Hello again! Well we are back in Maderia after a frantic 3 days back home for the Ostar prize giving, and to be honest we're quite relieved to be back! All is well on the boat, and we have come back with a few new extra bits of kit for the boat, most notably a solar panel so we can keep all our laptops, cameras, phones and fridge chugging along in an eco friendly manner!
Will has come down with a heavy cold this morning and is currently tucked up in bed with some nurofen, so I am having a wonderfully quiet afternoon catching up on emails and reading up about Maderia. It has been raining here since we got back yeterday, but it's that nice warm rain so I don't mind at all- in fact it makes me feel like I'm high up in some tropical mountains as I'm surrounded by volcano's everywhere. We are hiring a car for 2 days from tomorrow to see some of the Island, and then the plan is to do Funchal for a few days and leave early next week sometime.
I've been struggling to upload my dolphin video on this site and facebook - it seems the technology is just too much for me - but hopefully it will work this time, as it's pretty cool!
Anyway- will write an update soon once we've got pics and adventures from the Island to report back!
Tam, Man-Flu Will, and Elmarleen.
Lisbon to Madeira: Day 5 at sea
I can see land! From about 12 pm today we have seen the outline of Porto Santos Island, which is about 30 miles North East of Madeira. After an appalling start to the trip, huge sea swells and no wind forecast at all for the 5 days, we've been much luckier than that, and definitely made the right decision to continue on to Madeira rather than return to the mainland. This is the end of my first REAL Atlantic crossing, heading away from all land into the middle of no-where, and its quite exciting reading up about the islands, looking at the maps etc etc.once land is in sight.
We also had a visit from a whole family of dolphins today, I counted 15 and it's the first ones I have seen in daylight! They were brilliant, and the photos don't do them justice at all. I have taken a video which gives some sense of them playing with us which they did for about an hour.
Today has also been bath day on board, which always makes us feel better and more energised. The sea temperature all around us has been rising everyday, and is now 27 degrees. We've been daring each other to just jump off the bow and have a quick dip, but with 4 km of water underneath you and a vivid imagination, neither of us has risked it as yet.
Also- since Thursday Will has thankfully not caught any more fish. The problem with all this fishing stuff is you can't choose what you get. it makes meal planning a bit tricky, not to mention messy, and the last one left a very strong fishy smell in the fridge for days. I am going to have to get better at meal ideas etc, as we could potentially eat a lot of fish for free when we cross the Atlantic. Just think my metamorphosis for London IT girl to fishing hill Billy is going to take longer than Will would probably like!
Madeira is the last place where we have to arrive by certain deadlines. We started this trip when the weather wasn't really suitable, and we're both looking forward to only sailing with good winds and flat seas and sunshine from now on. With the sea temperature rising, and long sunny days, it is beginning to feel like a real cruise now!
Tam, Will and Elmarleen.
170 Miles to Madeira
So we left on Thursday and motored for about 30 hours due to a distinct lack of wind. We picked up a steady 10-15 knot breeze from directly behind and have used this to push us along for the last 40 or so. So it looks like we will probably make our flights! It was a worry as the we didn't have enough diesel to motor the whole way and we calculated we would have to sail for a minimum of 180 miles. We have done this and at good speed. So if all goes well should be tucked up in our marina in Madeira sometime tomorrow night with a day to spare.
The downwind sailing has brought back all the memories of the rocking and rolling of the return trip form America and been a introduction to Tam of what this trade wind sailing can sometime be like. Neither of us slept for more than an hour last night as anything not screwed down rattled and rolled from one side to the other side to the other side - you get the picture. Even then things that were screwed down gave there own distinct squeak.
So today has seen a very sleepy an tired crew, more than usual. We have had croissants for breakfast, followed by bacon baguettes for lunch ( I do love this fridge ) and for tea we are hoping to try and much through some of the fresh veg that seems to be going a little limp.
