The Atlantic Crossing.
Written by Laura Tritch with photos by Ellen Friedkin
Ellen (sailing student 14 years ago, now friend) and I arrived on November 3, 2011 to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands to help Brad reposition Evergreen (a 42 foot Sabre) from the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean a distance of 2800 nautical miles (or 3220 statute miles). Brad focused on getting Evergreen ready for departure and checking the weather. Ellen and I focused on meeting sailors, drinking wine and visiting the nearby internet cafes/bars. We did take a complete Island bus tour inclusive of the active volcano and the lava fields from eruptions some 200 years ago.
The weather started to prove itself ready for departure thus provisioning started on the 14th and 15th with the departure day set for 16 November. The initial plan was to make a southwesterly course some 600 miles to a point 200 miles off the Cape Verde Islands to 19 degrees of latitude, then turn right (west) for Antigua.
On the morning of the 16th, Brad had numerous friends stop by Evergreen to wish him ‘fair winds and a following sea’ and the last well-wisher cast off the dock lines and we were on our way leaving the port of Marina Rubicon (at latitude 29) just before Noon. (Note- Noon becomes an important time of the day) Immediately outside of the harbor, Brad started the watermaker (which makes 4 gallons an hour) to make sure it was functioning and all of the provisions ($600.00) were stowed safely below for the three week trans-Atlantic crossing. Ellen in her curious fashion, asked how to check the water temperature which was 74 degrees.
On a beam reach we clear the Southern end of Lanzarote Island, altered course to transit down the west side of Furteventura. On our first night at sea, Ellen makes a wonderful beef stroganoff over pasta and a green salad with tomatoes and cucumber. Ellen and I take the 8pm to midnight watch as she is not comfortable taking watch alone on a new sailboat.
November 17 The 4 am watch had us sailing at a steady 6-7 knots and surfing down waves at 8 knots—what a ride. The sun came up and the wind died to less than 5 knots as we were now off the coast of Gran Canaria Island and in its wind shadow. In the morning we watched a container ship anchor off the island and I am most sure that the Bridge crew watched us sail about them the rest of the day. Every day at noon Brad checks the GPS for the distance travelled in the past 24 hours.
NOON Distance: 124 nm
Another daily happening is calling Rik on the satellite phone for weather information. Rik was a business associate with Brad (before Brad sold the company and retired) who lives in Belgium with his wife and family. The weather report does not agree with where we are but the Atlantic is a big ocean. Finally at 8 pm the wind begins to freshen and this gives shape and drive to the sails and we are moving again.
November 18 4 AM Evergreen is powering through the sea and surfing down waves. Boat speed is a steady 6-7 knots; with the light air for 9+ hours yesterday, I want to put some miles ‘in the bank.’
NOON distance: 110 nm Water Temperature 74 degrees.
For over three hours in the afternoon we launched the cruising spinnaker which turned the 8-12 knots of wind speed into 5-6 knots of boat speed. For some reason the cruising spinnaker decided it wanted to wrap itself around the furled genny and thus ‘all hands on deck’ to pull the two apart. Not long after that the cruising spinnaker came down. I was the cook for dinner and I pan roasted chicken breasts with assorted pasta dressed in a mushroom gravy sauce and caprese salad.
When the sun went down, so did the wind. Ellen and I spent our 8-12 pm watch trying to make the boat go as to keep the sails and boom from slapping and making noise. Do not want to upset the Owner…
November 19 Midnight- Brad’s watch and as he comes up the companionway the wind slowly freshens and within 20 minutes it is blowing 15 knots with gusts to 20. On my 4-8 am watch it was holding a steady 6-7 knots with a top speed of 8.7…Wow. Wind held through the morning but it did drop to 12-14 knots.
NOON distance: 121 nm
Wind subsided in the afternoon but the solution was the cruising spinnaker which went up for over 4 hours and the light winds turned into boat speed of 6-7 knots. Ellen worked another gourmet treat out of the galley producing meatballs which she put in the left over pasta from last night and topped off the meal with a wonderful mixed green salad. Evening watch was lively with gusts to 20+ knots and causing us to furl in the genoa to reduce sail.
