Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Dec 6th 2017

Crew member Thalita explains:

Why do I cross the Atlantic?

I have learned you always have two options. Either you stay in Europe through

the winter and freeze or you go to the Caribbean and enjoy "coco locos".

The decision is quite easy. Then there are two options again, you can

either fly to the Caribbean or sail. Why would you want to fly if you can

sail?!

I’ve sailed across the ocean for last two years and both times I just loved

it. It was not always Deck 4, 2, 5 or sleeping. Sometimes it can get really

tough, soaking wet at 3am, at the end of your watch and you have to change

the jib in rough sea, or cook a meal for your crew mates whilst everything

is just flying around ‘cause of the heeling' (don't even mention sea

sickness). Or you are going crazy just bobbing around in a wind hole for

days and not moving away from the islands.

And then there is another beauty of those crossings. Being in a small boat

with only few other people, using nature to move, staring at the incredible

starry nights or helming under full moon in an open sea... you know what I

am talking about. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful sceneries I’ve

ever seen (mmmh, maybe not as beautiful as my mountains though). The

endless horizon (even if you only see about 3nm) and cloud formations, the

short chats on the VHF radio with the cargo guys on collision course (yes,

it is a biiiig ocean, but it happens all the time). You get the feeling

there is nothing and nobody around and then suddenly 20 dolphins are

playing on the bow, sailing into the sunset with the full moon rising on

the other side. It’s not only the sailing, it’s a life experience every

time. Learning a lot about sailing, fixing and maintenance (if you sail

with Lyss it is a big part) boat management, cooking/ food (thank you

Sammi), peoples’ behaviour and myself. And if you forgot something or

missing a part, there is no Amazon to deliver the needed parts and

creativity is needed.

It is a challenge every time, you make friends forever and it fills you

with happiness.

Thalita

Crew member on GER6261 Emma

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello,

We are on the way to Grenada. Our headingline is 273 compass course.

We waited a quite long time to get the Passat wind, which we have now

since 4 1/2 days. The day before we werde able to get into the famous Wind

stream we had a day off in zero wind and the absolute high light was a

wale which joined us while we werde swimming for at leas half an Hour.

Everything on Board is working. One of our genackers was crashed in the

morning hours two days ago. As soon as we catch a fish Mathias prepares

shushi. We are happy to have a well working bread baking mashine on board

so the noon snack is always a joy. Our fresh fruits and vegetables are

gone But our freezer is full and our board cook Matthias prepares every

day one phantastic meal.

Please do not clear the wellcome zone, we will definety arrive in Grenda.

:-)

Best regards from Emma 6162

Crew

Alfred

Sven

Matthias

Ingo

Steffen

Ole

Gerald

Stefan

Peter

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Spartan Challenger. Well we've done it- we’ve stopped going West and have fallen in step with the rest of the fleet in the long dive South to avoid the upcoming patch of light air and make our entry into the strong belt of Easterlies below 13N that will blow us into Grenada. For the navigators at home you may be interested to know there was a possible routing option for us up and over this windhole- taking us further North and West totally at odds with the overall consensus of the fleet. I thought about it-I really did-but one flyer per race is enough for me (these days) and now the team have settled into their sailing I think a drag race against the other competitors is more appealing to us now than a throw away attempt to circumvent everyone and claim glory. For all my years racing I can count the times that has worked for me on .. well.. one finger.

Meanwhile things have been going very well on board- the crew as I say has come together now as a functioning unit and are able to perform all the necessary sailing evolutions. They can helm as smoothly as I’ve seen and trim and work the sails and I am once again amazed that people coming from four different countries, with skill ranges ranging from absolute novice to circumnavigator and ages ranging from 19 to 73 can work together as a cohesive focused group with only a week's exposure. I guess being 1000 Nm offshore living in a tiny 20ft section of a 60ft boat is the kind of thing that makes one try that little bit harder with creating positive social interaction- besides I tolerate no shouting unless it is a question of safety and that soon calms things down in a sport already awash with testosterone.

