Video – Lanzarote to Trinidad – now in HD

We updated the YouTube video quality after some initial technical challenges. Updated link below.

A summary of our 18 day transatlantic sail from Lanzarote to Trinidad. Unfortunately, we could not get the drone to work in Spain and therefore did not capture any aerial footage during this trip. It is fixed now, though, and we will try again when back in Trinidad in April.

The crew from Lanzarote to Trinidad

A few more photos of our crew that sailed from Arrecife (Lanzarote, Canary Islands) via Charlotteville, Tobago, to Chaguaramas, Trinidad.
We left the marina in Arrecife in a breezy Northerly and some choppy waves. When we took the corner around southern Lanzarote, things  got rough pretty quickly as we sailed into significant swell in addition to sizable wind-waves. The wind coming from slightly forward of abeam made things more interesting and most crew were wondering what they signed up for. Apart from the challenge for the new crew to get used to this new environment quickly, we had a nice trip from there. The usual three days passed by and everybody had their sea-legs and appetite back.
The main decision we made was to sail a relatively northern route. This was keeping us close to the rump line and provided a couple of days of broad reaching. From then on, the challenge was to find a sustainable way to sail down wind for weeks at a time and deal with the heavy rolling motion of the boat.
Apart from breaking the whisker pole (twice), most of the boat stayed intact. When we started to use the spinnaker pole and with that the track on the mast, that track did not last long. It broke, because the screws were not able to hold it in place (we believe that the screws might have been too short and the thread not cut correctly but need to investigate some more); with a serious amount of lines we were able to lash it in place for the remainder of the trip.
We saw very few signs of live during this trip: three freighters, three dolphin pods and two whales (about what we would see every other day on the previous legs). And we finally managed to catch our first fish of the tour (thanks to Jake).
We were glad to have visited Tobago (although clearly not long enough) and had a decent enough time in Trinidad (next time we will try again to find the bat caves).
We were overall very happy with the weather as we had at least 10kn throughout the trip, the temperatures were comfortable and showers fairly light. Had we sailed a month earlier, this trip would have taken us approximately seven days longer!
We sailed a total of about 3000 miles, barely ran the engine and sailed mostly dead downwind.
And most importantly, nobody got hurt.
This was our longest non-stop sail so far – with 18 days.

Ben Zack
Jake Baldwin
Josh Antrim
Max Brueck
Philip Kersten


Surf and turf

Land Ho!!!

We started seeing the lights of Barbados at about 1:00am (UTC).
It was a beautiful sight sailing past all the lights in the middle of the night and also a little strange not to stop there. But we were on a schedule and therefore did not have the time to stop.
Leveraging the internet, we downloaded a few missing charts, caught up on emails until we saw Barbados disappear in the distance.
A few showers kept us cooled down until the sun came up. We realized quickly that there were more flying fish than normal as Jake was hit in the head by one and another landed on top of the dodger. We found at least another 30(!) of them all over the deck.
With only a day of sailing left, we pulled the hydro generator in and started fishing. Of course, our favorite pink wobbler disappeared quickly, but we did not give up.
Thanks to Jake’s good eye, we managed to sail right into one of the areas of increased bird activity and did actually catch a fish! Using his NOLS expertise, Jake went ahead and massacred the Fish. With the help of Max, it was filleted, fried and eaten within the hour.
During all this activity, the sunset did not disappoint. Especially, as eagle-eye Antrim spotted Tobago in the distance, about 30nm away. Land Ho!!! (again)

Two “land ho”s in one day, catching a fish and a day long broad reaching in 27C/86F. What more can you ask for…

Our etmal today was 164nm.
We have less than 30nm to Tobago and from there later on another 60nm The folks at Dynamite Marine are ready us…
We also started preparations on our end, serviced some winches, checked all the canned foods for corrosion and made a high level plan for the remaining days.

Life is good.

