Atlantic Crossing West to East – Part Two

Part One of the Atlantic Crossing West to East towards the Azores can be found under this LINK.

Day 8
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 64 nm
  • Total Distance: 799 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 2,7 hours
  • Approx heading: 045
  • Breakfast: Youghurt with musli
  • Lunch: Poke Bowl
  • Dinner: Carbonara leftovers
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:10/22:41
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 23

After drifting the entire night because the engine made strange vibrations, we started the day with testing the engine. The vibrations were gone and the engine was running smoothly again. It was probably something stuck in the propeller that had gotten loose during the night. We didn’t run the engine very long since the wind had started to pick up, so we hoisted the sails instead. We made good progress during the day. We tried to fish, but didn’t catch anything this day either. It was sunny but we could feel that the air has become a lot cooler than when we started.

Poke Bowl for lunch.
Day 9
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 124 nm
  • Total Distance: 923 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 055
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Carbonara
  • Dinner: Poke Bowl
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:00/22:36
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 22

During the night, at Petras nightshift, she woke up from her nap by a loud bang. Took a look around and realized that the genoa halyard had snapped, and the sail was in the water. We took the sail up from the water and hoisted one of our other headsails for the cutterstay. The night itself was also very cold. During the day we tried to make sure that the genoa got dry. The genoa halyard is made out of wire and we didn’t have material and so on to fix it during the crossing (when we got to Horta we replaced the wire). Our main goal was therefore to make sure we got the genoa nice and dry so that we could store it. We made good speed during the day anyway, with the biggest headsail for the cutterstay and the main.

Day 10
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 98 nm
  • Total Distance: 1021 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 1,7 hours
  • Approx heading: 050
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Knorr-pasta
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:51/22:33
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 21

Cold and humid during the night. The boat was covered dew in the morning, so we got rid of all salt. It hadn’t rain anytime since we left Sint Maarten and the boat was covered with salt crystals. When the dew came it took most of it away. During the night we saw some lightning in the distance, fortunately it didn’t come close to us. We ran the engine for a while in the morning to catch up with Sanuti once more. When we stopped the engine and hoisted the sails again we soon realized that we had lost the steering! We quickly took down the sails again and launched our sea anchor so we could investigate what had happened. When we took down the sails we had a pod of dolphins jumping around the boat. When the boat stopped they all looked very confused and stayed for a while to see if we would start moving again anytime soon. We started investigating the steering and quickly saw that it was one of the wires for the steering that had snapped, so we took a part of the genoa halyard and replaced to replace the broken steering wire with (once in Horta we replaced it again to a new one). After 4 hours adrift we had the new steering wire in position and we could continue and took up the sea anchor. We noticed that it had spun around a lot and thus it didn’t work as it should. A lesson learned and when we launched the sea anchor again a couple of days later we did some adjustments, but more on that later.  We set sail and ate lunch, we were both very tired and hungry. We did some sail changes during the day, ran the engine and then hoisted sails again. At one point when we hoisted the biggest headsail, we noticed that it had teared a bit. We took it down again and hoisted the second biggest instead. We were too tired to take care of the sail this day so we left for the day after. In the evening the wind died and we started the engine. We had a lot of current against us (1-1,5 knots).

Trying to fix steering wire, not easy with all the waves making a lot of movements on the rudder. We have an emergency tiller which we fixed the rudder with while we worked with the wires.
A cool sunset.
Day 11
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 89 nm
  • Total Distance: 1110 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs:  20,2 hours
  • Approx heading: 060
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Poke Bowl
  • Dinner: Pizza
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:42/22:28
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 23

It was a calm night on engine without anything major happening. Yesterday was cloudy weather but today the sun is shining. We saw a bird that looked like some kind of eagle that tried to land on our mizzen mast. We have seen a lot of Portuguese Man O’War (a colonial organism which looks like a jellyfish, they sting quite badly). We spent the afternoon repairing the sail that teared yesterday. It is no wind so we have used the engine all day, and still have a lot of current against us. We also saw Bottlenose Dolphins, when we see dolphins we usually see Common Dolphins. The Bottlenoses were much bigger!

