Atlantic Circuit 2011-2012
07 May 2012
Tuesday 24th July 2012
Well, we finally made it to Oh my gosh, Lagosh! 10,000 miles and 1 year on we've crossed our outward track and completed our Atlantic circuit...knackered! (Or have I said that already?)
Lagos is interesting. Populated by a strange English speaking race with sore looking pink, red and white skin
The town is nice dating back to nearly 1995. Apparently in 2002 there was a 5.8 size earthquake and £2.4 billion of improvements were made!
The marina is situated up the river nestling among the condos, bars and palm trees. Sweltering hot by mid day but fortunately a land breeze kicks in and by 2pm its blowing hard off shore. Fun to watch the pedallos and kayaks fighting for their lives before they're blown to Africa.
We loaded up the boat yesterday to start heading east towards Gibraltar and the Med.
We've stopped in a "windswept" lagoon outside a small town called Alvor. Quite prettyt, touristy and the 2 - 4m channel is just wide enough to swing. We had 4 inches beneath us at low water last night!
Heading into town now to see if any of the 4 Irish Bars has live music
Wed 18th July 2012
Well, almost there bar the shouting or at least almost there bar the shipping separation zone.
With unfortunate timing we arrive at the 25 mile wide separation zone about 01:00 so, it should give us an interesting night as it's relatively busy round this corner. The good news is that with AIS we can already see who we have to contend with and better still, with AIS and our active radar transponder they can see us.
The wind continued to back today so now we're doing what would have been nice all along, that is doing 8 knots on a reach in the sun, sparkling waves and just romping along. It's very wet at night from condensation and very hot by 10 or 11am. It's still difficult to move around the boat and this time, I will be adding more hand holds around the boat.
By this time tomorrow, we will either be tucked up in Lagos marina, having taken out a small mortgage for the nightly fees or anchored off a beach just around the cape of Sao Vincente. We're due 2 or 3 free nights in Lagos from our ARC Europe entry so we're going to try and cash that in.
Once we're landed, we'll be intouch.
Case of the Double Crash - 16 July
Now in our 3rd day of crashing to windward through reasonably large seas and delighted to have solved the case of the extra crash.
Lucie, Fi and Myles if you're reading will maybe remember the day after the start if the ARC when, a few days out, after enjoying the, "whoo hoo, look at us creaming along" fun of trade wind sailing turned upwind to do something with the mainsail and whoo hoo suddenly turned into "where the 'eck did these ginormous waves come from?" followed by crash, crash crash as the boat lifted to the crests and crashed down the other side.
Well, we've been doing that for 3 days now although, with the long keel, the crash is only infrequent but ....... what we were getting last night, in the dark, was a double crash.
I was lying in my pit as we bashed along at about 6 knots feeling the boat rise and fall waiting each time for the crash. Sometimes it came, sometimes it didn't.
But then, when it came, there was a crash / crash. What was the second one. In the dark I explored al the possibilities; anchor loose, mast pumping, loose rigging, forestay unwinding.... all the scenarios got worse the longer I puzzled it out. Lost a lot of sleep worrying about that, peering out the windows, looking up the mast, checking the rig.... nothing
Then, this afternoon Anne said we needed to eat the apples. "Why's that?" says I. Well, every time the boat comes off a big wave the net they're suspended in swiings .....and, you guessed, crashes against the cabin! Maybe get some sleep tonight.
The wind is slowly backing so we're slowly leveling out and our visit to Casablanca has changed to Tangier. If it goes the way it should we should lay Lagos by this time tomorrow.
Gentlemen don't go to windward... - 15th July
Well, the saying just goes to prove we're not gentlemen. After a windshift last night when we finally came up enough such that we were laying Portugal it veered again and now we're back on course for Casablanca.
We've been hard on the wind all day plugging into seas doing 5-6 knots with only the very occasional splash over the front. The wind is expected to back so hopefully tonight, with 400+ miles to go we'll get the change.
Highlight of the day has been the aft head getting blocked. Think I'll leave that for another day as we've just had a one pot dinner of M&S steak, carrots and Smash.
Given next years plan is to make for Norway it's beginning to seem like a long way. However, compared to this year it's nuthin'. In the next couple of days we'll cross our outward track thus "tying the knot" on our Atlantic circuit. 10,000 miles in 12 months - not bad.
Before I close, Ian, will you please send a reply as I'd like to check this woffle is getting through.
S & A
Where we going? - 14th July
37 17 .2N
When I was about 17 I did a year end delivery trip from Greenock to Falmouth delivering the Ocean Youth Club boat to its winter berth.
Half way down the Irish Sea we got stuck in a gale and after 3 days ploughign back and furrit across the wastes the skipper said we'd put in to a place called Dunleery.
Search the chart as much as I could there was no sign of this place. Wexford, Dublin, Howth but no Dunleery just a place called Dun Loaghaire. (George will remember it well. Of about 10 or 12 on board, after 3 days only the skipper, Colin, George and I were left standing. Everyone else was comatose in their bunks - one puking into my trainers) - funny what you remember!). Anyway, much the same, a few decades on, for anyone looking at charts of where we're headed, it's Lagos. Not the Lagos in the middle of 30 years of civil war in the African cost but much as Dun loag air is pronounced Dunleery we're going to Lahgosh in Portugal.
(Can you tell it's been a quiet day?)
Anyway, hard on the wind today in 15 knots and sunshine and finally have the main up pretending we're serious yotters. Not much going on here.
Ponta Delgada was nice and the island very fertile and cultivated. Not really sure who was doing the farming though as the favourite passtime seems to be what they'd call in Glasgow, "stonnin' aboot" ususally outside a cafe cum boozer.
We toured the island from end to almost end and top to bottom. Pleasant whitewashed villages and quiet roads with superb views from the rims of the volcano craters. We have mixed reports of the Algarve and into the Med so not sure what comes next. They can't even get the spelling right!
Plodding Along - 13th July
Here we are plodding along. Dead run with 15 knots so just got the genoa out - taking it easy.
Probably another 6 days to go. The wind is due to head over next couple of days so that might slow us down but otherwise, sunny days, overcast nights and the usual dolphin stuff going on.
Chicken casserole for dinner! Nights seem long when you're not used to them and not much decent sleep last night so it was pretty quiet during today as we slept most of it.
Tuned in on the SSB waiting for Herb the weather router. This guy is an amateur weather forecaster who provides his services for free. He's been doing it for decades and has a strong following in the ocean sailing community. However, atmospherics may not be right tonight to get him all the way from Canada. Glad I don't live next door. The neighbours brains must be getting fried with all the radio waves.
Anne's in bed just now 'till midnight so I'll watch the sun go down and take us a few miles further east. The horizon is a little blacker and the wind is gently freshening so hopefully we'll get a good run tonight and my conscience will be clearer and justify not bothering to put the main up.
