Atlantic Crossing – Day 8

Blogger: Mariel
Date: 18-Feb-2020
Location: 250 miles north west of the Cape Verde islands
Total to Date: 961nm
24 Hour Run: 145nm (new 24 hour record)

04.05, night watch

It strikes me that sailing across an ocean is a very different type of long distance journey to my usual walking or cycling. When I walk or cycle, I stop each night. Every time I go to ‘bed’ (lay out my sleeping mat and bivvy bag on a beach, in a field or behind a wall), it is in a different place to where I woke up, a new view and often in a different habitat. The environment changes gradually as I travel through it, and round each corner is a change of perspective. When I am tired or just fancy a break, I can stop, sit down, enjoy the view, take a nap.

Sailing, on the other hand, is relentless. Nothing stops just because it is dark. The wind still blows, the waves rise up behind us, nothing ever stops moving as we hurtle through the darkness at 7 knots. Even in sleep, at least one hand, foot or other appendage is used to brace ourselves against the rocking and rolling of the boat. The sea changes colour through the day, from black to grey to pale blue to deep blue with aquamarine and back to grey again, but it is always there, in every direction, and waves upon waves upon waves.

When I was cycling around Malta last spring, there was one day of very strong winds. I pushed my bike along, at times barely able to keep myself upright let alone a heavily laden bicycle. By late afternoon, seeking shelter behind the remnants of a wall, with the wind whipping through my hair and the noise in my ears driving me wild, I found a small B&B on for less than £20, cycled back up the road and checked in. Oh the relief! A hot shower, a giant and very comfy bed, and peace and quiet as the wind blew outside for the night.

This evening, as my 7-9pm watch began, Gill came to join me on deck as the sky grew darker, not just from the setting sun, but also from rather ominous looking grey clouds rising up behind us. We watched as the stars came out, and then disappeared again, and tried to work out how the moving shades of grey in the sky correlated with the wind and waves, as the boat was knocked sideways and water splashed into the cockpit. Half an hour later and the wind and waves seemed slightly calmer and the clouds less threatening, but Gill stayed with me until my watch ended, just in case.

When I came up for my second night watch (3-5am), conditions were much the same, but the wind has moved around to the east so we are heading almost directly west. The clouds are coming and going, and now obscuring the rising crescent moon. Irish John stayed out in the cockpit with me for the first hour, trying to sleep, as his berth in the forepeak bounces him all over the place, but despite being dressed for a sail in the English channel rather than the tropics, he was too cold (and the seat too narrow), and he retreated down below.

I’ve just seen 27 knots of apparent wind on one of our many instruments. Together with the 7 knots we are sailing downwind, we are easily in over 30 knots of wind with no signs of it abating any time soon.

But there’s no out here in the Atlantic ocean. We are in it for the long haul.

M, G, IJ, and J
With lots of love to everyone sending fair winds in our direction x

Use with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

One thought on “Atlantic Crossing – Day 8

  1. I’m so grateful for your news, darling and look forward to reading the blog everyday.
    You’re in my thoughts constantly, xxxxxxx


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