Day 10 I think

Yesterday just before dusk we caught a huge mahi mahi, can’t wait to show you all the photos! When we left the UK we had a high quality rod and reel which was stolen in a Coruna. Since then we’ve bought 2 more reels which have both failed during the trip. Out comes a hand line with 2mm line on it and 20 minutes later we land the biggest fish I’ve ever seen personally!

Back to the more mundane bits… the weather has settled and we have stable weather until Saturday if the forecast is to be believed. We have some chafe issues which are monitored, chafe is certainly a big thing for all yachts at sea for a long time. We hear on the radio of other yachts with broken forestays, damaged rudder through impact (whales?) so must be vigilant, getting to Rodney bay safely is the main thing. The YB tracker which you can see through the web is giving us an eta of Wednesday lunchtime which is local time. If the conditions remain as they are it could mean 14 days or very slightly under.

I’m sure I can smell the rum!

Nicks Bit

Spectacular night sails over the past few days with a generally clear sky and late rising of the moon we have had billions of stars lighting our way as we scoot along with the barn doors open at 6 to 7 knts. Really great fun helming in such conditions doing single handed watches with the ear buds and the ipod turned up listening to Pink Floyd, the Stones, Bowie and many others. As the night progresses and the moon rises behind us its like having a car with full head lights on following us along a country lane.

The temperature is really warm now and even at night we have been sailing mostly in just shirt and shorts. The heat that is in some of the winds is what I would expect on land on a hot day. At the half way stage we all had a paddle off the back of the boat, we were going too fast to take a swim (or were we just scared of the sharks!!. The water was really warm and not at all like swimming in the Atlantic off the north Cornwall coast, is it really the same ocean?

Our provisioning seems to have worked out well so far with really good meals and no shortages. We do seem to have a surplus of loo rolls and peanuts not to mention tinned tomatoes. Does anyone recognise a common theme here with the provisioning on Sea Spine? I must report that the skipper has now contributed to the cooking by opening a tin or two. I suspect that this will be the full extent of his culinary exploits on this trip.

leg 2 day 7

Nicks writes

Now into our 7th day at sea on the second leg. The winds have moderated from what they were and we are now trucking along at 6 to 7 knts dead down wind with the barn doors open (main out one side and the Genoa poled out on the other). The sun is out and the wind is warm for the most part although at night the wind gets a bit cool as dew is formed.

There always seems something to be doing and so to date have not got bored although with another 9 ish days to go there is still plenty of opportunity for that to set in. Thankfully no further fish have been caught but they keep trying so I guess my luck won’t hold out forever.

Although we know some boats are operating dry for the whole trip, we elected to have a sundowner each evening which has proved very popular. At this time of day the sun is on the foredeck and so when weather permits we all sit up there and enjoy the last of the days sunshine. It is now dark by about 1800 and so drinks occur early. To accommodate the time difference between Cape Verde and St Lucia which is about 4 hours we are turning our clocks back 15 mins each day which works well for the setting of the sun but, as all of the radio call in schedules are based on Unitary Time (GMT to older people) it is beginning to throw up some odd times when the skipper is making the calls.

Skipper writes

Some of the calls I make are not met with approval. When we get in I have a lot of sucking up to do 😦

As I write this we have just over 1100 miles to do according to the chart plotter so tomorrow evening will mean we are over half way. The crew have already started guessing arrival dates. If we can maintain the average speed we’ve been doing for the last few days it’ll be next Wednesday but we’ll have a much clearer idea in 3 days time.

Caroline writes
“still can’t be arsed” !!!

Carol will write a book….eventually
Ha Ha.
We are all looking forward the half way point of our Ocean sailing and have planned an extra special meal of dates wrapped in serreno ham and steak with all the trimmings accompanied with, a bottle of bubbly already chilling in the fridge. Charlotte is planning a play list for the day,
Initially many of us had considered a swim mid Atlantic, but the seas are still lumpy and Caroline saw a shark alongside the boat 2 days ago. Perhaps dipping our toes in, but only after the skipper has tested the waters first.

Charlotte writes
“I’m still here and writing on the sailing silhouette facebook and I’m not doing it twice” !

Finally !

We’ve had 3 days of unpleasant wind and seas with constant mid to high 20 knots and gusts up to 34! This isn’t trade wind sailing as we were told… Washing machine springs to mind. That said I (notional skipper) have the current speed record of 10.8 knots 🙂
Today Monday the winds have finally abated and we actually do have trade wind sailing conditions of 15 knots and a calming sea…. phew! Showers all round, washing and water making completed.
We have 3 water tanks on board and have accidentally left a seacock open on one after putting fresh water in meaning its contaminated now with sea water…. as I’m only the notional skipper we all know it was Caroline’s fault !!!

Now of course the winds will die completely !

