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Even though we’ve not had super consistent trade winds and the sailing has been intermittent, we’ve managed noon-to-noon runs of 152, 151, 137, 156, 160 and 149 miles today.
Several years ago we started having a storyteller of the day. Tonight Ronan, our Irishman, was storyteller and he told the riveting and true story of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen. In the late 1400’s she ruled Ireland’s rugged and wild west coast with her fierce fleet and stood up to and impressed Queen Elizabeth over land and sea matters.
November 13, 2017, 1100 hrs, 24.19 N, 031.54 W, Log: 205,931 miles
We’ve seen a steady stream of ships, and at the moment we have three visible on AIS; a dredge headed to Madeira, a containership headed to Brazil and a tanker on her way to Gibraltar.
Here are Gil’s insights on seamanship:
Seamanship included doing things the right way every time. We’re learning not only the specifics of bluewater cruising, but the “whys” behind those specifics. That leads to both and extremely efficient and safe voyage gut also to the ability to handle the unexpected with confidence.
With just under one week from the time we landed in Lanzarote until our Leg 7 Atlantic Crossing crew joined us Amanda and I managed to just about get all our chores completed, plus squeeze in time for runs along waterfront and to and explore Arrecife's old town (next to the marina). We'd hired a car to speed up the provisioning and an excellent, nearly-new Mecadona supermarket five minutes from the marina was a bonus: absolutely the highest quality and lowest priced fruit, vegies and baked goods anywhere in Europe so we should be eating well on this passage. For an extra treat we took a morning drive one morning to explore a nearby beach town. This, our third visit to Lanzarote reconfirmed that we how very helpful and friendly we've found the people plus how fascinating this island group is. One of these times, we'll have to make it a goal to sail to and explore each of these islands!
Our passage plan had been to swing by Gran Canaria Island to say hello/goodbye to several friends and previous expedition members who were moored in Las Palmas, readying to cross the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). But, Commanders Weather suggested the quicker we got west of the Canary Islands, the longer we would carry the trade winds before they died out over a fairly large area. After crew briefing Sunday afternoon, we asked them to join at 11am on Monday ready for putting to sea at noon. By Monday evening we'd enjoyed sailing the length of Lanzarote, and Tuesday we passed by Gran Canaria. Wednesday held fresh winds gusting to 34 kts and we passed the furthest west Canary Islands with our new crew honing their steering skills and receiving excellent reefing practice, all the way down to three reefs, as Mahina Tiare surged along like a racehorse!
We were surprised to be able to find mobile phone reception as far as 14 miles offshore allowing Amanda to upload a couple of images to our new Instagram and Facebook pages, @mahinaexpeditions.com.
After intermittent motoring in 10' confused beam seas and swells, this afternoon the trades returned and we got the whole gang on deck to rig the whisker pole for the first time and practice tucking in reefs.
With three weeks for classes instead of our more normal two, we've been able to spend more time on marine weather yesterday and today, and this crew is a keen lot for gaining knowledge.
Life couldn't be better! From the looks of the clouds and wind direction, we're in the NE trade winds and making great miles, even though the wind has gone lighter.
Yesterday our observant crew noticed that the foot seam on the genoa had opened up probably due to the rolling and banging caused by the sea conditions. With calmer conditions this morning we all pitched in, cautiously lowering the genoa, feeding it through the overhead saloon hatch, then helping guide the sail as Amanda re-stitched the Top Gun UV cover where it had come adrift along the foot.
We've been carrying a new replacement genoa for a year, thinking that after 50,000 miles and five seasons this sail would wear out, but the fabric (Contender Dacron sailcloth) is still in great condition and the phenomenal original Top Gun UV cover has never needed to be re-stitched until now. Consider this a true, unsolicited and grateful shout-out to Carol Hasse and her crew at Port Townsend Sails. We're now hoping we can sail another 9,000 miles through Panama and across to Hawaii before retiring it.
The minute we had the repair completed and the genoa furled back on the foil we hoisted the cruising spinnaker and instantly enjoyed the new surge of speed upon raising the snuffer.
With weather class under control Amanda taught Lifesling and liferaft deployment this morning and I followed with explaining the inventory in our two Abandon Ship containers.
