The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.

Our favorite sailing quote:

"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Reflections on an Atlantic Passage, May 15

We are now two days from our Atlantic Crossing and I can now look upon it with a little appreciation. We arrived at Devil's Island at about 9pm on the 13th of May. It took us 13 days to cross from Cape Verde to French Guiana. I don't know why, but it wasn't an easy passage for me. I have this theory that the older you get the less resilient you are. Ana did fantastic and I think was a little sad to make landfall. Porter who is usually our seasick child, did really well and other than playing a few more video games than I would like, he fared well as well. Zander does his own thing and can accept the long, boring days because he knows the end result is always great. There is something cool on the other end. Mike stays busy worrying about the boat. He is a totally different person once we get into port when he doesn't have the weight of the world weighing him down. There are a thousand things that can go wrong on a sailboat and I know how to remedy exactly two of them. The rest Mike deals with and it weighs heavy. I worry, I fret about everything under the sun, I feel guilty for not doing more homework with the kids, but I don't have enough energy to actually make lesson plans that are very rigorous. Anyway, I digress, I was going to reflect on the positive parts of the trip.
From a purely sailing standpoint we had a great passage. We had consistent 20 knot winds from the stern 12 of the 13 days and we maintained an average speed of over 6 knots, which isn't too shabby for our overloaded boat. You would not believe how much stuff we have on the boat including a cooler full of Irish turf that we keep meaning to burn during a bonfire on the beach. The boat is heavy, but we made a pretty good speed. I didn't want to write this while we were sailing, but for a long passage we had very few things break. In fact, nothing broke because of the passage, we had a bow port light rust out that will need to be replaced. We also had some bolts break on the boom vang, so we will need to get a machinist to re-rivet (spell check doesn't like that, um, not sure it is a word, but it's a pretty simple thing to get fixed and not vital in the mean time) them in Trinidad, but otherwise, nothing broke. That is actually pretty uncharacteristic for such a long trip and includes our passage from the Canaries to Cape Verde. No one was sick at all and we ate well considering we didn't get much fresh produce in Cape Verde. Generally when we get into port after a long passage there are so many things to do to the boat. Usually we've had water get in the boat somehow (usually it is a rogue wave that hits the boat and splashes a wave in through an open hatch or something equally avoidable, yet somehow we don't avoid it). Salt water in the boat is a huge pain, especially if it is an area hard to clean, like cushions on settee that can not be washed. Once you have salt water on a fabric the salt will continually pull moisture out of the air and the surface will never truly feel dry. It is an unpleasant feeling to say the least. Usually we need to wash comforters, rugs and do a really thorough cleaning when we get into port. This time, no salt water in made for easy clean up and we were able to keep up with routine cleaning while we were sailing. When we arrived into Devil's Island we all shared a bottle of celebratory champagne (Cava since we have a stash from Spain) and we spent about 15 minutes prepping the boat for the night and that was it! We went to bed, got a great sleep, woke up rearing to go and explore Devil's Island. I think it was an unprecedented lack of chores that required doing. That I could get used to!
Wildlife sightings in the sky were slim along our route. There is clearly very little in the way of prey for seabirds in this part of the Atlantic. Never have I done such a big passage and seen so few birds. We saw a few storm petrels, a handful of Cory's Shear waters, Brown Boobies as we got closer to land and Sabine Gulls and a few terns (possibly Cayenne terns) as we closed the coast. There is obviously not the nutrient cold water currents and upwelling that attract large numbers of seabirds. In the water we saw Atlantic Spotted Dolphins and Pilot Whales and on our hook we caught a few Dorado. The flying fish were numerous and it was a job each morning to tour the boat and throw the dead ones overboard. Some sailors eat them, we've never acquired a taste for them though. Although they do make amazing bait. As we neared the coast of South America the water became really green and even brown in a few places. The Amazon dumps huge amounts of freshwater into the ocean about 300 miles south of where we were sailing and the current brings it north along the continent. Combined with other outflow from other Amazonian Basin rivers and it was a distinctively different color of ocean. We don't have a way of measuring salinity but when we ran the water maker before we arrived, Mike noticed a much faster rate of production, meaning there was less salt to force out of the membranes (water maker works via reverse osmosis). The other thing that was noticeable absent from our passage was the sight of garbage in the water. I'm happy to report we didn't see a single piece of garbage floating until we were a day away from the coast, and even then we saw very little. I know that in no way reflects a cleaner world, but it is amazing that there is a North Atlantic Gyre of floating plastic garbage amassed somewhere to the north of us and yet none of it has made its way to us. The only other thing notable on our passage was that we were almost always in 100 mile range of some big ship. While we only saw one or two boats, the AIS showed numerous other ships out here with us. It is a much easier ocean crossing knowing there are other ships out here to help if we ever needed it.
In summary, we had a great passage in all measurable terms. That said, I'm ready to move a little slower for a while and enjoy some swimming, beach walking, snorkeling and all the things you expect to do while cruising (I haven't been swimming in a year, since when we were in Cuba last May). The Caribbean better deliver, I've gone through a lot to get here!

1 comment:

  1. Hi to all aboard Pelagic. Glad to hear you had an uneventful crossing, and nobody seasick! Katie is currently doing a project on South America for school, she will be impressed to hear that you are in Guyana! I love Porter's blog about Devil's Island, I read the Papillon book years ago and it has stuck in my mind, nasty place back in the day. Enjoy the rest of your trip, wishing you lots of warm seas to swim in Amy :-)
    Ros Ailither crew xx