Our Mission: To boldly go until we are no more!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Antigua Arrival

Land Ho! After 18 days at sea we are now anchored 'safely' in English Harbour, Antigua. The weather on this passage from the Canary Island of Lanzarote to Antigua in the Caribbean's Leeward Islands, was not what we had initially planned on. Typically, crossing the Atlantic from Europe to the Caribbean involves getting down to the Canary Islands and then catching some good tradewinds a little further south for a downwind ride across. This year most boats have encountered headwinds and calms. Here are the stats for our voyage:

distance thru the water (log) 2963 nm
distance based on noon positions 3031 nm
distance great circle 2730 nm
time Puerto Calero to English Harbour 430 hr (17 days, 22 hr)
average speed based on noon positions 7.0 kn
average speed thru the water 6.9 kn
time under power 135 hr
fuel used for propulsion 365 gal (1380 liters)

We chose a route that avoided all but 10 hrs of headwinds on a southwesterly initial course from the Canaries sweeping down to 15N 40W where we held between 15N & 16N avoiding calms to the north and unsettled squally conditions to the south until 55W where we took a north-northwesterly rumb line to Antigua.

Gear failures on passage were minimal and included a failed main engine fuel filter (new), chafed main preventer/pole foreguy, spreader light lamp retainer ring and mainsail batcar bolt dropping on deck and failed forward head vacuum pump.

Maintenance performed underway included several fuel filter changes and changing a coolant hose and coolant on the main engine.

All sails (main, genoa, staysail & 180% Code Zero headsail) were used at some point on the passage (we carry no spinnakers).

English Harbour, Antigua is as quaint and nice as we remember it and the check-in procedure was easy with Immigration, Customs, Port Authority/Parks all in the same building in historic Nelson's Dockyard. Only the Captain is to go ashore until clearance is completed. Customs did ask for clearance papers from our last port and was satisfied with a crew list we got stamped by the police in Lanzarote and by the harbormaster in Cadiz. He smiled when told it was the best we could do in Spain.

We anchored in Freemans Bay which is now very crowded (17d 00.31' N, 61d 45.73' W, 29 ft).

More on what's ashore later...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 17

We caught and released two small Mahis yesterday. They were just too pitiful looking at 30".

The sailing was good most of the night and we have now jibed and are slowing down for an early Monday morning arrival at English Harbour, Antigua. We were there back in the '90s sometime for a bareboat charter vacation. It will be interesting to see the changes.

Noon to noon: 181 nm, 289d T.
12-27-10 noon pos: 17d 26' N, 60d 03' W.

Hopefully tonight will be our last night at sea for a while.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 16

After 16 days at sea and two days to go, we finally now just getting some decent tradewinds. The breeze is helping to cool us off a bit but sun is still pretty intense for wintertime.

Katie is using every bit of our Christmas Mahi and has some chowder ready for supper.

Noon to noon: 166 nm, 284d T.
12-26-10 noon pos: 16d 31' N, 57d 16'W.
270 nm to go to Antigua

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 15

We have been listening to a continuous 96 hours of mp3 Holiday Music with its numerous versions of Winter Wonderland, Let it Snow, Baby its Cold Outside, Frosty the Snowman, etc., trying to keep cool in the balmy tropical conditions.

We received many holiday emails from friends old and new from around the world helping connect the two of us out here in the mid Atlantic with others during this season of unity. We do have a satellite phone and have already called Kurt's family gathered as they traditionally do on Christmas Eve. Katie's family has kept us posted on her mother's recovery after surgery and we hope to speak with her on Christmas Day.

We have holiday decorations aboard Interlude with a small tree, lights and garland in the main salon. The supply of German pastries and candy is holding up well but we are now out of tangerines. There is definitely no egg nog but maybe that's a good thing. The good sized mahi mahi caught Christmas Eve will give us a nice feast.

We wish you all wonderful Christmas Day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 14

We have been at sea for two weeks now crossing the Atlantic. Those of you on our daily passage report list know that the tradewinds have not been very consistent this year and many yachts have had slow crossings. Our sail has not been too bad with mostly light downwind conditions and several days under power.

