Sunday, June 14, 2015

Trial Separation

All good things must end sometime.

Google has ignored its "Blogger" application for years now and some recent problems have convinced me that now may be the time to switch platforms for our "Morpheus Sailing Blog".

So...for at least the next week or so, the new (and possibly improved?) blog can be found at 


We will give this a try and see how it works out before making a final decision.  If you have an opinion, please leave us a comment at the new blog.

thanks,

-Jim and Deb

Monday, June 08, 2015

La Formentera Video

La Forementera is the Southern most Balearic Island, just to the South of Ibiza.  We arrived their last week from Gibraltar.  It is one of our favorite places in the Med. thus far.  The area that we anchored in was basically a very long spit of sand that extended out from the main island and was surrounded by clear blue beautiful water.  There are three of four restaurant/bars along this area and that's it.

But, what a nice change from the ticky tacky, fish and chips, tourist world of Gibraltar!!

I've strung a few video clips together in the video below.  Not my greatest work, but quick and dirty sometimes gets the job done.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Small World, Good Friends

We are so lucky to have been able to cross paths with Paul & Amanda Mitchell after 12 years. 

We all first met in 2002 during our first cruise on Morpheus with our kids. Musket Cove, Fiji was ground zero for many of us cruisers that year and it's fantastic to be able to spend time with friends made then, so many years later. 

We all have the same basic "plan" for this season so many more fun times to come!!



Jim Gregory 

Reverse Bungy!

Dan and I took this ride on his birthday.  It was the second time for me. I should have known better. 

Jim




Jim Gregory 

Last Night in Ibiza

We are off for Majorca today after spending the last four days "buddy boating" with Paul and Amanda Mitchell and their boat Aztec Gold. 

Paul and Amanda are from New Zealand and we met them during our South Pacific cruise in Fiji. 

We had a great time with them (then and now) and should see them several more times this season as our "plans" are very similar. 

It's a small world out here

Jim



Jim Gregory 

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Ibiza Tomorrow

Dan (June 4) and Deb (June 5) will celebrate their birthdays on Ibiza. 

Today...we rest.



Jim Gregory 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

It's the little things that matter...

Finally, here as promised is a summary of our first journey during the 2015 season.

It was a trip that reinforced some old lessons, and taught us some new ones. It was also a trip that rewarded the investment in a few pieces of safety gear that I thought I would never ever need.

Lesson #1: We learned long ago not to rush anything for the calendar.

Lesson #2: We've also learned that the boat is always trying to break. It can break in a million ways, big or small, and our job is to try to stay ahead of the game and outsmart it. You can't fall behind.

We ignored that calendar lesson due to the fact that according to that very calendar, we had only 9 days to get Morpheus out of the EU Customs Zone (for a day). If we were a day late, we would be liable for the "your boat has been in the EU for more than 18 months" Import Tax.

(Somehow, the EU laws have evolved to the point where visiting Gibraltar for a few hours resets the boats 18 month clock?? Sound stupid and unnecissary? It is!)

(Cruising the Med requires navigating more than the water, it requires non-EU citizens to wade through a tangled mess of laws that ultimately allow non-EU PEOPLE to visit for a length of time not to exceed 90 days in any 180 day period, and allows BOATS to visit for 18 months prior to triggering a law that requires the boat to be imported into the EU, and the owner to pay a tax of aprox. 20% of the boats value! I don't know who sets the value, but I'm pretty sure thats not my job.)

I digress...

So, not wanting to even discuss the potential need to pay a 20% import tax, we shoved off from Barcelona after only 5 days of prep work. Last year required more than two weeks. We were pushing it.

The good news is that we left with a great weather forecast for the expected 3-4 day trip. Light winds from behind were forecast, with an expected 50/50 mix between motoring and sailing. That's a pretty good mix.

Most of the first two days went according to plan. We had a few trivial issues onboard as everyone got used to living on a moving boat again. But, overall things were good.

Late on the second day, the winds began to build beyond what was forecast and they also decided to swing around and blow from where we were going. This is not what we ordered, but typically not a problem. We rolled up the jib, double reefed the main, and turned on the engine. With this setup we could motor slowly into the wind and waves in relative comfort. Comfort probably isn't the word that Debbie would use.

Problem #1 - Attempted Sinking

This sounds worse than it actually was, but things could have unraveled I suppose.

There I was sitting at the Navigation Station doing my Navigator thing while we pounded our way upwind under motor. At some point, I felt a strange thump under the floorboard that my feet were resting on. I remember thinking about it and trying to ignore it, but I've spent "a few hours" at that nav station and never felt that particular "thump". So, unable to ignore it, I decided to get up and look under it to see what was happening. Not sure what I expected to see, but I certainly wasn't expecting to see the entire bilge full of water up to about an inch below the floorboard. We are probably talking about 100s of gallons of water at this point.

