Gran Canaria

There has been no time to get bored in Gran Canaria. With the start of the ARC, the port of Las Palmas was full of travelling boats. Rocio has been working with the participating X-Yachts and we saw them sailing into the sunset yesterday.

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In Las Palmas we have cached up with many old and new friends; discussed where to go next with Norwegian boat friends, gone surfing with Puppo, who came to visit us from Southampton, done a barbecue onboard with Marco and his italian friends who happened to be there at the same time, and discovered the beautiful landscape and gastronomy with our local friends Desi, Kike and Pato.

Now we are in La Gomera, where we arrived this morning after a 23h trip with Desi and Kike onboard. We have had all sorts of conditions and used every sail onboard excluding the storm jib. It’s time to relax before meeting Rocio’s parents arriving this evening!

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Logbook part 4

07-12-2012

Our respective nightwatches consisted on a brainstorming
session: treasure hunt planning for Thea’s birthday… We started building up the
story and thinking about the different locations to hide the clues. And the night was spent slowly as the wind refused to push us at a decent speed. Having decided on the preparation of Thea´s birthday we went to sleep but only to be woken up a couple hours later by James. When we got on deck we had a little surprise waiting for us; the boom had come off. Split pin + boom banging with no wind = boom falling off from the mast. It took the 4 of us, 1 hour, 2 spinnaker sheets and lots of patience to put it back in place, moving it forward and aft using the two manual winches at the cockpit.

The day was hot and sticky and quite grey. As James and Sara were taking a rest, the wind finally arrived, this time from 30º and 14-17 knots!! We set the sails, and what I am going to explain now is us getting crazy about max VMG:  first we rolled the reacher and hoisted the asymmetric, and put 2 reefs on the main so the womper wouldn’t get its shadow. Then we decided to drop the spinakker and unfurl the reacher, bearing away about 10 degrees and hoisting the full mainsail.

We were still not going very fast, and we felt like Feliz was escaping from our hands… But well we had awesome tuna curry, yes, there was still quite a lot of tuna in the fridge, happy days!

At the end of the day we had done 147 nm. It felt good to see our daily millage come up again.

08-12-2012

This night we relayed at the quill for writing all the clues. In the morning Thea woke up the first to find her present on the saloon tables and a misterious letter from “Jack the Bear”. The ghost of Jack the Bear, apprently charmed of finding a 21st century cruising yacht named after his fregate had hidden a treasure on board… The first task was to dress up the crew in a more fearsome piraty way.

The afternoon was spent in discovering the new Nintendo DS games for some and getting the boat fast for others. The trade winds came back with their share of flying fishes and the good surprise was that we took back 30 NM on Feliz. At this rate we could still make it before them!… Unless they would speed up as well…

Today we recorded our best millage so far; 226 NM!

09-12-2012

Hihaaa! Finally today, the 90 green bananas bought in Las Palmas turned yellow…ish… So banana bread was on the menu (we also still had about 50 eggs to use…).

In the afternoon the boat surfed downed a wave under autopilot and spinnaker at 18.8 knots! Quite scary, knowing that the asymmetric spinnaker had let us down the day before when the clew came undone and a large tear appeared… So we dropped the sail for the night and used the reacher, obliging us to sail five to 10 degrees higher than the straight route to maintain the same speed.

This evening Roro and Gaga were spending a romantic moment sitting both at the helm and enjoying what started to feel like the last moments of this crossing, when they were interrupted by an annoying flying fish who decided to reproduce 9/11 by crashing onto Rocio´s back… After that we took shelter in the cockpit, opening the ears to any flying fish landing noise in order to eject them out the boat asap.

Today 223 NM, but Feliz sped up as well and we only took 7 NM out of him… So the perspective of being first in real time seemed unlikely. On the other hand, depending on how many hours Feliz had motored, we were still in good shapa for taking the first place in compensated time, Feliz being a larger cat which was meant to finish 14 hours ahead of us to take the first place in compensated time.

10-12-2012

Last day and Rocio´s birthday! Cahmpagne and presents from everybody! Shower for Gaspar and spinnaker all day and night. We averaged 10.5 knots over night and saw the lights of St Lucia and Martinique appear around midnigth.

