Atlantic Crossing - Jan. 2011


Canary Islands to Barbados

We have planned to cross the Atlantic mid- January as this is now thought to be the most reliable time for the north-east trade winds. It is a difficult time to leave Melbourne then, just after the Christmas- New Year period and in the summer holiday mode time.

11th. Jan
We arrived in Pasito Blanco after a long trip of 38 hours but are delighted to find Impulsive has been well cared for by Chris, a young man working here at the marina.
Steve Lodge is on the yacht when we arrive. He is the boat mechanic who serviced the boat when we were in Barcelona and has been here for 4 days to ensure everything in his field is ship-shape for the crossing.
We spend the following few days preparing for the crossing which includes checking the yacht thoroughly, including programming new channels on the H.F radio for sailmail, the rigging, getting the headsail back and refitted, the furling system which was maintained and serviced, the starboard deck water drainage pipe´ s problem since the storm in Elba; checking the first aid kit. and the provisioning which included a day´s cooking (of casseroles and lasagnas).
Placito Blanco is a delightful, small marina set in amongst holiday apartments and resorts. There seem to be many serious fishermen here and a very attractive golf course nearby. However there is nothing else here except a very small and basic supermarket.

15th. Jan
We spend many hours of today finalizing provisions and stowing the boat. Also we are waiting for a part Steve has organized to come from the U.K. which arrives at the lunch time. Mario, the Yamaha mechanic who is to instal it for us doesn´t work during the weekend and is always very busy so we are extremely fortunate, being Friday afternoon Ross could find him. He finally came at 5.30pm. (This was a bracket to hold the compressor of the galley fridges in place, essential for the running of these fridges)

We are very excited when Scott arrives late afternoon. We are thrilled he is joining us for this leg of the trip.
We have to visit the fishing shop on the way back to Impulsive as Scott is very keen to troll for fish during the crossing. The young man who served him is very helpful and we are sure Scott ends up with the best equipment for the job. He cannot believe we have sailed all the way from Australia and haven´t caught a fish yet.

It is tradition to take our crew out for dinner the night before embarking on a trip like this. We find a great cafe by the sea in a small nearby town Playa des Ingles.

16th. Jan - Day 1
After all the anticipation and hours of preparation it is exciting to finally let go the ropes and set sail across the planned 2,680 n.miles of the Atlantic at 0900 hours. I guess there is a slight apprehension too when you look at the chart and realize just how far we are sailing.
It is a beautiful morning with 14 kts. E-NE winds and a slight swell. We are averaging 6.5 - 7 kts. with variable winds of 13 - 18 kts.

Leaving Pacito Blanco

Scott stowing the mooring lines

We are very encouraged to have an excellent forecast for the crossing. We are using a service offered by Bruce Buckley who forecasts the weather for our crossing and emails this plus his suggested route through to us via an added data adaptor system to our satellite phone. This system is excellent and very reliable. It also means Scott can be with us for this time as he can get work emails through twice a day, and keep in contact with Jeanette. Phil Mellett is also linked in to receiving these daily emails of our position to keep track of us in case there is a problem.

We have a wonderful sail for 7.5 hours, then motor sail until 1am and then sail until morning. It is lovely to be back doing night watch especially on a calm night under a nearly full moon and a myriad of stars, and a following sea. We only see a few large container ships on the radar.

17th. Jan. - Day 2
We are settling into our sleep and night watch patterns and Scott has his trolling line out ever hopeful for his "big" fish.
The only problem so far is that Ross realizes the house batteries are not holding their charge correctly. These were new batteries in Barcelona and should have a life expectancy of 5-6 years. Ross and Scott spend a lot of time trying to ascertain how much power the different systems use, including doing some hand steering at the helm, which they both enjoy for a relatively short time, but we certainly wouldn´t cope hand steering all the way to Barbados.

Hand steering

There are emails to and fro to Julian in Barcelona where we bought them from to work out the best way to deal with this issue eg how low can the charge go before it damages the batteries more and they no longer work or damage the equipment with no power.
We motor sail from 5pm to 10 am the following morning.
It is wonderful being able to split the night watches between 3 of us. It is certainly easier to manage just taking one 3 hour watch each and much less exhausting over a long period of time.

18th. Jan - Day 3
At 12.30 am., during my night watch Ross comes up because the boom is banging about. Thinking it is due to the changes in wind direction I have been going a few degrees to port when this happens and it seems to alleviate the problem. However,
on closer inspection, Ross realizes the preventer for the mainsail has come loose so causing the mainsail to flap. When he tightened it, the sail still thwacked so we brought the sail in. Unfortunately the sail became bunched up at the goose-neck (usually someone is up there to check it but because it was night time there wasn´t). Scott also discovered in daylight as we turned up into the wind we had cut his fishing line and lost one of his lures. We were fortunate the line wasn´t caught around the prop.
At the 4am watch change over Ross and Scott poled out the spinnaker pole for the headsail to the port side so it was taut.
When we were all up and on deck again we sorted out the mainsail. It is quite a difficult and sensitive system and we are certainly glad to have Scott´s help and extra strength with this exercise.
We sail again from 10am to 3pm, which is lovely but we are only averaging about 5.5 kts. We need to average 6 kts to arrive in Barbados on Feb.3rd, and preferably 6.25 kts to arrive there 18 hours earlier to have some party time with Scott before his flight back to Copenhagen. Ross also needs to keep track of our fuel consumption as we haven´t the capacity to motor the whole way.
Later there is another exercise to push in an "escaping" baton half way up the mainsail. This is no doubt a result of the earlier exercise with this sail.

