Notes for Mojo transat crew Nov 2020

Fri 21 Aug 2020 09:13

Mojo :  Transat Canaries to Caribbean Nov2020 - notes for crew 

What to bring:

Clothes: You need a fleece and lightweight jacket as you would need ashore on a cool evening.  Sailing gloves are useful if you have them.  After the first few days it will be “shorts and T-shirts” 24/7,  and sun protection quickly becomes more important than protection against cold: consider long-sleeve sailing tops, and a tie-on hat (eg Tilley hat) 

Shoes: As with most warm-water “Med boats”, Mojo is a “no shoes” boat.  Most people (including me) wear no shoes on board.  We wear shoes ashore, and kick them off when we arrive on board.   You can wear suitable (sailing, non-slip) shoes if you really want, but these must be clean and stay on the boat whilst in Las Palmas.  You can’t tramp around LP in deck shoes and then insist on wearing those same shoes on board.  

Passport and credit cards, duh.   

Money:  You'll need to pay your share of food ... which could be in cash OR we could jointly pay the supermarket when we do a Massive Food Shop.  It's likely that food will be under €300 although you might want to buy personal stuff too.  There are ATM's in Gran Canaria of course.   GC is part of Spain and uses Euros.  Forget using US dollars or Sterling.  

Other than the above …. feel free to bring whatever you can get on the plane, within reason.  Solid suitcase or backpacks are no problem to store on Mojo.  

Safety.  We'll cover this more in Las Palmas, but suffice to say that safety is foremost.  I can get another boat, but getting spares for humans is trickier.  So whatever else happens, the priority is to finish the trip with exactly the same crew as we had when we set off.  Hollywood would have everyone believe that crossing oceans is hellishly scary and very iffy - not so.  We're doing the trip at the very best/safest time of year, and in a big safe boat.  So this isn't a death-defying adventure and there are usually no deaths in a transatlantic sailing season comprising several thousand transat yachts.   However, there are lots of unreported injuries during a transat season and some of these can be serious.  So general rules are to stay in the cockpit area at night, to let others know where you are or what you plan to do, to walk not run,  to keep a spare hand for holding on to the boat, and to always remember that YOUR health safety is immeasurably more important than "saving" any gear or holding on to any line.  

Navigation:  It’s around 2800 miles, and it’s non-stop from leaving Las Palmas to arriving at a Caribbean island.  It’ll take between 2 weeks and 3 weeks depending on the wind strength.  The arithmetic is that for average 10knot speed it would take 280hours = approx 12days, or at 5 knots double that = 24 days.  Most cruising boats sail this route between these speeds.  The fastest I have done this route (using motors+fuel, but in a slower boat) is 13 days, the slowest 21 days (solo, with 4 days of flat calm).    


Navigation strategy:  We head south towards the trade winds with initial target of 20N 30W and then approximately due west.  

Familiarisation - how to drive the boat, how to get on/off, where we keep stuff, how to operate controls for sails and autopilot.  We’ll do some of this beforehand, and a lot enroute.  Familiarisation includes handling safety and medical gear.  

Water - we’ll have a full water tanks and watermaker… but we’ll still take emergency drinking water in case we lose electricity and can’t use the watermaker or waterpump.  For five people that’s a minimum of 200litres.  There’s a tendency to not drink enough water 2-3 litres a day each.   

Fuel.  we have two diesel engines that can power us along at up to 10 knots in no wind.  We shouldn’t really need fuel… but fuel allows us to increase speed or dramatically change direction (e.g. go back directly upwind) should we need to do so in an emergency.  Fuel may also be needed to charge batteries as we’ll be using more power (fridges and autopilot) than normal.  We’ll take enough fuel to motor at least 1,000 miles to deal with the unexpected. 

Food: As a very rough guide, the right amount of food for this trip is one shopping trolley per person.  Humans can actually survive for weeks without food, but it’s not pleasant.  For the best trip, we should either take along a paid cook/chef (and we aren’t doing that…)  or share the cooking, which is what we WIILL be doing.  

