Atlantic Crossing – Day 22

Blogger: John
Date: 3-Mar-2020
Location: Closing on Martinique
Total to Date: 2729nm (212nm to go)
25 Hour Run: 116nm

We gybed in the night because our course became erratic, the motion was uncomfortable and everything was banging and crashing around. And what a difference. Since then we have creamed along at around 6 knots all day on an easy port tack. We all agree today has been the best sailing day so far. A great relief after two or three days of hard work battling for every mile won. The sky is blue now, the squalls have died out at least for the time being and we’ve even done a team Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword (1 wrong). Mariel got two cryptic clues correct and she says her granny will be very proud of her! We did have another few rainy squalls though in the night with winds of up to 34 knots – another wet knicker day for the girls!

Creature wise it’s been another good day. A turtle from IJ, a possible booby from Mariel, another small petrel like bird, lots of flying fish and a brief visit from a large pod of those very small dolphins.

The mahi-mahi meal last night well lived up to expectations when we somehow managed to eat almost half of yesterday’s catch. The rest of the half went into today’s lunchtime salad (with mung beans etc). Tonight the vote is for fish soup rather than tray bake which sounds absolutely scrummy. Mariel has taught me how to bake her spelt bread today so the last two loaves are on the cooker cooling down. There’s still a bit of the last packet of butter left too so it’s feast time tonight.

Psychologically we’re at that odd stage where we all want to get to the end but are not sure that we want it all to end. By tomorrow morning we will have less than 200 miles to go and we’ll work out if we get to St Anne’s on Thursday evening or Friday morning (or even a night arrival as we know the anchorage fairly well). We shall see.

M, IJ, J and G

Use https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/4717902794063872 with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

Atlantic Crossing – Day 21

Blogger: John and Mariel
Date: 2-Mar-2020
Location: Approaching Martinique from the East
Total to Date: 2600nm (332nm to go)
25 Hour Run: 110nm

Two contrasting nightwatch reflections for you today, plus some excitement from this morning.

PART 1 Mariel, 03.32am, nightwatch

I’m starting to find this hard in different ways. The constant queasiness, the change in taste and the hypersensitivity to smell have all mostly passed. But now we are all in countdown mode and I am struggling with the ever-moving target.

I think I’m ready for our ocean passage to be over now. Ready to see something other than blue sea. Ready to be able to stretch my legs (without bracing them on the other side of the cockpit), leave the boat, have a swim, a proper wash, be alone (even if just for a few precious moments), meet new people, and talk to the people I love.

Our days are filled with calculations; if we continue at this speed in this direction, we’ll arrive in 3, 4, 5, 15 days… The tablet screen is swiped to the side to show the miles to go, sometimes every mile we travel. We mark significant points as we aim for and pass them – now down to every 100 nm. Just before midnight, we crept below 400 nm left to go.

I am not used to counting down to things or wishing time away. Over the past year in particular, I’ve been conscious about making the most of the present rather than wishing it away in favour of a potentially brighter future. It jars with me, this constant checking of a variable time and distance remaining. I want to be able to make the most of the few days we have remaining in this small blue bubble, but I’m torn with wanting to reach the end, and distracted by the countdown.

The biggest problem with the countdown is that it is changeable. This isn’t like counting down to Christmas with a chocolate advent calendar, knowing that Santa will come on the night of the 24th, and that there’ll be food and presents galore on the 25th. Right now, we are doing 5-6 knots in exactly the right direction, 257 degrees, just south of west. With less than 400 nm to go from here in a straight line, that makes our ETA 3 days and 4 hours, according to the app we use.

But earlier this evening, when a passing squall had sucked all the wind from the air, we could barely make 3 knots, and we were at least 30 degrees off course. Heading in the wrong direction at a half the speed made our ETA over a week away.

We are at the mercy of the wind and the waves. We think back to earlier stages of our passage, with 3-4m waves to surf down at over 8 knots, and days of up to 150nm, with nostalgia and longing.

Despite our forecast of a steady 10-15 knots of wind from the east, in reality it is variable, from 5 knots to gusts of up to 25, and there’s no knowing when we’ll get there, no matter how many calculations we do.

We’ll get there when we get there.