Afternoon sea and fresh water showers on the aft deck are always welcome and so far we've seen the lights of two ships on the horizon and yesterday watched first on AIS, then visually on the horizon, as a sailboat called ACA Solo Racer literally race across our bow at 12-15 kts in only 8 knots of wind.
Even though we've not had super consistent trade winds and the sailing has been intermittent, we've managed noon-to-noon runs of 152, 151, 137, 156, 160 and 149 miles today.
Several years ago we started having a storyteller of the day. Tonight Ronan, our Irishman, was storyteller and he told the riveting and true story of Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen. In the late 1400's she ruled Ireland's rugged and wild west coast with her fierce fleet and stood up to and impressed Queen Elizabeth over land and sea matters.
For the first time ever, we carried our cruising spinnaker all night and with a sky of stars, smooth seas and a trail of bioluminescence, it won't be an experience we'll forget. Sadly, the wind dropped to almost nothing so we totally topped up our main fuel tank with the jerry jugs carried in the lazarette and enjoyed our first mid-ocean swim stop in nearly two years. The seawater felt like a bath tub, but there wasn't anything needing scrubbing or sponging since MT's only been back in the water for two weeks.
We've seen a steady stream of ships, and at the moment we have three visible on AIS; a dredge headed to Madeira, a containership headed to Brazil and a tanker on her way to Gibraltar.
Here are Gil's insights on seamanship:
Seamanship included doing things the right way every time. We're learning not only the specifics of bluewater cruising, but the “whys” behind those specifics. That leads to both and extremely efficient and safe voyage gut also to the ability to handle the unexpected with confidence.
Click HERE to see Mahina Tiare's track and current location on Google Earth
Our Leg 7 crew has one life-long professional fisherman, Mike, plus a very keen hobby fisherman, Ronan, and when they heard our friend Roland on Bella Luna, who is sailing from Canaries to Cape Verde Islands, had landed a tuna they become concerned at our lack success fishing. Amanda promptly postponed Wednesday morning’s class of sail repair to in lieu of “Build A Lure” and upon wandering the deck she gathered up a squid then dug out her fishing stash. The gang, led by Ronan, spent some time on working on, what they hoped would be the ultimate lure: a largish sqiddy looking lure christened “Easkey” (Iasc) Irish for fishy.
When Mike went to pull in our two lines at sunset, he cried, “Hey, we’ve got a fish here!” Instantly everyone was on MT’s aft deck helping reel the in the lines. Sure enough, Easkey had produced a smart mahi. It’s been a number some years since we’ve landed a fish and as this girl looked done for Amanda suggested photos while she and Ronan held is down. WOW....next minute the mahi was leaping and flapping across the deck heading for freedom. Mike and Ronan, not wanting to let their windfall escape, promptly pounced on it in smart order. Note to all…..get that tail sail-tie on quick and don’t let a quiet fish fool you!
The trade winds went light for the better part of a day, allowing us time work on the whisker pole, have a leisurely mid-afternoon swim and top up batteries and water tank. At 0200 on Amanda and Gil’s watch the wind slowly returned and by dawn Mahina Tiare was romping along with steady speeds of 7-8.5 kts in just 10-14 kts, thanks to flat seas.
It’s been a couple days since we’ve seen any shipping but the starry night sky has the occasional plane.
I was born and raised in Alesund, Norway until the age of 10 when my family emigrated to Seattle, WA. Today I live and work in Seattle for a fishing company and have two wonderful kids, Tor and Liliana and a lovely girlfriend, Ingrid. We enjoy sailing Puget Sound on our Beneteau 45 and have chartered in the BVI’s. My favorite parts of this passage have been night watches, flying a spinnaker in the trades and learning many new skills.
I’m from Boulder, Colorado and obtained my sailing knowledge from Bow Mars Yacht Club during the warm summer months. I decided to do this expedition with my father, Erik, as a way to really hone my sailing skills and understand what it takes to cross the Atlantic. When I’m not sailing, you can find me competing in Ironman’s around the nation. My first goal was to complete an Olympic-distance triathlon before turning 16, complete a half-Ironman before 18 and a full Ironman before turning 21. I also enjoy adventuring and exploring in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and my current goals are to join either a fire department or the US Air Force in medicine, and search and rescue.
I am originally from Belgium, but recently retired from periodontics practice and currently sail a J 22 in Denver, CO. My activities include cycling, running, swimming and yoga. I’ve chartered in the BVI’s and have crewed on several Caribbean crossings. I’m learning a lot and am sure enjoying the sailing and company!