A little excitement whilst I was writing this blog- the tack line holding the front lower corner or 'tack' of the spinnaker to the bowsprit blew out with a rig shaking BANG! What ensued was a perfect example of newly found professionalism and restraint. No shouting, swearing, running or waving of arms- the guys just snuffed the kite within one minute and we went forward to inspect the situation. A quick work around was conceived and implemented and within 20 minutes we were back up to full speed.

I really like it when it gets this on board - a calm, courteous, clean, enjoyable environment to work in. Now if only I can persuade this team to come back for the Caribbean 600 and we can start from this point and move forward - wouldn’t that be something?

All's well on Challenger.

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Tuesday, December 5th 2017

Another long or short night (depends of the point of view) is behind us and

a beautiful morning welcomes us to another day in the Atlantic. Finally

good wind (15kn from the quarter) is moving us closer to our destination at

a more reasonable speed (averaging 6+ kn lately). The big swell keeps us

awake whilst at the helm (I love to surf on it, but I don’t like those

erratic side kicks), and helps us fall asleep when in our bunk… I feel more

and more comfortable by the day to sail Hatha Maris through the ocean.

And you may wonder, what we are doing beside sailing, sleeping, eating, or

cleaning?

It may be just a 40 feet boat, but put a bunch of crazy girls on Hatha

Maris and it suddenly feels like a big cruise liner: Welcome on Deck 4, our

crafts desk; Is there something to fix? is there some technical stuff to

do? do you want to create a new fancy bracelet using lines? Join us on Deck

4. Do you need a massage, wanna do some fitness or yoga? Then Deck 2 is

your place! Of course our Sun Deck is open the whole day. Should you wish

taking a bath in our thousand miles wide pool, please help yourself to Deck

5 (or was it Deck 6? Can’t remember…), no need to ask our butler, the pool

is always open during daytime. And today we actually welcomed all our crew

members on Deck 2 for a much needed shower! It was really time now. The

dirty laundry instead can be dropped at the reception. surely someone will

deal with it...or not?!?

Being so close together in a confined space like a small boat really does

make you more creative. We are never bored, there is always something to do

when we are 'off duty'. For Thalita it’s sleeping, Francesca is studying

hard for her Yachtmaster, Sam instead takes care of her herbs garden down

below, whilst Lyssi has always something to fix and to check whether we are

still in the right direction towards Grenada. As for myself, I read a

book, sunbathe or nap. What else… I’m on Deck 4, where else!

Nicole

Ps. The Dolphins visited us yesterday evening again! We love them. And the

flying fishes are all around us. I am just waiting, till the first one

jumps onto our boat, people say they are very smelly

Crew member on GER7475 Lunatix

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Lunatix, on direct route to Grenada!

Both Crew an boat are doing well and enjoy brilliant sailing conditions for a few days now! After the upwind week it´s a pleasure to sail in winds between 15 to 25 knots and downwind sails have been up since Friday morning straight.

The on board routine is shifting with more attention to be paid, more crew being deployed at deck, just in case wipe-outs occuring in the sometimes bumpy conditions. Since todays dinner we know: There is no worse point of time for a first class wipe-out (including the boom almost halfway underwater) than the moment when dinner is served in half open bowls. It also told us the story of flying freeze dried noodles EVERYWHERE in the cockpit!

Since being in the trade winds another spectacle entertains us during the watch hours: Dozens of flying fish sometime appear out of nowhere and fly through the air, over the deck and sometimes unlucky pilots hit the cockpit which leaves us to rescue them as quick as possible, sometimes we are not sure if the flying fish emergency troops are fast enough to get all of them in time, sorry!! However an evil attack of one of those flying fish against our helmsman last night, hitting him right into the legs proofs: They are out for no good, so watch out guys.

Another battle has begun about the individual speed records for the guys on the helm with the leader board being refreshed every other hour.

Indeed these games help us to deal with the distance to sail still being quiet long given the fact we are already more than a week in that race! So a high downwind performance is all we need right now!