PART 2 – John, 5-7am watch

Life is good this morning. Early 5am watch, the sea is flat and we have 20 knots of true wind which is just perfect. The air is balmy and we are powering along at around 6 easy knots. The stars are at their best with only a few small, non-threatening clouds. Leonard Cohen plays supporting my reflective mood and as usual serves to cheer me up because I never listen to the words only to the pretty tunes!

It’s at times like this I am reminded of the famous Chinese verse:

He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide
It’s not the destination
It’s the glory of the ride.

[Zen Dog, Gill’s Birthday card, 200?]

Just a few days left now and our tight little group will disperse and the outside world will come crowding back in. But for now we continue to exist on our little blue disk, swished along on our Atlantic carpet wishing both that this could continue for ever and yet eager to finish and finally drop anchor too. Great memories shared with a great crew. Who would have thought I would be here three years ago. Lucky, or what?

A few comments to remember our time by…

“This is perfect. If we keep this up we’ll be in Martinique by (choose any date).” [Gill]

“Pan pan, pan pan, pan pan. All ships, all ships, all ships.” [The Canarian sing along weather man]

“On port tack I have to move to the other side on my berth.” [IJ] “You’re lucky, my bed is so small it doesn’t have sides.” [Mariel]

“I’ve got a smudge stick in my bag. Let’s cleanse the boat.” [Mariel]

“Why don’t we use the lure that actually looks like a fish today?” [IJ] – that’s the one that caught the fish!!

“This meal is absolutely delicious. Do you miss having meat to eat?” [J] “YES” [IJ]

“I’m good.” [IJ]

“Has anyone sent the InReach satnav position this morning?” [Anyone]

“I might be thinking of putting another reef in.” [IJ]

“I’m just starting to feel the rain trickling down between my buttocks!” [Gill]

“Perhaps you could cook us a mung bean omelette, John.” {Mariel]

In other news I learned yesterday how to relieve a stallion, how to inseminate a mare and how to prepare for a three day event!!

PART 3 – John

It’s afternoon now. A jobs day. Water reorganised, fuel transferred to the correct tanks. Sounds simple but it’s taken the best part of the day. Remember EVERYTHING is moving. All the time. Gilly’s worked really hard and we’ve managed all the jobs whilst the watch keepers kept the miles ticking on nicely averaging over 5 knots for the past 24 hours – right through the night and most of the day.

Big news though is….ANOTHER FISH! This time a stunning 10kg bull mahi mahi. 45 minutes to bring it to the gaff, gorgeous blues and greens sparkling as he threw himself into the air. Sad to say his female friends swam with him to say goodbye so it was with mixed emotions we thanked Neptune for his gift. Fish and spuds tonight and fish soup tomorrow. A veritable feast in store. Same lure as last time. Wait til you see the pictures, this guy’s the business.

M, IJ, J and G

Use https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/4717902794063872 with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

Atlantic Crossing – Day 20

Blogger: John
Date: 1-Mar-2020
Location: Back in dragonfly flying distance
Total to Date: 2494nm (430nm to go)
24 Hour Run: 113nm

A challenging 24 hour period. 25 hours actually as we choose 12.00-13.00 to be repeated as we put our clocks back for the third time during the crossing. Only one more left and we’ll do that as we approach Martinique.

We’ve had a bit of everything except for those strong consistent winds from earlier in the trip. Constant winds for much of the night – 4.5-5.0 knots interspersed by a couple of squalls pushing 30 knots. We always have a reef in at night so no big deal. But if you are ‘sleeping’ below you can feel her kick her heels up and start to push on up over 7 knots. Today it’s been more of the same but with stronger squalls some bringing brief rain showers followed by little or no wind. It’s hot. It’s very humid. We’ve even had the engine on for a couple of hours total to push us through the calms and to protect the sail from the constant slatting back and forth.

Another visitor last night in the form of a full size flying fish who came flapping on board. This one failed to relaunch so he sits at present on the end of the (undisturbed) fishing line. Last night the line had to be retrieved as two frigate birds were becoming a bit too interested in it.

As we close in on land a lone dragonfly was blown past earlier this morning.

