Saturday, December 24, 2022

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat (part 2)

We had so much footage of our crossing and so many great moments, that we wanted to spread them out over two posts.  Our daily routines were often interrupted by dolphin sightings, swimming in the deep blue  water and catching fish.  

This was one of our more successful catches - an Atlantic Bonito.  Other boats in the ARC were much more skilled than us at fishing and some caught Mahi Mahi, Tuna.  Someone even caught a Blue Marlin!

After a few days at sea, the kids really began to embrace the experience and enjoyed the daily activities a lot.  Fishing, baking, doing watch, etc.  Watching the sunset was a favourite pastime and we were always pointed west, so the sunsets were right in front of us!


Being on a small sailboat in the middle of the ocean is a crazy experience.  Your world shrinks down to this small space where you can only take a few steps at a time.  Anytime we were on deck, outside the cockpit, we were strapped into the boat on "jacklines".


We had some very settled weather for a couple of days, and decided to go for a swim in the 5 kilometre
 deep water!  Stu had to go under the boat and scrape off some barnacles from the propeller anyways, so we thought it was the perfect time for everyone to join the Mid-Atlantic Swim Club!

The incredibly deep water was such a magical shade of blue!  James swam under the boat for some great video footage.  We didn't see any big fish during our swim, but it was definitely on our minds.

Our last few days were calm and peaceful with light winds and beautiful weather.  We were either hard-on-the-wind sailing or motor sailing for the last 48-72 hours.  

Dolphins came to visit us on multiple occasions, and we caught some great video of them riding our bow wake.

Our arrival in Saint Lucia was surreal.  There were so many other boats around and the smell of land was delightfully overwhelming.  Once we got into the marina, many of the other ARC sailors, who had arrived before us, honked their horns and cheered loudly for us.  It brought tears to our eyes.  What a welcome!

Now that our Atlantic crossing is behind us, we plan to take some time to rest, clean the boat and just generally enjoy exploring on land for a few days.  Our wonderful crew mates Amelia and James will say goodbye and fly home to Canada.  Thanks so much for all the help and warm company!  It was an amazing experience.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat (part 1)

 We have now arrived in the Caribbean after a wonderful crossing aboard Oyai.  It took us just over 19 days and we had lots of different conditions along the way: strong winds, ideal winds, very light winds, sunshine, rain and squalls.  The sunsets, sunrises, stars and moon were our constant companions guiding us along the way.

We left Las Palmas in grand fashion, with all of the other 150-ish ARC boats as a mass start.  It was pretty amazing to see that many sailboats all charging off together.  The start of the ARC was scheduled for November 20th, and the wind was quite strong, gusting to 45 knots on the southeast side of Gran Canaria. 

Crossing an ocean brings many experiences and emotions at different times and we are proud to have experienced them all!  From elation to fear.  From boredom to sheer joy.  Life quickly finds a way of shrinking down around you, allowing you to feel all of these things so simply and intensely.  It is truly an amazing experience - one that we will all cherish for a lifetime.  

In the next sunset photo, you can see our map and where we are on day 7 (far off of the west coast of Africa).

We tried our hands at fishing, but were only able to entice very small fish on board.  This was an Atlantic Bonito which is a small type of tuna.  It was tiny, but still delicious.  We caught 3 of these and nothing else on our crossing.  We did have something big on the line at one point and we saw it jump out of the water.  It quickly bit through our steel leader line and was gone with the lure.  Perhaps its best we didn't try to haul that beast on board!

The sailing was sublime for most of the trip, and Oyai was purpose-built to sail in these tradewinds.  We mostly sailed dead downwind for the first week under twin headsails.  We would average a speed of about 7 knots day and night while sailing in the trades.

Having the ARC fleet of boats to share the experience was also incredible.  We stayed in SSB radio contact with a few boats, but rarely saw anyone on the horizon - the ocean is so vast!  All-in-all there were just under 150 boats in the rally, and we got to know most of the crews.  We especially made close friends with all of the "kid boats" that were part of the rally and have made bonds which will be lifelong.  

We would all occasionally sit at the bow of the boat and have our feet splashed by the bow wake.  The water got quickly warmer as we nudged into the tradewind belt south of 20 N latitude.

The fleet had its share of issues, as one would expect when crossing an ocean.  The most dramatic event happened about 7 days into the rally when a Swedish "kid boat" was dismasted in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Luckily nobody was seriously injured and they cut away the rig quickly without damaging the hull.  With the support of a handful of other boats, they were able to get enough fuel to motor all the way to the Caribbean without further incident.  They have quite an harrowing story to tell!

We will post a second blog entry in few days about the second half of our Atlantic crossing.  So many memories and photos/videos to share!  Next up will be mid-ocean swimming, dolphins playing in the bow wake, squalls and more!  Stay tuned and share the blog with anyone you think may be interested in our voyage.

Goodbye Oyai & Hello New York City!

After leaving Annapolis, we explored the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay for a couple of weeks.  We sailed to a quaint little town called St...