Friday, May 31, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 15

Yesterday evening we saw whales again in the distance - well, not actuall whales themselves but their spray, that was very strong and hi, so I guess they were Fin Whales.
In the evening there was plenty of wind (as always in my shift), so sailing was fast again and also through the night. During the day wind was changing, from 7 to 23 knots in speed, so we had plenty to do with sails.
Today dolphins came to play around our boat twice, they were jumping, but only so long until we got our cameras out. We also saw a turtle, couple of Portogese Man-of-War jelly fish and some Shearwaters.
We expect to arrive in Lajes on island Flores tomorrow in the morning. We don't know yet how long we'll stay, it depends on the anchorage and on weather. We might sail on towards Horta on island Faial already tomorrow evening.
In 360 hours we made 2269 miles and there are 92 to go to Flores. Our position is 38° 44' N and 32° 53' W.

Message from the captain

Hi. This is the captain speaking.
It is now 8:00 UTC and we are about 170 NM from our destination. With current speed and wind forecast this means we are entering the last 24 hours of our crossing from Lesser Antilles to Azores. We expect to make landfall in early morning hours.
The crew behaved great so far. No-one needed to be beaten or dragged below the boat.
Lili provided us with great food. We had at least one cooked meal every day plus snacks and goodies for the night. All that on top of keeping her regular watches of course. I can cross any ocean with her.
Tadej is a perfect crew: Does not need much sleep of food, keeps good spirit and can fix what is broken. It shows he is experienced in single handling the boat and does not hesitate to climb the mast in the middle of the ocean. Above all he is really great on the radio. We got fresh weather twice a day during entire trip.
I will not talk about myself (we all know I am the best) but will say few words about our yacht Heron. She is a good boat. She kept us safe making comfortably 7 to 8 knots in any decent wind and would do faster if we would let her (comfort decreases with speed above 8 knots). This crossing was an upwind sail all the way. She performed good. Clean bottom does make a big difference.
Minor problems, which we had were fixed - more about it later.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Horth Atlantic passage day 14

Yesterday evening the wind picked up and we sailed very fast and again set the speed record - 174 miles in 24 hours, average speed 7,3 knots. Wind stayed strong during the night, until in the morning we had some sqalls (neviht) with very strong wind and afterwards almost no wind. We even motored for 1,5 hour before noon.
Dolphins came by to say good night yesterday and good morning today at 8, and then once more. Maybe they are hoping to find more fish around the boat. During the day we also saw a pod of whales, I think they were Bottlenose whales, they were smaller than Humpbacks, very dark, with hooked back fin and rounder tail fin. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to take any photos.
The air got a bit warmer, it doesn't have that winterly bite any more, but water is getting colder, at the moment it has 19°C. So nobody in going to fall overboard.
We decided to change our course to island Flores (the most W island of Azores) instead of sailing to Horta on island Faial. We would not be able to reach Horta in daylight, so we'll visit Flores first and then go to Horta next day or in the evening (there are 130 miles from Flores to Faial). That means that our distance to landfall just got a bit shorter and we will be in Lajes, Flores at some time during the day on Saturday already.
In 336 hours we made 2098 miles, there are still 261 miles to Flores. Our position is 37° 35' N and 36° 09' W.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 13

Yesterday evening was cloudy, wind was good and sea not too bad, we managed to made good distance again, 155 miles. The second half of the night was bumpy, wind shifting, sometimes disappearing so night shifts were again a lot of work. We had more sun today, though there is still a lot of high clouds in the sky. We saw three turtles today, probably Loggerhead turtles, since they had very round shells.
In 312 hours we made 1927 miles and we still have 528 miles to go to Azores. Our position is 37° 05' N and 39° 36' W.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Horth Atlantic passage day 12

Yesterday we were again very fast, we made over 160 miles. Night was not too bad until 3 in the morning, when the clouds came and started shifting the wind and again it was a lot of work with the sails. So was the whole day, with periods of rain, strong wind, weak wind and all from different directions. We won't be breaking any speed records today. Guys managed to get the right halyard up the mast so our main sail is again fully functional. Dolphins came by for a couple of minutes. Hope we have more sunshine tomorrow.
In 288 hours we made 1752 miles and we have 700 miles to Azores. Our position is 36° 23' N and 43° 04' W.

