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Date: 23 Dec 2014 13:22:04
Title: Atlantic Crossing 17:15.4N 58:34.6W Happy Christmas from all on board Jenny

Dear Family and Friends,
 
23rd December 2014
 
Wishing all of you a very happy Christmas from Lynne, Alan and James on board Jenny.
 
I can hardly believe it, our instruments show we have 176 miles to go, Antigua is round the corner so to speak! Estimated time of arrival will be tomorrow, somewhere around the afternoon, in English Harbour, all being well. Which means we will be in harbour for Christmas, wonderful. We understand there are celebrations going on in Nelson’s Dockyard which sound fun.  It will feel very strange to be celebrating and be in shorts, we will be exchanging chestnuts around the fire for rum punch and surf!
 
We wont pick up our first sight of Antigua or the Caribbean until much closer in and then it will be the little puffs of land clouds that hover above the islands, visible from a greater distance. This is when I wish we had a crow’s nest! However I am not asking to be winched up the mast to dangle like a pendulum.
 
In the small hours when there is little to do on watch, I was contemplating the enormity of the Atlantic, I cant help feeling that we have earned every mile, unlike flight which transports you in a matter of hours, to the other side, I have a completely different sense of scale. It is, with GPS plotters, auto helm and supporting instrumentation, surprising uncomplicated to sail such a vast body of water; after the Canaries, turn SW until you are below 20 Latitude, pick up trade winds and head towards the Caribbean. There are no fixed obstacles to worry about until you reach the other side. However there is a huge amount of seamanship that makes reaching there safely, whilst fixing all manner of problems, a challenging task. Whilst we didn’t suffer a knockdown as our friends did during the gale, weathering Gale force 8 to storm force 11, (maximum gusts recorded were 58.5 knots,) is no small thing. Alan remained on watch through a greater part of the 3 days snatching just small amounts of sleep, running downwind of the forces when we needed to, ensuring that we were working with the waves and swell to avoid being broadsided. Knowing we have had a flight deadline has added elements of stress, whilst dealing with becalmed conditions and dirty fuel. You make the decisions in the light of where you are and although we are hoping to make landfall on Christmas eve it didn’t look that we would make it back in the middle of the Atlantic! I am indebted to Alan and James for their expertise in keeping us sailing efficiently and safely.
 
The rhythm of surviving each day takes over, watches, meals, sleeping, housekeeping, reading and in my case art.
 
There is much to learn too, how you will cope in a storm or when things go wrong, the boat performed well and I didn’t feel fear, stoical endurance perhaps. Had I been single-handed that might have been different, the power of the sea is awesome. Surviving an experience becomes a yardstick by which to measure your ability to deal with others.
 
I have learnt much about provisioning, what works on a boat, what keeps well, (potatoes, onions, garlic, cabbage in the bilges), tomatoes especially green ones in nets hanging in the air, bananas even green ones, and pears netted, are probably only good for a week. Melons keep in the bilges as do squashes. I was surprised how well carrots would last in the fridge (UK ones not so) along with beans, aubergines, peppers and lettuce hearts, (well into 2 weeks), soft fruits apart from grapes, tended to go off quickly, although oranges and apples lasted well in nets. Bottled grated carrots, piquillo peppers and tinned sweet corn and mushrooms all worked surprisingly well. Having a supply of your own ready cooked meals was an absolute life saver at the beginning of the voyage. Yesterday after all this experience you would have thought me a rooky, as I tried to pour liquid egg quiche mix into a pastry case, the boat heaved and the contents slopped over the side and of course picking it up so no better, what a mess. We finally tamed it by putting it on the cooker which is on gimbals and despite 30 degree swings didn’t spill a drop!
 
I have also learnt that the preparation of hot food and drink is dangerous on a heaving boat, my burns gel is right beside the cooker!
 
As you pick up the pace for Christmas, we will be thinking of you!
 
All our best,
 
Lynne, Alan and James
 
 

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