10.7.12 - Getting ready
Hi all. We are still in the Azores this warm and overcast Tuesday morning. Now trying to convert the caravan back to a boat so we can set sail. We have had a lovely few days here. It was a big religous festival here for 4 days. On Saturday there was a major parade through the town. Each parish has its own colours and float covered in flowers. The theme is giving out bread to the poor so all the floats gave away sweet bread and wine. The floats were small red wooden carts pulled by two very large brown cows or bulls.Lucie would have hated it!!! The parade took 2.5 hours to pass the marina so a lot of bread and wine was consumed by the hundreds of spectators lining the streets. The local down and outs had a field day.
On Sunday the parade was repeated but this time a very solumn marching of people following their town banner all dressed in Sunday best. No free give aways this time. It took 3.5 hours to pass this time, I gave up and joined Stuart in the pub watching Andy Murray.Tennis isn't big here so he was the only one in the pub. What a shame Andy lost.
Yesterday we hired a "scooter" and did the island ( a 650 "scooter" that only dads with licences can drive ). It was so overcast that there was no point in going high so we followed the coast and took shelter in old farmers pubs when the rain came on. Fascinating islands. Thermal pools in the sea which I think is unique.Lots of blue hydrangeas lining the country lanes, which is what the Azores are famous for. We had a great day out but very tiring holding on for 9 hours.Lots of tight corners that we took with my eyes shut, just like being back at disney. It is tempting to stay a bit longer and visit the last island, San Marie but that is only putting off the final ocean crossing.
Need to go and look out the thermals. I know the last time, 4 years ago , when we left the Azores I got badly sun burnt. This time I suspect we will just get cold and wet!! What has happened to the summer!!
all for now.
Hi from San Miguel in the Azores
Hi all from warm and cloudy Ponta Delgada on San Miguel in the Azores. Its Anne here because Stuart is watching our Andy playing in the semi finals this afternoon and we are camped for the third day this week in a cafe on the prom. Gran Irene would be proud, she loved Wimbledon !!
So, we made it back to the boat after 3 hectic weeks back at home and work. We ate out so much that the diet started yesterday and will have to continue until further notice. Its not a problem here as they have wonderful local produce and we have been to the local market nearly every day.
Been out on our new bikes exploring and had our first puncture. Needless to say it was when we were at the furthest point from the boat so it was a long walk home. Had to visit the Specialized shop in town and nearly came home with a folding battery operated bike - how cool would that be. One for the camper van days.
Are we any nearer deciding where to go next ? Well not really. This is a strange place, full of French and Norwegians who don,t know where to go next either. Quite a lot of boats left long term. Don't think I fancy that as the poor boat was a sorry state when we got back. Lots of mould and damp and we were only away 3 weeks. At least I have had something to do while Stuart watches the tennis.
It is not summer here yet either which is a bit disappointing. Only sunny for a couple of hours yesterday, not at all today. We are here at festival time - a religious festival so lots of noisy bell ringing but lots of parades tomorrow. The feeding the poor with bread and cakes, a ceremony we witnessed in Horta a few weeks ago but on a grander scale here. Last night we were were at a free concert in a tent on the prom beside the marina. Very good but very cold and we were wearing our fleeces. A bit like last Saturday on Lucies deck after the Eddie Reader concert.
We will only update this blog weekly , on a Friday if we can. We should be at sea , if not nearly at mainland Europe, by this time next week. Only 6 days of 4 hours on 4 hours off left to go.About 900 miles. No problem to Timebandit .
Hoping for good weather. Will keep you posted.
Horta - 31.5.12
Horta 30th May
That's it. The fat lady has sung and we're tied up, rested and partying with 2,440 miles behind us.
Pouring with rain for last few days and this mornign 45 knots through the marina as some of the last boats fought their way in through some pretty heavy weather and very large seas. Quite glad we're in ahead of it.
The partying has started and we have various tours and social events this week before starting our Azorean cruise, heading for Ponta Delgada then flights home on 8th.
Hopefully you enjoyed some of the woffle and it gave a flavour of what we've been doing.
The blog will resume around 8th July.
By: On Friday, 01 June 2012 Views(87) edit Delete
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Waiting for the Fat Lady - 28.5.12
38 29 N
As they say, "It's Not Over Till The fat lady Sings" however, we're within 50 miles of Horta, almost in sight of land and certainly well within helicopter rescue range........ so we're feeling quite relaxed!!
We had been beginning to think the the "Azores High" was actually the "Azores Hi" and was merely how the locals greeted each other. However, while it once again dawned cold and grey, about lunchtime it cleared up and we've had a good downwind day in the sun and 15 - 20 knots. Crossed fingers this carries all the way to the finish.
We're in whale watching territory and also prime game fishing waters so maybe, after hundreds of miles of trawling we'll maybe catch something.
Many of the other boats have been hauling them in daily but as usual, we have our grand total - ZIP.
We pulled up the gennaker today but as we don't have a dedicated tack attachment we fly it from the crown of the anchor attached to the bow roller. No sooner had we got the kite flying than the roller started to bend alarmigly so after 20 minutes preparing it for hoist and 15 seconds flying we spent another 20 minutes putting it away.
That was pretty much all the excitement today and we've spent much of it snoozing catching up on lost hours as last night was quite noisy, wet and miserable.
We've been chasing knots for the last 2 days to try and get us in before dark but right now, our ETA is about midnight. If it's too dark to find the quay we'll have to anchor which might be a good thing as Anne has her eyes set on the fancy hotel at the top of the town.
As usual, we have a list of repairs to get into as soon as we get cleared through customs tomorrow and then we can begin to truly relax and enjoy being ashore and the ARC social circuit.
So, that's pretty much it for today. Last instalment tomorrow.
Time Bandit - The Highs & Lows - 27.5.12
The highs, the crests that is, have been about 4 metres higher than the lows, the troughs.
It's been a pretty rough day, this, our penultimate day at sea. The wind built steadily all day yesterday and we went from motoring in a slop to running reefed in the dark in just a few hours.
Over night, we saw only the second yacht as a red masthead quite close to us. As we thought this could be another single hander, snug asleep in their bunk we let out a reef and scooted off into the night leaving him in our wake with his light receding to a pinprick then nothing.
Dawn came, much like Anne's sister visiting from a sunless, winter Aberdeen.... grey and cold. The winds had risen to 256 knots and built all day as the sun came out to give a sleigh ride in a steady 30 knots, force 7 in Billy Beaufort speak. Under 2 slab reefs and half a genoa the beige battleship crashed on eastwards hitting 8+ knots on every second wave. Our maximum on the instruments shows 12.4! (Maybe we should have had a bit less sail up but it was a great ride).