Climbing and surfing

Sunday 25th November

This is what we seem to be doing for the last 48 hours. The wind has been pretty constant at 26-34 knots with 3-4 metres seas running (according to the weather info)which has make for uncomfortable sailing.
Weather due to improve on Tuesday so will post a longer blog then, until that time I can confirm all is well and the Atlantic ocean continues to tell us who is boss….. what a big ocean it is too!

Crew input

Thursdsy 22nd November

Nick’s Bit………………..

End of day two on the second leg from Mindelo to St Lucia sees us sailing nicely with a northerly force 3 making a little over 6.5knts in the right direction. Our start yesterday was put under time pressure as we discovered late on that the holding tank (raw sewage tank) was blocked and couldn’t be drained. To fix this we had to leave the harbour and blow air back up the outlet to dislodge the blockage. Well done Ian. On leaving Mindelo we did a bit of motoring following the start and then sailed in light airs in beautiful sunshine until late afternoon when the wind died and the motor went back on. We worked our way south of the rum line in the expectation that the wind would fill in earlier there and were rewarded with sufficient wind to start sailing in the early hours of today. The wind improved as the day went on and we have just ended a sunny 10 hour reach with the cruising chute as we now reduce sail for the overnight period.

I will let the notional skipper bang on about the fish caught yesterday and today but I would like to complement Caroline (the real skipper) on her filleting and cooking skills. I didn’t try the Tuna (not in a tin and swimming in oil) but the Mahi Mahi was fabulous.

We haven’t seen any other yachts all day (are there really 72 going to the same place as us?)but have been entertained by Karl from Orion running a music quiz on this mornings SSB net and spotting a shark following the boat! The notional skipper has been volunteered to to check if it bites when we reach the half way mark. Thats all from the lowly crew member.

Caroline can’t be arsed!
Charlotte apparently can’t write!

Leg 2 start

Wednesday 21st November….

Having managed to fill up with water in time, we left our berth and headed out towards the start line. Unfortunately the holding tank was blocked again so we had to anchor in the bay to do a proper fix. This involved going into the water and back feeding pressurised air through the skin fitting. It looks perfect now but we will keep an eye on it every few days.

The start was uneventful as the wind was so light, there is wind forecast for Thursday evening onwards so mostly motoring until a whiff of breeze arrives. This isn’t ideal as diesel is precious!

Last night we managed to catch our first fish, a tuna weighing about 4 kilos, which meant we had fresh tuna steaks and rice for dinner! This morning we caught a Mahi Mahi weighing about 2.5 kilos which has been filleted for tonights dinner. The line won’t be going out again today as there’s no point catching fish every day.

Crew blogs will continue with the next instalment.

Next stop the Caribbean!

So this is our last night in Mindelo, tomorrow at 1pm we head off with 73 other yachts for Rodney bay in St Lucia. We hope to be there in about 14-16 days but that will depend on the wind and direction.

Mindelo is a very poor area with beggars, stray dogs and cats everywhere. Locals either just stand around talking or the more enterprising run a business on the kerb, such as bicycle repairs!

The crew went on a half day tour of the island and followed up by visiting an orphanage the next day. They have so little here but still remain positive…. perhaps they just don’t know any different?

The marina pontoons have been plagued with electricity outages, and as electricity allows water to the pontoons, many yachts were getting low and worried they’d be leaving without water in their tanks! Power cuts are common here, but the marina need to have reliable contingency plans in place.

We will update the blog daily….. now we have the access code 😊

Las Palmas to Mindelo

Before starting this long entry I’d like to send our huge thanks to James & Bex from yacht Hepzibah for finding the special email address within wordpress to allow us to send this entry from mid Atlantic. These guys are a year behind us & we look forward to a cold beer together soon.

By 12:00 all rally yachts were on the water jockying around for position near the start line, which was way too narrow in our opinion. Nick took the helm once we’d left the marina as he’d taken part in numerous racing events and I left the positioning to his skill & judgement. Crossing the start line at about 3 knots was a bit on the slow side but it was the same for everyone and we did chuckle a bit as we stole a German yachts wind to find clear air! We decided to sail south east away from the wind acceleration zone, as did many others before heading south,& settled into a watch keeping system well (once the excitement of such a big occasion had reduced). The first night was probably the best we could’ve hoped for with good winds and so many stars to look at, it took/takes your breath away. The fleet spread out quickly, quicker than I thought it would and after a couple of days we rarely saw anything, meaning there wasn’t too much of a problem of us crossing over each others track… but this has happened on the way down including one yacht (should I name names?) who, despite being the give way yacht,forced us to take avoiding action and crossed 600 feet in front of us in the middle of the night and wouldn’t answer the radio. Turns out the same yacht did it to another 1 hour earlier forcing them and us to alter course by more than 20 degrees not knowing what their intentions were……. sod it, the yacht was try2fly. Not impressed at all!

