Sunday, November 30, 2014

Firmin callinf sick again

This morning at 7h30 Iwas woken up by Arthur (the electric pilot) working
his hydraulic pump furiously. I came on deck and it turned out that one of
the steering lines of Firmin (the windvane) had broken again. It took
Jean-Paul just a few minutes to det up what was left of the line and soon
Firmin was at work again steering us towards Martinique which is still 1130
n.m. away. We still expect to arrive on the 8th early afternoon.
Fortunately wee have a replacement linesent by the manufacturer of the
device which we will install in Martinique. At this point 8 days feel to me
like eternity. But I know that eventually we are going to go thru it.
We are told that we are now in 10th place and we like it considering that
we've had to sail without the main for several days. And in 8 days things
can happen. Right now we are in a soft patch of less tan 20 knots of wind
when we need a minimum of 20. It might still come and the soft patch affect
others. So, it's not over until it is over.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

stumbling along

We are still having to make do without a mainsail losing up to 2 knots in
the process. But not for long. Jean-Paul just completed a daring,
meticulous and tedious repair on the sail with the material that was given
to me by my broyher Ajut, National Captain of the French Brotherhood of the
coast before my circumnavigation 2009 to 2011. It had never been used
before but it is now showing its great value. Thank you my Brother. within
a short peeriod of time, waiting for the`skies to clear up, the main is
going to go back up and we will be able to resume sailing the Odyssey and
limit the number of boats overtaking us. We still have 1250 n.m. to go
which might take another 10 days. So be it. We are prepared. . . .almost
because we are running out of rhum and possibly Ricard and possibly Kir but
we still have enough wine , so we will survive. Jean-Paul must be exhausted
and he needs to get plenty of sleep to recover from this wonderful deed.
Tomorrow hopefully we shall know where we stand now with the rest of the
fleet and what the ETA is going to be with the mainsail and the soft

Friday, November 28, 2014

same old, same old

to write the blog, while sitting at the chart table, I have to press my
right leg against the underneath of the table by pushing as hard as I can
on the floor, to try and minimize sliding sideways. Then I have to grab the
keyboard with my left hand to stop it from flying away towards the galley.
There is not much that I can do about the mouse butpick it up from time to
time on the floor.
Last night Jean-Paul was ejected from his bunk and landed against a
bulkhead with his left knee and hurt himself. I crashed again in the aft
cabin hitting the starboard bulkhead with my back hurting myself again in
an area already sensirized by theprevious crashes. We are both fed up with
this constant heavy rolling. The wind has calmed down but not the seas.
Today I was unable to raisse anybody on the SSB radio net and we have to
rely on our outside contacts to find out whether we are holding up. Other
than that, it is warm and sunny, the water is of a magnificent blue and we
entertain ourselves by timing the flights of the flying fishes. With the
forecast calling for calmer winds we might only arrive on the 8th.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


The rolling is becoming moresevere with a swell between 3 and 4 meters high
and the wind straight from the back ENE at 30 knots sustained.During the
morning shift. the steering lines of Firmin broke . actually. therigger in
granville had installed a sleeve on the line which started slipping under
tension and then slipped out of the hole where it is attached to the water
paddle. A few hours later, it was the turn of the other line. Jean-Paul
redid the knots hanging upside down from above Firmin and now that the`
sleeves are out of play, we feel more secure. We have now covered more
miles (1529) than what we have left (1615) and we think that unless the
wind drops which is not in the forecast, We have` 10 days of sailing.
Arrival now estimatedas being december 7th at 4 p.m. Jean-Paul myself and
Tifille will be delighted when we tie up at number 5 dock. We all need to
rest and catch up on sleep and rhum.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

paying the toll

This morning overcastsky and squalls all around us but we were still moving
along well with full main and three turns in the genoa. Then, while Jean-
Paul was assisting Firmin at the wheel we got hit by a vicious 40 4to 45
knots gust of wind and the boat came up to the wind. I took the helm,
trying to go back to hving the wind in our back while Jean-Paul rushed to
the mast to take one reef down. That is when we realized that there was
hole in its upper part. Since then Jean-Paul is intent on repairing the
sail at sea. By now the wind has settled down into 30 knots from ESE.
During a very short respite Jean-Paul has managed to take the main down.
His intentions are to set up shop on the boom, with a harness but lying
down on the sail. I know Jen-Paul well enough to know thhat nothing will
stop him until he can succeedand we can resume racing forward.Basically we
are going to wait for better weather conditions whiich noormally occur`late
afternoon or early morning. I keep my fingers crossed, hoping that nothing
will go wrong during that daring attempt and making sure that we take all
safety precautions possible. We will know within the next 24 hours. Right
now we are sailing under genoa alone and doing close to 6 knots.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