The wind is straight to Horta and we're having to go a good 10+ degrees off track to avoid the crash gybe. The wind will hopefully veer north a shade so we can gybe in the morning and make our final run in to Horta, eta about 10 or 11pm. However, the wind is now dying so the high speeds are dropping and it could be an early morning arrival in the dark.... and don't you love them. Fortunately we've been before so know rthe layout and approach.
Sleeping in all the wind has been tough as we're rolling gunwhale to gunwhale. Good exercise for the core muscles. Not so great for serving pasta.
So, only 178 miles to go, one long, last night. Come to think of it, ocean sailing is like jazz music. You love it when it stops!
P.S. Duogen drive shaft coupling sheared an hour ago. Great concept held together with silly bits of plastic. Fortunately, we're almost there.
Social Networking - Never too old! - 26.5.12
At work I watch with amazement the rush to Social Networking to the abandonment of proven marketing and am as yet to be convinced of the value of "Follow us on Facebook" or "Tweet Us Your Response".
However, inexorably we are drawn into this world, even when 1000 miles from land as the SSB "Social Network" is the glue that binds the fleet while we all wend our way to the next port of call, seemingly alone yet, through the SSB airwaves in company with our own ARC social and support network.
Some might even say it's a form on Internet dating. Slowly, each boat gets to know a little bit more about the others and bit by bit, day by day, little snippets of information are exchanged as confidences grow. Arrangements are made to meet in bars, to have a session on the stars, to show each other their boats. Some apparently fly their wives knickers from the rigging although I'm not sure what message that sends.
Anyway, the SSB network was a haven for many this morning after a frantic night in which the wind came and went and fronts blasted through. After sailing along in a south westerly for the previous 12 hours, in a bout 12 seconds or less, the wind flipped from 15 knots SW to 25 knots from the north.
Crash gybe, preventer holding and driven off in a high speed blast due south instead of east until we got everything under control, gybed and back on course in the new wind. All of this of course in driving rain and the pitch black.
Strangely, it is usually the case that you lie in your bunk listening to the sounds of absolute mayhem on deck. Then, once you get your gear on and get ou there, all is quiet and the on watch are asking what you're looking so alarmed about.
Last night was the opposite. Mayhem on deck yet down below, all was peace and quiet..... so that's where we spent as much time as possible!
We've been fairly diligent maintaining hour after hour of apparently wasted time scanning the empty horizons. Twice yesterday it paid off.
First, we spotted a pod of about 3 or 4 whales just in front and passed within 50 feet. This morning, a lone yacht appeared heading same way as us but no signs of life on board, the skipper fast asleep below presumably recovering from the previous nights fun and games.
350 miles and hopefully just 3 more nights to go and that gets us in ahead of the next wave of weather.
Peter's Sport Bar here we come!
Time Bandit & The Three Bears - 25.5.12
11:00 25th May
We don't know how we sailed 2700 miles to the Caribbean with 5 people on board as, with just two of us we keep bumping into each other, mostly when, like Baby Bear one of us is wandering around looking for the softest, quietest bed.
"I think I'll try the forward cabin". "No, it's too noisy with the staysail moving"
"I think I'll try the saloon" "No, its too bright during the day"....... and on it goes, usually while the other is doing something in what ends up being the "best" cabin. As for the porridge.........
We had a better day yesterday in that we sailed. No engine and enough breeze for a steady 4 knots. As the afternoon wore on, the boats 60 - 120 miles behind were reporting 18 - 20 knots. We had been sailing with the genoa poled out and the gennaker flying to leeward sheeted through the end of the boom but with no mainsail. As the reports of increasing wind came through on the evening net our consideration as to whether to be bold and fly the gennaker all nifght were ditched, as was it.
The wind eventually filled but not until nearly daybreak so we would have got away with it, and made an extra few miles.
There's some weather coming at us from "oop north" or Labrador to be precise so we're pulling the stops out to get us to Peter's Sport Bar in Horta before it arrives. Our eta is late afternoon or evening on the 28th. I'm not sure what time the bar closes but that's the incentive. (More steam McPhail).
The last 48 hours has seen a lot more sealife with dolphins and porpoises making regular visits. They turn up at all times, you can hear their puff in the dark as the expel air going past. We also had what I initially thpought was a waterspout yesterday but turned out to be the "thar she blows" of what must have been a very, very big whale. We're a bit more wary of these beasts now that they've done for one of our number.
So, today, we're bowling along on a broad reach, in a will-we-won't-we about hoisting the gennaker. It's a steady 18 knots just now so we're at the top end and right now, especially as one of the bears is in the softest, quietest bed, caution (sense) prevails and I'll just sit back with a book or.... maybe put an eye splice in that bit of rope....
By: On Friday, 25 May 2012 Views(83) edit Delete
Are we there yet? 23.5.12
36 23N 44 41W
12 noon UTC
Firstly, for all (or any) Yachtmasters out there....
1. What shows a fixed yellow light - or maybe it was a dirty white?
2. and if it's showing 2 vertical reds?
3. and if it has both red and green nav lights?
4. and if it has a flashing yellow above the 2 vertical reds?
The wind finally gave up the ghost about 6am yesterday and we had to put on the donkey until about noon when a light SSE filled in giving us a pleasant yacht along at about 4 knots until early this morning (like 1am) when again, it vanished. We've only just turned the engine off, hopefully for the last time until we get to Horta although its filled in from the north which is the remains of the "old wind" so it could die before the forecast westerly fills in. As soon as we get that we're, wind wise, home and dry, in theory - touch wood.
The weather pattern has stronger winds to the north and while we're gently sailing along, just a touch north of due east there's what seems like a huge 2 maybe 3 metre swell long, lazy swell moving north - south. We just gently rise and fall but given a few more Beauforts you could imagine how these could quickly turn from easy rollers to steep and breaking.
It's a bit ironic that each time we walk the length of the boat we walk past our bright orange storm trysail when there's hee haw wind outside. I once spoke to a guy that sailed an Island packet round the world. I asked him what he had for storm sails. His replay was, "I don't go out in storms". Seemed reasonable then and still does now. I think the percentage of ocean crossings that experience seriously bad weather is just 3%. Hopefully we'll keep in the 97% and the storm sail can stay in its bag, but it does make a comfy pillow.
This ocean sailing stuff really does mess with your body clock. We've tried 4 on, 4 off but the last hour on watch is a killer so we've moved to somewhere between 2 and 3 1/2 and we get up or get relieved as we need it. This more flexible approach is giving more quality sleep and indeed sunbathing!
And so, to the answer to the opening question.
Two nights ago, a light appeared on our horizon. As there was no AIS we thought it would be a fishing boat but as we were 900 miles from land it seemed unlikely. While we were doing a good 6 knots, we were only slowly closing the gap and which was odd as we could see his green starboard light to our red..... but then we'd see a red as if he was coming straight at us.