Preparing to "goose-wing" the sails

The wind has come round behind us now so we goose-wing the sails so we can return to the correct course. (if we stay on the present course, where we thought we would get more boat speed, we will be 100 n.miles off our course which equals a day´s sailing!) We are only averaging just over 5 kts. but feel this is the best option, which proves correct as the S.O.G. picks up later to just over 6 kts. It is due to the current.

"Goose-winging" at sunset

All we have seen today is a large fishing boat and a bird.
This all changes about 6pm when Scott spots a dolphin and shortly afterwards there is a pod of them playing at the bow of the boat. And then he catches a yellow-fin tuna, just the perfect size for 3 for dinner. It is calm enough to barb-e-que in foil on the stern of the boat, and is absolutely delicious, and couldn´t have been any fresher.

Scott catching a fish

About 10pm. during my watch the SOG comes up over 7kts., so after having the engine in neutral for sometime to check it´s maintaining a constant speed averaging about 6.5 kts. I turn off the engine.We have a relaxed sail all night av. 6.5 kts. without changing the sails or direciton. We only see one boat.
At one stage we think there must be a very large fish under us because the alarm goes off on the auto pilot and it shows "shallow".This is only for a very short time and there is no way it is shallow out here.

19th. Jan. - Day 4
This morning another pod of dolphins join the boat and again later in the afternoon. It is lovely sitting up in the pulpit seat watching them surf through the waves by the yacht and then somehow judging their speed to play as they cross in front of its bow. The water out here is a most beautiful blue, especially with the sun shining on it.

Lunch on board

Scott is appointed our IT. officer. In no time he has all our equipment set up to the best of its ability, including fun surprises e.g. a dolphin symbol to mark a waypoint and a cocktail glass marking our destination waypoint at Barbados.
The latter is quite symbolic as we don´t drink when we are sailing overnight so will all welcome the celebratory drink when we arrive there.
Scott is also using this trip as the start of a fitness and loosing weight campaign. We all feel we do a lot of isometric exercise while we are sailing. We continue to do our pilates exercises regularly too. Scott has information claiming that on a yacht sailing continually as we are you use 4-5,000 calories / day, with isometric exercise, compared with using 2,000 calories at home on a normal day without doing extra exercise. No wonder we usually feel fit after a season of sailing.
It is another lovely calm day out here, just as forecast.
We all have time to read which we haven´t had time to do for weeks - all very pleasant.
The battery problem is still here but they are holding their charge better than they were. We are avoiding using equipment that uses a lot of power eg the microwave, which we don´t use often anyhow. Ross is doing another stint of hand steering this afternoon.
During my rest break down in our cabin later this afternoon I was thrilled to hear some dolphins through the hull. When I checked later with Ross an Scott they said a pod of about 20 of them had come over to the boat. It is lovely to have them about.
This evening the wind drops off at about 6pm so we are motor sailing but we still have the same sail setting. It is a very calm and uneventful night under a ful moon which gives us a lovely silvery light over the water. Between 9pm and 9am the following morning we track 159 n.miles and average 6.5kts.

20th. Jan - Day 5
At 7am. we change course from 220 degrees to 254 which is on course to Barbados. The main sail is now on the starboard tack.
According to Bruce with the present forecast we need to get south though a.s.a.p. to get to 20 degrees north and below to get the better winds to then go west and have the benefit of the N.E. trade winds.
The further south we track the warmer it is becoming. Today is warm and sunny and calm.
We have seen 2 small birds this morning and wonder what they are doing so far from land. We are 250 n.miles north of the cape Verde islands. Also we are still collecting dust and fine sand from the African coast, Mauritania

It is great to do exercises on the saloon floor. Looking up to the blue, clear skies above gives such a sense of space and freedom, and listening to the boat passing through the water. Also it is harder work counteracting the roll of the boat. Similarly, doing them on the bed in our cabin, it is lovely to watch the water pass by the port holes as the boat moves through the water. If the engine is on it is reassuring to hear it purr reliably.
At 1300 Ross decides we should be getting more out of the sails so the headsail is poled out to starboard, and the mainsail on the port side, now with sails in the goose-winging position again. This enables us to track 10 degrees further to port so there is more south in it. Bruce´s instruction this morning suggested we arrive at the 20 degree north demarcation by 8pm tonight local time to make the most of the winds here. On our present readings we will be about 6 hours behind schedule.

