|Crossing started off beautifully!|
Every day around noon GMT time, we checked in via the sat phone with all the boats in our crossing group. We marked their positions on the chart plotter, as well as our own. It was nice to see the progress each day.
12/9: Left in the afternoon, around 1-1:30pm. Flew Parasailor for a bit and put it away at sunset. Ran with the main and jib overnight. Kids did school while dinner was cooking. Dinner was spaghetti bolognese, fresh baked bread, and salad. We are all excited to start this journey!
12/10: Sailing in light winds, flew wing on wing. Ran water maker, did laundry, showers, cleaned up the boat. Fast sailing. Had omelets for breakfast. Kids did school. Lunch was southwestern chicken tacos with fresh veggies. Started in on reading new books and playing board games. No fishing has started yet, as the fridges and freezers are stocked full! Dinner was burgers and potato salad. All calm throughout the day and into the night. Bioluminescence!
12/11: Stef created a scavenger hunt for the kids with clues hidden all around the boat. The prize was a small lego set. Nice day sailing.
12/12: Fast sailing to start and then we slowed down as the seas began to build. Flew Parasailor (BIG RED) all day and doused around 1am, due to the winds picking up to 25 knots true wind speed (TWS). Breakfast: french toast Lunch: leftovers Dinner: meatloaf and mashed potatoes with salad.
12/13: Seas large and confused. Flying the main, speed 6-7 knots. So stoked as we hit 8-9 knots, depending upon the gusts and as we surfed down the waves. Wind about 16-17 tws.
3-4 meter waves behind us, some come from different directions. We cleaned out the white ice chest today and transferred everything over to the gray Dometic one. Everything else went into the freezer. White ice chest is now just for drinks storage and things that don't need to stay cold. Ran water maker, did a load of laundry, showers, etc. Breakfast was oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon. Kids finished school early today, before I came on watch! Lunch: leftovers with salami and cheese, etc. We played a round of Monopoly. We will have pizza tonight and grill some chicken, as we need to start using up the meat. Pesto grilled chicken pizza, chorizo and cheese pizza, and plain cheese pizza. Flew Big Red until around 11pm, when the wind picked up. Our watch schedule for the night starts at 7pm and we do 3 hour shifts. Works well so far.
12/14: Overcast day, gray with a little bit of blue sky showing. We've had Big Red flying since around 8am this morning. Swell is all over the place, rocking the boat. Not getting any good sleep. Wind is between 11-13 knots, swell confused, speed 7-8 knots. Made cinnamon coffee cake for breakfast and a loaf of bread. Been up since 4am, because I just couldn't get to sleep. The sideways motion of the boat as we surf down the waves is not the most comfortable down in the cabin. Drinking a lot of coffee today!
12/15: Jared and I were asleep and Matt on watch, when we hear Matt call us up. Around midnight, the metal clip on the halyard failed, causing Big Red to fall into the sea and go under the boat. I quickly turned off windvane mode and set autopilot to standby. The props were already folded (which I think saved the sail from damage). After drifting for a bit and working out the problem, we let all the lines loose as Jared had grabbed a hold of part of the sail. Jared was clipped in near the sugar scoop and as he would pull up a handful of the sail, Matt and I would assist. Slowly and carefully, we got everything back on board. An hour later, we were sitting in the cockpit cleaning up the lines and setting the sail aside until daylight. I took over watch while the guys cleaned up. After I grabbed some sleep off shift, Jared and I set about inspecting the sail and wiping off the water. No damage!!! We stopped around lunchtime as Jared had to climb the mast to retrieve the halyard. This was not easy in the big swell and he came down with some nasty bruises. Fortunately, he is ok and we have our halyard back! He cut off the damaged clip and end of the line. Our son Matthew has this in his cabin as a keepsake now.
For the rest of the voyage, until we can get a new clip, we will tie a bowline to the sock.
We relaunched Big Red a few hours later and were back in business! Yay! Bright sunshine today and gorgeous blue water. The rays of the sun filter down into it and makes for a lovely scene. We are all still in amazement that Big Red is ok!
