Martinique

We arrived at 6:30 in the morning and were surprised of how crowded the port and anchorage was. Disappointing!

However, being welcomed on the pontoon by fellow boats was a great feeling. Celebrating with a bottle of wine before breakfast, hmmm,,,that was new.

Then parties begun. And rum punch. And kept going for a week.

We rented a car, and during the first day of our rental we managed to get lost in the small island of Martinique (about 40 km on its longest axis). The next day, being more careful, we managed to drive to the top of the Montagne Pelee, a former volcano, some waterfall, by far not so spectacular as in photos all driving between banana tree plantations.

A few days ago we had the biggest surprise of the season. A friend, who crossed the Atlantic last year, sent us a bottle of champagne, to be savored in a restaurant with a great sea view. Many thanks, my friend!

The photos will follow, but unfortunately just a few as some were on Alina’s iPhone. Well, she fell into the water getting off the dinghy (our inflatable boat). The iPhone was slightly wet, but died and is not working anymore. Ridiculous! (for such a praised phone). I’ll stick to mine which still works after rain, sea water, and other abuse. I used to be an Apple fan, but I am less and less.

Let the party begin
Let the party begin

 

With colors
With colors
Lovely girls
Lovely girls
And crazy dancing
And crazy dancing
But some didn't make it all the way through
But some didn’t make it all the way through
Passion fruits
Passion fruits
Sunset at anchor
Sunset at anchor
Aren't we looking good
Aren’t we looking good
And happy
And happy
The view from our favorite beach bar
The view from our favorite beach bar
At the restaurant
At the restaurant
The biggest surprise since arrival
The biggest surprise since arrival
Chilled
Chilled
Cheers! And many thanks!
Cheers! And many thanks!

 

The Atlantic Crossing in Pictures – Into the Ocean

We left on November 17th in the evening, to cross an ocean...
We left on November 17th in the evening, to cross an ocean…
And wasn't so bad, to start with...
And wasn’t so bad, to start with…
Trying to read all languages on the leaflet
Trying to read all languages on the leaflet
And finally they are three, and to keep a good watch, Paul had them have a third eye on their back.
And finally they are three, and to keep a good watch, Paul had them have a third eye on their back.
The making of a sword.
The making of a sword.
The sticker period begins for Paul...
Paul’s sticker period begins …
with side effects...
with side effects…
on people and things around...
on people and things around…
Rock and roll...
Rock and roll…
So did fishing...
and fishing…
The Sunglass Store, by Paul
The Sunglass Store, by Paul
Paul's 4 years ad 6 months birthday.
Paul’s 4 years ad 6 months birthday.
Who says that you can't play ball...
Who says that you can’t play ball…
or climb in a rolling boat?
or climb in a rolling boat?
...and more
…and even higher
Although the boat is heading west (sunset) this photo was taken at sunrise and the sun was behind.
Although the boat is heading west (sunset) this photo was taken at sunrise and the sun was behind.
Bigger seas, some action and...
Bigger seas, some action and…
some work...
some work…
Writing a letter with Captain's pen...
Writing a letter with Captain’s pen…
and climbing even more...
and climbing even more…
Trying to repair the $xxt pump
Trying to repair the $xxt pump
Watching cloudy sunsets
Watching cloudy sunsets
I got a present and a birthday card (even if it was not the time)...
I got a present and a birthday card (even if it was not the time)…
...a real treasure.
…a real treasure.
Some took more showers than others.
Some took more showers than others.
Some watched more sunsets.
Some watched more sunsets.
And friends became closer.
And friends became closer.
The wahoo...everyone envied us on arrival for this catch.
The wahoo…everyone envied us on arrival for this catch.
And the fight after which I had to take a painkiller...
And the fight after which I had to take a painkiller for my back…
Impressive colors...
Impressive colors…
and a good size...
and a good size…
isn't it?
isn’t it?
Alina's Romanian fish dish (plachie) made of Mahi-Mahi. Excellent!
Alina’s Romanian fish dish (plachie) made of Mahi-Mahi. Excellent!
Reading...
Reading…
Watching even more sunsets...(22 of them each different)...
Watching even more sunsets…(22 of them each different)…
Squalls (mini storms) coming after us...
Squalls (mini storms) coming after us…
...sometimes bringing rainbows too...
…sometimes bringing rainbows too…
Spectacular ones...
Spectacular ones…
And coming after us again, and again...
And coming for us again, and again…
Requiring concentration...
Requiring concentration…
and work...
and work…
Cleaning the shoes for St. Nicholas
Cleaning the shoes for St. Nicholas
And finding the present (a dinosaur's egg), next morning
And finding the present (a dinosaur’s egg), next morning
Helping with cleaning (the mess that he did :) )
Helping with cleaning (the mess that he did 🙂 )
Crossing through HUGE patches of seaweed
Crossing through HUGE patches of seaweed…
Finally we saw LAND!
Finally we saw LAND!
A bit different than at home
A bit different than at home
We finally made it! It took us almost 23 days...
And on December 10th, at 06:30, we finally made it! It took us almost 23 days at sea…

