Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Netherlands, Belguim, back to the Azores and now London

Sailing on the canals of Friesland
Have had a great time travelling but now after 10 months off need to find work... so am in the UK

After leaving the lads in Spain I flew to the Netherlands. I spent a few weeks catching up with friends and family, had a few crazy nights in Amsterdam and Belguim and managed to get a week back in the Azores before arriving in London.

It was great to be back in NL for summer, there is always lots to do and i love sailing the canals. With lots of family there i was very well looked after (thanks Joke, Graham and Anne for the hospitality!). I was lucky to arrive the same time George and Mimouk were in town, and i also had great nights out with Smarty Renae, and Linda.

I timed it well for the Azores to arrive during the one week Praia Festival (just happened to be built around the marina where the boat is). Had a ball - i really love the Azores, and through Bernadette (my fantastic tour guide) met some really amazing people. It was also great to be back on the boat.

Now im in London and job hunting...... Has been awsome to see lots of good NZ crew again and having alot of fun.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

España, Finally!

The party before we left - With 14 people on board the cockpit actually started filling with water

The boat and the captain

Team NZ jumped ship to help the Brits, and a pic of the galley, nav table and dining room

This photo was taken from outside the cabin - (William wondering why he had drunkenly suggested bringing us long)

Job done, yeeeeehaaaaa!

We managed to find a home for the DB on the island of Terciera in the Azores. Its arranged that in September she´ll be hauled out and we plan to go back in about April to start the work. Now we had to find a way to Europe.
After a night of bull running and plenty of beer our english friend William came up with the genius plan of all sailing on his boat to Spain (Willy was just finishing the Atlantic circuit single handing his very humble 24footer back to England).
The trip was great, aside from 30 hours hoved to due to the tiller breaking off the rudder (i am sure that paul and i are cursed with steering problems) we made good progress and had generally nice settled weather. 900 odd miles in 9 days i think. The boat was really small but by constantly running a watch we were able to keep it down to 2 only inside at a time. We compared it to sleeping in our cars back home, something we both thoroughly enjoy so it was fun. William was brilliant, what a contrast going from having no one else on passages to filling the boat with 2 lads and all their stuff! Nice work mate, cheers.
Now we are in La Coruna, north of Spain. No plans really but after a few visits around Europe we´re going to start looking for work again. I´ll probably head to the UK to do engineering and Pauls hoping to go to Palma for the Superyachts.
With over 7 months aboard it was a bit of a sad moment leaving the boat. We really are happy with her and im sure that eventually we´ll sail her home to NZ. What a trip, we are so lucky to have been able to do this and got so much out of it. Pauls a bloody legend and great co-captain, everything worked out really well for us in that respect too.
Right on, i´ll keep this blog going for my travels and hopefully its not too long before we´re back onto sailing missions.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Sao Pedro festival in Flores (famous Portugal rapper on the stage)

We never made it back to the boat so Pablo slept in wet grass by a cliff

We caught a tuna on the way to Horta - Thanks for the lure Mike!

The DB jammed between 5 boats in Horta
Our friend Chris´s boat ´Tradition´
The lads at the top of Pico, 2300m with our boats in the background
Sharing some 1 Euro Vino tinto at the top

Walking in Lajes, Flores
Heres some pics of the Azores - We´ve been to 4 of the islands now looking for a place to leave the DB. Absolutely beautiful place with really nice people.
We are now on Terciera, the most NE island here. At this stage we still havent found anywhere to take the boat out but hopefully this week we´ll get it sorted.
Then we´ll probably head back to Horta by ferry and try crew to Europe.
Hope your all well, Jon and Paul

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The crossing.... we made it!

Well the short version is we made it! The first half was a breeze, easy fun sailing with dry, warm weather and more time on our hands than we knew what to do with. We had to work on the second half but it was a really great experience. Warning it is pretty long but lots of people have asked so here it is....

Perfect sailing upto Bermuda, we just left Double Bruyn to it with the trade winds
On our 4th day, about 500miles out of Peurto Rico, the chain plate for our starboard side stay failed. We were sailing well at about 7 knots upwind and suddenly had a big bang, the stay went slack and half the chain plate was sticking out of the deck (the chain plate is a stainless plate bolted to a strong part of the boat like a bulk head). We were quick to tack and take the load off it, but it was a good wake up call - something like that could easily break the mast.
It took most of the night to clean up and fix and Paul did a great job of replacing the rotten section of the bulkhead with the wood we had on board.

