Our transatlantic seems an age ago now. It was such a massive hurdle but actually ended up being a bit of a breeze…which is exactly as I like it. People have asked how it was, and the only response we have is, well a bit boring. We didnt see very much, certainly very little sea life or shipping, and we sailed the boat so conservativly that most days there was nothing to do!
In total it was 18 day 3 hours, 2202 nm and an average daily run of 121 nm. Our best day was our last at 139 nm in 24 hours, our shortest run was on day 8 below, at 96nm. Not bad really for our little boat!
This is Ellie’s diary notes from the crossing typed up. So from the very cutting edge of transatlantic sailing…
Spent the morning busily getting the boat ready with the last jobs, the previsous night we had a concert at a hotel 100m from us, we did not sleep well. By 11am we were basically ready to go but had to wait for our tiller pilot pins to arrive from the workshop. We both had our last showers, and at 12:15 a technician working on the boat next door pulled the pins from his pocket. The problem was the marina office shut 12 til 3pm. We went to the Irish pub for a leasurly dry lunch and lots of downloading. 3pm we were in the office checking out, by 3:30 we had slipped the lines, smoothly reversed out of the berth without any drama and were hoisting the main in a jiffy.
Now we are sailing wing on wing out of the bottom of the St. Vincent channel in 10-15 knots, it’s a glorious start to the passage, and John is cooking dinner. Smooth seas and happy sailors.
Pretty easy conditions over night a bit of a light wind patch, probably the wind shadow of St. Antao. By dawn we were reaching in 10-12 knots to the west. John’s a bit sick and had a sore throat so I’ve done most of the watches. 1 sailing boat to the north sailing parralel.
The wind had gone around to a run and has built over night. 1 reef in the main and very good boat speed. Expecting a good days run. We’re hearing lots of yachts on the radio chatting. Peanut stew for tea yum.
0300 - tiller pin sheared, where the cut thread causes a stress concentration. We hand steared until daylight, 2 hours each - it was hard work. Dropped the main at 0500, and it has stayed down all day. We fitted the spare pin at 7am when the sun came up. We have bodged a 2nd option if this pin fails. The bracket had also had issues but these were quickly fixed.
New Years Eve tonight, we might have a port at midnight watch change. No boats sighted today, but lots of chat on the radio, especially Karma, a dutch boat.
No boats overnight, lots of strange chat from the longline tuna fishing boats. We just heard them talking with another yacht - the lines are 60miles long! Sailing with just the #2 up and poled out. It’s a bit rolly but we’re going ok. The spare pin in the tiller is holding - we might also have a way to use sheet to tiller if the whole bracket goes.
Overnight we saw a fishing buoy on AIS and two ships over 20 miles away. Ellie washed.
Still running under just the poled out #2, boat speed is still good, boat is still rolly. Spent most of the day listening to the Isdalen podcast (Ice Valley on BBC). We caught a Skipjack tuna in the middle of John’s shower and had Tuna Niçoise for lunch - it was alright. We need to learn to bleed the tuna properly. Other then that not a lot to report - ships clock went back an hour. Tow generator was making a worrying noise so we didn’t use it over night.
Gybed the #2 to the starboard side. The wind was 15-20 overnight but has dropped off now. We tried to service the tow generator, but can’t get into the body without a set of gear pullers. In short - can’t fix it don’t want to risk breaking it by using it again. Fiddlesticks
Saw a ship called Alcyone passing astern of us on AIS - over 20 miles away. How exciting. Also started to see saragosa seaweed - so maybe we wouldn’t have been able to use the generator anyway. Burritos for lunch - tuna and sesame for tea - fridge will have to go off overnight. We had to alter course for some fishing floats, we might have had some weed on the keel as overnight was quite slow. We watched The Laundromat - very good.
Hot weather again, Ellie washed. All went ok with turning off the fridge overnight - still had 12.3v in the morning. Not sure the battery monitor is always keeping up. No ships on the radio - saw one or two on AIS. It rained overnight - John saw our first raft of Saragosa seaweed - he woke me up for it. The wind was pretty calm in the afternoon, so we sat on the foredeck in the shade, read and chatted, it was lovely.
