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42' Westsail Fiona in Heavy Seas oil on canvas by Tom Lohre.

42' Westsail "Fiona" in heavy seas, oil on canvas, 12" x 16", February 2018

2018 Crossing
Wednesday, January 17, 2018


The plane left the ground smoothly, without notice it was airborne as if it wanted to be high instead of sitting still on the freezing ground. Even the de-icing clunge as if wanting to hitch a ride to 37,000 feet. Though 50° below the two movements propelled the plane flawlessly as if it was its natural state.

The gnawing in my stomach continued and would continue till arriving on Fiona, my second lady, a 42’ Westsail sailboat, I was crewing 6,000 miles in a southern loop down the coast of Africa up the coast of North America, finishing in Long Island just miles from Newark Airport where I took off four months ago.

Sailing through paradise during the best time means the ship gently glides through the endless miles meeting up with one warm volcanic island after another till finally settling into a narrow shallow slip in Patchogue.

The calling sea for me is intrepid. Not exuberant but cautious as if thinking the ship through its paces. She responds well to attention, readily allowing you to spruce her up as you continually listen and feel her wearing.

13 Chapter 4 Month Blog

Captain Eric's Blog Post



Tom testing out the oars  fitted on a Banshee.

Tom fitted his Banshee with oar locks and carved a set of eight foot oars out of poplar. They come in real handy while sailing the Ohio River with the current and traffic. Bungee the boom to the mast and you have plenty of room to row while sitting on a small cooler for a thwart.

13' Banshee

19' Starwind

32' Bayfield

Fiona XI, 8" x 10", Melted oil pastel on sanded steel

42' Westsail

After six years, a motif

Oil pastel melted on canvas of sailboat by Tom Lohre.

24 February, Mostly Cloudy, Wind NE 10-15 kts, Waves NW 5’, Fetch 750’

Christmas Present Booklet of the SPRING 2016 Crossing on Fiona with Captain Eric complete with sea & surface state fax and pencil drawing for each day.

Tom Lohre with normal foul weather gear on.

Normal attire, Tom always has his straw hat held tightly by a slip knot even with a rain hood. It keeps the rain hood from moving around. The hat works like cats wiskers and keeps him from geting into places he cannot get out of.

Head lamp mouth guard you can steer with your tongue. It's hard to hold a flashlight in your mouth for long periods and in rough seas.One sailor had his teeth knocked out when the boom hit his head while holding a metal flashlight in his mouth.


Crossing III booklet in preliminary form

Study for crossing of the mid-Atlantic

42' Yacht Fiona passing Fort Sumter, South Carolina  impressionist oil painting by Tom Lohre.

42' Yacht Fiona Crossing Bay of Biscay, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Saturday, November 28, 2015
Tom was staying at the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel for a wedding and could not help but look for a place to paint. He needed an outlet since he was melting oil on pastel melted on board with a heat gun so off he set out with his rig looking for a view with outlet. Walking northeast to Harris Teeter Market on E Bay Street then further northeast to Concord Street. Fleet Landing Restaurant, across from the Customs House, looked promising but no outlet. Further south on Concord the City Gallery had many outlets, none working. The park offered good compositions. Then progressing further south on Concord Tom struck the mother lode, The Carolina Yacht Club had an outlet at the base of its flag pole with seating and fantastic view. Tom spent the rest of the afternoon painting into the evening as the moon came up. The club rents itself out and a law or brokerage firm was enjoying a holiday party with lite beer and shucked oysters. Tom watch the catering team set up and the partiers arrive. He could not believe no one commented on his painting then realizing they were not sailors. As such as he tried to mingle and talk with the group he could not get an invite to have a beer and oyster.
Tom had been following the Fiona, the sailboat he crossed the North Atlantic in, in June of 2015.
From the story
Reefing and Unreefing
By late on Nov. 14, we had reached 49° 04’ N, 07° 17’ W and I judged we could lay a direct course for Cape Finisterre without getting into the maw of Biscay. The next day we sailed on starboard tack, reefing and un-reefing as the wind varied between 22 knots and 35 knots, with gusts to 40. At 0230 on Nov. 16, I decided to shake out a reef in the mainsail; the cleats for the slab reefing lines are all on the port side of the boom, so this job is best done on port tack. The sea state was far too rough to tack without an assist from the engine, which was still defunct, so we had to gybe. After a quick briefing Gus handled the jib sheets, Steve took the main sheet and I stood at the wheel. With a yell of “Gybe-Oh” I put the wheel over. The sails shivered and with an unnerving crash the boom went over — the main sheet was not hardened up as much as it should have been and Steve collapsed onto the cockpit grating, holding his hands to his face. In the light of my flashlight I saw blood oozing between his fingers; the loose sheet had caught him across his face, knocking out a tooth.

