Day 1, 6 December
„Ships and men rot in port.“ Lord Nelson
Excitement has been growing with all crew members for the last few days. Even though we like Brava very much it is now time to begin our crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. Bevor setting out we perform a man-over-board-exercise. Anton jumps over board and after having established a connection with him through the Lifesling we hoist him aboard with block and tackle attached to the main boom. We learn a few things that works well and others that don’t - very useful!
The Atlantic welcomes us with moderate wind and waves and all are glad about this mellow start. Over night the wind and later on the waves as well increase steadily. By morning we have 25 knots (6 Beaufort) of wind and 2,5 to 3 meter waves. Moira is running wing-on-wing (main sail to one side, Genoa poled out on the other) with 7 to 8 knots due west, supported by a west setting current of 1,5 kn. After the first 24 hours we have already covered 187 nm at 7.8 kn average. A new record!
Day 2, 7 December
We observe a lot of flying fish out here, some fleeing over the water on their own and some in swarms. Unfortunately, every night some land on deck and we often find them too late and have to perform a sea burial for them… A few seabirds come by every now and then, mostly storm petrels and shearwaters. On the north side of Brava there were a few couples of tropic birds with their long and elegant white tail feathers. And just now a school of dolphins visited and played in our bow wave for a while. Always a joy!
The Garlic Situation
Sleeping in the salon next to the galley (kitchen) I am awoken at three in the morning by a pungent garlic smell. What is going on? Franzi has opened the fridge…
In the pre-start frenzy a meal plan was devised for the first few days at sea and in wise foresight most of the ingredients were chopped already including generous amounts of garlic and onions. After 24 hours in (almost) airtight plastic containers and packaged in (almost) air tight plastic bags they have developed such an intensive olfaction that by now even the butter tastes of garlic…
Day 3, 8 December
Showering in difficult circumstances
Wind 20 kn, waves 2,5 to 3 m from astern and abeam, 27 degrees Celsius
This morning I have decided to comply with my hygienic duties after two sweaty days and nights and take a shower. On board Moira this is quite comfortable: There are two separate bathrooms with separable shower compartments. Water is available in ample amounts thanks to our water maker and for mollycoddles there is warm water from the boiler.
At sea, taking a shower is a challenge: I am wedging myself in the shower cabin and keeping my balance as I soap up. Everything is even more slippery now but I make it all the way to drying myself. I decide to air out the steam and open the porthole on the windward side (where wind and waves come from)… there surely won’t be a wave splashing up on the hull and entering through the open window just now! Well, so I showered again and then rinsed all the salt water in the bathroom thereafter.
Day 4, 9 December
The trade winds blow steadily from the north east to north north east with force 5 to 6 which moves Moira swiftly west. The waves are more of a challenge. Most are also coming from a north easterly direction like the wind but now and then we get a sideways long swell from the northern Atlantic and some crew members insist to have observed some coming in from the south east as well. If waves cross it can be very uncomfortable and unpredictable. The helmsman has trouble to compensate for the rolling in the waves.
Moving about the cabin or even prepare a meal becomes an exercise in mindfulness and we each find our tricks to be able to relax in your berth to catch some sleep. It is really great to see how all the crew are coping with these challenges and keep a sense of humor! By now, Anton has recovered from initially being a bit seasick.
We can tick two boxes today: At midnight we have sailed for 422nm which is already a fifth of the total distance and in the afternoon, after three full days it is already a third.
Day 5, 10 December
Melon over board!
We have attached netting to store fruit and vegetables in the cabin and under the solar panels on the stern arch. While doing the daily check for ripeness and beyond we notice that all the bananas are ripe. We have been preparing for this szenario and have pulled out all possible banana recipes. Mirjam bakes a delicious banana bread for us. On top of that, she is the one who realizes that there is one big water melon missing from net outside… It must have rolled into the sea when the boat was tilting heavily!
The sky is overcast today and there are even a few short rain showers along with gusting and shifting winds. We are all glad to have a little less sunshine. Especially around the noon hours it can be very intense and we need to protect ourselves with lotion, hats, and long-sleeved clothing.
Shortly after lunch we have run 715nm which corresponds to one third of the passage in less than four days! Despite one hour of rain and no wind our 24 hour run is at a record high of 187nm.
Our first equipment evicting is our inverter which turns 12V DC into 220V AC for all our appliances. Luckily we also have our small diesel generator which produced 220V AC directly. This is needed to charge my laptop which in turn is needed to download weather and email.
Day 6, 11 December
We are all feeling a bit groggy because last night we were shaken around in our berths and there was considerable noise in the cabin as well: A wave that smacks the side of the hull sounds like thunder on the inside, the clanging of dishes being thrown to and fro in the cabinet, the banging of the foldable shower wall which has come lose etc.
Pedro, our autopilot is having trouble coping with some of the waves. A few times he loses course and we go perpendicular to the waves. It is often better to hand steer. That is easier on the batteries as well. All electricity used on board must be produced on board. Two fridges and the autopilot which is on for about 70% of the time are using more power than our solar panels can provide. Every day we have to run the generator for three to four hours to recharge the batteries and run the water maker to fill our water tank.
