Leander’s Atlantic Crossing In Photos

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Day 1:  With our good friend Rieke at the dock in La Gomera, Canary Islands,getting ready to leave. 

So many emotions are involved in the moments before departure. We are leaving “Europe,” for all intents and purposes, after many years being abroad. And this will be our first ocean crossing in nearly six years, and our first with children aboard.  Big seas, bad weather, broken things, the black of night.  Who knows what awaits?  But we ARE well prepared.  And we’ve been through the drill before, and so our anxiety is tempered by an even sense that we’ve covered all the bases.

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Day 1:  A few hours out to sea, the picture says it all.  Sima, arms folded anxiously, looks back at La Gomera and the last land she’ll see in weeks.  Aylin, bundled up in the chill, works on getting acclimated to the motion of the boat.  Ten miles down, 2,991 to go.

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Day 3:  Dolphins swam and jumped with us for the first several days out, repeatedly coming to visit us.

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Day 5:  SNAP!!  CRACK!!! BOOM!!!  The boat after our accidental jibe.

With the boat rolling so much, and the wind not really strong, it was difficult to keep the sails filled.  Sometimes, riding down into the trough of one wave, or coming up on the crest of another, the apparent wind would change enough such that it would catch the back side of the main sail or jib, and cause one or both to luff.  And sometimes, if the turbulence was enough, the wind would snap the sail back hard, and then snap it back forward again, as it moved around the boat.

We were trying to find the right balance, and determine what sail plan was the most efficient in the big and confused seas, with a moderate wind right behind us.  We had sheeted the main out such that it lay against the shrouds, and sometimes, when it got back-winded, the upper stay would come back into place at an angle, and get caught behind the upper shroud, as shown here:

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Day 5:  Pinched stay on the mainsail.

This needed to be addressed to make sure that the sail did  not tear.  When this has happened in the past, I have purposefully moved the boat a little further down wind, to get the wind on the back of the sail again, so that it can luff the sail back into place. But THIS time, when I did that, the wind caught the back of the sail hard, even though it was only blowing 15 knots, and even though the apparent wind was much less than that with the boat moving at about 6.5 knots downwind.

There was a loud report as the wind snapped the back of the sail. The next steps unfolded without me being able to do a thing. The whole event lasted only a second, and it wasn’t until after it had passed that I  had any clue as to just what HAD happened.

The preventer, a thick line that had been triple-looped, had parted. When it did, the boom swung forcefully around to the other side of the boat.  On the way across, it tore the two retaining straps that hold the bimini into place, and that came tumbling down at the same time.  The boom came to rest on the other side of the boat with a crash.   I stared upwards, probably open-mouthed, seeing the sails, sky, and sun, where a moment earlier I was sheltered under the protective canopy of the bimini.

Sima came up from below.  We caught our collective breaths, and began to assess the situation. Thankfully, the only damage was a torn zipper on one of the shade cloths, and two broken bimini straps. We took in the jib (it is already furled in the picture above), fashioned a new preventer, as well as added a second one.  We then repaired the shade cloths and bimini straps.  We were whole again in a couple of hours.  But the accident made us gun-shy about putting up much canvas again.  We took down the main, and sailed with jib only for the next four days

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Day 8:  The challenges of food prep in a pitching sea.  Some flour makes it into the pot.  Some doesn’t. 

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Day 10:  Watching a movie on the tablet.

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Day 10:  Sima and the kids do some origami in the cockpit.

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Day 10:  Playing on the hatch cover.

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Day 11:  The main sheet on the boom doubles as a clothesline.

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Day 12:  Sunset at sea.

 

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Day 13:  Paul gets some  aerobic exercise  via a mini-stairmaster.

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Day 13:  As we’ve written before, flying fish really do fly. We’ve watched them glide across the sea for ten seconds at a time (count that aloud – wow, right?!).  We found this fellow inside the folds of the main sail, below a stain he made about 12 feet above the water line.   On scale, if he were the same size as a human, he would have jumped 144 feet, or that is, through a 12th story window.  Try that at home.

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Day 13:  The clothes came off as the temperatures began to climb.

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Day 15:  Paul and Alexander looking for flying fish.

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Day 16:  Tropic birds kept us company at about the same time as we entered into the Sargasso Sea. Here one flies above the swirling blades of the wind generator.

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Day 16:  The rising thermals of an approaching squall.

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Day 17:  At the instructions of our sage counsel Gus Wilson, we tried to scoop up some of the Sargassum weed that was speeding by the boat. Gus thought that we might be able to tease some marine life out of the weed, to show the kids.  It was difficult to do.  At seven knots, you had to grab the weed quickly, and then scoop it straight up before the rushing water scrubbed away anything that had been clinging to the floating weed.

 

 

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Day 17:  And we DID find life.  Here,  a mini-shrimp. We watched them swim around in a bucket of water.  We looked up the name of the shrimp we were finding and, wouldn’t you know, learned that they are members of a shrimp genus called”Leander!”

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Day 17:  Later that afternoon, after many many days of trying, we caught our first “real” fish, an Almaco Jack.  The seas were too turbulent to catch anything on the surface for the majority of the trip.

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Day 18:  Sima did right by this fish!  She pan fried it and served it with a creamy caramelized onion and red bell pepper sauce with bulgur pilaf on the side.  What a meal!

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Land ho!  Aylin looking at Antigua, which was forming on the horizon.

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Day 19:  Rounding the last corner, coming in to English Harbor, Antigua, as the sun sets.

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Day 19:  Aylin goofs around, crawling about soon after our arrival.  She was giddy about the fact that the dock was not moving.  So were we.

 

 

 

 

 

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