Oil pastel melted on paper of the ship Emma Lou by Tom  Lohre.

Emma Lou, 4" x 6", Oil pastel on paper

42' Westsail Fiona  crossing the Bay of Biscay , oil pastel on board by Tom Lohre.

Fiona Crossing Bay of Biscay, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Saturday, November 28, 2015

Impressionist oil pastel on board of a  sailor standing on the beach by Tom Lohre.

Ocean Explorer, 16" x 12", Oil pastel on board, Thursday, November 26, 2015

Impressionist painting of  sailboat by Tom  Lohre.

Fiona I, Second North Atlantic Crossing I, 4" x 5.5", Oil pastel on paper, September 29, 2015

Boathouse Painting, 10' x 18", oil on board, April 23, 2014

View Following the Peqoud in a larger map

Peqoud Leaves 12/25/1850
Christmas Day the Peqoud leaves. September 9 the Morgan leaves.

Ahab Comes on Deck 1/10/1850
Figuring 100 miles a day, 1600 miles out from Nantucket, Ahab comes out for the first time for the weather is mild and the temperatures rising. Winds 5kts SW 40"23'W 39"4'N Although the temperatures h...

Ahab Calls All Men Aft 1/11/1850
33'51"W 26'10"N 23 days out of Nantucket following the same course of the Morgan in 1841 and the book as reference. Looking at 1/11/13 weather, the large low centered off Newfoundland will not effect ...

Ahab Throws his Pipe Overboard
37'00"W 38'13"N 22 days out, 1/15/1850 the Peqoud finds itself around where the Morgan was 9/28. Chapter 30 THE PIPE "He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the s...

100 Leg and Arm
Which way heading?"

33'51"N 26'10"W, 23 days out the Peqoud could be where the Morgan was 23 days out. Chapter 37 SUNSET "The cabin; by the stern windows; Ahab sitting alone, and gazing out"

Morgan July 7
3'22" S 120' 40" OPeqoud could be about here on May 7.

59 The Squid
Entrance to the Java Sea

87 The Grand Armada
Sundan Straight With a fair, fresh wind, the Pequod was now drawing near to these straits; Ahab purposing to pass through them into the Java sea, and thence , cruising northwards, over waters known to...

100 Leg and Arm.
"Spin me the yarn," said Ahab; "how was it?" "It was the first time in my life that I ever cruised on the Line." began the Englishman.

111 The Pacific
122° E., lat. 20° 28' to 20° 55^ N. When gliding past the Bashee isles we emerged at last upon the great South Sea; were it not for other things, I could have greeted my dear Pacific with uncounted th...

118 The Quadrant
Now, in that Japanese Sea

119 The Candles
Towards the evening of that day, the Pequod was torn of her canvas, and bare-poled was left to fight a Typhoon which had struck her directly ahead.

123 The Musket
The three corresponding new sails were now bent and reefed, and a storm-trysail was set further aft; so that the ship soon went throught the water with some precision again; and the course - for the p...

124 The Needle
Sea long slow billowing staggering breeze Sailing West the needle reads east-southeast

126 The Life-bouy
...south-eastward to the Equator. Rocky islands

132 The Symphony
And at the girding line of the horizon, a soft and tremulous motion -most seen here at the Equator

.Tom Lohre painted as Ahab in the last chapeter of Moby Dick.

Tom Lohre as Parsee, 16” X 20”, Oil on canvas, work in progress

As Tom works on his portrait as Ahab he will be following the voyage of the Peqoud in real time weather using the track of the Charles Morgan out of New Bedford in September of 1841.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Chapter 134
Page 560
While Daggoo and Queequeg were stopping the strained planks; and as the whale swimming out from them, turned, and showed one entire flank as he shot by them again; at that moment a quick cry went up. Lashed round and round to the fish's back; pinioned in the turns upon turns in which, during the past night, the whale had reeled the involutions of the lines around him, the half torn body of the Parsee was seen; his sable Parsee frayed to shreds; his distended eyes turned full upon old Ahab.Comment posted about PBS’s Into the Deep from the American Experience SeriesMan’s Extinction and the WhaleboatThe impact of whaling is the same as every other harvesting to extinction. Man’s rape of the planet is ever ending till it is all gone. The rich get richer and we suffer. Gas fracking is our new whale. Why cannot we develop a sustainable livelihood? I hope the government sees giving tax breaks to lifestyles that are sustainable instead of tax breaks to a slow death of the planet.Tom's knowledge of the whaling industry is focused on how to sail a whaleboat. Painting himself as Parsee, one of Ahab’s devil crew tied to Moby Dick as Ahab calls his men to lower for Moby on the third day of the chase with the Peqoud in the background has given him new knowledge of the whaleboat while dreaming of traveling the same long distances the crew of the Essex did.

