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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Fiddler's Green
Shakedown Cruise: 9600 Miles From Oriental To The Falkland Islands
July 24, 2016

T
his opens with one of those Oriental-zero-degrees-of-separation-stories. It’s last New Years Eve in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands. That’s 6,000 miles from here (in a straight line – more like 10,000 if you sail). There is a New Years Eve gathering of a small group of sailors from the island, and the crew from a visiting sailboat.

One of the visiting sailors is Bernie Harberts. Bernie, who has worked here at TownDock.net, is talking with life-long Falklander Andrez Short, who tells Bernie that he recently bought a sailboat in the US. Online. In North Carolina. “Hmmm”, Bernie thinks. “Where in North Carolina?” Andrez responds the town is called “Oriental – from a brokerage named Deatons.”

Andrez had bought it a few months earlier sight unseen, except for photos. It would be another half year – late June – before he arrived in Oriental and walked its decks for the first time. There were a few jobs he wanted to do on the boat and a lot of provisions to buy. But he didn’t tarry long. By mid-July Andrez left – his teenaged-son and a friend of Andrez (Andy) as crew – on the long trek home.

On a 37 ft sailboat, this is their route home:

world class
Oriental to the Falklands.

A few days before “Fiddler’s Green” and her crew of three took off, Andrez Short talked with TownDock.net about, among other things, why he came so far for the boat.

“Fiddler’s Green,” is docked at a slip on Whittaker Creek while her new owner preps for a 9600 mile trip, pinballing down the Atlantic. Sitting at the salon table Andrez Short says, “We didn’t know where the boat was when we bought it.”

It was his wife, Allison, who found the boat – online – last August “We were looking for a steel boat, cutter rig, with aft cabin. This didn’t have an aft cabin, but that’s okay. We definitely love sailing with a cutter rig. She found it, we both liked it, we put an offer in.”

“It was one of only six made. It’s a Ted Brewer Cutter 37, or what some would say is a stretch 35,” the more standard size. The steel hull was a plus for Andrez, who among many other trades, is a metal fabricator.

As much as they liked the boat, others questioned the way they were buying it. “People back home in the Falklands thought I was crazy to buy a boat I had not seen and had not had surveyed.” He forewent a survey he says, because he “wouldn’t know a surveyor here and would have to trust whatever report I received if I hired a surveyor.”

Andrez says he did Google “the brokers office to make sure they existed, then I searched the internet to find out what I could about them. I didn’t learn who was really selling the boat in the buying process. When the broker and I agreed on a price, I said it was subject to photographs of the boat with the date stamped on them. I didn’t know who the previous owners of Fiddlers Green were, Drew Peretzky and Cathy Brugett, until after the money had changed hands.”

Not how most boats are bought.

But then, few sailors live on the Falkland Islands as Andrez Short has, all of his life.

world class
Andrez Short. Sheep farmer, mechanic, engineer, metal fabricator, and sailor.

When it comes to sailboats, Falklands “is not a buyers market. It’s not a sellers market.” he says. “There’s no boats.”

Well, almost none. When “Fiddlers Green” gets there it will be the 7th sailboat registered in the Falklands, a cluster of islands in the South Atlantic, 300 miles east of Argentina, and at 52°S near South America’s southern most tip – Cape Horn. 3,000 people live there and according to Andrez, very few of them care about boats.

“People there are mostly landlubbers.” Andrez says “Boaters are hard to come by; it’s cold and wet. A few people have power inflatables. We had a spate of those awful jet skis but they have faded. You run up and down the harbor a few times on a jet ski and that gets old. People were interested in kite sailing for a while, but that died out. A few people can be seen kayaking.”

Despite being an island nation, few people fish, even. In the Falklands territorial waters, ships from other nations harvest the sea, paying the Falklands government for the licenses to do so. The license money, Andrez says, is the closest the country comes to income from commercial fishing.

“The people of the Falklands are just not interested in the sea,” says Andrez. “They are land people, farmers, raising sheep.”