November 20 We are now down to latitude 23 and it is getting warmer and the water temperature is up to 78 degrees. I had my first rain squall on my 4 AM watch and now I know the signs – first the wind reduces and then it starts to build and then the rain follows. The rain squall I experienced last night had gusts to 25 knots and I had an amazing ride for the next 45 minutes with a constant speed of 8+ knots.
NOON Distance: 145 nm Total miles sailed 501.
The afternoon wind was variable as well as the boat speed. We still try to make a southerly course as the wind pushes us west. Dinner, cooked by Ellen, is chorizo sausage in a spicy red sauce over spaghetti with a lovely green salad-one of the last green salads. The nightly call to Rik for weather gave us the information that we were going to turn at latitude 20 as there was no wind at 19 degrees. Since Brad is in charge of making water, he did not make water to keep the starboard water tank full and now it is empty-all 50 gallons as the port tank of 50 gallons is the emergency supply should the water maker stop working. We have used slightly over 10 gallons a day since we left- water for cooking, dishes, showers and hand washing a few clothes.
November 21 Watch schedule has changed as Ellen is now comfortable to take a watch alone. We all have two hours of watch and four hours to sleep, eat or in my case continue to author this article. On my 4 am watch I had boat speed from 4.5 to 7 knots from only the genny as this sail is the best to make southerly course. The mainsail takes a holiday as it rests in the lazy jacks wrapped with sail ties.
NOON Distance: 133 Total miles sailed 634 Water temperature 80 degrees.
While waiting for high noon distance, Brad suggested we place our ‘predications’ on arrival day and time in an envelope. The winner will be taken to dinner by the other two at a place of her/his choice and order (within reason) anything off the menu. I immediately grab my calculator and try to project the arrival date with the miles left to sail. I divided by the average distance per day, I divided by the average speed per day while Ellen scientifically counts using her fingers. Our best arrival guess had to be in the envelope by noon tomorrow.
The afternoon air was difficult as the lulls were less than 8 knots and within a few minutes the gusts would exceed 22 knots. The sea has a confused pattern of waves which causes Evergreen to lurch about at any unpredicted moment which makes moving about the boat and cooking in the galley a challenge. Late afternoon I noticed the foot of the genny was coming apart. I called it to Brad’s attention and the sail was dropped to the deck and with needle and sail twine we spent the next two hours hand stitching the sail back together as a rain squall hovered about Evergreen-yes I got wet. Ellen had been napping when the genny was put on deck and when she woke, she could not find anyone in the cockpit or below and she checked the head (toilet). Finally she looked forward and discovered Brad and I hunched over the foot of the genny with needle and pliers. I made a taco salad for dinner as this cooking was not in Ellen’s comfort arena-not gourmet. Topping the taco salad with feta cheese did add a Greek touch to the flavors. I enjoyed a hot shower and after six days of being aboard, I washed my hair. The call to Rik was later this evening to get the latest weather update.
November 22 My 4 AM watch was blessed with great wind and following seas giving us steady boat speed of 6 knots and sometimes to 7 knots. During my two-hour watch I made no course changes or did any sail trim. The clothes that got wet yesterday during the sail repair were in need of washing before they got wet and now they got the much needed washing. I have worn them day and night for the past six days. I am not into making a fashion statement when we are up and down round-the-clock doing watches, eating or sleeping.
NOON Distance: 135 Total Sailed to date: 770
My best guess for arrival day and time was slipped into the envelope. During my afternoon watch I had to helm the boat for an hour. The wind was blowing over 20 knots and the autopilot was working too hard in the following sea and Brad wanted to give it a break. During the hour at the helm, the wind reduced to less than 18 knots and ‘auto van helm’ was put back on watch. Dinner was Tikka Masala over rice with slivered almonds. Ellen made the comment that this Indian dish assumes you have all day to cook and grind up the spices, but she used off the shelf spices. It was wonderful as I like spicy food and it was perfect.
November 23 It was ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’ when I finally made it to the cockpit at 4 AM; the boat was pitching and yawing and sleeping was difficult. Ellen and I had our lee clothes attached to keep us in the berths in the main salon. On my 10am-12 watch we had dolphins visit Evergreen for at least 15 minutes. The dolphins had spots on their sides and must be unique to this part of the Atlantic. Today we turned to the west on latitude 20 but it was not much of a course adjustment from heading southwest to west—a change of 15 degrees from 255 to 270.
