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Archive for the ‘Atlantic’ tag

Have I Lost It, Or Just Found It?

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December 9, 2006. – In the Middle of Nowhere.

Dear J.,

We have been at sea for a while now. I am gradually getting into a mood, where I feel more than just ‘at sea’. I feel at home, in harmony with everything around me. At those moments, it is as if I feel the ship talking. It is more sounds rather than words. At times, I hear her giggling when she loves the excitement of a fast sail. I hear her hum a melody when she is happy with the sail settings and the wind. There are times where I hear her cry when something is wrong, when the swell and low winds make her sail flap and the boom bang to and fro.

Last night I was woken up when she was crying in pain, and screaming. The winds were low, and the side-swell had her boom bang every 10 seconds. . The ship shivered with every smack of the sails. The foresail emptied and filled again with a loud whack like a giant whip. She was tormented.
I came on deck to find the crew on watch chatting. They had not really noticed the banging. I gave them a piece of my mind ‘can’t you tell, she is hurting?’. They gave me an awkward look as if to say ‘What are you talking about?’. I hooked on my lifeline and went onto the foredeck, tightened the ropes of the headsail, changed the course harder into the wind, and trimmed the main sail to avoid the banging. The winds were low, maybe 6 or 7 knots. The swell was 2-3 meters high, rolling in from the side..

I put on some soft classical music in the cockpit, to soothe her spirit. I emptied my mind and sniffed the wind, closed my eyes. As the music went up in rhythm, I could feel the ship talking to the wind, and the wind whispering back. It was like they made a pact. The wind gradually picked up, sending shivers down my spine. The hair on my arms and legs stood straight up. I could just feel that I was in tune with it all. And everything was in tune with me. The wind picked up, gradually, bit by bit, and over half an hour, it was up to the ideal speed of 20 knots. With every push of the wind, I could feel the ship starting to sing and leap forward. She giggled with every push. I took the wheel and made her surf on the waves. She sung for me. Out of joy.

This did not happen once, but several times, where I came on deck, or on watch, and the wind was low, or from a foul angle. Every time, I could get into tune with the elements and it was as if I could have the swell, the wind change, to make the ship happy, singing again. It was so obvious that often when I came on deck, sometimes the crew on watch sighed ‘oh ok, now we will get wind again. Make us some wind again, Peter.’. And every time, I could blank my mind, and get into tune with the elements, and get the right balance again of wind, ship, swell and sails… Often, I could see on the instruments the wind had fallen right down again when I went off shift. Sometimes in a matter of minutes after I went below deck… Weird stuff, no?

She loves me, this ship. She loves what I do to her. She loves it when I switch off the autopilot and steer her manually.
The crew jokes about it: ‘The ship, she likes her little machine -the autopilot-, but she likes Peter’s hand job much, much more!’. ;-))

Sometimes I think ‘I lost it’, but more and more I get convinced ‘I just found it’..

What do you think? Haha



Top picture courtesy of Thomas Mallet

Continue reading The Road to the Horizon’s Ebook, jump to the Reader’s Digest of The Road.

Written by Peter

January 30th, 2007 at 12:04 am

Letter to a Mum – Spoiling Innocence

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ARC 2006 – Sailing Vessel Persuader Too.
Log entry December 8, 2006 – Transatlantic crossing, day #12.

With his 18 years, Tom is the youngest of our crew. Thanks to him, our crew has an average age of only 45 :-). We do joke a lot with him, and often ‘threaten’ him ‘to tell his mum’. Below is an invented letter to Tom’s mum.
The one in the red Tshirt is Tom. Obviously fiddling around with something again. Keep your hands off that rope, will you, Tom? Dammit!Dear Mrs. Mallet,

Greetings from the Persuader Too, now well on its way to St.Lucia. We were sorry you only found out that Tom was crossing the Atlantic when he was no longer available on his cellphone. Indeed, he did not stay overnight at a friend. He promises to call you once we arrive in St.Lucia.

As all sailors smoke, Tom started to smoke too. He says hi and asks you if you have a good recipe to get the nicotine from his fingers.

It took some effort to make sure he kept all his underwear, T-shirts, and shampoo in his cabin, as he clearly has the habit of leaving everything hanging around. Eric, our first mate on the passage from Hamble to the Canaries was rather upset as he left the boat and cleared his bunk. He found out he had slept on 5 pieces of Tom’s used underwear under his pillow case for at least a week.

Tom is very interested in technology. He has pushed every possible button on this boat (and there are a lot). His favorite pass time is to reconfigure the skipper’s navigation computer and to reprogram the response time of the autopilot.

Tom is also intrigued by the red/yellow plastic dummy steering wheel we have installed for him in the cockpit. He does quite well steering the boat with it, especially as we never switch off the auto helm and the dummy helm is not connected to anything. He makes the ‘Brrrrr’ noises too, just like 6 year old kids drive a car.

Tom did dishes yesterday. He rinsed a cup as there were no clean ones left.

He is the only one who watches cartoons on the DVD in the afternoon. We are running out of cartoons soon, so we are rather worried how to keep him busy for 10 hours a day. We have thought to run the same DVDs with Swedish subtitles and Swahili sound. We hope that will keep him entertained for 2 more days.

We do limit his beer consumption to 10 six packs per day. He has been quite good actually, and reduced his alcohol consumption quite a lot since he came on board.

We run out of dried mushrooms for our soup. We think Tom had something to do with it, as one night, he was rather ‘happy’, smoking weird shaped rolled cigarettes.
We also run out of dried soup, and oregano spices. We think he is in his ‘experimental phase’. He does have a dripping nose all the time though..
Tom would like to inform the other teenagers on the ARC-boats that the book with the celestial navigation tables works very well to roll cigarettes.
He also found a way to ferment the oranges, mixed with apple cider and sugar. He is now working on a device to distillate this mixture to a 90 degrees pure alcohol. He intends to sell at least 100 liters of it once we are in St.Lucia.

