The Cast

Thu 9 Jan 2014 03:40
17:01.5N 39:58.7W

Coming on deck for the start of my midnight to 2AM watch (3AM-5AM GMT), the moon had yet to set and was a marvellous sight: still hanging upside down, it is probably a little over half full, looks huge and is sitting a couple of inches above the horizon like a single, diffused and slightly yellowish car headlight. It is casting shadows on the waves which constantly change and make the sea look like an enormous, constantly changing mountain range. It is simply spectacular.

We have had an incredible 36 hours or so. As predicted the wind has increased and is now blowing a steady force six. This means that the sea behind us has also increased in size and we are cruising around 7.5-8 knots, with peaks of 9-9.5 knots as we surf down some of the steeper waves. All this meant that we had a reasonably busy morning (by our standards at least) and put an additional reef in the main- and headsail, making both smaller. Whilst the effect of this might be to slow us down slightly, the boat is better balanced and we are able to maintain a more accurate course!

Before it is too late, though, what I really wanted to write about was the crew of Carpe Diem on this leg of the Atlantic Circuit. Only one of us is doing the full loop (Nice, Caribbean, UK) and the rest of us will be jumping ship in 1,000 or so miles.

The skipper is Juergen, father of Philip and yachtsman with over 50,000 nm over 50 years under his keel (an educated guess - he stopped counting many years ago). His encyclopaedic knowledge of all things sailing means that he is not only the most relaxed person on board, but also has the boat fully under control and enthrals the crew with sailing yarns from years gone by as well as being able to critique almost every type of craft every made!

Then there is Christian, who has accompanied the skipper all the way from France and who we are dropping off on our first stop in Martinique. A retired film and documentary producer of some renown, he has more tales to tell about goats being slaughtered in his honour on the Turkish border or being jailed by corrupt officials in some of the world's more dubious locations than we can take in even on a three week trip.

Stefan is the third member of the crew and the one for whom this adventure is the steepest learning curve. Don't be fooled by his quiet, contemplative nature, though, this Kaiser of Plasters (a moniker due to his work at a global organisation) is a thrill seeker and the inventor of yoga at sea and the follow-on craze of extreme pilates (basically balancing in precarious positions on deck with your eyes closed - just for fun)!

Finally, there's me - Philip, blogger and breadmaker on the trip. By the end of the voyage I think I will have clocked up 25k nm and have fulfilled a long-held ambition to cross the pond by boat. In many ways this journey is my fault, as I flippantly suggested it to my father 4 years ago, whilst trying to right a capsized Hobie Catamaran off Fuerteventura. Little did I know that my subsequent Christmas gift to him of an Imray Chart covering the North Atlantic would lead him starting to plan this voyage after all...

Until next time,