NOON Distance: 145 nm
I used the satellite phone to call my sister Lois to have her arrange my return ticket from Antigua for December 10 and Ellen’s for December 12. I would like more time to spend in Antigua, but I have work to get to in San Francisco. The seas have become more kindly and the pitching and yawing of Evergreen has stopped- no more ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride’. The crew have settled in and either you are on watch, eating or sleeping. Since there is no eight-hour block of time to get sleep, I find myself sleeping during all of my time off the helm. The bananas are gone except for one in the fridge, there are less than 10 oranges, the last of the lettuce will be used for tonight’s dinner and one lonely tomato will see Thanksgiving tomorrow. The call to Rik, our personal weather man, had us return to a southwest course and maybe turn again on latitude 19. Dinner was Taco Salad with Feta Cheese and garnished with a combination of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped garlic and hot sauce. My creation was simple and it did get raves from the crew.
November 24, Thanksgiving Day. The wind gave us constant boat speed last night on our southwest course of approximately 255; Mr. Toads Wild Ride is back as the waves toss up about when least expecting and all of us have numerous bruises in various states-some really black and blue, some fading and some just developing. Sailing at night has many mysterious sounds to stimulate your senses. Combined with the unpredicted boat motion there is the breaking of the waves about the sea that sound like a small train, the occasional slap of a wave against the topsides, the wind generator accelerates and sounds like an engine on a small jet with each gust of wind, the numerous B & G gauges that give true wind speed and angle, apparent wind angle and speed, compass course, water temp, depth (which displays dashes) and the Garmin instrument which gives you speed over ground, course over ground, total miles sailed, miles sailed in 24 hours, course to waypoint (which changes often) and lots of other information we do not need when sailing long distances. For Thanksgiving, Brad displayed Tibetan Prayer Flags (a Buddhist tradition) in the main salon near the navigation table. This gives the boat a festive feeling for Thanksgiving.
NOON Distance: 137 nm Water Temperature 83 degrees at 19 degrees/18’ W. Total distance sailed in the last 8 days: 1053 or average of 131 nm per day. Distance to go: 1894. Yes, this is more miles than originally stated but we did start from the most northern island in the Canary Islands which easily accounts for the distance difference. At 1:30 this afternoon we launched the spinnaker-a first with this sail for Ellen. It took the air speed of 12-15 knots and turned it into 6.5-8+ knots of boat speed. Thanksgiving dinner, served while we were cruising along at 6.5-7 knots (under spinnaker), was cooked by gourmet cook Ellen. The feast was: deviled eggs with a cucumber garnish, main course of Shrimp and Chicken in a carbonara sauce over pasta with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and (nearly) the last green salad garnished with festive pickled beat, green pepper, dried cranberries and sliced onion. I had two helpings of the main course as it was so good - and this is not the fresh air talking. There was no pumpkin pie for dessert. Brad made the daily call to our personal weatherman, Rik, and the wind is to stay light through the evening and light (less than 15 knots) for Friday Spinnaker came down about 20 minutes before sunset.
November 25 At 4 AM there are people getting up to go shopping as the day after Thanksgiving is known as ‘Black Friday’ but in my case I was on my usual watch. The wind was steady at 12-15 knots but 30 minutes before Brad’s watch it was gusting to over 20 knots. During the night we crossed into another time zone. We are now -2 from UTC time. (Every 15 degrees on longitude is one time zone.)
NOON Distance: 128 nm Water temperature is at 80 degrees (per Ellen)
The weather forecast is spot on as the winds are light holding about 10 knots but with the spinnaker we are able to squeeze out 4.8 to nearly 6 knots. Every nautical mile is a challenge. I was the cook tonight and made the last frozen ground beef into meatballs and put them in a spicy red sauce and (now most certainly), the last mixed green salad. The spinnaker came down about 7:30 PM and we only use the genny for the night. The call to Rik was encouraging with better winds predicted for tomorrow but not much for tonight.
