Catching A Dorado
The Atlantic Crossing
27th November 2006
We left at 2pm after a morning of rushing around getting fresh vegetables, washing the boat, checking emails and of course a last shower. Thunderstruck by AC/DC, blasting from cockpit speakers. Fiddlerís Green's crew were impressed and the whole marina was watching us. On the way out we saw Barbarossa whom we met in Rubicon, Lanzarote. We are settling in for the long passage and life at sea, dinner is sausages and mash potatoes.
28th November 2006
We caught a Dorado at 12 pm, tonight's dinner. Everybody is very tired as getting used to sleeping with rolling motion.
29th November 2006
As we are starting to settle in, we had a happy hour at 5 pm, before dinner, one beer each while listening to Pink Floyd. A bit drunk on one beer!
30th November 2006
Wind is gradually dying down and with calm seas Graham and I had a wash on deck with seawater this morning. A Nordic container ship passed us about 5 miles away. Night watches are as follows: Graham is doing 6pm till 9. Nik 9 till 12 am. Judit 12 till 3 am. Graham 3 till 6 am. Nik from 6 till 9 am.
01st December 2006
At last the wind increased and we rolled out the genoa at midday. With twelve knots of wind the speed increased to almost six knots. A few hours later the reef went in , winds were still increasing. Another Dorado landed on the hook, but Graham and Nik did not fancy it again for dinner so it went back to the water! Graham dropped the only bucket in the sea, used for washing dishes. We made a bucket over board manoeuvre, after four attempts we were successful.
02nd December 2006
Rough seas with high waves coming from North and East and force six wind, occasionally gusting seven! The Autohelm has gone on as it responds faster to the high seas, coping well with the rogue waves on the beam. Everybody is very tired unable to sleep with the motion. I left the tap open accidentally loosing thirty litters of water. During night the Autohelm started to make grinding noises so we had to helm manually. Also lost all of the bread, it has gone mouldy with the heat. Not a good day!
03rd of December 2006
We found a diesel leak under the cooker, presumably from the jerry cans with spare fuel. However after checking , there wasn't a leak. Probably the leak is coming from the engine but we can't find the source. The sea state is moderate making possible to jibe heading for two hundred and fifty degrees. Only one hundred and fifty miles to reach the first waypoint. Graham dropped bucket in the sea again! We pulled in sails and turned back for it, but lost it out off sight as it sunk rapidly. The bucket, used to collect sea water, was replaced with a storage box. The Ship's clock is going back one hour at happy hour while we celebrate the two thousand miles to go mark!
04th December 2006
The wind is blowing Force six (22-27 knots) and the sea state is confused with high waves. We are still using Autohelm to cope with waves coming from different directions. The wind generator is creating enough power to run all electrics. Nik had a wash on deck despite the rolly motion onboard. At happy hour we celebrated arriving at our first waypoint, also our record mileage so far, which is 134 miles in 24 hours.
05th December 2006
During early evening the wind increased, as the full moon came out, the swell increased dramatically. It was the worst night so far, impossible to sleep with the boat's motion. By midnight Nomad Life was skidding through the waves terrifying Nik during his watch. On Judit's night watch a few waves broke on the cockpit and continued to increase. So started the engine and motor sailed for 4 hours to stable the boat. That is when we felt the solitude of being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with no assistance around or nearby.
6th December 2006
In two daysí time we will reach the half way mark! After a difficult night we experienced an equally difficult morning but swells eased in the afternoon giving a break. There hasn't been any birds around us for two days or any other form of life other then flying fishes. Conversation revolves around what we are going to do once we arrive in Marin. Graham is going to open a beer, I will have a shower and Nik will ring his dad. Luckily swells decreased in the evening, before the Autohelm broke down. Graham managed to fix it. We made one hundred and fifty miles in twenty four hours, the record so far.
7th December 2006
Today winds were perfect, making it possible to arrive in eleven days. It is unbelievably hot and the sun is very strong. Another hundred miles to reach half way. Also we saw a sailboat in the distance, there is life out there!
8th December 2006
Jibing we could make a course of three hundred and ten degrees however Martinique is on a bearing of two hundred and ninety five degrees, so that is the nearest course we can sail. The seas are big with waves at least three metres high. Graham and I had great fun helming and surfing the waves while rouge waves were breaking on the freeboard getting us quite wet. Nik in the meanwhile was in the saloon scared. At midnight lost electricity throughout the boat, could not even start the engine and switch on GPS, water, lights. There was a short circuit in the system, but the best was to wait for daylight to assess the situation, meanwhile I was helming navigating to stars.