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Roro and Milly, the guapas of Intrepid Bear

We entered Rodney Bay and steemed through the finish line. We were welcomed in the little entrance by hen´s shouting and a strong smell of spices. On the pontoon the commitee of the ARC helped us tying the mooring lines and a local offered us soda for the kids and rum punch for the adults. The tirednes brought in a little confusion and the little bears ended up sipping half of the rum punch while the adults thought that their “punch” strangely tasted of soda…

Our last day was crowned by our best daily millage; 230 NM!

We apologize for all this delay, but keeping the blog up to date was proved to be very difficult once in Carribbean. So we rather keep it short (anyway you guys know we arrived already) and pass on the the more recent activities.

BIG BESOS

Log Book Transatlantic – Part 1

27-11-12 Departure

We woke up around 7:00. But this time we were not woken up by the little laughs of the cabin next door, but well due to our own excitation. Since the day before when we had a look at the latest forecast with some Slovenian friends, the excitation kept on building up; this time that was it, we are going.

In the saloon, three little anxious blond heads and Sara welcomed us in silence for the breakfast. The weather outside had calmed down compared to the days before but was still grey; this low pressure system had not finished to perturb the plans of the ARC completely. But well, no time for thinking about that; shower, fill up the fresh water tanks, turn the mooring lines into slips, last run around “touche-touche” with the little bears, pre start photos and we are off! Bye bye las Palmas.

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The team before the start

After that, everything went so fast. Intrepid Bear was out in the water surrounded by many other boats, between them our friend Thomas. The wind was 25 knots from the northeast.  The mainsail was hoisted, the reacher unfurled, and top! James nailed the start line and we were the first multihull. It was 10:45 local time (utc), logbook reading 0 miles. The strategy was as follows; head South for four hours, not to close from the island were the wind accelerates too much. We were going along at 9.5 knots average, luckily avoiding the rain clouds falling onto the monohull fleet who took the start later. The swell was short and on the beam so the motions of the boat surfing down the waves were quite strong. The wind oscillated around 25 knots of wind, momentarily up to 30 knots, which meant we furled the reacher and swapped to the jib for a moment, leaving a couple larger cats overtake us. Four hours after, the boats started to split, we were then heading 255, dead downwind. The mainsail was lowered for what we thought was going to be the last time until the finish in St Lucia…

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The fleet of multihull trying to catch us back, all running away from the nasty grey clouds

As we were washing the dishes after dinner, using sea water, the hose located under the sofa, just on the top of the batteries, started to leak heavily like it did during the crossing Oeiras/Lanzarote. We dried the water out and decided that from then on a bucket would be the solution, since the tube was looking quite weak and a simple repair wouldn’t fix it for a long time.

James took the first night watch, followed by Gaspar then Rocio and finally Sara. Milly passed the night in the cockpit as she was not feeling well while the two others were shouting, laughing and jumping inside regardless of where we are and what we just engaged ourselves in. During the night we overtook a large Lagoon 560 and crossed two cargo ships. One anecdote from the second cargo crossing event; Gaspar contacted them on VHF to ask them if they could change course as we were running on a collision route and that due to the weather conditions and our sailset, it was uneasy for us to do so. The mariner on board the cargo seemed quite happy to have someone to talk to and said he would change course. Five minutes later nothing had changed. So second VHF call to ask for a change of course and same story. At the third VHF call, the mariner asked “but where are you exactly?”, the guy promised to change course to avoid a boat he did whose location was unknown to him… Hopefully he finally spotted us and changed course.

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After the first two days at sea we did not cross anymore cargo ships, but here hopefully Roro keeps a look out… in between two chapters of “Game of Thrones”

On Rocio’s watch, as she was unfurling the reacher to exchange the sails because the wind had turned right, the furler got jammed. Typical! She woke up James, who woke up Gaspar and finally everyone was on deck, because it was the start of Sara’s watch. Everything was successfully solved, taking tension out of the sheets by unfurling the jib to shield the reacher from the wind and furling the big sail again. It would have been a happy ending if it wasn’t for the rain, which started pouring as soon as everyone got outside, ouch!

Some good news, at 00:00, we had clocked 127 NM, so roughly 9.5 knots average speed, not bad for a family cruising catamaran!

