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NW Passage

1000 miles to go
24/11/2009, 1000 nm NE of Trinidad

It's all relative !
Endless water: boring ?
Before deciding for this trip, I asked myself if I would probably experience this as a boring enterprise, several weeks of endless water with nothing to do and nowhere to escape. Starting already the 3rd week, it all looks different (and very easy): the view is ever changing, depending on daylight, clouds and winds. There is always something to do an a boat, be it during our own "working shift", reacting on surprises of technology, welcoming to frequent "visitors" or cleaning and cooking. Beside the "work", there is ample time for good talks, reading, leisure and sleeping. We still haven't found the need to play cards or other games.
Technology for comfort and safety:
This boat offers every possible infrastructure on electricity, gas and fresh water (water-maker) for showers, pantry with fridge and oven, there are two strong engines plus all kind of navigation control systems to ease handling including wind-control, GPS, radar and autopilot, safety functions like fire-extinguishers, lifevests, signaling buoy, life-raft, MOB (man-over-board) alarm and localization, dinghy and endless extras for control and communications (PC with Satellite Intranet for Meteo or blog-update, Radio for weatherfax up to Satellite phone for medical advice). These systems fully rely on available energy supply and mutually depend on or are backed-up by others. The system complexity is very high, failures have high potential impact, false or soft alarms are quite frequent. Therefore, always a team of two is "on shift" and attentive to supervise them and assure the right manual action is taken when necessary. All the basics were well instructed by our skipper, who regularly gives advice and support. Our best safety measure is permanent attention to risks and proper individual prevention.
Despite our well equipped boat, one might feel quite lost within the huge Atlantic ocean, where the endless universe displays its size exposing all the stars and planets. Careful planning and preparation tried to create maximum autonomy for three to four weeks. Once on our way, any missing item can't even be bought with money. Once we should run out of gasoline, milk or other goods, we would have to accept the consequences patiently. It would definitely not be a real problem, the only values and priorities that count here are humanity, talent and team work, and there is plenty of it all.
Because most people haven't done such a trip, it could be considered an adventure, which seems to require an extra portion of courage. In 1492, Christopher Columbus had used the same route to explore India. How much more adventure was this for him and his crew, as they had none of our possibilities, no map, no engines, no weather forecasts etc. They did not even know if the world was a ball or flat and prepared for a one year journey. During his trip he had so much wind and speed, that he lied to his crew about the daily miles. By the way, despite all state of the art technology, we seem not even able to break his speed record (182 seamiles/day). On our best day so far we managed 171 miles with 7.1 knots average).
So we better call our "adventure" a unique experience, which we are really enjoying in all aspects. It offers a rare opportunity to get a better understanding - as well of the great universe as of our own views - and put things and ourselves in the right perspective. Watching out for all the stars helps a lot.
Just great !

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
22/11/2009, 1313 nm NE of Trinidad

The catch of the day was a beautiful Wahoo. Because Philipp was having his beauty sleep (...), I was able to wheel it in myself. What makes it special for me is that I named my boat in Zurich the Wahoo II and that this is actually the first time I saw one alive. Both the boat and the fish are fast and elegant! The Wahoo (the fish) can get up to 2 meter long. The Wahoo in our picture for some bizarre reason looks smaller than it actually was, in any case it should be close to two meters as well. The other catch was a good size tuna during the morning shift, so dinner is again secured!

Back to the order of the day. Because it is Sunday, Ruedi made the traditional Zopf. For the non-Swiss readers, this is a white bread shaped like braided hair. So I guess all Swiss girls must wear their hair like this on Sunday otherwise the tradition doesn't really make sense?!

For the last few days we had very good wind and made good progress. We are averaging around 7knots with top speeds around 11 knots. The wind is East and there is a nice swell from the same direction both pushing us towards Trinidad. With this speed we should arrive around the 2nd of December.

The wind speed we cannot read anymore because the wind meter broke down last evening. Owning a French built boat is I guess the same experience as owning a French car! Sylvain is trying to fix it, but is for obvious reasons not to keen on getting in the mast with the wind and the waves we are having. He left a message with the producer of the wind meter, so let's keep our fingers crossed..

