Monday, September 19, 2011








Many years ago when I was new to this genealogy lark, and not too crash hot on the computer either, I made contact with a like minded lady in England.  She was researching her family tree and so was I.

We both had Mortimers hidden away in dusty archives and found each other purely by chance when we each left email addresses on the web.  Sue was very well organised, knew her way around county libraries and helped me no end as I stumbled through web sites; in the process making a dogs dinner of what should have been very clear cut.

You see, I had hastily assumed my Mortimers were convicts transported to Oz, a match for my Irish Spaldings, a discovery that pleased me no end.  After all it’s kind of cool to have one or two convicts in the family, delicious to have three or more, especially when one was a gun toting highwayman.

With Sue’s help, I spent literally months, almost years, searching  the origins of these convict Mortimers only to find they weren’t mine at all.  And what’s more my eventual law abiding Yorkshire Mortimers were in no way connected to Sue’s equally reputable family of the same name.

Though we’ve never met, face to face, we stayed in  touch, cyber pen friends, each following the others path in emails and with photos.

And that’s where  we are now, Rainbow Rob and Sailor Sue, me churning out blogs in Oz, doing what I like doing best under the watchful gaze of my Reluctant Traveler,  while Sailor Sue and her Captain Malcolm leave me green with envy as they sail the world.



Piano before the purchase
Sue’s better half is a sea dog.  He has sailed the world on racing yachts.  I guess at the back of his mind has always been the urge to cast adrift from a life on land, opt instead to sail the seven seas.  No doubt he knew exactly the boat he had in mind and some three or so years ago he finally found her.

She hailed out of Antwerp, a quality Bowman 45 Yacht with untold extras, including a Technics 106 digital piano.  Sue related the day of commitment...

2008. We begin in Antwerp Belgium, where we viewed, had a sail, and decided to buy this AMAZING  Bowman 45 Yacht... Luckily we are able to keep her name ‘PIANO'... For anyone reading who already knows her, the piano is staying in Antwerp with Jan and Ghislaine to remind them of the happy times on board.

As you can see, the piano was a snug fit.
The deal was struck and on Sunday 28th September, 2008 Sue and Malcolm up anchored, and to the accompaniment of champagne and well wishes,  set sail for Dunkirk, and thence across the Channel to England.

Their life on the high seas had begun.


The start of their adventure wasn’t instant.  First there was the all necessary marine survey, then Piano needed an equipment upgrade, layout adapted to the new owners whims and wants.  The spot where the piano once fitted so snugly converted to a bench for computer, among other items.

Sue is a keen cook, from her emails I gathered she liked nothing better than to create a cake, bake a fresh loaf of bread.   The galley, I’ve no doubt was one item on her must add to list. 

For Malcolm there was the never ending mechanics and logistics of engine, sail, navigation, and keel.  A huge job involving, in one instance, temporary removal of the main mast.

Then finally the big day arrived with all its goodbyes.  Ahead, to start with, was the Channel crossing to France and Portugal, then the Med to Morocco.  

Eventually Piano would sail the Azores and cross to the Caribbean.
Piano’s adventures in these  ensuing years are best detailed in Sue’s own words.  Malcolm will have to forgive me, I’ve lifted various sequences that appealed to me, a non sailor, a land lubber whose only experience at sea has been confined to either a tiny runabout or a huge passenger liner.


APRIL 2009 – To Cornwall
With all matters being so hectic I'm writing a quick note to record the sail from Dover to Falmouth and the Mayflower Marina.
... a peaceful trip with sightings of many black markers showing fishing pots and Roger (chief crew) even saw Dolphins at dawn on Friday morning.

... invited Carol and Susie around for  sundowners. Just a few sips with much natter about all our various lives past & present and all that has to be done before we can begin our respective travels. I couldn't resist a trip to 'Wild Bird' to see what mayhem was being done(to their boat) - poor girls coping bravely in the face of 'builders' as we would call it on land. Wow ! they even have growing herbs AND a spice rack!

I’m sure you can see, even at this early stage, where Sailor Sue’s wish list is leading!  In any case ‘Piano’ eventually arrives at Rustlers Boat Yard where Captain Malcolm’s wish list is seriously huge and even requires a crane to demast and eventually reposition the main mast.
So it’s no surprise that almost six months will pass before Piano begins her big sail into the wide blue yonder.

SEPT 2009 – To France
Friday was spent with our heads in the locker putting a new computer into the auto helm. even that didn't sort it so Gary left us to continue trying to find a solution late Friday afternoon. On Saturday we decided to finish setting up the Radar so we went for a sail and Lo! the auto helm kicked into action once again (after all the fiddling on Friday) so I said why don't we just go? and since we were on the right course we just carried on.

So here we are in La Rochelle - poor internet but I'm being quick the trip took 2 days and a few hours. We averaged 6 knots . Piano goes like a train. Even fully reefed and no yankee 6 knots !
I was pretty seasick so Malcolm did it all single handed.

XMAS 2009- PORTIMAO, Portugal

Merry Christmas!

