The wind was blowing quite hard from behind and it was too much for a spinnaker which was a shame. We didn’t get a bad start with only a few boats ahead of us and good clean air. We trundled off at a steady 7 knots with main and genoa. By the time we had got to the Airport the wind was blowing 40 knots in the wind acceleration zone and we decided it was best to reef and furl in the Genoa. We hit 12.4 knots surfing down a wave and this was entering the breaking things zone. Most people went offshore to avoid the wind acceleration zone and the increased winds it brings but we felt happy with the conditions and it seemed to save us a lot of time as we were able to clear the bottom of Gran Canaria much quicker and start our heading for
. St Lucia
It is a little depressing when the miles to go on the plotter read 2700…and you know you are up for 21 days at sea. You also never manage to go in a straight line so the miles sailed are always more. We were fairly fortunate and by taking the straight rhum line route, we sailed 2800 miles in total. The racing boat that got line honours was 40ft in length and sailed 3300 miles in a bid to sail over the top of the low. They averaged 11.4 knots and beat a boat twice their length. Had they sailed a straight line course they would have broken the record for the fastest ARC crossing in 27 years. We were pleased with our 6.7 knot average speed and arrival in 17 days and 10 hours.
The seas were large and confused and not very comfortable. We were hand steering, but spirits were high. There was no seasickness, so the tablets must have been doing there thing and everyone ate chicken casserole for dinner.
We started with a watch system of 3 on 6 off rotating through the 3 adults. We tried the auto pilot which seemed to be coping with the conditions and settled in for our first night at sea. We clocked 177 miles off the distance to go.
The next day we had sunshine and good breeze and all was well until I was woken by a big crash and the sound of many ball bearings clattering on the deck. The spinnaker pole being used to pole of the genoa had decided to come off the bottom of the track. This bent the track and meant we had lost a number of the ball bearings needed for the car that pulls the pole up and down the mast. This was not good news. Then an hour later the bolts on the autopilot attaching it to the rudder stock sheared and left us with no autopilot. We made the decision to keep going and hand steer rather than taking a detour to the
which were a week away. The seas and the wind strength meant returning to the Cape Verdes Canary Islands was not an option. The mood was now rather sombre which was a shame as it was Ethan’s 9th Birthday. He declared it a pretty rubbish one as no one was on top form and we had not settled into life at sea. We did manage a birthday cake with sparklers and he had presents, but not quite what he had in mind.
After day 1 things were pretty much the same. A bit like in groundhog day. Our watches were now 2 on and 4 off as 2 hours is the maximum your arms can take steering. The wind continued and we chose the shortest route rather than venturing south in search of the trades. The forecast that we had picked up before we left gave good winds north for the next week. Following the rhum line would take us steadily south and save us precious miles from diving south. This turned out to be a smart move and those who ventured south suffered a 24 hour lull. We avoided this , probably more by luck than judgement but it did mean 24 hours of being hard on the wind, but at least we had some and kept moving all be it in a very bashy and crashy way. This was not what we had signed up for. It should be down wind all the way.
As we ventured further south the flying fish started to appear. They look a little like birds as they hover just above the surface. Russell was attacked by 2 on night watches as they flew into the cockpit and then flapped around waiting to be rescued. No easy feat when you are hand steering.
We heard reports of people seeing whales but none came to see us. We did have a big pod of dolphins come and play which always lifts people spirits.
We tried fishing and within half an hour had caught a dorado. Unfortunately we were unable to land it and the line broke and off it swam complete with our new €12 lure. We had one lure left and we tried again in the afternoon. This was the same time that Russell decided to take the bolts out of the engine lifting crane and see if they would fit in the autopilot. This meant we were not paying attention and did not notice that the rod was lying flat and all the real had gone. As we tried to slow the boat down the line appeared to come undone and again we lost all the line and the lure. Perhaps it is not meant to be. Intrepid bear apparently caught a tuna and another fish too. At least we know there are fish out there and which lures to buy more off. It remains to be seen whether fishing will be economical if we lose lures at €12 constantly. We have spoken to others since arriving and it seems even though we had taken our sails down to land the fish the fact we were doing 4 knots under bare poles meant we were still going too fast to land a big fish.
’s Birthday on Monday the 3rd with a glass of Fizzy. It was a double celebration as we had covered 1000 miles by that night. So 6 and a half days. If we could continue at this speed then we would get in quicker than our predicted 21 days. We hoped that by Oli’s birthday in 6 days time we would be celebrating another 1000 miles done. We managed it! And at on Sunday 9th December we had covered 2000 miles and spirits were high. The party on the 15th – 20 days after the original start date looked to be achievable even with the actual start being 2 days later. Gary
The wind kept blowing and the miles kept on tumbling at a steady 160 miles a day. It looked like we were on for an 18 day crossing and would arrive on Friday.
We managed to fix the spinnaker pole and pole out the genoa again giving us good speed. Unfortunately after a couple of days of success I was caught by a wave and a gust which spun me up and backed the genoa. The pressure on the pole fitting was too great and it parted company ripping a bit more track off the mast. This resulted in a couple of days running at less than max sail area, however the wind was sufficient that we motored on regardless. It didn’t seem to dent our daily miles too much but it felt slower none the less.
The weather for the last 36 hours was forecast o go lighter. 12 to 19 knots rather than the 20 to 25 we had been used to. The lighter winds enabled us to set a spinnaker. This part of the track was not broken but the fixing holding it to the mast now had the addition of artist paint brushes rammed in to hold it in place. We just hoped it would hold. It did and we hoisted the kite at on Friday morning and took it down at just as we rounded pidgeon island, and the sun set. The finish line was in sight and we knew a warm welcome and a cold rum punch was waiting for us in the marina. We had done it.