ZEPHYR

18 December 2021 | 17 03.942'N:61 53.091'W, Jolly Harbour Antigua
17 December 2021 | 17 29'N:58 59'W, 160 miles East of Antigua
16 December 2021 | 16 57'N:55 59'W, 370 miles East of Antigua
15 December 2021 | 16 57'N:51 59'W, 560 miles East of Antigua
14 December 2021 | 16 41'N:49 03'W, 700 miles East of Guadeloupe
13 December 2021 | 15 57'N:45 27'W, 910 miles East of Marie Galante
12 December 2021 | 15 32'N:42 49'W, 1075 miles East of Dominica
11 December 2021 | 17 33'N:40 13'W, 1330 miles East of Barbuda
10 December 2021 | 19 23'N:37 28'W, 750 miles WNW of Cape Verde Islands
09 December 2021 | 19 15'N:33 38'W, 1000 miles W of Mauritania
08 December 2021 | 20 53'N:31 35'W, 450 NW of Cape Verde Islands
07 December 2021 | 23 06'N:29 21'W, 2500 miles west of the Bahamas
06 December 2021 | 22 56.943'N:26 03.874'W, 530 miles west of Sebjet in the Western Sahara
05 December 2021 | 25 37.923'N:22 26.621'W, 420 miles west of Cabo Pena Grande in the Western Sahara
04 December 2021 | 27 25.769'N:20 19.957'W, 400 miles west of Aaiun, Western Sahara
03 December 2021 | 28 53.713'N:17 51.318'W, North Coast of La Palma
02 December 2021 | 28 50.878'N:13 53.782'W, S of Lanzarote
30 November 2021 | 28 55.014'N:13 42.020'W, Puerto Calero
30 November 2021 | Puerto Calero, Lanzarote
18 September 2021 | 28 55.014'N:13 42.020'W, Puerto Calero

Landed

18 December 2021 | 17 03.942'N:61 53.091'W, Jolly Harbour Antigua
DS
Landed safely at noon. 16 days 4 hours from Lanzarote, 14 days 20 hours from our last stop in La Palma. Great sail with the winds very rarely below 20 knots. Last night in the same vein with 25 to 30 knots pushing us at full tilt to our destination. Thank you Micky for a brilliant crossing and thank you everyone for all the comments - they kept morale up when at times it may have dipped. All well and safe on board and now off to the bar...

Big Bang Theory

17 December 2021 | 17 29'N:58 59'W, 160 miles East of Antigua
DS
This trip started with a bang and is ending with one too. Visions of yoga on the foredeck and evening cocktails admiring the sunset on balmy tropical seas quickly evaporated with yesterday's forecast.

After a 24-hour respite in relatively calmer conditions of 20 knot winds and a 3 metre swell, last night saw the winds and seas building until we had a full gale and 5 metre very confused seas, with one swell from the NE and another from the N. The autopilot behaved valiantly but around midnight, with the girls on watch, the mother of all waves threw Z on her side. With a big lurch Z was lying nearly horizontal with the boom in the water. Z quickly popped back up with no damage to boat or crew apart from le Patron who now has a bruised lump, the size of a tennis ball, on his hip from when he was tossed across his bunk into the side of the boat.

But apart from the confused seas, the odd heavy lurch and a bruised Patron, with two reefs in the main and a heavily reefed jib the winds were very manageable and the sailing was epic - Z charging along under a nearly full moon and with a rather chuffed Jim (see photo) hitting a new trip speed record of 18.2 knots in a 46 knot gust.

More chaos in the galley too as the evil cooker inflicted more burns and, when the gimbal jammed, threw a pot of rice and water everywhere. Quick thinking by Sarah saved my fish curry from a similar fate. Despite my valiant attempt last night with said curry and recycled rice, looks like the Z MasterChef Championship is all but over with Lola the clear winner.

Jim was set to be in the galley today but, with the last remaining can of tonic water as a tool, he's deftly managed to negotiate his way out of that. Looks like a smart move as the seas are still a mess although winds are now settling in the 25 knot range and they may ease off a little further. Fresh homemade bread for breakfast, crew smiling, coffee supplies still intact, and the sun is shining. Maybe tonight we'll get to enjoy a daiquiri on the aft deck after all...

Thank God for small mercies

16 December 2021 | 16 57'N:55 59'W, 370 miles East of Antigua
MSA
As graphically portrayed in the last blog dinner was expected to be tinned partridge but Neptune came to our rescue and at our comparatively reduced speed the lure was struck providing a delicious mahi mahi as a welcome alternative.

The catching process proved more challenging than usual as the reel had lost its brake, which required David reeling in 400m of line by hand while James deposited it on the reel, securing it with his thumb. The whole exercise took over 1 hour but some fine fileting by David left us with enough for two meals.

