First Light adventures

23 December 2016 | Guadeloupe
04 December 2016 | Saint Vincent Cabo Verde
29 November 2016 | Saint Vincent Cabo Verde
28 November 2016 | Atlantic
26 November 2016 | 150miles off the western Sahara coast
24 November 2016 | South of Canary islands
20 November 2016 | Lanzarote
14 November 2016 | Canary Islands
29 October 2016 | Lanzarote
26 October 2016 | West of Morocco in the Atlantic ocean
25 October 2016 | enroute to Canaries
15 October 2016 | Gibraltar
02 October 2016 | Almerimar
08 September 2015 | Menorca
02 September 2015
25 August 2015 | Argostoli, Kefalonia
28 July 2015 | Preveza

A tale of two yachts

23 December 2016 | Guadeloupe
Bernie helming the 50' yacht mid Atlantic

I arrived in St Maarten 11 days after leaving Cabo Verde aboard the 50' yacht Roberta of London. It was a learning experience to say the least. The yacht was new but had few of the necessities for passage making. Water was rationed from the beginning, so no showers. There were no fans in the cabins and they were very hot. There was not a square mm of shade on the deck and for some reason the skipper chose not to use the autopilot so we had to hand steer all of the 2500 miles. I did my 500nm bit and have to admit my helming skills did improve. The yacht had no pole for a kite or to pole out the jib, so for much of the time it was badly balanced and felt like it was on a knife edge wanting to round up. So it was hard work and we only helmed for an hour at a time. So that was my trans Atlantic crossing.

Simon, Noelia and Max sailed First Light III across in a similar time, just under 12 days covering a similar distance. They did it in relative comfort using the autopilot all the way. They used as much water as they wanted and simply topped up the tanks daily with the water maker. Max played with buckets of fresh water in the cockpit. There was shade in the cockpit and fans in each cabin below. I could go on, but the bottom line is that our humble little aussie yacht out classed the 1.4 m euro flash yacht that I was on. Yes I am biased.

Currently Simon is chilling out in Guadeloupe and planning some sailing around the Caribbean before heading to Panama. Bernie is filling in time before taking over FL3 in Panama in the new year.

Change of plans

04 December 2016 | Saint Vincent Cabo Verde
During the last 800nm passage to reach Cabo Verde it became apparent that Simon and Noelia were well and truly up the curve in managing the boat. Noelia steered the yacht on her own for a three hour night watch with the spinnaker up. It was also very evident to me that living in close quarters with a 2 yo was not something I enjoyed. Simon and Noelia raised the question of how long I intended to remain onboard and this prompted me to look at some options. As it turned out after I had helped a yacht sort out an electrical problem, they asked if I was interested in sailing with them as engineer to the Carribean. Simon and Noelia indicated that they would be OK on their own. Actually Simon has previously sailed across the Atlantic solo, so the next big challenge is to do it with a 2yo.

I sail tomorrow on a new 50 ft X Yacht bound for St Barts in the Caribbean. Simon plans to continue this blog with updates on their progress to the Panama canal after which I will take over and bring First Light III back to Australia.

Over and out Bernie

Arrived at Saint Vincent Cabo Verde

29 November 2016 | Saint Vincent Cabo Verde
We had light winds all night so had to motor. Just on dawn we could see the faint outline and peaks of the Cape Verde islands in the distance. Throughout the morning the outline got bigger as we cleaned the boat from stem to stern and even gave the decks a fresh water wash down to get all the salt off. Early afternoon we entered the bay at Mindelo on St Vincent island.and checked in at the Marina then visited Immigration and the policia to do the formalities of entering another country.

Unexpectedly we found many yachts from the ARC rally here. They left over a week ago from the Canary islands to cross the Atlantic, but light winds meant some had made very little progress and had decided to call in to Cape Verde to refuel and wait for better winds.

We also met up with two other Australian yachts heading across the Atlantic as well.

Mindelo is a Portuguese colony populated by Africans. The architecture is very Portuguese and a bit shabby, but by African standards it is in good shape and reasonably clean. A quick reconnaissance revealed plenty of fruit and vegetable markets and a really good fish market.

We have the usual list of jobs to do which will keep us busy for a few days then we will have a look around.

