The Atlantic learning curve

Sweet Dreams
Roz Preston /Ed Phillips
Mon 28 Nov 2022 13:25
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You can plan, prepare, discuss, study, talk to other people who have done it etc etc but the only way you really know it is to do it. And then you think of all the things you would have done differently.

Not that there are many. We are in day 11 now, and compared to some of our fellow travellers, have not done too badly. We have followed the story of Aliki, which fell badly off a wave resulting in a broken ankle and a concussion - fortunately a super yacht en route to the Caribbean was able to help and the crew member with the fracture is now on that vessel heading to hospital in Antigua. There are a few boats on which the autohelm has failed. The crew are having to hand steer all the way. Others have rudder issues or leaks. Our bilges are dry, thank goodness, our fridge and freezer are still working, the loo threatened to malfunction but was quickly sorted by Dick wielding no more than a leatherman to tighten a few screws (this was even before the demise of the unfortunate flying fish).

You still can’t be careful enough. sh+**£&t happens. Like the loss of our pole, who would expect a carbon fibre pole to snap like a matchstick? And last night, sadly, our light wind sail, the asymetric, literally came apart at the seams. No drama, no big wind, just suddenly gave way as we were winding it in preparing to gybe and floated gracefully down into the water. Under the boat. Not a good look! Anyway conditions were calm and we fished it out into a sodden heap on the foredeck, and Ed and Angus wrestled it and all it’s associated sheets and tackle back into the bag. It looks as if the fabric under the first horizontal seam simply gave way. We will have a closer inspection once we get to Grenada, but I doubt if it is worth repairing. It is after all 15 years old. This year all our other sails were replaced and the lesson here is that a 15 year old sail is still a 15 year old sail, even if it isn’t used anything like as much as the others.

The loss of our only light airs sail also sadly probably means that we won’t make it into Grenada for cocktails next Saturday night. Unless we use the engine. Which we would rather not unless we are really becalmed. Or desperate for cocktails.

So it’s back to rolling along under the twin headsails for as long as we can, hoping that there is enough wind to fill them for the next 640 miles. And trying to figure out if we would be better downwind tacking under main and Genoa and hoping that any increase in distance would be offset by an increase in speed, or staying dead downwind as we are, travelling the shortest distance between two points on the great circle route. Answers on a postcard please.

Meanwhile we have company again, Sipi, our neighbour from Las Palmas, are about 7 miles off our port beam. We had a VHF chat last night. They are mad keen fishermen and made us some equipment which has sadly all gone without producing a single fish. Angus is now reduced to inventing more and more bizarre lures out of bits of string and bent pins. The fish are laughing at us. The Sipi crew have “fulfilled their sailing fishing dreams” - our mouths will be watering when they tell us about the fabulous fish suppers they have eaten along the way. But I bet they didn’t catch a flying fish in their toilet.

Enough for now, time to check the forecast and our position in the fleet - almost certainly not as good as it was now that the wind has moderated. Ah well, it was never meant to be a race. Just a gentle cruise across the Atlantic, dealing with everything that comes up along the way.

Sweet Dreams
Listening out on channels 16 and 72.

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