Atlantic Crossing - Tenerife to Antigua
14th January to 8th February 2002
Monday 14th January: Noon UT
Position: 28°28'N 16°15'W
Food, water and fuel all aboard, marina bills paid and cleared through immigration. Crew very stressed. Slipped quietly out of Marina del Atlantico at noon. Motor sailed for a couple of hours and then sailing downwind. Tried out the new pole for the genoa. It went up fine so we decided to take it down again. Some time later we decided to put it back up again and this time was a disaster, we had it upside down, too far forward, couldn't get it down again. Once we finally got it back down we decided to leave it down overnight. A steep learning curve!! It seemed a lot easier in port. Our first dinner out of a mixing bowl (last nights leftovers) as the wind picked up to over 20 knots. Actually every meal we ate during the crossing was out of a mixing bowl in the end. The glamour of yachting! Saw only a couple of ships during the night.
Tuesday 15th January: Noon UT Position: 26°35'N 16°58'W Distance in 24 hours: 120 Nm
First nights at sea mean little sleep so everyone is very tired. Sailing well downwind under genoa and mizzen alone. Gybed to head more west. Cannelloni out of a box with carrots for dinner both cooked in our electric microwave oven when the generator was on. The oven worked fine, although the cannelloni slid around alarmingly. Cooking the carrots in the microwave was even more scary. We tried to raise Herb Hilgenberg (Southbound II) in Canada, who provides weather information for the Atlantic, on our SSB radio but without success. Also failed to raise our contact in Wales, Lionel at the morning radio sched time. Hoping the nights will get warmer soon. Saw only two ships during the night. Wind 20 knots ENE.
Wednesday 16th January: Noon UT Position: 25°06'N 18°12'W Distance in 24 hours: 112 Nm - Total 232 Nm
Not a good start to the day when Christine stupidly badly scalded her hand with boiling water during an unexpected lurch. Really painful for a few hours and later started to produce enormous blisters. Fortunately it was the left hand and started to feel less painful fairly quickly despite extensive use in finally raising our genoa pole (Yea!!). Sailing goose-winged (mainsail one side, genoa the other side, with the wind just off the stern). Saw dolphins. Slight leaks from the Eberspacher (water heater) exhaust and the bilge pump outlets. Water coming in as they roll below the water. Have to keep an eye on these. Still very cold and grey considering we're half way down Africa. Another long cold night, winds 25 - 30 knots NE.
Thursday 17th January: Noon UT
Position: 23°17'N 19°37'W Distance in 24
hours: 134 Nm - Total 366 Nm
Tiring night, so lots of naps during the day. Failed again to reach Lionel on SSB in Wales. Clocks went back an hour. We think we crossed the tropic of cancer at 23°Nat about 3 pm, got the atlas out to check but no sign of the dotted line on the sea! Still in woolley jumpers. Phil set up a light in the cockpit to allow reading at night and help the time pass. At around 5 pm Phil watched the genoa sailing away in front of the boat as the shackle holding it onto the top swivel on the roller reefing foil gave way. The sail came right out of the foil and ended up under the bow of the boat as we sailed right over it, the swivel was at the top of the foil at the top of the mast.
First urgent job was to retrieve the sail before it got damaged. This was quite a job in a very choppy sea with the boat moving forward at about 6 knots and the big sail full of water, not to mention the big sore blisters on Christine's hands, which incidentally burst some time during the retrieval of the sail, after great care had been taken not to burst them earlier following the advice on burns treatment in the "Ships Captains Medical Guide" (hope you're not eating!). Once we had the sail back on deck, we needed a volunteer to go up the mast and retrieve the swivel so we could put a new shackle on it and raise the sail again. Enter "Super-Phil". A person has never moved so fast up and down a mast but the job got done despite the mast swinging wildly from left to right. My Hero! Next we had to untangle the genoa to be able to raise it without it being twisted, this wasn't easy either. Finally we managed after about two hours to raise the sail again by motoring directly into the wind. Needless to say by now the wind was 30 - 35 knots and the sea had developed an even more horrible swell. Dinner came straight from a can to a mixing bowl and was revolting. We were both exhausted but not easy to sleep due to the rolling.
Friday 18th January: Noon UT Position: 21°27'N 21°08'W Distance in 24 hours: 139 Nm - Total 505 Nm
Everyone tired and uncomfortable. The strong winds (30 knots NE) and big waves kept up all day. Naps or just lying down helped to ease the weariness from continually trying to balance. Hoping the sea dies down to improve comfort soon. Phil did some work on the engine which is being used out of gear for battery charging, fitted a new filter, fan belt and adjusted the idling speed.