And last night on my (JD) watch there was more action as first the wind suddenly veered through 30 degrees and strengthened considerably making the sails start their horrid whap whap routine. Just as we were sorting that out I spotted a ship on AIS 13 miles away and closing. We watched him down the starboard side and then immediately there’s another big commercial vessel coming within a mile of us. And all that after we hadn’t seen a ship since leaving the Cape Verdes.

We’ve had an annnoying squeak from the spinnaker pole alongside the mast for most of the trip but that’s now been remedied by strapping it along the deck. The pole for the parasailor together with all its lines are still run ready for deployment but the squally conditions have precluded its use today.

We’re counting down the miles now by the hundred with the aim to lose one hundred at least every 24 hours. Only 430 left to go. Wednesday? Thursday? Friday? The bets are on.

M, IJ, J and G

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 19 – Whale!

Blogger: John and Mariel
Date: 29-Feb-2020
Location: Creeping ever closer
Total to Date: 2378nm (539nm to go)
24 Hour Run: 116nm

Despite a steady, uneventful night(though very warm and with a fair amount of rock’n’rollin’), the wind has again been fickle and the end looks as far away today as it did yesterday.

However….we did see a whale!! Yesterday evening, Irish John suddenly began staring at a spot around a mile off our port beam. Then there it was “Whale, whale!”. Everyone crowded around watching as it began to blow every minute or so. At one stage it seemed to be getting closer and then it flung itself upwards, breeching and almost out of the water. Wow, amazing. Slowly it moved down our port side until eventually after 20 minutes or so we left it behind. It was too far away for a positive identification but it was pretty big. Best guess? Humpback. IJ won the prize for the first confirmed whale sighting – a bag of boiled sweets.

Buoyed up by our whale sighting, we had a lovely evening in the sunshine with stuffed roasted squash for supper, an introductory smudge stick ceremony with the smudge stick M made with herbs from the coastal forests of southern Spain, and a return to choir practice, with ever improving renditions of “Deep Blue Sea” and the Mingelay Boat Song.

It’s been a pretty organism rich 24 hours actually. We’ve started seeing quite a bit of weed being carried by the current, blobs of orange streaming in long lines against the blue. Not enough to snag the patiently dragged fishing line but enough for us all to comment on it. Up to the last few days we had seen none. More of the beautiful white tropic birds too and the first sighting of a frigate bird far off land. And last night as I was contemplating the world on late night watch there was a sudden flapping on the aft deck. A large flying fish had joined me. I spent a few minutes deciding whether to let it flap itself out on the deck for fish bait or to pick it up and return it to the sea. It decided for me by flipping over the guard rail and back into the ocean.

After a noisy night, the highlight of the day was baked beans on toast on M’s delicious brown bread for breakfast. Otherwise there really isn’t much to report today. Frustrating with the end now tantalisingly close but with insufficient fuel to motor all of the rest of the way.

M, IJ, J and G

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 18

Blogger: John
Date: 28-Feb-2020
Location: Edging closer
Total to Date: 2255nm (654nm to go)
24 Hour Run: 134nm

This is afternoon Tradewind sailing as you know it from the brochures! A gentle 10-12 knot breeze from the port quarter, sun shining and good progress at last in the right direction. The crew is all on deck, the skipper has given the OK for the bluetooth speaker to come up and join us. Three oldies and M grooving along to Greatest Classic Rock Hits including Rod Stewart, Mott the Hoople, Queen etc etc (you know the one girls!). An afternoon to savour.

This, after a hard day of trying to make the most of lights wind in the wrong direction followed by a full hot night of motoring which did though give us much needed mileage in the right direction. In our minds we are almost there but even now there is still well over 600 miles left to travel. The forecast though is for better and more consistent winds for the next few days though we will not be making Jack’s prediction of early on the 3rd March I fear. This afternoon, as well as crashing along in 20+ knots in the first half of the passage and a lot of laughs are the things I will remember from this trip.

We were idly chatting yesterday when I said “sometimes I think there is fifth person on board with us”. Not a bad person but definitely an extra member of the crew. A few moments of quiet. M says “Funny, I’ve felt that too”. More quiet. IJ says “me too”. And finally Gilly joins us saying “I’ve felt the same three times now”. Make of that what you will but I’m oddly comforted by it. Maybe we’ve just been aboard for too long now.