Jibe Ho

Today was the first day we were talking about arriving. We are getting close. Barbados is about 75nm away and Tobago about 200. We will sail close to Barbados over night and hope to see at least a few lights (and Rihanna).
Apart from that, not much happened. We finally jibed and later took the spinnaker pole down (and were happy that the track’s lashing lasted all this way).
In terms of signs of life, we saw our third freighter of this trip last night and a whale over lunch.
As we weren’t satisfied with our sextant navigation the other day, we went through the process again today (but with equal inaccuracy).

The etmal today was 175nm.

PS: as none of us feel like eating the cabbage or squash we bought, we are planning to build a catapult tomorrow and practice our shooting skills to be ready for when the pirates come.

More of the same

If you read yesterday’s post, you know what we are doing:
surfing down the waves with our 14t surfboard.
Over night, lot’s of dark clouds were chasing us with their showers – but no more rain since sunrise, perfect sailing conditions!
There are lots of flying fish around. Josh found this one on deck this morning. Amazing how they fly and accelerate by hitting the waves with their tails during flight.

The spinnaker-pole track’s lashing is still holding, we recorded a top speed (in the few minutes we have the GPS on) of 13.4kn and tied our leg’s etmal record from Dec 22 of 176nm!

We have about 2-3 days or 430nm left and are well ahead of schedule. Maybe, we’ll stop in Tobago…

PS: one of our discussions today (aside from the usual world piece and how to run a country) was the promotion and greater acceptance of bar room brawling #amansgottadowhatamansgottado

Pole dancing

We are back in business.
After a night of stargazing, where we saw Polaris and the Southern cross together in one panoramic extravaganza, the wind picked back up enough to stabilize the boat and after lashing down the spinnaker pole track last night we decided it was time to pole out the genoa to starboard and jibe the main.

Of course that setup did not hold long and the remaining bottom piece of the track ripped out of the mast as well.
However, the track was held in place by the lashing and we doubled up on that to keep it all together.
The sailing is awesome. We are shooting down the waves with over 10kn and average 7-8kn. The wind is supposed to last for 2-3 more days and we hope the lashing will last that long. A bottle of bubbly is waiting in the fridge, waiting to be popped at midnight.

To those celebrating at the Dory Club tonight, we wish you all were here with us.

Our etmal today was 132nm.

A Happy New Year to you all!!!

We did not break anything today

The noisy and rolling sail downwind continues. Amazing what the human body can get used to over time. After about 12 days, we saw another freighter in the distance at 3:00. There are plenty of flying fish and the occasional seabird. Anyways,
we had perfect weather with blue skies, 25C/80F temperatures and about 17kn of wind from 70′. The main goal throughout the day is to stay out of the sun and even on our night watches we wear barely more than t-shirts and shorts.

Highlights of the day:
First of all, we did not break anything – although we tried…
As always, when the wind calms down somewhat, the sun has about two hours left and we are a little bored, ideas on how to speed up are born.
This time we concluded that it was calm enough to hoist the gennaker and drop the main. It did not require a pole, which we were short on, and therefore seemed a better choice than poling out the genoa with a yet to be repaired track on the mast.
Unfortunately, it was still too windy and Tioga became quite unstable. We therefore reverted back to full main only and sailed into the night.
In the dark we prepared the left over mast track in case conditions allow a poled out genoa with spinnaker pole tomorrow.
The real highlight, though, is the fact that we finally managed to understand how to shot the sun (or any other body) with our sextant at a time that is not noon. While the needed math is quite simple, understanding the concept of geographic position (GP), assumed position (AP), local hour angle (LHA) and Intercept in combination with Nautical Almanac, Sight Reduction Tables and Plotting Sheets took us a while. We will use the remaining few days to refine that process.

Today at 17:00 marked our 2 week point. We have by now sailed about 2200nm, finished the next 5 gallon water canister (about 20l), ate the remaining peppers and iceberg lattice, and filled up the second trash bag. Our last loaf of bread is almost gone and we will soon tap into our not so fresh supplies (we still have some apples, onions and potatoes and lots of limes and squash).