A Flying Fish
9th December 2006
A pilot whale almost hit the boat early morning! We got up early to work on the electrics. Graham found the loose wire and four hours later the power was back. Well done G!!! Now life is good again in Nomad Life.
10th December 2006
Winds decreased so the cruising chute went on for one hour. Dolphins came to say hello at happy hour, staying for a while playing with bow of the boat while we ate dinner of Feijoada,a Brazilian bean stew.
11th December 2006
Graham spotted a whale from distance. The boys were craving for bread so I baked three loafs. The wind has been fair for the last three days, not helping with the daily mileage. We all had a mid-Atlantic swim; the water temperature was thirty degrees! Since the wind died , the engine went on During night we all practiced at spotting constellations and stars, guided by Nik's book.
12th December 2006
There isn't any wind, so the engine has been on for almost twenty four hours. Eight hundred and thrirty miles to go but the average speed is so slow that arrival date is not getting any nearer. By now there is no fresh food left, but plenty of tinned food and pulses. Conversation is around cravings and food. Even the chocolate bars are varnishing , despite bringing seventy . Cabin fever also setting in for some. We can't wait to get in!
13th December 2006
Another day with no winds, in the morning the last reserve of fuel went in the tank and with that we have 2 more days of engine. We need wind or will be drifting to Martinique! At 2pm Judit spotted a sailboat behind us 3 miles away. It came closer and made radio contact. It was Emily Morgan with 3 crew heading to Antigua. They were in San Sebastian, opposite us in the marina. Finally the wind picked up at night and with full sails we were under way.
At 10 am Judit spotted a sperm whale. On the helm, she came off course to have a closer look with Nik. It was huge, at least half the size of the boat, with big square head and enormous tail. Amazing! The lack of sleep and living in close quarters are taking its toll on us. But it looks like we are arriving in 4 days, a reason to keep us cool headed.
15th December 2006
Good winds, good sailing. The atmosphere on the boat not so good. Judit feels murderous. Graham not far from it and Nik has gone to his cabin to get away. Graham made contact to a super yacht, 95ft Constance. The skipper kindly gave us a weather report. The inverter broke and we had no weather information for the last week.
16 December 2006
Two days of squally weather. The squall comes usually in the morning, pouring down incredible amount of rain for one hour. Not long after that the sun comes out for a short while, and then the next cloud brings more rain.
17th December 2006
Early morning the Autohelm broke, same problem again. Graham fixed it. We had Wilson, the whale, following us for 1 hour. Around 4 metres long, with white belly, fins and dark gray skin. Wilson was surfing the waves next to us, crossing the bow and twice came up to breathe only 2 metres away from Nomad Life. During happy hour we saw a giant turtle. Tomorrow is the arrival date. Now itís a race against time, to arrive during daylight.
18th December 2006- Land Ahoy!!!
Everybody was up early morning, very excited, sleeping was impossible. Land came on sight in the afternoon, initially a tiny peak, gradually the island emerged. We could also see St Lucia, only 20 miles away from Martinique. We had an early happy hour and dinner was Coq-au-Vin, the last of the frozen meat. Bottlenose dolphins came to play with the boat and doing pirouettes at the bow. Land was 20 miles away , and now we got mobile signal. Everybody rang respective parents, who were relieved, even crying! But the excitement wasn't over yet. We had to do a night entrance amongst reefs into Cul-de-Sac du Marin! Graham navigated us in, Judit was helming and Nik was spotting the red, green buoys and leading lights. We dropped our anchor outside Club Med in 0.5m under the keel, soon we were aground but only just. For once the boat wasn't moving. After anchoring the boat dropped back onto a sandbank. Although exhausted nobody wanted to sleep , so Champagne came out followed by 2 bottles of wine.
19th December 2006
Early start for all of us, since we wanted to stand on terra firma, and of course to sightsee Marin. The boat was anchored near mangroves, the island is lush tropical, and the sea was bright green. Sea Beryl just arrived as well, with Bertus "the crazy Dutch man". Barbados, the island of his dreams, was disappointing and expensive. He came to Marin looking for a nice quiet anchorage only to find the place flooded with 400 yachts! He had an excellent crossing with abundant wind, taking 19 days.