However, we were slowly closing and about an hour later more lights appeared on the horizon, dipping in and out of view over the swell. "Great", I thought "now we're in a fleet of fishing boats".
As, other than the first boat on which we were closing, the lights of the fleet were dipping on the horizon I estimated they were a good 3-5 miles away. We needed to keep a close eye on them as we were on course to go through the middle of the fleet at a good 6 knots.
Somewhat to my surprise, the fleet of fishing boats 3-5 miles away turned out to be blue flashing lights marking (did you get the right answer??) marking the 5 mile net of a purse seine fishing boat.... about 50 yards away and we were ploughing straight into it.
While with our long keel and now free hanging rudder I was tempted to go over the net I didn't think it was worth the risk so crash tacked and then spent an hour heading the wrong way to get around the boat and its enormous net lit like a mid ocean night club.
1. What shows a fixed yellow light - or maybe it was a dirty white? - Power driven vessel less than 50 metres.
2. and if it's showing 2 vertical reds? - not under command (asleep or busy boogie-ing on the back deck with his disco lights)
3. and if it has both red and green nav lights? - under way
4. and if it has a flashing yellow above the 2 vertical reds? - purse seine boat
Correct? Answers on a postcard.......
Snow Angels - 21.5.12
The wind has veered west and for the last 12 hours we've been goosewinged and bowling along in 15 - 20 knots dead downwind.
While this is different from being permanently heeled, dead downwind means continuous rocking and rolling. Moving around the boat is a permanent dance weaving your way from one end of the boat to the other. Cooking and everything else is a balancing act. As for sleeping; the only way to sleep is to make like a "snow angel" lying spread-eagled to avoid being rolled around the bunk.
At some point during our trip through the Caribbean I picked up a book "Overboard" by Michael Tougias. Given the title neither of us wanted to read it especially as it is a story of "disaster and survival" in waters that were crossing. However, in the absence of anything else yesterday evening I opened it up. About six hours later I put it down, stunned. That might have been because we just sailed these waters, albeit a bit further south and are also an insignificant wee spec in the middle of an empty ocean. If you want a good read, get a copy!
Given the content of the book we thought we'd conduct a risk assessment. The key issues we determined were;
- concussions from flying fruit if the net fruit hammock gives way.
- slipping on a squirt of sun tan cream where you missed trying to lash some over your shoulder.
- cauliflower ear from spending too long chatting on the SSB to the other ARC boats.
- start wearing flares and flowery shirts from a constant audio diet of your old 70's tracks.
- ending up with an eye splice on every piece of cordage, whether it's needed or not, now that I've finally mastered the technique.
More down to earth, we're pressing on, making good headway. Later today, the forecast front and low will start impacting us, the northern route boats are already getting the northerlies with accompanying rain. The centre of the low is likely to bring lighter winds from the north / north east at just 10 knots so we may end up motoring and that might give us a chance to catch some fish. It's interesting how in just 30 or so miles there's two distinct weather patterns. The longer we can stay in ours the better.
Keep checking our position on the fleet viewer at www.worldcruising.com
Stuart & Anne
34 56N 52 12W
1144 miles to go
The fleet seems to be almost at its widest spread point. We're farthest south and a couple up at 37N looking for the low coming through.
Our plan is to hold as we are then trend a bit north as the wind switches. Meanwhile, its full sial and 7.0 - 7.5 knots in 15 -18 from the SSW. We've been making some exceptional runs recording 204 miles in 24 hours yesterday so we're pretty pleased. As long as we don't end up flapping around in the middle of the low then dumped into the middle of the Azores High we'll be OK.
We passed close (ish) to another abandoned yacht last night. They weren't with the ARC so no idea what happened but the crew was picked up by a warship so they could be at sea for some time!
The night skies are clearing so the star show is mightily impressive and that helps while the hours away.
Tonight, the winds should start changing so that will keep us busy.
34 23N 55 23W
1305 miles to go
Over the last few days I've been wondering about whales. On the way out to the Caribbean a pod of may 10 went past us doing 10 - 15 knots. This time, we're going the other way at 8 knots. That makes a closing speed enough to cause some problems which, as you may have read it did last night for the Hanse 370 Outer Limits.
For an hour we heard a freighter calling Outer Limits but with no response. Some time later we saw the western horizon lit up like daylight and we assumed it was the freighter, which we could see on AIS trying to tell Outer Limits to get out its path - which I thought was odd as avoidance would have been simple.
It transpired Outer Limits had hit a whale and were subsequently taken onboard the freighter and are now safely en route to Italy.
There are times when its good to be on our beige battleship. We're also on our way to practice our abandon ship routine!
The barometer is continuing to rise. We keep a chart pinned to the bulkhead and plot the pressure every 4 hours and its been steadily rising over the last day. Consequently, we have another beautiful day, 15 - 20 knots of wind and fetching along at 7.5 - 8+ knots. The high pressure has flattened the seas so less crashing and skin and fur flying!
Our route of choice, the southernmost of the fleet is still looking good and we're about 100 miles ahead of much of the fleet. The problems will arise as the forecast low appears and crosses our path. Those to the north will get more wind and be better positioned to ride the Azores High into Horta,
Time will tell. Our routing expert says we're cool so we'll hang in.
We tried a 3 hour watch pattern last night which was a bit easier but as time goes by we're getting more into the routine - just running out of episodes of Desert Island Discs.
We ran the first pub quiz last night which went down well. Lucie; if you're reading, please send 20 - 30 questions!
Tea is served so I'm outta here!
Need a shorter leg! 18.5.12
We've now been on starboard tack, doing 8+ knots for about 48 hours and are seriously contemplating shortening our right legs. Life at 30 degrees from the horizontal gets wearing!
The sun is still blazing and its shorts and T shirts during the day and fleece with the clear skies at night.
To date we've seen one tanker and one sailing boat and maybe a couple of birds. Not much doing out here other than lying about on deck trying to seal the hatches as rogue waves come onboard and soak the cushions below. (In the doghouse right now).
If you're looking at the Fleet Viewer you'll see we are the southernmost boat but hopefully also one of the farthest east. We're trusting to our weather guru Chris Parker and we'll hold this course aiming for 37N 44W before heading straight for the Azores.
The boat is going great with the Monitor doing all the steering. The more we use it the more we love it. Hands free, amps free steering that follows the wind so no worries about tacking or gybing.
The Duogen is also performing well meeting all our power needs so right now, life is good. The weather is changing as the lows come off the USA and our weather guy says the boats up north are going to get calms and then gales. The daily net chats are all about weather and where to go. Interestingly / worryingly another boat, Scolomanzi (they sailed from Cape Town) is up at 38N on the advice of his weather guru!
We'll see what happens. As long as we're heading east and have wind and full diesel tanks it really doesn't matter that much..... other than winning of course - but then, it's a rally, not a race.
OK... gotta go and trim the sails.
