Tag Archives: Atlantic crossing

Atlantic crossing: the last dash

Day 12, 11h of November 2011

11-11-11 – symbol readers would point out that this day is special, ‘coz happens once in 100 years. Along with 10-10-10, 09-09-09 and so on. Hollywood’s been even faster: they have already released a movie “11-11-11”.

Despite its symbolic significance, the day is nasty. We go 8 knots. Final ETE (time left before arrival) – 83 hours. This number drops, when wind picks up and the boat accelerates, then GPS shows that we’ll reach land in 3 days. That’s impossible, of course.

But we have a slight hope to reach Recife at Monday’s night. And that’s more optimistic prognosis than before. In Recife we’ll have no troubles with arrival at night, Chris has been to this port before.

We need to go 230 but take the course 10 degrees to the right. Otherwise, waves are pushing the boat too hard. They still hit the board from time to time, throwing flyfishes on a deck. When big wave comes, the yacht digs in it with her starboard, scooping poor creatures like a spoon. I just picked up and threw back to the ocean a small family of them. But I’m afraid, too late…

In the morning a huge black cloud came from the east. When I crawled to the deck, it was pouring rain, and Chris in waterproof jacket was waitng for sky to clear in order to return to the course.
Now clouds are gone but ocean’s still anxious, and I hear terrible noise of waves, spliting by the hull and crushing behind the poop.

I recall my cruise in South Africa. We went to see Great White sharks in Gaans bay. The weather was fresh and waves high. Despite that wasn’t my first time in Atlantic, that was the moment, when I first seriously thought about crossing it one day…

We’re both a bit fed up with crossing. Despite our attempts to keep the boat tolerably clean, it grows dirty from day to day. While such a waving it’s impossible to give it more thorough care.
What really makes me mad is taking shower while waving! Even despite small size of a bathroom, each time I get plenty of bruises. After that I usually slip on a floor – and it doubles my madness.
I do not even complain about normal sleep and shower – I just dream about them.

Food problem doesn’t exist for me – I lost my appetite at the beginning of the crossing. Still sometimes it shows signs of life. Like this morning. I was trying to adjust the course, and my stomach started to complain. I hadn’t ate for 18 hours.
– Well, – decided I. – Before I eat weather goes to hell.
And made myself a sandwich with cheese and Nutella.

Again we had feathery passengers this night. This time they brought “a friend”. That last one had troubles with landing on a tent. His companions made it even more complicated, stretching their necks and trying to bite him. I heard their grumpy, creaky voices above my head. As if that were crows of the sea.

Day 13, 12th of November 2011

After choppy and cloudy previous day the sky cleared up at night. Recently full moon lit out way like a giant streetlight and didn’t give me a chance to admire starlight.

New moon goes down already after the sun wakes up. I has just turned the engine off – and my ears are filled with sounds much more pleasant: waves’ splashes, wind, murmuring in wind generator, and gentle slides of jars in a cupboard. Still – it’s almost silence after engine’s roll.

GPS keeps the same number of hours for the whole day – 38. That shows that our speed is not stable. We’re already not so “fast and furious” how we were a couple of days before.

Today we saw the first ship in last 10 days. It was “Krystal” from Panama, cargo ship. She passed very close to us. Soom there’ll be many of them – back to big human’s world.

I asked Crisa:
– How do you feel, coming home after 4 years journey all over the world?
– Very good, – just was the answer.
It’s hard to understand, when you’re not there yet.

My mind is chameleon, it adapts any situation I get into. There’s no alien in this world for me. Just more or less favourable.
I was always extremely curious about how other people live, what do they think about, what do they feel. And what would I – if I were them. If I were you.
That’s why couchsurfing – it’s not only about sharing and making friends. It’s like trying someone else’s skin. I hope I do not scare anyone: I’m eager to share mine if something : )

Being comfortable everywhere and with anyone makes me feel somethimes that there’s no special place for me…

Day 14, 13th of November 2011

I feel as if my memory has been erazed. I can’t recall even the last months of my life. I exist only here, in this moment, between ocean and sky.

Night was beautiful. Wind that had been growing in strenght for the previous day went to rest. We turned the engine on again, its whir accompanied charming night. The moon, still full and noble, borrowed its mysterious whine to ocean waters. Trembling and shimmering, they hid some unknown life underneath.

At day wind picked up again. Chris has unreefed the mainsail, and we go 6 knots.

Just a moment ago we passed an unknown object in water. These hardly defined things that due to ruthless fate found their way to the ocean make me anxious: I feel – they shouldn’t be here.
Well… should I?

Today I saw dolphins again. And even made a photo – frist one in 4 months of sailing. I was standing on the fore. They went in front of us: as if “Vagabond” was a truimph carriage and they were four strong chargers.

From time to time I inspect th deck and throw back to the ocean flyfishes that occasionally ended up here. I still hope I’m not too late to save someone’s little life.

GPS points 21 hour till arrival.

Day 15, 14th of November  2011

…12 hours before arrival.
The last day of the journey is the hardest one. It’s as if you have already stretched your arm but lack a couple inches to reach desirable aim.

The tricky part is that the finish line of one journey is always a start point of a new one.

…3 hours before arrival.
– Brazil! – said Crisa and fingered a thin strip of land on the horizon. From here we can already see high buildings on a coast.