Stay tuned…Rum punch starts flowing and colorful parties begin!

The Atlantic Crossing in Pictures – To the Ocean Gates

When we were done with preparations...
When we were done with preparations…
we left Barcelona towards our usual stop...
we left Barcelona towards our usual stop…
Cross003
Palma de Mallorca
then to Gibraltar trying to avoid all those sips at night (we are the red one)...
then to Gibraltar trying to avoid all those sips at night (we are the red one)…
school started and the first owl sewn by Paul appeared...
school started and the first owl sewn by Paul appeared…
and we made it to Gibraltar, after two engine failures that needed to be repaired a sea...
and we made it to Gibraltar, after two engine failures that needed to be repaired a sea…
O'Koala (Paul's best friend got a baby as a present from our Australian neighbors)
O’Koala (Paul’s best friend got a baby as a present from our Australian neighbors)
Alina replaced the plastic windows in the cockpit...
Alina replaced the plastic windows in the cockpit…
And we left, against wind and current....
And we left, against wind and current….
It took long hours and some work  just to get out of the straits...
It took long hours and some work just to get out of the straits…
But now there are two to watch over...
But now there are two to watch over…
Flat seas allow for playing outside the enclosed doghouse...
Flat seas allow for playing outside the enclosed doghouse…
And for schooling to continue...
And for schooling to continue…
New friends...
New friends…
Seas started to mount, but at least we had good winds to sail as our engine died again, the fourth time...
Seas started to mount, but at least we had good winds to sail as our engine died again, the fourth time…
After four days we arrived in Lanzarote...
After four days we arrived in Lanzarote…
Where we made new friends...
Where we made new friends…
Had fun...
Had fun…
And made more new friends...
And made more new friends…
Explored the city walls...
Explored the city walls…
And canons...
And canons…
On the day the others left and we stayed to finish work on the boat.
On the day the others left and we stayed to finish work on the boat.
The Timanfaya Devil, symbol of Lanzarote.
The Timanfaya Devil, symbol of Lanzarote.

Next post, into the ocean!

The Atlantic Crossing. Statistics. Conclusion.

Oh, well…the parties are over and so are the endless rum punches we had since arriving in Martinique. We still had a few yesterday, our first day at anchor after leaving Port du Marin. We wanted to see the elusive green flash at sunset and they say you see it better after a few rum punches 🙂

Crossing the Atlantic wasn’t always easy but not extremely difficult, at least not physically but more psychologically. For me the toughest times were not the 40kn winds, nor the +5m waves we encountered in the first days but the 4 hours spent in a thunderstorm, with nothing to do about it, but sit and pray you will not be hit by lightning. On arrival, we found out that the boat near us on the pontoon in Port du Marin, was hit by lightning during that storm. When we were in the middle of the storm, I could only think that we were a 24m high lighting bolt in the middle of the sea.

Would we do it again? Yes! During the crossing we said no, but as a German friend from another boat said: saying this, is just as a woman would say she’s not gonna have another child while giving birth (delivering) the first.

The breakages were annoying, but looking at how much repair work the other boats needed to do, I should say…what breakages? Indeed they were minor and the only two we could not repair at sea (and we could in less than 30 minutes, should we had no alternative systems to backup their functionality). These were the chafed/broken halyard and the grey water tank pump.

Joining the rally (Atlantic Odyssey) was a great idea: not because you’re safer in a group, which is not true, but because Paul found friends (French speaking) and it was so good to have someone to wait you on the pontoon on arrival, shake your hand and give you a great introductory speech: “There’s a great boulangerie with croissants, over there, the office is there, the supermarket across the street.”