It is a warm and balmy afternoon and we are able to enjoy lunch in the sun in the cockpit. The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing, catching up on broken sleep from night watches and reading. Scott has an exciting book he finds difficult to put down, "Temple" by Matthew Reilley; Ross is reading "Atlantic" by Simon Winchester; and I am delving into the delightful book "Jack de Crow" by A.J. Mckinnon.

This evening presents us with a magnificent sunset followed at dark by the rising of a golden full moon, just above the horizon, creeping out behind some clouds, to slowly rise up higher in the sky. Again it is a very calm night and we continue tracking south-west.From 9pm to 9am today we tracked 153 n.miles and averaged
6.3 kts.

21st. Jan -Day 6
It is a glorious day but with not much wind. A t 1300 hours the mainsail is thwacking even though the winds are N.E.. They are just too light so we fly the spinnaker.

Preparing to fly the spinnaker

Flying the spinnaker

The sea is very calm today

This procedure takes some time to organize but is well worth it. This is our favourite way to sail under this huge and colourful sail. The forecast is for calmer winds today, increasing overnight and calm again tomorrow so we need to make the most of the sailing opportunities.
The sail with the spinnaker is short lived as the wind threatens to come up and Ross doesn´t want to risk problems bringing it in.
Scott manages a quick plunge into the Atlantic Ocean, attached with a rope and hanging onto the stern rail. Apparently the sea is very warm. It certainly looks inviting.
Tonight we are aiming to track further south with both sails up, but the winds are making this difficult. With the forecast for light winds again tomorrow it is decided we will track westwards to use the winds tonight and motor-sail south tomorrow if necessary.
I found last night´s watch challenging and very tiring. The variable winds finally drop out, until occasionally later the wind dial is doing 360 degree turns in both directions. We are in the best heading generally with this wind so we can´t turn up any more. If we track more than 20 degrees off course (which we already doing) the better speed is not efficient in getting us to our final destination. Giving the boat some motor power helps a little. This isn´t a relaxing time.
The other issue is the fridges and watching the battery usage eg with the auto-pilot and when to recharge the batteries. Just as the batteries´charge was about to need recharging with the generator I decided to turn on the engine, so not needing the generator. However, the galley fridge still needed charging and I misunderstood Ross telling me it can only be done with the generator on through the 240v. charging and not through the engine 12v. charger - this isn´t working for some reason. It make just be a faulty connection because the "on" red light keeps going on and off.
One large boat passes by 12 n.miles away. Just before I wake Scott for his night watch a large "blob" appears on the screen only a few n.miles N.E. of us. I think it is just clutter as there has been no other sign of it on the radar but it is unusually large. Ross checks this with Scott and they decide it is something large floating in the water. Maybe it was a container but I thought all containers were made to sink now. Anyhow it passes by us and disappears.

22nd. Jan. - Day 7

From 1.45 the wind picks up and we sail 260-265 degrees, sometimes being n. of west but mostly heading west.
Today´s forecast email suggests still to aim to stay in the 18.30- 19 degree band of latitude.
We have 13-16 kts. of wind from N.E. this morning. It drops out for half an hour, then picks up to 20-25 kts. from N.E., then dropping back to 15-18 kts. from N.E.
15-20kts. from N.E. puts us in good shape for our course, averaging 6.5-7 kts.

Porridge at the helm

Discussing the day´s tactics

We are having a great morning sailing.
At 1230 hours we finally cross the 19 degree latitude line which we have been trying to do for sometime. Today we have a few heavy showers of rain which is wonderful for washing the boat down, especially the salt from the sea water spray.
Ross and Scott spend a lot of time today sorting out the battery problem, including Ross having a long conversation with Julian in Barcelona. These supposedly excellent Rolls batteries use aircraft battery technology. They are very expensive, but are now only 1/3 of their original cost, and have a very robust design. Julian is very surprised we have a problem with them.

Discussing the battery problem on the satellite phone

We experience lovely sailing right through from 1.45am. until 10pm when the wind drops down and we need to motor-sail. Despite the forecast for today of quieter winds we had winds up to 20 kts., and so reduced the headsail and released the preventer on the mainsail.
We all enjoy listening to music when we are sailing and don´t have the noise of the engine to contend with. There is a lot of lovely music to choose from between our two i-pods.
We "accidentally "catch a flying fish tonight. Somehow it flew into the cockpit. We have seen a few of these very graceful fish flying over the water surface. Also Scott´s large lure has been taken so we wonder what size the fish is that took it.
I enjoy the night watch tonight. It is very straight forward, motor-sailing and trundling along occasionally up to 8.2kts, but not consistently enough speed to turn off the engine. Occasionally with the higher speed I turn off the wind which is good to slow our speed and also to take us further south. Ross doesn´t like tracking more than 7-7.5 kts. at night in calm conditions, or just 7kts. in rolling seas, simply because it is easier to manage if something goes wrong.