November 26 The 4 AM watch was a drag as boat speed seldom got over 5 knots. After six days, I took a shower and washed my hair. This simple task was such a joy. The mainsail was hoisted out of the lazy jacks before 10 AM this morning and put to work. The genny was furled about 20% to minimize the flogging. Boat speed picked up as well as the spirits of the crew.
NOON Distance: 129 nm Water temperature: 78 degrees at 18 degrees, 32’N/ 32 degrees, 53’W Miles sailed 1311 and Miles remaining 1651.
The days continue to consist of watches, sleeping, eating and your day to shower. With the convenience of refrigeration, there is not too much talk of foods we miss- but there are at least 12 days left on the water. Ellen did mention last night that she wanted a Klondike Bar and I said I wanted a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. We have seen various sailboats the past few days but today we had (at least) a 65 foot sloop pass us with their cruising spinnaker up and disappear over the horizon. Today I stowed my watch cap as we are below 18 degrees of latitude and the nights are not as cold as when we left Lanzarote 10 days ago. I did leave out my long sweatpants and fleece jacket for night watch as the 4-6 AM watch gets cold. Ellen’s creation for dinner this evening was Tortilla soup which she started from a mix but garnished it with cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips she freshly cooked from tortillas. We checked in with Weatherman Rik and the wind is to continue out of the same direction and the same strength. No distance gained tonight…
November 27 4 AM watch. We slowly move along with just the genny at 5 knots or less with an average of 14 knots of wind - boring. Brad woke me at 9:00 to help launch the spinnaker as the light winds from last night had not changed. With the spinnaker up, the boat speed increases to over 6 knots and occasionally we see 7. This is great.
NOON Distance: 133 Water temperature: 83 degrees at 18 degrees, 54’N/35 degrees, 13’W
Distance sailed: 1445 and distance to go is 1520. Sometime in the next 5-6 hours we will have made the halfway point and it is downhill from here; there is anticipation of who will win the ‘prediction’ on arrival day and time. Afternoon wind drops (too often) to10 knots which means the boat speed is slow also; without the main sail it is tough to make miles. Brad continues to make 5 gallons of water twice a day in the morning and evening when he runs the generator to charge the batteries. So, we are each living on 3.3 gallons of water each day for washing hands, fresh water rinse on the dishes (which are washed in salt water), water needed for cooking, water for hand washing clothes and if it is your turn to shower as showers are not every day. 5:45PM we reached the halfway point as miles sailed and miles yet to sail are the same. We are now on the downhill side of the bell curve. No more climbing the curve. Dinner tonight was leftover pasta sauce with meatballs and the carbonara from Thanksgiving. I took the chicken and shrimp from the carbonara and mixed it in with the pasta sauce, reheated the leftover pasta and a great dinner was enjoyed. No more green salads and there are only 6 oranges left in the fruit hammock. The call to weatherman Rik was encouraging as tomorrow was to have better winds.
November 28 4 AM watch was slow going as we decided to rest the genny and raised the main with a single reef in it. The only benefit was that we could hold close to course which was nearly dead down wind. The genny on this point of sail would not work as well. If the wind does not pick up, there is no chance of me winning the prediction on arrival day and time. As soon as first light, the spinnaker went up but there was a tear in the foot of the sail. It had to come back down in order for the rip stop to go on. While it was being repaired, we had 18-20 knot gusts and Brad was not comfortable putting up the spinnaker until the wind settled. In celebration of being over half-way, Brad made hash browns and eggs and this was very tasty. It is amazing how good reconstituted hash browns can taste.
NOON Distance: 133 nm Water temperature: 83 degrees at 18 degrees, 25’N/37 degrees, 24’W
Distance sailed: 1578 Distance to sail: 1394
Immediately after this information was recorded, the spinnaker went back to work. We are all getting better at our launch positions as I work the pit and Brad and Ellen work the foredeck; we are now cruising alone at 7+ knots. By the time the spinnaker came down we did over 50 nm ! Dinner by Ellen was Stuffed Green Peppers as this is the last of the produce we have in the refrigeration unit. For the next 9-10 days all food will come out of a can or will be a soup mix with added can ingredients. After dinner there was talk of what we would love for dessert; Ellen wanted fresh raspberries with whipped cream and chocolate shavings over the top. I wanted chocolate cheesecake or regular cheesecake with raspberry sauce; Brad said he did not want dessert. We were unable to make contact with our weatherman. My watch from 10 PM to midnight was inclusive of a rain squall, winds over 25 knots and boat speed over 8 knots - Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was back !
