Atlantic Crossing - homeward bound!
Updated: Apr 7
After a very busy season in the Caribbean, we left Falmouth Harbour in early May with the aim to avoid motoring and sail our way back across the Atlantic. Our relief skipper captained 40m< sailing yachts, and has never had the chance to properly sail across the Atlantic. This trip was an opportunity for him to do so. We kept close eye on the weather forecast and followed the winds.
First day at sea. Sun was out all day, 20-25 kn of wind and an average boat speed of 10-12 kn. I was still feeling queasy this morning after a boozy finarlly in Antigua…one too many expresso martinis thanks to the Irish man. After a workout on the aft deck my body was not happy! It takes a few days to adjust to the constant uneven bouncing of the boat. It makes your legs shake and stomach turn…but I think this was because I was hungover. ha! It wasn't easy producing lunch and dinner for the six crew when everything about the motion went against my bodies comfort. Yet lying on the aft deck on top of the spinnaker sail bag searching for the horizon and half falling asleep in the afternoon sun seemed to sort me out, it felt very spoiling and relaxing after a month of mayhem.
Its incredible how the itinerary of this boat goes from one extreme to the next. Racing, cruising, racing then back across the Atlantic. It keeps me on my toes!
Lovely relaxed chat amongst the crew. Lots of water consumed, a topped up tan and a smile! Day 1 complete, approx 10 more days until the Azores. Plan for tomorrow is to get up early before the heat takes over the day and get a good workout in. Now for a movie and an early night. All is good.
Awake and up by 7:30. Breakfast then tidied the galley of last nights left overs. The morning went quickly as I kept myself busy hoovering and working out.
Honey Roast Ham, Mozzarella and Arugula baguettes for lunch. I listened to music after lunch and did some yoga on the aft deck. Let out a reef in the jib as the wind speed decreased by a few knots. Cooked a roast dinner as it was a Sunday - topside of beef, potatoes, carrots, peas, a giant yorkshire pudding and homemade horseradish. I then finished the evening sitting with the crew and playing my guitar until it went dark.
Slept like a baby last night. Probably because the wind dropped causing the sea state to settle. I woke up at 7:30 and snoozed until 8/8:30. It still felt strange to have a lye in after a month of 6am alarms. Once up, I concocted one of my super smoothies and sat on deck with it. Myself and another crew member put a reef in the gib and main as the southwesterly picked up.
Lunch for the crew - brie and bacon baguettes. I spent an hour on the helm. Sailing to an apparent wind angle of 47-50 degrees. It took me time to get a feel for it as it has been a while since I have escaped from the parameters of the galley. Watching the movement of the bow against the horizon is a nifty trick to keep the boat headed in the right direction in relation to the wind and bounce of the waves. Once my watch was over, I convinced myself to workout.
A lovely evening of banter with the crew in the cockpit followed by photographing an incredible sunset. Pork stir-fry for the crew went down a treat. Everyone in good spirits.
A successful day! By 7:30 I was on deck letting the fishing line out as the sea sate was slight and we where cruising at an average of 8 knots, a good speed to real in a catch! I soaped the wood of the interior and wiped the ceiling. Gave everything a tidy and organised the galley. Some of the fruit had gone off, so I threw that overboard, avoiding the fishing line. Done and dusted by 9:30, I stayed on deck for a while, whale watching and chatting to the crew about photography and travels. I lay around, feeling very relaxed in the sunshine.
A ‘use up’ lunch was in order; slices of roast beef, pulled pork, a bursting salad of avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, beans and red onion as well as a some baby new potatoes that I boiled and tossed in butter.
My watch flew by. I resorted to my cabin for a couple of hours of movie watching. At 4:30 I motivated myself to workout.
Carbonara for supper. Clean plates all round. I finished the evening watching the sun set and reading a couple of chapters of my book until it was too dark for me to see the pages.
Didn't sleep very well last night. Being thrown all over the place!
Wiped the hoover around the interior, emptied the bin and gave it a rinse out. Sat on deck for a while. Cracked open my book - ‘I am Pilgrim’; quiet an interesting read, something exciting in each chapter - a good page turner.
