Dept Day (21 Nov)
After washing down the boat & filling up the water tank in Las Palmas marina we finally set off for our epic journey to St Lucia at around 15:30 -16:00. Simon gave the boys a bit of an introduction to everything on route & it was pretty choppy once out into the open water. It wasn’t long before Matty was hurling up his BK Double Cheese Burger, unfortunately to make matters worse he picked up a can of coke to wash away the taste in his mouth only to find that it was empty and Simon had been using it as an ashtray! He was not happy but we obviously found it hilarious.
The wind was directly behind us as expected and we had to reef the sails in during the night as it picked up to a max of 40 knots but being from behind it didn’t feel as strong. Then the wind died off which was not expected & we ended up sticking the motor on, a little worrying as we need to be strict with our fuel consumption as we have 2875 miles to go!
Day 1 (22 Nov)
We motored on & off throughout the day and using the IridiumGo (a satellite internet router) that Matt kindly hired we were able to check the weather. Don’t be deceived though its not like broadband it took 3 hours to download the weather files & its not powerful enough to load web pages such as Facebook but we can send & receive short text only emails. The forecast told us the wind would pick up around 6pm & stay pretty strong for the next 5 days. With the wind behind we have been rolling horrendously, it feels a lot more jerky than the monotonous light rolling I am used to & unusually I have been feeling sea sick since we left.
The boys have been trailing fishing lines in the hope of catching a tuna, surprisingly Matt did get a bite but lost whatever it was along with his lure! On the up side we saw a huge pod of dolphins & got some good videos for an iMovie I am making of our trip.
During the nights we have 2 people on watch together, as Matt and Chris haven’t sailed much or at night before. Matt & I had a difficult first shift with 25-30 knots of wind which kept flitting between the port & starboard stern making it difficult to control the boat & sending the autopilot off course. I was so worried about damaging the sails or rigging luckily it calmed down for the rest of night.
Day 2 (23 Nov)
The fishing lines were out again but Matt spent more time tangling them up than catching anything. In the afternoon we all played a movie quiz to pass the time. Simon lost our only bucket overboard which we were using to rinse our washing up in sea water to save on fresh water. Matt cooked dinner but with the violent rolling all the mash potato ended up on the floor so a bit of a disastrous day. Simon & I are beginning to believe we have totally under estimated how uncomfortable the crossing is going to be. It is very difficult to move around the boat & we are getting slung from one side to the other. All of us are already aching from clinging onto stuff & constantly trying to steady ourselves, we feel like we’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson.
Day 3 (24 Nov)
I finally managed to man up & stop feeling sick in order to make some bread as somehow all the loaves were left on the sweet counter at the supermarket checkout by mistake (Chris & Matt)! It only occurred to me that I didn’t recall unpacking it until we had already started our passage. Scrump Dog Millionaire finally went for a no.2 after holding out for 55 hours.
It has been a hectic day full of catching fish, falling over & squalls ((bad weather patches). We were just opening the Jamon (cured ham leg) for a nice lunch when a squall hit, right at the same time the fishing line went nuts, so it was all hands on deck. Later the wind turbine stanchion came loose so that involved more panic to get it back on in the current rough conditions, poor Scrumps got twatted by a roaming tool box & later hurt his leg landing awkwardly after jumping from the bed, then I got thrown off the cockpit seat while holding him nearly ended up down the companion way stairs only to be saved by Matty in the nick of time. The boys all ended up catching 5 Dorado (fish) in total & we ate one for tea. I also saw a big dark fin of something that definitely wasn’t a dolphin.
The wind has picked up & rocking n rolling reached an all time high and at one point Chris was catapolted from the saloon bed onto the opposite sofa. This is making sleeping at night virtually impossible & none of us managed to catch much! We are still getting smashed around & are all covered in cuts & bruises. So much for the boring crossing that everyone had told us to expect!!!
Day 4 (25 Nov)
Saw the first of the flying fish that people told us about, their fins are like wings & they look more like birds gliding over waves for up to 60 metres. Rolling is still ridiculous but we are starting to see the funny side. I swear it deliberately gets worse when you are trying to cook in the galley. During lunch everything flew off the table at least 5 times including Matty’s entire lunch & he flashed (burst of anger) but we all ended up hysterically laughing. It is just relentless. Matt is going to patent the Atlantic Crossing boat diet & loose 1 stone in a week, you just make a nice meal & then throw it all on the floor.