So life on the Libellule is still good, crew is still intact, in good shape and we are looking forward to having an iced cocktail in Trinidad!

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
1650 miles to go
20/11/2009, Somewhere WnW of Capverde Islands

1650 miles to go

We finally crossed the 'magic' 20 degree N latitude and are now officially in the trade wind zone. And guess what: the trade winds have started! They are still a bit weak ie around 3-4 Bft but they blow from ESE which is perfect. Also, the weather forecast looks reasonably good for the next few days. As a result, we increased our speed from 5 Kn motoring to about 6.5 Kn sailing. Trade winds are great as they are usually very stable and always more or less from the same direction. However we need to be super vigilant all the times, as some of the darker clouds (see picture above) contain heavy winds, hitting us out of nowhere, particularly at night.

We're currently about 600 Nm NW of Capverde Islands and 1650 Nm NE of Trinidad, all by ourselves in the middle of this gigantic ocean. Over the last 7 days, we saw only one boat from very far away. It was a cargo going to Ireland, of all the places. Apart from that, nothing, except for a few turtles, flying fish, the odd seagull and a blind passenger African cricket (which yesterday committed suicide by drowning).

The mood of the crew is good, daily routine has become routine and most of us are focusing on good books and getting a decent sun tan. The food is great, except that we ran out of fruits, veggies and fresh meat, but everything else is still in abundance - we even had a Dutch stampot the other night and a panettone for breakfast this morning. And we continue to catch doradas and bonitos every now and then.

The boat is in good shape, but as is apparently the case with most boats, there is always something to fix, repair or calibrate. For instance, this morning the auto pilot stopped working, than the electronic compass fell apart. Also we're still trying to work out where the small water leakages in both hulls come from.

Hasta mas tarde


PS: Peter hat sich gefreut, dass Beatrice den Blog Link gefunden hat, und laesst liebe Gruesse ausrichten...

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
La pêche sur Libellule, une science aléatoire…
18/11/2009, Somewhere NW of Capverde Islands

Mercredi 18 novembre 2009
20°42'N / 029°55'W
ENE 4 à 5 / 7nds au 254°
Grande voile et Génaker en papillon

La pêche sur Libellule, une science aléatoire...

Sur babord, un lancé (canne + moulinet), bas de ligne multiple selon feeling, une longueur de fil entre cinquante et cent mètres. A son actif, une dorade et un thon, pas mal.
Au milieu, une ligne standard avec élastique + tresse + bas de ligne acier avec poulpe rouge. Résultat nul, zéro poisson.
A tribord, la même ligne qu'au milieu mais une bonne réussite : un thon, deux dorades, et deux dorades monstrueuses loupées pour cause de casse du bas de ligne.

Le plus important dans tout cela c'est ce qu'on a dans l'assiette, et un bon poisson, préparé avec amour à la crème fraîche sauce soja, farine beurre, marinade citron huile d'olive poivre, c'est délicieux...

Salivez bien, et à bientôt.


4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
Warten auf den Wind
16/11/2009, Somewhere N of Capverde Islands

Sonntag, ein schoener Tag, Sonne, gute Sicht, flache See. Leider wenig Wind. Dank dem in der Nacht gebackenen Zopf und Brot haben wir gut gefruehstueckt. Merci Ruedi. Nachdem wir den Tag langsam angehen konnten, wir uns der Sonne aussetzten, Broschueren ueber Takelage, Bordinstrumente, Navigation, Sternenkunde studierten oder in einem Buch lasen, gings richtig los . Treibstoff, wurde nachgefuellt. 286 Liter mussten aus 13 Kanistern in den Tank gefuellt werden. Dann das Deck schrubben um die Dieselrueckstaende zu beseitigen und alles wieder aufzuraeumen. Zwischendurch gabs belegte Brote aus dem restlichen Zopf und Brot, welche wir mit Schinken, Wurst, Eier, Kaese und Tomaten belegt hatten. Schlussendlich stieg Philippe noch aufs Bike. Siehe Foto. Vermutlich um seinen Hunger noch mehr anzuregen. Wie es sich an einem Sonntag gehoert, gabs ein entsprechendes Nachtessen. Entrecote, gebratene Kartoffeln und Salat. Es hat gemundet. Jedenfalls ist aufgegessen worden. Dann eine wunderschoene Nacht in der wir unsere Sternenkunde auffrischen oder ergaenzen konnten. Zwischendurch hatten wir sogar etwas Windunterstuetzung. Ruedi und Peter konnten zwei Wenden fahren. Nun ist es Montagmorgen, es regnet und der Wind hat leider nicht zugelegt. Und dazu kam noch, dass uns ein gefangener Fisch, Dorade corrifene, sicher ein Meter lang, (oder waren eventuell die Augen so weit auseinander) im letzten Moment wieder entwichen ist. Ja wir sind ja Bescheiden, wir begnuegen uns vorerst mit den drei kleinen Fischen resp. den Filet's davon, die wir gestern geangelt hatten und jetzt im Kuehlschrank liegen. Nun geht's wieder aufwaerts. ‸dr Sunne entgaege!"

