Crossing the Atlantic, Jan 2020

Finally we posted a video compilation of our Atlantic crossing. Sailing from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia. Follow the video/link on YouTube: Sailing Snow

The lack of wind pushed us south to find the trade winds, it took us 25 days. We went south so long until we had enough of it and turned west to St. Lucia. After turning west, we found a somewhat consistent trade wind, quite light but increasing a bit during the first part of the night.

Sailing wise it was a great crossing, we learned a lot about our chosen systems and nothing broke.

We always thought we needed more diesel. As our tank is only 150 liters. So we tied up additional diesel in jerrycans to our regret. She sails great also in light winds, we should have known better sailing a Swan. Only for the lack of sun power we used the engine one hour in 25 days. A lesson learned as we still have all this diesel in the jerrycans months later.

Extra diesel 5 jerrycans 100 liter. Two on each side, one aft. Not really needed but nice to have, so we thought.

The wind kept us quite busy, adjusting sails, learning from it and or changing sail settings back again. The ship challenged us to improve her sail setting, and then she rewarded us with her performance immediately. Quite addictive.

We had to be smart with our energy and timing to also find some quality time together. We thought we would have time for books and other things but that was not the reality in this voyage. Sailing as a couple resulted for a large part in solo sailing. No complaining, since we both loved the time alone as well. We did make an effort to have at least the afternoons together and take time to have a good dinner together, most of the time quite extensive. It worked out almost every evening. We had enough fresh food and twice a very nice freshly caught fish (4 days meal). Dinner and a nice sailing podcast (thank you 59 North). So we learned; more podcast and better fishing gear.

Local catch of the day

We liked it a lot but not all was fun. Even with a reasonable sea, we were still on edge of what could happen and sometimes the wind did increase and waves grew bigger. They grow surprisingly fast with little wind increase, so was the sea state. The waves where not the nice long waves we expected and in the beginning they seemed to come from two directions. But most of the time we were looking for the wright wind angle, wright sun angle and not loosing too much ground on the correct course.

We were still learning about the ship, crossing our first ocean and dealing with a sleeping schedule. Sleeping was challenging but not so for Henny, used to her irregular working hours flying around the world. For me, it was a different thing used to a nine to six job. It took me three days to adjust to a schedule. We always knew flying and sailing had a lot in common. In the end you do get into a rhythm. Keeping your energy level at least at normal levels was probably one of the most important things we learned. Fortunately we do not suffer from seasickness and get used quickly to the rolling (probably to a certain extend). Another great action was to sleep in our normal bed instead of a bunk, soo much better.

Sailing the nights brought a cool temperature and were welcoming after the sunny day times. Occasionally the wind increased during the night and then we decided to set a reef together in between watches. These are those moments where a sleep rhythm gets disturbed and you pay a prize the day after.

As mentioned in the video we used the satellite phone a lot. Having a constant link to weather info was also highly appreciated. Regarding the solar energy we did manage ok but learned we would love to have some more panels. The time you have the sun correctly on your panels was shorter than we thought. In the afternoons the sails created a large shaded area too. That said, we only had the engine on for one hour in 25 days to get some extra battery power.

One of the surprises we found was how little garbage we created. As metal, glass, paper and food went overboard, we collected all plastic and other non-recyclable stuff into one big plastic bottle. We ended up with a bag of clean plastic and a bottle full of cut plastic. Pretty nice to have no stinking garbage (except for that bottle when you open it).

Recycling

The last days we went from being alone to suddenly seeing other ships on ‘our’ ocean. Our excitement of going to see land again grew. I don’t know if it was landing or just the concept of having done it, that made us excited, probably both. Then again it also felt like a loss to leaving this kind of ‘endless’ sailing behind us. We were already looking forward to our next crossing, the big pacific ocean. Thinking that would happen in two months time after this crossing.

After 25 days we arrived at St. Lucia. We had to round the northern tip of the island in the evening and docked at 0:00 hours local time in Rodney Bay marina

Satellite tracking. It was not always on therefor you see it running strait over
Gran Canaria where we started the satellite tracking again. It still included our previous leg; Lanzarote to Gran Canaria.
Rodney Bay marina Saint Lucia. Tired and a bit ‘off the world’ it took some time to really land.
Much better to relax, Marigot Bay St. Lucia after two weeks in the harbor, one week anchoring (in a very touristic but beautiful place)

After three weeks we sailed in three days from St. Lucia to Bonaire. In dream like sail and weather conditions. Best sail so far and by then three days seemed an easy sail.

And then we met the corona crises. Two weeks after arriving in Bonaire the borders closed. We were locked down. Unfortunately our sailing stopped for 2020, to be trapped in one of the better places around. We know we should not complain, still……

Impression of our Atlantic crossing on YouTube
Click title to see it full screen

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