Day 7, 12 December
Today is celebration day! Some time today we will have reached the half way point of our crossing. Since you never know until the end just how many miles you will clock and consequently when the half way point is we start celebrating in the morning to be sure.
The day starts with banana pancakes accompanied with a choice of maple sirup, butter, jam, Nutella, or peanut butter. Homemade bread is in the oven and after it is done we follow it up by baking a delicious chocolate cake.
After exactly six days we have run half the way and so we pop the champagne after lunch. We toast but not before we have made our libation to Neptun, Poseidon, Rasmus, Aeol and all their other cronies. We heave to in order to stop the boat without furling the sails and all take a short bath in the midst of the Atlantic!
The crew would like to taste my miso and finally prepare the glass noodles which have been moved from cupboard to cupboard for weeks now. Tempura would go well with that, think I. Not one of my best ideas, as I am about to find out… just imagine: Outside it is 28 degrees centigrade warm and muggy, in the cabin it is about 35 due to the heat of the stove and the oven. Add to this the unpredictable sea state. For a long time we succeed to keep the hot water in the pot and the hot oil in the frying pan but finally the cup with the slightly dissolved miso paste falls victim to a side bouncer wave the throws the boat into an extreme heel. Dark brown sauce everywhere in the pantry and the exclamation of the skipper which I will not repeat here.
Wind and wave quiet down a bit over night and since I have stood my watch in the early evening I can sleep for the rest of the night.
Day 8, 13 December
Today is laundry day. My ‚washing machine’ consists of a sealed waterproof bag filled with clothes, detergent, and water. Afterwards I lay it flat on the aft deck, trample on it while holding on to the back stay and stern arch. The stern is yawing wildly from side to side and swings sideways in an irregular fashion. At the point where I am draining the suds on the deck and rinse the laundry several times the whole thing positively turns into an acrobatics lesson. Luckily, all stays aboard including the skipper. Worth mentioning is another splashing wave from the side which drenches again some of the laundry I have hanged on the guard wires for drying…
In the evening our Swedish friends surprise us with a little Sankta Luzia celebration complete with traditional song play list, glögg (peppery Gluehwein), Pepparkakkor (spiced cookies), and blue cheese in a tube to put on them. Well, after Kalle’s Kaviar, smelly cod roe in a tube on your breakfast toast, we are not shocked easily anymore! Thanks so much Elisabet and Anton for moment of advent atmosphere on the mid Atlantic.
Day 9, 14 December
For today the crew has agreed to only talk to one another when absolutely necessary and to use the day for silence, meditation, reading, writing, or to dangle the soul. Ditto for this blog.
Day 10 15 December
The time in silence is well received and we decide to tack on another day. Communication can be a social compulsion and it feels good to be free of that.
Log book: Three quarter of the way is done, Sargasso grass is growing in size and number, some lonely sea birds come by, the day temperature rises to over 30 degrees C, the water temperature as well.
Die Schweigezeit kommt gut an und wir beschliessen, dies auch am zweiten Tag so zu halten. Kommunikation kann auch oft ein sozialer Zwang sein und es tut gut, für einmal davon befreit zu sein. Cleaning day on the heavily rolling boat - pantry, fridges, bathroom and toilets, vacuuming. Shortly after having cleaned we experience a second pressure-cooker-lentil-disaster. Through the safety the lentils are sprayed evenly around the whole pantry. Clean it all again!
Day 11, 16 December
We are all a bit torn. On the one hand side we are glad when the wild motion of the boat stops and you can put something down trusting it will stay there and not fly across the whole cabin and we can sleep for a whole night at a time. On the other hand we all like the passage very much and all would like to stay on the ocean for a bit longer. If only it were not finished soon… Especially the night watches are a favorite. To be alone in the cockpit for a few hours under the starry sky and glide in the moon shine…
We keep being surprised about what favorable wind and current conditions we have been encountering and how quickly we advance. The wind is still out of the north east or north by north east at a constant 18 to 25 knots. The current sets us west with 1 to 1,5 knots which helps us. Waves are between 2,5 and 3 meters high and mostly roll in from astern, at times a bit sideways which causes the boat to roll wildly from side to side before going back to a more normal roll.
The feared squalls with heavy rain and strong gusts accompanied by lightning never materialize neither do the dense Sargasso grass mats in which you can get bogged down.
Day 12, 17 December
A new record - for the first time we manage to sail 200nm (370km) in 24 hours which amounts to an average speed of 8.3 knots. Moira rocks! All are exhilarated in the morning as we realize that there are only 100nm left to Barbados and we will probably arrive in Bridgetown before midnight today. What is more, there was homemade braided bread for breakfast and for lunch there were veggie burgers à la captain. Quite the gourmet boat here!
After 11 days and 10 hours we tie up on the customs pier in Bridgetown, Barbados. We have covered 2120 nautical miles (almost 4000 kilometers) only three were motored. This is a breathtaking average of 7,8 knots (14,5 km/h). We hug each other and are all quite surprised how pleasant this passage has been. Thank you, Moira, for carrying us across so safely and quickly!
See pictures here