It is Christmas Eve and we have 630 miles to go to a landfall in Antigua. The weather is hot & humid (hopefully not hot and humid enough for a hurricane) and the fishing has been good. We still have plenty of holiday goodies stocked up from a German supermarket in the Canary Islands.

We did manage to do some caroling in the dinghy going around to boats in the anchorage before the passage and our Thanksgiving Feast was a first for some of the other cruisers invited aboard Interlude.

This year we finished our Med cruise visiting Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Malta, Spain, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. We are a bit behind in writing our travelogues but hope to catch up soon with new adventures awaiting us as we arrive in the 'New World'.

We wish you all a merry Christmas and a healthy, happy new year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 13

Another 24 hours of easy downwind sailing but going too slow to fish now with the wind down to 11 kn. We hope Santa brings us some breeze for Christmas.

It is getting really hot and humid and we have taken to running the air conditioning in the late afternoon while we charge systems with the generator.

Noon to noon: 164 nm, 268d T (23 hrs).
12-23-10 noon position: 15d 10' N, 48d 46' W.

After 13 days at sea we are eating the last of our lettuce but we still have plenty of limes to ward off scurvy. We hear Santa likes rum in these parts and hope he doesn't drink thru our rations.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 12

We have set ships time back one hour twice so far (every 15d longitude: 15x24=360). Starting to get jet lagged. Other astronomical occurrences of interest include an eclipse of the moon night before last. We unfortunately had too many clouds to see it directly but the sky did get abnormally dark for a while.

Katie saw another yacht last night - that makes three plus a fish boat. That's twice as many boats at sea than we saw sailing 6,000 miles in the Pacific from Mexico to New Zealand or New Zealand to Bikini and back.

Noon to noon: 184 nm, 265d T.
12-22-10 noon position: 15d 16'N, 45d 56'W

Still holding 15d N for the best wind and avoiding squally conditions and more distance further south. We have jibed a couple times for better wind on the poled out genoa with wind shifts from ENE to ESE. Got to go investigate a sewage leak in the forepeak...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 11

As of noon yesterday we have finally gotten classic tradewind conditions.

Noon to noon: 155nm 252d T.
12-20-10 noon pos: 15d 11' N, 36d 16' W.

Since we are a little late with this email we also have today's run: 204 nm 276d T.
12-21-10 noon position: 15d 34' N, 42d 46' W.

Kurt also did some work on the main engine replacing an old coolant hose that went a bit gummy from the diesel leak.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 10

The wind slowly built yesterday as we sailed wing and wing on port jibe down to 15 degrees N. Just before a great wahoo fajita dinner we jibed to Starboard and are now wing and wing making our usual half windspeed downwind in 15 kn of building easterly breeze. The sailing has been warm and pleasant with a light overcast sky and a waxing 3/4 moon to light up the night.

Noon to noon: 155nm 252d T.
12-19-10 noon pos: 15d 26' N, 36d 42' W.

The ride is so smooth now we have even been practicing our guitars.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 9

After motoring all day and half the night in calm conditions we are now trying to sail downwind in 8 kn of Easterly. At around 0130 this morning the newly replaced main engine fuel filter (spin on FRAM) developed a crack in the bottom and sqirted a couple gallons of fuel in the engine bilge before Kurt noticed the smell and shut the engine down. The engine bilge is now as clean as it has been in a long time and the fuel filter has been replaced with another (same FRAM model but different style). This of course was the impetus to start sailing. We are now just waiting for the wind to fill in tomorrow.

Noon to noon: 197 nm, 251d T.
12-18-10 noon position: 16d 16'N, 34d 09'W.

We have been catching fish with a small wahoo landed yesterday morning. Probably going too slow now...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 8

We had another lovely day yesterday under full sail on a close reach in 6-9 kn of wind. The wind died at sunset and we have been motoring all night. Kurt changed all fuel filters in preparation for what appears to be a calm ahead.