nuit de crise

we got the wind smack in our rear and Firmin is having a hard time steering
straight. At the change of watch, at midnight, we were hit by a squall with
heavy rain in it. Jean-Paul was not wearing his foul weather gear and got
drenched. We jibed as quick as we could since the wind had shifted to
South. At the end of my shift at`3 in the morning. same thing. Heavy rain
and jibing. The wind was back to East hence again wind at the back which
implies that we are moving slowly and it is rather uncomfortable. We tried
the spinnaker, but another squall showed up and we took it down to avoid
taking undue risks. For the day , We only covered 129 miles and closed on
the finish by 119miles. We are possibly losing ground on the others.
However, they probably have to face the same conditions. We will have to
wait for infos from Eric to know where we stand. Maybe sometime this

Monday, November 24, 2014

move on

there was more to the story of the whale than what I told you. When Jean-
Paul spotted it shortly before 9 a.m. it was on our starboard side on a
collision course with us. Jean-Paul stayed ready to take the helm to avoid
hitting it . Then it disappeared below our bow and reappeared on the port
side swimming alongside us. Jean-Paul felt that they were staring at each
other. Then it rolled over to show us one of the fins that thy have on each
side as to say "hello !" and then swam away south. For Jean-Paul it was a
very emotional moment and he was quite excited about it . The same day
around 5 p.m. we had a group oh hundreds of dolphins coming to us to play
with the boat. Quite a sight ! Today the winf got very soft all day and
around 3 p.m. we set up the spinnaker to jump from 5 to 7 knots. Firmin
can't cope with that windand on top of that we see a squall approaching
from behind.Thi is an emergency situation and I have to leave the keyboard
to take the spi down. Thi was done in about 20 minutes and we are noe safe.
This morning we got good news from marianne and marie. Marianne saw us in
fourth place, Marie in 5th and eric, my son in6th. Altogether, it gives us
a big boost, as we did not think when we left Lanzarote that there probably
only a couple of boats that would slower than us. So to be in the leading
group is a great feeling. All that haapened only thanks to Jean-Paul who
has been doing 99 % of the work since we left Granville to the point of
shaming me to feel like a useless quantity on the boat . It's actually
quite humiliating considering 58 years of experience at sea and more than
200,000 milesby sailboat, one circumnavigation and seven transats.
Hopefully I will have recovered enough once we get to the Bahamas to be
able to run the boat again on my own.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Poop and Scoop

I have read somewhere that the reason why dogs keep turning round and round
is that they want somehow to align themselves with the local magnetic
field. So to do their business, they have to find the proper alignment.
squat, keep their balance and do it while staying relaxed. It was quite
mission impossible foe Tifille at the beginning, especially on a boat
bouncing all over the place. But she finally mastered it doing it in the
cockpit under the supervision of Jean-Paul who proves to be very patient
and understanding. However to perform that exercise, she first has to eat
and that is not going very well. She keep sliding out of reach of the food
bowl. Same problem for the water. However she has now settled down in a
routine where she communicates with us her needs quite clearly. She will be
so happy to reach land !
This morning shortly before nine 0'clock Jean-Paul spotted a whale crossing
our course. We saw it very very close. But it did not seem to bother her.
We have ran into a problem with the refrigeration on the boat. Both the
freezer and the fridge have stopped working and we have identified the main
cause as being the batteries not keeping a charge at all. We probably will
have to install new batteries on arrival.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