--

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Jangada RORC Transatlantic Race - Day 9

Trade wind routine

Position 19.43 North, 28.36W

Wind 050-080 degrees, 12-21 knots

Weather 3/10 cumulus cloud

Air temperature 27.5 Celcius

Having been in the trade winds for a couple of days - our latitude is

now below 20 degrees north - we've settled into a routine of brisk

downwind sailing. We have mostly 15-17 knots of true wind speed, which

occasionally builds to 21 knots, from the east north east. That means

running deep at true wind angles of 160-165 to maintain our best speed

towards Grenada.

There's a complex swell pattern - we've now left behind most of the big

northerly swell that came from a low pressure in the north Atlantic, and

the local wind driven waves are growing in dominance, but there are

still awkward waves from the south east. If you sail too deep downwind

the seas knock the air out of the spinnaker and Jangada slows down.

Coverserly, steering high delivers impressive boat speed and a feeling

stability, but velocity made good suffers dramatically.

While it's not as exciting as reaching at hotter wind angles, we're

making good progress, mostly clocking speeds of 7-10 knots with

occasional prolonged surfs of up to 12 knots.

However, there's an obstacle in the way - a large area of high pressure

sitting right in the middle of where the trade winds should be around

700 miles to the west of us. That's why the fleet is predominately

heading west-south-west, to stay in the stronger favourable winds to the

south of the low. We've just gybed west to take advantage of a

favourable wind shift, and will then gybe back onto port tack early

tomorrow morning.

We're following on the heels of the much larger boats IRC Class 1,

hoping to pick off as many as we can on corrected time before the

finish. Otherwise, all is quiet out here, although there's more sealife

than in the apparently desolate zone north of the tradewind belt - we

have occasional dolphins, sea birds and flying fish, the latter in

schools of up to 20. We also have in sight the first two cruising yachts

we've seen since the start, who are also heading west towards the Caribbean.

Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangada

Crew member on GBR301 Challenger

on . Posted in Blogs

Hello from Spartan Challenger.

The last 24hrs have seen a remarkable change for us - gone are the flat waters and open skies of the high we traversed in the last few days to be replaced by the fluffy white clouds and evenly marching lines of waves forging ever West that mark our entry into the trade winds. For those not in the know, at this time of year between approximately 15N and 25N the trade winds in the northern hemisphere blow in a continuous band flowing North East to South West creating a wonderful downwind ride for those wishing to sail from Europe or North Africa to the Caribbean; our ancestors were not unaware of this and hence the name 'tradewinds'.

For modern race boats these conditions are near perfect to eat up the miles, surfing along on waves that are themselves doing 15 knots in winds that blow constantly in the direction we wish to travel- it is not hard to understand therefore that this route is considered a nirvana for those with seasalt in their veins.

On board Spartan Challenger we continue to hone our skills- those who last week were piloting Ruffians on lakes in the North of England are now getting used to the scale of things on a Whitbread 60. The spinnaker is the size of a tennis court, the ropes have a breaking strain of 8800kgs, the rig is 90ft and the boat's desire to set off like a greyhound must be constantly

held in check until I feel everyone is happy with 'what comes next' should things start depart from the game plan in unexpected heavy winds. Such is the life of a Sail Training Boat- maximum performance is only ever possible on almost the last day of the event!

Last night crewmen Rob Copely and Rupert Powlesland report having a great watch helming by the stars under a nearly full moon with the A3 kite & full main up. As they enjoyed their sailing dolphins dived and played next to the boat in the bioluminescence creating great plumes of sparkling light under water and backlit torpedo trails that criss-crossed the boat's bow and wake. It was a unique night of sailing that will long be remembered I am told; however, if I know the tradewinds as well as I think- it is just the first of many such fantastic transatlantic memories.

All's well on Spartan Challenger.

Crew member on ITA15111 Hatha Maris

on . Posted in Blogs

Thursday November 30th

Still not a lot of wind... Everyone tried hard to keep Hatha Maris moving,

with (no) wind around 3 to 4 kts. Sometimes we even went backwards :-0 !!

