Atlantic Crossing I

Just days before leaving Gran Canaria for the West Indies, we befriended another American couple who were planning to leave the same day as us; Tom and Amy of Sandpiper. We met at them at the very busy and noisy Sailor’s Bar on the quay. We went up fairly early one evening but the place was already packed and all the tables were taken. They had two empty chairs at their table and we asked if we could sit. We introduced ourselves and found out who they were and where they were going. Our voices joined others that were raised to be heard over music and conversations. In lulls between our yelling information at each other, bits of conversations reached my ear, “…she was dismasted…,” “…don’t know, we’re not in a hurry”….. “supposed to be finished five days ago”… “We haven’t heard from them for three years”…and so on and so on. Many of the tables had laptops open and people were sending emails home before heading out. Some were certain to head off and others were trying to hitch a ride as crew for an Atlantic crossing. Gene and I feel crossings are tough enough without adding the stress of another person, so we weren’t looking for crew but we met a couple of guys who would probably have been great for someone needing help. One was a US fighter pilot and one was an Italian guy who was the spitting image of the Spaniard on The Princess Bride; “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” Tom and Amy knew of an informal cruiser’s net for all of us leaving after the ARC and told us they’d get back to us with the station. Departure day arrives and we have not see each other or gotten the net frequency yet. I was walking back from my last decent shower for the month and passed Tom and Amy on the quay. I told them we would be letting the lines go in about twenty minutes. They said they would be a few hours behind us and that they would call us on VHF to give us the net frequency.
From My Journal:
December 8, 2008 11:00a.m.
The Grand Adventure continues as we cast off from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. What a perfect day for departure. Some of the people on our dock made the comment that it wasn’t a good day because there was so little wind, but Peregrine weighs half as much as most of the boats moored near us and she loves light wind. So do I. Light air usually means calm seas and I need those, especially for the first few days. I can only hope that we will not have big swell from the west.

We were out about a half hour when Amy called with the Net station and time. The net was going to be at 9:00am. They told us that just in case contact couldn’t be made on the net, they would be on another station at 9:15. OK, all set. The next morning, we tuned into the net but were unable to make contact. At 9:15 Gene called the second station and tried to get Sandpiper –no luck. Several hours later, I got on the VHF to hail Sandpiper. I figured that since we left the same day they could still be in radio range. “Sandpiper, Sandpiper, Sandpiper. This is the sailing vessel Peregrine.” No answer. A minute later, “Sandpiper, Sandpiper. Peregrine” Then we hear, “Peregrine, Peregrine. 2Extreme.” 2Extreme?! “Mattie, is that you?” “It’s me. Hi Susan,” says the soft southern voice. My God! What a surprise this is! The VHF has a short range and I just picked up a boat we did the Darwin to Kupang Rally with; we also went on a trip up the Kumai River in Borneo with them. We weren’t on our sailboats then, we went on an Ecotour in a little putt-putt boat to go see the orangutans. It was like an extended Disneyland Riverboat Ride. We talk. Henry asks if Gene still has his grungy red Peregrine hat. We tell them of the Net and the 9:15 contact. It turns out they know Tom and Amy. So now, even if we can’t hook up to the net, we should have clear daily contact with 2Extreme and Sandpiper.
December 9, 2008 Saw Mederian Storm Petrels today. (6) Lifer #614 at 26*39.233N 16*37.625W Wrote the Lat and Long after the third sighting. Horrible conditions today. Only going 4.6 knots. Wind has only been 18-20 knots but the seas reflect 30 knots. Have collected a few good bruises today. Stuff was flying everywhere. Toothpaste went in the toilet and all the books flew from the shelves. The heavy stuff is well stowed and we haven’t had cans or other deadly missiles flying. It’s 4:20, my watch. Hope Gene gets some sleep this off-watch-he hasn’t gotten much since we left. I haven’t today, but I slept pretty well on two off watches yesterday. Tried to sleep today on my 1-4 off watch but only got tossed and rolled in my bunk. As usual, my back is killing me. We want to be going 250* but have to go either way north or way south of that because it’s dead down-wind.

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