Thursday 17th May
Time Bandit Blog
32 55.9N 61 55.0W
Thirty five boats made the start line yesterday... well 34 actually, I started on the wrong red bouy 200 yards behind everyone else and we then made their way out of Bermuda through the town cut. Squeezing 15 boats through the cut which is about 50 feet wide was interesting especially when the wind died. I think everyone ended up motoring through but it made a fine spectacle as we all headed into the the wild blue yonder.
Except while it was blue, it wasn't wild. The wind at first was a gentle 10 knots but that died away in the evening to zip and many resorted to the engine. Fortunately, the wind filled in about 23:00 rising to a steady 20+ knots and we had an all night 8 knot thrash on a fetch heading east for Azores.
Most, well actually everyone except us has opted for a north route heading up to catch the depressions coming off the USA and avoiding the Azores high. We're keeping further south as the northerly depression is forecast to bring variable and head winds. Our plan is therefore to keep along 32 - 33N until the weekend by which time we'll be up to about 35N and can then decide whether to go below or over the Azores high - if it's there. If you can get online to www.worldcruising.com and look for the ARC Europe fleet viewer you will be able to follow the tracks of the boats and see how we're progressing.
This will be a different trip from the one out here as it's largely up hill all the way. Instead of shorts and T shirts at night its already fleece jackets and oilies. Still.... beats working!
About 06:00 with a loud bang our genoa sheet parted. We were going great guns but probably too much sail for the gusts and the sheets were probably too old for the conditions. Stupidly, I'd tried to change the sheets to a new set I had but as we ran out of time and it got forgotten in the last minute rush for the start. Anyway, there's nothing like rushing around the deck in yer Y Fronts to wake you up while trying to remember if the rabbit goes up the hole before going round the tree or vice versa while hanging on by your toes tying a bowline in the genoa with the ocean crashing past at 7 knots beneath you and spray flying.
Our deck head leaks are back so we've a soggy port bunk and drips on the chart table. Time to slap around some sealant!
Right now we have about 16 knots, blue skies and cruising with one reef at 7.5 knots. I shouldn't say this but, if we can keep this up we'll be in Horta in 10 days. (Guaranteed the wind will now die).
Lunchtime now so off for grub then a kip.
Sunny Bermuda - Thurs 15th
St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
Well, here we go again. having completed the mandatory 1 day tour of the island, we've now "done" Bermuda and can press on!
The customs boys have been here with their carbon copy sets and we've completed all the nonsense paperwork in triplicate so we're set to up sticks and join the start at 13:30 tomorrow.
Our Yellowbrick position tracking device is now live so if you log on to www.WorldCruising.com and select ARC Europe and the Fleet Viewer you will be able to watch our progress on a 4 hourly basis.
The final packing and provisioning is almost done and critically, it's Happy Hour so I'm outta here! More tomorrow once we're under way.
S&A from sunny Bermuda
Friday 11th May
Only one more night and we'll be in Bermuda. Hopefully the weather will improve as it's been grey and squally for the last 48 hours. Last night, one of the ARC boats got hit by lightning and lost their electronics. Better brush up on my sextant!
The wind is due to veer from south to North in next 12 hours so that should keep us busy. Just as long is it keeps blowing we'll be happy.
Other than progress as usual, there's not much else exciting going on. On watch - sleep - eat - on watch then repeat!
Just as I'm finishing there's thunder sounding around us so time to put the GPS's in the oven and start a running plot.
P.S. No sooner got things away than a squall line moved in towards us and we then spent 15 minutes in 40 knots and an hour in driving rain. just like going to Tobermory. Typically, just when we thought we'd made it, the wind then died and we're now slapping around in mid ocean. Oh well.....
Thursday 10th May
Disneyland Meets Atlantic
Yesterday's forecast was that 20 knot winds would fill in from the south and they did that about 04:00.
Since then we've been crashing along in 25 knots + on a broad reach 1st reef and a few rolls in the genoa doing a steady 8-9 knots. This speed gets us off Bermuda about 01:00 on 12th so, only 2 more nights then we'll need to find sonmewhere to heave too as entering in the dark is for the suicidal or very well insured!
The seas are building steadily and it's like one long Disney ride but without the queuing! Occassionally, when our quarter wave meets an incoming crest, the two conspire to have a go at getting into the cockpit. Helps keep you awake.
According to the GRIB weather files we're on the inside of a low that is heading to Bermuda. If we keep up with it we'll hold the southerly breeze till we get there. If it moves faster, then the wind is going to clock around to the north so right now, we're banking some ground to the north in so we don't end up having to beat up to the island in a couple of days.
The start out of Bermuda is on the 16th so, unless we choose to miss that, we're not going to have much time for lunch with Sean Connery, see the island, party and sleep. We'll see what happens.
Tuesday 8th May
STOP PRESS 13:39 8th May
After 3 days of being hard on the wind, the forecast shift just hit. One moment we're at 060, off the layline to Bermuda by miles then click, the wind shifts and we're bang on course, sheets eased and doing 7 knots. The sky has cleared and we're back in blazing sunshine so apparently, we're clear of the front and into the weather pattern that is forecast to see the wind keep going to the south and increase to 20 knots. By that time we'll be scorching along. Another four days at this speed.
Since yesterday, there's been a large swell running with weather waves on top coming in a different angle. It's been pretty lumpy and once again, I have to shelve my thoughts about a fast, sleek J160 or similar. Where we simply ride up the swell and slice down into the trough, spray flying I know a flat bottom racer would be slamming and your teeth dropping on the floor. Maybe we need a second boat?
We spent more time on the DIY yesterday. During the night I pulled up the Duogen to find the prop shaft was missing, disconnected from the prop and either hidden in the mounting tube or on its way to the bottom of the ocean.
Fortunately, it was in the housing but it meant that again, the hole damn thing had to come off. Not much fun in the sea state but it's fixed now and whirring away.
While it was off, and, other than the main engine, it's our only source of power we switched off all the gizmos to save power. It's amazing the amps you use just because you can rather than really need them.
The Monitor wind vane is doing all the steering. I remember when I was drilling holes in the back of the boat to mount the scaffolding that is the frame for the Monitor, "what am I doing to the back of my boat" it looked so ugly. Right now, we wouldn't swap it for anything. It's by far the best bit of kit on the boat. Power free, reliable and steers better than us.
In the last three days we've seen NUTHIN! There have been freighters 50 miles away showing on the AIS but nothing close up. No wildlife other than one daft bird that tried to land on my wind indicator. It was a land bird, not a sea bird and it was headed east so I guess we're going the right way.
Must press on.....
Monday 7th May
At last, we're finally in deep waters after what seems like months sailing around in just a few meters with moving sand banks and coral heads littered around the charts.