Lots of flying fish around the boat. Wind died around 5pm, so we doused Big Red and flew the jib and mainsail. Motored a little overnight as the wind died off. Lunch was Asian chicken salad with ramen noodles. Dinner was chicken stir-fry with noodles.
12/16: Caught a huge mahi-mahi and had a great dinner! Lovely day sailing, despite the bumpy seas. Tossed all plants (except aloe vera plant) as they were not doing well at sea and had developed a white mold. Plus we noticed little gnats in the soil. Can't have that when we check into Barbados, so it was a good cleaning up day. We changed our watch schedule to start at 8pm, as it is getting darker later. We alternate during the day between napping, being on watch, reading, playing games, checking the kids' schoolwork, etc. It is pretty relaxing. Relaunched Big Red as the wind came back.
12/17: Jared's birthday today! Great day with calm following seas and good wind. We caught two more mahi-mahi, but let them go as they were a bit small. Ran the water maker (we always keep one tank full and run it when the other gets close to empty, then we switch tanks. This ensures we always have a full tank of water in case the watermaker has issues). We do laundry when the water maker is running. Washed all the bedding and towels. Felt good to get all of that accomplished. They dry quick in this wind!
Breakfast: biscuits and gravy Lunch: salami, cheese, crackers, trail mix, and mixed snacky stuff. We were still sort of full from breakfast.
We had moussaka for dinner with cucumber and tomato salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Big birthday cake: 2 layer vanilla cake with raspberry filling; frosting was vanilla buttercream with shaved coconut and chocolate. We also brought out the ice cream we had hidden in the back of the freezer for reaching 1/2 way! We took out 3 of the containers: raspberry mango sherbert, strawberries and cream, vanilla caramel brownie. Yum!
The monohull group checked in as they left Cape Verde today.
Tonight we called family, in honor of reaching 1/2 way (well almost, it would officially be the following day, but with the time zone difference, we called today).
Breakfast: cereal and oatmeal. Lunch: rice mixed with quinoa and Korean Beef recipe. Caught a huge skipjack tuna and will have it for dinner (sushi and also cooked), with coconut lime rice and black beans. It was delicious! We also caught a mahi, but tossed it back because we already had the tuna. Today officially marks 1/2 way to Barbados! We are so very excited!!! HAven't seen a single ship since leaving Gomera. Noone on the radio either.
Ran the water maker again today, as I needed to finish washing the rugs and rest of the towels and linens.
Around 5pm, I noticed a small tear in Big Red, so we pulled in the sail and repaired it with sailtape. Relaunched within 10 minutes. Upon closer inspection, the area had a scratch mark, so I guess it scraped somewhere along the hull or saildrive and incurred that damage. Fortunately, it is made of ripstop material, so we are lucky it didn't get worse. We have had Big Red flying for over 24 hours now and making good speed. We have about 6 days left at sea, as long as we keep going fast. Average speed is between 6-9 knots, depending on the wind and swell. Sometimes we even get up to 10-11 knots! Once we got up to 14.2 sog (speed over ground)!! We keep seeing lots of flying fish and a few patches of sargassum weed. No dolphins or whales yet.
We are trying to go as fast as possible and keep downloading weather reports to see where we can find more wind. We are hoping to arrive on Christmas, but we will see.
11pm, we put away Big Red as the wind picked up quite a bit. We are cautious as we don't want a blown sail. We are now flying the jib and making 5 knots speed. So slow! Sometimes we get up to 6 knots and I feel a little better about that speed. We have an ETA counter on our chart plotter, so I like to see that date change to sooner rather than later.
Sunny turned 4 years old today! She got spoiled with lots of treats. She also got bacon, chicken, and fish. Lucky pup!