Early this morning Sammi, Francesca and Lyss saw a whale and later a

turtle! At 6 am, when the watch from Thalita and myself started, the wind

was coming back a bit and we had the best thing for a good start of the day

– dolphins! At least 20! For me it was the first time (nearly everything

that happens during this trip is the first time for me...) to see them

playing so close to the bow! So great! And with this beautiful start we

then enjoyed a great day with steady wind, sun and many happy people. Sam

feels much better now (she is been quite seasick lately) and we are more

and more into the onboard life. Dancing, singing, laughing…. and sailing of

course!

Francesca and Sam are now getting ready for their watch – time to go to

sleep and get ready for the night. Still not my favourite watch. Good

night. Nicole.

Friday, December 1st 2017

Close encounters of the spanish kind

At change of watch last night a huge light was noticed tucked under the

jib. Look once, look away. Look twice, look away. Look 3 times, and its

definitely not an optical illusion. IT IS another vessel! the AIS showed

not a light house but a 50 metre boat with “moored” as its status while

doing 8-9 knots straight at us. Hailed them on VHF channel 16, nothing.

Dial MMSI, still nothing. Alienic light getting closer, we shine the

searchlight on our sails to make ourselves more visible. After 10 minutes

of watching the “strobe” light as Francesca called it, the alien answered

in Spanish, sounding shocked at encountering our little 12m boat in the

middle of nowhere. Lyss got them to change course and the excitement was

over. Made for a quick watch though… Sammi

Saturday December 2nd, 2017

It is fantastic being the skipper of the boat… you might think it means you

get coffee in bed and tell people what to do, but no, it basically means

that even when we are becalmed I don’t sunbathe, sleep, eat snacks, relax,

or read like everyone else… unless it is instructions manual. At this

point I have had the opportunity to fix a bit of everything, from small

gluing jobs to replacing the pin holding the vang to the boom which had

severed (!), sawing off a piece of a batten of the mainsail, whipping

lines, sewing a new bolt rope tape onto the genoa, replacing a piece of

chain on the forward stay with dyneema (really proud of my splicing that

one)...

Also, I have now developed a much more intimate relationship with Brian and

Kurt: Kurt has been behaving as of late and is not too jealous, but Brian

keeps acting up, gifting us with water and fiberglass sawdust so that I

have to hang out with him a few times a day. No we don't have men onboard

and no, we are not losing our mind (yet)...Brian and Kurt are the names we

have given to our bilges. Much easier than saying 'the bilge forward of the

sink to starboard..' More names to come in the next episodes for sure!

The current challenge at the moment is managing our power as we have

something that is draining the batteries more than is logical. Solar

panels are working, but yesterday our course had them both in the shade

most of the time, making for fun amperage consumption calculations.

And finally our main issue so far has been solved: yesterday was the first

day that our satellite phone actually enabled us to get updated weather

information, and transmit files since we left, hence the three days blog.

Thank you Franco and Brook on the home team helping with that! Weather

routing using the clouds or via satellite sms doesn’t make us very

competitive…

Oh and yes, I admit I did get to go SWIMMING while we were becalmed. It was

absolutely beautiful! Always good to know you can breaststroke faster than

your own boat. Ok, while I was at it I did a hull check and made sure that

the log still worked as we were getting 0.00kn of boat speed for over two

hours… but more on that later.

Lyssandra

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Swell!

Swell to the left of me. Swell to the right of me. That pretty much

sums up the past 24 hours. There is a gentle 2-3m rolling swell from

the north, fuelled by the low pressure systems. In the opposite

direction from the South East is a small swell, from the SE Trades

perhaps, or is that a little far fetched. On top of that the NE Trades

have started to kick in a little chop from behind. All of which

conspire to knock us off course or collapse the kite. Rupert is now

doing his best to maintain that magic 130 degree wind angle.

