November 26, 2011,, Somewhere in the Atlantic
We passed the 1000nm this morning, only 1700nm to go says Terry!
I'd feel more excited if the wind had not deserted us: our downwind run
came to a halt yesterday when the wind turned to the S-SE, meaning we had
to head south to keep a good angle and our speed up. It worked for most of
the day, with the main sail and gennaker up, we averaged 9knots; only
problem was, we were heading to Brazil. So we decided to resume heading
west today, with very light easterly winds, our sails flopping and the boat
wallowing under 5 knots. Very frustrating day, after hours of chasing the
wind we ended up running the engine for a while (we need it to recharge the
batteries anyway, as our battery chargers are playing up, but that's
This crossing has confirmed one thing about our boat: she sails quite fast
on a beam reach even in light winds, and beautifully downwind provided it
blows at least 15 knots. Anything lighter, we'd need to swap our gennaker
for a lightweight spinnaker but I heard enough stories of torn spinnakers
to decide against them. We're not racers after all, and our sailing
arrangements have served us well so far. I keep reminding Terry that our
cat is comfortable enough that being at sea for a few extra days really
doesn't matter (as long as the weather is good of course!). Marc and Anne
don't mind either: with plenty of food to eat and DVDs to watch, they're
happy. Take today: hamburgers and chips, followed by a James Bond movie. At that rate, the main concern will become the lack of exercise!!
November 25, 2011,, Somewhere in the Atlantic
Today's log is inspired by Eleanda, one of our group's net controllers for
the SSB radio sched. Every boat who checked in this morning was asked by
Nigel if they had a particular story to tell, beside their position and the
wind direction. 3 topics came up: food, fishing and equipment failure.
Some crew had fishing stories similar to ours: lost a few lures and meters
of lines to big specimen, but still managed to catch something.
And while it was sad to hear about the misfortune of a couple of boats who
have had to turn around or divert to Cap Verde due to breakdown, it was
fascinating to listen to Thanksgiving menus on some of the american boats
(turkey and pumpkin pie!), bread making efforts, steak dinners, pre-dinner
For our part, after 2 days of sashimi, baked fish, fish tartare, mexican
fish wrap, and grilled fish on rice, Terry and the kids begged me to
freeze the rest and cook sausages for dinner! Ironically, as we were about
to bring the lines in, a large marlin took our lure and probably 40% of our
line...even Terry knows when he's defeated and was happy to see it go.
November 25, 2011,, Somewhere in the Atlantic
Bonjour a tous,
Comme nous sommes une famille franco-australienne, n'oublions pas nos
lecteurs francais avec qui nous nous faisons une joie de partager notre
Les fiestas de l'ARC sont derriere nous, et depuis dimanche, nous suivons
une routine beaucoup plus calme en mer. Apres un depart plein d'emotion, et
les 2 premiers jours a naviguer en compagnie, nous nous retrouvons tous
seuls en plein ocean. La traversee se passe bien, on a de la chance, jusque
la la meteo nous a ete favorable, vent arriere de 15-20 noeuds qui nous a
permis de faire cap a l'ouest directement. Ce n'est qu'aujourd'hui que nous
avons vire un peu plus vers le Sud pour suivre le vent. Certains bateaux
sont bien plus au nord, d'autres plus au sud (presque au Cap Vert!), tous a
la recherche d'une bonne brise. On decouvrira quelle etait la trajectoire
ideale, une fois arrives a St Lucie.
Merci a notre ami Philippe en France et la fille de Terry a Sydney, qui nous
suivent sut le site web de l'ARC et nous communiquent notre classement. Meme si l'ARC nous transmet les positions des bateaux tous les jours, c'est a nous de les reperer sur la carte. Pas evident quand il y a + de 230 bateaux, mais bon, ca nous occupe aussi.
Pour notre equipage reduit ( nous ne sommes que tous les 4), le but n'est
pas d'arriver en premier, mais d'arriver en bonne sante, sans rien casser
sur le bateau, et de passer de bons moments a bord. Securite, fun et
performance, dans cet ordre la! La vie a bord est tres confortable pour le
moment: personne n'est malade, le bateau se comporte tres bien, on
bouquine, on mange, on dort, les enfants profitent de ce que l'ecole soit
finie pour regarder leurs DVDs en boucle. Et depuis hier, la peche se
revele tres productive: 2 belles dorades coryphenes, qui vont nous assurer
au moins 3 ou 4 repas. Et mon frigo que j'avais rempli depuis Las Palmas!