Willard and Tom on a foggy morning with the swimmers sailing the 2263 Banshee on the Ohio RIver. Photo by Michael Keating

Tom and Willard sail the 2263 Banshee by the Mike Fink Restaurant at first light, photo by Michael Keating

Willard and Tom sailing the 2263 Banshee on a foggy morning while 75 swimmers raced in the Ohio River. Both photos by Michael Keating, photokeating at,

Father's Day 2012, sailing Banshee with Susan

Tom Lohre as Captain Ahab

Tom as Captain Ahab, 16" x20", oil on canvas, February 17, 2012

At Sea IV, 16" x 12", oil on canvas, October 18, 2010

October 25, 2011 on the Ohio River

Pastel Mural on Concrete of "Passing Fastnet Light," 6' x 4' September 18, 2010

Sail On, a song dubbed over a shorten version of the video.

Liberty, oil on board, 16" x 12", May 2010

DRAW: What America Means to Me America to Tom Lohre means sailing through the night in rough seas, close hauled, trying to make Liberty Island. The wind is blowing him into the island. The painting shows the boat barely making the southeastern point of the island on his way to Manhattan in the early morning.
The Cincinnati Art Museum invited artists to perform, ”What America means to Me” on a small stage in the “See America” print collection in the Schiff Gallery. Some played music, others read poetry, Tom screened the video from his across the North Atlantic with two sailors in a 36’ Pearson from May 28 to June 28, 2010; painted on his “Liberty Arrives in Manhattan” and played sea shanties. Visitors to the gallery were encouraged to, “DRAW: What America Means to Me.” Their drawings were immediately projected on a wall.

Green Ray, oil on board, 16" x 12", August 20, 2010

While crossing the North Atlantic in a 36’ Pearson with two other sailors we experienced a double green ray. The rays happen when the sky is clear just after the setting sun. A brief flash of green light shoots up and like a rainbow there is always a subtle double. Tom has enhanced the phenomenon for this painting. The sunset was the first day at sea leaving Newfoundland headed for Ireland.


Sketch of Skylark passing Fasnet light.

Baltimore Ireland, 16" x 12", oil on board, June 27, 2009

Art Sail
The tide was red, before I went to sea
Beaten down, round after round, with clammy sweating hands
Anxiety abound, losing 25 pounds
Then off to sea for 3000 miles in 21 days
Round the clock 4 on 8 off, steering, weather, cooking
"What made it better?” asked he.
She said, "Once you left, I felt alright."Art Sail by Tom Lohre

Sailng Forum The Fear of Ones left Behind

Once back on dry land in Cincinnati Tom became hell bent on getting a sailboat. FreeCycle, an Internet group, offers things for free. He joined and posted a message wanting a sailboat. Low and behold, a post came back about a neighbor who had a trimaran he wanted to get rid of. A 9’ long, 5’ beam, 1971, plastic Triumph trimaran with a lateen sail rig. He split the plastic hull, fiber glassed the interior, replacing the interior wood cross braces, re-screwing the top and bottom plastic together. Mounting a rudder and oar locks he will be sailing/rowing in Cincinnati Harbor on the Ohio River. An old river rat whose first job was on a converted Ohio River towboat into a restaurant with a boss whose parents were slaves. He went on to become a rigger on a river salvage operation. His father introduced the family to houseboats and they navigated up and down the Ohio at least three times. Later helping him sailed his Morgan 36' from Miami to Lake Erie. Years later while living for twenty years in NYC, he sailed out of East Hampton culminating with helping the captain sail his refurbished 1980 Pearson 36' to Baltimore, Ireland. Now he must always have a boat but being a portrait painter find monies slim. This was a free 1968 Triumph trimaran by Snark and getting it ready to sail on the Ohio River in Cincinnati Harbor was interrupted by finding an illegitimate sailboat, the Banshee, with trailer on Craigslist for $450, starting with it instead. The local canoe livery, Thaxtons, bought the Triumph for his grandchildren.
Watching Jaws 2 looking to see if there is a Snark in it. is the tread about the boats in Jaws II.

Turns out several fondly remember this craft.