For more than a decade, that’s what he did.

“We had over 600 acres we subdivided into 150 acre fields, moving the animals around. We had a system of giving the land a rest. As sheep farmers, we did some genetic work to improve the quality of our animals. Our farm was the most productive in the Falklands. We only had 150 sheep, but our range land was so much more healthy, we could feed the animals so they were much larger than the average size of sheep in the Falklands.”

Last year, Andrez turned his back on all that. He sold the farmland – it’ll become vacation homes – and he focussed attention on getting a boat to go cruising.

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one hand
The crew: Andy, Andrez, Thomas

Andrez makes clear that in a few years he and his wife want to take off on the boat he just picked up in NC. He speaks with almost a shudder about not wanting “Fiddlers Green” to become a “vertical cruiser.” He smiles as he explains: “It’s a boat that sits in the harbor and doesn’t go anywhere.” Except up and down with the tides.

One reason some of the Falklands’ few sailors opt for vertical cruising is the weather. “It can be flat calm and a gale can come up. It takes a long time for them to come up, and a long time for them to disappear. It’s rare to have 50 knot gales, but 40 is common.”

“Sailing there is good, but you are not going to leave port in 30 knots of wind. At least not twice.”

on deck
On deck preparations on the eve of departure.

“We go out for day sails, but we kind of like going out for week sails. Because the way the Falklands are made, you can find anchorages two hours apart. But it is for people who are prepared for that environment.”

“Most sailors who arrive there have experienced crew. We get about 10 or 12 visiting sailboats a year.” And when they do come, the small sailing community, gets together with them. “One of those was Bernie Harberts who told me about Oriental and TownDock.”

andrez
Andrez Short.
preparing
Once arriving in North Carolina, Andrez and Thomas spent every day preparing the boat for the long journey to the Falkland Islands.

It was a visiting boat, a family from Australia, who came to Stanly ‘s harbor more than 3 decades ago and got Andrez interested in sailing. He taught himself to sail over time, practicing in the harbor.

Eventually the Australians sold that boat. It went through several owners until about 20 years ago, and Andrez bought it. He made more changes. In 1999 he and Allison set off to live on board Alpha Carinae, named for a bright star in the southern sky.

In that first year, while in Trinidad, Allison gave birth to Thomas in a Port of Spain hospital. All did not go well. “Tom was born seriously ill. He didn’t breathe for 17 minutes, didn’t have a heartbeat for 15 minutes.” Andrez says, “The delivery people in the hospital rushed him off to neonatal care. We didn’t think Tom was going to live.”

Thomas did survive. In time, Andrez steered the boat to the UK and the family sailed on from there to Norway (A few degrees closer to one of the poles than the Falklands are.) They returned to the Falklands when Thomas was 2, having put 15,000 miles under the keel in 3 years.

Thomas
Thomas Short.

This 10,000 mile trip will be an opportunity and a challenge for Thomas who’s not been aboard a sailboat since he was two. He’s looking forward to it, he says, “I’m just bored waiting while we get ready to go.”

The trip to Oriental to get the boat and sail her home was postponed until Thomas graduated school and finished his final exams. “This trip will be a lot of his growing up.” Andrez says. “I was a weekend father, so when he finished school, I wanted to do something really special with him and for him. This will help him with his independence and may give him some ideas of what he might want to do with his life.”

Andrez explained a little of his history behind his renewed fascination with getting a cruising boat. “I used to read a lot, but I had not read in along time. but then I was given a Kindle a year and half ago. I have read 46 books since then, about sailing and adventure. The books I read have to be true. I am not interested in novels.

“The first one I read was about a couple with a boat that had everything I wanted. I fell in love with the boat when I read their story. What I wanted was a steel hull, something that can take a pounding, can go on the beach if need be, one that I can fix. Any serious boat that is old is made of steel.”