The issue of the day is still battery charging - I hate batteries and these advanced alternator regulators. The thing keeps on tripping and reducing the level of charge to the batteries. Running the batteries for 2 hours only provides enough power for about 5-10 hours. I have decided in Madeira that I will rip it all out and install it all again with new bigger cable and also swap the split charge diode over.
Anyway, enough technical stuff. Yesterday we got the kite up for most of the day and last night we hit 8.5 knots with a poled out genoa. Wind is dropping off all the time now and Tam is catching up on some sleep while I read the Windward Island guide. Its funny, we really enjoyed Spain and Portugal even though we were only there a few days - the restaurants, shops, civilization and value. We have both wondered if the Caribbean will actually live up to its reputation! Well I have reassured myself, the photos and chartlets of the bays on St Lucia, St Vincent, Martinique and the Grenadines look awesome.
The temperature here has now risen to a level that you don't need a sleeping bag in the evening, a sheet will do. The day temperature is about 25-26 degrees and the sea temp is much the same. Yesterday we both sat on the rail and dangled our feet over the edge letting the water splash our legs when the boat rolled. It was rather refreshing until I suggested it would make a good opening scene to a new Jaws movie - a big great white chews off all our legs in one large chomp. Yummy.
That's about it form us today and hopefully we will have time to update you tomorrow before we get to Madeira. Oh and it looks like my wallet must have been nicked or gone swimming as there is still no sign of it anywhere!
Tam, Will and Elmarleen.
Lisbon to Madeira: Day 1 at sea
Red Bucket 6, Tam 0 ?
This is my first ever blog and I'm writing it at 8am somewhere between Portugal and Madeira. We have seen every kind of weather possible over last 3 days, with 35+ knots in the Marina on Wednesday night ( which delayed our trip by 24 hrs), and now we are utterly becalmed with a hard deadline of a flight to catch to the Ostar prize-giving. We are both worried we won't make it on time to Madeira, but equally the costs of staying in Lisbon and more flights were equally unpalatable. So here we are! Yesterday Will and I were both very sick all day. Yes, even Will. The storm on Wednesday night had brought sea swells of 7m, and with very little wind our stomachs were all over the place.
A day later the sea is like a mill pond, not even a ripple of wind, and we both feel much better. So much so, Will resumed fishing duties. I am starting to dread his fishing adventures -the rear of the cockpit has been renamed the abattoir - the bleeding and gutting and walloping over the head isn't a great spectacle, even worse waking up to it from a deep sleep off watch!. Well true to form, within half an hour Will had caught yet another 50cm tuna! And Will doesn't even eat tuna. Thanks to everyone for pointing out that his first catch was Tuna- we thought it was a mackerel and named it Mandy! They are not little fish and yesterdays catch is now stinking out the fridge, as we're not sure what we want to cook with it.
I can't believe we only left Falmouth 16 days ago. It seems a lot longer than that. I have settled into the routines quite well, especially as you get to sleep a lot. I still don't much enjoy the nights, they are really long (13 hrs) and you have no company over that whole time. The first few nights I managed to scare myself because some dolphins were playing round the boat, but with only moonlight they just look fluorescent shapes under the sea and can give you quite a fright! I thought by now I would have done a lot more reading and writing whilst at sea, but it's harder than you think as you're rolling around all the time, and too much time concentrating on a small screen or book makes you car sick! I'm about halfway through Swallows and Amazons (thanks Liz!"), so the progress has been very slow!
Will and I didn't think much of Lisbon to be honest, but we loved Cascais. It was very cheap at it was out of season, so we gorged ourselves on hot showers and ice creams! The facilities were really good at Cascais, as it's quite a new marina (they had the Olympics here), and there's a few things to see in the town. We spent one day in Lisbon, and saw the top 4 sights, but there was nothing to entertain us really fir a whole day, let alone a city break unless you come out to Cascais or Sintra or somewhere.