November 29 4 AM and I climb the companion way again; Ellen greets me and points to the two cushions she has ready for me to sit on as somehow I have bruised my left butt cheek and it has been difficult to sit the past two days. We exchange course and wind information and she quickly heads for her bunk. I busy myself trying to get comfortable on the cushions with little success. The wind is not as strong as my previous watch but we still average boat speed of +/- 6 knots.
NOON Distance 161 Water Temperature: 81 degrees at 18 degrees, 16’ N/40 degrees, 12’ W
Distance to sail: 1238 Distance sailed: 1738
The past four days have been ‘tropical’ as the weather has been beautiful and temperature very warm. Ellen’s legs are very brown, Brad is getting tan and I try to stay out of the sun as I am subject to precancerous skin spots and was to the dermatologist less than a month ago.
1:30 UTC I hear the trolling rod clicking out line as I dash from below to bring Evergreen up into the wind to slow the boat down. Brad is on the rod not sure if there is a fish on or not, but soon we all know there is a ‘fish on’. The struggle between Brad and the soon identified Dorado was short lived. In less than 20 minutes the Dorado is laying helplessly (and nearly dead) on the starboard deck. Ellen is busy with the camera and Brad sets to filleting the fish. In less than an hour, the Dorado is in the refrigerator chillin; if it not be for the previously frozen (now thawed) chicken, we would be having fish tonight. I have not mentioned the safety equipment aboard Evergreen. It is impressive as there is an eight-person liferaft (in the rare event we need to leave a perfectly good sailboat to step into a rubber liferaft-only if Evergreen was sinking), ditch bag (with emergency food, VHF radio, small water maker) an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), a life sling, a horseshoe with pole & flag and flashing strobe light, deflated tender tied in front of the liferaft, SSB radio and VHF radio with red distress buttons when pushed it will automatically broadcast your vessel’s unique MMSI number, satellite phone and lastly, AIS Class B Transceiver. I keep the battery charged on my computer via a converter which takes 12 volt power and turns it into AC power. If I had a DC connection for my computer, I could use one of the DC plugs (same as in your car) right at the navigation station for power. Dinner this evening from the small galley and Ellen’s creativeness was instant mashed potatoes stuffed with chicken, ham and cheese with green beans fresh from a can and pickled beat for a garnish. It was very tasty considering what is left in fresh food. We made connection with our weatherman Rik and he told us that the wind was to be ‘fresher’ tomorrow with 18-20 knots predicted but not as windy tonight as it was last night. While waiting for the sun to set, Brad decided that he wanted to move one time zone ahead and suggested we do it during his noon watch tomorrow. I thought it was a good idea so tomorrow’s distance will be for 25 hours.
November 30 The weather prediction was correct and we made an average boat speed of 5.8 knots through the night with a single reef in the main sail and 8 feet of genny released from the furled sail.
NOON Distance- 25 hours: 141 Water temperature 84 degrees at 18 degrees, 09’ N/42 degrees, 37’ W
Distance to go: 1095 Distance sailed: 1885
Afternoon sailing continued on the reefed main but the wind did decline several knots but still making good boat speed. The swells are the largest we have seen since we left Lanzarote and the boat picks up speed when it surfs the face of a 12 foot swell. Since we change one time zone we now call our personal weatherman around 5 PM. Weather is to be the same for the next two days with wind this evening the same as last night and tomorrow is to be steady at 20 knots. I cooked dinner this evening and we had the Dorado that was caught yesterday. I marinated the fish, rolled it in mashed potato flakes and fried it in hot olive oil. I made pasta and a sauce mix out of an envelope and a salad garnish of pickled beats with onions and feta cheese. The plates were clean in short order. The good thing about cooking is you do not have to do dishes so Ellen got stuck doing dishes. Today was a non-event day-no boats, no birds, no beasts (dolphins or whales). The routine of being at sea has set in.