The heat has been testing but there is still a fresh breeze at night for those on deck and for those in their cabins it is a challenge, but we recognise that our friends in Europe would give their right arms for a dose of warmth.

We now have 370 miles to go, but contrary to the opinion of some of our followers the forecast is for winds to strengthen to 35 knots (as we had at the beginning) before we reach Antigua, so a bumpy 36 hours ahead. With all going to plan we should arrive on Saturday morning.

Cabin Fever

15 December 2021 | 16 57'N:51 59'W, 560 miles East of Antigua
SC
It's day 14 and thankfully the end is nigh, we are due to get to Antigua on Saturday. It's all getting a little feral and I'm dreaming of clean sheets and a shower and going to the loo with no acrobatics involved. Its boiling hot and the master 'suite' where Micky and I are is like a cauldron as we can't open the hatches for fear of sea water coming in so we wake up in a muck sweat.

On a happier note Lola cooked up a storm last night... we had rack of lamb with baked potatoes, creme fraiche and caviar. Tonight's dinner though is a little more dubious...Micky is giving us partridge out of a tin which is just what's called for in the tropics!

Poor Dave knocked a front tooth out last night grappling with a wine bottle and Lola and I are gearing up for the tonic war as the boys have hidden what's left of our slimlines. All in all we have gone to the dogs and cabin fever is most definitely setting in !

Eggsistential Crisis

14 December 2021 | 16 41'N:49 03'W, 700 miles East of Guadeloupe
JW
Predictions of testing weather-related galley conditions proved to be extremely well-founded. Needless to say, the lucky recipient of the short straw was Jim: proud holder of the bottom slot on the Strictly Come Cooking leader-board. This is a man who, given an AGA firmly attached to terra firma, can knock out a decent Full English. An oven swivelling through 90 degrees in what felt like a blender on speed: another matter. Nonetheless- nothing ventured, etc. Bacon sandwiches for breakfast: tick. Carving slices off a side of smoked salmon with the demon filleting knife, without collateral damage: tick. Maintaining a tight hold on the bowl containing eight beaten eggs: catastrophic failure. As the yellow liquid flew everywhere, the howl of anguish could be heard on both sides of the Atlantic. Thanks to the rallying-round of innocent parties, operation clean-up (involving complete emptying of the fridge, examination of the bilges, etc etc) didn't take more than an hour; and scra
mbled eggs Mk 2 were eventually produced, as was, subsequently, a fly-by-wire supper (thank you Sheena). Moral fibre, or what? Other important catering issues- the tonic water wars are hotting up...

On the sailing front, the wind continued to blow in the 30s for some hours, with a troubled sea; calming down during the night; but still in the low 20s and much flatter, making for very pleasant sailing conditions. Long may it continue, though it looks as though things will hot up again as we near Antigua. Guess who is likely to be in the galley when this occurs.

All in good heart and Sarah has just produced delicious Coronation Chicken!

The Washing Machine

13 December 2021 | 15 57'N:45 27'W, 910 miles East of Marie Galante
DS
No respite this morning after a lively night. Feels a bit like we're in the washing machine, currently on the spin cycle. Winds still in the 30 to 35 knot range with a large quartering sea. At least the wind is from the right direction and we're almost laying the course to Antigua. Too rough to go wing on wing, we're running with one reef and a heavily reefed jib with the true wind at 153 degrees. Wally the autopilot is coping, with the occasional hiccup, and looks like we have a good chance of breaking the trip record of 17.8 knots.

Some excitement very early this morning when Z passed close by another sail boat, shortly thereafter followed by a crash tack after I accidentally disengaged the autopilot while checking the radar for squalls. No damage - just a couple of tense minutes until order was re-established and our romp to Antigua was resumed.

Meanwhile Micky, our resident labrador, decided sleeping in the cockpit was a good idea. That came unstuck when he rolled off the bench and had a rude awakening as he crashed into the cockpit table. He's now bedded down in the saloon where deep acoustical sleep has been resumed.

On the food front, poor Jim is cook for the day and it's not great timing to be the galley slave. Not easy at the best of times, today would test anyone's patience. Seems he's located most of his ingredients but assembling them into any sort of a meal will be a challenge.

And following up on the Great Potato War, supplies of some key ingredients are low with slimline tonic being the next looming skirmish. The girls are circling the few remaining cans. If it comes to blows, Sarah has the reach but Lola's a tough cookie so the boys reckon the odds are pretty even.

All else well on board a rather warm Z and ETA remains Sat 18th.

Downhill Run

12 December 2021 | 15 32'N:42 49'W, 1075 miles East of Dominica
MStA
This has been an extraordinary passage to the extent that there has been no respite - never less than 20 knots and usually closer to 30 or more with confused seas which have meant that constantly stuff is flying all over the place!