We have chatted to lots of boats all heading to the Arc, mostly delivery crews rather than owners. Will also made new friends with all the yacht services people in the whole marina, and was driven around to tool shops etc etc by them all. He still hopes to get some work in the Canaries before the start, assuming we get there in time. Given we have had to hand dry his entire toolset twice already this trip with the boat heater, to the disadvantage of the rest of the wet washing, the least he could do is earn a few dollars out of having such a pristine tool set!
Anyway, am starting to feel queasy, so will go to bed again now as we have another 4 days at sea before we see Madeira!
Tam, Will and Elmarleen.
Back by popular demand.
Hi folks, as I am sure most of you know the three month break to do the OSTAR has been extended to a year to include an Atlantic circuit, but this time I have crew, Tam.
We left Marchwood on Friday 2nd October a few days later than anticipated after fitting some essentials; a fridge and a bimini. We also antifouled, polished and made Elmarleen a lot more homely. Along with that we've repaired the gearbox splines, faffed around some more with the alternator - yeap its still giving us trouble- and now also have the world poshest rain catcher/fore deck cover to collect some of that torrential rain in the Caribbean.
We spent Friday night in Marchwood and then on Saturday, Tam's Birthday, got as far as East Cowes Marina. It was blowing a Westerly gale but as we were ready to go thought we should sail somewhere. So after a Thia in Cowes and a good nights sleep we left East Cowes on Sunday morning and set sail for Falmouth. A pretty 10 mile trip that so both of us get rather tired and a little sea sick. I hate the overnight sails, they are not long enough to get into a routine, just long enough to totally exhaust you.
Falmouth didn't have the best of weather for our visit. We stayed on the Visitors Yacht Haven Pontoon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. It rained and rained and it was quite a nice though to be leaving the UK for the winter. Having never been to Falmouth we had a walk around the town and to the headland leading to Black rock. We made full use of Trago Mills - is there anything else one shop can sell - it's a real old fashioned department store.
So Thursday came and we packed up and headed across Biscay toward La Coruna. 440 miles and the furthest Tam has ever been at sea. Conditions weren't ideal but could have been worse. We had a good firth 12 hours but the wind soon dropped and came around to the south west and gave us an uncomfortable night with25knot head winds. I had hoped to to have to use the inner forestay and heavy weather jib but they both saw the moon light that evening. We then had continued light winds which saw the trip take a little longer than expected. We arrived in La Coruna at 5am Monday (12th) morning. The light winds on the trip gave us the opportunity to get the laptop and DVD player out and yes, it works a treat. We watched the first episode of a box set of the West Wing and had it plugged into my stereo - it was like being in the cinema, just 150 miles from land.
La Coruna we thought was totally under sold. The almanacs and guide books didn't rate it but both Tam and I thought it was lovely. We went for a long walk on Monday and climbed to the top of the lighthouse - the oldest operational light house in the world - built by the Romas. The marina facilities were good and only 12 euros a night and the local sailing club had cheap drinks.
I, not used to having someone else on board dived under the spray hood expecting for the sliding hatch to be open and cracked my nose on it. Ouch, it hurt and took most of the skin off. For a second I thought I had broken it. When Tam returned from the shower block she noticed the cut and bruising taking shape and I demonstrated how I had done it also leaving the hatch in the closed position. Next I heard a scream as Tam dived under the spray hood and cracked the top of her head on the sliding hatch. Ouch and we are slowing learning. I spent much of my time in La Coruna hunting down the local fishing gear supplier. I have promised Tam that I will be her hunter gatherer and pull dinner form the sea on a regular basis. I'm no fisherman but I have the RYA Fishing for Cruiser book so I headed out and bought all the gear.