Sail repair!
Day 12
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 98 nm
  • Total Distance: 1208 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 22,4 hours
  • Approx heading: 070
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Instant Noodles
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:34/22:24
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 20

A calm night by engine with current against us once more. Hoisted the sails after breakfast, wing on wing. Got visited by some dolphins. Did some more sewing on the biggest headsail, added some extra fabric on places that looked worn out in hopes that it won’t tear up again. It was sunny all day and we had halfway celebration with real champagne (if you read about our Atlantic crossing towards the Caribbean you know that we bought very cheap sparkling wine in Cape Verde for halfway celebration and it turned out to be non-drinkable).

Halfway celebration!
Day 13
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 108 nm
  • Total Distance: 1316 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 1 hour
  • Approx heading: 070
  • Breakfast: Newly baked buns withe cheese and marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Canned Gulasch-soup with homemade bread and creme fraiche
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:24/22:18
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 20

Still a lot of current against us in the morning. We are starting to loose Sanuti after sailing together for almost two weeks. Since we don’t have the genoa anymore we have a hard time keeping up with them. Saw dolphins this morning as well. Our autopilot drive unit gave up during the day and our windvane had some trouble steering the boat in low winds but we managed to get it to steer good enough. But we realized that it probably needs a thorough cleaning session. In the afternoon the current changed direction and after a couple of days sailing against the current we had it with us.

Day 14
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 127 nm
  • Total Distance: 1443 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 080
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Garlic bread with salami and olives
  • Dinner: Quickfried tuna with potatoes and chili-mayo
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:12/22:10
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 20

We have had good winds all day. The windvane has been able to steer the boat, and we have been sailing straight against the target. We have had some current against us, but not so much and sometimes no current at all. Today, just before lunch we had less than 1000 nautical miles left. Have spent some time reading and so on.

Day 15
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 116 nm
  • Total Distance: 1559 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0,3 hours
  • Approx heading: 090
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Garlic bread with salami and olives
  • Dinner: Quickfried tuna with potatoes and chili-mayo
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 8:01/22:03
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 20

During the night we had to do some sail changes since the wind picked up a bit. In the morning we had a lot of waves in the cockpit. After lunch it calmed down. We got notice that some bad weather that was incoming in about 3-4 days, so we changed to a more southerly course. We saw a Spanish fishing vessel from Galicia. The wind died out even more during the afternoon and we had to start the engine and hand-steer. It started to rain, so it was not very nice. We got some wind late afternoon/evening again but when it died out again during the night we decided to drift a couple of hours instead of handsteering in pouring rain.

Hand-steering in the rain…
Day 16
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 95 nm
  • Total Distance: 1654 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 9,2 hours
  • Approx heading: 095
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with apple sauce
  • Lunch: Knorr-pasta
  • Dinner: Canned Gulasch-soup with creme fraiche.
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 7:55/21:56
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 20

After a couple of hours adrift during the night we had some wind in the morning and could sail again. Since our windvane hadn’t been working very well and our autopilot had broke down we decided to take down the windvane and to do a service of it. It rained almost the entire day and Petra sat out handsteering while Thomas serviced the windvane. After the service the windvane worked much better! It continued to rain all day and evening. When the wind died out and we took down the sails we decided to drift the entire night. We really didn’t want to handsteer in rain all night.

To be continued….

All our blog posts related to Atlantic crossings can be found under the link HERE.

Atlantic Crossing West-> East – Part One

Our time in the Caribbean had come to an end and it was time for us to start the Atlantic Crossing, west to east, back to Europe.

Day 1
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 0nm
  • Total Distance: 0nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 000
  • Breakfast: 
  • Lunch: Spagetti Bolognese (pre-prepared)
  • Dinner: Pasta with creamy chicken sauce (pre-prepared)
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:41/22:34
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 27

We left Simpson Bay at the 10:30 bridge opening together with Sanuti. We first sailed west around Sint Maarten and passed Anguilla on the west side. It was a chill, sunny day and we focused on getting into the rhythm of the sea. We had very good speed during the day (5,5-6 knots) and were able to sail on a more northerly course than we had expected we would be able to do.