Working on his art show about the sailing trip across the North Atlantic Tom felt he needed something to illustrate the occasional beating you take not only figuratively but also in reality. When the boat is beating up wind, you are slammed into the gunnels often. Broken ribs are not that uncommon. Broken relationships are not that uncommon either. The loved ones left onshore get beaten up emotionally. At first he thought he could make a “Mechanical Sailboat” like the “Mechanical Bull” you find in Texas Road Houses. His love of mobiles and thoughts of the movement you needed to simulate a sailboat lead him directly to a huge mobile suspended from a tree made of tree limbs. As the sailor-rider gets moved up and down and around by the grounds persons pulling ropes attached to the far ends of the limbs they are passed hot cups of coffee that gets spilled and occasionally a bucket of water is thrown on them. All the while they watch the video shot during the trip on a big sheet from a LCD projector. It should prove to be a fantastic event. Of course you will have to pay big bucks to ride but you will get the log book and DVD from the trip and maybe a piece of scrimshaw or oil painting of the sail. Crossing the North Atlantic

Passing FasnetLight, 16" x 12", oil on board, July 17 2009

Painted from the imagination after returning home, Tom let the paint wander round the canvas until it started to come together. The boat modeled in “Virtual Sailor” to help the reality of the scene. The light halo sun placed for compositional reasons, but when finished, Tom realized that it was Fastnet Light. They sailed past Fastnet in the early morning fog later making landing at Hare Island. Click here to see the dummy of the booklet Tom is writting about the trip.

Good food, good sleep and great sailing make for a happy crew.

Chuck Lohre, land communication support, plotted on Google Maps the journey from the SPOT GPS satellight beeper tracker:

Thurs May 28 Left East Hampton; Noon: 41.023100, -72.182400; arrive in Newport 11 pm
Fri May 29 Newport RI; Pick up life raft, noon: 41.485000, -71.319300; go to art opening;
Thurs May 30 Leave Newport for Province Town; Noon: Just out of Buzzards Bay Canal, MA 41.788400, -70.467000

Pierre Beauregard, master harmonica player, cousin and friend to the captain plays a little ditty on Skylark the day before they set off for Nova Scotia, Canada and later to Ireland over 2,500 miles away.


Sun May 31: 10 am arrive in Provincetown, Massachusetts; Noon 42.0366,-70.1549 ; dinner at Lobster Pot
Mon June 1: 9 am Rick leaves, Pierre Beaureguard pays a visit, 10 am leave Provincetown under full genoa; noon 42.7578,-67.6993, 1 pm, cloudy, 2 pm raise main, main traveler hits George’s leg, waves 3-4’, winds 25 kts; 3 pm reef main, 8 pm low front moves over
Weather: SW winds 20 kts, 3-6 ft waves, Isolated showers and thunder storms

Tues June 2: 1 am wind gusting to 35 kts, take down main breaking 10 main sail guides; 8 am, waves 5-6 ft, wind 27 kts, light rain; 9 am loose life raft after being pooped; retrieve life raft; Noon 43.817700, -64.760300 , sunny, waves 6-9 ft, fetch 75 ft, 8 pm arrive in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia; get Canadian Customs arrival number via telephone and post in window

Wed June 3: 7 am leave Lunenberg; Noon 44.466900, -63.503900 , 3 pm motoring; discover oil low; 3 pm arrive in Halifax; dock at Dartmouth Yacht Club; meet with Raymarine technician, take cab ride to “The Binnacle” looking for sail guides; dinner at local restaurant
Weather forecast: SW Winds 10 kts, Rain possible,
Thurs June 4; Dartmouth Yacht Club, Andy leaves boat, stitched sail guides

Fri June 5; 7 am leave Halifax; Noon just east of Halifax 44.582800, -62.980600
Notes: They say it gets 20 degrees colder when you get to St. Johns. We’ll be four men in a ice hut. You’re a sailor you’ll get the job done. You’re a sailor you can fix anything. Getting rough? Let out the traveler. We worked for three weeks on the boat before setting sail. All systems are on trial. Sailing skills are rusty. Getting to stitch on the sails bred familiarity. Saw whales off P-town. Saw twenty seals at various times off Nova Scotia. May have seen a puffin amongst many seabirds. Everyone asks when we are leaving. I tell them when we are ready. We are a week behind schedule. We will arrive when we get there. Learned there is no fog this time of year. We are really on a cruising sailboat where you motor if there is no wind. With the engine running at 2,400 rpm we use about 1/2 gallon an hour, 5 miles a gallon. To Do List: Install four pad eyes, Install flag halyard, Install topping lift, Stitch sail guides, Install man overboard throw line, Hack saw forward hand rail pins, Add bead of caulk around rub rail, fix table leg

