Passage Preps

Preparing to Cross the Big Pond

Note that the crossing is already history for us, but what follows was written in anticipation of the voyage...

Our Atlantic crossing is getting closer. June 1st is still the date we hope to depart from Beaufort, North Carolina. We’ll head first for Bermuda. After enjoying a few days of R&R on the island, we’ll continue on to the Azores. We’ll spend about a week there, then complete the trip to Gibraltar. Everyone wants to know how long that’ll take. We expect it to take 4-6 days to Bermuda, 13-16 days to the Azores, and another 7-9 days to Gibraltar. That’s a lot of sailing! In preparation for the passage, we’ve been doing a lot of planning and purchasing...

Hauling out

One of the major to-do’s was to update our insurance. Our previous company, National Marine Underwriters, doesn’t cover trans-Atlantic voyages. We’ve chosen IMIS out of Maryland to insure us. This company specializes in cruising yachts, and they will change the coverage as we change cruising areas. Before they’d insure us we had to update our survey. They require an out-of-water survey, so in early March we hauled the boat at Ross Marine in South Carolina. As expected, everything looked great.

Preparing for a short-haul

Next on the list was installing our new whisker pole on a track on the mast. Ty has been tied up earning money for all these new goodies, so we had some riggers do the work. We hope to get lots of use out of the pole on the passage. No more flopping jib on downwind days.

We’re also having our new autopilot installed. Sea trials should take place by the end of the month. We tossed around the idea of putting on a self-steering wind-vane, but knew we’d only use it on long passages. Most of our sailing

whisker pole

after we get to the Mediterranean will be coastal day-sailing. Also, with hydraulic steering and Liberty’s transom, wind-vane steering would have been difficult. So, we settled on a WH auto pilot, which is supposed to be very sturdy and reliable. We’ll still have our current auto pilot installed for use as a back-up. With any luck, we’ll never need it!

groceries 40

Provisioning for this passage took more than your normal grocery run. Suzanne had planned out 30 days of meals with a five page grocery list to match. When she got back to the boat with three cart loads, Ty stared at the bags and moaned, “Where are we going to put all that stuff!” Not a problem!

groceries 2 40

Liberty has loads of storage, and everything found a home. Once it was stowed, Ty then turned his attention to the water line, which had gone down a bit. But it’s not all Suzanne’s fault -- Ty has been keeping West Marine and Defender in business buying spare parts. The list included such items

as a spare starter and alternator for the engine, a starter for the generator, motor for the electric head, lines, hoses, filters, gaskets, and other assorted goodies.

In other preparations, Ty signed up for Jennifer Clark’s Gulf Stream analysis and weather service. She provides routing recommendations based on her extensive knowledge of the Gulf Stream, having been the National Weather Service’s senior Gulf Stream analyst for many years.

We also had two professional riggers come aboard to inspect and tune the rigging. One of them, the owner of North Sails in Charleston, took one look at Liberty and said, “Nice to have a new boat, huh?” When Ty smiled and said, “She’s twenty five years old,” the guy’s jaw dropped. As for the inspection, everything looked fine for the passage.

Crew Issues

Those of you who are regular visitors to our site know that since last August we’ve had two crew lined up: Jim, our pilot friend, and Grant, the Canadian Mountie. He’s the one who took advantage of Suzanne’s tipsy state at a Nova Scotia wine tasting party to plant the seed of making this trip just so he could go along as crew! (And it worked!). Well, as we know, the best laid plans oft go astray. Unfortunately, Jim found out with only three weeks to go that he is not medically cleared to make the trip. We’re sorry for Jim and for us, as he has sailed with us several times and would have been outstanding crew. So that left us with three of us. We could do the crossing with three, but four would mean more sleep for the off-watch crew and more hands to help in heavy weather. But where to find a crew member who could drop everything on such short notice and go sailing for five weeks?

Well, while still in Charleston, Liberty was tied up at the home of our good friends Jan and Ken Poole. They suggested that their son, Doug, who has offshore sailing experience, might be able to go on at least part of the trip. We’d met Doug and knew we’d be compatible. Doug eagerly accepted the offer, but only has enough vacation time to go as far as Bermuda. The solution will make those of you who’ve read Suzanne’s book smile. Remember Travis - the cook who didn’t know how to boil water? He accompanied us on Liberty’s maiden voyage and learned to cook as he went. When he

crew berths

heard about our crossing, he expressed great interest in going along. Problem is, he doesn’t know how to sail! So, just like the first time he accompanied us on Liberty, Travis will learn as he goes! With Doug as our fourth watch stander on the first leg, Travis will shadow Ty or Suzanne during both day and night watches all the way to Bermuda. By the time we get there, he’ll be a qualified watch stander (if not, he gets keel hauled!) When we say thank you and farewell to Doug in Bermuda, Travis will take over his watches. What a plan!

Suddenly having to provide bunks for three men instead of two presented a bit of a space challenge, but we overcame it. Don’t those two crew berths above look cozy? The v-berth is even “cozier,” with the sleeping bag snugged up against cushions, a storm sail, and tons of toilet paper and paper towels, but hey, it’s a place to lay your head!

Everyone has a different colored towel and wash cloth, and a flat-bottomed mug with a unique logo so nobody drinks


someone else’s coffee or water! (Can you tell Suzanne was an aide?)  Ty installed Hella fans over each bunk. It will be pretty close quarters the first week, but we sailed 8 days on Liberty’s maiden voyage with five people and didn’t mind it a bit. The most important thing is that Grant, Doug, and

crew photo 1

Ty, Suzanne, Rudy, Grant, Doug, and Travis

Travis are all really good guys with a great attitude and sense of humor. All of them are as excited as we are.  In fact, the word from Nova Scotia is that there’s not a soul left in the province who doesn’t know about Grant’s impending adventure. His wife, Sarah, tells us that he’s talked so much about it that people now actively avoid him! If he’s intolerable now, Sarah, just wait til he gets back!

<--- And here’s a photo of our crew, taken at Beaufort on May 31st, shortly after their arrival. We are all rarin’ to go!


So, folks, the time has finally arrived! Here’s our passage plan:

- Beaufort, NC to Bermuda: Depart June 1st. Estimated duration: 4-6 days

- Spend 2-4 days in Bermuda (weather will be the determining factor)

- Bermuda to Azores: 13-16 days

- Spend one week exploring the Azores

- Azores to Gibraltar: 8-9 days


We’ll post an update to the site in Bermuda and the Azores to let you know how it’s going. Until then,  be well.