Saturday 19th January: Noon UT Position: 19°29'N 22°19'W Distance in 24 hours: 135 Nm - Total 640 Nm
Finally managed to get our contact in Wales on SSB via a friend of his (Alex) on a survey vessel in Scotland, who had to relay the information to Lionel. Still at least our families can find out how we're doing now. We decided to gybe towards the west. Got the genoa pole down and on raising it on the other side in very trying conditions found that the end had snapped off (on the end is an aluminium casting which holds the genoa sheet, this had fractured). So down it came again and we had to go on a broad reach (both sails back on the same side). We thought about it and decided to head to the Cape Verde Islands to see if we could get a spare end sent over or get if fixed somehow. Later in the day we tried to jury rig the broken end by drilling out the holes in it to make them big enough to take shackles to hold the ropes, so we could at least head directly to the Cape Verdes. We managed it and got the pole back up, so we salvaged something after the despair of lunchtime. We're hoping it will hold OK. Still no luck getting weather information from Herb in Canada.
Sunday 20th January: Noon UT Position: 18°31'N 24°19'W Distance in 24 hours: 137 Nm - Total 777 Nm
After a bumpy, noisy night, it was time in the morning to gybe south to head for the Cape Verde Islands for repairs to our pole. So down came the jury rigged pole, up it went on the other side, gybed the main, poled out the genoa and then found that the wind had shifted and we still couldn't make a good course direct for the islands. Instead we'd have to reach there. So down came the pole and sometime during the process of taking it down, we came to a decision to put it back up and head west straight for the Caribbean! The wind was still strong, we just didn't fancy heading towards a leeshore with no detailed chart and besides the jury rigged pole seemed to work just fine. The pole went back up and provided it holds through the day, we'll head for the Caribbean. The chances of getting it repaired in the Cape Verdes seemed pretty slim after reading the pilot book information on services there and just how long would it take to get one from the UK? Psychologically heading there had been very bad for morale and as soon as we decided to carry on, spirits improved on board.
Now and again we notice a nasty smell in the saloon (smells nastier even than us!). Even after cleaning out the defrosted fridge and washing up we still can't trace it. Finally we found the culprit - a bad potato in a cupboard. The fresh veg is beginning to look tired now, so we're squeezing fresh oranges for juice and actually managed to cook something not out of a can, to use some of the veg before it wastes. There is still the odd rogue menace wave to catch you unawares when you're trying to cook but generally life is much more comfortable and quieter now despite the winds still being 20 - 30 knots.
Monday 21st January: Noon UT Position: 18°09'N 26°43'W Distance in 24 hours: 138 Nm - Total 915 Nm
Today we got out our competent crew book and practised knots to relieve the boredom. Perhaps by the time we finish the Atlantic we'll finish the whole course!! Our first really successful day baking the ready-to-bake baguettes. These are delicious and save baking bread, the best thing in our stores! The problem was that they kept sliding to the back of the oven directly over the flame and burning but today our system of spacers in the oven which has been in development for several days, actually worked. Delicious tuna baguettes for lunch.
Phil decided to check the oil, etc in the generator during the afternoon, only to have the clip on the soundproofing case come off in his hand. Why on a boat does even a little job end up getting more complicated and taking all day. Out came the tools and the afternoon disappeared. We're racing through all the books we bought in the charity shops in the UK. Winds now 20 knots NE, which is perfect for our boat.
Tuesday 22nd January: Noon UT Position: 18°16'N 29°01'W Distance in 24 hours: 133 Nm - Total 1048 Nm
Yippee - passed the 1000 mile mark, only 2000 or so to go! We're still having to communicate with Lionel in Wales via Alex in Scotland (in the end we had to do this all the way across - many thanks to Alex!). Restful day today, napping, reading, sunning ourselves. Even treated ourselves to quick showers in the interest of crew morale. Winds continuing at 20 knots from the NE.
Weds 23rd January: Noon UT Position: 18°09'N 31°10'W Distance in 24 hours: 124 Nm - Total 1172 Nm
The clocks went back again. Every time the clocks go back our radio schedule with Wales gets us up earlier. We both have to be up ready for them because the autopilot interferes with the SSB radio, so Christine has to hand steer while Phil is on the radio. Oh the hardship! Other than this our wonderful, darling, fantastic Robertson autopilot steered almost all the time. Our biggest worry during the crossing was that something would happen to him but fortunately he worked fine all the way across, despite the rocking and rolling downwind all the time. Checked over all the pole and it seems to be bearing up well.