28-11-12; 127 nm

James and Gaspar started the day by repairing the sea water hose; they basically discovered that this one was going to the front deck wash tap as well as to the sink of the galley. They bypassed the deck wash hose and the salt water tap could be used again to clean the dishes.

The wind dropped below 20 knots and we hoisted our Belgian flag: the asymmetric. With him on starboard and the reacher on port, we sailed at an average speed of 10 knots towards the sunset.

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Reacher on port, asymmetric on starboard, everyday we are chasing down the sun, and everyday he gets away from us…

All was quiet, no ARC boats around, actually no boats at all, were we going on the right direction? So time for fishing then! We picked our prettiest lure and started to drag it behind the boat while surfing up to 13 knots. Not such a good idea… the line broke and we lost our first lure, followed quickly by another…

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Going too fast for our little lures… we could have thrown them straight to the sea, would have been the same…

The tiredness of the first day and night at sea could be felt and Thea felt seasick as well. On the other hand Milly managed to articulate a couple of words but still could not even think about venturing inside the boat. We struggled to make them eat anything; it is a concept hard to understand when you are seasick, but eating makes you feel better although it is the last thing you feel like doing. As a result, all the tricks are allowed; the chocolate bars and sweets are brought forward and it is Harry, who is at its best shape, who is taking advantage of it! The upper moment of the day was the position report; we are still first!

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Come on guys… just one little spoon please

Up to now we covered 332 NM, so 205 NM in a day, not straight towards the objective but heading slightly south to avoid the nasty low pressure disturbing the mid Atlantic.

29-11-12

Rocio woke up to find Gaspar fully wrapped in his sleeping bag, ignoring the 40º of our cabin. Same wind, swell, heading and sail set; we carried the spinnaker through the night. Thea took back some strength and as a result the atmosphere on board got much more relaxed, noisier and happier. Thea and Harry made Gaspar realize he was saying all the time “habaa” and it became the forbidden word! “Stop saying “Habaa”!”

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Do not believe this picture! They seem quiet here… but when they wake up… Stop saying “Habaa”

We started to get in the sailing routine slowly; at 12:00 utc it is Iridium time! Even while sailing across the Atlantic boats are not cut from the internet link. We receive mails with the position and forecast as well as extra weather forecast we can request. This time was not a success yet; the forecast file we downloaded was empty… We’ll get that right with time!

Other little technical worry, the fridge stopped working for a couple hours. It had to be emptied and cleaned. We all hoped that this problem would not occur again as it would mean having to eat all the fresh food asap and be reduced to cans much too early for our taste. Hopefully this did not happen too often again and each time we were able to cool down the fridge while running the engines for charging the batteries.

Weather-wise, the wind kept constant around 22 knots but the swell built up meaning more and faster surfs. Gaspar for his nightwatch installed himself cozily at the helm position with a couple oranges as snacks, watching the boats surfing down the waves up to 15.4 knots under auto pilot. In each surf the waves hit the bottom of the bridge and sometimes while writing at the chart table we can feel the table bouncing of a couple centimeters with the characteristic “Bambambambam” of the water hitting the laminate.

Our 24 hours run kept on increasing as we sailed 214 NM today, so 546 NM in total. The whole crew starts to be more and more confident into the boat; Intrepid Bear is definitely a fine and fast sailing machine. We keep on seeing waves, waves and waves. The sea is at its best one hour before night fall, when the rays of the suns are shining on every crest.

 

St Lucia… already?

Hi everybody,

we arrived yesterday on the 11th at 5h44 utc.
We are lacking of time for a long post with our full logbook since in a hour we embark on board Berenice, a swann 80, to sail to Antigua. So we will just give you a couple of numbers to describe this crossing; 2806 NM, less than 14 days, surfs up to 18 kts, 9 to 10 kts average daily speed, only 14 hours of engine, 2nd in real time (in multihull), 6 kg tuna fish, 2 minke whales, a 100 flying fishes, 1 broken glass, 2 birthdays and a lot more fun.

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Surfing during the first day of the ARC

So sorry for the short notice only, we still need to go through what we wrote during the crossing and the 600 pictures…

Good luck to our friend Thomas who is still in Cape Verde.