I recall about 20 years ago when, after a decade of sailing in and around the south of England in 25 foot deep, green or blue waters being quite intimidated when I took my Contender up to Largs and launched into the deep black waters of the Clyde. It's not the same here as it is a definite relief to have fewer things to bump into!
However, last night, while charging along at about 8 knots in decent sized waves a sandbank appeared out of nowhere, right in the middle of the Florida Straits. I quickly disengaged the autopilot and swerved away to avoid the sands - only to realise it was the reflection of a bronze coloured moon on the water that had just popped up over the horizon. Can't be too careful but felt a bit daft.
The moon is full just now and the nights are very bright other than when a cloud passes over and it's like someone turned down the dimmer switch on our world.
We finally turned the corner at the top of the Bahamas and are back in the Atlantic, at least by name, for the first time since December. Just after dark last night the wind finally put in an appearance and for the last 12 hours we've had a steady 15 knots from the west giving us a run out to Bermuda. This is forecast to last another 24 hours then become light and variable (forecaster speak for "I haven't a clue where it will come from").
Our routine is getting established running 4 hour shifts. Our "day" starts at midnight and I do the first shift and it goes on from then. Now were in these deeper waters and the wind has been up for a while the seas are slowly building. It's only 15 knots but there's white caps sparkling in the sunshine and we're half blinded by sun tan cream infused perspiration running of our foreheads. As we move east and north shorts and deck shoes will slowly be augmented by layers of fleece but for now, it's almost perfect. Goosewinged, 8 nots, Monitor steering and 48 episodes of Desert Island Discs to get through.
We wear our Lifetag automatic position Man Overboard tags all day and at night it's lifejackets and clipped on all the time, only unclipping once in the companionway (why in the companionway? Check YouTube for the Challenge boat crew member who unhooks in the cockpit before going below and tecks a header straight through the guard rails into the Southern Ocean) On Time Bandit, it seems like overkill sometimes but it's good practice.
Just had our dinner so tidying up the boat for night shift. The wind is dropping but we're still making 5.5 knots so let's hope it holds for another 48 hours.
730 miles left to go.
Sunday May 6th
26 43 87N
79 17 15W
So, you sit around in the Florida Keys in 25 knots from the wrong direction, waiting for a flat glassy calm so you can motor to Bermuda!
It started well as we had a cracking 24 hours sailing across the Gulf Stream over to the Bahamas, hitting 8 and 9 knots all night. We left Marathon about 07:00 heading down the Hawk Channel, sneaking out through the reef when we hit the "corner" as the Keys take a slight turn from east to north.
The Florida Straits is a fairly busy shipping channel so it helps keep your attention focused at night. As each of ther Carnival cruise ships goes past, lit up like a fair, we're beginning to think it actually looks quite attractive!
Unfortunately, come the morning, the wind died a death and we've now been motoring for getting on for 12 hours. The forecast shows a front north of us so we're heading north around Grand Bahama hoping to catch the forecast westerly - but I suspect if it comes, it will be tomorrow. If it shows up, we have it for just 24 hours then the prospect of 48 hours "light and variable" before a south wester fills in on Thursday. That's 4+ days away!
If the westerly doesn't show, we may pull into the islands at the top of Grand Bahama. Patience not to mention ear plugs will be required.
The sun is blazing and it's very hot so the waking hours are spent finding shade and reading or fiddling around on various boat jobs.
Other than that, not much to report. We'll be starting dinner shortly and at 18:15 trying to make contact with the ARC fleet that left the BVI and Virginia today on the SSB.
Update from Anne
We flew in from the UK nearly two weeks ago and we have not made much progress since. The boatyard at Tampa had constructed a huge solar panel on our davits, so big that the davits would shurely have given way if we had tried to put the dinghy on too.The panel also got in the way of the duo gen. So , having given them 5 weeks to do the job we then had to ask them to take it all away, which left us with no solar panel. Very annoying, not sure why they didn't do as they were asked. So we were not very popular when we left last Wednesday.
We had an uneventful sail/motor sail down the coast of Florida to the keys but got to Marathon late on Friday night . Anchored off till morning so we could at least see how scary 7 mile bridge was going to be.As it turned out we had 67ft clearance and we are only 62ft to the top of the wind indicator. Plenty of room!!
Stuart had been in contact with an OCC member who lives in Marathon and he offered us berthage outside his house. This is live aboard territory and Harry and Malinda Keith made us very welcome. Just as well because we are still here almost a week later. The weather here has been awful. When we first landed we got caught in terriblr rain storms on the motorway. This continued for a few days. It was fine when we sailed south then as soon as we tied up here the heavens opened for the next 4 days.The wind is also strong and from the east and so there is not much point in leaving here as there would be no where to take shelter outside the Keys.
We have kept ourselves busy, Stuart has rebuilt the duogen almost every day. We really could do with the solar panels.On Tuesday we took the bus down to Key West to clear out of customs and do the tourist thing.Lots of old historic houses and lots of bars with live music. Still tooo cold and wet for anyone to go to the beach so the bars were full of people our age and older. the bars are all staffed by drop outs of our age too. it is a sort of art colony at the end of the world.
Harry and Malinda have been fantastic, taking me to the supermarket and doing my laundry. Harry has a workshop so Stuart can play with the duogen in the dry.They are a very interesting couple. Harry is an International yacht racing judge and has been to the Scottish Series for the past 10 years. He has also done the Classic Malts and is a member of Clyde Cruising Club. This year they have already done an event in New Zealand and also the Bequia and Granada regattas. They leave this house here in Marathon soon to take their boat north for the hurricane season, Maine and Nova Scotia the usual destination.
Today has to be the day we leave. Our papers are only valid until lunch time today so we will go for fuel and water then poke our nose outside and hopefully just go for it. next stop meant to be the Grand Bahamas before we go over to Bermuda. The other boats are due to leave the BVI on the 5th and we don't want to get left behind and miss out on the parties in Bermuda.
The weather has improved at last, loks as if the rain has gone and the wind has dropped a bit. The chances are that the wind will drop totally by the week end and we could end up motoring to Grand Bahama.
Will keep you posted.
Monday 30th April - Florida
Monday 30th April
24 41N 81 05W
We had a lovely train ride down from Edinburgh to Newcastle where we stayed the night with Bryan and Agnes. That was a good start to our trip. Next morning we arrived at Newcastle airport at 8am for a 10am flight. The airport is empty, no queues, because we should have been there 4 hours in advance! So we get through no problem at all and are still in plenty time for the flight Newcastle to Orlando by Thomson Holidays, I think we were the only people not going to Disney. Budget flight so we had to pay for movies , drinks and snacks. I wish we had known that beforehand. Never mind, I got 3 movies in on the 9 hour flight. We picked up a hire car at the airport and within about 30 minutes the rain had started, proper torrential whiteout rain. The journey to the boatyard was very slow.