So here we are not on day 2 of our next leg from La Coruna to Lisbon. The sun has just set and we are doing about 6 knots under poled out headsail heading due south. It warm and the sky is so clear. Did I mention we have just feasted out our first fish. Yes, did I forget to say that the fishing gear worked. Our offshore hand line caught us a huge bloody mackerel. It would have fed a crew of 4-5. It was not your typical catch off the pier type this was about 50cm long. So I had to grow some hunter gather balls pretty quick, grab it, bleed it, gut it and then remove its head in a way that would impress Tam. Well we have eaten it and got seconds for tomorrow and neither of us have been sick so all is looking good. I think I fooled Tam too, I'm not scared of a slimy flapping fish bleeding all over the deck am I!!!!
So that's it for now, we are about 150 miles from Lisbon and hope to be there sometime late Friday or early Saturday.
Will, Tam and Elmarleen
I just wanted to write a quick note to say that I am home safely in Southampton. I have been back since 28th August. After a quick dash home to Norfolk for the Bank Holiday weekend I am now back in Southampton.
Elmarleen came straight out of the water for work and to asses the rudder damage. It appears that the rudder and wind vane must have taken a big hit during the race but the repairs in Fairhaven held out for the return. The rudder will be staying as it is for the foreseeable future.
Its looking like the next adventure might not be so far away. I'll be sure to post the detail on here and the new blog site address.
Thanks for all your support over the last 3 months
We are alive!
Last nights gale turned out to be as expected. The wind increased as the pressure dropped and by sunset we had a good force 6-7 with three reefs in the main and the heavy weather jib up. By midnight we were in the middle of F8 gale and we down to just heavy weather jib running with the sea. We recorded a boat speed of 10 knots and gust up to 37 knots. The navik windvane stood by the tiller the whole way through and once the boat was set up steered faultlessly giving very little reason to leave the comformt of the cabin. The sea state was very rough but being a very dark night we only really could tell this morning. It was amazing to see so many fishing boat out there trawling there nets in those conditions.
Have a celebratory Fray Bentos pie for lunch and spent much of the day trying to catch up on the sleep we didn't get last night. Falmouth coast guard were fantastic and even called us to confirm our position when we gave them the wrong co-ordinates. Its great to know they were following us and plotting out positions on there computer - they still are and said they will bemore than happy to all the way home.
Conditions now are perfect and it is nice to finally loose the Atlantic swell. We are sailing in a F4-5 beam reaching and doing 7 knots. Elmarleens seems to just get faster. We are starting to experience some of the tiday effects of the channel and during the day experienced both positive and negative effect.
We expect to make arrive in Southapton Friday midday. We are currently 75 miles from the Lizzard.
Will, Adrian and Elmarleen
All day we have been waiting here for our introduction to the remnants of Hurricane Bill. The met office have issued a gale warning for Fitzroy and Sole and guess where we are. Its due to hit later tonight, about midnight and it a Force 8. Its not the wind speed that worries me, Elmarleen and I had 47 knots on the OSTAR. What I am concerned about it the sea state. We are due to hit the continental shelf at about the same time it is supposed to arrive. The depths of the Atlantic Ocean go from 4000 meter to a tiny 100 in a matter of a few miles and the sea state could be horrendous. The shipping forecasts reads -
Northwest Fitzroy Sole: Southerly veering westerly 5 to 7, increasing gale 8 for a time. Rough or very rough. Rain or showers. Moderate or good, occasionally poor.
I have spent most of the day preparing for the worst and as they say hoping for the best. We have the Storm jib ready to go, we have the trysail on its track and also ready to go, drogue ready too! The liferaft lanyard has been secured and a grab bag packed including the epirb, sat phone and hand held VHF. We have had a big lunch so we don't have to cook tonight, got our foul weather gear out and ready and have had a good tidy up around the boat making sure everything is secure. I have also spoken to Falmouth coast guard on the sat phone and I am giving them 6 hourly position reports. They are away of the situation - 33ft sailing boat, with two crew, heading into a F8 and some Very Rough seas. I will continue to call them and give them 6 hourly position reports until we are happy with our situation again.