While Josh, Ben and Philip dealt with the aftermath of the gennaker intermezzo, Jake and Max prepared an outstanding curry meal with steak, onions, potatoes and rice.

Our etmal today was 139nm. Not the greatest, but good enough, given that we sailed the entire time under main only.

All is good out on the big blue ocean.

If you remember, at full moon, the sun goes down in the West exactly at the same time as the moon comes up in the East.
At new moon, which we just had, they both come up at the same time in the East. Tonight, we saw the beginning of the new cycle as the sun set and the tiny sliver of the moon set soon thereafter. It is quit nice to observe this cycle up close throughout our many night watches.
And despite the new moon, the visibility, due to the very bright stars, is still quite good at night.

Back in the game

Ben and Josh had decided during their night watch to fully furl the genoa; a good move as that took the stress out of the system without significantly reducing our speed. The flapping noise of the genoa disappeared and the steering became a lot easier. We only had to deal with the rolling motion of the boat now.

The day started with a nice sunrise. The clouds were a lot smaller now and we enjoyed the very nice weather. Even the waves felt a little smaller and less chaotic.
At around 11:00 we reached the 2000nm milestone and celebrated that with a bottle of sparkling wine.
With the Northeasterly wind still on our back and calming to around 15kn in the afternoon, we decided to test our our sail configurations to keep boatspeed up.
Unfurling the genoa under whisker pole did not help as it was quite unstable and the pole too short.
We therefore hoisted the working jib up the mast in an attempt to rig another opposite the main sail. Of course the load was too much for the whisker pole and guess what, it broke again.
Other play games when they got bored, we brake whisker poles (and will bring more spares next time). Maybe Josh can work his magic one more time and rebuild the pole one more time ad we have about 800nm more downwind sailing ahead of us.

The mood today is much better than yesterday as we got used to the motion and enjoyed the fabulous weather.

Our etmal today was 160nm (exact same as yesterday).

The waves are back

We started the day with very large clouds that all brought their own showers along.
As our house bank somehow did not get charged sufficiently by the hydro-generator, we spent a fair bit of time reverse engineering the setup. The captain had the honor of spending about an hour in the whole under the cockpit floor measuring voltages and adjusting the charge controller settings (Peter would’ve been proud.).
After a 4 hour test period with all electronic systems switched off, we concluded that the generator was in fact charging the batteries, just not as much as we expected.
The wind increased throughout the day and the showers more or less subsided when the spinnaker pole not only broke the track on the mast but ripped that entire piece off the mast.

We collected all the pieces, jibed and poled out the half-furled genoa with the repaired whisker pole.
While we keep on tearing the boat apart, the downwind sailing has become quite challenging again as large rolling waves from the North now overlay the already sizable wind waves from the Northeast. Tioga is rolling heavily and sleep is at a premium.
The heavy rolling motion creates strong apparent winds from the side, luffing the genoa with incredible noise every 10 seconds. We hope to make it through the night and that sails and rigging do not sustain too much damage.

Jake made us nice quesadillas for dinner. We have by now finished all our tomatoes and are working on the remaining lattice , cucumbers and apples.

Our etmal today was 160nm.
Tomorrow we should hit our 2000 nm mark.
We have had better days out here…

Another day at the ranch

We are by now far enough south to appreciate the shade of the clouds more than the blue sky.
After making it through the night under spinnaker with a mild breeze from port, we jibed in the morning and made further West.
Josh repaired the remaining pieces of the whisker pole and we changed to gennaker and full main in the afternoon when the breeze was back as expected. Unfortunately,
We continue to struggle charging the house bank sufficiently. We currently believe that the hydro generator’s charge controller delivers a too fluctuating and too high voltage and will continue to troubleshoot tomorrow.

The stars are as bright as ever as we approach the New Moon.

Given the delay due to swimming and the low wind over night, our etmal was only 108nm this time.

Given the lighter winds than forecast, the question of the day was around how weather forecasts for these remote areas are developed (and mostly extremely accurately)?