Sorry," my bad englisch" hat's nicht zugelassen, dass ich in der Bordsprache geschrieben habe.
Gruss von allen Peter

PS: Hoi Pap, gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag! Alles goed hier, we hebben een zuidelijke koers zodat we snel in de Passaat wind zitten. Voorspellingen zijn goed 4-6 Bft. Verder weer dolfijnen gezien en een paar goede fotos gemaakt. Zie je in December. Groetjes, Rob

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
14/11/2009, Somewhere SW of Canary Islands

Bad news first. We are still waiting for good wind and therefore have to "sail" mainly via the engine. According to the weather forecast we can expect better conditions within the next three days. We will keep you posted.
We could already sight some dolphins around our boat. They obviously like us as they came back a few times. Our crew is still arguing about whether these are "Zuegeldelfin", "blau-weisser Delfin" or "Grosser Tuemmler". I hope we have figured this out by the end of our trip. If you are a dolphin expert and able to identify them with the picture above, you are more than welcome to leave us a comment.
Yesterday, we made our first swimming stop out in the Atlantic. Armored with snorkeling gear we explored the "deep blue sea". There wasn't really much to explore though, besides the dirt at the bottom of the boat (which was cleaned by heroic Rob and Philipp) and some jelly fish.
Today the main task was to repair the water maker which was was heavily leaking. But our onboard mechanics Sylvain and Philipp were able to successfully bypass the freshwater outlet between the water maker and the water tank. We have to mention the full commitment for working on a weekend, which is highly appreciated by all of us.
Last but not least we want to thank you for the comments and let you know that everybody is in good condition, all of us are enjoying the good weather and trying our best to be "not too busy" ;)

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
First tuna (bonita) catch provides fresh Sushi dinner
12/11/2009, South of Gomera

This is our crew:

Sylvain, our young French skipper, has a lot of experience on transatlantic turns. Immediately at arrival, he thoroughly checked all equipment on board, making sure all works well.

Philipp, the boat owner, has done a huge amount of preparation to make this trip as save and convenient as possible. Together with Ruedi, they carried loads of fresh and canned food, drinks and not to forget, lots of extra gasoline to substitute potential missing wind. Peter, our senior on board, has a lot of experience as a skipper, enjoys his first transat. Rob, a young Dutchman living in Switzerland since eight years, loves all water sports, despite not having grown up at the seaside. Sandro, our youngster on board, just return from a world trip and has been sailing since he was a kid. Ruedi, another senior and late starter as a sailor, likes to top his sailing experience by his first transatlantic trip.

First days on the water:

After leaving Lanzarote on Tuesday, life on board has quickly started to organize. All crew members did easily get acquainted and contribute to all tasks, be it behind the steering wheel under sail or engine, working in the kitchen, cleaning the boat or getting their portion of sleeping or leisure.
During Tuesday night we headed south under sail with good wind east of Fuerteventura, to pass south of Cran Canaria during Wednesday. Most of the time, there was enough wind for sailing (3-4 Bft). Sylvain installed his simple fishing gear and soon thereafter, the whole crew was busy with a lucky catch, delivering fresh Sushi for dinner. Not all of us were able to enjoy it, showing slight signs of sea-sickness. But we do hope to catch more fresh fish anyway.