12/19: I am on watch and it is still pitch black at 7:41am. The sun won't come up for another hour or so. I made coffee and am on my second cup. All is quiet. The waves have been a bit confused, so still bumpy, and the winds flukey (shifty). What ever happened to 'set it and forget it'? We still make sail changes. We have had a few days with leaving Big Red up and not touching a thing, but I wish we could just do that for the rest of the trip.
It is warmer now, so we aren't needing sweaters, hats, or blankets. I used to use a thick blanket on watch, but don't need it now. Right now our position is 17 degrees 59 minutes decimal 094N 40 degrees 32 minutes decimal 885W. Water temp is around 78 degrees. Time is 7:46am (ships clock). No idea what the actual time is in this zone. The sun gets pretty intense during the day.
Spent the day cleaning (with Sunny's fur, it is a constant battle) and I finally got a nap in. Matt (our son) noticed something on Big Red, so we took it down to inspect. Turns out, it was just stitching and a small piece of scrap sail tape. All good, so we relaunched.
The bananas (plantanos) finally ripened! Now it is a race to consume them all before they go bad! We will have bananas at every meal and snack time. They are small, sweet, and delicious! Jared put up the swing today (attached it to the clew of the jib, as Big Red is using the halyard), so we all took a turn swinging, being rocked by the sea. It was fun!
Lunch was leftovers and more snacky stuff. Dinner was grilled hot dogs, bratwurst sausages, baked beans, potato salad, etc. We brought out the rest of the ice cream for dessert (vanilla, cookies and cream, chocolate fondant). Had another beautiful sunset with pink and purple clouds. The stars show up as the sun sets below the horizon. So many stars!
12/20: 999nm left as of 7:38am. Drinking lots of coffee as we are tired today.
Not much sleep last night due to managing Big Red. The wind died off to hardly anything, so we had to adjust the sail. Then a squall came through around 6am and we watched it closely. Thankfully, we had increased wind and therefore increased our speed. Now at 9:49am, we are going slow as the wind went away. Making 5-6 knots. 981.9 nautical miles left to go, as of 9:52am. Winds are light and sea is calm. Gentle rollers go under us and on to other destinations. I miss the speed we get with squalls! And the rinsing of the boat! It sure needs it.
The elves got up to some mischief today, rainbow popcorn and now the kids are making garlands to hang on the tree.
Starting to see larger patches of sargassum weed. It also snags on our fishing line, so that is a constant chore, cleaning that off.
Breakfast was cereal--too tired for cooking. Made sugar cookie dough for Christmas cookies today. Jared made banana bread. Played Spoons (a card game we learned from Arakai). Dinner was creamy pasta carbonara with fresh baked bread and veggies.
12/21: Around 2am, we had a big squall come through. Max tws was 31.5 knots, so we took down Big Red. It was only down for a few minutes though, as the squall passed pretty quickly. We got a good rinsing. We hit 14.2 knots speed over ground with that storm! The squalls we experience at night are much smaller and we enjoy the burst of speed we get with them. ETA on the chart plotter says 26 or 27th now.
Around 4am, we came upon another large squall and put away Big Red again. The starboard sheet caught under the boat, but we let the line loose and pulled it back on board. We flew the jib and cruised along between 6-8 knots.
9am: debating on whether to relaunch Big Red, so we can go faster. The wind is gusting into the 20s, but consistently in the teens. Good wind for scooting right along and making 8-10 knots! We will wait for more daylight and reassess. The sky is all overcast now and raining off and on.
The passage has started to take its toll on us, as we are not getting enough sleep (well, I am not, I think the guys are fine). I started sleeping in the saloon, with less noise. We are looking forward to anchoring and sleeping with no noise!
Launched Big Red around 9:30am and making 7-8 knots speed. Wind 16-17 tws, 9-10 aws. Seas a little bumpy. Rain clouds around but now we have blue sky over us. Thunderhead to starboard. Heading COG 260. 814 nm left to go as of 11:49am.
Breakfast: cereal, bananas, banana bread.
Luch: pasta salad with tuna, bread, cucumber and tomato salad. Need to use the last of the fresh veggies and apples.