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One of the assets for the voyagers is their satellite linked tracking system. “For 70 dollars a month, we have unlimited use of text messaging. If we put it on map-share, it pings every four hours. When we use map-share, you can go on google maps, find us, and send a short message back to us. We can send a message that shows where we are, then you can send a short message back to us.

satellite
This device sends their position via satellite, and allows brief emails to be sent & received.
compass
No matter how much high-tech is aboard, there still is a bronze compass.

“There is also an SOS button. If we push it, they ring us back every half hour until they reach us. We gave them two numbers they can call, one number rings on the boat; the other one rings the police station back home. I have not read of anyone using this on an ocean voyage but it is a no brainer from what I can see.”

“It comes with a hundred hours of battery, and we have a solar charger to keep it charged. It will show exactly where we are if we need help. There is a unit that can be waterproofed to carry on the lifeboat also.”

He added, “It’s also great to be able to communicate with my wife, Allison. I can give family and friends the website link and people can see our track, see messages, and get an idea of where we are.” Following prevailing winds, the journey will take them within 800 miles of the African coast. “Allison will keep us abreast of long range forecasts; she will be able to look at forecast and say you are fine now, but in a week’s time, you are going to have to change your course.”

Andrez is prepared for differing reactions from the crew, including Thomas. “I expect that the crew will get seasick. After three weeks, I may have to find a way to fly Thomas back, or he might make the whole trip, get off the boat and say ‘Thanks, but never again.’ He might say ‘Thanks, when can I have the boat?’ Eventually, this boat will be his.”

At the Whittaker Creek slip in Oriental, one lesson was already taught. The gap between dock and boat widened as Thomas tried to board. He met the water instead but quicklyswam round to the Portand Pudgy dinghy and climbed back to the dock.

As Andrez applied a little first aid ointment to a scratch, he talked with Thomas about pulling the boat much closer before trying to board. He also used the opportunity to instill one of sailing’s more elementary and universal rules.

“At sea,” he told Thomas, “it’s always one hand for yourself, and one hand for the boat.”

cabin
The cabin is roomy, the boat is beamy, but it may seems small after 100 days at sea.

Andrez said, “The first 5 or 6 days will be pretty nervy; I don’t know how the boat will react. “ The first leg to the Azores will be 2,700 miles.. Weather will be a constant challenge, from calm seas to giant waves. They have already experienced weather extremes in the journey so far.

“When we left to come here, it was 41 degrees, and it was dark at four in the afternoon. We are just emerging from winter down there. But we landed here in the middle of summer. We’ll be sailing toward the end of summer until we get across the equator, and then we will be headed toward next year’s summer.”

Describing the differing climates from hemisphere to hemisphere, he compared Oriental’s climate with the Falklands. “In your money, 80 degrees F would be a super hot day. It never goes below minus 3 Celsius. Add forty knots of wind to 0 Celsius and it is pretty cold. We have pretty even temperatures, but the days get much shorter in our winter. When it’s dark at four in the afternoon, we don’t get daylight until 8 the next morning.”

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One of the first items on the agenda for preparing the vessel to go to sea was the addition of fuel tanks. Fiddlers Green came with a 55-gallon tank, but Andrez wanted more. He added a 35-gallon tank forward if the cain, strapping it down to the deck. New rigging on the mast followed.

Another task was the installation of the steering system delivered from Canada and choosing the right cables for that. He chose that system (an Autohelm wind vane) because he’d had it on his previous boat.

fuel
Thomas and Andrez secure storage for 35 additional gallons of fuel.

Andrez has other modifications in mind, to make a boat that sails in the South Atlantic and Southern Ocean “more ocean safe.” For example, he says, “changing doors so they close from inside to keep them more water tight. I don’t like the idea of water coming in at all. I use expandable foam to stop that.”

“I put a string on the anchor chain, drop it down into the anchor hole and seal it up. If you get caught in really bad weather, you don’t want an anchor banging around. We’ll take it home like this, but when I get home, I will do even more to make the boat more water tight.”

