Las Palmas towards St Lucia Week 1

Sun 27 Nov 2005 13:20
Tamarisk Web Diary
E to W Atlantic Crossing, Week 1
Boring Stuff from the Skipper
Hello. This is our first report from the crossing. Apologies for not sending more sooner but I think you'll find the glossier reports tend to come from what we call MNO (money-no-object) boats. One thing we've been a bit short of is electricity and that's a good sign because it shows we've been sailing a lot and not motoring.
We've come a long way South to avoid any fallout from Hurricane Delta and appear to have succeeded though we're now predicted another low pressure system next week. We've been guided by the legendary Herb Hillgenberg. He analyses the forecasts and gives yachts routing advice via SW wave radio. We tune in at 2000 UTC every night.
We've been using twin jibs for the dead downwind work and the cruising chute when it's gone very light. Our strongest winds so far were coming away from Gran Canaria when we had gusts of 32 knots. The sea was a bit lumpy but the boat and crew got through it well. We all managed some sleep.   
On our first night at sea I counted 60 lights around us. By dawn I could see 6 yachts. Now we don't see more than one or two vessels a day but we've caught a few other ARC boats on VHF and the children have even been able to talk to some of their friends.
This morning we topped up the water tanks and found we'd used 90 litres of the 550 onboard. Penny is now planning a freshwater shower ahead of landfall. Giles and I have both been having saltwater bucket showers on deck. 
We're now heading West to a waypoint just North of the Cape Verdes. If we've any problems or the forecast is bad when we get there on Monday we can turn for the islands. If not, it's set course for St Lucia - 1900 miles West and a little bit South. 
Crewman Giles on Life Below Decks
This first week we've enjoyed the luxury of plenteous fresh fruit and veg which Penny bought in Las Palmas. We've plenty left but it's a bit of a race against time which the last of the celery sadly lost this afternoon when it had to be buried at sea. Could the Chinese leaf be next?     
Attempts to fish have not been met with great success. After mysteriously losing a complete line and hook on day 1, we managed to hook a shark on Tuesday, which, although not very big, seemed to consist mainly of teeth, so we were quite relieved when it bit through the wire fishing line and swam off. Since then we hooked one more amenable looking fish but it too gave us the slip. We'll keep trying although, since our bait consists of a small green plastic squid and a large hook, we can only hope for some rather stupid fish. 
We've been lucky enough to see many dolphins, shoals of flying fish and yesterday a whale. The weather has been superb.
First Mate Penny on the Really Important Stuff
Morale onboard is pretty good. Today, Sunday, we start our second week at sea. I hope the next two weeks go as smoothly. We're expecting to be sailing into a fourth week as a result of the weather forcing us to come a long way round. The children don't know this yet. I may have to break into secret treats to keep things going. We plan to have a first 1000 mile party, maybe on Tuesday, then a half-way party. Please come. 
I think we're not too smelly. It's amazing what a couple of wet wipes can do. I'm conducting an experiment involving a pan of chip fat and my hair, more next week. Anna and Eddie have become strangers to their toothbrushes - good job they are living on satsumas and cola bottle sweets.   
Anna says 
She was first to spot the whale. The flying fish were cool. They look like birds with oddly shaped wings. One flew right over the cockpit missing dad by about a foot. 
Eddie says      
he has nothing to say. (But he's on pretty good form. Taking a very active part in the fishing and really looking forward to starting his advent calendar.) 
Thanks for all the text messages. We can't see our position from here so any information on that would be appreciated.