M is now fully up and running after a couple of days of half Stugeron – and boy is the food good. Fresh bread again this morning, pizzas last night. Amazing salads. All the provisioning that Gilly and M spent time on in Arrecife is paying dividends. And of course there was the mahi-mahi sushi (wasabi a bit too hot?) followed by fish and chips. We are eating like royalty although we do have to report the final demise of Charlie the pig leg who was launched last night into the ocean.

It’s been a day of consolidation too after good nights of sleep for us all to the monotonous lull of the Beta engine. Gill has transferred diesel from the main tank to the day tank, calculations of remaining fuel and water have been made together with a review of remaining stores compared with possible arrival dates. The good news is we should have enough of everything despite the last mango flying across the galley splattering itself on cooker, engine compartment and floor. Phew! Engine checks are satisfactory, the batteries are full and Paul the self steering is still steering us unerringly despite evidence of some wear.

Weatherwise we’ve had a couple of showers today, squally ones coming with a short lived increase in veering wind which helps our course. Last night was another sunset when the cameras came out. It looked as though the sun was wearing glasses (just like an emoticon according to Gill). Then the glasses seemed to become two yachts sailing in the distance before morfing into clouds.

Shore support daughter Jenny has checked whether the marina at Le Marin, Martinique is able to accommodate us for three weeks or so at the end of March. They can offer us 10 days which we have accepted. Hopefully by the time I leave for my UK trip Gill will have built up a good relationship with the staff and they will extend or let us put Mehalah on one of their mooring balls. But before that we’ll spend a few days chilling in the anchorage at St. Anne’s.

M, IJ, J and G

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 167

Blogger: Mariel
Date: 27-Feb-2020
Location: Drifting around in the middle of nowhere
Total to Date: 2124nm (782nm to go)
24 Hour Run: 97nm (oh dear)

Well, no whales to finish off yesterday as a perfect day, but today has been great for this mermaid because we have been becalmed! Hooray! (Irish John says it is bad KARM-A in response to hanging our fishy-friend’s tail off the backstay as a trophy yesterday.)

Celebrating the doldrums? What is this nonsense, I hear all you sailors proclaim. Well, when we have insufficient wind to use the parasail (despite another full on morning of rigging and blowing wind into the sail as hard as we could), and barely enough wind to use the mainsail (and even then, not in the right direction), and enough fuel to motor for 2 days but not the 5-6 required to reach Martinique, we call defeat and have a hot and lazy lunch bobbing around in the deep blue sea, noting that the current is pushing us along only 1 knot slower than we have managed to sail all morning, and in exactly the direction we had been aiming for.

Skipper Gill asked for our opinions as to the next course of action. My vote was for a cup of tea, time to digest lunch (potato salad using leftovers from last night’s fish’n’chips, and cheese and crackers), then a swim in the sea before re-assessing at 3pm.

Irish John thought I was mad, and threw a few buckets of water over himself rather than risk the sharks, and John D went below for a lie down (after a sleepless night listening to unusual sounds coming from Paul and/or the rudder – possibly only audible thanks to the lack of other sounds for once, bar the lapping of the ripples against the hull).

I located the step fender in John’s room of tools, stores and supplies, changed into my bikini, and then jumped overboard – wahoooo!!! I have been dreaming of this for a long time – the three weeks since we left Lanzarote is the longest I have gone without swimming in the sea for… months? Years?! I very nearly jumped in yesterday evening whilst having a wash on the side deck, but decided that 3-4 knots might be faster than I could swim to catch up with the boat again.

The water was warm, and diving down there was nothing to see but blue blue blue. No sign of any sharks (other than Grandpa Shark in his speedos on the aft deck), or, alas, any of the dolphins that lazed in the waves off the starboard beam this morning. Gill came in to join me for a while. John D looked very tempted having been drawn back on deck by our whoops of joy (I saw him sitting on the edge checking his pockets in case he was taken by a sudden urge to push off).

We clambered (very elegantly) back on board. I went below for the shampoo and washed my hair, then jumped overboard again to rinse it off. Heaven.

