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Apsara: Messages From The Boat:

Getting ready, packing, sails have arrived...

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Date: May 13, 2003, 12:45 AM Lat: 63° 43' North; Longitude: 22° 42' East
Pietasaari, NW Finland, Gulf of Bothia Wind: W @ 8 knots 2 Boat Speed: zippo
Barometer: 1026 (Rising-that's good!) Temp: 42 F Skies: Clear and starry

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Tonight the sun finally finished setting, in pinks and purples, and the sky grew dark after midnight and we could call it a day. It will be light again in about 4 hours and that is a good thing because we have list of things to do that requires a 30 hour day.

Our first week has passed quickly as we have moved literally _ ton of shtuff aboard (seventeen 70 pound boxes) Somehow the boat has swallowed up most of it thanks to Nancy's diligent efforts.

We are exceptionally pleased with the boat and how wonderful everything looks, works, and feels. But it is a little scary to think of sailing with so much white leather and polished teak (this is one of the reasons that Kelsberg will not been invited aboard for the first 60 days). QA is clearly up to ISO 9003 (or whatever number they are on) standards and there are engineers aboard with a 3 inch thick binder of final check list items. We have some bugs that are being chased down and some major life-safety issues like the fact that our spice bottles don't fit in the custom drawer.

We are living aboard “Apsara” and are currently tied stern-to, facing north, in the BTC harbor, - that would be the Boat Technology Center. Here, Nautor/Ferragamo builds all their super yachts and we are the little boat of the three in this lonely marina with a red 100 footer, “Red Sky” (good name) and a 77 footer, “Taipan of Wales” (owned by a Welshman who made his fortune building a pie company. We call her “Tai-Pie”). These boats have professional crews of six and three respectively.

The location has pros and cons. We are about 10 minutes from a small town with maybe one decent restaurant and a few good-sized grocery stores. We have given up looking for the local Starbucks and are doing most of our eating aboard – cured or smoked salmon is only $4/pound. To the south is a large industrial park with a paper plant (these don't smell so good, depending on the wind, if you haven't experienced one before) and some rusting box cars. However, to the north is a bay of small islands, some with little cabins and lots of birds. We try to look this direction. It is generally quiet and peaceful, but this will change soon as more boats are launched this week. Most of the boats have professional crews so we are the exception. The captains are real salts with tens of thousands of sea miles and I'd love to have a chance to go to sea with them; one would learn so much. To the west is the open water and the Gulf of Bothnia, and on its western side – about 110 miles – is northern Sweden, where we hope to sail in a few weeks.

While the weather has rarely been below freezing, the Gulf is still iced over (see Finnish Ice Service on Goggle) and we are literally ice-bound in this harbor. Fortunately, the paper plant exhaust keeps the large harbor pretty much ice free and there are several miles of open water. Tai-pie, the 77, went out yesterday to check conditions in the Gulf and said that it looked like you could drive a car on the ice. They had planned to leave in two days to deliver the boat to Jersey (the original not New Jersey), where the owner will meet it. (The ice-induced delay may be for the best since his 250 pound shipment of wine for the boat's “cellar” has yet to arrive. We have offered to bring it south if they leave before it arrives)

When the wind blows from the west, ice is blown into the harbor further restricting movement. In general, the weather has been brisk but not too cold and I, for one of the crew, have enjoyed the feeling of being at such high latitudes. Everyday the night gets 8 minutes shorter, or so someone told us. The temperatures have generally been in the high 40's to high 50's with some days in the mid 60's with blue sky and cool west winds from blowing over the ice.

This coming week will see a lot of progress as the sails have arrived and the sailmaker, Northsails of Ft. Lauderdale, will be arriving tomorrow afternoon. We will get the sails aboard and hope to have our first trip out to the ice wall by Monday afternoon.

The local yoga-nut, my wife, continues her “practice” even on the docks (see below). Today also she went 50 feet up the mast on a spinnaker halyard to help fix a rigging problem – no traditional “poses” up there that I could spot, but what a woman!

In general we are very happy and miss few things – other than friends, family, the commute, late nights at work, and a few perfectly sized storage bins that I know we could find at Wal-Mart.

Best to all

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Next message from this area: Sea trials completed, calibrating instruments, 2 weeks until sail...


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