I am an agency founder from Dublin, Ireland and crossing the Atlantic is a long-held ambition which is exceeding expectations in all departments. Sailing along the trade winds under spinnaker on night watch beneath a galaxy of stars or swimming in the middle of the azure waters of the Atlantic where the water is 4 km deep are unforgettable experiences. We keep our Westerly Consort in Dublin during winters and enjoy cruising Ireland’s west coast during the summers. I send a big thanks to my wife Paula for encouraging me to make this journey. (Paula and their three daughters came to Lanzarote to see Ronan off, and now he has been writing a daily journal for the girls of his experiences, especially of landing Easkey’s huge wahoo!)
I’m a trial lawyer from Charlotte, NC who first got involved in sailing by taking my Boy Scout troupe sailing in the BVI’s. I’m hoping to use this experience and the skills I’m gaining to crew on other people’s boats between the Chesapeake and the Caribbean and up and down the East Coast. When not off sailing, Gil enjoys spending time with his wife and two adult children.
I’m a physician from Northern California and have enjoyed sailing since starting out on an El Toro as a 10 yr old. I feel very fortunate to be part of this expedition and continue to learn daily.
It’s a treat when expedition crew get along as well last this crew who are always laughing, telling stories or making up tall tales. You’d think after a nearly 3,000 passage, they’d be counting down the days and hours until landfall, but these guys don’t want the sailing to end, and when I announced we’d only 400 miles to go to Antigua point, everyone booed!
Winds and seas steadily increased over the past four days until we were triple-reefed with 30+ kt winds in seas that well exceeded 15’. Steering requires concentration to avoid gybing or rounding up and the squalls can catch you up. This afternoon we got hit by a mighty roaring wave. It broke across the transom sending a cascade of water though our open aft cabin overhead hatch. The curtain caught most of it, but it still poured out the side soaking Amanda and her berth. It’s the first time we’ve ever taken on water like that...
Even though we’ve been very conservative with sail area, our recent daily runs have been 164, 148, 151, 142 miles. As forecasted on the GRIB files, our winds and seas have been very gradually diminishing, and if the forecast proves accurate, we should have a lovely wing-and-wing or spinnaker finish to this amazing passage!
We’re right on track with our teaching schedule, all classes proving very popular, and with a current ETA off Jolly Harbour sometime Saturday afternoon, we’re planning Lifesling overboard practice in the lee of Antigua, then going aloft for rig check after we clear customs and immigration.
Today, on American Thanksgiving Day, we paused before dinner and each person said thanks for something. Everyone was thankful for the mahi mahi that Mike, Gil and Ronan landed and that Philip and Erik cleaned. We are all thankful that the 5 m seas have subsided, making steering much easier and the ride more comfortable.
After dinner, Erik, our storyteller of the day related a hair-raising tale of being a member of a Rotary dental mission to Ecuador. Local Rotarians had secured the use of the vault in a shot-up and abandoned bank as a place where the visiting dentists could conduct their multi-day clinic safe from the stray bullets that occasionally whizzed by. The small community was on the flanks of the Andes mountains and workers in the adjacent banana plantation were planning some kind of industrial action, so any locals that could were swarming to the tiny airstrip, hoping to get out before serious problems occurred. The Rotarian dentists used a lawn chair for a dental chair and saw many patients over a period of several days before the time was up and they headed on to the Galapagos.
Next month Erik and son Philip (originally from Saigon) are headed to Viet Nam to take part in a cleft palate clinic organized by a Denver dental surgeon. Conversation drifted to how Rotary has partnered with WHO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and have nearly achieved their goal of totally eliminating polio and malaria from the world.
We just received an email tonight from Hands Across the Sea Antigua link worker Lisa Tomlinson saying our visit to a local school library supported by HAS is all arranged. Cruising sailors Harriet and TL Linskey started Hands Across the Sea several years ago, working with six Eastern Caribbean island nations and the Peace Corps, setting up school libraries, training kids to become librarians, and purchasing and distributing new, culturally-appropriate books, funding scholarships and promoting literacy.
We are thankful that there are people determined to make this world a better place, and acknowledge their efforts.