November 22, 2011,, Somewhere in the Atlantic
Our wish has been granted: the wind finally increased to a steady 15-20
knots last night blowing from the north east, which allowed us to sail at 8
knots average. Still no need to adjust the sails, the boat is going
beautifully, with very little help from the crew!
While Terry still thinks we should go faster, I for one see an inconvenient
to high speed: it makes it near impossible to catch a fish. We have 2 heavy
duty fishing rods on both sides, each carrying 100+ pounds strength lines.
We set them up every morning, hoping to catch lunch or dinner (or both).
Today both lines got a strike: the lure on the starboard one was snapped
right off, with barely a fight; while the line on the port side was taken
for a few hundred meters with such speed that we had no way of stopping it
let alone reeling it in. With our sails set as scissors, and the boat
flying at 8.5 knots, it was impossible to turn and slow down, so we decided
to "tow" the fish hoping it would get tired and let itself be pulled in.
With the rod bent to 45 degrees, we all retreated to the safety of the back
deck (in case it snapped) and waited. Not for very long, after 5 minutes,
the rod sprang back, the tension on the line was no more and the fish was
gone! Mixed feelings among us: I'm personnally glad it got away, whatever
it was would have been a nightmare to bring in. Skipper is upset at losing
his lure, and the kids "just wanted to see the fish"!
I wonder if any of the slower boats are catching any fish. In the meantime,
with no catch of the day, I resorted to plan B and baked lusciously rich
brownies, which rounded off our dinner of mushroom and bacon soup.
As I write, Marc is watching RAMBO, and has me wondering if he'll learn any
fishing tips from this. Not to be defeated, the lines will be back in the
water in the morning, persistence will pay off!
November 21, 2011,, Somewhere in the Atlantic
We've spent most of today discussing the merit of having a spinnaker.
It all started in the morning as we were being passed by ACOOL TURABI, a
Swan 82. The wind had dropped to 8 knots and while we struggled to retain a
speed over 6 knots, she breezed past at 12 knots with full main sail, a big
spi, and 6 crew on deck. Later in the day, we watched BLUE OCEAN, another
L560, sail well ahead (actually we only spotted their big blue spinnaker
in the horizon) then it was GUNVOR XL, an X55, who crossed behind us all
sails out on a starboard tack (so technically, they're not ahead of us,
just on another heading!)
Are we envious? A little, wishing we could keep up. But these big
spinnakers require crew on deck to take them down and since we don't have
5 or more adults to help with sail changes, manoeuvres and watches, we'll
have to stay content with our gennaker/headsail combo, which once set up,
requires very little effort to maintain a downwind run. This works for us,
there is no pressure on the boat or the crew, and the ride is comfortable.
Life on board is good: cooked pancakes for breakfast, grilled lamb chops and
vegetables for dinner, sat down with a small bowl of chocolate ice cream and
watched the movie of the day "Forrest Gump".
Now all we need is for the wind to pick up a bit then it will be perfect.
November 20, 2011,, Off Las Palmas
Well after two frantic weeks of preparations, we are finally gone and it
Our boat is a Lagoon 560 catamaran and we are a family of four sailing back
home to Sydney...eventually. Ours is a fairly reduced crew (myself, husband
Terry and 13 y.o Marc) compared to some of the teams surrounding us, but we
have been sailing this way for as long as I remember, and so far it's
worked for us. It just means we'll arrive in St Lucia a little more tired
This is our second Atlantic crossing, but our first ARC. Participating in
such a large rally has meant modifying our routine a little: updating our
safety gear, brushing up on first aid and emergency handling skills, and
most importantly remembering that we are part of an event involving others.
Take today's start for example: the kids and I always get sea sick but we
normally don't take any medication preferring to soldier on "the natural
way" for the first 2 days, leaving our skipper in charge. Well, with over
200 yachts on the water today, we decided sea sickness had no place to be
and dosed ourselves with Sturgeron to remain alert. And what a difference
it made: been able to run around the deck, actually enjoyed the start of
race and took photos, even managed to keep lunch down! Here we are, 9 hours later, just finished a nice dinner of beef carrot stew and pasta, am now
typing away while the kids are watching the movie "Transformers". Skipper
is shaking his head and decided to have some shut eye while his normally
useless crew is feeling well. Must say, could not ask for better conditions
for a first night watch: moderate NE winds, we are running our gennaker and
headsail in a scissor pattern, sailing downwind at an average of 9 knots.
The boat is cutting thru the water beautifully, it's a smooth ride, the sky
is clear and littered with stars. What are the odds it will stay that way
all the way to St Lucia?