Why wasn't I expecting to see that. Well, for one its never happened before. And two, I was sitting right next to the bilge pump automatic switch. It should have kicked on as soon as there was more than a gallon of water in the bilge, now with over 100 gallons, it was resting easy and giving no indication of water in the bilge.

In retrospect, I'm not sure that I prioritized my steps properly. There are two things to do. One is find the leak and stop the flow of water into the boat. The other is get the water out of the boat. I chose to focus on pumping the water out first.

Here is a lesson from one of my Safety at Sea Seminars that I never thought I'd put to work on Morpheus. We have a "normal" relatively low volume bilge pump install permanently, but we also carry a large high capacity submersible pump with a custom power cord and exhaust hose that can reach anywhere on the boat. Our batteries have a short utility cable installed with connectors that allow us to plug this extra pump in quickly. Getting that pump working was my step one while also trying to calmly wake Deb and Dan to let them know that even though it looked like we were sinking, all would be well. That was sort of the tricky part!

Then, with Deb and Dan managing the pump (which worked remarkably well), I started the search for our leak. "Lucky" for us, we'd had a similar issue at some point in the past, so I had a pretty good idea about where to start.

The leak was actually a fairly slow "spray" of water coming in from the area where the propeller shaft enters the boat. Historically, most boats have a stuffing box here where basically a box is built around the shaft and its "stuffed" with material under pressure that "seals" the hole in the hull that the shaft passes through. These stuffing boxes always seem to leak. So, when we had the boat built, we chose to follow the lead of the US Navy and installed a new high tech solution that involves some very finely machined plates held together under pressure to create a perfect seal. Well, unless you are careful and check that device each year at a minimum, things can slip a bit and that perfect seal becomes a bit less perfect.

To solve the problem, all I needed to do was to tighten a couple of quarter inch set screws to get things back where they belonged. This is something that we've checked in the past, but let slip this time around. Calendars are dangerous!!


Problem #2: Engine not running well under load

Another thing that we normally would do after leaving the boat for a while would have been to open the inspection ports on top of each fuel tank to check for any water, dirt, or algae growth in the diesel fuel. This is a problem that we've been lucky enough to avoid over the years, but one that I've heard absolute nightmares about from others.

Anyway, somewhere around day #2.5 after pounding into the waves for several hours, the engine started to run very badly. We assumed the worst and figured that we must have very dirty tanks that were clogging our filters. I ended up changing our primary filters (which were new and yet very dirty) and saw no improvement. The decision was made then to shut the engine down. The rest of the trip would be done under sail only, and we'd hope that the engine would give us enough runtime to safely get into our slip once we arrived in Gibraltar.

Of course that's when the wind died. The remainder of our trip was easy but slow. Very light winds added an extra day to the trip, and of course right after we arrived and dropped our sails, a huge British submarine shows up escorted by a fleet of safety boats. The boat in front of us was the last boat to enter the breakwater before the Navy shut things down for the submarine. Great!! Now instead of the expected 10 minutes of engine time, we circled slowly with great stress onboard, which the Navy took its sweet time getting the sub tied to its dock.

Once the Sub got out of our way, the engine did get us to the dock. The next day, when we opened the tanks we were surprised to see that the problem was not water, dirt or algae. In fact, what had happened was the 12 year old rubber gasket used to seal the inspection port holes had degraded, broken off into pieces and fallen into the tank. Rather than its typically solid state, those pieces in the tank had the consistency of liquid mush. They got sucked up along with the fuel and ended up clogging all of our filters which then restricted the flow of fuel. Slow speeds were "ok", but normal cruising speeds....no way.

The solution to this one was not much fun. We had to drain the tanks (luckily not much fuel left!), clean the tanks, blow the fuel lines clear, change the primary and secondary fuel filters, and then add clean fuel. Deb says Uncle Dan was betting against me, but in the end the engine started and has been running like a champ ever since.

Bottom Line

Boats are always trying to break. Boats are clever. You need to be smart and vigilant in order to prevent the boat from winning the battle. Cutting corners for calendar related events, or employing the "hope & a prayer" methods will not result in success.

Ultimately, we were almost completely undone by two loose 1/4" set screws, and some rotten rubber gasket material. It's the little things that matter!!

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Heading East!


  • 18 Month Tax Free Clock for the boat restarted??  CHECK
  • Jim @ Deb's Resident Cards renewed??   CHECK

Let's go!!