The rotten bulkhead above Pauls head that used to hold our chain plate
We never were really able to get much in terms of weather reports, but we did hear about tropical storm Barry on the US east coast before its effects came our way. With about 2 days warning we had plenty of time to prepare the boat and were definately ready. The rain was torenchal and wind a bit over 30 knots + gusts. Even though we carried only a small amount of main and jib we still averaged 7 knots and covered 150miles in 24hours, our best for the trip at the time. Meggie (our autopilot) did all the hard work while Paul and i stayed warm inside drinking cocoa and listening to music!

With 1500miles remaining on the 7 June our brand new autopilot packed up. After a few hours of pulling it to pieces we found a small plastic cog the size of a 5cent piece with a few broken teeth. Funny how such a small piece of plastic could cause such a turning point in the trip. From here to the Azores either me or Paul would need to steer the boat. We went from having all the time in the world to no spare time at all because of the bloody cog!

We started a 2hrs on - off watch. Although we were exhausted for the first few days we did develop a good routine. The watches ended up being 3hrs on - 2 off, with the hour overlap for getting in out of wetweather gear, sail changes and coffee etc. All in all after eating etc we´d usually get 4-5 hours sleep / day.

Not too stoked with our Raymarine autopilot that we bought for the crossing

On day 13, as we were nearing the high latitudes we were hit with another gale system. The first day the winds were similar strength to the previous gale (30-35knots) only this time we were sailing into the wind and waves. The wind was so strong we took the mainsail completley down and reefed the jib to about 1/4 of its size. We made little boat speed, struggling to make progress with the rising swell.

Inside the boat felt like a submarine with water passing every window as the bow dug into the waves. And outside it was exhausting steering the boat and so wet we may as well have been swimming. About every 10 minuteswe´d get a bigger than normal wave over the bow that would fill the cockpit and we´d have to stand upto our knees in the icy water for water always felt like minutes before it drained.

The wind continued to build into the 2nd night of the gale and just after dark broke the roller furler for our headsail. We went from having a 1/4 to full size jib up in 40 knots of wind. We started the engine to try and get some control of the boat again, but that stopped a few seconds later when the broken furler line wrapped around the prop. With no headsail, too much wind for our mainsail and now no engine, our last option was to stop the boat with our sea parachute. We were always reluctant to use the chute as we´ve heard conflicting stories about their effectivness (often they have to be cut free and can also end up getting tangled causing far more problems). But in this case we had little option.
We didnt have much luck deploying it however - a few seconds after it filled, the rope on our brandnew Westmarine chute snapped under the load. And to brighten the mood i´d also caught my hand between the rope and winch and cut my fingers. Paul summed it up pretty well in the log book with `We are now laying ahull, nothing is organised and we´re completely disabled until the morning, drifting Nth at 3knots. Not ideal!´Laying ahull (that is, bobbing around with no sails or control), is not only incredibly uncomfortable but also really tolling on the boat. With waves hitting the boat side on, and no sail up to counteract the rolling, huge loads are placed on the rig, fittings keel and rudder.

I dont think either of us slept much that night (the matresses and blankets were so wet i slept in my wet weather gear) and overnight we drifted 16miles in the wrong direction. However, someone felt sorry for us and as the sun came up the wind and sea started to drop. Happy days.

Pablo looking like he´s going skiing for the day - it was really cold in the high latitudes
The next day we sailed very little and just worked on the boat. We fixed the furler, i cleared the rope from the prop and Paul patched up the sails. We also noticed over half the strands on our backstay had snapped at both ends so was very close to breaking. As we have no running backstays there would be little holding the mast up if this broke. We rigged 2 temporary stays, (one from the spreaders and one from the top of the mast) and using the deck winches took the tension off the backstay. This also meant that for the remaining 1000 miles we couldnt use our mainsail.

Underway again we had good sailing conditions, wind and current in our favour finally! We were however getting concerned about the amount of water in the boat. During the storm we had water slushing across the cabin floor the whole time, but i´d always put that down to the waves flooding the cockpit, spilling through our lazarette. Now, 3 days after the storm and in sunny weather with flat seas, we still couldnt walk inside without getting our feet wet. Our bilge pump had been on so much it burnt through its wires, and sometimes we´d empty as much as 200ltrs of water in buckets before going on watch.