Noon to noon: 192 nm 254d T.
12-17-10 noon position: 17d 20' N, 30d 54'W.

We should get some light wind from behind at some point and may try to sail with the code zero poled out on one side and the number one on the other. We may now finally need those spinnakers we left in California.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 7

After sailing in mostly light wind for the past two days, riding a high pressure ridge to keep the wind ahead of the beam and enjoying some increased wind speed, we are now motoring again this morning in calm conditions.

Noon to noon: 165 nm, 230d T.
Noon position 12-16-10: 18d 15' N, 27d 41'W.

With the temperature in the 80s we are again wearing our tropical cruising (birthday) suits day and night. The skies have been sunny and the water temp also seems to be up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 6

We have been having a great sail on a close reach in light winds using our biggest headsail the Code 0. Katie calls this the jewelry sail because the whole rig with furler, spectra sheets and halyard costs about as much as a Coco Chanel watch Kurt has been discouraging her from buying. We rarely get a chance to use this sail and it has been hard to justify its expense (just like the watch).

After two days of fishing we finally did some catching with a small Dorado (pink squid lure). Yummy Sashimi dinner but it has been so long since we caught a fish that the sushi rice, soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi have all gone stale.

Noon to noon: 124 nm 221d T.
12-15-10 noon position: 20d 01' N, 25d 25'W

Most of the fleet behind us is headed more southerly toward the Cape Verde Islands to take on more fuel. It appears this year's crossing will not have an easy fast tradewind sail.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 5

We had some excitement yesterday with three orcas swimming around us for a short time. We happened to be under sail gliding along at eight knots in smooth seas when they came to investigate. Orcas are known to hunt in packs to take a whale. Aluminum probably doesn't ping like blubber so they left us pretty quickly.

Noon to noon: 204 nm 227d T.
12-14-10 noon pos: 21d 35' N, 24d 02' W.

Last night we finally got our wind shift along with some squally rain. We motersailed for a few hours while the weather settled down and we could lay a good course to the SW with the wind veering from SSE to WNW by this morning. We are now making reasonable progress toward the SW and hopefully some tradewinds in a couple days.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 4

We are still enjoying warm clear skies but with little wind have remained under power for the past 24 hours. Tried to fish yesterday but no luck.

A couple ships last night: 'Chestnut' & 'Growth Ring' (?) and one small vessel barely visible on radar.

Noon to Noon: 175 nm, 246d T.
12-13-10 noon position: 23d 56' N, 21d 22' W

Monday, December 13, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 3

We managed to sail all day and part of last night. The nights have been really dark and we have only seen two ships (one was the MSC SORAYA - 227m long and all lit up).

12-12-10 noon position: 25d 08' N, 18d 27' W
Noon to noon : 190 nm 227d T

It is Monday morning and we are motoring again (about 40 hr so far) with only 5 kn of wind from behind and a somewhat lumpy sea. We have been dropping the mainsail while under power to keep it from thrashing about.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 2

We have been having a smooth mostly motorboat ride under fair skies with little wind. We did try to sail yesterday for a few hours using our Code Zero headsail and full main but could only manage windspeed on a beam reach. So when the wind dropped below 5 knots we fired up the D-sail again.

Our noon position 12-11-10 was 27d19'N, 15d54'W. Our course is 230d Magnetic.

After motoring all night at 9.0 knots with little or no wind, we are under sail again this morning with the Code Zero making 7 knots.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Day 1

After over two months in the Canary Island(s) we are finally underway. Our time spent with old friends and new all gathering here to cross the Atlantic was special. Playa Francesca allowed us to meet many of the hundreds of yachts making the crossing this year. Most made this their first stop in the Canaries and joined us in beach festivities.

The Atlantic Rally Cruisers all went on to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria to start across on schedule November 21. Most non-rally cruisers also moved on to marinas in islands to the West and/or the Cape Verde Islands.

This morning finds us at the South end of Gran Canaria with little wind. We have a short weather window to get SW to the NE tradewinds before headwinds fill in on Wednesday.