Friday, May 30, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 10

Little Walk, a 1980 Valiant 40, in Callao, VirginiaLast week I was out in Washington, DC for the Web Maniacs Conference, a two-day event put on by Fig Leaf Software, Adobe and other technology sponsors to showcase advances in Internet development. It was held close enough to my friend Curt Haensel's house in Falls Church that I was able to stay with him and his family for the conference and the weekend before it started. We hadn't seen each other in twelve years, not since his and his wife Meg's kids were born, so it was good to spend time with them and to meet Ada and Peter.

The cockpit of Little Walk, a 1980 Valiant 40My flight out on the day after the conference ended wasn't until 5:00 PM, so I drove down to Callao, Virginia to check out a Valiant 40 sailboat that I had seen advertised on both and Aside from Sea Hawk, the Valiant 40 I wrote about in previous Boat Quest posts, this was the only other Valiant 40 I had ever seen in person, and this time I was able to actually go onboard and take a close look. Little Walk was a little smaller than I expected, but the cockpit and cabin layouts were about perfect for two people, with occasional guests. Nothing I saw changed my mind about the Valiant 40 being the ideal sailboat for us to sail around the world.

The cabin of Little Walk, a 1980 Valiant 40If the salesperson had been available and there had been more time, I would have requested a quick sail and a demonstration of the boat's many systems, but that will have to wait for another time. When I got home, I emailed the salesperson a list of questions that came up as I examined the boat, including whether or not the slip it was in would transfer to the new owner and if a survey had already been done. I'll let you know what I hear back.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Desiring to Live the Spirit of Exploration

The Bombay Sapphire people posted my entry to their blog contest at earlier today under the title "Desiring to Live the Spirit of Exploration". It is currently in the top position, but it will drop as new entries are posted over the next several days. To go directly to it, try this link instead:

At their request, I have placed a corporate logo in the sidebar to the left that links to my entry. The idea is to encourage readers to vote for the entries they think best express The Spirit of Exploration. I believe it's more of a popularity contest than anything as there has been no mention of prizes. But it's good publicity for my blog, so I appreciate their efforts. And yours, too, if you take the time to vote.

The Odyssey: Slideshow

Ancient arches at Ephesus, TurkeySorry for the delay in posting additional photos from our Odyssey trip. I took about 360 so it has taken some time to figure out which ones to share. While reviewing them, I came up with a novel idea: use the Windows DVD Maker to create the slideshow, then rip it to WMV and MOV formats and upload it to the Internet. It's less work than creating Flex/Flash slideshows like I did for our Italy trip last fall, and I was able to add music from a CD of classic Greek music that we picked up in Corfu. Take your pick:
The photo above is one of several in the slideshow taken at the ancient Anatolian city of Ephesus, which we toured while we were in Turkey. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bombay Sapphire's "The Spirit of Exploration" Contest

While we were away on our Odyssey trip, I received an email invitation from a media company represesenting Bombay Sapphire:
You've been invited to participate in Bombay Sapphire's The Spirit of Exploration blog! We feel that your blog embodies that of a true spirit of exploration and we're exclusively inviting you to be part of the journey. We are only extending this opportunity to select top bloggers and we are pleased to let you know that you are one of them!

We invite you to write an entry answering the question: What does The Spirit of Exploration mean to you?
Here's the entry I composed during our sailing passage from Kusadasi to
To me, the Spirit of Exploration is a mindset, a way of looking at life that strives to pack in as much experience as possible. It requires leaving the comfort of daily routines to seek out new and interesting challenges, forsaking certain safety for the joys of accomplishment and survival.

For example, as I write this, I am sailing across the southern Aegean Sea with five other people in a 47-foot sailboat, directly from Kusadasi in Turkey to Pilos in Greece, a distance of about 300 nautical miles. We pushed off before dawn this morning and expect to make landfall in two days, weather permitting. This passage will involve sailing overnight for two nights, sometimes out of sight of land. It is the sixth leg of our voyage, which started in Athens more than a week ago and will finish in Corfu next week.

Undertaking a voyage such as this involved more than planning and coordination. It took self-examination. Did I possess not only the necessary sailing skills and experience, but also the desire and commitment to face the uncertainties of a journey halfway around the world, sailing through unfamiliar seas, and experiencing languages and cultures different from my own? As I look out across the water to the passing island of Ikaría--named for Icarus, one of the most daring adventurers from Greek mythology--I am certain of my answer: "Yes!" I desire to live the Spirit of Exploration and I am committed to sharing that Spirit with others, that they may experience it for themselves.
They requested photos, so I submitted two from my The Odyssey: Early Photos post, the one taken at the Temple of Poseidon and the one of me at the helm.

The official contest begins today. If you're interested in participating, you can fill out an entry form online at Good luck!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Odyssey: Early Photos

Quetzal Med-moored at PiraeusNan and I are checked into the Sofitel Hotel at the Athens airport, after our Aegean Airlines flight over from Corfu this morning. Early tomorrow morning we fly back to Colorado with Lufthansa by way of Munich. We are both ready to go home. The three weeks we have been traveling is starting to feel like three months.

Harry, Kevin, me and Nan at the Temple of Poseidon on Cape SounionWe have reliable high-speed Internet access here at the hotel, so I am trying to catch up on the blog. I have manually posted the few Spot updates that went through that Kevin has forwarded to me. If you view the Spot updates' Google Maps links in chronological order, they give you a rough idea of our voyage east to Kusadasi, Turkey and then west to Corfu, although the last Spot is from right outside of Methoni, our first landfall after leaving Kusadasi.

