Trying to summarize a month at sea is proving to be difficult… I am now with my new crew (the Brothers Anderson- Will and George- and Jeff Geller. My Cape Town to Barbados crew is gone, off to various corners of their worlds while Alyosha continues to push north to Ocean City and Baltimore. We spent 5 days in Barbados all told, and I am going to summarize that experience in another blog…
(additionally, I will write a different blog for this quick journey to join my family in St. Thomas…)
Sailing 5,268nm from Cape Town to Barbados was an enormous challenge, but primarily on the logistics and mental side. Truth be told, I have been studying the various oceans for the past few years now, ever since beginning this journey, and the South Atlantic Ocean always appeared to be the easiest, most tame ocean to cross. And this time it worked out that way.
We left Cape Town in a fury of wind and seas on February 5th after a final top off of fuel and a final visit by the rigger who had worked on Alyosha. (as I said to him: ‘nothing feels better than having the rigger check you over right before a 5,300nm crossing”) and then we spent the next 10 days with just picture perfect sailing weather… Often, we would leave the spinnaker set for days at a stretch, and the whole crew seemed to enjoy the silent surfing Alyosha did with a following 13-15 knot breeze.
The crew were fantastic, with Bash playing the fisherman role, Rhett as our navigator in training, and Anton serving as the perfect chess rival. The two highlights of every day were calculating our “nms” (Nautical Miles) ticked off at noon each day and then a chess match about 3pm. Incredibly, Anton and I ended up playing 27 games and finished 12-12 with 3 draws. (Somehow we neglected to “finish” the series when we reached land and Anton’s girlfriend, Fannie, showed up!)
After some initial luck with a Mahi Mahi (small, but very good fish nuggets made by Bash) we had zero luck fishing, which was a surprise. We lost at least 6 big fish and ended up losing just about every lure I had onboard. It just isn’t easy to slow Alyosha down when sailing 8-9 knots. About 15 days in we went through the Doldrums and motored with light winds for a few days…but after that, we hit the Trade Winds and cruised along the Brazil coast for a week. All told, a true highlight of this leg was the fantastic sailing: 22 of the 29 days we were out there brought great winds!
I seriously doubt I will ever make such a long passage again- just too much time away from family, etc… and mentally the grind of being at sea for that duration was tough. Here are a few other interesting notes from the journey:
I could not believe how well the South African produce we bought kept in storage! I actually had a salad on our last night at sea after 28 days.. I have not seen lettuce last more than a few days before this;
Alyosha performed amazingly. A few of my blocks and pulleys wore through and needed attention and I had some engine work to do in Barbados, but all in all, nothing really broke;
We went 16 days without any rain- causing some strain on the ship’s water supply, but when we finally got rain I won’t forget the glorious rain showers we took;
The approach to Barbados, in the early morning, was magical. Everyone was up at 5am to watch the lights of the city of Bridgetown give way to the beaches and hills of Barbados- something I won’t soon forget.