A week in Gibraltar, is about six days too long.  Happily, we are heading East today after filling up the diesel tanks at the duty free fuel dock on our way out!!

The "other" Pillar of Hercules

The picture above was taken from the top of a hill between Gibraltar and Tarifa.  It's not far between Europe and Africa from here!!

So, off we go with a great forecast for the next three days.  I think we'll go overnight and then pick a place to stop.  We've done this coast before and don't really have any need to see too much.  Would like to make it to the Balearic Islands as soon as possible.

Let the real trip begin!!

Two Days in Tarifa

Tarifa may or may not be the kite surfing capital of the world, but it sure looked that way to me while we were there.

We've been on weather hold here for the past two days.  Lucky for us, a bad day for sailing upwind against current, is a great day for kite surfing!! 









Dan... Gibraltar

Thursday, May 21 in Gibraltar:
After docking at the Queensway Quay Marina in Gibraltar, we headed into town and to the central square via Main Street. This is a strange little 2.3 mile British Overseas Protectorate whose main function it appears is to provide wealthy English businesses and persons the ability to shelter some/most of their income from the normal English tax system. The whole place strikes me as unseemly and comforting at the same time. Unseemly that one need be wealthy to even understand and be able to invest in these offshore havens while comforting that it's not just wealthy US businesses and persons that are three card Monte-ing all us suckers. I guess I prefer it if everyone is being screwed while I'm being screwed too. I guess I'm just generous that way.
Anyway, and in short, Gibraltar is a small and strange piece of Briton tucked away on the Spanish coast, inhabited by Gibraltarians that seem cast aways with no hope of returning home. But, their lives aren't so bad as all the true work is done by Spaniards that commute in everyday to do the work that the English can't, won't or don't know how to do.
Oh, and the food SUCKS! Even the bloody chips and fish. You'd think they'd be able to figure out the flipp'n chips and fish. Blimey!

Tangier

Saturday, May 23: Tangier

Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco. We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street. The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting. (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.) This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me. Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.

The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting. Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean. The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface. This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.

Tangier is VERY cool. I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience. Neither is true. It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities. Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a "house" here and spends more time in Tangier more than in Arabia. His property is next to the King of Morocco's palace and has it's own airport for Allah's sake.

"The multicultural placement of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities and the foreign immigrants attracted writer and composer Paul Bowles, playwright Tennessee Williams, the beat writers William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the painter Brion Gysin and the music group the Rolling Stones, who all lived in or visited Tangier during different periods of the 20th century." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangier

One of the beat generations most important writers, William Burroughs lived in Tangier where he wrote Naked Lunch.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Burroughs

Of course the majority of folks living her are Muslim Berbers who are a diverse ethic group from north Africa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berbers

Anyway, I bought a moroccan tribal rug for the boat (a runner for the main salon) and a hookah!

Oh, and Debbie and I took the ubiquitous camel ride along the way. Man those poor beasts are surly! Hahaha

'Saturday, May 23: Tangier    Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco.  We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street.  The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting.  (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.)  This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me.  Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.     The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting.  Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean.  The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface.  This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.    Tangier is VERY cool.  I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience.  Neither is true.  It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities.  Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a
'Saturday, May 23: Tangier    Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco.  We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street.  The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting.  (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.)  This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me.  Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.     The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting.  Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean.  The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface.  This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.    Tangier is VERY cool.  I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience.  Neither is true.  It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities.  Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a
'Saturday, May 23: Tangier    Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco.  We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street.  The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting.  (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.)  This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me.  Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.     The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting.  Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean.  The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface.  This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.    Tangier is VERY cool.  I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience.  Neither is true.  It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities.  Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a
'Saturday, May 23: Tangier    Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco.  We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street.  The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting.  (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.)  This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me.  Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.     The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting.  Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean.  The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface.  This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.    Tangier is VERY cool.  I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience.  Neither is true.  It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities.  Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a
'Saturday, May 23: Tangier    Saturday morning my sister Debbie and I woke up early to take a day tour of Tangier, Morocco.  We almost missed the bus because we got a bit lost but luckily flagged our tour guide down as he raced down the street.  The way these folks drive in Gib is pretty interesting.  (That's actually true of the whole of Europe and the world actually.)  This bus was driving down cart path wide streets with old stone walls on either side at over 20 MPH which was 18 MPH too fast if you ask me.  Well, we collected our other tourists and off we went to Tarifa to catch the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangiers.     The straits of Gibraltar are very interesting.  Only 7.7 nautical miles away, all the water in the whole Mediterranean sea flows into and out of this strait and the level of the Med is 1 foot lower than the Atlantic ocean.  The saltier and therefore heavier outflow water flows along the bottom of the strait and the inflow flows along the surface.  This is much different that under the Golden Gate where the tides flow side by side not above and below each other.    Tangier is VERY cool.  I was expecting a fairly poor, very third world experience.  Neither is true.  It is a cosmopolitan city with europeans, mostly Spanish, and christian and jewish communities.  Even the King of Saudi Arabia has a

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Location, Location, Location

After an entirely successful visit to the police station in Barcelona to renew our visas, Deb and I decided to follow the advice of the guys that watched over Morpheus this past Winter.

