Day 8 Atlantic Crossing

We still have about 1655 miles to go so we made another 180 miles of progress today. We didn’t fly the spinnaker all day but the winds were about 20kts most of the time so the two smaller jibs and the mastfoils are plenty. We’re still heading pretty much straight towards our destination but a little south to take advantage of the comfortable ride. I’ll start using the Grenada routing in a few days but right now we don’t want to be discouraged since we like ticking off the miles on the chartplotter. Orignal miles of 2614 for our route so at our halfway mark 1307 we’re going to have ice cream and cake. Hopefully around dinner time in two days. Of course, we can still go to Barbados if we change our mind. We’re Agile.

Not much wildlife today. Only a few sacrificial flying fish in the nets.

Paul asked about preparing for a major passage so here’s an attempt to answer.

First of all, being sea sick is misserable. The worst I’ve every been was with Ryan on his dad’s boat during a race from Newport to Ensenada and I still haven’t recovered. 🙂 Since then, I never drank even a single beer on or before a passage. When we sailed and lived aboard in 2001 I got sick on the Atlantic crossing day one so after that I took meds on every passage for 18 months. It made me tired and hungry so not the greatest side effect but at least I never go sick. On this boat, I’ve been using wrist bands and they work well with no side effects. They are also nice because I can put them on when I start to feel bad and they work. I had them on for the first day for a few hours and haven’t needed them again. I really admire people that can come back to sailing after bad sea sickness episodes but some people like my brother will never sail in the ocean again. For me, being really sick would probably make me never attempt a big crossing again.

Being stuck in a boat in the middle of nowhere is big test of self reliance. The metaphor I typically visualize is being on a space craft on route to another planet. You simply can’t get off. The only way I know of to feel comfortable for the care and safety of another person is by having experience. We’ve met tons of cruisers at many of the most exotic and beautiful locations on the planet who simple don’t have the vesel or skill to cross oceans. The first time I crossed the Atlantic, I was sick and miserable. We were beating into a 40 knot headwind and diverted to Bermuda. We had a captain (Mats) because I didn’t have the experience and I was scared before and during the voyage. A month before the departure date I told Jerri that I might skip the Atlantic crossing since I had already hired a captain and he could just add another crew member. Jerri said, “you’re sailing across the Atlantic, or we’re not coming to join you in Athens.” Yup, she really said that because she wanted me to get that experience. A few month before that I was on a very poorly maintained sailboat leaving San Fran en route to Hawaii. We didn’t make it to the Faralons(sp) and turned around due to engine failure. When entering the channel to his marina the next morning we ran aground and I made my friend take me to the dock in the dingy because I wanted off that boat immediately.

Also worth noting is that most everything that’s added to a boat breaks. The electrical connections, fuses, engines, refrigeration, sails, hatches, stoves, grill, solar panels, water generator, chartplotters, batteries, stearing systems, nets, bow sprit, halyard, water maker, bilge pumps, water pumps, VHF, vhf antenne have all broke on our boat. Those things that haven’t outright broken need maintenance. We have the highest quality parts but with a harsh marine environment and limited batch runs the MTBF is just bad on boat so you have to get handy repairing and maintaining stuff yourself unless you want a full time captain and crew. We are way too introverted to want want someone on our boat full time.

Even with all the problems, our boat builder and architect did an exceptional job building a sound boat that’s very capable of sailing around the world short handed. I tried and simply can’t imagine a boat that’s better suited for two people to comfortable sail and cruise around the world. Having said that, the boat is only part of the equation and in the end it’s the captain and crews responsibility to make good decisions or risk peril.

Now after tens of thousands of miles I sleep better but still worry about everything. Just like running a company. In the end it comes down to knowing that we have an exceptionally safe and well maintained boat. While I can’t fix everything I’m pretty handy fixing most stuff with Jerri’s help, we can hear when most anything is misbehaving and I feel confident we can jury rig if we get into trouble.

At about this time last night I was sitting in the forward cockpit listening to Jack Kerouac – On the Road and someone turned on what looked like a flashlight. It was just the supermoon. Man it was bright.

Tonight the winds just picked up to 25-30kts so we are double reefed to slow down. That took about 30 seconds and didn’t even need to put a shirt on to do it. On other boats, we’d have needed foul weather gear, maybe 15 minutes and two people. That should help Jerri sleep but waves are building and it could get a little bumpy if this keeps up.

One thought on “Day 8 Atlantic Crossing

  1. Dennis Keller

    Great post. The ability to reef quickly on the Chris White wing mast designs seems really compelling. If you were to get into a serious blow and wanted to run with the seas, would you simply let the masts free to act as windvanes?

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