 

 

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St Lucia – Rodney Bay Marina

Lots of kisses from Caribbean

PS: for the families, get your skype on!!

ARC – ready to go!

Hi everybody,

sorry to have left you without news for these days. No news, but full of events! As you can guess preparing the boat to go takes always more time than what we thought, especially when you start extra job thinking you have enough time.

Biggest update, we are not leaving today, but probably Tuesday. This is because the trade winds are not here and instead we got two low pressure systems; one at the North and one who should appear further West on Monday or Tuesday. For those who are reading this and are not meteorologists, this means strong winds against us and 5 to 6 meter waves on the beam. So the ARC organization postponed the start to Tuesday apart for the racing division. So today we said goodbye to our Graciosero friend Felice who left on board “Tyke”, a racing Italian yacht of 62 feet. Little anecdote: imagine the difference between an all German crew leaving the harbor and an all Italian crew. We found out that the stereotypes can be verified; the Germans left an hour early with Wagner music, all standing well straight with the flags up and everything, on the other hand the Italians left an hour late running around the boat to finish all the jobs (filling up the tanks with water, sorting out the ropes etc) but still finding the time to smoke and drink coffees… These guys preferred “Volare” to the “Valkyrie” as hymn…

The “Tyke” crew fending off their way out the mooring with our friend Felice on board as skipper

Coming back to the preparation of our boat, the main big job was getting all the food on board. Sara planed our menu for 20 days, we gave a couple of ideas of meal and breakfast as well, counted down exactly how many potatoes, flower, eggs etc we needed. With Rocio they went to the different shops and markets around town, running everywhere, trying to make sure the delivery would get on time and so on! Hopefully Rocio could translate everything and that proved very useful as almost no Canarians speak English and vice-versa. In the meantime onboard, James and Gaspar kept themselves busy with sanding, painting, cleaning and many other little jobs while armies of little blond heads (our three plus their friends) and dogs jumping on and off the boat…

The fresh food finally arrived!

With the arrival of all the food, the job is far from finished! Everything must be cleaned, taken out their packaging and labeled. Indeed it is not uncommon to see a little cockroach having a walk around the harbor, and we do not want any of them on board during the crossing… For this we had to count on the help of the kids;

Tin labelling

And once all of these jobs seemed on a good way thanks to the help of everyone, an underlying matter came up to surface; the ARC severity about security! We had a liferaft for 6 people, and with the kids we are 7! Having spoken about it in us four we decided it was ok as long as we kept some reserve water close from the liferaft to be taken if we have to evacuate. But the ARC organization was not of the same advice; on Friday they announced that if we did not find a solution we could not do the ARC. It is after many calls all over the island that Rocio found us a four person liferaft that we are now carrying in extra.

But that is only the stressful and busy aspect of the ARC preparation, the other aspect of course is all the free drinks and party organized every evening! Who says free? Here we are! These drinks called “Sundowner” start every day at 18:30 until 20:00, they were the occasion to make friends and meet old friends. Most of the guys and girls we have met are in the same situation as us; came looking for a boat and found a ride on the ARC, amongst them many Italians all speaking Spanish and English. Our most memorable party remains the fancy dress party. We made bear masks and costumes for the crew and went dancing dressed up in bear. There were prizes for the best fancy dress and honestly Gaspar thought we should have won all of them; best little boy for Harry, best little girl for Thea, best couple for either James and Sara either Gaspar and Rocio and best crew for Intrepid Bear, but unfortunately someone probably paid a lot of money to steal us the price!

So many things to say, that we forget to tell you; Thomas finally arrived! We came on board and met his crew for the delivery. One thing marked us especially about this “italian job”; the omnipresence of money, bling-bling and argue… It looked like to us that some might forget after all why they go sailing, or at least why we go sailing; for the pleasure to be on the water. But well, I guess that when the boat owner pays 800 euros for a night and pays his crew members accordingly, all these considerations disappear… Anyway, first confrontation for us with the “bling-bling” world of sailing, and if we want to get back from Caribbean rich we better get used to it.

