Thursday, June 19, 2008

Across the north atlantic ocean

One more time across the pond<>Another crossing under my belt (fifth time). Not all that different from the others, with its share of rought weather and calm winds.
We left St Marteen on May 8 at around 9:00 a.m. after having filled up not only the fuel tank but also 7 5 gallons jerrycans, just in case.
At first the weather was very manageable and we had decided to go north until we would reach 30 N.
Unfortunately as we reached 27 N the wind went up to 45 knots for about 2 days and we had to veer to the East as we could see a depression north of us. After that we never experienced more than 35 knots of wind and we never felt that life was becoming too difficult due to weather. But we made good use of the jerrycans of gasoil.
Between St Marteen and Horta, we did 100 hours motoring or sail motoring, and another 80 hours between Horta and Guernsey.
Compared to my previous crossings, unfortunately I saw the same amount of trash, if not more. From the cockpit, we probably could not spot a piece of trash more than 150 yards away. Yet, every day, every watch
of 3 hours, we saw at least one piece of trash, either plastic bag, plastic bottle with the top on, floating cans, etc....
I wish there were a way to educate all seafarers and eventually check on them.
Between St Marteen and Faial, we did not see a lot of marine life. A few portuguese men-o-war here and there and a couple of dolphins not even interested in playing with us.
However, after we left Horta, all that changed. A lot more dolphins, playful and staying at the bow for quite a while. Hundreds of Portuguese man-o-war, few birds even hundreds of miles away from shore and we even managed to sail along two whales for a good 20 minutes, trying to get as close as possible to them. They finally dove never to reappear as we were less than 200 yards from them.
Overall we took 34 days between St Marteen and the European Continent, with 3 days in Horta and 3 days in Guernsey. Not a bad crossing for more than 3,600 miles.
However, time at sea cannot begin to compare with time ashore. We only stayed three days in Horta, but we saw a lot more of it than in my previous visits.
We rented a car and toured the whole island. We visited the Whaling museum, and of course, we had a few drinks at "Chez Peter" where we could do our internet work.
As we arrived in StPeter in Guernsey, we got ambushed by the brothers of the newly created table there, and during three days, we hardly had any time at all to ourselves. It was an endless program of parties, dinners, visits of the island, turist trip to Herm, etc . . .
So much so that I had to purchase a pair of trousers 2 sizes up to avoid having to go in my underwear once arrived in France.
Most of the Guernsey group followed us to France, the captain of the table, brother Gasoil, sailing with us on Chrisric. Again, as soon as we arrived in Carteret, we got very busy with brotherhood events. On Thursday night, dinner at Vogaplat to discuss very important matters, such as finding out if you had to know how to reef a main sail to become a brother. But there was ample quantity of wine available and delicious food. Friday was the welcome dinner for the "Boucan des Ecrehou", informal event with the participation mostly of the Guernsey brothers.
On Saturday, we sailed aboard "Iris" to les Ecrehou, with Jean-Paul (my guest) and his captive, Compte a Flot (Belgium brother), Ventre Jaune, Le Barde and Vogaplat. Les Ecrehou is a magical place. Imagine a bunch of tiny rocks, tiny but large enough to build on them week-end houses, a 40 foot tide (when spring tide), 8 knots current at mid tide and a few pebble beaches large enough to hold a picnic party. Wonderful place for a boucan.
After returning to Carteret, we had the formal dinner of the week-end, in a rebuilt windmill. We were 35 brothers, captives and guests from France, Belgium and Guernsey and I was allowed to ask them to pause for a moment and take Nora Vermeren in their thoughts and hearts.
I left Carteret immediately after that dinner and return to Granville, ending there this additional atlantic crossing.
As usual, there are more photos for those interested, either in the album "Transat 2008" or in the "Boucan des Ecrehou".