We got hit by large waves throughout the day & Simon & I forgot to close the hatch in our room & about 6 litres of sea water ended up all over our bed. We hung everything out around the boat to try & dry it. I would have loved an ARC boat to pass us as they would not have believed their eyes, talk about taking boat hobos to whole other level. We must have looked ridiculous like a sailing version of Faulty Towers!
The night shifts are killing us & we are all absolutely knackered despite being only 4 days in, so this evening we have changed the night shifts to solo crew. However someone is close to hand if assistance is required. This now means you do 2 shifts a night, 2 hours on & 6 hours off. Instead of 3 on & 3 hours off.
At 8pm we’d covered 525 miles only 2375 to go!
Day 5 (26 Nov)
I made nutella & banana pancakes for breakfast. We caught another Dorado while we were adjusting the sails, they always bite at the most inconvenient moments. We have put the foresail away as we were struggling to stay on course & just have the main sail up now, but it is more complicated to reef this in if bad weather comes & we are a little slower. The rolling is STILL ridiculous but we are all learning to live with it.
Yet more dramas as I had found that a number of UHT milk cartoon had exploded in the cupboard thanks to a strategically placed nail, so most of the afternoon was spent emptying, cleaning & replacing everything! All of this during a marathon rollathon, we had to do our best to avoid being twitting in the head by tins of steak in gravy & chicken in white sauce that were falling off the sideboard. It was all very comical and there were tears of laughter in between outburst of anger.
It was a bit calmer during the night & combined with the solo shifts most of us managed a fairly decent nights sleep.
Day 6 (27 Nov)
The wind has started to die off and our daily weather forecast confirms a dreaded patch of low wind (5 knots!) creeping up on us & looks to last 2-3 days. This has instigated Simon to make a DIY pole for the foresail. It is a kind of make shift boom which holds out a normally boomless foresail in order to gain more speed in low winds. We could have bought one but they were €850 in Las Palmas. After a failed attempt using some rowing ors, it was decided to take down the wind turbine & recycle the steel stanchion. Midway into progress Chris announced that the head were blocked so the pole was put on hold. As with everyday a different drama the toilet turned out to be well & truly blocked thanks to the boys sticking baby wipes down it, so the boat was littered with tools & toilet system parts that you couldn’t move. Right at this point the fishing line inconveniently went crazy …..again, and I ended up reeling in the biggest catch so far! It took me 10 minutes to land the thing.
Simon & Matt finally cleared the blockage 3 hours later having to trail 3 metres of pooh pipe off the back of the boat whilst ramming a rather expensive piece of electric cabling down it, as there was nothing else long enough. I won’t dare to describe the manner of things that came out of that pipe! The pole was successfully finished helping us gain a knot. Once all was complete Simon & Matt feeling like a duo from the TV show life of grime stopped the boat to have a wash in the oggin and were rewarded by the arrival of a gargantum pod of dolphins. Just so you know they always have lines attached to them & the boat for safety when doing this, we don’t want to lose anyone at sea. I dread to think what drama tomorrow with bring!
Day 7 (28 Nov)
Thankfully there were no dramas today, & we had to motor as there was no wind but this has meant it was more comfortable on board. Scrumpy has actually been able to be a bit active around the boat which is nice for him and he is coping like a true sea dog. We have now done 1 full week at sea and have sailed 867 mies, averaging 5.16 knots per hour and are just passing the western tip of the Cape Verde islands, so are on schedule.
The night shifts are working really well & run from 7pm to 11am, it is much calmer now so we don’t need 2 people on & I think most people are managing to get some sleep during the 6 hours they are off. In stead of hot bedding we now have our own beds, Simon & I in the forward cabin, Matt in the aft and Chris on the saloon pilot berth. Everyone is using trial & error to make their beds as comfy as possible but apparently the fwd cabin is the best as we can sleep sideways preventing us from falling out of bed. This is ironic as for the last 3 months everyone we’ve met said that it is the most uncomfortable place on a boat to sleep, well clearly not when the wind is up the chuff! Although at times I do feel like a human seesaw & I wish we had managed to finish the lee cloths before leaving as these would stop Matt & Chris from falling out of bed!
A daily routine is now established, most of us are usually up around 9am for a coffee/tea social in the cockpit, the boys put out the fishing rods. We have lunch, clean up and then dinner is around 6pm. All washing up now goes in a net bag (pussers douby bag) and is towed off the back of the boat to clean it. It is rinsed in fresh water and all put away ready for the night shifts to start. Simon spends most time covering the helm and Matt and I share work in the galley ad Chris tends to sleep and read a lot, but does occasionally muck in!