After breakfast Phil caught a big dorado on his trailing line but it was too big so we released it. We only kill fish we can actually eat without wasting much meat. He was a beautiful vivid blue and yellow fish. We're still failing to be picked up by Herb, although we can hear him. Now we find he's going away for a week during our crossing, great. By the time we get close enough for him to hear us, he'll probably be away. During the night the wind died right off but somehow even with wallowing around all night at 2 knots, we still managed 93 miles in 24 hours.
Thursday 24th January: Noon UT Position: 18°20'N 32°46'W Distance in 24 hours: 93 Nm - Total 1265 Nm
Still very little wind so we could finally feed the genoa properly into the track on the foil (it hadn't been right since its earlier seawater bath). Phil even went up the mast again to secure the VHF aerial, which seemed loose and could damage our wind instrument if it came off. The VHF aerial never recovered from the shearwater attack in Skomer in Wales! Another lazy day, another book finished. Finally, just as he was signing off after his transmissions, we managed to be heard on the SSB radio by Herb and get a weather forecast from him. Unfortunately light winds until Sunday. Hmmm.
Friday 25th January: Noon UT Position: 18°11'N 34°37'W Distance in 24 hours: 110 Nm - Total 1375 Nm
Took the pole down and reached south while we carried out some improvements to the design of our jury rig. Put it back up and headed west again. The wind is light but at least we're moving more or less in the right direction. Cabin Fever set in. Got out the Caribbean pilot books to cheer us up and remind us why we're here. Radio schedule with Herb now working fine but still the forecast is for light winds.
Saturday 26th January: Noon UT Position: 18°03'N 36°14'W Distance in 24 hours: 99 Nm - Total 1474 Nm
Everyone fed up of rocking and rolling but making little headway. Headed south at about 3 knots seeking wind, on Herb's advice. The autopilot was working very hard so we took turns to hand steer for a couple of hours, which helped pass the time. Herb forecast more wind which arrived during the night, so we gybed at 1 am to head west again.
|How not to fall out of bed. We slept in the saloon all through the crossing.|
Sunday 27th January: Noon UT Position: 17°01'N 37°16'W Distance in 24 hours: 98 Nm - Total 1572 Nm
Yippee more wind (NNE 15 - 18 knots) - broad reaching at over 5 knots most of the day. Checked the water and diesel levels, both seem OK. Napping a lot after our nocturnal activities last night. Don't feel much like cooking, where's the nearest take away??
Monday 28th January: Noon UT Position: 17°12'N 39°27'W Distance in 24 hours: 128 Nm - Total 1700 Nm
Pole back up - not too much wind (10 knots ENE) but managing about 4 knots. Very quiet day. Our last schedule with Herb before he goes away for a week. He gave us a detailed forecast for the week he'll be away, which turned out to be spot on every day. He really does a wonderful job for all the yachts in the Atlantic area! After talking to him, we talked to a couple of yachts also crossing but behind us and agreed to have a schedule with them each day while he's away, it's always nice to have someone to talk to! Phil has a dodgy tummy, probably after two weeks of Christine's cooking!
Tuesday 29th January: Noon UT Position: 17°15'N 41°25'W Distance in 24 hours: 112 Nm - Total 1812 Nm
Full moon gave everyone bad dreams last night. We reefed the main and immediately the wind dropped, as usual. Had a message via Alex/Lionel from Phil's sister Diane, which really cheered us up. We haven't been forgotten!
Phil caught another dorado, this one we kept and after quickly getting out the instruction book, filleted. Delicious fresh fish for lunch and dinner, a wonderful change to tinned food.
Lunch, dinner, lunch and dinner! And just who is that bearded bloke?
30th January: Noon UT
Position: 17°31'N 43°37'W Distance in 24
hours: 127 Nm - Total 1939Nm
Christine's hand is almost completely healed now - isn't the body an amazing thing, although now having a spot of bladder trouble. Another lazy day with delicious Italian baked fish dinner.
Thursday 31st January: Noon UT Position: 17°29'N 46°00'W Distance in 24 hours: 137 Nm - Total 2076 Nm
Clocks went back again today. We're flying along in ENE winds of 20 - 25 knots. Christine still off colour so lolling around while Phil is busy with maintenance, checking the engine, generator, hydraulic steering, etc. A thumping noise started to come from the main mast so we tightened up the backstays a little.