The problem we found was with our rudder. While laying ahull in the storm we had sheared the bolts that supported the rudder shaft in the cockpit. This in turn caused a side to side movement and broke the stuffing box (a brass housing with teflon used to stop leaking past the rudder) away from the hull. This could have been quite bad if the movement continued and broke or cracked the fibreglass as now only would we loose our steering but it could take on alot of water.
We cut a section of the cockpit out and screwed timber in place to support the rudder. After supporting the top section we were able to re-attach the stuffing box. The fix was a rough and quick one but with a few adjustments along the way got us to the Azores.

Our quick fix with what we had on board
With 100 miles to go our spinaker pole snapped. This didnt really worry me and i always found it a hassle to use, but it left Paul sulking all morning about our crappy light duty aluminium pole (he says hes going to make our next on our of heavy duty bamboo).

A not so happy Captain Pablo
We arrived in Lajes, Flores after 2700 miles and 22 days at sea. We had a very relaxed customs/immigration visit and not long after were in the pub for a big meal and our first beers in a month (yes we actually didnt drink for the whole trip).
Despite all her problems Double Bruyn is really a great boat and fully served her purpose. However, we´re not really sure what to do with her now and we may well leave her in the Azores. The rudder and rig need some serious attention and Paul and i are out of denero. We figure we´ll try crew to Europe and work hard to save some pennies for next years Mediteranean cruising season. This is also a really nice place so it would be fun to do up the boat here. But these plans change everyday so who knows what will happen, leaving it in Portugal is another possibility - obviously we missed the AC in Valencia.
No more rice and beans for me, happy chappy
Looking back on the trip although sometimes we found it hard we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was not uncommon when spirits were low to be reminded by a pod of dolphins or a whale off the bow that we were somewhere pretty special. I remember sometimes being cold and wet at the helm with aching arms and legs struggling to stay awake, and wondering why i had an ear to ear grin on my face!
It was also pretty humbling arriving in the Azores and seeing the kinds of boats others sailed across in. There was certainly a crew that crossed with far less than us.
The Azores are great and we´re enjoy being on land again, will post some more photos soon. Cheers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Adios from the Bruyn brothers!

Well this is it, tonight we go. Has been a long time coming and i think we're both pretty excited.

Big thanks for all the emails and encouraging comments, its really nice to hear from everyone. Lots of people have asked about the route we plan to take so here's the plan.... Sail north, north east from PR up past Bermuda to about 40deg Nth, then turn and head for the Azores. While this is a longer route we hope to get some good winds and currents from the gulf stream.

We will try and radio big ships (if we see any) on the VHF and hopefully they can email our position to the oldman, so if anyones interested perhaps try contacting him to see where we're at. Hendrik's email is

Right on, will write next from the Azores

Jon and Paul

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Peurto Rico (and time to cross the pond)

Paul really will sleep anywhere....

With friends in Boqueron, PR

Meggie after our fish / fruit swap in the middle of the Mona Passage

Old San Juan

We made it to Peuto Rico and across the infamous Mona Passage. Over 250 miles and about 80hours into the wind, a good warm up for our Atlantic passage. It was quite an eventfull sail - we snapped one of our side stays and while making a quick fix i fell off the mast and landed on the deck. Funny how we get away with these things, as although i felt like i'd been hit by a car i only had a bunch of bruises. Happy days!

We sailed with our friends Mike and Kylie on their boat Meggie - even after 200miles into the trip we were still so close we could swap fish and vege's in the Mona Passage. Was so cool to sail with them.

Its quite a change to be here in PR - really is the US in Mexico. Walmarts and Mcdonalds, big cars but still lots of little 3rd world habits that America can't change. Very friendly people and an ideal place to provision.

Laura left the Double bruyn yesterday for Chile. We all really enjoyed sailing together, never a dull moment and certainly had some pretty unique experiences.

