Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sailing the Atlantic the Pure Way

While sitting in Transit in Madrid, between Amsterdam and Palma de Mallorca, I finally have the rest to sit down and dust off my Blog again.

I realize that my last post is about 1½ year old, having arrived at my Ithaca in Greece. The sail back to Croatia via Italy was fantastic. Being almost the only saling ship along the ancient coastline of Puglia, with cities as Monopoli, Trani and Bari, was impressive. The beauty and the unspoiledness of these cities in combination with the fantastic Italian food and double espresso’s gave you a feeling of utterly peace. I am afraid the rest of the story has to wait as my new adventure has started today J.

 

The Trip

The Pure Atlantic in a larger map

My new sailing trip will sail me from Mallorca (the Island of the Goats in the Odyssey) to St. Lucia in the Caribbean, ca. 3,000 nautical Miles and about 25 sailing days in total.

In between we will have a stop at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (the Island of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey) before crossing the Atlantic. The distance between Mallorca and Gran Canaria is circa 1,000 nM and will take about 7 days of sailing. I have to be honest, this will be already my longest non-stop trip already.

Unfortunately there is no recollection of St. Lucia ever being visited by Odysseus or Herodotus, hence my validation why I need to make this trip, I have to investigate this matter and maybe I can proof something wrong.

Argo

My Argo – due to the namelessness of Odysseus’ sailing ships, I had to steal the name of Jason and the Argonauts – is a custom built Nordia van Dam of 70 feet.

I have never sailed for me such an amazing ship, the biggest ever was a Swan 441R for me and I found that one already really big and impressive. This yacht is 70 feet long pure luxury…
I am thrilled with expectations by the sailing characteristics of this ship as well as the unmet luxury it contains. The ship has airconditioning in every hut! I also could bring me my electronic toothbrush as there is 220V available with the crossing. The pictures of the yacht, the engine room alone, or the sun deck makes me gasping for air like a 16 year old schoolboy looking at his first Playboy (Disclaimer: off course, I have never touched a Playboy).

Sailing Challenges

A lot of people think you will be bored sailing 20 days in the big emptiness. But so many challenges around:

Celestial Navigation
How did people navigate before the GPS? What to do without any electronical aides? This kind of trip is an excellent training on celestial navigation. From Gran Canaria to St. Lucia I will not touch any electronic GPS but try to locate the ship’s location using traditional tools like sextant, bearing compass, clock and (a rather large scale) map. I have started reading the books on this subject already. Unfortunately it is literally 3 lines of text forward and 2 backward. I was never a real star in trigonometry with radiants, sinuses and all that stuff. So I find the theory a real challenge, but secretly dreaming of Ocean Yachtmaster…

Weather Systems
The weather is still a rather big mystery for me. When do Lows develop to a storm or even to hurricanes? How do you know when not to sail out when you are looking for a crossing of 20 days, when a normal weather forecast is maybe valid for 3-5 days? I can read Grib files and Bracknells, but understanding what is happening is rather a different thing. Luckily I have some very experienced crewmembers around me on this topic.

Bread with fish
I brought baking yeast with me as well as a nice book on all the variations Italy has to offer. This is a skill I long for so many years already. Being able to have fresh baked bread in the morning, having variations with dried tomatoes, nuts, olives etc. etc. And furthermore, an ocean full with fish around you, wow. I can still taste the raw Tuna’s I had when sailing in the Caribbean years ago.

Challenging Robin Knox-Johnston
RKJ is rather a legend in sailing. He was the first man sailing solo the world around non-stop in the famous Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. He has claimed that wearing merino wool underwear would not smell after 30 days… I challenge that!

But so many other challenges, what about the cold turkey of no internet for 20 days!!! And why not loose some kilo’s? I could use that and with no drinks for such a period, this might be easier than what all the different books on this topic write.