I’m back on the Atlantic Ocean. Again. Back to blue, breathing sea, stimulus stop, facing the elements, learning ropes! This time in a completely different setting. A boat and crew more than double the size of SeaYa, different route, different weather, different speed!
The sailing adventure begins…
2,5 weeks earlier ….
“If you’re keen you can join us for the crossing back to Palma” Captain Zac of Sailing Vessel Cyclos 2 in a skype. I didn’t really have to think twice. I enjoyed (almost) every moment of the Atlantic crossing from East to West. I’ve been on (is)land time long enough now. Still overwhelmed and processing the previous crossing, I just jump on another ocean passage. Porque no? I’ve been in contact with this boat before. I’ve done my research. Timing is perfect. I feel good about it. Book a ticket the next day. Let’s go!
1 week ago …
I land in Antigua where Cyclos 2 is docked, as well as hundreds of other insanely beautiful yachts for the Antigua Sailing Week. I’ve never seen something like this! I meet the crew. Cyclos 2 is a privately owned yacht with 4 permanent crew on board. We’re a nice bunch together! We have Captain Zac from Canada, Kit from the UK, Belen from a-Spain and Russell from Zambia. Then there is Arvid from Canada and Sam from NewZealand who help to deliver the boat to destination Palma, Mallorca. And then there’s lucky me offering some extra hands on deck! The yacht is huge. It’s a 90ft ketch (=2 master with the lowest mast at the stern before the steering wheel (yes -learning a lot these days)). Loads to learn and hands on sailing to be done! Excited! Randomly at the bar in Antigua, I meet Rudy and Noor from Sea-Ya (Atlantic crossing numero 1) again, who sailed up from Tobago to Antigua in the meantime. Most preparations for this crossing had been done already. I am the last one to join.
A day after arrival in Antigua and too many rum punches later…
We rig (prepare) the boat, buy some last fresh foods, say bye to mum again, and at 15.00 sharp (as planned), we throw off the bowlines and we’re off to Europe. First leg: 2100 miles to the Azores. Rudy & Noor make some noise waving us bye for now from the Sea-ya. When sailing out boat Win2win sails in who I met in Las Palmas. Such a small world.
Weather conditions are perfect. Sun is shining, 20 knots blowing, wrong direction but doesn’t matter, for now… We just have to go around the island. We hoist the mainsail, headsail, mizzy and soon we average around 10 knots over ground the first hours of sail. Zac gets out the rum and we toast to Neptune, the god of the sea. Everyone says a few words, gives rum to Mr. Neptune and themselves. May it be another fun, safe sailing trip! We’re going like a rocket. Antigua disappears from the horizon at sunset.
April 20, 2015: Setting sail to Europe from the Caribbean!
First day at sea of ocean crossing #2
Seasick. No worries. I know this will pass after a day or 2. Enough shooting stars at night to wish it away. The nightsky is as clear as it can be. Speedy sailing today! We reach 13.5 knots SOG (Speed over ground) at night.
Day 2 Work to do!
We have a situation. Every hour we check the metrics and the temperature of the dryshaft became way too hot and the rolwater pump of the generator is having issues. Luckily we have tons of engineering knowledge and experience on board and all the guys are on the case. With this situation, another situation has been discovered and the rest of the morning we’re drying up spare parts that were stored somewhere and got soaked. Sam jumps into the ocean to check if anything weird can be seen underneath the yacht. Nothing. We move on, keep a close eye on all the indicators and in the Azores we’ll stop for an extra day or two to hopefully solve this situation. Luckily we’re a sailing vessel and not a motor boat. Whatever technology fails, we’ll get there eventually.
Day 3 Rain
We have another situation. Goodbye tradewinds. Hellllo rain! The nasty weather sail outfits are fully on. Wind is up and down. Sails are up and down. At least we’re going, and in the right direction. Longgggg time since I’ve experienced this kind of weather.
Day 4 1000 miles milestone!
