I realize it has been over a month since my last posting, so there will be a lot to catch up on.
We left Mindelo, Sao Vincente at 1:00 on Nov. 19th and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 16 days. Our friend, Rod Aukerman, told us that someone described crossing an ocean as “utter boredom–with moments of terror.” Whoever said that was right. Not that we were bored, but there were moments of terror. With only two of us on the boat, we kept busy with maintaining the boat systems and fixing meals and adjusting sails. We had time for reading, but tried to sleep when we could–which cut into our reading time! We played word game puzzles, listened to music, and watched the waves roll by. Asylum is a “sanctuary,” a “safe place” for me. I’m usually not afraid, unless the seas are more than I want to handle at the moment. Or unless I start thinking about how small we are in our little boat in this vast expanse of ocean where a million and one things could happen that could cause irreparable damage and we would be sunk. I find it much better not to think about very many of those million and one things, and, instead, let the waves hypnotize me into submission.
Our moments of terror all had to do with our beautiful blue and white Parasailor. Three times during the crossing, we were confronted with what to do when the Parasailor wraps around the mast and the shrouds. The first time, the lines wrapped around the back of the boat and snapped our flag pole flying Old Glory. (Thane was able to glue it back together.) The sail sustained a couple of minor injuries, but was fine. The second moment of terror with the Parasailor created a bigger rip–about 9 feet long. We thought sail tape would work and patched her together. The third moment of terror came after we hoisted the sail we had repaired. It looked great at first, and within a matter of minutes, she looked horrible. People asked how the captain allowed this picture to be taken when obviously we needed to get the sail down. The captain did not have a say in the matter! The first mate ignored the captain’s pleas because this was an epic moment that needed photographic proof! The sail is in Martinique at a sail loft. We are assured that it is not beyond repair. It just looks like it is!
Another unexpected moment came when Thane needed to be hoisted in the bosun’s chair to take down our radar reflector. The wires attaching it to the spreader had worked themselves free and it was hanging by one wire. Hanging by a halyard aloft is not the easiest thing to do on a moving boat, but Thane enjoys the challenge!
We had a couple of rain squalls, but there is usually a bonus afterwards.
Here are a couple more sunsets to break up the trip.
Making meals while rolling back and forth is a challenge. Lots of “dog dish” meals where everything goes into a bowl because it’s easier to eat hot food that way on a rolling boat. But we did manage to make a few fun meals. Thanksgiving day marked the halfway point for us during the crossing. The seas were more rolly than I’d like for cooking more elaborate dishes, but it was Thanksgiving, and I wanted to celebrate when everyone else would be. It was a good thing I did because the next day the seas were worse!
We didn’t see much for wildlife on this leg. The first leg we had dolphins with us every day. This time the most prevalent wildlife was flying fish–either in the water skipping over the waves, or dead on deck. Other boaters reported seeing humpback whales, but we were not so lucky. We had a little feathered friend stop by for a rest. It looks like a swallow, but we were three days from St. Lucia yet–at least 400 miles–so he was doing some heavy duty traveling. And when he left, he took off farther south away from land.
We had not seen other ARC+ boats for some time. This boat, we found out later, was Monster Project. This ARC boat left Las Palmas, Grand Canaria on Nov. 24th and arrived in St. Lucia on Dec. 4th–the same day this photo was taken. We arrived in St. Lucia on the 5th. Monster Project did the trip in 11 days with a longer crossing. We took 16 days. The first of the ARC boats to cross the finish line did the trip in 8 days!
Most of the fleet was already in port, but it was fun to watch the board for when the next boat would arrive. There were several ARC+ sponsored parties to celebrate. We had our own party. Most of our new friends had not had a Painkiller drink before. It is one of the signature drinks of the British Virgin Islands, so we thought it best to introduce the drink to our ARC+ friends. The Painkiller is a combination of mostly pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut with fresh nutmeg ground on top. Oh, yes. It begins with rum, as do most drinks in the Caribbean. We had a great time, and Asylum held up well with 20+ people on board.
After the ARC+ awards ceremony, many from the fleet headed south to Marigot Bay on St. Lucia. It was a nice break from the large marina setting, but it also meant we would be saying good-bye to these great people all too soon.
We had one more stop to make before we headed north to get ourselves to Puerto Rico by Christmas. We went back to Rodney Bay to greet the Cygnus Pena family on the ARC who had just arrived that afternoon. One final meal together and lots of hugs before our time with the ARC+ was officially over.
On our way north, we stopped by St. Pierre on Martinique to make dinner before continuing through the night to Ile de Saints to meet our friends Jo and Greg Fattin from Nebraska and our home sailing lake.
Jo and Greg on Serenade introduced us to Guillaume and Gwen from Canada on Slow Waltz. Guillaume and Gwen are hikers, and led the way up to the fort at the peak of Terre de Haute. Worth the trip!
We stayed two nights in Ile de Saints, and then headed up to the British Virgin Islands to see our friends Al and Helene on Island Girl at Nanny Cay. It took us two nights and one day to make the passage north, and we saw a pair of humpback whales heading south. They just barely skimmed the water’s surface, so the photo is limited. Imagination required!
Our last stop before Puerto Rico was at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke–Home of the Painkiller and our happy place–not just for the Painkillers. The beach is great and there are lots of short chairs to pull close to the shore and watch the world as the water sneaks up on your toes.
And now we are in Puerto Rico at Puerto Del Ray Marina to put the boat away for a month. We’ll be back on the boat in late January to celebrate with a 6 day sailing adventure the recent marriage of our great friend Karen Sumner to Russ Brannon! But first, we head to Florida for our daughter Kate’s wedding. She is marrying Juan Rodriguez on January 2nd and we couldn’t be happier.
This ends the voyages of the sailing vessel Asylum for 2014. Thank you for getting to this point with us!