Tonight we average 6.5 kts. from 9pm to 9am. It is lovely under the waning full moon.

23rd. Jan. - day 8

It seems amazing that we have been at sea for a week already. We are all enjoying it very much.
Scott feels very happy being at sea. He would like to arrive in Barbados in time to catch his flight though, mainly because of the connecting flight from London to Copenhagen. Also he will be very keen to be home with Jeanette and the girls by then. Ross feels differently from 7 days into our previous longest trips of 8 days. He was more likely to feel tired at this stage being nearly there. I feel very happy to be here and don´t feel apprehensive now. We all hope the good forecast holds. We all want to enjoy this experience of the crossing as we won´t be doing this again.

So far the provisioning is working out well. We still have fresh fruit and vegetables available. The "fruit and vege" fridge seems to be set at the best possible temperature for these foods to last as long as possible.
We throw over all biodegradable rubbish which makes a huge difference to the quantity of rubbish we have. So far this is easily managed.

The forecast today is for N.E.s 11-16 kts. dropping this afternoon,
This morning Scott hand steers while Ross checks the voltage of the Rolls batteries with all the outlets turned off. It proves the instrument panel is recording this data correctly.
We sailed and motor-sailed today with 15-16 kt. winds from N.NE., averaging over 6 kts.

Scott and I are concerned Ross isn´t having enough sleep. He does the 4am watch until morning (or until Scott and I get up) so he could sleep from 9 or 10pm til then but he always appears to check out what is happening, which is understandable. He does have some sleep during the day but we hope he gradually settles into having more each night or he will be exhausted. He is having a wonderful deep sleep tonight but unfortunately I need to wake him with a battery query. All is well but of course it is difficult for him to go back to sleep.

Typical "soft" sunset

We have another calm night for night watch and even though the moon is still waning it gives off quite a bright light and some visibility.
Again the radar shows something that could be something floating. It is easy to change course to ensure it passes by us a few n.miles away. On further discussion we decide these are nearby storm clouds.
We sail and motor-sail 80 n.miles averaging 6.6 kts. from 9pm -10am. W e averaged 6.4 kts. in the last 24 hours, so we are still on target and hoping to arrive at our destination in time for Scott´s flight.
Our total will now be 2740 n.miles. We have done 1,145 n.miles and have about 1,550 to go.

24th. Jan. Day 9

"What a great day´s sailing" to quote Ross.
We have N. to N.N.E. winds, 13-19kts (more than we were forecast so it´s been a very pleasant surprise).
Averaging 7 kts. the first 4 hours
6.95 kts. at 6 hours
7 kts. at 7 hours, since 9am this morning, and all over a magnificent blue ocean.

We are seeing many flying fish the last few days, including a school of them crossing in front of the bow.

Ross and I have started drawing again. It is lovely to have the time to do this.

Discussing our drawings

Relaxing in the cockpit

During night watch the now half moon finally appears about 23.15 hours, giving us more light. The wind is very light though.

I try to jog on the spot during my night watch for at least 15 minutes. As I do this I visualize going around the "tan" or through the Botanical Gardens. Hopefully this time will increase and will help my general fitness.

The satellite phone connection has been amazing for emails for our daily weather checks with Bruce, (which are still forwarded to Phil), Scott´s work and his daily contact with Jeanette. It all happens immediately and the phone calls are very clear, eg our regular calls home to Heather and Steve. Comparing this with our seamail connection, there is no comparison. The latter is very slow, unreliable and can be very frustrating.

It is seems the batteries are in good order. The problem might be that the volt master charger is not working. We are still waiting to check this with Mark Coates (in Sydney)

At 9am for the last 24 hours we average 6.75 kts and cover 162 n.miles, which keeps us to our schedule.

Life jacket , with epirb , to clip onto life-line to go up on the fore-deck in rough weather and at night time

25th. Jan. Day 10

Receiving a pleasing weather report from Bruce Buckley via email on the satellite phone

At 0900 hours we are half way. It is 1400 n.miles to Barbados! If we can average 6 kts. or more we will get there in time for Scott´s flight.
We certainly feel we are in the middle of the Atlantic. Looking out all we can see is a huge 360 degree horizon over vast areas of blue ocean.
Looking at our chart plotter and Google Earth it feels as though we are in the middle of nowhere. We are certainly very isolated. I don´t feel lonely as such because we are all actually having a very pleasant, challenging and fun time out here. Some how it feels good to be past the halfway mark. We are the furthest distance from land we will be, so now it´s all getting closer to Barbados. i guess it is a little scary at times wondering if we needed help how long would it take to arrive? or if it would arrive?