Monday, May 27, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 11

It was wild evening yesterday, on top of everything our main sail fell down - the knot on the halyard (dviznica) untied itself. Luckily we could pull it back up again with spare halyard, but only to 2nd reef (druga krajsava), halyard is not as strong as original one was. Yesterday was probably our fastest day with 172 miles sailed. In the night wind got a bit weaker and we slept well. Today was a gorgeous day, sunny with puffy white clouds, just the temperatures are not even nearly summery - air has 22°C and water 20°C. We had a good and fast sailing today, and we treated ourselves to BBQ - steaks, potatoes, corn and celery with salsa and aioli. And a glass of wine of course. Dolphins came to visit us three times. We are riding on a lower side of a Anticyclone (high pressure area) and hope to have this favorable wind for next couple of days, it is just enough strong (12 - 14 knots true) and good direction to bring us close to Azores fast (7 to 8 knots of speed).
In 264 hour we made 1616 miles and have 842 miles to Azores. Our position is 35° 28' and 45° 46'.

North Atlantic passage day 8

This one was due on Friday, but mistakenly sent to wrong address.

Yesterday evening wind picked up and we stoped motoring and set sail in direction ESE. Night was calm and we had a good sleep. In the morning we almost caught a big tuna, that got away from only 1m from the boat, but managed to damage our fishing rod. A bit later an unfortunate bird, a Greater Shearwater, also got hooked, and we quickly released it, hopefully without any serious harm. During the day wind got a bit stronger and we are able to sail almost towards E. In the afternoon we saw whales jumping in the air in the distance, too far to go chasing after them. We are still seeing a lot of Portugese Man-of-war jelly fish, but not as much as yesterday.
In 192 hours we made 1117 miles, there are still 1277 miles to Azores. Our position is 30° 22' N and 52° 32' W.

North Atlantic passage day 10

Last evening, the night and today have been the wildest until now. Yesterday evening was very cloudy, some clouds carried rain, some more wind and some both. We had a lot to do with the sails - at one moment we reefed them, at the other let them out. It has been hard work, especially today from the morning till early afternoon. But we've been very fast, night was the fastest ever with 7.3 knots average speed. With the wind the waves got bigger also, so neither the night nor the day were very comfortable. A bit of relief came in the early afternoon, sun got out and the skies cleared, and the wind got steadied, but still strong. We're doing good speed in good direction, but hope for couple of knots less wind for the night Today we saw a cargo ship, a few birds and for the first time since Caribbean a couple of Atlantic dolphins.
In 240 hours we made 1428 miles, there are 997 miles to Azores. Our position is 33°46' N and 48°22' W.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 9

We had more wind yesterday evening and in the night than forecast, and we had nice and fast sailing. In the early morning wind got stronger and waves bigger and it got more uncomfortable. Wind also turned to the ESE, so we are sailing towards NNE. We will stay on this course also in the next days, wind will stay as it is now and grow even stronger. There were a lot of clouds during the day and couple of showers around us, we luckily stayed dry. Ride is bumpy and I hope we'll get some sleep tonight. We saw some birds and couple of Portugese Man-of-wars.
In 216 hours we made 1267 miles, there are 1151 miles to Azores. Our position is 31° 40' N and 50° 34' W.

Friday, May 24, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 7

We had a nice sail yesterday evening and during the night towards N, wind was light and waves small. In the late morning wind died and we started motoring and were motoring all day. So now we have cold beer and lots of water again, and we motored directly towards Azores. Most of the day was sunny , with bigger patches of clouds. We saw many Man of wars or Spanish Galleon (Spanske ladjice), quite toxic jellyfish. They look very pretty, but they scare me more than sharks. So obviously we weren't swimming in the ocean today. We also saw some birds, and in the afternoon we "met" a French sailboat Ruby, that sailed close to us and we had a nice chat over the VHF radio.
In 168 hours we made 9950 miles, we still have 1378 miles to Azores. Our position is 30° 20' N and 54°50' W.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 6