Sat June 6: 5:46 am raised main sail; winds SE 5.6 kts; heading 80; bar 1019, temp 81.3 F; noon docked at Cansco Nova Scotia 45.338500, -60.996200; George went ashore looking for cigarettes and fuel came back with coco, paper towels and roll your own tobacco. Stayed until 3 pm and sailed into our second low. We were in the northwest quadrant so winds were 20-25 from the ENE, waves 5-8 ft

Sun June 7: 3 am RADAR mast forward support pole came undone. Triple lashed it to the railing and boat. Temp 47 F, Boat took a lot of pounding. Maybe we heard more noise from the boat since the motor was off. In the morning variable winds from the north, motoring for St. Pierre; Noon 45.204600, -58.917400; Saw porpoises for the first time; 4:12 pm 1/4” above 15 gal mark in diesel tank; took nap earlier
8 June 2009, 46.500000, -56.5408009 June 2009 St. Pierre, 46.776600, -56.174800

Tom Lohre talks about setting off across the North Atlantic. Tom with the captain and a sail master sailed 2000 miles from Saint Pierre, France to Baltimore Ireland in 15 days. Saint Pierre is a French colony in Newfoundland. The island is about two miles by one mile with an excellent harbor. During prohibition 5000 people lived on boats in the harbor and large warehouses, still on shore, held booze from Europe. The fishing industry is marginal now and now most people live on government jobs. Students go to Paris to attend college. Everyday young childrens would attend sailing school, suiting up in wet suits and launching small sail craft with the teacher running around in a rubber power boat. 10 June 2009, 46.776700, -56.174800

11 June 2009, 46.783800, -56.164000

Ben sets the preventer on the main and uses the spinaker pole on the genoa to allow both sails full access to the wind. Just before we left Saint Pierre, Ben restored the spinaker pole by cutting two inches of the end to access the frozen parts. He reattached it and nows works as good as new. We never would have crossed in 15 days without the spinnaker pole. It allowed us to make 10 knots!

After reconditioning the spinnaker pole, Skylark makes good use of it making 10 knots in light winds for two days. Ben taught us by showing how to do it. Whatever you do keep the sail downwind of the foreward stay, or line that runs from the bow to the mast. You do not want to wrap the sail around the forestay. Sometimes you have to cut it off.

D 17 June 2009 50.3551,-38.0892
E 19 June 2009 51.8002,-31.2866
C 20 June 2009 52.1477,-26.5361
F 21 June 2009 52.1265,-22.1928
G 22 June 2009 52.0931,-15.8134
B 26 June 2009 51.483000, -9.375700 Ireland

During the whole sail across the North Atlantic we only saw one ship, a empty fuel tanker going west about five miles north of us.

Ben talks about just sailing without electronics. George describes getting lost at sea while sailing to Block Island from East Hampton. He solicits nearby boats on the radio to help him get his bearings.

Ben celebrated his 52nd birthday at sea and Tom made him a rum cake.

Ben with his rum cake.

In my immersion dry suit I used as foul weather gear listening to Ben's I-pod!

We witnessed a feeding frenzy.

Skylark passes Fastnet Light off Baltimore, Ireland, 4" x 6", pencil on paper

We sailed right up to Ben's family cottage on Hare Island. Ben's mother made us a fine Irish breakfast. Later we all rode Skylark into Baltimore.

Painting of Baltimore Bay  with light green and yellow colors with gray sky.

Baltimore Harbor, 16" x 12", oil on canvas, June 26, 2009, painted from life after the 15 day crossing of the Atlantic. Painted the day after landing from crossing the North Atlantic, Tom brought his paints and ivory plastic to make scrimshaw but found that there was little time to create art. His duties of watch taking, cook, communications and weather kept him busy and the tendency to sleep a lot also got in the way. Tom was ready to leave as soon as he arrived in Ireland for he had been gone for six weeks, three weeks working on the boat in the yard and three weeks at sea. The view is the main launch ramp with the sailing clubhouse building to the right. The man who owns the warehouse directly behind this view owns the boat in the foreground. During the day a school of J 20’s raced out in Baltimore Bay and in the foreground small board sailors worked their circuit.

To celebrate our arrival the O'Driscoll Family had their mid-summer reunion with dancing in the town square.