Currently the day has actually been very nice. Adrian and I have both enjoyed a wash in the cockpit, first since Horta. The wind at the moment is about 20 knots and we are making good progress. The pressure is dropping slowly but really not by much or to fast. So we are trying to get as much sleep as possible and rest in preparation for a very long night. It's not supposed to last long and due to the grib files we should be back to a reasonable 25knots by 7am. As I said I am not worried about the wind, I have the storm sails, I have done it before, I am just concerned about the seas state. What does Very Rough look like on area of water that steps from 4000meters to 100 in just a few miles.
Not sure I will be able to blog again tonight as I will probably but all the computer stuff in a dry bag and stow it away somewhere. I will update you with the results of tonight, tomorrow afternoon. Have fun and think of us soaking wet and miserable as you are curled up and warm in your nice double beds.
Will, Adrian and Elmarleen
Its four in the morning but I cant sleep. The Atlantic is teasing me once again. We went to sleep with a steady breeze which in tern has built and built along with the sea state to a force 6. So I reefed and the boat settled down. Now, an hour later the wind has all but gone but the sea state has remained, leaving us with very little power to drive us along but the sea is throwing us around like and rolling us from toe rail to toe rail. If I try and sleep I just get angry so I have decided to just take it easy, eat some chocolate digestives and write this e-mail.
Its still difficult and very annoying to just sit here and type. There is nowhere to sit or wedge yourself in that you are not thrown out of. So I sit her legs and feet up against the hull and my back up against a fore and aft bulkhead separating the engine from the berth behind the chart table. Its very uncomfortable and from experience I get about 20 minute sin this position till I start to get pins and needles in my left foot. The weight transfers from my feet to my back with every roll and occasionally you drop off a wave and your stomach is left behind like sitting on a rollercoaster. There is just no way you can sleep through this.
It been relentless and on and off like this, mostly on, for the whole trip. It worries me slightly as I think it is down the pinched in arse of a Sigma and perhaps a modern yacht might not behave like this. Well that is a bit concerning as mt plans to do an Atlantic circuit making the most of the trade's are going to bring a lot more of this weather. Would twin headsails make it better? I am still using the main with a poled out genoa. I guess there has got to be a tendency to luff up.
There we go, there was a typically example of why you can't sleep in these conditions. I am all crouched up as I described above, knees around my ears and laptop on my lap. Bit like a spring compressed and squeezed into a narrow gap, but still, still with that roll the boat fell so far over that my whole body fell down onto my feet and way from bulkhead, then as the boat rolls the other way and I was slammed back first into bulkhead. It isn't just annoying, it bloody well hurts.
Okay, so in the time I have written this e-mail the wind that had dropped is back up to gusting 35 knots true. In the time I have put the foul weather gear on and got Adrian up to put the 3rd reef in the wind is back to 17 knots true. We are now underpowered and rolling like buggery...again. Oh look the wind is now down to 15knots but the waves are still about 8-10 ft high. What adds another dimension to the whole problem is that we are steering under windvane, we have been every since leaving Horta, and depending how hard the wind blows depends greatly on which way the boat points. The balance of the boat is critical and it is amazing how 5 knots increase or decrease in the wind strength can change the balance of the boat enough to adjust the heading by 15-20 degrees. Its normally the main that causes the imbalance and with the more breeze the higher the tendency for the boat to round up.
Anyway, enough boring stuff for tonight. Both Adrian and I are now up on standby to put a reef in that looks like its not going to be needed. The wind strength is back to 19knots true and it looks like the stars are once again visible through the clouds. The squall has passed and we are back to rolling like crazy..oh what fun. Time for another digestive. While on the subject of biscuits - Who on earth called them a Digestive! Interesting thing to call a biscuit don't you think. Are they very good for your digestive system - where they originally for medicinal purposes! Digestives - to much time rolling around, alone at sea, I think it might be making me slightly mad.
Will, Adrian and Elmarleen