For those interested, the statistics will follow but I’ll start with a few explanations.
We left Lanzarote but stop for refueling after 3 hours in Puerto Calero. I dived for an hour to clean the propeller and the underbody, so we consider our starting time the moment we left Puerto Calero: November 17th, 17:30.
We used the engine during the first three days as the wind was against us and we needed to go as far west as we could to avoid the bad weather. We also used the engine on two occasions during the crossing when the winds were very light. However, despite we still had 450 liters of diesel, we sailed all the way into Le Marin in a big zig-zag and not started the engine.
We carry 900 liters of diesel in our tank, possibly the largest quantity among all the boats in the rally. We also used diesel for the generator, which we started every day for 3-4
hours to recharge the batteries, make water and cook. Cooking on Seven Seas is on an induction stove, very atypical for a sailing boat but as we anyway needed to charge the batteries the workflow was very good.
We used a dial-up connection via our satellite phone, at 2.4kbps, for getting weather forecasts, position reports, posting on the blog and asking for a few things to be sorted out at home. We didn’t shared our email at sea with anyone as any email larger than 50kb (basically, any photo) would have blocked our line and made impossible to get the needed weather forecasts.
We made water, by desalinating sea water, everyday, about 100-150 liters, as Seven Seas is very fresh water consuming.

Finally the statistics:

Total time: 22 days 18 hours
Motoring time: 102 hours
Sailing time: 18 days 12 hours
Generator hours: 105 hours
Fresh water produced: approx. 2500 liters
Emails sent: 82
Emails received: 128
Diesel consumed: 414 liters

Breakages:
One halyard chafed and broken.
One bolt on a batten car (that holds the mainsail attached to the mast): fixed with a bolt slightly rectified while under way. A big scratch on the hull, from when the anchor dropped on the third day. The cockpit table. A bolt which we replaced after cutting to the right length. The boiling kettle. But it still works.
Our french press. I smashed it against the hull, while trying to washing.

Well that’s it. The next post, soon to come: The Atlantic crossing in photos.

Check-in to Martinique

Yesterday we needed to make the entry formalities to Martinique.
So I went to the port office and stated the formalities.
At one point the girl processing our entry asked: “Are you Mr. Peter G.?”. I smiled and say no but I realized Seven Seas knew the way in, as she was here before. Mr. Peter G. was the previous owner of Seven Seas for which, despite I never met him, I have a great deal of respect in relation of how he asked the boat to be built and how well he maintained her.
We always say there are two angels on the boat: Mr. Peter G. when we talk about how the boat was designed and how the systems should work and Piers when it comes to how things should be done, meaning the boat processes 🙂
We always say: “How would have Mr. Peter would have build this?” or “What would Piers do?”

We made it well to Martinique

Yes…this morning at 06:30 we crossed the finish line into Le Marin, Martinique.
It was a great journey, more demanding than I thought it will be, tiring at times but with great sailing, fishing, talking, playing.
We’ll publish more now that we are on land and will have access o wifi. And photos too!

I’m tired as I only slept three hours in the past 24 but I would like to thank you for sailing with us, for the comments and appreciations we received and couldn’t read. There’s a long list of people who I want to thank, but first and foremost is Piers, our friend and previous skipper, tutor, helper. Pier encouraged me during the entire year of preparation, trying to keep my moral high when problems seem not to end and finally connected us to Huw to be able to make a team of three to cross the Atlantic (a minimum required by our insurance company).

Chat soon! We’re now going to party!

The missing post: Another night passed

This post, of yesterday, wasn’t published for an unknown reason. For completeness of the account of our adventure I am re-posting it now:

