising along the Mediterranean and conducting final preparations for their big voyage, Scott and Mary Flanders left this weekend for the Canary Islands - their first stop in their great adventure that takes them from Gibraltar to New Zealand by way of Cape Horn. The Flanders will be keeping us updated on their journey with weekly log reports for the duration of their 18-month cruise.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It is 1206 PM. M/V Egret is 37.8nm off the west coast of Morocco steaming on a course of 232 degrees at 6.6 knots, 1400 rpm, 1.8gph. There are 6-8' sea swells on the beam with a little wind chop on top. Mr Naiad is handling that nicely. Las Palmas, Grand Canaria (Canary Islands) lies 603nm ahead.

After hauling to install line cutters in Sotogrande, Spain this week Egret departed with a perfectly clean bottom and virtually everything aboard as good as it can be. Mary wiped the entire bottom with a very green towel removing the little slime we had grow on our Turkish bottom paint. I gave the bottom a 'yacht brokers' bottom job. This is painting a belly band and the bow area. I made an exact pattern for the v-block line cutter mount using digital micrometers and a compass. The Spanish worker cut up my beautiful work with a dull pair of scissors for a pattern. (a weed eater would have done better) I drew arbitrary 6mm mounting holes figuring they would space them correctly. First the piece came back looking like someone gnawed the piece out of stainless plate. Second they put the holes where I drew them. We don't tolerate sloppy work on Egret however we had firmed up our insurance and were really ready to go. I installed the piece myself. They probably would have used roofing nails and bathtub caulk. It is strong, not pretty.

The bright spot in the last couple weeks is Egret's knight in shining armor arrived (probably in casual business dress). Al Golden of IMIS insurance wrapped up in four days what others couldn't do in 2 months. Egret is insured under their 'Jackline' program. Al is a real boater and understands long distance cruisers. Others flock to the white Clorox bottle marina queens who disappear in hurricanes, marina fires or driven into mayhem by clueless operators. Long distance cruisers rarely have these issues. Al@IMIScorp.net Al has Egret's vote.

Egret took the first in many steps to New Zealand yesterday by fueling in Gibraltar. We took on a little over 1000 gallons at the wonderful price, for the Med, of $2.41/gal. This will be the last inexpensive fuel until Usuhuia, Argentina where they have subsidized fuel. We also have 150 gallons of fuel in a bladder on the foredeck and 45 or so gallons behind the Portuguese bridge. This a 704nm stability test (to the Canaries) for the extra weight on deck. We also have an additional 100 gal bladder for the cockpit and will use it if this works out. Obviously this is a big compromise but we VERY much don't want to stop at the Cape Verdies on the 3100nm trek to Brazil (from Las Palmas). We can use the stretch in a couple of other places down the road as well. I might add, we don't NEED to do this but it is a matter of safety. The Verdies in addition to their usual problems have been hit with a 108mph hurricane last month to add to their dilemma. The safety issue is simply not stopping. Egret burns about 40 gallons of fuel a day when stretching. Within our departure weather forecast the majority of fuel will be in Egret's tanks and off the deck.

The Egret crew left Gibraltar without the slightest bit of trepidation. We have prepared so long, have tended to so many details the actual thought of setting off on this wonderful voyage of personal discovery is exciting beyond exciting. I will say it started slowly. VERY slowly. The absolute first and last rule for departing Gib is YOU LEAVE WITH THE TIDE!!!!! Wellll, we left. However, it was the beginning of the flood. From 6.2 knots to .8 knots in 6 miles. Major groan. The good news the 25-30 knots of wind was with the tide so we had 2' seas. The other good news is we saw a green flash when the sun set! Beautiful. Must be an omen. Whatta you think?

The departure forecast from Bob at OMNI weather said once we turned the NW corner of Morocco we would have a 12 hour bounce. We did. He did say it will get better all the way to the Canaries. It is.....so far. Thank you Bob ocmarnav@aol.com Bob was recommended to us by Milt and Judy Baker aboard Bluewater, Nordhavn 47-32. BW left the Caribbean this spring for Bermuda with three other boats with three different professional forecasters. Bob was the most accurate and timely with reports.

After Egret's stay in the Canaries and pick up our friend and capable crewman, Steve Lawrence, we will take the looooong step. Mary and I invite you to join the Egret crew on this adventure. It will be a wild ride.

For full Voyage of Egret coverage, click here.