Wind remained strong yesterday and we had a bumpy but quick ride during the night. Unfortunately not in right direction, but towards North. We are staying on this course in hope to get better winds in the next days. Temperature is dropping the more we move away from the Caribbean, evenings are quite chilly, I'm thinking of wearing a cap tonight on my night watch. We saw a couple of birds today, two Greater Shearwaters (Puffinus Gravis) stayed with our boat for half an hour. Yesterday I cooked a big pot of fish curry and we're finishing it off today.
In 144 hours we made 870 miles, there are still 1454 miles to Azores. Our position is 28° 40' N, 55° 25' W.

North Atlantic passage day 5

We motored all evening and almost all night, since there was no wind. Towards the morning wind slowly picked up, until we had to reef the sails at 7 in the morning. Wind grew strong and changed direction, and waves were big and short. We had uncomfortable ride all day, and unfortunately wind is mostly blowing from Azores. We have to tack and zig-zag towards our destination, so even though we made 125 miles in last 24 hours (720 in 120 hours), we are still 1540 miles from Azores.

Monday, May 20, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 4

We had a nice evening yesterday, wind was weakening so the sailing was pleasant but not as fast as the first days any more. In the middle of the night it died completely, so we started the engine and are still motoring at this moment. But the night was calm, we had a good sleep, and today is a perfect summer day. I baked banana bread in the morning, all of the bananas got ripe at the same moment. We saw a cargo ship passing and a couple of birds. In 96 hours we made 585 miles and have another 1637 miles to Azores.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 3

We had a nice evening yesterday, with grilled dorado and a glass of wine. After good night we woke to another beautiful day, probably I shouldn't say Caribbean any more, but North Atlantic. Wind is slowly getting weaker, early afternoon we had to start the engine for one and a half hour. The beer is cold, water tanks full and we swam in the Atlantic. We're having dorado for dinner again. In last 24 hours we made 143 miles, despite delays.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 2

Afer a nice dinner yesterday, we had a good night. At the beginning the wind was still strong, then it got a weaker. So did the waves, and we slept well. Today was a gorgeous Caribbean day with blue skies, sun and a few white cummuluses. We even saw a few birds. We are still doing a good speed with complete main, jib and a storm jib. We made 155 miles in last 24 hours.

Friday, May 17, 2013

North Atlantic passage day 1

We left Barbuda yesterday at about 3 in the afternoon, after doing some last boat work, good lunch and great snorkeling. We caught a big Dorado (Mahi Mahi) half an hour later, captain spent a whole hour cleaning and filleting it. Sailing was fast and a bit bumpy, we're slowly getting used to the rhythm of night watch system. Today the weather is sunny, wing good, sea not to bad. We're all ok. In first 24 hours we made 162 sea miles.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

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Start of North Atlantic passage

 We sailed to Jolly Harbour on Sunday, after doing the clearance and boat hull cleaning in the morning in Deshaies. It was a fast and nice ride, we also hooked two big Barracudas and released them and a big Mahi Mahi, that jumped into the air to show off and then managed to unhook itself.

Yesterday we top up the fuel and did some shopping for food. One of our fuel tank was leaking at the hatch and it kept us busy whole afternoon and evening yesterday. But it looks good today and in a little while we are ready to leave for Barbuda, and tomorrow we'll sail off towards Azores.

We'll be posting some comments and positions on the blog, so you can see where we are and how we are doing.

Here are two additional links where you can follow our voyage:

Our last radioed position:
Here you can see our daly route:

P.S. Here are some farewell photos.

Sunset in Le Saintes.

A pretty Chain Moray.

A pair of Flying Gurnards - don't know why they are so differently colored, maybe they're mating.

Even on my last snorkeling in Le Saintes on Sunday morning I discovered some new animals - this is a Club Hydromedusa, 2,5 cm big slightly toxic jellyfish ...