We had cheese and pickle sandwiches for lunch! Delicious. Airing the bed cushions in the cockpit. We’re both tired. The engine isn’t charging batteries - but we should be ok. Put the tow generator out this morning (night) even though it was making a worrying noise - low batteries because of yesterdays clouds. Now we’re both in the cockpit reading, a very leasurly life! We passed the halfway point over night! Eaten less than half the chistmas cake.
Sent a message home. Now planning the house layout, how to build a library corner / decorate the lounge. John made delicious bread for lunch, very stroppy about kneading conditions, but the result was amazing. Elena thinks all the effort was worth it. After lunch we very smoothly swaped headsails for the small jib (#3), as the wind is filling in for the rest of the trip. Now watching “How to Live Mortgage Free”.
The wind has filled in now, we had a pretty rock and roll night. We’ll have to find a way to pad out the pans in the cupboard. Also changed the clocks another hour. It’s hot. Might have seen a Man of War Jellyfish. We’re now rationing Netflix and fresh veggies. Called up “”Professor Logachev” as they’re stationary and in our way. After a few moments thought they confirmed a 2 mile exclusion zone. Hanked on the storm jib just in case.
Pretty breezy today, seen 27knots apparent on a dead run, dropped the jib, and going under 3rd reef in the main only. Big seas but fewer steep and nasty waves, one did just try and land in the right in the cockpit on top of John. A day for doing not very much, finished a book, popcorn and a film, Anahilation - not a very happy one.
Still pretty windy over night, so wasn’t very restful. I had to hand steer in a squall with 29 knots apparent - I guess about 35 true. Waves are big and boisterous we switched to the #3 jib as the wind had dropped. Both a bit bored now and would like to get there. 6 days to go - loads of Saragosa weed swooshing against the hull.
Christmas cake for breakfast, we took the jib down, and put up the main with 3rd reef. Other than that pretty easy. Having listend to so many podcasts we think we could do a good one - just deciding who to interview. Both had a wash and feeling nice and clean. The moon last night was phenomenal, saw a mad o’war jellyfish! Listened to some music - started reading the second Discworld book.
Not much to report the wind didn’t fill in as much as forecasted but the waves are pretty big.
Wind and BIG seas seem to have arrived, sailing with just the 3rd reef in the main all ok, though it is a bit like a bucking bronco at times but hey ho. 400miles to go.
Dolphins! John let me have a lie in. First dolphins of this leg of the trip. Putting the jib pole on, John fell against the shrouds. He now has an almighty bruise on his arm, thats’s 6 out of 9 sea-cat lives gone for him. Hoping we can get in Wednesday afternoon, we will need Alcyone to do her flying thing - she has shown her colours before.
Breeze is back up a bit today but we have got summit arrival fever so we are leaving the jib up and poled out for now. It was pretty breezy over night so might have to go back to only the 3rd reefed main over night tonight. We have 147miles to go at 15:45 ships time, so it’s touch and go if we will make it Prickly Bay before dark (sunset 17:50, nautical twighlight end 19:05) let’s see. We might have to go to St Davids instead which is a bit closer.
Arrival Day! We raced, we put lots of sail up, we averaged 7 knots, we went into St Davids to get in during daylight. It was excellent - record days run! Alcyone flew.
To entertain us for the duration we got through a good handful of books. For posterity here is the list:
- Why the west rules for now: The patterns of history and what they reveal about the future
- Coral: A pessimist in paradise
- Three seas stories; Typhoon, Falk, The Shadow-line.
- Seabirds Cry: The Lives and Loves of Puffins, Gannets and Other Ocean Voyagers.
- The Colour of Magic
- The Light Fantastic
- Equal Rites
- The Blood Never Dried
- When We Ruled
- Seashaken houses
- The Colour of Magic
- The Light Fantastic
- Equal Rites
- How to Store Your Home Grown Veg