But all good things must come to an end (especially if we want to reach Martinique before all our food and water runs out), and now the engine is on and we are making 6-7 knots in the right direction. The forecast suggests that this should be the day of least wind, so we hope to be able to try out the carefully rigged parasail again tomorrow. For now, we are crossing our fingers for at least a few knots of wind overnight, to avoid having to motor (which makes the boat even hotter and more uncomfortable to sleep in than usual – night watches have been a relief to escape the sauna-like conditions the past couple of nights), and to be able to sail without too much flapping of the main. (At one point yesterday evening, there wasn’t even enough wind to fly the battered little flag on the dam buoy – a very depressing sight).

Sending lots of love and some of our hot sunshine and clear blue skies homewards, in return for some of the winds that you are no doubt experiencing, as another Atlantic Tropicbird circles overhead.

G, IJ, J and M

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 16 – Fish On!!

Blogger: John
Date: 26-Feb-2020
Location: 2000+nm from La Palma
Total to Date: 2042nm (856nm to go!)
24 Hour Run: 123nm

It’s hot. It’s tropical. At last things have changed. The first two weeks were pretty chilly with strong winds and big waves. No time to do much but eat, sleep, keep watch and put right whatever small thing had just gone wrong. Now though the whole vibe has changed. We’re well over halfway so thoughts do turn to the end, the sun is shining, the sea and wind have calmed down. So much in fact that after two hours of playing with running downwind wing on wing or as Jenny calls it ‘goosey goosey’ we gave up the unequal fight and motored south for five hours. Two hours to rig the yankee pole and two minutes to realise this was not going to work. Another 15 minutes to dismantle it all again! The ‘wind’ has now come back and we are sailing at a sedate 3.5knots in roughly the right direction.

Last night as I reeled in the bright Australian octopus lure I saw that the end of the lure hook had been totally bitten off together with a couple of the the octopus’ legs. that would have been the very brief “wwhhiirr” we heard from the rod earlier in the afternoon. That must have been a BIG fish, the hook was stainless wire 2mm thick and he just bit the end off it!

Anyway it was a tricksy sort of night. Just about enough breeze to keep us moving through the water but we all had to work hard to maintain forward progress. M’s watch in particular was challenging with the wind all over the place up to 23 knots as a sneaky squall swept through. It made for easier sleeping conditions though so much so that I totally slept through the alarm right by my head and missed the start of my watch. Gilly had to come and shake me out of my deep, deep sleep.

Up bright and early Mariel encouraged me to let the lure out again. We decided yesterday’s lure had attracted one fish so why not another? Again we let it out much further behind the boat than previously. And waited.

Meanwhile reefs were in and reefs were out, foresails too. there was no perfect sail plan.

Engine on at 11.15 our time. 11.30 and the reel screams. “Fish on!” I shout and the smooth landing plan goes into action. Killing board, knife, landing net and many cameras appear. It’s a lovely female mahi-mahi, around 5 pounds perfect for tonight’s tea. All went smoothly and with the knife through her head I set to creating two fillets and Gill then scraped the last few bits for future use. M tossed the head and body back into the ocean as we all thanked fish and Neptune for their generosity but not before I cut off the trophy tail to hang from the back stay.

Unanimous fish meal request for tonight is mahi-mahi sushi followed by fried fillet of fish with cheeky fried potatoes also know as fish and chips!

And then the dolphins came to play around the bow in the deep, deep blue sea. About thirty of them. Small and very agile they gave us the usual happy smile making display for 15 minutes before disappearing as quickly as the had arrived. Coincidence surely that they should make their appearance as IJ appeared on deck sporting only his brief Speedos and harness!

Other events today. Aft deck seawater washes, a bit of downward dogging on the side deck and discussion over whether we should bite the bullet and deploy the massive, slightly scary parasailor tomorrow. I think we will.

Now we just need a sunset whale appearance and another five knots to round off a perfect day.

G, IJ, J and M

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 15

Blogger: John
Date: 25-Feb-2020
Location: Less than 1,000 miles to go
Total to Date: 1913nm (977nm to go!)
24 Hour Run: 111nm

If you’ve never sailed in the Trade Winds but read the books then that is what it is like today. A gentle ENE breeze, blue skies, blue ocean, occasional white fluffy clouds. Conducive to doing nothing. Bodies are draped around the cockpit or tucked behind shady areas. It is hot. From time to time (well twice) a white tropic bird wheels overhead and rarely (or never) the fishing line screams into action.