... and a Paired-bell Siphonophore, a toxic jellyfish of a 2 to 7 cm size (without tentacles).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The last week in Le Saintes

 This post contains even more underwater photos as the recent ones, although there are some "above water" ones also included. It is probably the last post with photos for some time, from Atlantic passage I will post only occasional comment or our GPS position.

The days of last week  flew by in finishing boat projects and snorkeling. I was very determined to make a photo of everything pretty or interesting.

Here is a Spotted Moray in company of Mysid Shrimps.

A Brown Chromis.

The trio of Blue Tangs feeding on algae. Their blue color is almost fluorescent, when they swim by in larger groups it is really some sight.

This is a Fragile Saucer Coral, it looks like it has millions of golden eyes.

This Grooved Brain Coral has some interesting pattern, like it was made of two halves put together.

And on the joining of two halves some flowers are growing.

The Rough Fileclam surrounded by Warty Corallimorphs.

We spent Saturday evening in company of our nice neighbors Dorota and Julian, who are also sailing across the Atlantic to England in their boat Bluefin. It was a great evening, we had so much to talk about.

A young cat Cielo is sailing with them.

This is Dorota ...

... this is Bluefin ...

... and this Julian. They came over for a drink again on Monday and they brought Cielo with them. On Tuesday they sailed to Antigua and then further to Bermuda. Good sailing guys!

I took some photos of Paine de Sucre anchorage, I realized I was only using my camera under water. This is hotel Bois Joli in the south of the bay.

The beach on the west near the ...

... Paine de Sucre. It all looks so pretty at this time of the year, everything green and alive.

This little fish was living underneath our boat. As I went snorkeling in the afternoon, she came with me. She was swimming somewhere near my right arm most of the time.

We saw this pretty baby Rock Beauty.

And I again discovered something new - a couple of Lettuce Sea Slugs. They look so delicate.

I saw many Hydroids before, but none so gorgeous blue as these.

These are Social Featherdusters.

This poor guy is missing two legs, but he's still looking pretty. I think it is a Red-Ridged Clinging Crab.

We met some Queen Angelfish. They are usually shy, but not today.

On our way back to boat the fishy was sometimes right in front of my mask.

She was always so close it was almost impossible to take a good photo of it.

But as soon as we approached Heron, she was off to hide around propeller.

On Wednesday it was a laundry day.

And in the afternoon I went snorkeling again. This is a Baloonfish, I still find its eyes amazing.

This is a French Grunt with a Cymothoid Isopod - a shrimp-like animal, that attaches itself to different fish. It is not a parasite, it just rides along, but I'm not sure fish really like them.

This is a Sun Anemone ...

... with a Clinging Crab trying to hide underneath it and a Sun Anemone Shrimp above in the tentacles.

On Thursday captain and me both went snorkeling, so he shot a few photos of me ...

... and I of him.

The star of this pretty picture is Red Boring Sponge, that encrusts one of the two Brain corals, but obviously Bluehead also wanted to be in the picture.

This is a Redlip Blenny, with great eyelashes.

And this is a Saddled Blenny.

This is a small Smooth Trunkfish with most kissable mouth of all the fish.

The Trumpetfish often try to hide in Sponges or Gorgonians.

This is a shy Web Burrfish.

She also has spines under her mouth, like a beard.

This Spotted Scorpionfish just moved and is still showing her colorful finns.

And this is one of the weirdest things I ever saw - it was more then half a meter long and looked like a translucent blanket. At first moment I even thought it was a piece of plastic. Until it started to move and change the shape.

It started to fold itself together...

... and then it stretched out again. From up close it seemed to be made of small pearls or bubbles. Might be eggs or something. Later it slowly started to divide into several smaller pieces.

On Friday morning we sailed to Pointe a Pitre where Tadej came aboard, he will be our crew and companion on our way across the Atlantic. We did some serious provisioning already on Friday evening. Then we did another couple of boat projects on Saturday morning, like installing a shortwave radio and antenna for weather forecasts and position reporting, and in the afternoon we sailed to Le Saintes again. We are off to Deshaies later today and then tomorrow we're sailing to Antigua. We want to buy some fuel there and some additional food (including rum - after all we ARE sailors :-), and then we're off in direction Azores.