We left Sint Maarten together with Sanuti to start our Atlantic crossing, from the west to the east.
Day 2
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 147 nm
  • Total Distance: 147 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0.8 hours
  • Approx heading: 030
  • Breakfast: Yoghurt with müsli and bananas
  • Lunch: Spagetti Bolognese (pre-prepared)
  • Dinner: Pasta with creamy chicken sauce (pre-prepared)
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:36/22:35
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 26

The night was calm, we did good speed during the evening. The wind died out a bit in the morning. The GPS on the autopilot behaved a bit strange, so we had to calibrate it. Thomas saw a fish swimming around the windvane. We haven’t been seasick yet, but it has been calm sea state. We still sailing close to Sanuti, but we been having some communication issues with the radio.

Trying to communicate and download weather…
Sunset at sea on our second day of the Atlantic crossing, west to east.
Day 3
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 124 nm
  • Total Distance: 271 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 000
  • Breakfast: Yoghurt with müsli and bananas
  • Lunch: Spagetti Bolognese (pre-prepared)
  • Dinner: Pasta with creamy chicken sauce (pre-prepared)
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:31/22:38
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 26

We still have very nice sailing conditions, good winds and not so much waves. Sunny and warm weather. We are still sailing close to Sanuti. Tried to catch fish during the day but without any luck. We spent the day in the sun listening to music. We managed to get contact with the radio and downloaded some fresh weather files. Had a lot of current against us the entire day.

Day 4
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 132 nm
  • Total Distance: 403 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 010
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Pizza
  • Dinner: Spagetti Bolognese (pre-prepared)
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:27/22:40
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 26

Still good conditions. During the night a Norweigan container ship called for us on VHF, but it was far away (and we had already passed each other) and we barely heard the call so didn’t answer it, unfortunately. So far we have seen way more ships than on the crossing to the Caribbean. We see at least 2 ships/day. Tried to fish today again, without any luck. Took a swim and read. Quite an uneventful day in general.

A lot of seaweed in the Sargasso Sea.
Lunch pizza!
Day 5
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 123 nm
  • Total Distance: 526 nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 0 hours
  • Approx heading: 010
  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with bananas
  • Lunch: Pizza
  • Dinner: Spagetti Bolognese(pre-prepared)
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:27/22:40
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 26

We had good winds during the night and morning, which died out during the day. We started the engine in the afternoon. We took a swim today as well, since it was very hot and sunny, and also a shower! We have read a bit and given each other a massage (easy to get stiff when not moving so much). Tried to fish, but didn’t catch anything. We ran the watermaker for when we went by engine. We shared a beer and had some nice snacks in the afternoon. We passed a ship quite close by (5 nm) and later in the evening we passed a big tanker that was just drifting out at sea.

Day 6
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 104 nm
  • Total Distance: 630nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 23,5 hours
  • Approx heading: 020
  • Breakfast: Newly baked buns withe cheese and marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Carbonara
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:21/22:41
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 27

No wind and we have used the engine the entire day. Petra saw a fin in the water in the morning, which we think was a shark. It didn’t move like a whale do. We took a swim later anyway, together with Sanuti. It was extremely calm and you could see the sun rays fight there way down to the deep water (7000 meters). It was a very pretty and red sunset. Had some oranges and almonds for snack in the afternoon. Read a lot and downloaded a new Grib-file so we could plan our sail.