Last night we gybed (changed direction) to try and head further south as you might have noticed we are currently lined up for a landfall in Antigua rather than Martinique. Not such a good tack and without our trusty west going current to help us on our way we struggled through the night. Nothing serious just flapping around trying to improve angle or the speed and in the end finding nothing would really help. [Anecdotal edit from M: Irish John made a boo-boo when he suggested that, thanks to the gybe, we would have to move our pillows to opposite sides of our beds to support us in our sleep. Galley girls Gill and I both exclaimed “if you have a bed!” and “if you have an opposite side to move to!” simultaneously in horror!]

A couple of notable incidents however. I spotted the first ship for ten days on the AIS machine though it was 13 miles away and not steaming in our direction. On the same watch M and I saw a beautiful “Venus beam” reflected on the water. Gill and I have also seen the Southern Cross low in the sky for the past few mornings – we must be getting south now.

Our aft heads blocked this morning. This of course means that the toilet must be taken to pieces, the source of the problem diagnosed, new parts bought if necessary and the whole lot reassembled. Less obvious perhaps is that this is not one of a boatie’s favourite tasks. Still, needs must though I’ll probably leave it til we arrive in Martinique. I expect it’s a hose caked up with who knows what!

This morning the girls (or women, we’re not sure what we should call them) baked. Tiny Danish pastries from M (without significant queasiness after following Wendy’s ‘half a tablet’ suggestion) and cheese and ‘Charlie’ scones as well as some olive ones. All very delicious. Charlie is the name IJ has given to the pig’s leg and is not some illegal white substance.

Desultorily (sp?) we played “what’s your favourite cake” with fruit cake the overall winner followed by chocolate cake and amazingly carrot cake. Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake was high on the list so M proceded to recount the whole scene where Miss Trunchbowl forces Bruce to eat her cake in assembly (“Brucie, Brucie”). At about this time Gilly went into mothering mode as she realised IJ was getting burnt without his shirt on. He ‘humphed’ and turned over so the other side could tan. We decided lifejacket tan lines, grizzly beards and anchor tattoos would identify us as genuine sea dogs.

.and on we sail, a bit in the wrong direction and a bit slow but today no one really seems to care. It feels as though the more challenging conditions are behind us (ha ha) and thoughts turn to sun kissed beaches, rasta beach bars, launderettes and a bed that doesn’t move. The Caribbean beckons guys, let’s sail on.

G, IJ, J and M

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Atlantic Crossing – Day 14

Blogger: Mariel
Date: 23-Feb-2020
Location: Two thirds of the way across the Atlantic
Total to Date: 1806nm (1072nm to go!)
24 Hour Run: 137nm (actually another 25hr run, 127nm made good)

Currently sitting in the cockpit, with blue seas and blue skies in (almost) all directions. We are making nearly 6 knots in (almost) the right direction. Life on board has taken on a more relaxed feel. Yesterday afternoon, I realised that sailing no longer felt relentless. There’s been some discussion about what the new word could be – my vote is ‘constant’.

Partly, I think I have grown used to the constant movement, but also, as we passed halfway there was a discernible shift in weather, sea state and air and sea temperature. We are now in the region of tropical squalls, which bring with them an increase in wind speed and direction, bigger waves and occasional showers. But between the squalls, the wind has dropped to a very respectable 15-20 knots, and we glide along a deep blue sea towards a horizon unobscured by waves (almost).

Yesterday afternoon, we turned the clocks back again (so we are now two hours behind GMT). This means that the sun set around 7pm, and rose again soon after 7am this morning. John D and I put a reef in the mainsail as the sun sank towards the horizon last night. At last, warm enough to still be in shorts and a t-shirt. I stayed up at the mast for another 15 minutes to watch the sun disappear. The breeze was warm, and for the first time in this passage, there was a flat horizon in all directions. No big swells blocking our view. I sang a song that Katie taught me that has felt very fitting on this journey:

“Evening rise, spirit come,
Sun goes down when the day is done.
Mother Earth, awaken me
With the heartbeat of the sea.”