On the day following Thanksgiving, our navigator decided it looked like we’d be making landfall in the dark at our current speed, so we stopped for a leisurely and extended swim time, scrubbing the tenacious new little gooseneck barnacles from our boot top strip near the stern. That evening we had some impressive squalls up to 30-knots passing through giving our guys even more opportunity to see who could tuck reefs in the fastest and providing MT with the best rinse cycle since Scotland, removing all traces of salt and some to the tenacious Canary dust from the decks.
In the very early morning hours we could just get a glimpse of the loom of lights from English Harbour, the historic and famous British naval base and at dawn the island, although shrouded in rain clouds, was visible on the bow. Fairly light but steady winds saw us sailing all the way until we sighted the outermost channel marker where we dropped sails to practice Lifesling overboard rescue.
By noon we were tied up at the very convenient customs, immigration and harbour master dock and once formalities were completed, we topped up fuel tanks for the very reasonable price of about US$2.50 per gallon, less than half of what we’ve paid anywhere in Europe.
While on the fuel dock, the harbour master came by and then led us by dinghy to a stern-tie spot on a very quiet dock. We were actually shocked at how few visiting yachts were in the marina - only a fraction of the number we’d encountered in our 2002 and 2008 visits.
Our generous crew shouted an excellent lunch at the dockside Greek restaurant, then we all headed off on our separate ways to the nearby pool or an explore of nearby numerous white sand beaches to cool off and relax. Amanda and I instantly signed up for a week of unlimited swimming in the pool for $4 per day each and we hope not to miss a day.
Our crew then headed back to the beaches and poolside before we met at 4 pm to take a taxi to English Harbour and Shirley Heights. Amanda had enjoyed the famous Sunday afternoon/evening sunset watch, barbecue dinner and island music and dance in 1989 while she was preparing for the Whitbread Around the World Race aboard Maiden, but for the rest of us, it was a first, and what an experience!
There were dozens and dozens of taxi vans parked in a cliff side parking lot and hundreds of visitors and locals, all thronging to the cliff side area where a historic fort from Nelson’s time has been pressed into service as a bar, and additional structures have been built housing open barbecue buffet line, plus a steel drum band area with the band in full swing and a separate stage area for later Reggae band.
The sunset was gorgeous, the steel band music deafening (I must be getting old!) and the barbecue was superb. Amanda and I shared a combo plate of fish, chicken, ribs, corn and salad as we all enjoyed sitting on the grass watching the lights of English Harbour below while listening to the music.
Monday morning, we got a taxi to drop us at S.R Olivia David Primary School in Bolan’s Village where we met Lisa Tomlinson, the local link worker and contact for Hands Across the Sea. Lisa introduced us to the school and library staff and explained that she coordinates the efforts of Hands Across the Sea in 44 different schools and 9,138 students on Antigua alone.
We took turns reading to kindergarten students and having fourth graders read to us. We are now more convinced than ever that literacy is crucial to helping the Caribbean island states move forward and applaud and will continue to support Hands Across the Sea’s important efforts.
For the first time, we asked our crew what the highlights of the expedition were for them, and here are their answers:
Steve: 80 hours of time on the helm and gaining steering skills
Erik: swimming in the middle of Atlantic!
Gil: conversing with Orion, the hunter during night watches
Philip: getting to fillet a mahi mahi and making seven new friends
Mike: sailing under the Southern Cross
Ronan: loved everything, especially the comradery and storytelling
For us, we’re now enjoying long dawn runs on one of the nicest white sandy beaches imaginable and refreshing swims in the pool every afternoon while undertaking boat chores.
We haven’t yet left Jolly Harbour, but we’re excited about renting a car and heading over to English Harbour to get our new Navionics chart SD card programmed (so it will work!). It’s also a chance to checking out all the new yacht support businesses plus ogle the super yachts preparing for the annual Antigua Charter Boat Show, several of which passed us on passage.
