Personal Entry from Dan

Posted on July 17, 2015

We slurped the Dom Perignon when we made landfall in the Azores. 2000 Miles in a 44 foot sailboat can be just the thing.
40 knot winds, 30 foot seas, violent storms. 15 days of standing a 3 hour watch every 6 hours. Dolphins, Sea Turtles and whales were our companions. Steering the boat, at an hour well past midnight, to Cassiopeia. The big W in the stars. The Milky Way. First light on the mid-morning watch. We were a lonely spot of humanity surrounded by a thousand mile disc of sea. It is difficult to describe the intensity of a transatlantic passage. The levels of fear, joy and immense contentment are not often felt ashore. Even the ordinary things become more pronounced on a transatlantic. Instant coffee is just wonderful, an hour in the rack is so refreshing and every meal deserves a Michelin rating.
The Captain selected a crew with a high degree of compatibility and positive attitude. This meant that unkind or inconsiderate behaviors, even in tight quarters, never occurred. The mean girls (and Boys) stayed home.
The opportunity to work with some of the finest people I have known, in conditions of great danger, at worst, and significant discomfort at best was a lot more than I had hoped for. The expert seamanship and leadership of Captain Philip made the passage both possible and safe.
We met other sailors, and share an instant kinship with them due to our common relation of love and fear with the sea.
We met a Danish cruising couple at Horta. They had a rugged 40 foot boat. A red hull named Pi. They had been sailing a double circumnavigation including Cape Horn for 7 years. They were both in their mid-seventies. The woman had clear blue eyes and the easy grace of a long time sailor. The older lady said “We are sailing back to Denmark, we have a little flat outside Copenhagen” Then she sobbed “What will I do There?”
I felt bad that I had no answer. No half-time speech of encouragement. I envisioned the cramped senior citizens apartment and the relentless clock and calendar. In retrospect, I know she will do what sailors have always done. She will work to improve the situation around her, encourage the people in her life and still have fond memories of the roaring forties and the blue water.
But for me, it is back to life on terra firma. Sailing aboard Tioga was far more than an outdoor adventure. I begin again with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose in all aspects of life. I am graced with a renewed appreciation for my wife Candace, son Christopher. And daughter Virginia and Sister Virginia. I thank them for their prayers and encouragement. God bless and safe travels to the ongoing Tioga crew. I will now count the days of how many, plus a wake–up until I am back on board.
Dan McMackin
Nahant, MA
July 14, 2015

My Comments on the First Leg

As I sit here watching the tracker move on the screen, I can’t tell you how envious I am of the Kerstens and of the next crew. I’m now following the TIOGA instead of being aboard her. It’s difficult to put into words the feelings I have about this accomplishment and the people I experienced it with. The seven of us aboard for the first leg of the Atlantic Tour worked and supported each other to insure a fun, safe journey. As a 7 person crew on a 44 foot sail boat for 14 days, there is no place to go, no place to get away, and it takes special people to get along in close quarters even in the best of conditions.  To the Captain and my fellow crew, Thanks for making this voyage so awesome! Oh, the fun we had! The memories will be with me forever.

So Let me tell you a little about the TIOGA family – the Captain and Crew of the first leg

LoLo the youngest of the crew at 14 was our entertainment director. When the weather was cold and rainy she opened up her “Club LuLu” and invited us old sailors in to dry off and warm up. She would bring out the music and get us all to sing along and often she would just sing to us. A real joy in raising our spirits.

Nick at 16 is an amazing sailor. He has a great teacher in his father and has the same natural instinct and ability when at the helm. He takes the helm and is totally at ease. His off time was equally divided between reading, eating, or sleeping. I worried he’d grow to dislike me since he followed my watch and I was the one who had to wake him. He did tell me late in the trip he didn’t hate me me for waking him up. I’m guessing this won’t be his last transatlantic crossing.

Ulf, my watch partner, is a machine. The most physically fit 50 year old I know. When we talked about renting bikes, he suggested we bike to the top of a volcano, which was basically like riding to the summit of Mount Washington. He is always first to jump up to change sails – usually trying to put up the largest sail on the boat. Other than the Captian, I’ve sailed the most blue water miles with Ulf, he’s a good sailor and a great friend – I even learned to put up with his jet engine like snoring.

Dan / Uncle Danny was as solid as a rock and always had a smile. He is our diesel specialist and The comedian of our crew (he hardly ever repeated the same joke twice). When the 2nd storm hit, Dan was at the wheel and the rain started to fall – it rained harder than I’ve ever seen, Dan just sat at the wheel singing songs with a big grin on his face. He got the nick name uncle Danny when one night we were getting ready to climb in our bunks and  I jokingly asked , “Uncle Danny could tell us a bed time story, to our amazement  he proceeded to recite perfectly the opening pages of the children’s book Madeline.

Corinna, the Captains Wife, and our gourmet chef. She was never designated to be the chef, she just took over the galley. TIOGA is her second home and if you’ve ever been a guest in her house, you’ll know how it is on TIOGA. An accomplished sailor herself, she did it all and never without a smile and her eye makeup! Really!

Captain Philip, a life long sailor who started with TIOGA and a dream, and put thousands of hours of time to prepare TIOGA and his crew for this adventure. His skill as a sailor is only slightly topped by his skill with a spreadsheet. He knew the big storm was coming and had us sail towards the eye of the storm to the area with less wind and waves. When the storm hit, he took the helm for 8 plus hours to insure his crew and his boat would be safe. For that we are all greatful. I can never repay him for giving me this opportunity and all that he’s taught me about sailing. A great sailor and  a true friend. I’d sail with him anywhere, anytime, through any storm.

and Me, I’m the fix it guy. They put me in the hole, upside down and I go to work. See, my sailing skills are not so good, but I’m learning. I like doing what I can to contribute, and love the adventure. I live for the special moments that take place when out on the ocean. You’ve heard through our blog of what it’s like to sail long distance. The difficulties in getting dressed, cooking, eating, and going to the bathroom. Why would I do this. Here is one of those moments I live for.  It’s the highlight of this voyage for me. Two days after the big storm, the seas had settled down and the winds were perfect. I had the 4am to 7am watch, my favorite since I get to see the sun rise.  Ulf, my watch partner was a little tired and asked if I would take the helm so he could take a cat nap. With Ulf asleep in the cockpit, and the Captian and rest of the crew asleep below, It was just me, the wind and the waves. Just as the sun started to break over the horizon for the start of a beautiful day, I heard some splashing. I turned to look and there were 2 dolphins, one on each side of the boat, no more than 5 feet away, just swimming along with me. They stayed with me for only a few minutes before swimming off. For those few minutes I was on top of the world, watching a beautiful sunrise with a dolphin escort, it doesn’t get much better than that!

I look forward to following Tioga on her journey to Germany and to joining her next June for another adventure,

P..S. Uncle Danny – Yes I believe it, Yes we signed up for this, and Yes we did it!

Peter Barba

Nahant, MA

July 17, 2015

[category 2015, nht2azo]