Last night, we enjoyed a dark blue sky with millions of shiny stars making one dream. Smooth winds and easy waves made sure all crew members had a good night sleep. Since this morning we depend more on our strong engines. All of us have shown up for breakfast and feel fit again. Ruedi's first fresh bread was appreciated, but he sees some room for improvement. Today we enjoy lots of sunshine, perfect condition to clean the boat from the last Sahara sand.

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
10/11/2009, Puerto Calero, Lanzarote

One last dinner onshore seperates us from departure. Mix of excitment and nervousness but we are all thrilled about the trip. Weather looks good, nice wind so it should be a good start! We will update the blog during the trip so keep posted!

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
Waiting for the big departure across the Atlantic!!!
05/11/2009, Puerto Calero, Lanzarote

The view from Libellule's mast top, direction SW (Trinidad we are coming..)

4 Lanzarote-Trinidad
à bientôt libellule!
17/10/2009, Arrecife Airport

... et voilà notre "home sweet home flottant" presque prêt pour la traversée de l'Atlantique et notre grand voyage en famille débutant pour de bon l'année prochaine.
Les vents tranquilles de ces 2 semaines nous ont permis de découvrir en douceur la magnifique côte de lanzarote, le tout entrecoupé par de belles escapades à pied, à vélo ou en voiture à l'intérieur de l'île. En douceur oui, mais en sueur aussi: qui aurait cru que pour devenir marin, il fallait être aussi mécanicien, électricien, couturier, électronicien, menuisier, escaladeur de mât., spécialiste en bonbonne de gaz... ???
En tous les cas, nous comptons maintenant les jours pour retrouver libellule!

3 Lanzarote
je connais quelqu'un qui préfère le vin aux musées...
16/10/2009, teguise

.. alors grosspapi, il y en avait combien des cactus dans notre dé-li-cieux musée?

3 Lanzarote
13/10/2009, Isla de Lobos / Fuerteventura

Youpi wir sind auf Isla de Lobos .
Heute sind wir an einem Sandstrand gewesen.
Ich (naima)und Line haben Schildkroeten gespielt.
Dann schwammen ich ,Line und Papi bis zum Schiff.
Jetzt Jassen wir wieder.

3 Lanzarote
Ein schoener Tag
11/10/2009, Marina Rubicon

Gestern waren wir auf echten Vulkanen! Ueberall waren grosse und kleine Steine.
Wir sind mit einem Bus dazwischen gefahren. Danach gingen wir Japanisch essen.
Sushi`s ,tempura`s ,sooba und miso soap. Es war sehr gut.
Aber am schoensten war dass Grosspapi dabei war!

3 Lanzarote
Caleta del Sebo
07/10/2009, Lanzarote

Hallo wir sind gestern im Hafen Caleta del Sebo angekommen.Gestern sind wir auch Velo gefahren.Wir haben sie gemietet.Mit den Velos sind wir an einem Strand gefahren. Dort hatte es Riesengrosse Wellen. Wir durften nicht ganz hinein weil die Wellen dich mitreissen koennten.Heute muessen wir die Velos wieder zuruekgeben.

3 Lanzarote
Fahrt nach Graciosa
05/10/2009, Lanzarote

Hallo Wir sind in Lanzarote.
Wir gehen nach Graciosa.
Da gibt es sehr schoenes Wetter.
Leider haben wir noch kein Delfin oder sonst ein
anderer grosser Fisch gesehen.

3 Lanzarote
Arrival in Lanzarote
26/09/2009, Puerto Calero

Finally, arrival in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, amidst flying calamar and other strange creatures. Tired but happy. And yes, the beer tasted really great in Puerto del Carmen!

2 Valencia-Lanzarote
The great tuna hunt
24/09/2009, Atlantic

First we were wondering why my fishing line got ripped off the boat twice in a row, including bait and everything. Until we spotted some really big yellow fin tuna chasing herring.

2 Valencia-Lanzarote
Gennaker, genoa or main sail?
24/09/2009, Atlantic


2 Valencia-Lanzarote
Dolce vita
23/09/2009, Atlantic

who are these three good looking guys?

2 Valencia-Lanzarote
Sunset on the Atlantic
22/09/2009, Valencia-Lanzarote: Atlantic

The ultimate proof that the Swiss are everywhere..

2 Valencia-Lanzarote

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