The brothers in arms shot that was supposed to be the Christmas wishes post announcing we were off. Seems a minor technical difficulty prevented it being posted. Nothing to do with the excitement of leaving… We look pretty happy to be off at last across the affectionately known puddle pump, somewhat talking down the 2,600Nm Ocean crossing. Surprisingly I was more nervous on my first crossing as crew from Tonga to NZ than taking my family out into the big blue on my own boat. Perhaps more control for my OCD, or maybe nothing could be as hard as the boat yard we just completed, but more likely now for the easy part after so much time and effort had gone into the preparation for this moment. Some lovely brisk downwind sailing past Grand Canaria on the first afternoon.
Lovely sunset to say goodbye to land for a long time. Just after this shot was taken it was time to get the main down with the wind building to 30kn. We can pull the main down when running downwind thanks to the lovely if mischievous ball bearing slider cars (See boatyard blues) but I prefer not to unless we have to as it’s not so kind to the sail and battens. So we rounded up for a moment and as we were turning catch a steep wave just at the right time to throw quite a bit of water over the boat. Bugga, I had forgotten the front hatches were ajar and Boston on the salon setee was drenched. Even worse, our bunk caught a bucket load and the clean folded washing was on our bed and now soaked… Boaties will feel the pain of seawater soaked bunks and the new washing.
The first dawn at sea gave us the chance to check out the lure from last night when Cesare had nearly been pulled off the deck despite being super careful with the rod as the line was being stripped off the reel even when on full drag. We were sure the boat was even slowed down before the hook bent and the monster escaped.
Dawn also brought this expression from Chris. His years of sealegs swept from under him with the confused and windy sea state off the bottom of the Canary Islands. Shannon and I were wondering what we had go ourselves into as Cesare also joined the sick list after trying cologne a la WD40. Here we are looking after our kids the boat and our two sea sick crew and struggling to sleep with the boisterous seas and +30kn at the start of the passage… Also new boat speed record at 15.8kn.
Three days out and the sun is returning and seas moderating as we settle into boat life on passage. Noticed the #2 batten looking suspect so dropped the main to find it had shattered. Hmmm, glad we bought a spare in Las Palmas. Happy the wind is now directly behind us so we don’t need the main meaning no rush for the repair. Also happy the forecast continues to look like moderate to strong tail winds all the way across.
As if in compensation the sea offers us up a snack sized tuna for the first fish of the trip. Good to see the boys on the mend and feeling better although Chris cannot face the fish. Yum, nice steaks straight on the barbie.
We had several dolphin encounters which are always cool. The water is amazing, such a vivid iridescent blue under the bright sun and very clear so it is amazing being able to watch them swim and surf the waves underwater. This particular morning Shannon was surprised by dolphins on her early morning watch. The first sighting is always gives you a bit of a start… The pod was so big it seemed stretch to the horizon with dolphins jumping up to hundreds of meters away and they took an hour to pass us like a mass migration.
Shortly after returning another modest tuna we got The Fish! How happy does Chris look! (Now fully recovered for the mal de mer) Sad to see the bright colours fade on the beautiful Mahi Mahi immediately once the fish is dispatched. Kids were not too happy with the process and didn’t eat any. But they are not as removed from real life as they were in their land bound life of plastic packaged supermarket meats where it is easy not to think of where it came from and the price to the animal. We certainly appreciate this one as it gave us 3 delicious meals for 4 adults.
Another little squall running through.
And another… Boat speed record now up to 19.8kn surfing down a nice big Atlantic roller! Yeah Baby.
Just because the sun is out and it is a lovely day it’s time for bubbles.
And further celebration as we got the kite up for a full day sliding downwind. Nice! Weather is warming up as well. Caribbean here we come!
Chasing the sunset across the pond.
A little more preventative work on the kite. A scene repeated a few times as I like my kite in one piece. Found we had a little gap in our sail wardrobe with the conditions we had. The wind was virtually dead astern for whole trip so the main was only up for 2 days. 25 knots and plus was nice and fast under the jib only. Up to 18 knots true we could run the kite, but between the two we were a bit underpowered. We didn’t fly the kite at night to avoid any unnecessary excitement so it was a relaxed trip.
More fresh fish about the meet the barbeque.
And then suddenly it was Christmas Eve and there are presents are under the tree.
The happy crew. So happy to have Chris and Cesare on board as they made it a great trip.
In our happy place. Christmas day was a corker. Bacon and eggs secondies breakfast with a touch of wine to welcome the stunning day as the weather really turned it on.
Definitely in my happy place… All day not touching the sheets as the autopilot slides us downwind at 8 knots in 15 knots true, quiet seas and beaming sunshine.
Still chasing that sunset.
A squall went through and left a big hole in the wind behind it. So time to tick off the swim in the middle of the 3,500m deep ocean. Kinda interesting looking down into crystal clear water that deep.
We had the odd technical difficulty. Autopilot ram failed. At 10pm as I was drifting off to sleep of course. Shannon had some practise hand steering by a star as I fixed it. No point leaving it till the morning as another 30 knot is due then. And a toilet rebuild for fun. Another one was the shackle on the jib head failing and a surprised Cesare could not see the jib in the middle of the night. We had it back up in 40 min including persuading the top swivel to come back down.
Pillow wars part 3.
And more fish! I could get used to this life.
The foredeck became quite a popular place
With mixed feelings we were approaching landfall. The weather window we picked rolled out all the way across for us and the trip had run very smoothly. A part of me was reluctant to break our little bubble of self sufficiency. But it was time for our reward of sunshine over water water and nice beaches. After 17 days including going slow for the last 24 hours to arrive with daylight we pulled into English Harbour on Antigua at dawn on 02 Feb 2017.
Anchor down in millpond calm water and time for morning coffee and congratulations to each other. We made it! And enjoyed it!