We stopped about two hours South of Barcelona for lunch at a fantastic place called Muscalatorium.


This is a restaurant built on top of one section of a huge offshore Mussel Farm.  We wandered our way down to the local marina from the freeway, hopped in a water taxi and found ourselves here…

We were two of 11 people out there, and enjoyed a fantastic meal of oysters, mussels (of course), and a fantastic seafood paella.



Great location, great meal, and a not very positive effect on our driving time back to Gibraltar. 

We ended up arriving back at the boat at about 3am!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Barcelona to Gibraltar

Things have been crazy busy here dealing with all the immigration and import tax issues surrounding the EU.  I feel as though we are still working hard just to get started.  But, we've accomplished alot and I promise I will share some details soon.

In the meantime, I hope this short video will help...

Monday, May 18, 2015

spot down

Not to worry. Our spot tracker has run out of battery power. we will buy some spares in gibraltar

sorry for any concerns.

Jim

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Still Cleaning

Departure for Gibraltar looks to be Sunday weather permitting.



Jim Gregory 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dinner Time


Another long productive day today.  Taking Morpheus out of hibernation should be a methodical week long project. 

Our challenge is to do it as quickly as possible. Due to the EU's interesting tax laws we only have about two weeks to get to Gibraltar (or anywhere else outside the EU shengen territory).

With any luck we'll be on our way Sat,

Updates to follow.

Jim Gregory 

Work Day

We've got some cleaning to do!!!



Jim Gregory 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Good Morning Barcelona!





Jim Gregory 

Back in Barcelona (again)


26 hours after leaving San Francisco we had our bags loaded in an extra large cab and we're headed for our hotel in Barceona   

That was a long trip Oakland-Oslo-Barcelona, but we were running on adrenaline and once checked in we were out until 2:30am!  That may be a record for Deb.  

The video attached was taken from our hotel room directly across from the Cathedral of Barcelona. Such a beautiful building, and a rarity around here Gaudi had nothing to do with it. 

We went and checked out the boat this afternoon (yes, we slept in a bit) and everything looks good for a launch tomorrow morning. 

We move back onboard tomorrow!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Plans" beginning to take shape!!



Things are all beginning to fall into place for our return to Morpheus and the beginnings of our journey this Summer.


  1. Deb's brother Dan has quit his job and plans to sail with us for 2-3 months!
  2. Our airplane tickets are purchased.  We leave for Barcelona on May 9th.
  3. Morpheus is scheduled to be launched on May 11th.
  4. We know our first destination will be Gibraltar to reset the EU Customs Area required 18 month clock for visiting boats that don't wish to pay a 25% import fee.
  5. After that things are flexible but we are heading towards Sicily.  
  6. Most likely there will be stops in Ibiza (Dan's not about to miss that place!) and southern Sardinia.
  7. Research has shifted into high gear and our Master Cruise Map has been updated with destinations and points of interest for Sicily.
  8. After Sicily we'll be off for Greece, and hopefully Turkey.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Morpheus Cruising Plans for 2015


Hello!  Is anybody still out there?

We've been very quiet on the blog this year, but it's now time to start turning our thoughts back towards the boat and our cruising plans for 2015.

The house projects are over, and we've leased the house again for another year.

We plan to fly back to Barcelona in early May, and the big news is that Deb's brother Dan has decided to join us for a month or two!  We are thrilled to have him on-board, both for his company and for the additional help as we have plenty of miles to cover early in the season.

Our very loose plan is shown below.

More updates as we get closer to departure time.

-Jim


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Heading South

We are on our way to San Diego to visit Deb's Dad and do a bit of Etchells sailing with Andrew Whittome. 

We drove through LA yesterday and it was 84 degrees!!



Jim Gregory 

Friday, February 06, 2015

Time Out

Sorry for the lack of updates recently. 

Debbie and I are taking a bit of a break from boats and blogging.  



Our tenants in California have left, and we are in California for a while to get the house ready for the next set of tenants. 

Once the house is ready, we will most likely head back to Florida, and then back to the boat for another season in the Med. 

This year we hope to visit Sicily, Greece, and Turkey. 

Let us know when you will be visiting!!

Jim Gregory