The boat was looking good except for a massive solar panel structure on the davits which would give us plenty of power but would not allow the blades of the Duogen to turn and would probably have blown away or simply collapsed in the first big seas. After a bit of a fight, the yard took the huff and ripped the whole lot out.
It continued to rain all week end and blow hard. Is this really Florida?
We spent the week end provisioning the boat and buying stuff at the chandlers, nothing new about that. A British boat was anchored off and on the Sunday night they came in to the Yard. Martin and Bob had lost their mizzen mast overboard in Honduras, and therefore lost the steering. They ended up on a reef and needed to be pulled off. They are in Snead Island yard for the rest of the summer to get the boat put back together again.
We finally cast off on Friday and spent the night at the exit of Tampa Bay, anchored off what tunred out to be a bird sanctuary. You could tell it was a brd sanctuary as withi an hour of stopping about a million screaming birds arrived and they kept screaming till dusk then started up again at first light.
Good news is we beat them to it and left in the dark for a two night passage down to Marathon where once again we plucked up all our courage and took our 61 feet mast under the 65 foot bridge.
We're members of the Ocean Cruising Club and prior to leaving Tampa we'd made contact with the Port Officer in Marathon and consequently, we've been berthed on his dock right outside their house for the last 2 days. Harry and Melinda have been very generous and helped us out get the Duogen back together and shown us the sights.
The funny thing is that Harry is an International Judge and he and Melinda were part of the CCC race committee at Tarbert for 10 years. They're buddies of many of our old rivals at the Scottish Series. Small world.
The weather is pretty grim here with pretty much continuous rain for the last 48 hours. The forecast is for another two days of it so I think we're stuck here 'till Wednesday. Once the weather clears, we'll start our bid to get north and off the Grand Bahama and Bermuda to catch the ARC Europe fleet.
Nassau to Tampa Paddle
Nassau to Tampa Paddle
We're half way across the Bahama bank just now, 3pm Friday. 60 miles of < 5m deep water. Weird and a wee bit scary.
We left Nassau in the dark at 1am this morning. There was a 4-5 knot tide pushing us down to the 2 bridges.
I knew I'd checked the clearances when we arrived but we'd been there a week so as the bridges approached seeds of doubt sprouted and it was a panic to try and turn against the tide so we could check - which we couldn't as the tide was too strong.
Anne dived below, checked and we were ok with a good 2m clearance
Then; which of the two spans had the 2m clearance?
Nothing on chart so we made a best estimate and went under both bridges with our breath held... and an escape route diving down below planned.
Anyway, we're going flat out for Tampa so next 48 hours at sea.
We've to negotiate the exit from the banks in the dark tonight then the crossing of the gulf stream to arrive in daylight.
Then, 80 miles of bouy hopping sneaking down the inside of the reefs through the Hawk Channel.
Then, we've another bridge at Marathon. It's 65 foot. We're 60 foot. Another nail biter. I've read its best to go through these backwards so if your aerial lands on the deck a quick blast in forward will save the day!!! Theories!!
That and this boat doesn't do backwards.
After that, more bouy hopping across the shallows of Florida bay up to Tampa. Nothing to worry about here - there's a good 8 feet of water on most of it!
All quite exciting, different and a challenge and I think we'll be glad when this is done.
See you soon
Sh.... Sh.... Shaaaaaaarkkk!
We went for a wee snorkel yesterday. Ohh; look at the pretty fish, ohh look at the the lovely coral, ohh look at the.......flamin' shaaaark. We were out that water faster than one of these wee penguins you see on the tele. Unfortunately, we then found ourselves on the raised limestone "beach" - sharp as razor blades and absolutely no way we could walk on it bare foot (or in flippers) unless that is you were a Yogi - the ones that lie down on nails as opposed to the bear!
So, was it safe to go back in the water???? As you're reading this, yes as it happens but man, was that scary. Even scarier was the fact that the beach is the home of the famous "swimming pigs". We only saw them in the morning but the island wild pigs come down to the beach where they know cruisers will dinghy in and feed them. The deal is, you motor in to just off the beach and the pigs swim out and get fed. Now I know a bit about pigs and that was quite a sight!
No wonder the shark didn't bother with skinny old me when there's free bacon rolls on order every morning!
Today, 2nd March we are at 24 43.0N 76.49.7W anchored off the newly opened and rather swanky Highborne Cut Cay marina in the Bahamas.
We've had a really good, interesting and reasonably challenging trip so far. Only downside is we haven't had too much time so see much of anywhere. One afternoon or even just an overnight in each bay but its been good to give us a flavour. Always anchored, never a marina so not much social life and very little internet access. at the end of January.
Here's a rough calendar of what happened after we left St Lucia. We have travelled over 1400 miles in the past month and visited more desert islands than I knew existed!!!
We had another good thrash over to Martinique where we anchored off for the night before an early 06:00 start for Dominica where we arrived in time to a) get ripped off again by the local boat boy and b) catch the local carnival. Rousseau was jumping with dressed floats of dancing men and women of all sizes. Had a couple of sundowners in what was th old, original British Fort Hotel. Very colonial and very plush. The carnival music went on all night, literally till the cock crowed at sunrise.
Once again, up early and off heading for Isles de Saints south of Guadeloupe. The "Saints" are a group of small French owned islands and are pretty much perfect (for me). Read... sophisticated, clean and absolutely NO boat boys! We stayed 2 nights in a sheltered anchorage off the typical coral beach the make a break for Guadeloupe where we anchored overnight before the crossing to Antigua.
Next morning after an 05:30 start we were just about to leave the shelter of the north end of Guadeloupe when an approaching catamaran hailed us on the VHF.... "Sailing yacht off north end Guadeloupe"..... the message given in a "You REALLY need to listen to me" tenor was; "I strongly recommend you abort your attempted crossing. It's 40 knots out there and we've sustained damage and are returning for repairs".
Gee... thanks - but don't you know we've been round the Mull several times!
We had a great sail. Reaching in the blazing sunshine at 8-9 knots in big waves. Island Packet in its element. (Nancy boy in his daft catamaran. Go and get a real boat).
Antiqua was beautiful and all it's billed for. We stayed in English Harbour for 3 days with, I reckoned, about £200 million of Superyachts in the marinas. J Class Raters, the King of Somewhere's yacht - Clyde built! Wally's and various Fife and Fife look alikes. We had one night rolling in the bay off Jolly Harbour Marina, sometimes we really should bite the bullet and pay for a berth. We watched the superbowl with the all American condo residents in Jolly Harbour, are in dollar territory now and we can feel the prices slowly rising.
From Antiqua we overnighted to the BVI and anchored in Biras Creek, just over from Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island. No sooner had the anchor gone down than an American couple dinghied up asking what it was like "out there" as they needed to head south. That led to Happy Hour where we told them of our Florida plans and, along with most other people they just looked at us as if we were nuts.
