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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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”!”
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.