Atlantic Crossing III

LAND HO! If you look in the 'V' of the rigging, you can see St. Lucia way off in the distance. You'll have to click on the photo to enlarge it to see what I mean.
From my journal:
December 15, 2008
Much calmer today—still being tossed around but not as hard. The sun was out today and I could feel the tropics. We checked in with Sandpiper and 2Extreme at our 9:00am net. While we were on we got a “break-break” from Redwood Coast (Gene thought the skipper was saying Redwood Toast at first). Redwood is a Northern Cal boat. Redwood told us of a weather net, Southbound II, being run by Herb.
We told Sandpiper and 2extreme we would not be checking in at noon so we could save batteries for the weather station.
December 16, 2008
Spotted my first vessel in four days. Freighter crossing our bow.

We had very little sun and did not generate enough power to keep the refrigerator running 24 hours a day. We turned it off at night. Even then, we had to run the engine to charge batteries enough to run our navigation lights at night. Since the 16th through the 19th are uneventful, I will pick up on the 20th. At this point, Sandpiper was in the Cape Verdes and was not checking in anymore.

December 20, 2008
Now this is more like it! The sun is out, seas are down, and the wind is down to between 10-13 knots. We are sailing peacefully at 5.5 to 6.1. I could even do dishes in the cockpit. It’s calm enough to cook so I’m going to fry corn tortillas. Unfortunately, we ate the chicken already so I’m going to have clam tacos. Gene thinks it sounds too weird and won’t eat them—his loss. He has NO imagination. The last of the lettuce went off yesterday so I think I’ll use grated carrot on the tacos for a fresh veggie. It may be calm enough for a Yahtzee game—it would be fun to kick Gene’s a** as he has gotten greedy with the beer.
December 21, 2008
Today there is less than 10 knots of wind. At about 1:00pm the wind was down to 6 knots and we were doing under 3. I suggested the iron sail but was ignored. Gene raised the main and we are now making 4.6K, but we are 60* off course. Gene’s thought is that we have 1,100 miles to go and can’t use fuel. My thought is that the windlessness will not last more than two days and we should motor on the proper course until the wind fills in. I can’t believe that after all the wind we’ve had out here that windless conditions will last long. Now we are heading too far south. We will have to jibe again and I doubt we will get to St. Lucia or Martinique before New Years.
December 22, 2008
Last night was beautiful and comfortable. It was a night of falling stars and a ghost ship, UFO?, submarine?? 3:00pm Gene’s watch but I’m up reading a novel about Horatio Nelson. Lovely day. Wind about 15K and we are getting a good westing. We have 1003 nm left and are going between 5.5 and 6.7.
December 22, 2008
All good things must come to an end and our two days of light winds and calmer seas are over. Winds back up to 25-30K and seas 12 to 18 feet. We had a wave break on us and got a soaking. I had the aft cabin hatch open and was in the berth when we got hit. It was like someone put a fire hose to the window. My comforter, sheets and mattress are soaked. (Not to mention me and the clothes I had on.) I just have to leave the water-logged comforter draped over stuff in the aft cabin. I hung the sheets on the over-head hand rails in the main salon. They are folded a few times to fit and I will have to turn them every so often till they dry out. Wet clothes are spread out wherever I could find a spot. Our chart guides are all wet because water poured in through the solar-vent over the counter-top in the aft-cabin.
Just before the sun went down, we jibed. Gene went up and discovered the reason; the monitor wind vane had broken. It broke where it was supposed to break. It has a stainless tube that is supposed to break before the paddle does. We have a spare, but conditions wouldn’t allow a repair. We put on the auto-pilot and prayed it would work in such heavy conditions.
December 24, 2008
More squalls, cuts, bruises—less sleep.
December 25, 2008
Christmas morning—worst Christmas of my life. Gale winds continue along with rain.
6:00am Gene turned on the engine. We have been running the engine twice a day to run refrigerator and nav. lights. I gave Gene a bottle of 21 year old scotch for Christmas. It’s by Chivas and it’s called Royal Salute. ‘By an ancient custom, originating in the royal Navy, a salute of twenty-one guns is the prerogative of the reigning Sovereign. Royal Salute Whisky, created to celebrate the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, symbolizes this homage.’ It comes in a ceramic bottle wrapped in a gold tasseled velvet bag. It took me weeks to find the perfect gift and the joy I should have gotten that morning at the opening was destroyed when Gene said, “You only got me this to make me feel bad because I didn’t get you anything.”
I had purchased a vacuum packed roast chicken and a bottle of Champagne for Christmas dinner, but we ate the chicken early on due to having to turn the refrigerator off at night. We figured chicken wouldn’t last till Christmas in inadequate refrigeration. I had planned to have red beans and rice instead but it is not a good day for cooking. Maybe we’ll have chili burritos or chili dogs for dinner.
Just couldn’t have chili. It’s Christmas for Heaven’s sake! We had pasta with clam sauce and big wide peels of parmesean cheese. It was very good even though it was rough going. Our pasta and champagne kept spilling.
Squall!! Winds—I don’t know—40’s?? Peregrine sounded as if she were going to disintegrate. I was terrified. Gene was going up to deal with the accidental jibe and I was screaming, “Oh, My God! Oh, My God!” He says, “Just….Just…” I didn’t hear “just what” because I cut him off. “Don’t ‘Just’ me! Just? Just What? Just don’t worry because the life raft is stowed below and we won’t get it out in time? Just don’t worry when the head stay comes down? Just don’t worry when the keel drops off?”(the boat was flexing and I have been worrying about rust on the keel bolts forever)
I admit, I was hysterical, but I was really scared. The broken boom incident in the Indian Ocean has never left my mind and I am afraid it will be the mast that breaks next time. Gene went out and jibed. We headed too far north to keep from jibing again. Gene got a gash on his leg.

I was hoping to finish the Atlantic crossing in this post, but I’ve had enough reliving so I’m signing off.
On second thought, I’ll finish it.[presses the fast forward button]
We had several days in a row of squall after squall; they marched in endlessly from the north. On one of my watches:
5:30am One damn squall after another! Have had three squalls since my watch started at 4:00.
We suffered more cuts and bruises and pulled muscles. At one point Gene got thrown out of the nav. station into the companionway steps. His collarbone made contact with the stainless hand rail. His skin was broken and he got a nice bruise. We were lucky he didn’t break a bone; we would have been well and truly hosed if that had happened.
We finally got into Rodney Bay on December 29, 2008. The crossing took us 21 days. Thank God that was our last ocean crossing; I really couldn't face another.

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