Net result however was that Jim and Connie give us the best routes and all their charts to get there - given (hey - just mail them back!) to complete strangers. One thing this cruising lark is about is mutual support.
So, after a day in the BVI we headed for St Thomas, USVI to check into the States, then on to Puerto Rico, encountering for the first time navigating in water a few metres deep surrounded by reefs and wrecks. Little did we know this was to become the norm. We did the marina thing in PR but only for one night, just enough time for a laundry run and a supermarket dash. Must press on!!!!!
From PR we decided we'd island hop up the Bahamas rather than sail past on the direct route to Florida.( David Wilkie from Ardfern, Moonbeam of Argyll recommended this to us) We routed up to the West Caicos bank - 15 miles by 15 miles of 3m deep water littered with (well marked) coral heads and sand banks. We attempted the entry to the marina but at 0.4m chickened out. They said just keep pushing - you'll touch but just give it more gas!
Instead, we anchored round the corner - about 3-5 miles away. Turks and Caicos is another country again. We'd decided not to bother checking into immigration because it is so time consuming and would just sail off in the morning - until I looked out the window that night to see a customs boat anchored 50 yards from us. I sneaked out in the dark and raised the Q flag and next morning, along with the 7 others in the bay dinghied the miles to check in. It took the whole day.
However, it was worth the effort as again, we met another cruiser (a Texan Island Packet 485 that had "pushed" into the marina) and they gave us a bay by bay route up the Bahamas which we've been following since. From Caicos we headed north and west to the Bahamas up past Mayuguana, Rum Cay to the Exumas anchoring off beaches when we needed a rest.
The Exumas has been really good if somewhat shallow. For the last week we've been sailing around in 0.4m to 3m piloting around moving sand banks and coral heads. Highly stressful for first few days but now - no problemo...... as long as you have an Explorer chart book and punch in the waypoints accurately. We had a coupe of days in Georgetown.... Cowboy Boots and Bathin' Suits! its Georgetown Regatta Week
08:00 every morning the cruiser net on VHF 72 opens with a blast of country music then, just like Good Morning Vietnammmmm. It's "Good Morning Georgetownnnnnn...Cowboy Boots and Bathin' Suits" then the call round to all the cruisers giving the weather and the days activities;
- Beach Volleyball League
- Pet parade
- Softball league
- Poker night
- beach seminar of the day
- Beach Church on Sundays
They even have an AA session. The US cruisers congregate here . Seems like half passing through and half there for the winter - year after year. Once again we met another generous cruiser - John on Sam the Skull (from Arran) who gave us some good hints on where to go and more charts.
Tomorrow we're in Nassau trying to get timing right for last dash over the Bahama banks - at night.... to Bimini to either catch or wait for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream to Florididia.
I've read of the respect the Americans give to the Gulf crossing - much like a 50 mile Corryvreckan but they'll tell you, get it wrong and you really could be in trouble... 2-3 knots of north going Gulf Stream against any wind with North in it gives short, steep breaking seas. So, we'll follow the rules even it it means we have to spend a few days in Bimini - life's a bitch!
Once over, we've 100 miles back south and west along the Florida Keys to get to Marathon where we can get under the 68 foot bridge (we're 58 foot - that will be tense!!) or alternatively Key West or the Dry Tortugas, then turn north for 200 miles to Tampa. The charts say there's a good 6-8ft all the way so we should be OK!!!!
We'll leave the boat in Tampa or Marathon and take 2 weeks back at work and home in March. See you after a return to civilisation and fresh air.
Stuart and Anne
January came in with a bang with 40 ARC people and friends gathering for a New Year's Eve "Bash on the Beach".
It seemed quite odd bringing in the bells in 80C, on the beach in flip flops and a kilt.
Next day, Brian and Agnes arrived for a week's holiday and we took off pretty quick for a dash to Martinique in 25 knots and big waves - one of which dumped entirely in the cockpit washing Agnes specs off her face and overboard. Boisterous sailing they call it.
Rather than sail round the island we hired a car and drive round what turned out to be a quite wealthy island. The landscape in the south was quite heavily agricultural giving way to tropical rain forest over the hills.
The road trip was followed by a mover to St Anne's bay where we parked up and Brian and I went for a dive in the crystal clear, warm waters. Good fun.
A short 10 mile hop round the corner took us to Grand Anse D'Arlet, a picturesque little village with a row of shops and restaurants lining the crescent of the beach.
We met some more ARC people there and dined on the beach with them before heading out in the morning back to St Lucia and a flight home.
Agnes told us to make sure that the moment we stepped out the plane door in Edinburgh we register our first impressions as a comparison to the Caribbean and sailing for the last 6 months.
Good old Scotland stood up pretty well as the skies were clear and blue and they stayed that way for most of our time at home.
The two weeks at home had us doing a belated Christmas dinner and seeing our old friends and haunts.
We flew back on the 21st heading for a very leisurely 8 weeks cruising the Caribbean before heading for the BVI to join the return ARC Europe rally.
However, unknown to us, Virgin had re-routed the trip to drop off people in Barbados. While we were on the tarmac I turned on my Blackberry and "ping" an email landed.
Guess what, Island Packet Yachts had written to offer a refurbishment on our boat. Consequently, having landed at Barbados wondering how we were going to spend 8 weeks cruising around aimlessly, we left 30 minutes later with a 3,000 mile round trip to Florida on our hands!
Tampa here we come!
Now, where are these charts……………………………………..
Time Bandit - 20.12.2011
Well the ARC is now well and truly over. After three weeks of hard sailing and one week of hard partying in Rodney Bay Marina, we wrapped up the event with a hundred plus yacht crews at the prize giving on Saturday night.
Earlier in the day, we had been told that we had won a prize, and ten minutes into the event we, along with the other 11 boats who had volunteered to be radio net controllers, maintaining radio contact with our section of the fleet during the crossing we were given a prize of a bottle of rum from the local distillery.
As we were down to our last 4 bottles we were delighted with this. Imagine our complete surprise, when at the very end of the prize giving, the ARC organiser announced that we had won the prize of "Sprit of the ARC", given to the boat, voted by the ARC organisers asthe one which had made the best all round contribution to the ARC event.
They had taken into account the safety inspection of the yacht, Fiona's workshop during the seminars, our contribution to the daily net, including our pub quiz, our going to the assistance of an unknown yacht asking for help, and also the ARC yacht Anna Sofia. We also hosted the welcome party for the last boat to finish, staying up (until 3.00 am) to meet them on the dock, horns sounding and lights flashing. We also maybe made a mark with our gifts of thanks of Time Bandit miniature whiskies, our team fancy dress costumes, and our general attendance at all the parties! A real team effort.
We were all stunned and amazed to have won the prize, and were even more excited when we saw that as well as a trophy, we had won a gift hamper