“I look at everything from an engineer’s mind.” he says. “How do things work? How can I carry more sail in high winds?

Andrez had nothing but praise for Drew Pertsky and Cathy Brugett, who had had the boat built 3 decades ago. The helped Andrez out extensively as he prepared to head out on the boat. “They renewed my faith in humanity. I didn’t know people that kind existed. He brings over frozen water and sandwiches while we are working on the boat preparing to sail home. They are absolutely wonderful; because of them, we have been able to do things that are going to make the journey home much more comfortable.

“Drew could have taken my money, said thanks, the boat is yours, but they just went so far beyond that to help us. We couldn’t have bought a nicer boat from any nicer people. I don’t like the heat here, but from what I’ve seen of North Carolina and its people, it’s beautiful.”

galley
Thomas and Andrez on Fiddlers Green.
Preparing the boat, Andy, Andrez & Thomas.

Joining Andrez and Thomas for the first leg of the trip – as far as the Azores – is a friend from back home, Andy Firness. Both of their wives are teachers who came up with the plans for this voyage while walking a Falklands’ beach.

Andy, a driver, had not grown up in the Falklands, but moved there from the UK.
“My wife and I are more British than the British, but we were seeking a different environment. On New Year’s Day, we asked ourselves, ‘What shall we do tomorrow? We can stay comfortable, or we can go for adventure.”

firness
Andy Firness, crewing til the Azores.

“We went for the Falklands. It’s a small community where everyone has to make a contribution for the good of the whole community and you don’t have to pass through checkpoints with soldiers using mirrors to check under your vehicles.”

To that, Andrez laughed. “I check under my car every day with a mirror to see if it is going to make it where I want to drive it.”

“After Andy leaves us in the Azores, Thomas and I will go on to the Ascensions where we will pick up another crew member waiting for us there.”

“He will be an extra pair of eyes so I can rest. I could sail this boat single-handedly, but I can use the extra eyes.” Plus, Andrez says, “He is a guy who has dreamed of doing a trip like this all his life.”

Andrez says he recalled how much he himself appreciated the chance to sail and make a passage on someone’s boat when he was new to it. That was part of his thinking in choosing crew.

[page]

“We plan to be home middle of October. I don’t know this boat; we might lose some time; we have limited fuel, but based on my experience, I think we will be at sea about a hundred days, a hundred miles a day. At Ascension, may have the crewman we are to pick up there get a ride out to us on a fishing boat, we may not even go into port.”

TownDock asked, “What happens after you return to the Falklands?”

“On August 15, between the Azores and the Ascensions, I will be 60. Allison will soon retire.” he says. Their cruising plan, a few years out, is to “sail in the Pacific and also circumnavigate the Americas.” He’d like to go through the Northwest Passage. If so, Fiddlers Green could show up in Oriental for visit

As for long hours alone in the open sea, he observes, “Even with all the instant messaging now, we find that even though people communicate more with their devices, they actually communicate less. People do not actually talk to one another. We are not like that.”

“And we are not,” he says, “vertical cruisers.”


On Friday morning, July 15, 6am, the dock lines were released at Whittaker Creek and Fiddlers Green began her journey.

A few minutes before departing Oriental, Andrez raised the Falklands flag.
Beaufort Inlet
Friday, July 15, Cathy Brugett gazes at the vessel she and Drew Peretsky owned, Fiddlers Green, as it motors through Beaufort Inlet headed for the open Atlantic. (Drew Peretsky Photo)
fort macon
Shackleford Banks in the background, Andrez, Thomas, and Andy pass by the eastern tip of Fort Macon transitioning from motoring to sailing. (Drew Peretsky Photo)
blue water
Fiddlers Green headed for blue water. (Drew Peretsky Photo)

You can follow the voyage of Fiddlers Green online – the InReach satellite communicator mentioned in this story sends a signal that can be tracked online:

Posted Sunday July 24, 2016 by Melinda Penkava


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