Preparation for an(other) Atlantic Crossing

In the past two months, as autumn has turned into winter and the temperatures have dropped quite a few notches we have been busy onboard fixing, upgrading and organising the abundance of things onboard. The boat has been 10 days on the hard getting a make over; new antifouling, polished top sides and a repainted transom. Yesterday, the boat was relaunched and is now back in its place in Almerimar marina while we are preparing to celebrate Christmas in Orgiva, Andalusia.

In October we posted on crewseekers.net an announcement of opportunity to join us for the Atlantic crossing from Spain mainland via Canarias to the Caribbean. We had nearly 30 respondents and we interviewed about half of them over Skype in laste Oct. On Nov 2 we had made a final selection of 4 crew members to join us over the Atlantic. One of these has since got a job as crew onboard a yacht and had to cancel his participation and we have selected his replacement.

Our selection criteria was motivation and experience, but we also tried to find people who we think will “fit in” on board with the rest of us. Our impression is that we have selected a very capable crew full of good vibes and enthusiasm for the Atlantic crossing. We have intentionally equally selected among the female and male applicants – a well balanced crew.

Here is a summary of the crew:

Permanent crew:

Andreas Jaunsen: Norway (50)

Rossana Jaunsen: Venezuela (38)

Atlantic Crossing 2018 crew:

Juana Flores Vegas: Spain (42)
Juana is from Málaga and 42 years of age. She loves sailing, especially offshore. She has crossed the Atlantic four times before. She started to sail six years ago and has done two Atlantic crossings to the Caribbean and Panama, and two Atlantic crossings from the Caribbean to Gibraltar. She has also been working in a charter boat for some months in the Caribbean.

Estrella Martinez (25)
I‘m a 25 years old spanish girl. I’ve sailing since I was a kid in my home- town, Sitges. Then, I be- came a sailing instruc- tor in the same school, where I’ve been working for all the summers till then. I’ve spent 4 times my holidays in the Bale- aric Islands, so I did 8 times the crossing to the Islands from Sitges.
During the last years I have also participated in some races and trans- ports, always with friends.

Tom Wessel : Germany (30)
Tom is a 30 year old who is housebroken and currently working for a power transmitting company in Germany. He is taking care of tools/equipment/machinery and personal safety gear for each of his colleagues. He used to be a chef and after uncountable infinite days in several kitchens in Germany/Switzerland/France/Australia it struck him like a lightning and he decided to work on the other side of the window.

Inès Armandon: France (32)
Inès is 32 years old and has a dual French and Spanish nationalities. Her father was a skipper and she spent most of her childhood on boats, sailing every week, often on Swans. At the age of 18 she crewed in the Mediterranean for 3 months with a New Zealand family. One of her best experiences. She learned a lot of sailing but has since then forgotten. Last year she took a one week sail (refresh) course in the Caribbean.

Lars Bellekom (23)
I’m from the Netherlands. 23 Years old and a landscaper for the living. I sail since my 11th and the last 5 years I teach kids to sail. We only sail inn- land and we sail on 6 me- ter steel boats.
Going offshore is new for me, but I’m a hard worker and learn very quick, so shouldn’t be a problem. I love travelling and do it quiet often. Crossing a ocean and sailing long distance has always been a big dream of mine.

Racing down the Spanish coast

During our days in Marseilles the forecast predicted mistral winds for the weekend. We therefore set our plans to avoid getting caught in that weather during our crossing of the Bay of Lions, by crossing on Thursday. However, after having left Marseilles mid-day on Thu we realised we had forgotten to check the very latest forecast in the morning. It turned out the forecast now predicted the mistral to start at 20 o’clock on Thu evening.
There were no available spaces back in the harbour, due to an oncoming regatta. We could have opted to delay our crossing and stay in a marina on an island just out of Marseilles, but we decided to face the challenge and deal with the winds on our own.

The forecast was now spot on and the winds started picking up noticeably at the predicted time and gradually increased in the next 3-4 hours to gale winds (Beaufort scale 7, gusting into 8). There was a full moon so we had natural light throughout the night, but it was an intense and adrenaline fuelled night out on a close reach starboard tack with the occasional waves crashing over the aft cockpit. SY Libertad handled the weather like a charm with two reefs in the main and reefed Genoa doing 8-10 knots most of the night. In the early morning 5-6 o’clock, as we approached the coast of Spain, the winds died off to less than 10 knots within 10-15 minutes – again just as predicted by the forecast service.