Sat May 16 to Fri May 22: Yard Work at Three Mile Marina
Sat May 23 to Fri May 29: George, Andy, Rick & Tom Sail to and pick up Givens Life Boat in Newport, Rhode Island
Sat May 30 to Fri Jun 5: Sail to and Outfitting in Provincetown, Rick leaves; Sail to Lunneberg, Nova Scotia; Sail to Hailfax, Nova Scotia, Raymarine technician visit, Andy leaves.Sat Jun 6 to Fri June 12: sail to St. Pierre, France, Ben Morris arrives and reconditions spinnaker pole, outfitting completed.Sat Jun 13 to Fri Jun 19: Leave St. Pierre to Mid-point of North AtlanticDate: Sat, 13 Jun 2009 15:42:35 GMT
Longitude:-50=2E8114Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 15:28:46 GMT
Date: Tue, 16 Jun 2009 15:55:49 GMT
Longitude:-41=2E132Date: Wed, 17 Jun 2009 14:59:09 GMT
Longitude:-38=2E0892 Date: Fri, 19 Jun 2009 15:35:04 GMT
Sat Jun 20 to Fri Jun 26: Mid-point to Baltimore, Ireland; Ben leaves.Date: Sat, 20 Jun 2009 15:20:40 GMT
Longitude:-26.5361Date: Sun, 21 Jun 2009 14:34:02 GMT
Longitude:-22.1928Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 15:41:43 GMT
Longitude:-18.4527Date: Tue, 23 Jun 2009 12:07:06 GMT
Sat Jun 27 to Sun Jun 28: Baltimore, Tom Leaves; George takes Skylark to Kinsale for more crew and technical work on Raymarine systems.
Skylark’s Info
Name of vessel: Skylark, 36' Pearson Sailboat
Captain and owner: George DuBose  Sail Master: Ben Morris
Cook, Weather, Communications, Splicer & Whipper: Tom Lohre
Electronics: Andy HeermansCrew out of Kinsale: Rick, Jim
Margaret S. Lohre, M.D. mentions: Tom is leaving on the Feast day of St. Brendan. Saint Brendan of Clonfert or Bréanainn of Clonfert (c. 484 – c. 577) (Irish: Naomh Breandán ) called "the Navigator", "the Voyager", or "the Bold" is one of the early Irish monastic saints whose legends reflect their history. He is chiefly renowned for his legendary quest to the "Isle of the Blessed," also called St. Brendan's Island. The Voyage of St. Brendan could be called an immram (Irish voyage story). He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.[2] Saint Brendan's feast day is celebrated on May 16
Sheri says:
May you have clear skies,
and Starry nights...
May the wind be always at your back,
and there be smooth waters for your sail...
May the fish be plentiful for the catch,
and time plentiful to enjoy your journey...
And may St. Brendan watch over you and
guide you until your safe return home!

Tom's Story of the Trip

When George first mentioned the idea of crossing the North Atlantic in his new old boat I was game. For many years while sailing in New England I always tried to persuade the vacationers to take their two weeks at sea and go to Bermuda, one week sailing there, one day to turn around and one week to get back. It was rather an extended version of their daily wants to leave one quaint harbor and sail to another quaint harbor, take a shower, have a nice meal in a fine restaurant and then do it all over again the next day.

My Reason
My reason for wanting to sail long distances derived from my career as a fine artist. Never having great success monetarily selling my art but still living the highest life possible, I developed a habit of going to great places but eating out of grocery stores. I saw making land as a huge expense. The vacationers shared docks fees, fuel, food, ice, beer, etc. While I was perfecting my talent in my thirties others were perfecting their ability to make money. My development as an artist took place in Greenwich Village, New York City where I was the village fine artist. I friends were excellent artists and we all steadfastly refused to compromise our talents. Repeatedly advised not to do anything I did not want to do. My talent would take me through life much like a bird that did not reap or sow. My skills as a waterman were welcomed and I stuck my neck out creating debt while on vacation. Now I see clearly how to proceed: buy my own boat; load it up with my own foods: homemade hard biscuit and dried meat, rum, dried fruit, peanuts find two other sailors and set out yearly to sail from Chicago to Mackinaw, Toledo to Buffalo or North Carolina to the Bahamas. You could do it in a open whaleboat but a Cirrus Westerly would be more comfortable.

What to Study
The trip was going to happen and I started studying what I thought you would need for the journey. What I studied turned out to be secondary to the greatest focus: the sails, lines and hardware. In five months of studying heavy weather procedures, first aid, communications, weather forecasting I never brushed up on my sailing terms and was completely embarrassed those first days out at sea. I had not sailed in three years and it showed. The boat was ten feet longer than the one I learned on and all the parts had a lot more momentum. It was not until the end of the trip that I started getting used to the operations. The captain was right with it, as was the sail master, which really made me a liability for the first few days.

All three of us who crossed the Atlantic had spouses with anxiety. Turns out the drive to sail and understanding the risks are the sole domain the sailor's mind. My wife said she was much better once I had gone but still referred to us as the three idiots.