We are no longer in hell but it is by no means heaven.The seas always take
much longer than the wind to calm down. We are now in a softer patch of
weather wit northerly winds at 8 to 12 knots with a long oceanic swell from
the north and Papy jovial is still rolling quite a bit but it is
manageable. I am convinced that the sery of crashes has come to an end.
Jean-Paul is planning to shave`my head aroun the wound and do a new
dressing. I might not look as handsome as I would like to but if it allows
the situation to evolve better, so be it. The good news is that we can
sail a direct course to Martiniquewhich is still 2167 miles away. I now
anticipate to get there in the night 7 to 8 December. So we will only spend
in that case 4 days in Martinique. But there is still hope to benefit from
the real tradewinds at 15 to 20 in which case we might gain almost 2 days.
As usual, time will tell. Apart from that, we still have some problems with
the refrigerator, the group displaying a red flashing light. It could be
low battery, or the group being too hot. We have to wait for martinique to
do something about it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Coconut milk run

It was ` supposed to be a family affair,with kids dogs and barbecue, T-
shirts and shorts in the beaming sunlight of the trade winds, First we
were supposed tro do a leisurely sail around the Canarias. Instead we
founf ourselves battling calm weather, Followed by rough seas and strong
winds up to 35 knots . Its beginning to look more like sailing in the Irish
Seas. Papy Jovial is throwing us up into all kindsof directions. With heavy
rolling an slamming into the`seas. I crashed several times,once hurting ny
back side big time and then I hit with the Back of my head one of the
stairs of the companionway, This time it drew blood, and Jean-Paul dressed
me up with a bandagearound my head that makes me look like a rugbyman, I
will be OK. I took some Dafalgan then slept two hours and I was fine.
Aeverthat to say that crossing the Allantic East to west can never be
assumed to be just a wal in the park. This my seventh crossing and
everytime we've had to pay the toll. "Homme libre, toujours tu cheriras la
mer" (Ch.Baudelaire)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


last night, midnight UTC, Iwas om watch in the cockpitbusy doing the
transmission of our position with the tradking device, A jerky movement of
the boat threw me against the coaming of the cockpit, causing the device to
fly off my hands , fall on deck and roll over board.Device Over
Board.Another hole in my credit card !
I am posting this so that nobody worries when Papy Jovial disappears from
the reports on I will transmit by email to the
organisation every eight hours our position course and speed hoping thay
somehoe they can krrp us in the reports

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

rayon d'action au moteur

Au depart, l'intention etait d'organiser un evenement non competitif mais
plutot une croisiere familiale. En realite, c'est maintenant devenu un
concours a celui qui aura lu plus grand rayon d'action au moteur. D'autant
que les "regles" etablies par l'organisation nous paraissent plutot
optionnelles entre les departs voles par pres d'une minute et un bateau
choisissant de passer au nord de grand canaria. Les conditions meteo, a
savoir une grosse zone de calme ou de tout petit temps au sud de
l'archipel, etaient parfaitement connues avant le depart. Si nous avions
ete en croisiere nous aurions pris l'option evidente de passer entre
lanzarote et fuentaventura puis de faire de l'ouest. Au meeting des
skippers, il a ete dit qu'il n'y avait pas une grosse difference entre la
route directe et le contournement de l'archipel. En fait il y a 25 milles
de difference et peut etre deux ou trois jours a batailler dans les calmes.
Apres l'arrivee, l'organisation devrait publier les heures moteur de
chacun. Nous voyons bien sur les grib qu'il y a plus de vent de SW dans
notre nord qui nous permettrait de mettre de l'ouest dans notre cap. Nous
sommes de nouveau au moteur apres avoir fait deux heures de voile. Depuis
le depart nous avons fait plus de 24 heures de moteur. Peut etre que
Atlantic Odyssey a des rapports privilegies avec la compagnie petroliere
locale. Nous marchons a 1800 tours ce q ui reduit notre consommation a 3
litres de l'heure. Nous sommes partis avec un total de 330 litres (le
reservoir du bateau plu un jerrycan) et il nous reste encore a peu pres 90
heures de moteur. Cela devrait nous permettre de trouver du vent

Monday, November 17, 2014

the wind is on strike

Same Old same old. We lost the wind during the night and have been motoring
since. The surface of the sea is smooth all over. not even a ripple. We
expect to keep motoring until tomorrow afternoon. Everybody around us is
doing the same, some faster (maybe the have enough fuel to afford a high
rate of consumption. We are keeping the engine at less than 1800 rpm hoping
to limit the consumption at 3 litres per hour. I will attempt to measure
this afternoon.
This morning, Miss Tifille went to the bow to pee. This better than other
choices of bathroom like the mainsail sheet or the halyards at the bottom
of the mast. The next few days are likely to be boring. Jean-Paul is trying
to put to good use the fishing equipment purchased in Lanzarote. Some Mahi
Mahi would be welcome for lunch. Of course there is no guarantee that we
will catch something. This morning we received the visit of a group of
small dolphins. We took a course WSW looking for some better wind. We know
we can't go as far as the Cape Verde islands which are still some 700 miles
away. We would need 300 miles of wind to get there.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weare off !