Sometimes, especially early on in the crossing , it all seems a bit daunting not knowing what to expect eg the distance and what may go wrong whether it is something to do with the boat itself or adverse weather. Ross says at one stage in the first day or so he worked out we had only traveled one hundreth of the distance! I cope with it by looking at it positively and enjoying the moment.
We haven´t seen another boat, or spotted one on the radar for the last 4 days.
We are at 18 degrees 5´and Bruce wants us to track further south to 17 degrees S (with a bonus anything below this) to take advantage of the best trade winds. So we need to do 35 n.miles directly south, or a heading of 250 degrees which would take us 100 miles to get there.
We are sailing well now but we are heading just north of west, and doesn´t suit us to go south. We are sailing as best we can and when the batteries need charging we will head south.
The fuel tank is about half full so if we head south and get better winds would be a great benefit.
At 1130 hours the winds increase to 20 kts. but in the wrong direction,and we have a 1.2 kt. current with us. So we change tack to 200 degrees to the port tack, and are now heading south of west. This rigging isn´t totally successful so Ross and Scott change it to goose-winging . Now we are tracking at up to 7.5 kts.
It is another glorious day out here. We even manage a short time sunbaking on the deck.
The rigging has to be changed again to a starboard tack. And sometime later it is altered back to goose-winging for the following winds tonight, still heading S of W and aiming to soon reach 17 degrees 30´south very soon.

We average 6.25 kts. overnight from 9pm. to 9am., and cover 78 n.miles. It is another magnificently calm night.

Jan. 26th. Day 11

Australia Day

It is another beautiful day here. The sea is crystal clear and a real mediterranean blue. Scott and I have fun sitting on the stern platform, tied in by a rope, and give our legs and feet a spa massage as the boat is motor-sailing along. The sea just looks so inviting.
The sails are still set in the goose-winging mode. The aim today is to reach 17degrees N where the the trade winds should still be strong enough to make our way west. The winds are still light, from E. -N.E., 6-10 kts., but the fuel tank is still more than half full. The consumption of fuel is low if the revs are kept low, which we can do and still maintain the required average speed.
At 1500 hours we reach our waypoint and head directly west, to Barbados. Unfortunately the winds have dropped. Ross and Scott decide to furl the sails, and so we are now just motoring, of course all the while being mindful of our fuel consumption. Let´s hope for some n.east trade winds soon!
Apart from the lack of wind we have had a lovely day on the boat. Scott now has another project - to help us sort out our celestial navigation. The stars have been so amazingly bright and clear it is encouraging us to learn more about them.
This evening Impulsive is rolling quite a bit without the sails up to steady her. Unfortunately as she lurches sideways at one stage, as Ross is throwing some "compost" rubbish overboard, he falls back hitting his lower ribs on his back on the stern instrument panel bar. He is sore and bruised but extremely lucky there are no fractures.
At 2230 hours the wind has come up enough to put the mainsail up and pole out the jib. We still need the motor on to boost up our speed but hopefully the winds will improve during the night. Actually there is no change.
In the previous 12 hours from 9pm-9am we tracked 71 n.miles averaging a bit less than 6 kts., and for the past 24 hours we tracked 141 n.miles averaging the same as for 12 hours. This has been our lowest set of averages so far.

Jan. 27. Day 12

According to Bruce there will be stronger winds later today, varying from N.E. to E-N.E.

Our not so good news this morning is we have run out of gas. Thank goodness for the microwave!

Scott preparing to cook porridge in the microwave

Trying to fill the gas bottles has been a saga and Ross has spent a great deal of time trying to organize it, including bringing a connection from Australia. Chris , in Pasito Blanco assured us he could have it done, but failed also. It amazes us that there isn´t some international agreement on the size and regulations for this. The gas bottles here are too large to fit into our gas bottle locker, and the regulations are more stringent than they used to be to fill the old ones.

It is lovely out here again today. All we need is some wind! It is balmy warm with a cool breeze out in the cockpit. We wear bathers mostly as it is now much warmer at this latitude. We have had port holes and hatches open most of the trip it has been so calm.

Exercise session on the fore-deck

Ross jotting down some verse notes while all is calm at the helm

Checking out emails for more news on the batteries

Scott is enjoying reading "The Book Thief". I am still reading "Jack de Crow". It is well written and has a great deal of humour, but I´m not sure if it´s the right thing to be reading on night watch. Sandy (the skipper/author ) gets into so many scrapes it puts many negative thoughts into my head. Ross is delving more into Celestial Navigation.

Starting the Celestial Navigation system

One of the great advantages of having Scott on board with us this trip is that Ross feels he can get the best sail setting for the yacht at all times. Sometimes with just the 2 of us on board it is not always practical to be changing the sails too often. Hooray for our first mate!

The winds came up as forecast at about 2pm varying up to 15 kts. from N.east. The mainsail is set to 3/4 it´s full size in anticipation of the squalls forecast later tonight. The headsail is set on the same starboard tack.
(Dinner works out well on the microwave. Scott has had some experience with this method of cooking so we are grateful to have his advice on this).
These conditions continue on through night watch. with the moon rising later and later eg 11.45 pm tonight. The light it gives is very welcome, along with the thousands of wonderful bright stars.

