I’ve talked about comparing the two crossings from west to east and here we go. Last time I crossed from west to east we had a set date we needed to be in Sweden. Because of that we left early, in April witch is a bit too early. Heading north, we sailed into a tropical wave (developing tropical storm) and had some serious winds. Not having a reliable way of knowing weather and keeping in contact with shore, we had to try to play by ear. Sure, we could get weather faxes in a bad resolution but they were not anything as good as the grib-files I can download now. We had another problem as well, salt. We didn’t realize that we’d accumulated as much salt as we had in our mattresses and pillows. As the temperature dropped, it got more and more damp inside and thus making it even more uncomfortable. Hitting bad weather early meant that we had a faster transition from warm Caribbean to cold North Atlantic and combined with the salt situation it took quite a toll on us. We ended up a bit more north then than we did this time around getting more wind. About two weeks out a tropical storm started to chase us; Ana the same name that the first one that hit the US mainland earlier in May. For a couple of days it looked like Ana would hit us with some serious weather but she didn’t. Being only two we had a lot less continuous sleep and where constantly a bit sluggish from sleep deprivation.
With the weather we’ve had this crossing it’s been a completely different experience. The big storm ended before we even left St. Martin and we’ve stayed south of any big weather patterns. Only down side is that we had to motor quite a bit to get here but I’d rather do that than just drift around in storms. The sat-phone has made communication much easier and we’ve kept contact with not just shore but other sailors that we’ve met during the crossing. Being able to know somewhat to expect all the time is a good feeling. Another good thing that I’ve felt was good was the ais, knowing that there was at least one cargo ship somewhere close all the time made the crossing much more relaxed than the last one. Knowing where they’re heading and how close they will pass is even better. I must say, taking the guesswork out of the small dots on the horizon (that will grow and become mountains of steel) is a good improvement. Conclusions then? Technology helps but they make you depend more on the problems of electricity in boats. It’s sure worth dealing with these problems and I’d gladly do that all again just to have the possibility of a good weather forecast mid ocean and being able to tell my family that I’m fine. That in mind tough I feel that the last time was more exotic, more of a real effort in a strange way. This was a leisure cruise that lasted 26 days and that in itself is a feat but comparing it to the first time it wasn’t something one brags about over a beer with other sailors. Crossing in this way sure was a better crossing but was it a better adventure?
Action photo from the big sea!
Our butterfly setup.
Aries doing some hard work.
Mid Atlantic dawn.
Woooo, lots of sails. Not perfect main but it works.
How to save diesel 101..
Small update before the next big post. Did a car-rental today and took a trip around Faial and looked at some landscape. Here comes a bunch of pictures for you. Both the crossing and from our trip in the car.
Road to nowhere..
Pico in the background…
Yeah, one of those..
Bad picture of amazing beach..
Yeah, it’s the same island, different textures 😉
COW… Yeah Cow!
Mmm, more cows!
Horta, one of those white dot’s is Trusty.
Yeah, THE Lighthouse..
That one, from the ocean.
Pico and my new friend, there are a few cows here…
Yeah, landscape and stuff.
I’ve heard that there is a relative between one’s sanity and the number of exclamation marks that end a sentence. I can surely see that point as we’re tied up in the marina at a small pontoon after a good last day. Dropping under a hundred yesterday made me realize that most sane people don’t do this. Why anyone would put themselves in a small boat and bobb across a big ocean risking storms, collisions, freak waves and/or icebergs, not to mention the risk of being stranded without fresh-water miles from civilization is beyond comprehension. Sure this is not the first time I’ve done that and it will probably not be the last time (hell, we even have one more long one before getting home), some people would claim I’m not sane any way but that’s up to them. I honestly don’t know why, sure I want to travel and see places and sailing is a good way of getting there. Seeing land after over three weeks of ocean kind of messes with your mind. First of all, how the hell did they find these small islands, it’s not like the Canaries where you almost can see them from Africa on a good day or the Caribbean. We’re talking about a couple of small volcano remnants about 800 miles from anything. Second, why did they start living there?
Sure, the Wikipedia page might tell me the truth but one start to realize that most of these places were found and settled by lunatics. Crazy people doing crazy stuff. Damn, now I’m going to find me that shower, become a new man and grab me a beer.
Now the game begins, we have wind pushing us in the right direction, we have enough diesel to take us to Horta and we have only about 200 NM left!
Yesterday we had dolphins playing around Trusty all day (almost) and made good mileage so overall it was not the worst day on this crossing. Now we have the waves from behind and it’s a rocky ride. Not that fun but hey at least we’re getting somewhere!
Time to start sharpening the razor, digging out my land clothes and get ready to become human again. When we reach Horta we’re going to meet up some of the boats we’ve talked to over the radio and that’ll be fun. After that, it’s Trusty fixing time and we’ll fix all that didn’t work during our crossing.
A catamaran we’ve been keeping in touch with actually bought 30L of diesel from another yacht yesterday, I don’t want to ask what they paid for it.
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W 033 10
Distances and time are relative depending on where and when you are, 500 nautical miles might be more than you sail during a whole season or it might be the distance between you and the next shower. When our distance towards the Azores dropped under 1000 nautical miles we were close in our mind, not on paper. Damn, three digits, that’s almost home right? Yeah, but it’s still a bigger distance than our early legs on this trip. Right now the days goes fast but the hours have slowed down to a crawl. You stand watch for three hours (feels like 6 in the middle of the night) and go to sleep and stand watch and oops, a whole week has gone.