Yesterday was extremely hot, but a nice day to sail. As we’re not fishing anymore there’s not too much to tell. Maybe just the dive of seagulls (I believe) for fish, which is spectacular but I couldn’t get it into a photo. I thought of fishing to have fresh fish for when we arrive, but as we decided to give Alina a break from cooking for a few days and eat out, I am afraid that the fish will sit in the fridge.
The night started nicely sailing on flat seas quite fast…in a slightly wrong direction. The winds were again strait from behind so we had to deviate from our course. Towards the end of my watch the winds started to pick up but, not too much, just enough to need a reef in the mainsail (reducing the mainsail by about one third). As Huw is a terribly difficult to wake up, I started doing these manoeuvrings myself at night.
On Huw’s watch the boat started to rock and roll in all directions but I managed to sleep OK. Alina woke me up, on her and Paul’s watch as the radar showed we were surrounded by squalls. We furled (packed) the whole headsail and sailed like this for a while. The wind continued shifting so our course was almost straight south (when we needed to go west) so we went on he other side of the wind where the course was just 15 degrees above our straight line to destination.
Despite all temptation I didn’t start the engine as i just feels bad when we can sail reasonably fast (even if in the not so right direction).
It seems we might arrive in the port at night and this will be probably our next challenge as we need to make our way around patches of shallow water, marked here and there by some posts which only a few of them are lit. The moon is still bright and shiny and quite up in the sky after 10 pm so this might help.
The morning looks good, a few clouds in the sky so maybe it’s not gonna be so hot as yesterday and announces another nice sailing day.

This is Seven Seas Adventure, dreaming of cold wine, pina-coladas and standing by! Over!

The longest night

Last night was definitely the longest night of our passage for me. But to start with, yesterday was the record day for squalls. I didn’t count the but there were at least eleven from morning to dawn. Just before sunset we were heading towards a large dark cloud with its base into the sea, the typical squall cloud. As we approached the cloud, for the first time in the passage, we decided to go around it. two hours later, rain pouring down, wind creeping up and the worst, thunderstorms far on the horizon.
I went to sleep but I woke up two hours later, when the lightning and thunder got closer to the boat despite of our efforts to avoid the weather. The next two hours, we had lightning and thunders all over. Left, right and on top of us. Some discharging in the sea, fortunately far away. Nothing to do, but wait and wait.
Another small sailing yacht was struggling, mostly like we did, a few miles away. When the lightning and rain eased, we started the radar, just to discover that we were surrounded by heavy rain.
I tried all night to avoid the heavy weather by changing course, speeding up, then slowing down but it seemed that whatever I did, the storm did the same. So I gave up and wait. I started the radar every 15 minutes, and finally in the morning, the rain dissipated and although cloudy the weather settled.
We’re now sailing nicely, in the sunshine and only have less than 300 miles to go. We start dreaming of what we would like to have when we arrive: iced drinks, frappucino, pina colada, an “entrecote, a point” (remember we’re heading towards a French island), a bottle of cold Solo Quinta (my favourte Romanian wine, a surprisingly good wine) and so on…

I’m still tired after last night when I didn’t sleep at all so I’ll get back to dreaming of the pleasures at arrival. But I know very well: it’s not over until the boat is tied to the dock in Martinique.

This is Seven Seas Adventure, standing by! Over!

Good sailing

I became very lazy these days. The wind helped us sailing in a more straight line due to a change of direction becoming southeasterly. This is a bit of an anomaly in this area where the winds are supposed to be NE. It does help us however, as now we are able to sail at 6-7 kn directly, without zig-zag-ing, to or destination.
It also helped me to understand, what I couldn’t really understand reading weather books: this is the effect of a large air mass spinning clockwise, named “the Azores High” because it has it’s center more or less above he Azores Islands, thousands of km away. This mass is currently moving towards East and this makes the wind to blow from a different direction than usual. It will return in a few days to it’s “normal” place and so will the winds to their “normal direction”.
Nothing else…or…ah yes, just a few squalls (the mini-storms I was talking an a previous post), one flying fish (only) and another breakage.
The other day, during lunch, we just saw our largest headsail (81 sqm) falling into the water. Fortunately, the metal swivel at the top didn’t hit anything and got directly in the water.
The halyard (the rope, going through and coming up at the top of the mast) used to hoist the sail, broke due to the constant chafe created by the movement of the sail. Fortunately there’s a second halyard that we could use to hoist this large sail when the wind will get again very light. But it’s annoying 🙂

Tonight Saint Nicholas will put presents in Paul’s shoes and he is very keen to clean and polish them in order to receive the nicest presents.

625 nautical miles to go, the chart plotter (the equivalent of a GPS in a car) tells us we have 4 more days to go, but I believe it will be 5 days as the winds will get very light after Saturday and we’re not yet in motoring range (i.e. we don’t have enough diesel to cover all the remaining distance)…just got interrupted by a squall with all the associated sail reducing manoeuvrings…the sea state (waves) behind this squall, which covered a larger area than usual, is not so nice bu won’t last long.

That’s it for today!
This is Seven Seas Adventure! Over! (to you)