This is the first entry in the blog of the crew of Anastasia. Anastasia is a 52 foot Catana catamaran and she will, all being well, be carrying us around the world. Exactly who "we" are is going to vary at different stages of the trip, but the core crew is Phil May (skipper), Andrea Twigg (purser+medic) and Bertie May (first mate). I (Phil) will leave it to the crew members to introduce themselves individually when they write their first entry in this blog.
In just two weeks time, at the start of October, we will be casting off for the start of our trip. Anastasia is currently having some work done at the Catana boatyard in France (Canet en Roussillon 42:42.3N 003:02E), and so our first leg will be along the Spanish coast, through the straits of Gibraltar, into the trade winds and down to the Canaries. From there we join up with the World Cruising Club and cross the Atlantic, at the end of November, as a participant in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). From St Lucia we go with the World ARC, and our route will take us through the Panama canal, Galapagos, a multitude of Pacific islands, Australia, Bali, Mauritius, South Africa and Brazil, returning to the Caribbean in spring 2013. Whew.
Let me introduce Anastasia. Anastasia is a cruising catamaran, which is a big advantage for this kind of trip. The route we are taking is mostly downwind, which means you are travelling in the same direction as the wind and waves. Catamarans are ideal for those conditions, being less prone to rolling as the waves pass under you and more stable when surfing down them. We have a special sail, a "Parasailor" (a type of spinnaker), which is especially good for downwind sailing. Anastasia is a pretty high performance cruising yacht, with kevlar hull and carbon fibre rigging and sails, quite capable of surfing down waves at over 16 knots (in ideal conditions). As well as getting us to places quite quickly, and making for some exciting sailing, speed is actually an additional safety factor because it means that if a storm is chasing us we stand a good chance of being able to sail away from the worst of it.
One question people often ask is what happens if a catamaran capsizes? Well, for those of you who have only sailed beach catamarans, I can assure you that a big (20 tonne) cruising cat is very much harder to capsize. And all kinds of yachts can capsize, the difference is that a capsized monohull may well sink whereas a catamaran is perfectly happy (and livable-in) floating upside down. Enough on capsizing.
These modern "blue water" yachts are packed with technology (24V and 240V power systems, navigation systems, watermakers, radios, satellite comms, not to mention the PCs, ipods, TVs, Kindles, Wiis that the crew considers essential for a comfortable lifestyle). You really need to know more about electronics, diesel engines and plumbing than you do about sailing. Our power consumption is rather high for a sailing yacht, but Anastasia has a large bank of Lithium batteries for power storage. The solar panels will need to be augmented by a daily run of the diesel generator. Fortunately she can carry 1000 litres of diesel which should be enough to feed all those laptops for the couple of weeks that it takes us to cross an ocean.
A little bit about me. I am a software engineer by profession. I am fortunate that I made the right career choice (purely by chance) just before the advent of the PC and digital era and being the co-founder of a technology company called Metaswitch (again mostly by chance) has given me the freedom to take some time out to do this.
People often ask me why sail around he world. Has it been a life's ambition? Well, since I was a kid I have always liked sailing of some form. Not so much that I would dinghy sail on a freezing lake in England or struggle round the M25 for a weekend in the Solent, but I do love being at the helm of a yacht in the middle of a warm ocean. And there is definitely something addictive about the feeling of standing at the helm of a yacht in total darkness with the surging of the boat down the waves generating a warm breeze and the phosphorescence in the bow wave glowing green against the backdrop of more stars than you could possibly imagine.