Lunch today; Chicken and mango salad, wraps/baguettes. I had half an hour before my watch began, so I decided to have a sleep. Immediately conked out…
Completed my watch and started to feel more chirpy, managed a workout on the aft deck…it took some serious persuasion. Afterwards, I accompanied a member of the crew on deck whilst he was on watch and we had a great chat - hockey, shooting, sports, farming, places we grew up. We exchanged some music as we both seemed to enjoy similar stuff. Another hour of reading. Then down to the galley to cook supper for everyone. Honey roast ham, eggs, rosemary garlic potatoes and greens. Thumbs up from everyone, a first ham and egg dish for the Irish engineer…shocker! Keeping food simple as we are heeled over at a good angle.
I watched the sunset, whilst chatting to the crew, all drinking tea and eating digestives.
Weird day today. Achieved lots this morning. Covers on cockpit cushions, sorted the guest towels out…etc. Read my book, then threw together a full fry up for the crew. Slept an hour. Cooked supper, marinated fish, lentils with prosciutto and mozzarella and a big green salad. The sea state has been crazy. Huge waves and sailing at 12 knots. Not been easy cooking in the galley… thats a workout in itself.
Todays incident - chopped some pears to use in a salad for supper, whilst I was waiting for the bacon and sausages to cook for the fry up at lunch. Put them to one side whilst the crew helped themselves to the full english breakfast. I relieved a crew member from watch to go and grab some lunch, he returns with a full english and pears on his plate?!?! I told him Id cut those up for a salad for later. Why would you think to add pears to your full English?! So went back down below and cut some more pear up to replace the once he ate. Cooked them for 40 mins in the oven and left them under a tea towel to cool. After returning to them this evening to make a salad for supper, I lifted up the tea towel to find 3 left….the Irish man. He had demolished them… DQ ‘I thought they were chips….?!?! I wondered why they were so sweet’ As I was listening to his poor excuse on deck, a huge wave hit him side on. KARMA. The crew are starting to lose the plot. Not even half way there.
One week at sea! Thats gone quickly. Its been a wild, wet and windy morning. Brutal rain and huge waves. We put the gib out on the port pole and were finally downwind sailing straight for the Azores. Hurdled the 1000nm mark today and its countdown from here. My estimate is Wednesday for arrival.
Lunch time came round in a flash. I quickly put together some tuna and sweetcorn baguettes for the boys and pulled off a workout. By the time I had cleared away from lunch and finished my workout, I was on watch and the sun was shining! Lovely. I hand washed a few items of clothing and enjoyed an afternoon in the sun, reading my book. I cooked toad in the hole for supper as requested by the Captain. It was a relaxed evening watching the sun and chatting to the crew.
I am enjoying making the most of the sailing during this crossing, especially as we are not under any time pressure. We have taken the longer route by looking following the winds rather than motoring our way direct to the Azores. This is what makes this boat special. We are not just delivering the boat, we are enjoying it and most importantly we are allowed to enjoy it.
“We have hit the ‘East Australian Currant’, all we’ve got to do now is hold on and ride along” We reached a record of 16knots with 40knots of wind and 16ft waves pushing us from the West! It has been a crazy day for sailing. We started with the gib poled out and the main reaching, but as the winds grew stronger and the white horses reared on every wave we furled away the Gib and let out the stay sail to soften the rolling. Several times has the boom been submerged in the waves. The crew sliding from port to starboard then back again. The waves have been towering the height of the biminy. Every time they approach from behind it feels as though its going to engulf the entire boat, but only then you find yourself being lifted above it! Just as you think it couldn't get anymore immense, Dolphins leap out of the gigantic waves, flying for a few seconds before diving into the next one. Literally flying! The Dolphins, acting as escorts either side of us as we glide through the waves. The whole crew on deck taking in such a special and immensely powerful moment.
Easy meals due to the ridiculous rolling. Staying standing isn't easy.