Friday 1st February: Noon UT Position: 17°27'N 48°32'W Distance in 24 hours: 147 Nm - Total 2223 Nm
Christine's mum's birthday. Our contact Alex in Scotland very kindly rang her for us. Very choppy but flying along mostly over 6 knots, we have to pay with the discomfort. Somehow managed to cook something with bottled sausages. Phil couldn't be woken for his night watch, so he had an extra hour's sleep, then the same problem with Christine!
Saturday 2nd February: Noon UT Position: 17°27'N 51°03'W Distance in 24 hours: 145 Nm - Total 2368 Nm
Saw our first ship for weeks! Ironically it turned out to be a yacht transporter - he even offered us a lift, this must be an easier option! Waiting to gybe all day but the wind change didn't happen. Really fed up of rolling now. We had curry for dinner and now our only remaining fresh vegetables are the green spiky ones. We don't know what they are but they last a long time. Everything else, even the cabbages have gone. Only potatoes, onions, apples and the mysterious green prickly things are left. A restless night with fluky wind and bad dreams all around.
|"Yes I've seen you, do you want a lift? I'm taking this one to Martinique!"|
3rd February: Noon UT
Position: 17°44'N 53°12'W Distance in 24
hours: 126 Nm - Total 2494 Nm
After the radio schedule with the UK a bad tempered gybe (never ask Christine to do anything before breakfast!). Lots of problems. Dopey Christine got the staysail halyard over the pole. The top slider broke on the mainsail, so the mizzen had to go up and the main had to come down for repair. Then we had to gybe the genoa again to head up to wind in order to be able to put the main back up and get the mizzen down, then gybe the genoa back onto the pole again. By 11 am we were both worn out. Slowed right down until dinner time when the first of several squalls hit.
Monday 4th February: Noon UT Position: 17°44'N 53°12'W Distance in 24 hours: 131 Nm - Total 2625 Nm
We missed our radio schedule with the UK as a mega squall hit with frantic reefing activity. Gusts up to 45 knots. Great start to the day! Napping in the morning to recover. Napping in the afternoon to recover. The afternoon was very rolly again - aargh. Christine still unwell.
joys of downwind sailing - like living on the
moving platform in the house of fun for 25 days.
Tuesday 5th February: Noon UT Position: 16°55'N 57°10'W Distance in 24 hours: 109 Nm - Total 2734 Nm
Phil caught another dorado, after losing an earlier one, so more filleting and freezing. Guess what was for dinner! Frustratingly the wind has dropped off now we're nearing land. During the night we were on a collision course with a container ship who we called up on VHF. They kindly changed course but passed only about quarter of a mile in front of us, which was quite nerve-wracking. During the night Christine developed pains in the kidney area, which got progressively worse, aches and pains all over and shivering.
Wednesday 6th February: Noon UT Position: 16°51'N 58°50'W Distance in 24 hours: 97 Nm - Total 2831 Nm
After painfully gybing, out came the medical books again. Fortunately we had the recommended antibiotics on board thanks to our wonderful GP Simon Harris in the UK. Unfortunately to get the recommended dose with the tablets we had involved swallowing 12 tablets and another 12 later in the day but it worked. After antibiotics, a couple of aspirin and an afternoon crashed out in bed, Christine felt considerably better. Now as the wind has dropped off, it seems we're going to arrive in Antigua in the night, so we need to slow down. We don't fancy arriving at a strange, probably crowded anchorage in the dark. Frustrating.
Thursday 7th February: Noon UT Position: 17°08'N 60°24'W Distance in 24 hours: 102 Nm - Total 2933 Nm
Spent about 7 hours hove to (not moving) in order to time our arrival for daylight. At about 4 pm we set off again. Dorado burgers for dinner. Our last night at sea, we're really tired now and will be glad to arrive. Started to see the lights of Antigua in the early hours of the morning. Strange after seeing no land for weeks.
Friday 8th February: Noon UT Position: 17°00'N 61°46'W Distance in 24 hours: 88 Nm - Total 3021 Nm
Phil's navigation was so bad that despite all the worrying, we arrived in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time. Saw plenty of yachts leaving the anchorages and heading south for Guadaloupe. We knew we may have trouble with the noise from the prop shaft and sure enough on starting the engine there was a terrible rattling from the prop. We limped into English Harbour, putting as little pressure as possible on the engine and headed straight for the Antigua Slipway to see about hauling out. The people were very helpful and would have hauled us immediately but they had an emergency to deal with and we arranged to haul on Monday morning. We weren't too disappointed to have to spend a weekend at anchor in the beautiful Freeman bay. Despite sailing for 25 days, it still seems hard to believe that we're in the West Indies!
|Approaching Antingua after 25 days.|