The average for the last 24 hours is 6.5 kts., which is excellent but we used the motor a lot. This was frustrating because we had the mainsail furled to about half size keeping in mind the weather report, and there was enough wind to sail. This is one time in-mast furling would have been an advantage for us.

Jan. 28 Day 13

The forecast is similar, 17-22 kts. from the N.E. so we sail now with the full mainsail and average 6.5 kts. There is still a prospect of trade winds showers and squalls , supposed to increase on Sunday, but it is lovely sailing and we can´t see any storms on the horizon. It is another glorious day out here - breakfast in the cockpit is idyllic.

Lengthening the knot of the headsail sheet where it is rubbing at the beak

Just before 1300 hours we reach the 2/3rds. waypoint, just under 900.n.miles to Barbados. Interestingly today is the first time any of us have mentioned any future planning eg Ross has some Caribbean chart books out, I want to contact our next guests and Scott is planning new work projects. It must be a psychological thought process of being this far into our trip.
The winds are swinging from n.n-east to e.n-east so need to be watched closely to adjust our C.O.G. to keep our boat speed up. As the wind gets stronger this is also necessary to prevent the sails flapping by keeping them filled, and preventing more strain on the rigging than necessary. It needs constant monitoring as the winds are so changeable, both in speed and direction.
The greater the angle up to 90 degrees on the dial the greater the chance of the sails staying filed. it is a great advantage to anticipate the boat swing to aft and turn up into the wind so endeavoring to maintain the boat speed and keep the sails filled. This makes for some exhilarating sailing especially when the winds gust up to 30 kts. and we make 9 kts. S.O.G.

Adjusting the sails

Generally the weather is as forecast tonight, and with some lulls. We actually see a cargo ship on the radar - the first one for 11 days.

The "boys" in the galley - experts at the dishes!

Chatting after dinner

The moon has not appeared tonight ( it did appear about 0300 hours for a short time apparently), but the sea is very calm.
Our average for the previous 24 hours is 6.7 kts., and we tracked 159 n.miles. This is all under sail so is excellent for our fuel consumption. (We have sailed for the last 36 hours).

Jan. 29th. Day 14

The forecast is much the same, with n.east to e.n.e.winds 18-23 kts. Easing of winds late afternoon, which will increase later to 20-25 kts. on Sunday and more in a direction towards the east.

Catching up on sleep

This afternoon there is some excitement when Ross notices the cord which holds the clew of the mainsail to the end of the boom is broken. The mainsail started to tear away from the boom. We had to turn up into the wind before the tear got worse. Of course the wind comes up about now so it is a bit of an exercise controlling the boom which is bouncing all over the place with Ross sitting or lying along it. Scott is able to stabilize the boom so Ross can re-attach the clew. The mainsail wants to blow out all over the boat, so the essence of this operation is to do it quickly without any more tearing. The sail is soon securely tied onto the boom. Then there is some time fiddling to put the sail back up.
My job is to keep the yacht up into the wind, and do some winching (automatic!)
The mainsail is put up 80% . This ensures there are 3 wraps of sail around the spindle to give more support, and at the bolt rope section at the foot of the sail where it started to tear away.
This is another occasion when we are very pleased to have Scott´s extra help and strength.
The sails are set in the goose-winging position with a following sea, with E of N.E. winds.

Tonight we call Heather and Steve and their families on the satellite phone. It is always wonderful to hear all is well at home. They have our co-ordinates so can check our tracking on Google Earth.

Night watch is challenging again. With the sails set to goose-wing we have following winds all night with several squalls of rain and winds in the high 20´s, sometimes 30 kts. These only lasted for short periods of time, and again the heavy rain is welcome to wash down the boat. The wind tended to come up strongly from the east.
Scott had a session of tracking at 10 kts. and he had come off the wind.
We have many course changes to take the pressure off the boat by coming down wind and to prevent the wind coming forward of the headsail.

Our average speed for the previous 12 hours is 6.7 kts. from 9pm to 9am, and the average for the previous 24 hours is 6.25 which is a good result considering our slow time yesterday afternoon. During the past 12 hours we have tracked79 n.miles.

Jan. 30th. Day 15

The forecast is much of the same, with the winds increasing 20-25 kts. We are actually comfortable with winds about 22 kts. and averaging 6.5 kts. We are now well on target to get Scott to Barbados on time and with all this wind the fuel consumption is looking good.

This morning Ross and Scott calibrate the auto pilot, increasing its rate of responses in relation to the boat´s motion. They hope to increase its response in any direction of the boat so as minimize the chance of the boat swinging up hard into a strong gust of wind catching the headsail on the wrong side and putting the spinnaker pole and the track to which it attaches on the mast under too much stress.