Wow! what a month we have had. The sail across from Lagos was superb! The marina is quiet!

Praia De Rocha is the beach area for Portimão and that is where the marina is situated.  Most of November was spent restoring the colour of the teak work and deck upstairs, the year in England had really done for the old girl. Now that she is sparkling again she's like a new girl I'm just wondering how long it will last...

After all the hard work, had a day out sailing in 'lightwinds' to try out the Multi Purpose Genoa (a pretty orange and yellow ) and in 6knots of wind we were doing 5knots of speed !!!! how about that for a 13 ton yacht! 

Lunch time was a gourmet salad with Smoked Salmon, a watercress dressing and freshly baked crusty bread.


Up early the next day for the sail to Gibraltar.
The pilot book reckoned that winds of 30 knots are said to blow for 300 days of the year !! Anyway we flew into the bay and had to slow right down for fear of all the traffic! Oil tankers, container boats and so many ferries all made for a stressful entry. Enough! once we turned into the Marina it got quieter. We moored bow to and got the passerelle out to use as a path. Then time for a cool beer. Then out to look for British Fish & Chips Yum Yum!

Santa Maria.
Well I have fully recovered from Mal de Mer but it took 2 days to get my land legs again!
We have been here about 10 days and have had a brilliant time. The Marina has an excellent ‘Club Naval’ with bar and restaurant. For most of the week we have been one of three yachts—very peaceful indeed! It has only rained twice and both times it was lovely warm rain.

Pianist Sue creating her symphony in C for Piano.


Pico Gordo volcanic walk - Terceira
At this stage Piano has ventured away from mainland Portugal and set course for the tiny clutch of islands comprising Portugal’s Azores, perched off the north west of Africa. By now they find kindred spirits in accompanying yachts arriving at the same destination.  With each landfall comes the urge and opportunity for some strenuous exercise.

Terceira, Azores
(For the Mal de Mer) I took advice from everyone! Had a fizzy Vitamin C drink for breakfast, Stugeron (25mg) and the wrist bands! The passage was calm and enjoyable no rolly wave motion and I felt fine throughout! (note to remind myself to try the same again ) We both had lunch and dinner while en route and also a couple of hour kip.

On Sunday it was sizzling so I had a day on washing the deck. Malcolm meanwhile went to see the “Tourada à Corda” the street bullfighting. This one was on the harbour wall with containers to provide safe viewing for the public. It also meant any easy exit to the sea if the bull got too close, except one bull fancied a swim and jumped in!


24th hired mountain bikes which were taken to the top on the Caldeira and unloaded. We had expected to cycle around the rim but after starting off Esther and I decided it was ridiculous to try.
Needless to say Otto and Malcolm battled on and arrived back shattered! Martin & Jean forgot to tell us that you are supposed to WALK the rim and THEN cycle back to Horta !
The guy at Peters’ Sport was gob smacked when he heard that Malcolm and Otto had actually done it !! The free-wheel down was awesome 18KM from the top down and was it fast. I was overtaken by a car at one point but kept pace with it for a fair distance afterwards.

31st did some more painting with Esther on what we thought would be the new marina wall, the locals tell us it will be for fishing boats but hey it’s good practice! Also made a lemon cake & birthday-card for Esther who celebrates tomorrow. (There will be many more walls to come!)

OCTOBER 2010 - TO MOROCCO ...Rabat- Casablanca –Marrakech
I must mention my first passage as a working crew member, yes now that I take Stugeron (25 mg) I no longer get motion sickness and can do sufficient to give Malcolm 5 hours of sleep. My watch is 9 p.m.’til 2 a.m. I had prepared hot meals for the first 3 days so there was a minimum to do below deck in the rolly conditions. After that we took the meal preparation in turns.
Highlights of the trip were Dolphins cavorting around the boat and a lone turtle making an ocean voyage.
About midway we decided that the waves would probably prevent entry across the sandbar at Rabat so changed course for Portimao. This has the bonus that we can get a few more jobs done before we move further away from civilization.

Casablanca 8th October

Decided on a day out of town and so took the train to Casablanca with a picnic lunch.  Rather a lot of bustle when we arrived but we managed to find our way to the old town (Medina) and walked through the souk towards the Hassan II Mosque. 

Christmas 2010 was spent in Lanzarote before sailing onto the Madiera Archipelago and the port of Funchal.

Funchal - a huge liner

Madiera market - similar to those of Cuenca

A tiny town perched in Madiera's highland
I’ll end this first part of my friend, Sailor Sue’s adventures aboard Piano, on the eastern side of the Atlantic with Sue's photo of Lanzarote by night.  You’ve seen only a small portion of her photos, read only a snippet of her travel diary.

To see more follow her link on my blog page.

Part 2 of Piano’s next great adventure will be the crossing of the Big Pond, the Atlantic from east to west, destination... The Caribbean.


Robyn Mortimer 2011
Storyline adapted from Sailor Sue’s Piano’s Adventures Around the World.

Next – PART 2- OFF TO SEA IN A PIANO- Bermuda