Atlantic Crossing Blog By Nev aka The First Lady – My First Week !
One week at sea on our Atlantic Crossing on our catamaran Two Drifters and I can honestly say this isn’t what I expected at all. And that’s not in a bad way either.
The run up to getting the boat ready was one of the most stressful times of my life. There just seemed to be a never-ending list of jobs and no light at the end of the tunnel.
Add into the mix, visiting family in December, Christmas, New Year, making 11 freezer meals in advance and getting ready to receive four crew members on board a few days before we left and I very almost lost the plot. If it hadn’t been for Julie, my lovely American friend on another Lagoon 440 (also doing this rally), then I might well have turned around where possible and run for the hills! Julie and I have been able to support each other through every challenge of the day that presented itself in the last month and come out smiling on the other side. Now that’s what friendship is all about.
To top it all, neither Ferg nor I were sleeping properly. We were both surviving on three to four hours a night. And Ferg, not being one for lying in bed contemplating what needed to be done, was often up at 3am just getting it done.
We live on the boat full time and so we’re all up-to-date on what we need from a safety aspects; but doing an Atlantic Crossing means getting so much more kit on board. Testing every safety appliance from the life-jackets to the fire extinguishers, which isn’t a bad thing to do anyhow, but everything needed to be done by a set date, and with five bank holiday days in the month before we left and the chandlers and service trades shut, it made it more than a tad difficult to gauge if we’d be ready or not.
Prior to leaving, we spent two weeks in the marina Santa Cruz and with everything we had to do, I still didn’t manage to set foot into a clothes shop, nor get to a hairdresser, let alone find some where for a stress-relieving massage. And when I put my back out before we left after carrying too many Lidl shopping bags down the pontoon, I was in hell’s own mess. Suddenly even trying to hang up the washing, or vacuum the floor went to pot. Not what you need when stress levels are at their highest.
So by the time we came to actually leaving the dock, I couldn’t wait to get going. I was literally screaming “Get Me Out Of Here!” Friends who have had the same sailing experience before us back in November when their rally left said as much, and that as soon as we were out of the marina entrance the weight would start to fall off our shoulders. Did it? Well yes, for a few hours. The sun was out, the crew – all experienced mono-hull sailors, were getting to know how to sail a catamaran and all was well in our world. That was until the weather changed and we ended up with six-foot waves, coasting down one at a record speed for us of 17 knots and on board was a general feeling of seasickness.
The first night was pretty uncomfortable. And I questioned whether or not I’d be able to cope with this for the next two to three weeks. But with a new dawn came a new day, where it settled down a little and gradually we got into a rhythm.
I thought we’d get bored away from land with no internet and little communication with the outside world; but there seriously doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done!
My shared watch is 8am to midday and 8pm to midnight, so I get eight hours off between each shift which is very civilised and gives me plenty of time to get my head down.
As I know the kitchen inside out, I find I’m in it a lot of the time cooking or directing; but everyone is taking turns to prepare meals and clean-up which is great. Not to mention the amount of baking that’s going on. We’ve been making our own bread, banana cake, scones and biscuits, which is in addition to the lunches and evening meals.
Catching and cooking fish too is a definite plus point. With two Mahi Mahi caught in the first few days. And as for the dolphins – we’ve been treated to several dolphin shows a day with a pod of 30 or so ducking and diving in and around our hulls and even jumping up in the air doing somersaults. It’s just the best in memory moments.
Each day, Fergus and I have prepared a ‘Skipper Says’ task, which is just a bit of fun for everyone to do together. It gives us all something to look forward to and is a focus point of the day. So far we’ve had Afternoon Tea on the Sun Deck, with homemade scones and banana bread and a choice of Earl Grey or Yorkshire Tea. We’ve also had a kids’ party with games such as pass the parcel and party food complete with party pop!
I’ve yet to sit down and read all the books I downloaded onto my kindle before we left. Let alone watch any films. And I really must pick up the books we bought on cruising the Caribbean so I know what we’re doing when we get there!
So, when I expected to be relaxed to the point of boredom on this trip, I’m not. If I thought I’d be scared, I’m not. The camaraderie between the six of us is fantastic.
We’ve also been tag-teaming with our good American friends on J-Squared, who have always been within a few miles of us and who we talk to several times a day on the VHF. We’ve even been close enough to throw them some of our homemade brownies, along with a tennis ball (for weight). As someone noted, with two catamarans travelling together, it’s like having your own personal coastguard by your side in case needed.
I am relaxed and enjoying myself. I’ve got time to write, talk to people without being interrupted by emails or phones ringing and chill-out if I want to. I’m not mad keen on the large waves as and when they happen, but each day is so different on board and that means you’re never far away from blue skies and smooth seas.
We’ve now paused at Mindelo on Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde islands to refuel, restock and perhaps have a beer. But bring on the next leg…Whoa We’re Going To Barbados……