133 miles to go

28 November 2016 | Atlantic
It is now day....hmmm...I need to look at the log book. Yes its day 5 of our passage from the Canary islands to Cape Verde islands. The water temperature and air temperature have gone up a few degreed as we slowly get closer to the equator. Yesterday we noticed lots of flying fish getting airborne, obviously escaping some predator below. We had eaten into our fresh supplies so it was time to get serious about fishing. I had made some lures out of rubber glove fingers XL size shredded to look similar to a squid. There was the pink index finger model and a bluish model as well. Each had a few hours over the stern, but no takers. Out came an old lure that looked a bit like a flying fish, apart from a couple of nasty hooks attached. It was deployed and soon after we noticed a large shadow just under the water near the lure. It was over 2 metres long and judging by the vertical fin that broke the surface, it looked like a shark. After a minute of watching it we decided it was not the sort of fish we wanted aboard, so the lure was retrieved ASAP.

A number of other lures have been tried, but still no fish.

Two days ago we veered over towards the African coast to get more favorable winds and it paid off. We sailed with the kite up for 24 hours in 12 to 17 knot winds rarely dropping below 7 to 8 knots boatspeed. But last night the wind pressure eased off and with the confused sea we could not stop the main from crashing about, so reluctantly it was dropped and today we are motoring with the headsail poled out.

Simon had a go at making a foccacia style bread today and it turned out very well indeed. It was baked in a large pizza tray and only took about ten minutes to cook.

One more night to go before we reach the bright lights of Mindelo. A shopping list and job list are already being prepared.

Almost half way to Cabo Verde islands

26 November 2016 | 150miles off the western Sahara coast
Light winds the last 24 hrs, so we are motoring and sailing and a combination of both, This is in contrast to blast we had at the beginning of this passage when we were surfing down waves at 12 knots running before a 20kn wind..

All onboard are well and each day we settle more into the routine of life onboard a yacht at sea. Noelia is now sharing the watches, so this means each of us does three hours on watch then six hours off watch. This hopefully means each gets a reasonable nights sleep that you can top up sometime during the day and also contribute to the entertainment of Max.

I had installed a bilge water alarm recently to give early indication of water in the bilge that I always hope will remain dusty. Around midnight the other night the very loud alarm went off. Holy S,,,t bags. I ripped up a floor panel and sure enough there was water in my dusty bilge. A quick taste test by Simon indicated the water was fresh. The most likely source was either the freshwater plumbing or the shower drain. Simon did not offer another taste test to distinguish between the two, so I investigated. The most likely source was the shower where I found a small crack near the base. We were sailing on a port tack that meant water puddle in the area of the crack and we had all had showers that evening. A quick sponge out of a couple of litres of water and back to bed. Very relieved. Over and out Bern

The first long passage

24 November 2016 | South of Canary islands
From Lanzarote island in the Canaries we sailed overnight to the island of Gran Canaria and berthed in the Las Palmas marina at 6 AM. It was an easy sail with small swell and all the crew travelled well. The ARC transatlantic yacht rally had departed this marina the day before and there was a considerable number of yachts anchored outside the marina waiting to get in. It seems we inadvertently jumped the que as we arrived in the dark and went straight into the marina. We were processed first and were in a berth in no time.

It was a quick stay mainly to fill up one of our gas bottles and replenish fresh supplies for the 800nm trip to the Cape Verde islands. After two nights in the marina we departed and went straight out into some big swells. The short stay in the marina was long enough for some of us to lose our sea legs so it didnt take long before young Max was seasick and later in the day Noelia succumbed. Today the seas have settled somewhat and Max and Noelia have both been able to eat something, so hopefully they will be fine. Sailing wise we sailed most of yesterday wing and wing running directly downwind in 25knots , but today we have had the kite up for about 6 hours, but got headed and we are now sailing with the sheets just cracked....Hmmm this was supposed to be a down wind passage.
Vessel Name: First Light III
Vessel Make/Model: Adams 12
Hailing Port: Melbourne Australia
Crew: Bernie
About: Bernie is passionate about sailing and finally living his dream to cruise long term. Dianne is First Mate and looking forward to many adventures along the way.
First Light III was fitted out and equipped by Bernie and launched in 2004. She is a fractional rigged cutter with a good turn of speed. Specification: Length 12 m. Beam 4m. Draught 2.2m Displacement 7500Kg Engine Yanmar 39HP Saildrive HF radio with email capability High capacity ECH2O [...]
First Light III's Photos - Main
Photos from NC and Vanuatu
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Created 15 June 2009
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Created 14 May 2009

First Light 111 Adventures

Who: Bernie
Port: Melbourne Australia