The ideas than fill a mind not familiar with sailing sometimes make the possibility of sailing the watery world impossible. In reality, without two weather systems working in conjunction the wind rarely goes above 30 knots and the waves higher than 8 feet with a 100’ fetch, or the space between the crests. The sailor and the boat have many safe options to deal with heavy weather or winds above 35 knots and waves larger than 15’. Generally, the winds get to be much higher long before the waves get larger. We had a lifeboat, drogue and storm jib. The major heavy weather contingency would be to sail into the wind with as short as sail as possible attacking the waves at an angle and heeled over to avoid pitch polling, or having the boat completely turn around under water generally breaking the mast. The sail master made notice of the parts of the interior of the boat that would break off their mounts and fly about in such event. A more severe form of this manner is to set the sails counter to each other making the boat zig zag into the wind. If this setting of sails did not work, we would drop the drogue off the stern to prevent the boat from sailing too fast.
We never saw any winds higher than 35 knots or waves higher than 9 feet. They say you should leave for the crossing after a low and we left after a monstrous low. The system combined several smaller lows and delivered 45-knot winds off the coast of Ireland where we were to land two weeks before we got there. Normally this time of year the weather offers benign systems substantially less than normal North Atlantic weather. We followed this low across the Atlantic. First, it was on top of us and then we saw it off to the northeast horizon for a week and a half. We could also see the clouds from the Gulf Stream in the south. Normally it was cloudy with winds out of the northeast and southeast

Why More Do not Go
There are three reasons more people do not travel the watery world more often. Without these three reasons, there would be thousands of boats out in the middle of nowhere. We saw one other boat a large empty fuel tanker about six miles to the north heading west. The first reason is seasickness. If you get seasick then the trip is quite miserable and though you can take medicine, it never is pleasant. Some say that after three days, the sickness goes away and so you can be put off by the other two reasons. The next is heavy weather where the boat is heeled over and occasionally you are thrown about. It would not be so bad if the boat was just heeled over 30 degrees and you feel like you are walking in the corners but the boat slams into the water from time to time making everything that is not tied down slam into something else. If you happen not to have yourself wedged in for such a banging it becomes a series of bruises. Fortunately, our slamming about for four days did not happen until the end. If it happened in the beginning, we would have been nursing our wounds for the rest of the trip but would have been better prepared for the next time it happened. The last thing is the time it takes to get somewhere. Even at ten knots crossing an ocean, take weeks.

Three Weeks Working Three Weeks Sailing
I was gone for a little over six weeks but we were only at sea for three weeks. The rest of the time spent working on the boat. Skylark, the name of the boat from the previous owner, was a complete refit. Wiring, major hardware, electronics, stove, refrigerator, winches, cleats were replaced. It had a new engine with 100 hours on it but that was about the extent of anything else being new with the old 1981 boat. Work started with the boat out of the water and all the through holes, the five holes that go through the hull and have valves on them to open and close, being rebuilt. Everyday a crew of four would saw, drill, measure, fit, sand, bolt, screw things from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The captain and electronics expert spent three years working on the boat and the closer the take off date came the more action in the boat yard became. Endless trips to the hardware store augmented with constant reading of installation manuals and authorization by the captain concerning what you were doing. I installed handrails, the oven, stitched damaged parts of the genoa sail, spliced ropes, caulked while the rest of the crew had endless tasks. Slowly the long list of things to do and buy got shorter but we left East Hampton on May 28 with still a long list. I had called Three Mile Marina my home in East Hampton for thirty years and was probably not coming back. We picked up the plastic duffel bag lifeboat in Newport, Rhode Island and continued on to Provincetown, Massachusetts. We continued to outfit the boat in P-town and set off for Nova Scotia on Monday July 1. First landing in Lunenburg, we continued on to Halifax where an electronics expert tried to get the autopilot to perform properly. Andy our fearless electronics expert left the boat after being seasick for several days and not comfortable with the high seas. His wiring was flawless and all inconsistencies traced back to the equipment. George and I continue on to Saint Pierre, a French colony in Newfoundland. Taking 6 hours watches we made in it three days. We continued to outfit the boat in Saint Pierre. Ben Morris arrived from England and immediately set out to get the spinnaker pole working. George went up the mast for one last time. We set off for Ireland June 12 around noon.