We asked him to put his stack of Playboys on port side, as it gave us a better tack, increasing the boat speed by at least one knot.

Tom has found ‘Indies Nightclub’ at our destination in St.Lucia, Rodney Bay, on the electronic charts, and kindly asks to wire over more money in anticipation of our arrival.
Since he discovered Indies Nightclub, he does stare westwards a lot, and does whine ‘are we there yet?’ continuously.

For the rest, we are all well and love Tom very much.

The Crew of the Persuader Too.

PS: Is the story of Tom and the Chinese nanny really true? We thought so. We have give him plenty of tips, experienced men as we are.
That is Tom (on the right) with me

Continue reading The Road to the Horizon’s Ebook, jump to the Reader’s Digest of The Road.

Written by Peter

January 30th, 2007 at 12:00 am

We Are All Going No-Where

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ARC 2006 – Sailing Vessel Persuader Too.
Log entry December 3, 2006 – Transatlantic crossing, day #7.

For days, we have not seen another ship. On Saturday all of sudden a vessel popped up at the horizon. We locked her on the radar and observed she was not moving at all. It was a fishing vessel, which looked like hovering on one spot. We were speeding on our massive green kite, autopilot set to follow the wind, about 155 degrees off wind, a course that brought us heading straight for the fishing vessel. – is it not odd, that for days on end you don’t see any other ship, and when one is spotted, it always seems to be on a collision course? –

Anyway, there she was, just hovering on one position, not moving at all. She did not drag any fishing gear, just ‘lay there’. We called them on the radio, in English, No response. In French. No response. In Portuguese. No response. In Spanish. No response.. It was not until we raced past her, a hundred meters off her bow, that all of a sudden we heard a voice on the radio. It seemed the crew only saw us the moment we passed her.. The guy on the radio sounded surprised… Probably he was on watch on the bridge, and had dozed off, until he saw us speeding by. I mean, put yourself in his place, here you are, in the middle of the Atlantic, minding your own business, not seeing anyone or anything for days on end and all of a sudden, this sailboat with this massive green sail comes racing past you..

Anyway, they were very friendly. They were Portuguese fishermen (what is a Portuguese fishing vessel doing so far south in the middle of nowhere, we wonder?). They asked who we were, where we were going to.. We answered we were on our way ‘to Saint Lucia’.. And he said ‘but you are going the wrong way, Santa Lucia is behind you..’. It took us some time to explain we were not going to ‘La Ilha de Santa Luzia’, one of the islands in the Cape Verdes – indeed now one day off our stern – but to St.Lucia in the Caribbean..
So we parted, with the fishing vessel left in our wake. We were wondering what the hell a Portuguese fishing vessel was doing so far south, just hovering on the spot in the mid Atlantic. And they were probably wondering what a sailing vessel was doing crossing the Atlantic only to go from one from one St.Lucia to the other St.Lucia.

Looking back… Video courtesy of Thomas Mallet
Click (twice) on video to play it.

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Written by Peter

January 29th, 2007 at 11:44 pm

250 Boats Facing The Same Direction

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November 26, 2006 – Just off the coast of the Canary Islands

I arrived back in the Canary Islands two days ago. In the marina, all ships participating in the ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, had assembled. 223 ships from different nationalities. From 27 feet (9 meters) to 100 feet (over 30 meters) monsters. From homemade boats to big luxurious one-off designs. From competition racing boats with little luxury to standard cruising yachts like ours. The ARC is an annual event trying to assemble yachts at the ideal time of the year to sail across the Atlantic. The purpose is to get everyone safely to ‘the other end’, in a competitive way. The people participating are from all kinds of walks of life. Some are professional skippers taking their charter ship over to the Caribbean for the season (like us), with a random crew often consisting of people who never crossed the Atlantic before. Some are competition boats with a well trained racing crew on board. Some are families, many of them from Europe where the ARC is their first trans-ocean crossing of a multi-year world cruise, often with kids on board. There was a pleasant and hectic atmosphere on all the docks as all ships were readied for the crossing. Everyone was busy stocking food, fuel, water, and making last minute repairs or changes to their ship.

This morning, one by one the yachts left the marina, cheered by thousands of people who stood on the cays, docks and breakwaters or ferried in small boats around us. Helicopters above, filming, and brass bands playing on the docks. Together with the 223 ARC participating yachts, there would be about 250 ‘ghost riders’, yachts which would cross the Atlantic at the same time as us, but did not participate in the ARC. We all gathered just outside of the port, zigzagging while raising sails, trying to get a good position near the one km long starting line. Once the start signal was given, up went all the big spinnakers (the huge colourful sails which are used to sail down- wind). The start was one of the most memorable pictures I will never forget… Over 200 boats starting a race at the same time. And not only a race, a transatlantic crossing but also starting an adventure, chasing dreams. Even though we will often sail hundreds of miles apart from the other boats, we are still connected to one another, because of our common goal, our common dreams, our common interests, all to do with adventure, water, sailing and being addicted to the horizon.. It was an absolute fabulous sight, hundreds of boats and sails, and thousands of crew working on them.. All heading into the same direction: St.Lucia in the Caribbean.

Wish us luck and fair winds!


Picture 2 courtesy of Thomas Mallet

Start of the ARC 2006. Video courtesy of T.Mallet
Click (twice) on the video to play it.

Start of the ARC2006
Click (twice) on the video to play it.

Continue reading The Road to the Horizon’s Ebook, jump to the Reader’s Digest of The Road.

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Written by Peter

January 29th, 2007 at 11:29 pm