Au Revoir, Newport!

Cruising World deputy editor Elaine Lembo and the crew of Swan 57 Flyer depart Newport, Rhode Island for Brittany, France.

June 6, 2014
test sail
Flyer on a test sail Billy Black

Time seemed to pass slowly, then suddenly pretty quickly, while the crew of the Swan 57 Flyer waited for a low-pressure system to play itself out in the North Atlantic. We’d set a departure date of June 1, 2014, with the first waypoint in the Gulf Stream, about 40 degrees N and 64 degrees W, some 420 miles southeast of Newport, Rhode Island.

Captain Rick Martell
Captain Rick Martell presides over a taste-testing session of the provisions aboard. Elaine Lembo

But when Commanders’ Weather tells you to stay put, wise captains stay put. So, while skipper Rick Martell and the crew waited for the system to march toward Nova Scotia, we found other ways to occupy ourselves.

Todd Mennillo
Todd Mennillo shows fellow crewmate Xabi Lastapis how to set the reefing lines up. Elaine Lembo
Crewmate Manfred Arnold helps guide the mainsail as it’s raised. Elaine Lembo

Dubarry boots
Starting the trip with dry feet in my new Dubarry boots! Elaine Lembo

There was still lots to do: While mate Todd Mennillo whipped up 23 dinners and bought enough food to lower the boat’s water line, I got acquainted with the Iridium Extreme satellite phone, the Iridium AxcessPoint modem and mail and web programs, and the Delorme inReach SE messaging and tracking device. I’d like to say it was as easy as pie, but it wasn’t, and each day my list of questions grew. Thank goodness I had the patient counsel of a dear friend who also happens to be an expert at such matters.

Narragansett Bay
Flyer makes 6 – 7 knots in a light breeze down Narragansett Bay toward its first destination: fueling up at Goat Island Marina. Elaine Lembo

Gloria Borrego is a captain, engineer, and ABYC certified electrician who specializes in electrical and electronics systems. A veteran of Whitbread and America’s Cup campaigns, she’s currently based in Rhode Island as captain of Wireless, a 64-foot ketch that she’s prepping for the summer 2014 New York Yacht Club Cruise. Thanks to Gloria, whom I first met at the Alwoplast yard in Valdivia, Chile, some years ago, all systems are go, and that’s why you can read my reports and track Flyer’s progress across the Atlantic.

The ability to transmit photos and text and surf the web from offshore isn’t something to take lightly. While we all want to unplug from land life and sharpen our seamanship skills, there’s nothing wrong with being able to communicate now and then, so I’m pretty impressed with the Axcess Point — especially now that I understand how to use it.

Elaine Lembo
Your faithful correspondent, Elaine Lembo. Elaine Lembo

The other person who’s helped demystify electronic communications for me is Chip Noble of DeLorme. He helped me gain a clear understanding of how to use the tracking, messaging, and social media functions of the inReach, either alone or along with the Earthmate app on my iPhone. Again: there’s a learning curve, but it’s worth it and it was great to have time to go through a couple of dry runs.


While Todd cooked and I practiced communicating, our two crewmates, Manfred Arnold and Xabi Lastapis, along with Blue Sailing school owner Jean-Paul Deloffre, flew in from France. Manfred is owner of Greement Systems yacht rigging. Xabi has completed some of the Royal Yachting Association curriculum with Blue Sailing. Jean-Paul will pass on the delivery but intends be our welcome wagon once we make landfall in Brittany, France.

Departure Day, June 5, arrived gray, foggy, humid and rainy. But it also came with the official blessing of Commanders’ Chris Wasserback: “Overall, it still looks OK leaving today with favorable W-NW flow expected into next week!”

With that we shoved off from the dock at the Newport Yacht Club at 1330 and we’re now about 45 miles SE of Newport in Rhode Island Sound, with Flyer clocking a healthy 8-plus knots in about 15 knots of wind.

racing trimaran
Spindrift 2 is the largest racing trimaran in the world at 131 feet. Elaine Lembo

Now that Flyer carries the flag of France, what better sendoff could we have had than from the French crew of Spindrift 2, at 40 meters, the largest racing trimaran in the world that seeks to set a new transatlantic record from Newport? Indeed the crew guided us around to the deeper side of the three massive 131-foot-long jet-black hulls as the boat entered the harbor.

Bon voyage indeed!


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