Saturday, 11 January 2014

Crossing the Atlantic at last

We were in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria for over two weeks waiting for crew and completing last minute repairs and purchases. They have very good facilities there, the chandlers are good and provisioning was excellent.

                                                   John and Simon preparing to go

 At Central Market the butcher will vacuum pack the meat, cut it up how you like it and he is very reasonable. The greengrocer was also excellent delivering to the boat and ensuring that the produce was such that you had ripe fruit as well as fruit and veg that would last for at least a couple of weeks.

 By the 10th December both Claire and Simon had arrived and we were hot to trot but the weather was brutal. We had 25 knot winds from the South the exact opposite of what we wanted! We were not the only ones there were a number of boats champing at the bit to get going. Every few hours we would check the weather in the hope that a weather window would appear and finally on the 13th we saw our chance and took it!
The first few hours were great sailing and we set up a watch list then the wind started to increase. George, our autopilot, was not happy and we had to helm through the night. Claire was feeling sick so Simon and John took the brunt of the helming.

  John at the helm .... note the Atlantic Roller in the background!

 It was exhausting but we slowly got used to it and five days in we had covered 7/800 miles and were looking for our turn with the NE trades. We had a team of weather forecasters sending us updates according to our position but we did not want to go too far South and miss the trades. By Day 9 we were confident that we had found them…. steady 20 knot winds with fluffy clouds scattering the sky. George was a lot happier and we were back to full strength with our crew.

                                           Our Position on Christmas Day
                        We are the green dot in the middle of the Atlantic!

Christmas Day on board was relaxed we were blessed with a good sea and able to serve up lamb shank, roasties and some veg without too much hassle. Santa did find the boat and each crew member had a small gift to unwrap and a glass of sparkly. We usually run a dry boat but Christmas Day was an exception with just one glass!

Simon is a keen fisherman and the day he picked to have a go was perfect. He had cast his line for no longer than two hours when he scared the living daylights out of us with a yell from the cockpit…’fish on!’ He had caught a 7kg tuna so it was fish for tea for the next few days. Lots of brain food!

Downward sailing is not my favourite point of sail. The rolling can be uncomfortable. John made the decision to reef every night as the night squalls appear from nowhere and can last nearly all night or just a few hours! We also had two on each watch at night just to help if George was unable to handle the heavy seas if the weather took a turn for the worst. It worked well but was tiring and towards the end of the journey we dropped it down to one with the proviso that someone would give the other a lift if needed. No sooner had we agreed to the one on watch at night system when Clare went on watch and came down to tell John there is a lot of lightening about. It was a long night with thunder, lightning and heavy rain all night. The one member on watch system went out the window!!

                                                                       Halfway there!

We had a couple of incidents worth a note …. A rogue wave came into the cockpit around Day 6 no one was expecting it Simon was clipped on and minding his own business and I was on the helm. The wave hit him full in the face, soaked him and set off his lifejacket! He said to me one minute I was sitting having a quiet chat the next I was wearing Dolly Parton Implants as his jacket inflated!! He was shocked at the time but we have a good laugh about it now.
Clare is doing a fine arts degree. She resolved that once we had found the trades she would throw overboard each day a message in a bottle hoping that she could develop this into a project for one of her assessments. She sent out a total of thirteen bottles I hope she gets some sort of response before she finishes her degree in two years’ time!

We were unfortunate that timing was such that we were due to make land in the dark. Something we definitely did not want to do so we laid a hull about 35 miles out and made our way in a daybreak reaching Jolly Harbour in Antigua at about 9.30am. After clearing immigration we made for a bar and the friendly bar owner George at Westpoint opened up just for us when we told how far we had come for a beer…. 2850 miles!! 
On January 3rd in 20 days we had come long way and the beer did not touch the sides!!

No comments:

Post a Comment