Departure was given at 12:00 UTC today. It is only a rallye but the start
was given in the same manner as in a regatta. 10 minutes, 5 minutes, start.
But that did not prevent two of the big cats to steel the start by almost a
full minute ! and apparently without consequences not even a recall. We had
a goos and fair start with a little bit of delay in setting the gennaker
due to a lack of synchronization between Jean-Paul and myself. But as soon
as we had all sails set, we caught up with the guys` ahead of us. Not for
long as the wind disappeared and almost everybody was forced into motoring,
hopefully not for too long. We need to clear the islands which might take
the best part of two days. We received the water paddle for the windvane in
time to have it installed before departure. We now have 2763 n.m. to cover
to get to Le Marin in Martinique. We need to average 6 knots over the
ground to arrive on the 5th of December around 5:00 p.m. It is doable as
long as we find the tradewinds in their place. The weather today is nice
even if we would prefer a little more wind. For the first time since
Granville, I am wearing shorts. If the windvane and the electric pilot work
well, I shoulbe able to keep updating the blog everyday. You can also
follow the whole fleet by going to "" then go to the
Atlantic Odyssey, then click on "track the boats. Positions are updated
every day at 0:00, 08:00 and 16:00 in UTC time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Toujours en attente a Lanzarote. Entre quelques reunions (apéritif, repas en commun,quelques conférences organisées par l'organisation de Jimmy Cornell) on s'ennuie ferme. Nos bouteilles de gaz ont fait poche restante au bureau de la marina et nous esperons que la piece du regulateur d'allure ne sera pas bloquée par la douane espagnole a Madrid. La wifi ne fonctionne toijours pas et j'en suis reduit à utiliser mon téléphone pour cet article. Hier, nous avons trouvé de la wifi en ville dans un restaurant et nous serons sans doute au régime des vaches maigres pour ce qui est du vent. Pour le reste, nous sommes prets a partir. En principe nous partons a midi et nous ferons sans doute une route aussi sud que raisonnable.

Envoyé depuis un mobile Samsung

Friday, November 7, 2014


Finally, we arrived at Puerto Arrecife in Lanzarote Marina shortly before
midnight. We kept rolling almost until the very last wave aned entered
a`rather tortuous channel wit the help of a full moon. We did not waste
time to go to sleep after we finished tying up , taking Tifille ashore.
Next morming we checked up with the marina unfortunately their WiFi is out
waiting for a part to be shipped from the U.S. so it may take two to three
days before it gets fixed. Meanwhile, I have to keep using the satphone at
close to one euro per minute. But I can receive email on my cell phone. Not
too bad.On thursday Jean-Paul had to spend a long long time on the phone
with Jean-Michel Verdier to address` the issue of Skyfile. It turns out
that the problem was caused`by a message too heavy and containing
attachments. Skyfile had to be uninstalled and reinstalled after the
mailbox (inbox) was emptied and cleared by the server. It now works.
Meanwhile I took care of the part for the windvane. Hopefully we will get
it before the start. If not we` hope that the Atlantic Odyssey
organizationwill be able to assist us. Sunday noon, we are invited for
lunch by the Kiwi boat along with the crews of most of the boats on the J
pontoon. I still have to take care of laundry and sort out the mess in my
cabin left by the heavy rolling. I am impatient to get to the other side
where I know that my personal life will take a drastic turn for the better.
In fact it will have to wait until we get to Grand Bahamas where Ezio and
Stephanie are waiting for us. I have revised the itinerary to try and get
there on or before December 24th. More details to follow when I will have
time to report on that wthout pressure.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