December 1 Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is back as I struggle to climb the companionway steps for my 4 AM watch. Ellen greets me with “we just went under 1000 nm” and I could hear the excitement in her voice. The wind was steady at 20-25 but when a rain squall came through during my watch (giving Evergreen a fresh water rinse) I saw a top wind speed of 36 knots and almost 9 knots of boat speed. What a thrill and the ride was spectacular! In celebration of less than 1000 nm to sail, Brad said he would do hash browns and eggs—again. Since we just entered our third time zone, Brad decided it would be good to change another zone so now we are -2 from UTC
NOON Distance: 156 in 25 hours Water temperature: 82 degrees at 18 degrees,07’N/45 degrees,22’ W Distance to go: 939 Distance sailed: 2045
Afternoon sailing is full of pitching and yawing as Evergreen is tossed about by the 20 foot swells and the chop in between. Wind climbs to over 25-27 knots and we are putting miles in the bank. If this continues (doubtful) I have a chance of winning the predicted arrival day and time…..! The call was made to our weatherman Rik and he told us that the wind was to last till noon on Friday and then drop to 14-15 knots. He said he has been watching us on the blog and we are really moving. For those of you that follow on the blog and wonder how it gets the position of Evergreen, it is due to the fact that there is a small ‘radio size’ satellite receiver that Brad pushes 4 times a day at the start of each watch which automatically sends his wife the position of Evergreen in a text message and puts us on the blog. There are two other buttons on the receiver that are marked ‘911’ and ‘HELP’ and if either of these are pushed, Brad’s wife gets a call. Ellen’s dinner creation was using the leftover fish in a hoisin sauce, rice and corn fresh from a can. Sightings today: 3 Birds, 1 Boat(containership), 0 Beasts.
December 2 The pitching and yawing continues as I climb the stairs with a good grip on each hand rail. The noise below can make it difficult to get to sleep but exhaustion usually sets in. There are lights on the horizon from another sailboat and Ellen was happy she found it just at the conclusion of her watch. Evergreen continues to surf down the waves but I could not see the size in the darkness. The last orange was eaten this morning. No more fresh fruit.
NOON Distance : 156 nm Water temperature 83 degrees at 18 degrees, 07’N/48 degrees, 04’W
Distance to sail: 786 Distance sailed: 2201
If we continue to knock out 145-155 nm per day it will put us into Antigua within a few hours of my prediction-that would be amazing! After the noon readings, the reef came out of the mainsail; we continue to move with average boat speed of 5.5-6 knots. The wind is steady at 16-20 knots; the swell has subsided a little but Evergreen still has a regular surf down the face of a wave and the pitching and yawing has not left the scene. All of us have settled into a routine-either eating, sleeping or on watch. For dinner I made Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (thanks to Mrs. Grass) and added more chicken and rice. It was very good. The call to our personal weatherman Rik told us that the wind would be subsiding through the night and only to 15 knots tomorrow. I suspect that the spinnaker will be launched in the morning. Sightings today: 2 Boats, 1 Bird, 0 Beasts
December 3 The night was filled with rain squalls and at least three times I left my bunk (without taking down the lee cloth) to dash to the cockpit (in my underwear) to help Brad and Ellen with preventers, tacking the jib or furling the jib. My watches were dull compared to the wind gusts and rain squalls that passed on their watches. I had a shower this morning (one every five days) with anticipation that this is the last one for me on a pitching and yawing boat AND on my knees to keep from being tossed about like a rubber ball in the head/shower area. It does feel good to have the shower but there are no clean sheets for me tonight as the sheet I brought is the one I have been using for a full month.