It was still blowing in the high twenties. The waves towering high as they chase us from behind. “you can picture the square rigged trade ships sailing past us in this sort of sea state, it seems a somewhat historic sort of weather.” By the time I had a pineapple and mango smoothie, hoovered the saloon, galley and cabins, cleaned the galley and roasted a chicken the sea state seemed less demanding and the boat less rolly. I sat and chatted to the Captain and another member for a while before heading down below to concoct lunch! Roast chicken and a big salad with the option of a baguette or wrap. With everyone satisfied I resorted to reading my book in the sunshine. It was a hot day. Getting bored of the heat I went to my cabin to pass the time watching a film. Then back up on deck to read my book - just in time for the dolphins! They spent half an hour on the bow, swimming with the motion of the boat, swooping and weaving away from the lul and rear of the bow. Gopro in hand I sat and admired these incredibly calming creatures as they broke through the water and glided along with us as we got closer to the Azores. By the time they had gone their separate ways, I disappeared down below to peal potatoes for the delayed ‘Monday’ roast. WHALE! The Mate who was on watch called out. I asked him if he was being serious, as he can joke about a lot, but he was. I scrambled up on deck, grabbed my GoPro and watched the giant of the sea spray water high above the surface, differentiating itself from the seahorses of the waves. It was huge! By the time I had reached the bow and started filming the spray of water was disappearing far into the distance at great speed. Wow. Back down below, I carved the two legs of lamb - both with little meat on them unfortunately - good job I had two. Boiled carrots and the potatoes. I added milk, butter and a little truffle oil to the steaming spuds and mashed them until smooth. Whilst everyone enjoyed their roast, I calmly did some yoga on the aft deck. As the sun set and music played out of the cockpit speakers, I read my book and would glance up at the sun every so often, as it gradually disappeared below the horizon.
Everyone full of banter today! I think its because we are nearing land. I nailed a morning of chores..soaping all the interior wood and cleaning the galley.. A plowmans lunch was in order, time to use up the assortment of cheese and hams. I also threw together a tomato salad, as there was still an abundance of tomatoes in the fridge. The boys had set up the Spinnaker early this morning, as the Captain was keen to get it out and let it ‘air’. By the time my watch came around he thankfully decided to snuff it away as it was taking us to far north of our desired course. Consequently we sailed 100nm north of the Azores. This pissed quiet a few of the crew off, as like I said, they are keen to get there. By tomorrow afternoon we will see land for the first time in eleven days. By Thursday lunch time we we will have arrived in Horta, Faial. I completed a basic training workout using my TRX after my watch. Then disappeared into the dark, gruesome and action packed world of my book whilst lying in the sunshine. 5:30 came, I turned on the oven and sliced up potatoes for some homemade chips. Everyone enjoyed their steak and peas. I even found henry demolishing a second bowl of peas…odd. He is going to earn himself a nickname with his love for peas and baked beans. A stunning sunset this evening, but its defiantly getting colder as the evenings draw to a close!
We saw land for the first time today. Much earlier than I expected! Over 2000nm and we have sailed the whole way. It was the Island of Fores. A small mountainous lump of land. Clouds sat above it like a top hat due to the condensation rising off the land. It has been a long trip but the end is in sight. ETA 6am tomorrow morning. Literally cannot wait. I spent the morning cleaning and organised all the fridges, and gave the place a good hoover. By the time I had read an hour of my book, saw a few dolphins and watched a turtle float by it was lunch time - Bacon and Bri baguettes. The turtle we saw was very unexpected. I didn't realise they inhabited non tropical regions. Seeing it this side of the Atlantic seemed strange. It didn't look well either. Floating in deep water doesn't seem right to me? 14-16 was my scheduled watch. Lovely sunny day, a crew member and I blasted some tunes on deck. I spent my afternoon indulging my book. A good bit of banter on the aft deck with the Irish man. No fish caught today even though we sailed over two ridges - Lasagne for supper - it was as solid as a brick and took forever to defrost. I had problems with my oven and resorted to using the microwave, which isn't the most ideal pieces of equipment whilst healing over. Everything just slides. Got their eventually and reminded myself that I didn't have to think about food whatsoever tomorrow evening! Woooo!