We've been making our way across the south coast and plan to set off for the Azores within the next week. We're expecting the trip to take between 30 - 40 days, so should be there sometime at the end of June. From the Azores it will be another couple of weeks to the Med, Ye Ha.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

April sun in Cuba

Laura in Santiago


We rode 40km´s like this to save $4

AM in Santiago

More Baracoa

Lunch with our Cuban buddy´s
Cuba was awsome. Honestly just like stepping back in time, really nothing like it. Since we only had a bit over a week we decided to miss Havana and spend our time on the eastern side.We spent a day in Santiago de Cuba and the rest of the time in a small beach town called Baracoa - was good to get out of the city and we had such a good time in the bush and on the beach.
It would probably be boring to read about the differences between their socialist system and the western world - The people have a good standard of living and meet all basic needs, but i think (certainly the younger generation) all crave the freedom to travel and make their own decisions.
Cuba wasn´t all beer and skittles though. Customs gave me a very thorough search as we arrived and after finding my 2nd passport, boat papers and no clothes in my bag, a bit of medication in a ziplock bag was too much and they thought it was cocaine. For nearly 2 hours they sat me down and grilled me about the lozenges (losec for stomach acid) and about the boat and our trip - they also went hard questioning Paul and Laura and making sure our stories lined up. They did some sort of crap test tube test on the losec which made the stuff change colour, and despite the fact that the dogs weren´t remotely interested every customs person in the airport was. Was pretty hard out, sweating in the airport trying to understand all the Spanish. Eventually after a few forms and discussions they said they´d send it to a lab and let us go.
A week later when we went to leave i was hit up at imigration again. They separetly interigated the 3 of us and after 10minutes of more small talk a smiling Cuban customs woman asked ´where did you get the cocaine?´. They said that the lab test had come back with a +ve result, lying pricks. I´d be surprised if they even sent it out of the airport. Was all pretty intense and i really figured i´d be sorting it out from an embasy somewhere with Paul and Laura hopefully back in the DR. Eventually they gave up and figured we were telling the truth and let me on the plane, happy days. MUCHAS GRACIAS, ADIOS.
Was quite a trip but so happy to be back on the boat - next stop Puerto Rico, hopefully get a weather window this week as we really need to get moving and get the boat ready for the Atlantic.

Santo Domingo

Swimming outside the airport after we missed our flights

Colonial Santo Domingo

We left Luperon for the Capital of the DR, Santo Domingo to fly to Cuba. Pretty cool place, was the first city built after Columbus discovered the new world (although much poorer and we were fully worked by the locals).

We missed our flights (standard) and ended up staying another night in a little beach town out of the city called Boca Chica. After getting ripped off continuously by taxi´s and your never ending list of new best friends (pretty standard in the DR) somebody really made the most of the 3 gringo´s. We had 2 drinks each on a beach side bar and got charged over $100US (drinks are normally $1-2 here) - and to top it off they pick pocketed all our money, pricks. We did end up meeting a nice Italian man who seemed to fancy Laura and bought us breakfast, lunch and dinner as he felt sorry for us - funny how these things work out?!
Managed to get a flight to Santiago de Cuba rather than Havana the next day and we were out of there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Turks & Caicos to the Dominican Republic

The Bruyn in Luperon

Now a word from our sponsers (Thanks footy and Mitch!)

Big Sand Key at the turks

End of winter party at Cabarate

The DR....

More Dolphin fish on the way to the Turks

The crew in Cabarate

We had a few crew changes in Matthew Town Great Inagua - Capt Paul returned with Jas, and we traded George for Laura. Was great sailing with George, (the boat has never been as clean!) good crew and company we had a ball.

From Matthew town we sailed 160miles to cover only 90, was 25-30 knot winds directly from where we were heading the whole time. The boat handled it well, only we realised how much water we take on board in these conditions and also broke our only fresh water tap when something fell on top of it.

The turks were fun but really commercial and developed - not really suited for young cruisers or dutch/kiwi Bruyn brother budget. Next stop Luperon.

Our sail here was funny. We sailed down with a few other boats, only we kicked their ass's and ended up hoving to and even sailing backwards for a bit to let them catch up.

The DR is amazing. Really mountainous and has so much more culture than the Bahama's. We've had alot of fun, went to the Kite surfing meca Cabarate for easter weekend - honestly 10's of 000's partying on the beach. Really wild, like a NZ New years party with a Big Day Out crowd, pretty cool to see. Presedante' beers are cheap and good, happy days!

Jas has left now so its just the 3 of us. Its really good having Laura aboard, i'm sure it soften's the touch on the boat and her fluent Spanish is a big help with us struggling Kiwi's! We're all having alot of fun.

Hopefully we can get a flight to Cuba for a quick visit, then at this stage (seems to change every day) we'll head to Puerto Rico to restock and then onto our Atlantic crossing to the Azores about mid May.

ADios, Jon and Paul