NOON Distance: 153 Water Temperature 84 degrees at 17 degrees, 46’ N/50 degrees, 39’ W
Distance to go: 637 Distance sailed: 2355
If the boat speed continues, I stand a chance on winning the ‘prediction’ on arrival day and time-just have to keep the boat moving… Afternoon winds were just too much for spinnaker and not enough for good boat speed. I feel my prediction slipping off the paper I wrote it on. I made dinner which was red pasta sauce with the last of the pre-cooked frozen hamburger added. It made copious amounts of sauce and there will be plenty for at least 4-5 more meals. No call to our personal weatherman tonight as he is busy with his family. Sightings: 0 Birds, 0 Boats, 1 Beasts (dolphins)
December 4 My 4 AM watch was on the monotonous side as there were no rain squalls or wind over 20 knots and to break the boredom, I checked the GPS for distance-often. Before 8:30, I was up and the reef was taken out of the main - this helps with boat speed. Brad made hash browns and eggs again this morning. I really love this meal and it is such an immense portion but I am always a member of the ‘clean plate club’. There is a small corner on the GPS screen that is marked “ETE” which means ‘estimated time en-route’. This morning there was the first number in that corner which was 99 hours which is the amount of time to the destination. This number changes with the speed over ground and it would show for a while and then go away.
NOON Distance: 144 Water Temperature 85 degrees at 17 degrees, 10’N/53 degrees, 04’ W
Distance to go: 497 Distance sailed: 2499
With this information, I quickly calculated a possible ETA to the destination waypoint and depending on the predictions of Brad and Ellen, I still will be pretty close---maybe…. The spinnaker went up at 12:30 and the boat launched into action. No more 4.5 boat speed as now we are cruising along at over 6.5 and sometimes 7 knots. Per my travel alarm clock, the current temperature is 83 degrees (28C), the sun is bright and life is good. We called our favorite weatherman and he said the forecast is for light winds for the next two days. (‘oh no’ on my prediction) The number of hours in the bottom GPS corner is currently 64 but we are under spinnaker and putting miles in the bank. Sightings: 0 Birds, 0 Boats, 0 Beasts. I made dinner this evening which was Cheddar Potato Soup with Chicken. The small freezer compartment is completely empty - we need to arrive in 64 hours.
December 5 4 AM and the night is filled with rain squalls and these squalls dump profuse amounts of rain on Evergreen; sleeping below is nearly impossible with the humidity and heat but fatigue triumphs and sleep occurs. Early morning (about 8:30) and the spinnaker is launched-the first launch is not successful and it has to come down; second launch has twists towards the top and with my work on the spinnaker sheet, it eventually clears. Its life in the lofty air over the bow of the boat is short lived as another rain squall closes in and we have to take it down by 11:30. This rain squall completely drenches Evergreen, Brad and myself; I type this as I sit in my wet shorts.
NOON Distance: 141 Water temperature: 84 degrees at 16 degrees, 54’N/55 degrees, 27” W
Distance to go: 360 Distance sailed: 2641
The miles are clicking off too slowly and my chance of winning the ‘prediction’ is pretty slim. Since I do not know what the others have predicted, this keeps my trying to make the boat move. We got a wind shift after the rain squall and now we power along on a beam reach at nearly 7 knots with acceptable boat motion. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is now slumbering like Rip Van Winkle and we do not wish him to wake. We called our fearless weatherman, Rik, to have him ask ‘what are you doing?’ He does have a sense of humor. It sounds like the wind will continue out of the SE and the beam reach. I am making leftovers tonight for dinner and it will be the pasta sauce and spaghetti. Brad likes pasta so he is happy with the leftovers. Sightings: 2 Birds, 0 Boats, 0 Beasts
December 6 At 3 AM I hear the iron genny (engine) start which means there is no wind; my heart sinks as any chance of winning the ‘prediction’ has evaporated. We had such a great start to the day yesterday with boat speed and the beam reach- now we move at less than 4 knots. My 4 AM watch is spent under power and the engine continues until 8:30 only to be traded for winds less than 7 knots giving us the same boat speed as the iron genny. With the engine running, Brad made 10 gallons of water on his watch and I took a quick shower to remove the hot sticky feeling from my skin, but did not wash my hair-that is a major project waiting for a shore-side shower hopefully on Thursday---sometime. Shortly after 10:30 AM, Brad slipped the fishing rod into the rod holder as we move slowly through the water.
