Friday, July 22, 2011

Aboard Joie De Vie

The 103rd Mac race was a race to remember. This Mac race was one of the fastest and the most tragic. No one ever has lost life in this event, but unfortunately this year we had 2 fatal incidents. May them rest in peace.
The race started with south winds and we had the spinnaker up for most of the 49 hrs 20min, we recorded the highest speed of 12.6 knots and almost never saw any speeds below five. After a day of racing the halyard to the spinnaker broke and we almost dropped it in the water.
Thirty hrs into the race we were informed that a storm is coming our way. Now we have to get ready for the storm. There are two main helms men aboard, Randy Hastings and Jim Clauser. Randy has 23 Mac races under his belt and Jim 27. Both very experienced skippers. Jim is so talented behind helm, he sailed through 60-80 mph wind with full main & a small Jib. The storm hit us with heavy rain and high winds. It was like a wall of wind hitting the boat. The winds were so strong that you would think the mast and rigs would come down anytime. My shift on deck ended 20 min before the storm but I liked to be on deck & experience heavy weather. While I'm laying down & looking at the lightning outside I thought I should put my gear on & go up! But then why should I, to get wet and put myself in danger. We have enough people on deck anyway. It was lightning continuously for few minutes, the whole lake and sky was lit up. You almost needed sunglasses, that's how strong it was. From inside the cabin it looked like we were struck by a star war in the space.
Right after the storm, we heard on the VHF radio that a boat was capsized and 2 people were lost. It was a very surreal moment of chock and sorrow.
Some boats were hit so hard that they drifted 10 miles backwards. We finished in the middle of the fleet, part of the faster pack. I look at it as we all won since we accomplished the race. It's not about taking the first place, you can be a winner without being first. Aboard Joie De Vie, we had 8 crew members, next to Randy, Jim, Lee & I, there were also Duane, Kerry, Ilya, & Garret. The crew worked great together and we all had a good time racing.
Mackinac Island, MI

Mackinac Island is a beautiful island. There are no cars or motor driven vehicles on the island. The main form of transportation is horse carriages and bicycles. I bicycled around the Island 13 years ago (first year I moved to the U.S, Kalamazoo, MI).

Grand Hotel's Carriage
This island has a strategic location on the strait of Mackinaw between Lake Michigan and lake Huron and lays between the lower and upper Michigan. The Grand hotel is a must see on the Island and the Rum party for the Chicago-Mac race is held in the hotel's front yard every year. You can not miss the Mackinac Fudge during your visit on the Island. Being on Mackinac feels like stepping back in time.

The delivery of Joie De Vie back to Chicago is a also a highlight. Lee, Jim, & I left Mackinac Island Wednesday morning. First port was Leeland, MI, & then Manistee, and now we are crossing Lake Michigan to Sheboygan, WI.
The sand dunes on the eastern coast of Michigan is spectacular. It's hard to believe that there are so many beautiful beaches and dunes in Michigan. View the full photo album on Earthlingsailor's facebook page
Love from Joie De Vie

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chicago-Mackinac Race

Chicago-Mackinac Sailing Race is one of the longest annual fresh water Races in the world. This year is the 103rd Mac race and Chicago Yacht club sponsors this event every year. The Race starts in Chicago and ends in Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. The distance is 333 miles and it will take us 45 to 70 hours to finish. This event has been one of my highlights in the summer in Chicago for the last 3 years. I’m crewing on Joie De Vie, a Beneteau First 36.7 owned by Martin and Donna Hastings. Marty has accomplished 23 Mac Races so far, and he took first place in the section in the year 2000 on the previous Joie De Vie (J105). Unfortunately Marty is not able to participate in this year’s race because of health issues. We are praying that he will be back on Joie De Vie racing the Mac next year. There are over 350 sailboats participating in this event every year.
I have gained most of my sailing experience on Joie De Vie and this has helped me to do what I’m doing, be a free bird and sail off to cruise around the world.
How is racing different than cruising. When we race, we can not have unnecessary weight on the boat, which means, limited clothing, electronics, water tanks are low on water, no laptops, only 8gallon of drinking water for 8 people in 2-3 days and so forth. On Joie De Vie, we do have the luxury of a refrigerator and a stove/oven, but many race boats in this race don’t even have that. I’m very excited to be part of this race and most likely I will do the Mac’s in the future. 
Love from the Mac Race      

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wasteful World

A thought worth to share.

Since I came back to land, I've been running into so many situations where things gets wasted. We waste a lot in our daily life. We waste important resources, such as fresh water, food, paper(trees) and we don't even care about electricity. We use so much fresh water to wash dishes, taking showers, and many other things. 
In the U.S. we have plenty of fresh water. But there are many countries in the world that don't have any fresh water, many places we visited in the Caribbean didn't have a
great deal of fresh water. Living on a boat with limited access to resources, makes one more resourceful! 
Now on land, my conscious bothers me when the water is running wastefully.

It hurts me to see how much food we buy at the grocery stores and restaurants and a lot of it goes in the garbage.
We live in a over-consumption society, way beyond our needs and desires. That's what our system is based on. It's part of our life and such a routine that we don't even see it. We live in a small bubble and feel so secure and so comfortable that we don't want to change. I've been fortunate and got the opportunity to slightly step out of this bubble and this is how I see it! We have to act now as each individual and become more resourceful. 

Love from the wasteful world

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quick Road Trip

As many of you know by now, I love to travel. And I love to travel in a personal vehicle where I'm in charge of my direction and stops. Before I was a sailor I had the dream of driving around the world. I've had this dream since I was in my teens. And I have driven to and through many countries in my life so far. Nothing and nobody should stop one from dreaming!

Swedish Embassy in DC
My Swedish passport was expired on June 13th and that's the day I entered United States from the BVIs. In order to renew it I must go to the House of Sweden in Washington DC. And that is a great reason for a quick road trip and a visit to relatives in the east coast. The overnight passage from Chicago to Winchester, Virginia, took 16 hrs with 4 hours of sleep in the car. This is similar to an overnight passage on Earthling. But sailing 650 miles would taken 10 times longer. Driving and sailing is a form of meditation to me, sailing is more in tune with nature though.
This quick road trip was a great opportunity to give Varaminis in Winchester VA,  Lancaster PA, & Pittsburg PA, a fast visit. They always follow on my journeys and are very supportive. The east cost route is a regular route in my road trip calendar. I have driven this path more than handful times in the last 12 years.

Sunrise on Lake Michigan at the moment of return to Chicago
When I drive long distances alone, I get a chance to connect easier to higher self and channel new ideas and get answers to challenges in life. I think everybody needs to have self time on regular basis.
There will be other road trips on regular and new routes this summer. I will keep you updated.
Love from the Road