Today, the wind and waves have been up again and we’ve all been very grateful that we made the most of yesterday’s calm for washing, laundry, and relaxing. A couple of good wildlife spots to report – our first confirmed White Tropicbird visited this morning and flew around us for quite a while before disappearing again. And yesterday evening as we were eating supper, John D spotted two fins in the water just off the starboard beam – we didn’t see them for long enough to determine what they were, but definitely cetacean – either a couple of pretty hench dolphins, or small whales… This afternoon, Gill thought she saw a blow from a whale but when we all scrambled to look, there was nothing more to see.

Fishing report – the homemade alluring beaded lure has yet to bring in a fish, but something took a bite at it before we had to reel it in at lunchtime when a squall came through.

We have now added our final destination to our trip app and can swipe right to check our estimated arrival time… Slightly dangerous, as it veers between 6 and 11 days, depending on our course (currently just north of where we want to go) and speed. But it is keeping Gill thoroughly entertained.

(PS. Apologies to those who receive our morning and evening InReach messages confirming we are all ok and our location – we were so relaxed this morning that we forgot to send it until 3.30pm our time – hope we didn’t cause too much panic…!) X

G, IJ, J and M

Use https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/4717902794063872 with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.

Atlantic Crossing – Day 13

Blogger: John
Date: 23-Feb-2020
Location: 1204 miles from Waypoint 20, St. Anne’s, Martinique Total to Date: 1666nm
24 Hour Run: 135nm (very consistent daily runs)

Happy birthday daughter Emma.

An odd 24 hours really. A bit of everything but most of all he first day with time for relaxing. Gilly and Mariel have re-catalogued the remaining stores and determined that we do have enough to get us to the other side. Almost gone off fruit and vegetables made for an entertaining lunch as there were four serving dishes plus our own four bowls, spoons and forks. You will quickly realise that this means we are each holding two bowls and hence unable to feed ourselves. Teamwork was the key here.

JD’s back was playing up so to general ribaldry Gilly gave me a massage. Conversation ranged widely over the difference between a masseuse and a massage therapist and which role Gilly was currently playing. It’s probably not a shame that we can’t post photos to the blog. My disrobing led to further semi nakedness as Gilly (swark) and IJ (no squark) threw buckets of seawater over themselves before rinsing off in fresh for much needed washes.

Fishing also recommenced though fishing is perhaps a rather grand term for this activity. Today’s choice of lure was a nice home made one from a previous owner of Mehalah. A perspex head with big eyes, a wiggly red thread of beads and a new hook on a steel trace made up the tempting rig. So far? Nothing. Nada. But it looks just as good in the water as all the previous off the shelf offerings.

Weatherwise last night was pretty bumpy. At last we’ve hit the squall area. The consistent 15-20 knot Trade Winds are interrupted by looming grey/black clouds. As you approach something will happen, or perhaps not. The wind usually strengthens and veers knocking us further off course. Maybe it rains hard for a few minutes or maybe not. You never know. But you do know to be ready for anything. They’ve been pretty gentle so far but who knows what tonight’s will bring. This morning was grey and lumpy but after lunch the sun came out giving a record 20.3 amps of solar power at one point. Bikini tops were dug out, we didn’t care that we were undercanvassed and we rolled along in near perfect trade wind conditions.

We all know each other pretty well now so conversations range far and wide. How many real ‘friends’ can you have? Where will Cappoquin (IJ’s boat) be next year? The story of Gill’s encounter with a raiki proponent when she slid off the massage table in front of the window cleaner. Families. Sailing stories. And of course food which despite being limited in the meat department has been excellent. Oranges are holding up well, potatoes are available in abundance and avos have made themselves into guacamole.

Gill has been reading a book about skin. She has found that as Atlantic crossers we will be entitled to wear an anchor tattoo. Discussion is hotting up as to what design and which location we will each choose.

Mariel has just reminded me of today’s scientific achievement. She has made an actual telescope entirely out of materials available on the boat. It is used to help spot the so far almost entirely elusive orcas of the North Atlantic. It consists of the inner cardboard tube from a used kitchen towel roll. To use it she places her eye at one end and scans the ocean for whales. So far no luck but not for want of trying. That’s what 13 days at sea does for you! Spirits remain high!

G, IJ, J and M

Use https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/4717902794063872 with SHOW JOURNEY to track our progress.