Very calm when we took a swim together with Sanuti.
Very cool to see the sunrays in the deep blue ocean.

atlantic crossing west east

atlantic crossing west east

atlantic crossing west east

Day 7
  • Distance last 24 hrs: 105nm
  • Total Distance: 735nm
  • Engine hours last 24 hrs: 22,5 hours
  • Approx heading: 010
  • Breakfast: Buns with cheese/marmalade and tea
  • Lunch: Pasta with pesto
  • Dinner: Quickfried tuna with rice, mango salsa and chili mayo.
  • Sunrise/Sunset (UTC): 9:15/22:41
  • Water temperature (Celsius): 24

After the very calm day yesterday the wind picked up a bit, but not very much. We decided to hoist the spinnaker! We had a really nice afternoon sail with the spinnaker before we took it down. Sanuti caught a fish, a tuna, and were so very kind and shared it with us. Thanks! The fish was very good but we had a not so nice evening. Big swell started coming in and the sails were not able to fill, as there was quite little wind still. We started the engine and noticed that it was vibrating more than it should. We suspected that it was some seaweed that had gotten stuck in the propeller, and we tried to reverse to get it off. It had gotten dark so we couldn’t dive down and look at the propeller. We didn’t dare continue with the engine so we turned it off and decided to drift through the night instead. Sanutis autopilot was not working so they decided to drift with us.

atlantic crossing west east
Spinnaker sailing on the Atlantic ocean, can you see the ship on the horizon?
Sanuti also hoisted spinnaker.
“Sauti” shared the tuna they caught with us! 😀
A night adrift, the current pushed us backwards.

All our blog posts related to Atlantic crossings, West -> East and East -> West, can be found under the link HERE.

A visit to St Barths and final preparations

One day in Sint Maarten we decided to take the ferry to the previous Swedish colony St Barths. Now it belongs to France, but it was Swedish for a time during 17th and 18th century.

We took the ferry in the morning and since we had been in Sint Maarten for 4 days of more we didn’t have to do any testing or quarantine. We arrived to fancy Gustavia and took a walk around. A lot of famous, rich people have houses in the island and the town is filled with fancy stores.

Fancy stores in Gustavia, not for us…
But pretty, well organized and CLEAN streets. Not very common in the Caribbean, so much trash everywhere…
The streets in Gustavia has both a French and a Swedish name.
The Swedish clock tower.
A pretty beach close to Gustavia.
Same beach seen from above.
Overview of Gustavia, with all the red roofs.

The bar were Mick Jagger supposedly goes for hamburgers….
Swedish souvenirs.

After a nice day in St Barths we took the ferry back to Sint Maarten. Our last days in Sint Maarten was mostly focused on getting everything ready for the crossing. We fixed some things on the boat, bought a lot of food, cleaned and made sure that everything in the boat was properly stowed away. We checked the weather and decided on a day for departure.

Cleaning fruit and vegetables in chlorine to get rid of dirt and bacterias.

 

Diving in Statia and off to Sint Maarten

When we finally managed to leave Antigua after the trouble getting checked out of the country (see pervious post) we set off towards Statia (St Eustatius) where we were gonna do a couple of dives. Due to Covid-19 we were not allowed to go ashore in Statia but we could do a quarantine dive. With this we were not allowed to leave the boat and we took our own dinghies to the diving sites instead of going with the diving boat. We had hand sanitizer with us to clean the equipment we used and so on. It actually worked really well and nice to support the diving centre at Statia and a good way for us to see a bit of Statia.

In total we did three dives, and saw huge lobsters, a sleeping turtle, big stingrays, barracuda, moray eel and a lot more! No photos from below though as we don’t have a waterhouse on our GoPro (it can only go down to 10 meters). We only have pictures of when we entered Statia, the water was so incredibly clear. You could sit at the bow, watching stingrays and fish swim 10 meters below the boat. Incredible!

After the dives we stayed in Statia over the night before we started to make our way towards Sint Maarten. We had originally planned to sail to Guadelope after Antigua, but France closed their borders so instead we sailed to Sint Maarten where we planned to do the final preparations for the Atlantic crossing back to Europe.

Sunset in Statia.
Arrived to Sint Maarten and we quickly started with some of the preparations. We prioritized checking stuff on the boat that might take some time to order and fix, like the rig for example.
The chandlery in Sint Maarten is very well sorted, good place to fix stuff before a crossing.
Sint Maarten was quite different from the places in the Caribbean we visited before. Way more tourists, big hotels and so on. Not only in a negative way though, after being quite isolated for a while it was kind of nice with some people.
Our small dinghy acting as a fender…
One day we took a visit to the “airplane beach” in Sint Maarten. The planes fly in really low over the beach, and when departing the jet blasts throw sand all over. The beach was also a very nice beach and it was really fun to watch the planes!