NOON Distance: 131nm Water temperature: 87 degrees at 17 degrees, 03’N/57 degrees, 37’ W
Distance to go: 235 Distance sailed: 2773
Wind in the early afternoon was very light and during Brad’s watch he started the iron genny a 1 PM and it worked until 2:30 which was during my watch. Eventually the wind came up to 10-13 knots and that gave us great boat speed as we were close hauled. Now instead of the pitching and yawing, we deal with life on a 20 degree heal-not ideal but we are moving. Our call to weatherman Rik thus informed us that since we are getting near the islands, the wind will be all over the place-from the west, north and northwest. Fishing pole removed from holder and no fish caught today. I made dinner this evening which was a combination of Mrs. Grass Stew Mix and the embellishments I added. It quickly vanished and Ellen does the dishes as I type. Sightings: 2 Boats, 0 Birds, 0 Beasts
December 7 The Iron genny was working and not working through the night. On my 4 AM shift I kicked her into action when the wind dropped below 5 knots. The winner of the ‘prediction’ will be whoever is the latest on arrival day as we will be two days later than anticipated because of the light winds. I am out of contention unless I am the latest in predictions. Brad transferred 25 gallons of diesel from the jerry cans on the rail into the fuel tank-a smelly job. This will give us the needed fuel if we have to motor all the way to Jolly Harbor.
NOON Distance: 111 nm Water temperature 87 degrees at 17degrees, 02’N/59 degrees, 24’W
Distance to go: 132 Distance sailed: 2886
We have been under the iron genny all afternoon and the little box in the corner that predicts ETE and ETA has numbers in them. Per the current boat speed at this moment, we are to arrive tomorrow at 3 PM at the Antigua waypoint which will determine the winner of the ‘prediction’. This is not at the marina but about 17 miles from Jolly Harbor. About 1:45 the clicking of the fishing rod was heard and I dashed to the helm to slow the boat, Brad went to the pole and Ellen dashed below for the gaff hooks. There was not much of a struggle and soon the King Mackerel was positioned helplessly on the port side deck; Brad proceeded to fillet and the fish is now in the fridge. Around 5 PM, the last fishing rod starting clicking out line and we all jumped into action. The catch at the end of the line was a Dorado but smaller than the one we caught a few days ago; it now rests in the fridge. The call to our (not so favorite) weatherman told us that we will continue to use the iron genny through the night; there is no wind in our area. Sightings today: 3 Birds, 0 Boats, 0 Beasts.
December 8 The iron genny worked all night and we were lucky to have the fuel to feed it. If not for the jerry cans on the port rail, we would still be drifting some 200 nm behind us. Last night was my last night of interrupted sleep with four hours of sleep broken by 2 two-hour watches. I am so looking forward to sleeping the entire night but I am sure I will have to wake to use the head (bathroom).
NOON Distance (last): 131 Water Temperature 87 degrees at 16 degrees, 59’N/61 Degrees, 42’W
Distance to go: 1.7 + distance to harbor Distance sailed: 3019 + distance to harbor
Since we have not changed the last two time zones, it was at 12:14 (boat time) we reached the arrival waypoint and the envelope was opened. Brad’s prediction was December 7 @ 1:30 pm, mine was December 7 @ 6:50pm and Ellen’s was December 8 @ 5:17 pm. The arrival date and time was December 8 at 10:14 (Antigua Time). This makes Ellen the winner! (This is the person who counted on her fingers!) We motored on for Jolly Harbor and we all turned our watches back the two hours to make us current with local Antigua time. We followed the long channel and finally called Jolly Harbor Marina to be greeted by ‘William’ who welcomed us to Antigua. We reported to the Port Authorities and when the paperwork was complete, we moved into our berth in Jolly Harbor Marina. This quaint marina reminds me of the ICW with houses on the water and a boat dock right out front. It took Brad a long time (over an hour) to get us checked into Antigua but now we are at our berth and all is good.
This journey has been 22 days with 21 of these days out of the sight of land; a distance of 3036 nm (3492 statute miles). I had no doubts about my choice in doing a trans-Atlantic crossing. Since I have been through the Panama Canal, Suez Canal and Corinth Canal (all twice), I now have a trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic crossing under my belt. I have seen so much of the world via the water and there is more I wish to see before I hang up my boat shoes.
Captain Laura Tritch