Found a boat, off to the Caribbean, au revoir : )

Trip Start Nov 04, 2009
Trip End Jan 05, 2015

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Where I stayed
Pensao Chave DŽOuro

Flag of Cape Verde  , Sao Vicente,
Monday, December 7, 2009

Tried to get a plane ticket to fly out on friday last week, but couldn't as the travel agency didn't accept cards (3rd millennium wonders :  ) so the prospect was to wait for the next flight out to Brasil in a week time, sunday the 13th of dec.....
But.....there is always a but....the best things happen when you least expect it, no?
On saturday night I found a boat! A canadian 15 meters monohull going to St Martin (east of Puerto Rico) and so....tonight we set sail and we are off to the Atlantic crossing!!!!

Canadian captain, french girl, spanish guy and me. 

We plan to get there in a couple of weeks, so that should be right b4 xmas, if the winds are good.
If that is the case I ll be flying to Buenos Aires as soon as possible (it depends on whether there is outbound flights around xmas time from Saint Martin).

Ideally I ll be able to get to Buenos Aires and/or Punta del Este for my birthday.

In the meantime i ll enjoy the stars...

And so I did. It took two weeks to cross the Atlantic.
It is very hard to say what was best, whether the adventure itself or the company. Clearly not having the right company would have spoiled such an amazing experience. So it has to be it, the company first, then the settings second. The wind, the waves, the sails. But once again, it is such a unique situation that the stars at night seem to be the best of it. The only thing you see out at sea at night is the sky full of stars almost spilling over into the sea. And then you have the noises of the boat and the sea. They are unique. 
I shared a cabin with Gitan, the spanish guy. From day one it was decided we would not share the bed as we did not know each other so it would have been awkward. So we decided to sleep in the dinette in turns. One night I would get the bed, one night the sofa in the lounge (dinette).
Especially in the dinette the noises were more clear. The noise of the waves, of the water against the boat entering the waves, of the lines tensing, of the wind against the sails, of the wood creaking, of the food provisions rolling and banging against wood in the hatches and ultimately of the mast which runs vertically through the various layers of the boat.
It was an orchestra playing. It was annoying because the noises were loud so it would make it difficult to sleep but it was amazing because it meant you were feeling everything.
At times you would hear the pressure of the wind on the sails reported on the mast so strongly that it sounded like the mast itself would snap. It would have been impossible for that to happen but when you are down there every noise is accentuated so much that you can't help thinking "shit", or "fuck" what was that!!
Then you calm down, you think that the captain has 40 years sailing experience and he is very calm, so any situation he will handle with confidence. And that makes you relax again and go back to sleep.

The most important thing out at sea is for you to be in safe hands. The wind is no joke.
Sometimes we would put out the spi (spinnaker). This is a very light and technical sail that you use between 10 and 27 nots of wind when the main sails are too heavy for a feeble wind. 
The spi is so light that the lightest blow of wind fills it up and drags the boat. Ah, yes, the spi "drags" the boat as it stads at the front of it, not by the middle of the boat. So it is an ideal sail. Only problem: rashes of wind. Some of them are very strong but especially very sudden. So when a rash blows in to the spi, the light sail gets "over excited" and acts like a stallion, you can't control it or if you can you have to be very quick and know where and how to react.
In these instances the boat rolls to one side by 85 degrees, so you risk capsizing. 
Once again, the cool and experienced captain would say, just release that line....and we would be fine. I have to say, the adrenaline goes up to the sky....a 15 meters boat being suddenly pulled around by a sail, the bow of the boat going in the direction the wind wants (which is not the one you want),  means you finally feel the strenght of the wind. That's when you know the wind is not a joke. It can kill or hurt seriously if you don't know how to react quickly in these situations. Same as when you take the spi down. 
Recently they have invented a system whereby you pull down a "condom" like cover that makes the process of bringing the sail down by much easier and safer. 
As you pull it down it makes the sail narrower and so the wind can't bring any surprise, like suddenly inflate the sail again and pull the sailors up in the air by meters.
If you don't have the new system though, pulling down the spi means pulling down the spi by hand. 
2 or 3 sailors need to quickly pull the sail (around a 150 square meters of sail surface) in, while someone handles the helm and someone else releases the line.
Definately not a walk in the park.

Ps: please check out the song " A walk in the park" by Nick Straker Band (1979) as a soundtrack of this entry :  )




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