Reflections on an Atlantic crossing from the perspective of the 'amateur crew' (i.e. working passengers!)
Wednesday 13th November
Departed London for Gran Canaria to join 'BooToo' in Las Palmas.
Lots of excitement. Some apprehension. Frantic last minute study of a 'How To' book called 'Competent Crew'. (Fear of being a bit too incompetent!)
Thursday 14th November
Set sail into the Atlantic at 9:30pm. Dark night. No turning back now. What have we let ourselves in for? Help!
Friday 15th November
Heavy seas and a freshening wind. My first night watch 2:00am - 4:00am. Boat healing and heaving wildly. 45 knot winds (Gale Force 8/9). Full waterproof gear and lifejacket required on deck. Not feeling too good although not actually sick.
Dawn broke with storm maxed out. Wind gusting up to 50 knots (Gale Force 9). Wild grey seas. Difficult to stand without holding on with both hands. Decided to forgo any attempt at washing and shaving!
Cook too seasick to leave her berth. Not very hungry myself. Managed to eat a banana. Exhausted. Early bed. Deep sleep.
Saturday 16th November
Storm abated. Reduced but still sturdy wind, ideal for good fast passage making.
Visited by resting land bird during night watch.
Awoke refreshed. Shaved, showered and enjoyed a hearty breakfast.
Radio contact from another yacht 'Moonshine' also headed for Antigua. Smaller boat. Seemingly she had a pretty rough time during the earlier storm. Size matters!
Cook now well enough to prepare dinner.
Sunday 17th November
Had contact from 'MarineForce' (part of the Sailing Adventures Ltd stable) four hundred miles ahead, southwest of us. Having suspected rudder problem and requesting advice/assistance. We altered course to go in pursuit. More southerly route required.
Quiet day. Minor squalls. Professional crew on board very impressive. Friendly, cheerful and capable.
Monday 18th November
Visited by flying fish landing on deck.
Now in the Trade Winds with steady breeze blowing from the stern. Hoisted the big Cruising Shute (Spinnaker). Looks magnificent.
Lovely weather. Lunch on deck.
Tuesday 19th November
One of the amateur crew hit by a flying fish in the cockpit.
Spotted freighter off the starboard bow at about 8 miles.
Quiet day. Early dinner (lucky!). 9:30pm hit by sudden, big squall. Broached (boat laid over on its side). Superficial interior breakages. No injuries. Boat handled it well. Exciting or what!
Wednesday 20th November
A week at sea. Getting used to everything. Motion, routine, sounds, etc. Deck cleaning duties today.
German catamaran spotted and contacted today. En route to St Lucia.
Clear bright night. Amazing stars.
Thursday 21st November
Beautiful day. Calm seas. Uneventful day. Sunbathing. Practising knot tying. Reading.
Friday 22nd November
Clear, warm night. Really enjoy the night watches.
Another lovely day. Spotted small yacht off starboard bow. German yacht 'Fraya' also bound for the Caribbean.
Goose Wing sail set up. Giving good average speed.
Saturday 23rd November
Clocks back another hour today. Extra hour on our daytime watch. Glorious weather. Some deck cleaning. General relaxation.
Nearly went overboard trying to pull down 'sock' over the Cruising Shute at end of day. Sock pulley jammed.
Sunday 24th November
Wet night watch (squalls). Spotted dolphins off the bow. About 30 of them. Stayed with us for about 20 minutes. Charming sight.
Passed two French yachts travelling together to Caribbean.
Monday 25th November
Awoken at 1:00am to great commotion on deck. Shackle holding the Jib sheet had broken. Jib flapping wildly until furled. Luckily Goose Wing pole secure and undamaged. Jib now temporarily out of action.
2:30am. At chart table down below. Big bang on deck. Main halyard had parted at the top of the mast. Main sail came crashing down.
Now no Jib and no mainsail. (Cruising Shute only working sail left!) Engine on for remainder of night. Uncomfortable rolling motion.
Hoisted Cruising Shute at first light. Oliver (the captain) went to top of the 125ft mast. Repairs made. Celebratory lunch.
Tuesday 26th November
Sailed through the night on the Cruising Shute. Eagle eyed watch for squalls!
Jib sheet shackle replaced. Jib back in action.
All repairs made and we are back to a full complement of sail options.
Sense of achievement, even quiet satisfaction on board. Clear, calm weather.
Relaxing afternoon. Sunshine, reading, Backgammon.
Wednesday 27th November
Rude awakening at 5:30am. Another big bang on deck. General pandemonium. All hands on deck with life jackets and safety harnesses. The hardened steel U-bolt at the top of the mast had given way. Cruising Shute has collapsed into the sea. Boat has run over it. Huge effort from all on board to retrieve it at the stern. Sail damaged but not too badly - will need a new panel fitted.
No more Cruising Shute for remainder of passage!
Sailed close to small, 30 year old, wooden boat with a cheerful Australian on board. Also Antigua bound.
Dinner, Backgammon, bed.
Thursday 28th November
No wind. Jib furled. Engine on. Motor sailed today. Flat calm. Good boat cleaning day. Almost caught up with 'MarineForce'.
Friday 29th November
Sail ahead spotted. It is 'MarineForce'. Caught up by midday. Their rudder problems OK now, but low on fuel. We transferred three 22 litre cans of fuel to them at sea. Quite an exercise!
Saturday 30th November
Spectacular sunrise. Antigua sighted at about 9:00am. Land ahoy - great excitement! Sixteen days at sea.
Reached berth in Falmouth Harbour at about 12 noon.
End of a great voyage. Would love to do it again!