The last good surprise was to see Petxexe and Gon (Rocio´s parents) in Las Palmas for these last three days. They came for their dose of sun and Rocio´s kisses. That was the occasion to exchange our old computer, give most of the aquarellas to Petxexe, speak of boats and surf and make a couple of pictures;

The Gandarias Albaina, but where is Lutxi-Putxi?

Finally we are enjoying or last days here; all our friend from la Graciosa came by boat and it is a pleasure to see them again. Tonight babysitting; pasta and crumble, and family Adams! But still, we can´t wait to be out there!

Besos a todos, next post when we get to Santa Lucia. We´ll keep our log book during the crossing so that you will not miss any detail of the adventure; tuna fishing, games with kids, squalls, stars and paintings. You can follow our trip via the tracker on http://www.worldcruisingclub.com, we might even manage to post some short comments there, so watch out for Intrepid Bear!

LITLE UPDATE: we just wanted to show you la vela latina. These are the tradiotional sailing boats of Las Palmas. They used these boats in the old days to unload cargo from the ships to land. Nowadays they are raced hardcore by teams of professionals. We had the occasion to sail on one of their smaller training boats;

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In Las Palmas, sin noticias de Thomas

We arrived on the 14th in the beginning of the afternoon at the mooring of Las Palmas. To get there we took 28 hours of sailing on board “Rêves de Jour” with the “Triple A”. The weather was kind to us as we sailed downwind with a moderate swell on the beam and 15 knots of wind. RDJ propelled us at its favorite 4 to 5 knots pace. Genoa and main up, we rolled our way observing Lanzarote and la Graciosa disappearing slowly, very slowly.

The “Triple A” (Antoine, Antoine and Arthur) shared their boat, food, night watches, fishing gear, books and many more things with great pleasure. It is amazing to see how they are living their adventure; little money, big project and apparently, not one argue in between them since the start! When you are three friends of 22 years old I find that quite impressive. The boat is clearly home-made, has nothing to do with Intrepid Bear, but still has its charm; wooden interior, poster of Corto Maltese (as well as all the books), huge library, music instruments, wooden barrel, dodgy toilet and prehistoric VHF live there in harmony next to the macbook and the second computer that they use for navigation. No autopilot on board, the self-steering wind vane needs to be fixed, so we helmed all the way. After Intrepid Bear and almost five full days under auto-pilot, that makes you feel a bit more like the adventurer of the beginning of the century.

Gaspar in the aft bunk after a good Corto Maltese session

Antoine does the inventory of “Paté Hénaff”, things you can’t find in Senegal where they are heading!

The moment we feared the most was disembarking with the dinghy and our bags, Carmen and Roberto… Luckily, the dinghy did not have a hole in the chambers, the pump was inflating, even the outboard engine started! (we start to think that we have infinite luck after that…). In Las Palmas, we discovered the huge marina, packed with yachts way over 40 ft, yachtmen, a highway between the marina and the town, ferries, containers, naval ships… it was hard for us to withstand this contrast with our little paradise, la Graciosa…

The harbour of Las Palmas

Tired and with our bag packs, we looked for Thomas who is skipper on board a 64 footer yacht and promised us to host on board while the owner is away… With no news of him, we were not sure whether or not he arrived yet (the last news were 7 or 8 days ago saying he was still in Palma de Mallorca). After shouting the name “Thomas” to every big yacht over 60 ft (we still don’t know the name of his boat), we did not find him and the “Triple A” hosted us one more night.

But our luck was not all gone! Walking around the marina, we bumped into “Pato”, another of Gonzalo’s friend! His wife rents apartments and found us one in less than an hour.Taking hot shower was delicious after two weeks of hose cleaning… (cold water and wind… you don’t stay too long in the shower with that…)

The rest of our time here so far was spent in preparation of Intrepid Bear, trying to get Harry to speak to us again, drinking all the free drinks we could and meeting plenty of sailors. Finally we’d like to advice to anyone who thinks about boat-stopping to find one before coming here. Indeed the pontoons are packed with guys looking for a boat, most of the owners get fed up with it. Nowadays we think that internet is the best solution for that.

All the best to you, BIG KISSES

PS: Gaspar really wants to show you a picture of Rocio guapa

Rocio in what she called “my beach” in La Graciosa

Our friends we’ll miss the most from la Graciosa; Pato Negro y Pato Blanco