We arrived to port in Palamos and spent the day sleeping and the evening having a look around the town. The next day we headed off and continued down the coast towards Barcelona and Puerto El Masnou were we had booked 4 nights to visit family (Marco) and receive visiting family (Nina and Joshua) for the last and final leg down the Spanish coast to Almerimar.

Nina, Joshua and Andreas took off on Oct 11 from El Masnou heading for Denia, a nearly 200 nm leg. Motoring most of the way with occasional motor sailing it was mostly uneventful. Arriving next day in Denia in the evening we made it to the marina in time to find a place to eat. The marina was very well organised and in a good state – and not very costly either. The next morning we headed off on yet another 200nm leg to Almerimar with little wind predicted for the day, so motoring again. Some hours after having past Cartagena during the middle of the night, the wind picked up and gradually turned to our stern. We hoisted the gennaker and the boat raced down along the last stretch of coast towards Cabo de Gata.

As we approached the Cabo the gusts were exceeding 20 knots and the skipper (A) debated whether to try to round the Cabo and get the wind on a broad reach instead or whether to take the red giant immediately. Too late! In a gust we broached from which we struggled a few minutes to get out of before starting to douse the gennaker. In those crucial minutes the flapping of the nylon was too much strain on the material and in a few seconds the wind tore a 15m long rip down the length of the red giant sail. We got the situation under control by rolling out the Genoa and then pulling the sock down over the gennaker behind it.

Recovering from the commotion and event we regretted not having been more determined in taking the gennaker down earlier. Better preparation for such situations was also among the lessons learned. Some three hours later, on Oct 14, we slid into Almerimar port and was met by Andreas´ parents. The Mediterranean cruising chapter was now complete.

Bienvenue à Marseille

Leaving St Tropez and the glitter of the Cote-d’Azur behind we puffed on south bound for Marseille. From a little distance the coast does not seem impressive, but we knew we were passing some very special places like Les d’Heurs. We stayed overnight in Saint-Mandrier-sur-Mer (near Toulon), which was not very special at all – the Toulon basin is a marine base and the rusting corpses of marine vessels anchored within the basin is not an inviting sight.

The next morning we made an early departure and sailed off-and-on, the wind direction too high for us to fully make use of it. Later in the day, passing the impressive rocks and scenery along the Parc national des Calanques, we considered anchoring in one of the ‘calanques’. However, we did not quite have the will or spirit to inflate the dinghy, launch it – as it is required to go ashore – and secure mooring by anchor and tying off to shore.

Instead we headed up along the coast and arrived to the impressive view of Marseilles just before sunset with 20-25 kts of wind and doing 8+ kts. We kept sailing to the very entrance of the city centre harbour, taking down the main and genoa as we reached Pharo.

We had attempted to reserve a space the day before over phone, but the guy being French, spoke no english. Apparently Andreas’ French skills is not completely mature yet. As we entered the shelter of the harbour we realised there were no marineros to show us to a berth and more than handful of different marinas, all of which seemed to be full – and closed for the evening. We finally found a spot at Viuex port with some help from a helpful sailor and literally squeezed in backwards.

Heading to shore looking for a place to have dinner somewhat late, we decided to go with a somewhat pricy option – Les Arcenaulx. We were not disappointed! Rossana had a pasta of seafood and Andreas had Filet de baeuf “Rossini” (230gr)
with foie gras and truffle sauce – divine experience with excellent french wines.

The next day we explored the city centre, which by the way surrounds the harbour. Being on a boat in Marseille gives you very easy access to the city. The downside is that there is very little space available in the harbour and we met one resident who regularly had to move his boat around on a biweekly basis.
Along the harbour we found a very nice printing and framing store where we had some photos printed and framed in order to decorate our saloon.

We walked around the bohemian quarters, the Fort Saint-Jean, Mucem and the Cathédrale and found the atmosphere quite pleasant. Although we did not see all the sights and areas, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit and appreciated the fact that we were staying right in the centre of town.

Unfortunately, due to yet another regatta, we had to vacate our berth and headed on towards Spain and Barcelona… crossing the Golfe du Lion in gale winds.