We go back to sea today, after a long stay in the Canaries.
We are approximately 2700 miles from Antigua, our landfall in the Caribbean. Our current latitude is 28 north, and Antigua lies at approximately 17 north. The general rule of thumb is that one doesn’t sail straight from here to there, on a west southwest path, but instead first sails southwest. Sort of a hockey stick route, with the six-day SW blade first, before one turns due west to run the rest of the route all the way to the Caribbean.
The Cape Verde Islands sit at just the place where the blade meets the shaft. We are faced with a choice — sail the non-stop route to the Caribbean, or stop off at the Cape Verde Islands on the way as we pass.
For now, the winds look pretty good to by-pass the Cape Verde islands, and sail straight on to the Caribbean. We’d only stop if it looked like we had been using too much fuel in the first week, or if we saw the trades shutting down such that it would be prudent to replenish the fuel in any event.
If the winds are steady, it could take something like twenty days. We sail at about the speed of a moderate jog. If the trades let up, then we could be out there longer — some passages take thirty days.
As always, we’re a bundle of anticipation, excitement, and deep anxiety as we leave. The anxiety helps us to over-prepare, although that can never be done. There are so many systems to rely upon, most critically the sails, engine, batteries, and autopilot. We’ve readied things best as we can, and then some, and have the spares needed, but, you know — entropy. And the sea.
The weather is OK. There is a left-over swell from a deep low that had kicked things up in the Atlantic. Combined that with the fact that we often need a few days to get our sea legs, we don’t relish those first couple of days.
Preparation has been a bit of a bear. The kids seem to have been sponges for the various and sundry viruses that the visiting tourists carry down from Europe, trundled along in the form of their own nose-drippy kids. These little bugs (I mean the viruses, not the snotty kids) are then freely distributed at the playgrounds and beaches. One knocked Paul down for the better part of two weeks.
And our small children, though perfectly lovely, make boat preparation more challenging. Where before we could each give full attention to the tasks at hand, we must now devote a good amount of attention to the kids, as well. Sima’s provisioning runs to the store involve the kids running about the store and stuffing items into the carriage when Sima has directed her attention elsewhere. (“But mom, you always buy this kind of juice for us!”) Not to mention that the amount of food that we need to get has just about doubled, with a need to buy more kid-friendly food than we otherwise would. And it takes a lot longer just to get to and from the store, as Sima must pass the park each way, requiring a long stop. A job that took two hours before now uses up half the day.
Simple projects like changing the oil are made more difficult with two kids who want to “help,” but are instead particularly adept at putting their collective heads just in front of where you’ve shun the light to get at the engine (“But we want to see TOO! You’re not letting US see, Darry!”). Vacuuming the boat involves similar supposed assistance, where they have great fun at blocking up the inlet to see what different noises can be made. (“Why do we have to stop?! You never let us have ANY fun!”) And they are world champions when it comes to saturating any open space with a thick covering of toys. And peanut butter.
Sure, husband and wife teams make crossings all the time, and they do it with kids. But it is not at all easy.
Wish us luck! We’ll work to keep the blog updated, so that you can track our position if you’d like.
Paul, Sima, Alexander, and Aylin