Watches, Foul Weather, Gear Spot
Leaving Saint Pierre was uneventful until I saw a large 4 prop high wing gray cargo plane flying about 4,000 feet above us and then later a navy blue with gold yellow trim King air buzzing us. We turned on the VHF radio and discovered that they were trying to contact us. I had pushed the “Help” button on the SPOT device in accordance with procedure. There are three buttons on the SPOT. One is labeled “Okay, another “Help” and the last “911. The “Help” and “Okay,” buttons can be set up to send a 150-letter message to ten people. The same people received both messages and the “Okay” button was to let everyone know that we were fine and would have the satellite phone set up if they wanted to try to reach or send an e-mail that would be replied to that day. The “Help” button was to let everyone know that the weather was too rough to connect the satellite phone and no e-mail would be sent that day. As it turned out the- SPOT device did not send a message every time I pushed the button and when I pushed the “Help” button the first time, it sent seven messages. This confused Chuck and Irene and they decided to call the Canadian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard decided to send try contacting us via our VHF radio and when that did not work sent two planes looking for us. I was very distraught at this chain of events and Ben got on the VHF radio and assured the pilot of the King Air that we were all right and would not be pushing the “Help” button anymore.

We had state of the art electronic chartsTobaccoShips SeenSea LifeMid OceanHow to Reef the MainHow to take down the spinnakerFresh Corn

Things in your pockets

Paper Towel Cleaning

The hell with the boat I’m off watch

First aid


Grill Man, 16" x 12", oil on board, September 2008This painting follows in the great tradition of men with their Kills. Instead of an Indian standing over his Buffalo we have Bob standing over his grill.

Solo Sailing Jokes

Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Six hours after you go to sleep, have your wife/girlfriend open the curtain, shine a million candlepower flashlight in your eyes, activate an air horn, and yell "Roger Blough to the sailboat approaching Grays Reef!" Renovate your bathroom. Build a wall across the middle of your bathtub, and move the showerhead down to chest level. When you take showers (don't we all whilst racing?), shut off the water while soaping. Every time there's a thunderstorm, so sit in a wobbly rocking chair and rock as hard as you can until you're nauseous. For the full effect wear the dog's hidden fence electric collar, and go out to the mailbox and back. Put lube oil in your humidifier instead of water and set it to high. Leave a lawnmower running in your living room for several hours a day to simulate recharging. Have the paperboy give you a haircut. Store up garbage in the other side of your bathtub. Wake up every night at midnight and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using stale bread, if anything. Cold soup or canned ravioli are optional. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. When it goes off, jump out of bed, get dressed as fast as you can, run out into the yard, and adjust the tension on the clothesline. Once a month take every major appliance completely apart and then put them back together. Do this in the dark with a flashlight clenched in your teeth, and your wife/girlfriend occasionally dropping a plate onto the floor behind you. Use 24 scoops of coffee per pot and allow it to sit for 5 or 6 hours before drinking. Install a fluorescent light on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books. Raise the threshold and lower the sills on your doorways so that you either trip or hit your head every time you pass through one of them. Lock wire the lug nuts on your car. For your "after steak and merlot" dessert, prop up one side of the cake pan while it's baking. Then spread icing really thick on one side to level out the top. This is optional, but extra credit given for those oven-less Rearick types. Tether yourself to a four-wheeler, jump into a swimming pool, and have your wife/girlfriend drive laps around the pool until it runs out of fuel (the four wheeler, that is). Should be done at night, in at least third gear, while wearing a strobe and blowing a whistle. Practice acquiring the sun in your signal mirror at a busy 4-way intersection. Attempt to direct the beam down all 4 streets. Aerobic run, which is sure to follow, will generate adrenalin similar to waiting to reef until the boat has been knocked down. Run into the kitchen and sweep all the pots and pans onto the floor after having previously covered the floor with BB's. Maneuver as fast as possible between the cupboards trying to put it all away. Must also be done at night with clenched flashlight in teeth. For Ron "Radio" Wells, start calling your friends at six-hour intervals and let them know where you are. Tether yourself to the hood of your car, and use your hacksaw to cut off the luggage rack, while your wife/girlfriend drives down a two track, at night, in the rain.

Tom's Ditty Bag

This is Tom's first ditty bag. He made the circumference 34" instead of 6" radius called for in the instructions so he could use it for general toting. The 17" height is the same.

Tom's sailing adventures started with his father getting a 26' Morgan and then a 38' Morgan. He sailed in Lake Erie and then along the East coast of Florida and Georgia in 1970-74. He did not get back on the water until 1979 when he helped take a sailboat from Chesapeake to East Hampton. Coincidentally he returned to that same marina in East Hampton to sail on his friend George DuBose's 26' Pearson.

Get Started on your own Ditty Bag Thanks to: Colin Grundy, Editor - Knotting Matters, John Burke of the International Guild of Knot Tyers - North American Branch and Barry Brown the maker of the below bag.

The materials used are:
Flax canvas supplied by
Wolfin Textiles Ltd
Cod line and flax cord. These can be obtained from either
Footrope Knots
Tradline Rope and Fenders

Ditty Bag
1995 Sail
1996 Sail
1998 Sail
1997 Sail

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