The day seems to pass quickly especially as Scott and I sleep in after night watch until 9am. At last Ross is sleeping better and gets up at 4am for his watch. He sleeps better earlier in the night, so Scott and I take the 8pm - 4 am shifts between us. We all consequently need our rest time during the day.

This morning it is lovely sitting up on the deck enjoying the motion of the boat as she is picked up by the following waves and gently glides down the front of them. It is a very peaceful time.

This evening we have an email from Mark Coates (who has been away for 3 weeks) about the Volt master battery charger. We have a few tests to check tomorrow.

Tonight I do my "jog" out in the cockpit. It is quite exhilarating hearing and seeing the water rushing by as Impulsive surges forwards through the water all the while seeing the outline of the sails in their goose-wing position and the masses of twinkling stars above. It is a clam night watch for both Scott and me, with no changes required. I even have time to read.
The peace is broken at 0500 hours when the winds strengthen and are all over the place. The headsail is back-winded and it is difficult for Ross to get Impulsive back on track. Also the bottom of the mainsail comes out of its runner with all the pressure of gybing. The radar shows we are in the middle of a very heavy squall. The three of us are extremely busy for a while and eventually all is back to normal and we have passed by the squall.
In these early hours there is a very fine sliver of a moon. It is always a welcome site.

None of us slept very well last night, even before the squall. I think we are starting to be excited about reaching Barbados, even though there are still over 400 n.miles to go.

The previous 24 hours we averaged 6.4 kts.

Jan.31st. Day 16

It is a lovely start to the day to wake up hearing the yacht slicing through the water, on the other side of the hull. In our forward cabin you can really feel the movements of the boat which can be quite bouncy in big seas or very relaxing in calmer seas.

This morning Ross notes findings of volts and amps intake and output to email to Mark to help with the diagnosis of the Volt Master Charger problems.

Today has continued similarly to last night and has needed a vigilant watch on the winds. We have a minor squall at 1800 hours.but seem to be just on the outskirts of it.

Night watch is beautifully calm with winds 17-22kts. slightly north of east, and a current of 1.2 kts. This same current has helped our speed each night. We really enjoy the sailing tonight.

The previous 24 hours we averaged 6.4 kts. and 153 n.miles.

Feb. 1st. Day 17

There is great excitement when Scott sights a whale this morning. Unfortunately Ross and I didn´t see it but it is lovely to know it is there. It came very close to Impulsive.
There are more flying fish on the deck this morning. This seems to be a regular occurance - poor things.

The spinnaker track is starting to come away from the mast probably from all the pressure from many hours of goose-winging. There is a weak spot here from an incident years ago in the Red Sea. We try using the headsail normally but have to go too far off course, so we are now just running with the mainsail.
As of 1230 hours we have 300 n.miles to go.

It is the perfect afternoon out here today and Scott spots the whale again. It is wonderful to watch it surfing in the waves behind the yacht, then coming up beside us, then crossing in front of the bow of impulsive to turn over ( we see his white underside) and dive down deep. We watch as he appears again behind the boat and repeats this whole routine. He seems to become more and more comfortable with this situation and comes closer and closer to us. It is exciting to see him surface out of the water and blow through his spout. Then we think he is starting to show off as he starts leaping high out of the water and plunging back down with a huge splash. The whale is about 25 feet long so we are pleased he is happy frolicking about and not being aggressive in any way.

Early evening we hit a frustrating time, just when we think we can arrive in Barbados in time for lunch on Thursday. The sea is choppy and the wind all over the place being caused by some minor squalls.The boat is lurching around and we haven´t much speed. Also we have to track 20 degrees off course to make the most of the winds there are.
We slow down so Ross and Scott can gybe the mainsail which makes it a bit more comfortable on board, but we still have to track off course. Fortunately the winds pick up a bit and this helps too. We are willing the winds to come more from the N.E.
Nothing much changes during the night.
Doing my usual jogging session out in the cockpit, tracking over this vast expanse of ocean and standing under the immense sky filed with stars, I feel very small in the scheme of things.

The average speed for the previous 24 hours is 6 knots.

Feb. 2nd. Day 18

Several pods of dolphins visit us this morning, including some calfs which are very cute and already very strong, fast swimmers. Also we are still seeing flying fish often.
The wind comes up for a while this morning and tracking along is more comfortable, and we are only 5 degrees off course. Later the wind drops out again and the mainsail isn´t properly filled, so starts thwacking. This is a very unpleasant sound, especially as one wonders what damage is being done. The mainsail is furled to about 1/8 th. its size just to help keep the boat steady.

The mainsail size reduced.

We have the boat running on turbo which conserves the fuel.
After many days of sailing this is quite relaxing. Scott and I enjoy another session sitting on the stern platform with our legs and feet being massaged in the water.

Fun off the stern platform

Only 120 n.miles to go

The micro-wave cooking has worked out well. I have only used it before to heat things but with Scott´s guidance we have cooked all the meals I had planned. It certainly has been a great backstop.

