Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Back from the USSR

Precipice is sailing home. We were able to visit two other towns besides Providenya and we did about 25 miles of walking. We had an amazing time in Russia and felt welcomed there. Our check our procedure was just as lengthy as our check out procedure, but they did come down to the boat and we didn't have to go into town going to office to office as some more southern countries (like Mexico) require you to do. The border guards were efficient and friendly. They also provided a"free of charge" 24 hour guard of Precipice. We could leave the boat behind and not worry about somebody messing with it. The biggest bummer of the stay was we were not allowed to have visitors on the boat because technically our boat is an extension of US territory and the visitor would have to have a US visa to enter. People from the town were also not allowed to take pictures of our boat. We weren't allowed to take pictures of our guards either. We did get to visit and have tea in several peoples homes and were warmly welcomed. The day before we left we got to visit the local school and found it clean and well maintained. Of all the buildings in town, the school was in the best condition. The principle gave Deb, a teacher for 15 years, a tour of some classrooms and the children were well behaved and polite, if not even a little shy. We should be back in the USA tomorrow morning. It will be interesting to observe the check in procedures of our own country compared to Russia.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Precipice is in Russia

We have been cleared to be in Russia and are tied up in Providenya. At one point we had 12 people at the wharf in order to process our entry. We had a port captain, border guard, customs, immigration, a doctor to check our health. I had to fill out everything in triplicate and sign and stamp it, they then filled out more and signed and stamped it. Everyone was dressed in official clothing and hats. Sue helped with translation and filling out paperwork. It all took about three hours. Every one was friendly, and some even smiled. Everyone is healthy, our crossing went well, and we look forward to meeting more people here. We now are in our beds, our guard is on the wharf watching over us, and we are ready to sleep.

Rolland for the Trowbridges

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From Russia with Love

Precipice is sailing toward Russia. We had our bad weather right off, a short bit of 25-30kt winds followed by a night of 20-25kt steady winds. Waves never got more than 8ft tall, but were very square and we were beating into them. When we sail into the waves the deck and us get wet. Our first 24 Hours we sailed all but 9. We took on crew for this trip, our guide for Russia, Sue. Sue has done two sailing trips on the Bearing Sea on a Russian sailboat and is a great hand to have on board. We are all getting much more sleep than we are accustomed to on passage. In a couple of hours we expect another low to pass over us, and a repeat of last nights weather. We hope to be in Russia tomorrow if we don't break anything tonight. Our Propusk (paperwork that allows us to travel within Chukotka) unexpectedly allows us to visit the city Anadyr as well as Providenya. We are excited. The adventure continues.

I have received many messages goading me to blog more. I have been glued to Precipice getting her ready for this trip and whatever else we end up doing this year. The Northwest Passage is tough on a vessel. Every thing seems to be working good, with just a few bugs to work out. Our engine, rig, sails, and hull are all ready for travel.

It is really good to be back under sail again, and back in our home.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Iditablog, my thumb is sore.

Seeing the end of the Iditarod has been a lifetime goal.  I think Jannelle and Bianca lucky to have experienced it.  During the Iditarod the population of Nome swells by 30%.  Nome doesn't have that much extra living space so many people open up couches and kitchens for visitors.  It is easy to pick out the visitors though, they are the ones wearing "technical" winter clothing, special boots and hats like it is cold here or something (the week before the end temps got to -30F).   Nomites just wear what they can grab on the way out the door.

Jannelle petting a dog that just ran 1100 miles

You would do this too after running for 10 days straight.

It is spring time by the calendar.  The ocean is still frozen and the snow keeps falling, but the days are getting longer.  We are getting 18 hours of sun every day now, and still adding 6 or more min. every day.  One of my main tasks has been repairing sails that have wear and tear from  5000 miles of sailing and three gales.  Much of this work is handwork, work that cannot be done by sewing machine.  I have been reinforcing the wear areas of our sails with leather.  This means that I am pushing a needle through 11 layers of sail, two layers of web strap, and two layers of leather.  This has led to a sore thumb from my sailors palm pushing against my needle.  I have broken over 20 needles in the last month.   

This is the same corner as above all the stitching has been redone, webbing straps installed to support the corner ring, new edges sewn on, and leather hand sewn in to protect the new edges.  

Much of the work cannot be done by sewing machine.

All the corners of the sails are getting reinforcing web straps sewn in, and protective leather sewn on.

All the sails get laid out and inspected carefully.  This is our 
Mainsail.  I have ordered material to build a new one.  

This is our largest foresail.  

It is a good thing that room had a door.  We are measuring for the construction of an asymmetrical spinnaker.  Even though we had to contend with three gales (sustained winds over 35kts) this last season, we had the sails to handle that.  What we really missed is a large light sail for the light wind days that turned our 10 day trip from Newfoundland to Greenland into 16 days.  

This is our apartment turned into sail loft.  Bianca spent many hours helping me restitch our Staysail.

This is our sailrite LSZ-1.  Sailrite is one of those rare companies that provides phenomenal customer service.  They have helped me countless hours on the phone from Skpe calls in Newfoundland to Satellite calls from the Northwest passage.  Thank you Eric for all you have done to take care of me.  This sewing machine has paid for itself many many times over.  

I also managed to find the time to hand sew a ditty bag (sailors bag) for the pastors of our house church (and friends) back in Grand Rapids who pretty much babysat me while I did technical teaching for six weeks.  Thank you Dan and Carrie!  

Every stitch is by hand.  It takes about 70 hours of palm work to make one of these bags.

We have managed to sneak some needed goof off time in there.  We took a 70 mile snowmachine trip up into the mountains.

If there is something to climb, climb it.  This is Jannelle halfway up a crane to inspect a birds nest.

Every day after school, Bianca watches one of Deb's co worker's babies.  She also manages to get her homework done at the same time, I guess.

Bianca won an award for the Iditarod theme section of an art contest.  It also came with a $50 dollar check. It is a slippery slope when you start making money off of art.  

Jannelle won the "Student of the Month" in March for the Junior High School.  We were invited to a school board meeting where a teacher gave a speech about how caring and hardworking our daughter is.
We had to agree.

Jannelle took a class on Native needlework and made a pair of sealskin baby shoes.  She also is taking a Junior Lifeguard class, learning CPR and rescue skills.  

This is Deb and I dressed for the climate.   We could have turned right when we left Newfoundland last year and have easily made it to the Bahamas for the winter.  We are glad we didn't.  

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Honor Student

Jannelle spends many hours a night studying.

Last year Jannelle and Bianca were home schooled in the boat on the water in Newfoundland.  It was a struggle for Deb, who would rather have a classroom of 26 students than two of her own.  We home schooled because the Canadian federal government wouldn't allow our children in school unless we left the country and reentered and applied for a student visa.   We didn't really want to spend a couple grand to leave the country and return to have the "chance" at getting a visa.  We received much help from many local people who were sympathetic to our desire to have our children learn in a foreign country, including the school they initially started attending.  In the end we were blessed by a very active local home school group.  Even though Deb has been a professional educator for almost two decades, you always wonder how you did.  Well, it seems we did OK.  This morning Jannelle was one of the dozen kids in Junior High and High School that was honored for having a 4.0 average for the last semester.  All straight A's.  This didn't come easy for her.  We have been happy with the school system here in Nome.  They still give homework, they expect it to be done, and you don't get to sleep in class listening to your Ipod, and the students score well on national tests.  Jannelle earned this.  We are proud of her.
We now have one of those "Honor Student" bumper stickers on our 4 wheel drive Man Van