Nearing half point of Atlantic crossing

On Saturday 20th we left Santa Cruz de La Palma and headed south west after rounding the southern tip of La Palma (Fuencaliente) in accelarating winds reaching 35-40 knots. The next few days we had winds around 20 knots from NE.

The shortest path from Canarias (La Palma) across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean is about 2550nm from La Palma, but it is not always possible or very comfortable to stay on this course, so one must adapt to the wind conditions.

It takes a few days to find a daily rhythm onboard. Each day is filled with watch keeping, quite often repairs, cleaning and cooking. Food is a major inspiration and mood booster and so far it has been fantastic!

Tom and Lars are enthusiastic fishers and after a few days caught the first of several Mahi Mahi on a line. Several baits have also gone missing thanks to larger creatures that snapped the line off!

Trade wind sailing is either downwind, with a substantial amount of rolling, or tacking downwind keeping the wind on the aft beam. Either way with a few meters of waves means that rolling is unavoidable. It can be quite frustrating to continuously holding on to railings or guards inside when moving about, not to mention with a bowl of cereal in one hand. It is like being inside a washing machine at times.

Ocean crossing such as this takes a hard toll on deck equipment. The first week has been dominated by multiple repairs to both sails, the mast track and a number of other smaller. Fortunately, our spares store is well equipped and we have managed to replace or fix all the issues that have occurred.

Temperatures are slowly rising and it is no longer possible to sleep with a duvet. During the days we wear shorts.

Tomorrow we will pass the half way mark and we hope to arrive to Guadalupe on Feb 4.

Continued fair winds!

Return to La Palma…

It was about 20 years ago that Andreas last visited, La Isla Bonita – the island that boasts the largest astronomical observatory on European territory. The island itself has plenty more to offer visitors though; recent volcanic activity in the south, an impressive view of the main volcanic crater and long hikes along the rims of mountain ridges, isolated volcanic (black) sand beaches and much more in the lightly urbanised town of Santa Cruz.

We rented a 9 seater van and took off on Friday 19/1 midday to meet up with norwegian astronomer at the Nordic Optical Telescope, Anlaug Amanda Djupvik. The drive is about one hour with uncountable curves through at least three different faunas. The view from the summit (Roque de los muchachos) and from a view point along the road was unforgettable.
We then headed down to the NOT to get a tour of the now somewhat aged 2.5m Nordic telescope, erected 1988, by Andreas previous colleague, Anlaug. The crew enjoyed it thoroughly.

The next day we headed south to Fuencaliente, not unsimilar from Chiles Tierra del Fuego, although there are no active lave streams or geysers. Before walking along the rim of the San Antonio crater from 1644 we made a stop at the local bakery in Fuencaliente.

In the evening we made some additional shopping before heading off to try the local cuisine along Avenida Maritima.
Most of us had fish dishes with varying satisfaction levels. The next morning we returned the rental car to the airport, last shopping at the supermarket and gas for the grill before setting off to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

Final preparations in Canarias

On Jan 2 the final members of the crew arrived to Benalmadena and SY LIBERTAD. We have continuously had plenty of tasks and jobs to perform onboard, while waiting to have the GPS repaired by a technician. A little delayed we left Benalmadena in the evening and arrived to Gibraltar the next morning to refuel. Motoring against the wind and current out the strait we decided to wait for better weather in Tarifa. Unfortunately, it is not an ideal place for yachts as there is no marina and we had to moor against a concrete wall in the harbour entrance. After the evenings festivitas (dia de los Reyes) we were allowed to moor along a more accessible part of the harbour and we could explore the town.

Next evening the forecast seemed better and we headed out anticipating a few hours of head winds. Within an hour we were facing thunderstorms and heavy rainfall and quite stronger winds than the forecast had predicted. By midnight the crew were all sea sick and vomiting. It was a long and tiring night. We also discovered that we had lost our dinghy.

Next day was still with 2-4m waves during the day and coming night, and still occasional swells with increases in wind and with showers. On day 3 conditions were getting better and so too the crew and spirit. We had good sailing conditions on day 4 and made good way as we passed the northern tip of Lanzarote. Next morning we arrived to Las Palmas for a scheduled reprogramming of the VHF (which was not possible), new baby stay and a number of other repair projects. We also had time to explore Las Palmas downtown and visited the Mercado del Puerto two times.

On Sun Jan 14 we sailed across to Tenerife to pick up a new chart plotter as the old helms position plotter had died during the Tarifa-Las Palmas leg. It is not easy to get products like this delivered within the span of a few days, but we picked up the new device today (Mon).

Preparing for a crossing in which we expect to be isolated on the boat for 14-16 days is not a small task. Especially with seven people onboard. The majority of the crew has been busy the last few days organising the food and meals, calculating needed quantities of ingredients and starting to shop ingredients. Tonight we inaugurated the bread baking machine, which we hope to enjoy freshly baked breads from during the months to come!