Airplane selfie!

Another day we went to a rum tasting, Toppers Rhum. They had all kinds of flavoured rum in beautiful bottles, so naturally we left with a few…

Cheers!
Lot of different flavoured rums.

We stayed at anchor the first days in Sint Maarten, outside the bridge. But after a couple of days we moved into Simpson Bay and into the marina. The marina was not super expensive (Northern Europe prices) and with the marina we got access to a really nice pool area!

With the marina we could use the pool here, some tennis courts and a gym. Really nice!

 

Finding caves in Antigua

After almost two weeks at Barbuda we left and headed back to Antigua. Our plan at that time was to spend a couple of more days in Antigua and then sail to Guadelope. But France closed their borders, which meant so did Guadelope (which is a part of France). We still planned to stay a few more days in Antigua but now we had to find another island to sail to before we should start our crossing back to Europe. But more on that later.

When arriving to Antigua once more we sailed back to Jolly Harbor and stayed in the marina over the Easter holidays. For Easter Antigua had banned visits to beaches and sailing due to the coronavirus. So we stayed in the marina until Easter holidays were over.

We celebrated Swedish Easter in Jolly Harbor.

We also worked a bit on the boat while we were in the Marina, and took our time to do a proper cleaning with the vacuum cleaner and so on. But after a couple days in the marina we wanted out on anchor again and we sailed to Great Bird Island on the northeast coast of Antigua. It was a really pretty place, we explored the island, hung out with our sailor friends and snorkeled.

Taking a hike (more of a walk really) on Gr. Bird Island.
Cliffs on Great Bird Island
Dramatic sunset view.

One day we went out to Hells Gate, an very cool arch. It is just a short dinghy ride from the anchorage and well worth the visit. Next to the arch was also some cool cave structures (see link to video below).

Hells gate close to Great Bird Island.
Posing time.

We also found another very cool cave that also can be seen in the video, it is a pretty deep cave with water in it. It is only reachable with dinghy and is located close to the north beach on Great Bird Island. If you drive with dinghy from the north beach along the “peninsula” on the eastern side of the island you will find the cave entrance.

Link to a short cave video on Google Drive.

We also had some nice evenings with our sailor friends. Here on the picture Emma & Roger from Sanuti and Bert & Stephanie from Temanua.
Snorkeling time!

After a few days on Great Bird Island we left to St Johns (the capital of Antigua & Barbuda) to check out. Since we couldn’t sail to Guadelope anymore we had decided to head for SInt Maarten with a short stop at St. Eaustatius (Statia) on the way. We were not allowed to go ashore in Statia, but we were allowed to dive there. We had contacted a diving centre and would do three dives there before we sailed on to Sint Maarten.

But first we had to check out from Antigua, which was not very easy. First we arrived to customs office in St Johns 2 minutes before closing, and they had already gone home so we couldn’t check out there. They said that we could try to go to Falmouth and do the checkout there instead. So we stressed to get to Falmouth before they closed. When getting to the customs office the first response we got when saying we wanted to do the checkout was: “You want to do the checkout now? (Big Sigh)”. It was maybe 30 minutes until they closed. Then they asked where we had the boat and unfortunately we said St Johns and then it was impossible to do the checkout there. Of course it is understandable that they have to follow the rules, but from the moment we got into the office it felt like they were looking for a reason not to do avoid the work of doing the checkout. It also felt kind of wrong since the officials in St Johns also said that we could go to Falmouth instead.

So we had no choice but to head back and spend a night in St Johns, call the diving centre in Statia to ask if we could postpone our dives one day. They were really helpful and we rescheduled our dives.

The water near St Johns, not very nice swimming water.

In the morning when we got to the Customs in St Johns we were able to do the Customs. We were then 4 boats that would do the checkout and this time it was also a response with a sigh. “How many boats want to do the checkout? Four? (Big Sigh)”. The whole process took some time but finally we were able to leave Antigua.