It’s our chores, cooking and washing up, that actually informs us that a couple of days has passed.
We still have a couple of more days to spend here bobbin towards Faial and that shower but it’s still closer to that shower than I’ve been in a long time. Last time I took a proper shower was down in Trinidad! No, we don’t smell (that much) I’ve been using our boat-shower and swum in the ocean but last real shower were at Coral Cove marina.
We did about three days of motoring before the wind started blowing again and now we have about 3-4 days more we can use but we won’t make it all the way if we don’t get some proper wind.
Another sailing yacht called up a freighter and asked if they could buy some fuel but they didn’t have a diesel of that kind on board. Maybe that is an idea for financing your trip. Stock up on fuel, drift around a couple of hundred nautical miles west of Horta if there’s no wind, and sell fuel at crazy prices. “Feel like buying some diesel? That’ll be your soul and first born, or you can spend 25 years drifting around out here.”
Now ask yourself, when was the last time you were 500 nautical miles from a shower? The water is getting colder, haven’t had below 24 Celsius in a long time.
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W 39 49
Some people wait in vain to catch the green flash at sunset and get irritated when they don’t succeed, now I’ll tell you how you can do it the other way around…
First, get a GPS that will tell you the sunset and sunrise on the position you are, go out 750 nautical miles west of the Azores, make sure there are no wind and almost no waves. Get up about an hour before dawn and have a cup of tea. Now comes the hard part, look at how tasteless the real world can be with more pink, purple and blue than an 80’s cartoon aimed at small girls. Now consult your GPS and make sure to know when the sun will rise (where is not hard to miss, it’s where the colours are really tasteless) and just wait. Now if you’re lucky you’ll start with the flash and thus your eyes won’t have the blotches that you usually got while staring into the setting sun. Now some will say that this is bullshit and that the green flash don’t exist, well it does, kind of.
It’s not the second morning with no wind and we’re steaming ahead doing steady 3 knots hoping for some kind of wind. We still have quite a lot of diesel left but not enough to get us all the way to Horta but we’ll see how far we get before having to start and row Trusty.
One good thing about this weather is that we can have our hatches open and ventilate Trusty so it’s a little bit less of an oven down below. The days go by fast but the hours slowly so we try to keep busy reading and listening to music. If there is a submarine down below, they’ll be bored of our playlist soon as we’ve been playing for the whole ocean to hear. If they surface to yell at us, I’ll ask them for some diesel and fresh meat.
What more then? Yesterday it rained for a couple of hours and I’m thankful for our hardtop now. With the radar on and looking out into the mist my rain exposure was minimal.
Let’s hope they still have warm showers in the marina in Horta!
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W 043 41
Less than a thousand! Hmm what to say about the last couple of days? Sometimes it’s good to have a thick skull, jellyfishes are growing bigger and big sky theory is bad on water…
Start with skulls, during one of my nightwatches I lost my balance and fell. Luckily my head hit the side of the entrance to the cabin and gave me a second to grab something before falling all the way down to the floor. Got a small cut on my forehead but balsa-fiberglass sandwich against wood and sawdust seems to cancel out and I’ve seen no other problems than a sore forehead. Wouldn’t have been fun falling all the way down and landed on my face to think of it.
Usually people talk about big sky theory as a way to promote safety in the air and in space, shortly explained they say that there are so much space so it’s unlikely to fly into someone else because of that. Well, the Atlantic might be quite big too but let me introduce you the magic of GPS navigation and the big circle. What ships do is that they motor out from the European coast and then plot a big-circle towards their destination across the pond. What you end up with is a lot of boats going back and forth on the same place. If you plot a big circle from where we turned eastwards on our trip to the Azores you kind of end up with the same circle, so now we have at least a freighter every day passing just a couple of miles away. Yesterday we had to change our course because there was two big container ships meeting and we ended up between them. But that’s good, a nice training to get us shipshape before the English Channel.
Jellyfish then? The sailing ones are bigger now and they shimmer in the sunlight. We have a full moon as well and last night you got the same effect as they did in old movies when they shot night scenes midday with a blue filter. But hey less than a thousand nautical miles left to Horta!
Peters Sport here we come, shower here we come, Portuguese customs officers here we come (no sir we don’t have the boat full of rhum, sir) and a stunning view of Pico here we come. I wonder if there’ll be snow on Pico…
Well other than that we’re all good and still have high spirits! Our bow points towards Horta and we have water and diesel to take us there.
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W 47 50
No not Manowar man of war, a Portuguese one, no long hair and guitars on overdrive. We’re talking a sailing jellyfish. For the last couple of hours we’ve been sailing amongst them as we stomp our way north east.
When I woke up this morning I was as happy as one can be out on the Atlantic, my bed was dry and I was snuggled into a blanket and it felt warm and cosy. Honestly, I’m finding it hard to remember when that happened during the last couple of months. We’re heading for the cold. As long as it doesn’t get to cold it’s going to be ok, much easier getting dressed for cold than for warmth. When you’re almost naked and can’t find any shade, how do you dress for that? Well now at night I get to put on my pants and a nice warm shirt, aah lovely.
A small school of small whales visited us today and swam next to us for a bit, got a bit of video of that. Going to upload that when we’re able to get a good internet connection.
Catch you later when we get closer. Now it’s below 1400 NM left to Horta!
N 30 08.89
W 054 18.10