Dinner: rotisserie chicken, pork loin, pasta salad, veggies.
Night is super calm with steady winds. Nice. Air temp warmer, so leaving hatches open for air circulation.
12/22: Just came on watch at 2:57am. Nice calm conditions. Wind 16-17 tws, 8-9 aws,. Seas calm and rollers behind us. Not bad. 716.9nm left to go. Water temp 26.5 C. Moon is bright as we have full moon, water sparkles with the moonlight. Can't see bioluminescence with the moonlight though. Today we will bake Christmas cookies and decorate them. Need to start wrapping gifts as well. Also the kids are doing a straw challenge today as part of their science/stem.
We had a real treat tonight! We had a couple of pilot whales visit us and played around the boat for about 30 minutes, just before sunset! What an awesome experience! They would turn over on their backs to show their bellies as they checked us out.
12/23: Getting closer! Kids excited for Christmas. Pizza for dinner. Been really busy doing stuff around the boat, so no time to take notes.
12/24: pancakes for breakfast. Wrapped gifts after kids went to bed and placed under the tree and on saloon table. Christmas lights are festive and cozy. Stockings stuffed. Santa even brought something for our friend Matt.
|Christmas at sea!|
12/25: Christmas pancakes (red and green), sausages, fruit, hot cocoa with marshmallows made for a nice breakfast. The kids loved their presents and played all day. Dinner: Goose with sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, couscous. Called family from sat phone. We took a crew photo in Santa hats, and also it was our last night at sea on this passage! So very excited!!! We will reach land tomorrow! Lunch: pesto pasta with grilled chicken and fresh bread
12/26: Land ho! We had a nice night last night. Breakfast today was biscuits and gravy. Lunch: canned duck (long story about why we have this), gravy, peas, carrots, corn, white beans, beets. Yum!
Dinner: Pesto pasta and chicken
We sailed right into the anchorage, dousing Big Red, just before we dropped anchor. We anchored in Carlisle Bay at 2:45pm Took a crew photo around 3pm. Saw our friends on Dragonfly anchored by us, and they brought us cookies. We met No Worries, a dutch family, who brought over treats for Sunny. What a nice welcome!
Kids jumped right in to swim around, Sunny swam as well. This anchorage is next to a cruise ship port, where we will have to go check in to customs. First task was finding a flight home for Big Matt (we had to call our friend Big Matt and our son Little Matt during the trip to avoid confusion).
The customs office closed before we could get there (had to have Matt's flight info in order to remove him from the crew list).
We crashed into bed after a late dinner of couscous and chicken. Beers to celebrate the crossing.
|Just a few minutes after we dropped the hook off of Bridgetown, Barbados!|
12/27: Early this morning, Stef and Big Matt went to check into the country and remove Matt from our crew list. Jared dropped us off and we walked the 20 minutes to the port. After checking through security and receiving our wristbands, we proceeded towards the A-framed mall. We visited health first and filled out one form, and gave our crew list. We chatted about the island, her family, and she gave us some info about the island. Then we received a slip of paper and instructions to visit the customs office. We filled out two more forms, twice, as they don't make copies, and then we had to visit immigration last. It took in total about an hour (with an extra hour wait for the customs lady to return from her visit to a cruise ship that arrived). We will have to pay a fee of $50 upon checkout, and visit customs and then immigration again to receive our clearance paper. Noonsite says the process is difficult, but I think that is because they give priority to the cruise ships. Port Charles is also probably only one office, and they don't have to deal with cruise ships, so its easier.
The anchorage here at Carlisle Bay is ok. Holding in sand, but there are lots of small rocks, which means the anchor may take awhile to bite in. The beach is lovely. The noise at night is awful. Large party boats blasting music from about 7pm to 7am (seriously, it is all night long) make for poor sleeping conditions. We are moving away from here as soon as we meet up with the other kid boats and have our New Year's party. Heading to Martinique after this.
I'll add photos to this post after I get better wifi. The anchorage signal is not the greatest and won't let me upload anything at the moment.