Watch system:  We’ll run a watch system where ONE person is designated “on watch” at any one time.  During the daytimes of course we’ll all be more involved with sailing.  But at any one time, one person is “on watch” looking out for other boats, ships or anything else.  Note that most of the time the autopilot will steer the boat automatically on a given course - the watchkeeper just sits and watches.  So it’s fine to listen to music on headphones while on watch, perhaps take a loo/drink break.  It’s not fine to fall asleep on watch, or be late for your watch, even by a little bit:  after three hours, the previous watchkeeper is ready for their break, so the next needs to be ready to take over on time.  The outgoing crew makes tea/coffee for incoming watchkeeper, who needs to arrive in time for debrief so that outgoing can leave the helm at changeover time on time.   

Watch system in detail :  For 4 crew, the watch system runs “3 hours on, 6 hours off”.  This only needs three people - the “spare person” each day makes food, clears up, and gets a full night of sleep, and then rejoins the watch system the next morning.  Target mealtimes are 1230 for lunch, and 1800 for evening meal.  Watches change at 7oclock, 10o’clock, 1o’clock and 4 o’clock am and pm.  

What are we “watching” for?  We watch for other ships, or for weather/sail changes, or other “unusual” things.  If there’s anything unusual, you call me up.  It might be something serious, or not so serious, or even just unfamiliar to you.   You should never “not want to bother” the skipper: even if you only called up the skipper a few minutes ago - calling the skipper is Main Task of watchkeeper when there’s something unusual.   But note that most of the time, this route is quite empty:  we can go for several days without seeing another boat/ship at all. Of course, there might be something that needs attention on the boat - flapping sails or whatever.  If in doubt, call up the skipper.  Yeah, that's me on Mojo. 

Cooking:  Breakfast - most will get their own.  Lunch: easily the best option is to make bread each day (I’ll show how, very easy) during the morning, and we usually have a “DIY picnic” lunch with cheese, pate etc.   Evening meal should vary - you can’t make spag bol every day.  We’ll have more fresh food in the first week, more frozen/tinned things later.  We’ll have to discuss food preferences before going shopping.    

Perhaps the best thing about the watch system is that it means that for 3 out of every 4 days it’s definitely NOT your turn to cook or help in the galley.  It’s also okay to snigger (but only a bit - it’s your turn soon!) at the botched cooking attempts of others - not okay if there’s a full-time dedicated cook/chef.   

Cooking no-no’s :  Cooking is a popular way to injure yourself.  Wear an apron.  Don’t deep-fry anything at all, although normal frying IS okay.  Pour boiling liquids away from your body, not towards it.  If the boat isn’t smooth, consider making coffee/tea in the sink.  Don’t try copying the chatty, casual and super-speedy TV chefs when using sharp knives or other galley weapons.   Know where the fireblanket is located.  Shout if you need help.   Don’t be over-ambitious with menu plans … but on the other hand, you have all morning to make lunch, and all afternoon to make dinner.  Don’t bank on catching any fish at all, but we might…

Alcohol: “Everything in moderation” seems to work well.  So we won’t take tons of beer and wine, but we probably won’t take zero.  It’s okay to have cocktails at sunset or wine with evening meal in fair weather.  Alcohol tends to be self-policing: many won’t feel like any for the first few days at sea.   This also depends on crew preferences.  in the past, many have said they won’t drink at all, but then Oh Alright and have “just one glass” etc.   I think is is “fake safety” to declare that we’ll sail a “dry” boat - but this of course depends on crew.  We’ll know more when we meet up in the week before leaving.  

Music: The boat can play music through a conventional plug-in “jack” but not Bluetooth.  Key thing is that Sleep is Precious - so if others are sleeping, music should be subdued, and directed to outside cockpit not saloon.   Otherwise feel free to bring music.  


Communication:  there’ll be WiFi in bars in Las Palmas.  At sea, we can use a satellite phone to update the blog each day, and let everyone know that all is well.  Friends/family can send texts to the satphone free of charge from a website .   There'll be another blog update about comms at sea.