To: John and Amanda Neal and the crew on s/y "Mahina Tiare III"
From: Commanders' Weather Corp, tel 603-882-6789
Route: Lanzarote to Antigua
Mon morning, Nov 6 - I used 0900utc
1130utc Sunday, November 5, 2017
1) Weak low pressure will form along the western African coast near 25-27n Tue/Wed
a) this low will not organize into a tropical low. Its' main purpose is to just screw up the NE/ENE trade winds
b) the low will be near 26-27n/16-18w Wed morning, 26-28n/18-20w Thu morning and then move to the NW
c) if you are fast enough and depart early enough, you can stay ahead of/west of this low in some fairly strong NE/ENE winds. Essentially we sail along or N of Great Circle route until about 35-40w and then we start to work our way to the S and SW
d) unfortunately, you will get caught in the light winds regardless of the route you take
e) to add to this quandary, the US model has been forecasting this low to occur for the last 3 days and today it is not forecasting the low to occur. The European model on the other hand is still forecasting the low to occur and I am using that model output for the forecast below
2) Now for the routing - I hate to head away from the trade winds and then get caught in light winds and larger seas by heading W
a) I am not certain about the low, but I know there will be some trade winds near 15-20n, so I opted to route you to the S, towards some trade winds/any trade winds. If we left today instead of tomorrow, we would be sailing GC route and N of GC route, but since we are departing tomorrow, we will be heading for 22n/22 30w
3) Good NE trade winds for departure tomorrow morning and heading Porto Mogan
a) I have you reaching the Tenerrife Channel late Mon night - winds will be lighter NE along the shoreline, but not far offshore, winds will be much stronger and further left
b) the lefty and gusty winds will come into Porto Mogan during Tue afternoon
4) I have you departing at 1800utc Tue from Porto Mogan
a) winds will be NNE and quite strong coming out of the Tenerife Channel - I have you on starboard and 145 degrees off the wind. We will not be able to lay the waypoint, but we just do the best we can SAILING on starboard
5) As the low forms Tue/Wed and moves W, our winds will diminish and back
a) we will be headed and forced to sail more to the SW. As the actual wind speeds diminish, we can increase the apparent wind speed by sailing closer to the wind
b) finally Wed night and Thu, winds will be so light we will motoring, motor sailing direct for 22n/22 30w
6) The trade winds, when they reform, they will reform from east to west or actually east-southeast towards the west-northwest
7) Our winds will be very light on Fri, but Fri night/Sat, the NE trade winds will start to return
a) always more wind speed to the S over the weekend
b) once we reach the waypoint 22n/22 30w, I have us sailing direct for Antigua on starboard, but we could continue further S on port to get more wind speed, if you want
Wind directions are true, wind speed in kts, and time is UTC
Mon, Nov 6
0600: 010-040/12-22, lighter and left along the shoreline. Breeze increases and becomes NE not far offshore
0900: 020-050/16-22, on route to Porto Mogan
1200: 030-060/12-18, gusts 20-24
1800: 020-040/15-20, gusts 24
Partly cloudy, Small chance of a gusty shower or 2. N/NE seas up to 6-9 feet
Tue, Nov 7
00: 020-050/12-18, gusts 20-24
06: 010-050/12-22, winds lighter and further right along the western shoreline of Gran Canaria early Tue morning. Much stronger and more NNE not far offshore
12: 350-020/12-18, gusts 20-24, Porto Mogan
18: 330-010/14-20, gusts 22-28, departing Porto Mogan
Partly cloudy. N-NE seas mostly 4-7 feet, but higher down sea of the Tenerife Channel
Wed, Nov 8
00: 020-040/17-24, gusts 30, on starboard, sailing as deep as possible towards the WSW
12: 010-330/ 6-12, near 26 35n/17 45w and the weak low will be near 26-27n/26-18w
18: 320-350/ 7-14
Partly cloudy, maybe a shower, but most showers will be N of the low. NNE, N, and NW seas 3-6 feet
Thu, Nov 9
00: 320-360/10-5, motoring towards 22n/22 30w
06: 300-340/ 4-8
12: 330-270/ 4-7, estimating you near 25 20n/20w
18: 270-330/ 4-8
Partly cloudy to fair with NW-N seas of 3-5 feet, mainly very long period swell
Fri, Nov 10
12: 130-090/ 4-8, near 23 25n/21 40w
18: 070-030/ 6-10
Partly cloudy with small NW, N, and NE seas
Sat, Nov 11
00: 040-060/ 8-14
12: 050-070/10-16, just W of the waypoint and on starboard
Partly cloudy Sat and Sun with slowly increasing NE seas
Sun, Nov 12
12: 050-070/13-18, near 22n/26w
Best regards, Ken Campbell
Commanders' Weather Corporation
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