A bright light shines right into my cabin. It’s the decklight shining through the hatch above my bunk. It’s sail changing time. The Jenny gets changed for the stay sail (smaller sail) and we’re gonna motor again. Yup, by now I know the names of different headsails. We have a 3rd headsail, the janky. It’s 4ish and I start my watchkeeping shift. We’re taking 3 hour watching. Rotating every 1,5 hour so you get to see a new face occasionally. After the 3 hours, you’re 6 hours off. Nice scheme and works out well! It’s raining cats and dogs. It has been raining now for 24 hours. Even the super experienced sailormen never experienced rain this long. I jump into my yellow sail outfit, grab some food and let’s start getting soaked, again.
After 1,5 hour Captain Zac is off and Sam joins for the other half of my watch. It stops raining (usually when Zac goes off watch). I’m cold up to the bone. Two days ago we were super sunburned and sweating out of our beds. Now we’re drinking hot chocholate milk in the cockpit. We change the clock 1 hour. And have a beer when we reach the 1000 miles point!
Day 5 Boat clean-up & theme party time!
We do a big boat clean-up. 5 days at sea with 7 persons and some rainy weather… Imagine what it looks (and smells like). The rest of the day we are busy turning Cyclos2 into a party boat! Today we have halfway party of being halfway of the first half of the trip! In a not straight line it’s about 2200 miles to the Azores. The theme: dress up as your favourite actor/singer. I’m dressed up as Jacque Cousteau and wear a mustache. We thank Neptunes again, have a shot of rum, a Carib beer and delicious pizza, sandwiches and apple pie made by Belen. We’re filming this trip! Belen made an awesome trailer of the footage so far. The premiere is shown at the halfway of halfway party. It’s online now. Check it out! After about an hour everyone is hangover already and crashes to sleep. This is partying at sea! It’s a very calm night. Best night (read: few hours) of sleep I’ve had.
Day 6 Kingsday
Today we all wear somewhere orange. At least I try everyone to get to wear something orange! Afterall it’s kingsday in Holland. We run 13.4 knots. All sails up. We celebrate all this excitement with the last 7 beers on board. What an amazing sailing day! Everyone is happy.
One week at sea
Last morning of wearing shorts. The hats, gloves, socks and shoes come out of the (disastrous) closet. We decided to start using the coffeegrinder (workout winch machine) instead of the electric winch. We’re gettng fat. Let’s change that into getting fit. All 3 sails are up. Last 24 hours we made 255 miles!!! That’s a record. As from now Belen & I built in a daily Yoga/pilates/work out routine.
Day 8 Beating the speed record
I beat the speedrecord making 14,5 knots over ground. We handsteer only on the Cyclos! There is no autopilot. I love it (most times). First time I sleep with a blanket this year. The record doesn’t last for long. Zac beats me with 15.7 and later Kit with 16.8 knots over ground!
Day 9 Jibing & jumping dolphins
Jibe time! Now that’s exciting. Our course is too much south so we put the boom in, move the sails to the other side and go 40 degrees straight to destination Azores. We have dolphins jumping around us! so cool!
Day 10 Land in sight!
We still have dolphins jumping around us. Probably the same. We jibe again, tack, cause suddenly out of the mist there is a big tanker showing up (woops!) and jibe again. So important to keep watching around you no matter where or what you’re doing! It’s 5 Am. Rainy, misty. On a clear day we should have seen land already. Nothing to see so far. After 9 days of fishing, Sam caught a fish! We have fresh tuna for lunch. We’re all a bit restless, tired and excited cause today is the day.
Suddenly there’s land and we are in the Azores! Europe!
In the Azores…
We’re now docked in Horta, Faial. What an amazingly beautiful island. Peters Sports bar is the place to be. The stop for most sailors crossing the Atlantic. Tomorrow the spare parts arrive and looks like we’ll be leaving on Wednesday. So what are we up to here? We are going to the bar, fixing things, washing, going to the bar, stocking up, exploring Faial up, going to the bar and celebrate that we’re halfway. Great, strange and cheap to be in Europe again, Today I dived underneath the yacht to check out the situation below. Freeezing cold water but great to be in the water again.
So all safe and sound and having fun! Next leg Azores to Palma de Mallorca, Spain. 1100 miles to go! We’re all getting ready and are excited to set off for sailing! In a day or 7 I pass by Tarifa, what I call (one of my) home (s) these days. So Tarifa readers, go out to the beach and look out for us! On Marinetraffic.com you can see where Cyclos2 is at (when we’re in radio reach)