back in the washer

During the night, weather conditions worsened with apparent wind blowing up
to 30 knots and the seas to go with it with jerky movements of the boat
making it very difficult to keep your balance. Jean-Paul who is doing
exceptionally well, fell in the galley and hurt his leg and arm, but
recovered quickly. I fell twice, once on my way to the aft cabin, anf
Jean-Paul had to pick me up. Then I fell again while trying to go to the
bathroom, and it took me a long time and lots of efforts to get back up.
It is 11 o'clock,mornimg of the 4th of November and we still have 217 miles
to go. E.T.A. is now on the 5th probably early afternoon unless the wind
drops down which would be welcome. Tifille is terrified by the conditions
unable to find a spot where she would be a little comfortable. I took her
to the cockpit and she wasted no time to relieve herself. She will be very
happy whenever we get to calmer conditions. Probably tomorrow.

Monday, November 3, 2014

one more day

The sun is still going away before the traditional "happy hour" on Papy
Jovial at 6:30 p.m. So we compromised and we had our 'rhum Punch" with
agricultural rhum from Martinique at 5:30 p.m. Jimmy Buffett woul say that
it is aleays 5 o'clock somewhere. The wind is kind to us at 20 knots on the
starboard beam and we are racing towards Lanzarote at more than 7 knots.
This way we might arrive on the 5th evening before dark. But we can never
have evewrything perfect. The issue of the day is the refrigerator which
apprently has lost its gharge of gaz. Consequentlt it is running non stop
and depleting the battteries joining forces with Arthur, So we will hsve to
run the engine for about one hour to make surewe don't run out of
electricity. We`are not too concerned as this is something that we can
manage. I hope that i will have a little more to say to-morrow


Alleluia ! We have now covered 241 n.m. with 390 left until Lanzarote, and
that means that we are in theory within rang of our destination should we
have to go motoring all the way. Meanwhile, the seas have calmed down a
lot to the point where we can get helped by "Arthur" (the electric auto-
pilot) and we don't have to steer manually. The situation is now a lot
better and will improve further when the sun will begin to activate the
solar panels, With the computer, the refrigerator, the freezer, the
autopilot and the navigation lights, the load was above the capacity of
the wind generator at 10 knots of wind. Today is the day when we will try
and call Jean-Marc Verdier to get help with the skyfile software. I am
hoping that it will be something like a right click somewhere we did not
think of. Patience. We shall know soon enough. Tifille was so exhausted by
the constant rolling since we left that she is now fast asleep and did not
even wake up when I got up for my early morning watch. We still have three
long days ahead of us, but we expect Eole (the god oh the wind) to be kind
with us and let us arrive on the morning of the 6th

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hellish night

We spent all noght taking bturns at the wheel with not much sleep in
between. We are rolling heavily 20 degrees each side wth seas and swell
from the north west. The worse is being unable to communicate to try and
find a solution to the email issue. The last message recorded by the
software as received was on October 23rd. Since then, Nothing. When I
perform an exchange of mail, apparently the process goes as expected,
except that the mention "to be sent" in red just disappears instead of
being replaced by "sent" and the message disappears. When receiving it
mentions the email address where from but the message itself never shows up
Ideally it would be nice if Jean-Marc Verdier in St Malo would be` aware
of the problem and would know that we will try and call him on Monday
during business hours. We don't know of course if the problem could be
solved remotely. This morning at 8:30 we have 493 miles left to cover on
the ground. The E.T.A is now on the 6th morning. We hope that there will be
an electronician available in Lanzarote familiar with the skyfile system.
And we will have to wait to call Scanmar in California and find out if we
can get a replacement pendulum for the windwane.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

new disaster

We left the marina Oeiras, near Lisbonne around 10:30 after filling up with
flat calm weather. We motored until 13:30 when the wind started to blow
from NNE at around 20 knots and we started sailing at more than 7 knots. We
were very happy then but this was when disaster struck. The boat lost her
heading and Jean-Paul found out that we had lost the pendulum oh the
windvane. I tried to email Scanmar but our Skyfile mail software for some
reason does not display sent messages and I don't know if we were
successful. The toll free number of Scanmar in California is 888 946 3826.
The unit number is 751130908. I need to know if they can ship a replacement
part to Lanzarote and at what cost. We should arrive in Lanzarote on the
5th afternoon. Until then we will have to steer by hand which is not a nice
prospect. I also tried to contact Cornell sailing but again do not know if
the message went. Hopefully this post will be published on the blog.