We all now take it for granted that every meal cooked is going to involve at least one major spillage and every shower undertaken is likely to produce a beautiful bruise. If you have never tried this I highly recommend it!

Today's photo shows David on the foredeck repairing minor damage to the jib before we gybed, for hopefully the last time, which puts us on a direct course for Antigua.
We now have 1100 miles to run which points to arriving in 6 days but there is some bouncy weather expected as we get closer to the island.

Having seen no vessels for the past 6 days we crossed with two other sailboats today which was refreshing. We have still seen very little sea life much to David's frustration as he was counting on making a fish curry. While no supplies are in abundance, we are confident that we have plenty of food to get us safely there, even if we may miss out on a few luxuries - chocolate and fresh fruit to name but two.
Spirits are high, as is the temperature, and the countdown is on.

The Great Potato War

11 December 2021 | 17 33'N:40 13'W, 1330 miles East of Barbuda
LV
Day 9 of our crossing and still being tossed around all day. No wonder we haven't seen anything alive except for the occasional flying fish crashing into the cockpit. The experience can be quite alarming when in the middle of the night you don't know what hit you.

Meanwhile there has been some tension in the galley. Stores are rapidly diminishing making galley duty more challenging and the need for creativity. Earlier today the Gruffalo (aka Micky) was seen with his head buried in the vegetable store, trying to purloin any unaccounted-for potatoes. After a very tense standoff with James and I, we negotiated the loan of one potato from each of us. Beer and wine stocks are also diminishing rapidly and will likely be the cause of the next skirmish.

Sarah and David have stayed clear of the standoff and have been enjoying some marginally calmer sailing conditions before some more windy weather expected tomorrow.

Heavy Roller

10 December 2021 | 19 23'N:37 28'W, 750 miles WNW of Cape Verde Islands
JW
Here we see the intrepid crew poised for action....or possibly the next meal. Followers of this blog will be aware that gastronomy is a very serious matter on Zephyr. Yesterday we had foie gras for lunch, lovingly brought from the Dordogne, and entirely prep-free; a great bonus for JW, whose culinary skills leave a certain amount to be desired. Especially in challenging conditions, as follows.

We have continued to see winds in the mid-to-high twenties, accompanied by a rolling, at times troubled, sea, and are heading fast towards our destination. A couple of gybes over the last 24 hours have kept us making the most of the (mainly) east wind, which continues in the mid-to-high twenties. Zephyr handles it all beautifully, the weather is warm, the sky is blue, great sailing!

The only disappointment is the absence, so far, of sea life; apart from the odd flying fish, one of which landed in the cockpit. Pity they aren't edible. David is still hoping for conditions which encourage fishing- the fish supper deadline is fast approaching! Oh yes, and the Test Match. Depressing, if not entirely unexpected.

We are all well and happy (Sarah is that right?!)

Whipped Cream

09 December 2021 | 19 15'N:33 38'W, 1000 miles W of Mauritania
DS
Often described as the milk run, the trade wind route to the Caribbean this year is more whipped cream than semi skimmed.

Apart from one brief lull, winds have been consistently F6/7 so after a week at sea, a quick recap on the sailing to date which has been brilliant, if rather lively.

Left Lanzarote Thurs 2nd with 25/30 knots on the beam and big rolling waves from the north and wind waves from the NE. Made for a very quick but very bouncy 36 hour run to La Palma. Once in the lee of the first point, a cracking sail along the dramatic north coast with winds gusting 39 knots on a pretty flat sea. Steady double digits with one reef in main and the working jib.

Brief detour to see the pathetic volcano and then a run to the SW. Saturday night a little bouncy with 20/25 and that built until very early Monday morning with a 30/35 with the odd gust and big Atlantic rollers. Z behaved beautifully with two reefs in the main and a deep reefed jib, dry decks and the keel humming non-stop surfing down the waves. What I dream of although some of the crew may not feel the same...

Monday afternoon the winds finally eased. Had 24 hours of idyllic trade wind sailing and then winds filled in again. By Tuesday night 25/30 with a 40 knot gust so we gybed to get further south. This morning we gybed agan in 30 knots of wind to head more directly to Antigua. ETA 18th which would give a crossing time similar to Alex/Grade/de Grelle and my record of 14 days and 35 hours.

All else well. Jim is in the galley frying up the bacon. Micky is sleeping in his bunk for a change - he has tendency to bed down anywhere the boat - and the girls are having a siesta having just come off watch.

Picture of Jim at the helm just after our gybe this morning.
Vessel Name: Zephyr
Vessel Make/Model: Shipman 50
Hailing Port: Lymington
Home Page: www.yachtzephyr.com
Zephyr's Photos - Main
the boat
6 Photos
Created 22 August 2014