Meanwhile I have an irritating nursery song on constant replay in my

head - "We're going this way, that way, over the deep blue sea....."

All I need now is "....a bottle of rum to fill my tum, and that's the

life for me"! Grenada - only 2,180nm to go.

Richard and Rupert

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

Jangada - 7 days since race start.

Position: 24.0N 24.5W

Distance sailed: 939nm

Distance made good: 640nm

Average course speed: 3.8kn

7 days since we started and we have finally made it over the top of the

hill and running down to the finish line.

With an average course speed of 3.8kn it's been a long slow climb up

that hill. We normally reckon on around 5.5kn for course speed (average

boat speed + extra distance sailed for optimum routes).

It was 48 hours ago that we made the decision to turn south. The

European weather models that we have been using predicted an opportunity

to pass over the ridge with light northerly winds and no big "park up"

stuck in the middle of a High. The forecast was spot on. The pressure

is now falling and we have an 8kn NE breeze, champagne sailing!

Code 0 flying to speed us south towards the more consistent and stronger

breezes. Our heading due south is 60 degrees off course - a pain we have

to suffer now to pick up those Trade Winds.

Although we are leading IRC Class 2, and the two-handed boats, we are

currently 13th in IRC overall. The wind shadow north of Tenerife was

not kind to us and is reflected in our ranking. However there are still

three boats north of the ridge that need to get south. There is also a

pack of five IRC0/1 boats up to 300nm ahead. With 2,200nm still to go

the race is still on. The IRC0 fleet are probably out of reach now, but

it would be nice to claim a few scalps from the IRC1 fleet.

Time to change spinnakers...

Richard & Rupert

Jangada

Crew member on GBR958R Jangada

on . Posted in Blogs

The Tapas Bar at the Top of the Ridge

Rupert Holmes and Richard Palmer on JPK1010 Jangaga

Position: 25.24N 24.26W

True wind speed: 6.4 knots

True wind angle: 58 degrees

Boat speed: 5.1 knots

Air temperature: 27.4 Celcius

Weather: Sun

One of the joys of sailing long distances is that it gives time to slow

down and appreciate the joys of some the important essentials of life.

After five full-on days of racing in constantly changing conditions, and

often confused seas, that have demanded constant attention today has

brought a welcome change.

By breakfast time the wind had settled into a steady 6-7 knots from the

west-southwest, giving a much easier day in prospect as we head south on

starboard tack into the narrow ridge of high pressure that's separating

us from the tradewinds that will eventually push us the rest of the way

to the Caribbean.

After 30-40 minutes of tweaking sail and pilot settings we got the boat

set up to look after herself, with human intervention only needed to

keep a lookout and monitor course and speed. As I write we're hitting

more than 100 per cent of polars, even though neither of us has touched

the helm, or a piece of string, for more than four hours. As for other

traffic, it's 24 hours since we last had a target on the AIS and the

only other life we've actually seen is dolphins.

That's given time to sleep, to do a few small jobs around the boat, and

have a leisurely lunch: freshly-made hummous, Iberian cured ham, cheese,

pate de campagne, fresh vegetables and tasty Spanish olives, washed down

with a couple of cold beers - the first we've had since Friday last week.

Even if the normal fare when racing is easier to prepare, there's still

time to slow down when eating to savour the flavours of the different

ingredients. The same is true even for snacks, where a flapjack isn't

something to be rushed in a couple of bites, and a couple of slices of

dried mango make a great treat in the middle of a long night watch.

The normal routine on Jangada consists of muesli or porridge for

breakfast, wraps with chorizo or ham, cheese, iceberg lettuce fresh

pepper etc for lunch. Evening meals are invariably pre-packaged dinners

that can be boiled in the bag, using the Jetboil, with added rice or

noodles and veg. To keep energy levels constant through the day and

night we also have a huge variety of snacks, including fresh and dried

fruit, nuts, cereal bars, homemade cake and the aforementioned flapjacks.

Caption: Lunch in the Tapas Bar at the Top of the (high pressure) Ridge.