Me at the helm fighting the 'Meltemi' winds on our way to AndrosHere are three photos from early in our voyage. The first shows Quetzal tied up at the marina in Piraeus before we set sail. That's Kevin in the white shirt, writing in his journal. The second is a group shot of Harry, Kevin, me and Nan in front of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion after our first day of sailing. And the third shows me at the helm on our second day, sailing to Andros, when the gale started to blow in. The camera is not tilted, as you can see by the level sea behind me; the boat is really heeling that much. What you can't see is that we were rocking and rolling through some massive swells that afternoon.

When we get home, I will try to put together the best photos into a slideshow and post them here. Thanks for following our voyage!

Update 5/15/08: Kevin sent me two more Spots, one from Ithaca dated May 5 and one from Corfu dated May 7. Both are posted now under their respective dates.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Odyssey: Corfu

We arrived in Corfu yesterday morning after an overnight passage from Ithaca. After four nights of passages between Kusadasi and Corfu, Nan and I were ready to get off the boat. As soon as we tied up at the Gouvia marina, we set out in search of the Iliada beach hotel, where we had a reservation. We were a day early but it is still off-season here so it wasn't a problem.

Ithaca was beautiful. We rented two Fiats for the six of us and toured the northern end of the island. We stopped at an old monastery with a view of Vathi, where we had anchored Quetzal. Then we drove on to the Cave of the Nymphs, known locally as Louvias Cave. It was a disappointment. The 1953 earthquake which devastated Kefalonia, the large island to the west of Ithaca, also collapsed the cave. It was located right at the waterline and we were able to walk to it, but there wasn't much to see, just the grafitti and trash that are ever-present in Greece.

We couldn't clear into Greece at the marina, so we needed to go into Old Corfu. We all took a bus, which ended up taking longer than if we had just walked the three kilometers. We wandered through the narrow crowded streets, somewhat reminiscent of Florence, to reach the waterfront where the customs and immigration offices were located. After an endless wait, an official added a handstamp to our Turkey stamps and we were cleared. Nan and I caught a taxi back to the hotel and showered off the many days of sea travel, then ate a leisurely Greek dinner and settled into our first land-based sleep in almost two weeks.

We will be in Corfu until Friday morning, when we fly to Athens. On Saturday morning, we fly home. I think we will both be relieved to be home. This has been an interesting adventure, not at all how we imagined it. We had difficult weather at the beginning when we were sailing east and then almost no wind at all for the westward return. We needed to run the engine frequently to make headway, which meant we were going about five knots instead of the seven to eight that we would have been going under sail. We still managed to travel eight hundred nautical miles in fourteen days, but that meant that we spent more time on the boat than we did exploring the places where we made landfall. In retrospect, it was unrealistic to think we could re-create the Odyssey in that timeframe. Afterall, it took Ulysses ten whole years to make his similar voyage.

OK ESN:0-7351773 (Corfu)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:05/07/2008 00:01:24 (US/Eastern),19.8539&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Odyssey: Ithaca

We have arrived at Ithaca, Ulysses' home island, on the Ionian coast of Greece. Quetzal is currently anchored in the harbor of Vathi. We will be renting cars in a little while to drive up to the Cave of the Nymphs, where the only relics from Ulysses' presence on the island are located. Late this afternoon, we will be shoving off again on another overnight passage, this time to Corfu, our final destination.

We have been sailing almost continuously since leaving Kusadasi last Thursday. Our first landfall was on Saturday evening, in the little port of Methoni on the Peloponesse peninsula, a few miles short of our intended destination of Pylos. We had a well-deserved "taverna" dinner to celebrate our 300-mile passage. On Sunday morning, we sailed the short distance to Pylos and were able to buy diesel fuel, but all the markets were closed so we couldn't buy much in the way of provisions. Early in the afternoon, we set sail again for the overnight to Ithaca, where we are now.

Apparently, there is a limit to how many addresses we can have in the Spot system, and none of Nan's or mine made it into the list. Kevin has been nice enough to forward them all to me so I will post them manually when we get up to Corfu.

OK ESN:0-7351773 (Ithaca)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:05/05/2008 09:53:30 (US/Eastern),20.7192&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Sunday, May 4, 2008

OK ESN:0-7351773 (Leaving Methoni)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location: Meth*ni, Greece
Distance: 1 km(s)
Time:05/04/2008 00:00:15 (US/Eastern),21.696&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Friday, May 2, 2008

OK ESN:0-7351773 (Between Serifos and Sifnos)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location: *yioi An*ryiroi, Greece
Distance: 10 km(s)
Time:05/02/2008 01:34:02 (US/Eastern),24.6016&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Thursday, May 1, 2008

OK ESN:0-7351773 (South of Mykonos)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:05/01/2008 18:41:50 (US/Eastern),25.2541&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

OK ESN:0-7351773 (North of Samos)

This is Quetzal, all is well. We'll be in touch when we can.
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:05/01/2008 02:32:18 (US/Eastern),26.82&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

The Odyssey: Passage to Pylos

Today was a shore day in Kusadasi. We took a guided tour of Ephesus in the morning and then bombed around town in the afternoon. Ephesus was amazing, like touring an entire city from the Greek and Roman eras. We have a new appreciation for the beauty and sophistication of Turkey.

Early tomorrow we're headed west to Pylos on the Peloponesse peninsula of Greece, about 300 miles away. Capt. John decided that we will need to skip Crete in order to stay on track to reach Corfu by next Wednesday, when we all have travel connections. So we will be sailing for about forty-eight straight hours without landfall. We'll try to send Spot updates, but they might show only here on the blog and not go out to the recipients list. Sorry that hasn't worked out better.