Night watch is straight forward, still motoring with just a small amount of mainsail up. We have 1.4 kts., and later 1.8 kts., of current in our favour so are tracking well. We are all amazed we still haven´t seen a boat since day 13, not even on the radar. We pass through a few squalls, one of which is quite rough and produces some heavy rain. It seems to last for hours. Thank goodness we don´t need to worry about the sails.

We averaged 6.8 ks. over the last 24 hours and tracked 161 n.miles
The fuel consumption has been amazing. We had a 1/4 of a tank left when we arrived here despite having had to motor for many hours to keep our speed up At the low revs we were running the engine was only 2.5 l. / hour.

Feb. 3rd. Day 19

Waking up to see land is very exciting.
Coming into Port Charles marina is a great feeling of relief and once we are tied up at the dock we can start feeling relaxed and pleased to have finished the crossing.

Tying up at Barbados

Ross organizes the customs, immigration and quarantine papers . Scott and I chat to some people on the dock and find out some local information eg. swimming with the turtles near the boat, local restaurant suggestions and the best places to visit on the island.

At the fuel dock

We then refuel while we are there and then finally tie up at our pen. We are fortunate to have the last visitors pen available. Impulsive is very pleased to be surrounded only by very large super-yachts!
This is the perfect pace to make land fall. Everyone is exceptionally friendly and this is a very attractive marina with only 10 berths. Opposite is the private marina hidden in behind the private houses and beaches.

View across to the private marina

Moving off to our berth

Celebratory drink now we are tied up in our pen

The yacht club here has a lovely setting and we enjoy sitting here for some hours over a celebratory lunch.
We have a toast to Bruce Buckley who supplied reliable weather forecasting and lots of encouragement for our crossing.

Relaxing lunch at the yacht club
Discussing the trip

Feb. 4th.

Ross deals with a few boat issues this morning. The dock master here is sure he can get the gas bottles filled - let´s hope so! Also he has an a appointment with a shipwright which proves to be very successful. He is able to replace the missing spacer between the foil and the mast, and has very practical suggestions eg how to add support to the spinnaker support track when we are in a port for long enough to do it.
Scott and I walk into the nearby town of Speightstown. In its early important trading days it was known as Little Bristol. It is an attractive small town still with some interesting old stone buildings. Some of the shops and a couple of the hotels are two- storey Georgian style with the overhanging balconies.
Steve, who came to talk to us on Impulsive yesterday has lived here for 6 months a year for 5 years. He made several suggestions of what we should see in Barbados, including a visit to a particular coffee shop here. It was the perfect place, right on the beach, with a magnificent view and they serve an excellent coffee, which is what Scott is looking for.
We walk back to the yacht along the lovely long stretch of beach here. The only problem is we cannot go through the private marina, so there is nothing else for it but to strip down to our undies and swim the last small distance across the channel to Impulsive. Scott carried our shoes, clothes and his mobile phone above his head in one hand. Ross has quite a surprise when he sees us come past the yacht club!

We take a spectacular drive along the east coast to have our final lunch with Scott at Atlantis. This restaurant is perched up high with wonderful views over the Atlantic ocean, and produces delicious cuisine.

Scenery driving up the east coast

Typical roadside scene of sugar-cane

Some very relaxed goats!

Lunch at the Atlantis restaurant

Ross and I farewell Scott at the airport after a very special 3 weeks together. We feel very fortunate to have shared this amazing experience with him. He added to our trip in many ways, but particularly with his good company and his very practical input. We will miss our first mate!
Favourite recipes for the crossing:

For breakfast:
mission bread wrap with 1. egg and bacon
2. egg and asparagus and hollandaise sauce
Method: Coddle or fry the eggs. Wrap in mission bread with lightly fried bacon or asparagus (and hollandaise sauce). These are delicious and if wrapped in a paper serviette there is very little washing up

For lunch:
Scott´s sushi

For dinner:
1. Freshly caught tuna barb-e-qued in foil with Henry Langdon´s herbs and spices,
served with ratatouille and salad
2. Prawns and artichoke risotto
3. Beef bourguignon served with baby potatoes, zucchini and salad(an excellent dish to pre-cook double quantities and freeze for a long trip).

The full menu will be posted at a later date.

We have a tedious drive back around the coast and back up north to Impulsive. The traffic is very heavy along the narrow road, but luckily it is mostly along the coast. We call into the well known fish market at Oistins and watch the fishmonger´s art of filleting the flying fish. his is the local dish of the area. We drive through Bridgetown, seeing the Garrison Historical area with its C19 military buildings, Fort Charles and along the attractive Careenage with its old warehouses turned into shops and restaurants.
Trafalgar Square named after Nelson is now called "National Heroes Square".
We arrive at Speighstown in time to buy local fruit and veges from small stores set up outside the shops. It is a great way to shop.
We return to the small restaurant by the sea, where Scott and I had been this morning, for a light dinner.