We’ve sailed for about 700 miles only using the engine to charge the batteries which just don’t seem to be lasting as long as they should, with speeds up to 9.6 knots and winds gusting at 34 knots, but Friday afternoon we were forced to use engine propulsion as there is some weather heading our way with swells of 5 metres. With the engine on and now very little wind to help, our eta in Mindelo is Saturday about 22:00hrs… a night approach which isn’t ideal but so be it.

Highlights are lots of small things which together make ocean sailing so exciting especially sharing with my family and friends on board. I managed a quick phone call to my parents on Friday, it was great speaking to you Dad!

Lowlights…. still caught no fish AND having to clear our blocked holding tank. If anyone reading this doesn’t know what that is, best google it and have a bucket ready !!!

So this is me now handing the blog entry over to the crew for their thoughts…. if they can be arsed 🙂

……………….

Following 2 weeks of preparations in Las Palmas I think we were all glad to be on our way and sailing away from concerns about quantities of food, water,fuel etc. What will be, will be and it seems very unlikely that we will starve or die of thirst along the way. After a good start (hold back and avoid the confusion),the first 686 miles gave us a mix of wind conditions from light to moderate and led to some excellent sailing. We have learned a lot about down wind sailing on this leg and hope to put that to good use when we set off for the 2nd leg. Regrettably light winds have reduced our speed below 3knts and we are now motoring for the finish.

Nick …
The notional skipper ( I say that because we all know Caroline is in charge here) has avoided doing any cooking despite his promise to learn before we set off and more over has failed to catch any fish to supplement our gargantuan food supplies! Personally I am grateful for this as the only tuna I like does not come thumping and bleeding onto the deck but calmly arrives in tins and bathed in olive oil. Talking of fish we have been fortunate to see plenty of dolphins and a single sighting of a 8m whale that came to surface alongside the boat, breathed out and presumably in before
disappearing to avoid any camera activity. Anyway I must get back to reading my novel and let the next person have a go. Signed lowly crew member.

Carol…
Very pleased with myself as haven’t felt ill once and still enjoying my cups of tea.
All food on board is to an excellent standard and the time passes surprisingly quick.

Caroline ….. “can’t be arsed” !!!

Charlotte…… “I’m too busy tanning”

Hopefully there’s some wifi and we’ll upload some photos over the weekend.

Silhouette standing by…

The big day

So after years of dreaming & 3 years of planning, today we leave Las Palmas for the Caribbean!

The last week has been spent at seminars relating to emergencies at sea, provisioning, communications, weather & routing … not to mention parties.

Charlotte went to the ARC office to tell them how many persons were attending each seminar and accidentally signed Silhouette up as one of the SSB net controllers….. thanks Charlotte!

The fancy dress party was themed as “a night in Rio” which was a big success. Many crews made a big effort, with prizes for the best fancy dress in various categories. Silhouette didn’t win despite a valiant attempt, but well done to the winners with their own interpretation of the theme 😊

Provisioning was made easier than it could’ve been by the various supermarkets & others delivering directly to the boat. This is a great service which they are well practiced at…. all we had to do was find space to put it all.

Our yellow brick tracker has been fitted and transmits our position every 4 hours. You can see where we are either by going onto the ARC website, clicking fleet viewer and search for Silhouette or download the app for the YB tracker.

As long as we get a good signal, we’ll update daily without photos giving you our thoughts on ocean sailing. The idea is to get all onboard to contribute which might be a challenge as we’ll need to factor in the “can’t be arsed” contingent !!!

Next sight of land should be in about 6 days and 900 miles.

 

7 days to go!

Las Palmas marina has been filling up with yachts flying ARC+ flags, in fact the marina looks full not to mention the main ARC fleet of 200 slowly arriving! The staff are very well practised and efficiently chuck out resident boats 🙂

Our crew, Nick & Carol arrived last week meaning we are now fully crewed. Nicks keen eye has led to some improvements to our set up making sail changes quicker and safer…. he is actually enjoying spending my money! We have sheets (ropes) set up all along the deck now and have also lashed the petrol generator on the coach roof.

This means when we need to use it for the watermaker we don’t have to lift it out of a locker which could be impractical at sea. We hired a car for 3 days and managed to get to see some of Gran Canaria, passing the airport on the way south. There we saw a large number of wind turbines indicating that area has a lot of wind, which we will pass by next week!

The ARC office opened and we were allocated a check in time. This involved confirming our details were complete and up to date, issuing crew passes, papers and allocating a time slot for our yacht safety inspection. Fortunately we were well prepared as our inspection was booked in 4 hours after our check in !  Our inspector was Chris Tibbs who is very well known as a blue water sailor and weather guru. Everything was fine and we can now relax and enjoy the build up including the many sundowner drinks and pontoon parties.

Provisioning is now taking place, we decided to carry enough to last all the way to St Lucia just in case the Cape Verde stopover was short on items which we can easily get here in Las Palmas.

Our next entry will be on the start day in 7 days. Hopefully we will be able to update the blog daily via SSB or sat phone, but you will be able to track our progress through the official ARC website which give position updates every 4 hours.

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