Happy Captain : )

…30 minuted before arrival.
And hour ago I took a nap. When I was back to the deck I almost dived in halo of colour. Dark cloudy sky and turquose water of a shallow bay created an incredible ansamble.


…Arrival, around 14-00.
So here we are. After 15 days and 2000 miles behind we arrived to Recife, Brazil!

Ocean is like life: if you’re in, you’re not able to quit. And you keep going.

Atlantic crossing: pirates of Atlantic

Day 7, 6th of November 2011

I’ve been watching perfect creation.

Brazilians poetically call it “nascer do sol” – “birth of the sun”. It was a birth, solemn, gorgeous. Birth of a God.

The ocean is smooth. It’s not a “mirror”, as we expected downdrums to be, but like a huge piece of noble-grey leather, wrinkled with slightly noticeable tucks.

Oh, if I were a bird, I would love to fly here alone and listen to silence, not interrupted neither by sound of engine, nor scream of a wind generator.

Horizon is fringed by dark clouds – guards of night. The sun infuses them with dozens of goldens spears, and they step apart, not able to bear its power.

No king ever wore these colours in his royal robe. And never will.

Under the sun, surrounded by thunderclouds, – light puffs, creatures of heaven. If angels were born, it would happen this way.

In response to this eastern beauty, north-west covers itself with tender pink flock. Sky and ocean, painted in the same colour, are contrasted by clouds. Another birth takes place there – birth of a rainbow.


… Some moments – and it’s gone. Beauty can’t be caught or fixed in time. It lives in a moment, free flight of a feather in wind. And that’s so sad for us, human beings, who tend to imprison everything we love…

In my rest time I was watching a movie in the cabin. Crawled out to get some water. And heard Chrisa’s whisper from a cockpit:
– Look to the kitchen!

There sat a small bird. Chris told me that little guy was searching shelter from rain. Without ceremonies the bird landed near the entrance to the cabin.
Chris, who had breakfast, offered him a piece of his sandwich. Little one ignored the gift, and, after short inspection of Crisa, went downstairs.

So there I found him. While he was exploring the room, I was hecticly guessing what our unexpected guest perfers from breakfast.
– He has long thin beak. Should be insects.
Unfortunately, we ran out of them yesterday.
– Maybe – berries?

I created “an offer of the day”: dry plum, piece of watermelon and fig. I put all gifts on a plastic bag and placed it in front of him. The bird didn’t pay attention. “Ok, baby boy, I’ll feed you” – I stretched my finger, giving him a ride. It was accepted eagerly.

Perking on my finger, he ignored watermelon, was scared by plum (and I understand him! It looked like a big cockroach) and found fig interesting. He tried a sticky seed. After a short fight he got it. He ate some seeds, had some water from a plastic cup and continued exploration.

He liked to sit on my shoulder: so I pretended I was a pirate with him, pretending to be a pirot’s parrot. I just lacked a wooden leg and had too many eyes.

He flew to my computer and landed on a keyboard. Me and Crisa, sitting on a deck, wondered, why he’d been staring on a screen so long. I went downstairs and discovered that the bird had just fallen asleep on a warm keyboard.

Soon he left. And now I miss this little bird and want him back. An hour together with little one was enough for me to get used to him. I’m just endlessly lonely creature deep inside.
Not to feel sad I imagine how little one flies freely above the ocean. His feathers are dry, stomach is full and I hope he found some rest on the boat. He’s free and hurrying now to his date or whatever : )

Pride costs much but only warmth and trust touch hearts.

When I returned to the deck I saw dolphins. There were eleven of them. They swam in front of yacht, crossing our way from side to side. Breezing air out with loud sound and fountain of drops, they jumped out of water. I heard their voices, they talked to each other.

Or, maybe, to me – too?
Day 8, 7th of November 2011

Night is charming. I feel myself inside the painting that is combintaion of Aivazovsky and Kuindzhi. The moon has been maturing, and soon will be full. It wakes up here early, and till the moment, when the sun goes down, already climbs half of its way through the sky.

Dark clouds slowly stroll, separated, each with its own dignity. In tandem with the moon they created an effect of patrol, poured on the sky canvas, – rainbow nimb around a yellow ball.

Clouds of incredible shaped as if carry a message:
…could be: “Guess, are we blessing or doom?”
…or: “Do you still believe the key to happiness is here?”
…as a variant: “Looks like your lucky star is absent tonight…”
…or, maybe, just: “You still bet it’s going to rain?”

I don’t. I CAN answer the last question. I am watching “Angels and demons” on the deck. And that’s provement I don’t.

Soon after the sunrise the sun starts to burn. If not a wind from the south that we has have the last two days, it would be hot as in oven. The sun is so bright that I can’t stay outside without sunglasses. White paper is painfully hurting my eyes.

In daily life and even while sailing I try to avoid wearing sunglasses. For me eyes are a source of meanings not less important than speech. Talking with a person in sunglasses I get him only partly, missing nuisanes. But on the south it’s different: the sun is ruthlessly bright here, and use of dark glasses is a necessity.

GPS shows 43 hours till we turn. That will be near the equator. Then – other 6 days of sailing. And – oi, Brazil!

I still kinda enjoy. Sure I will cross other oceans in some hazy future. Except Arctic. I prefer to be burnt than frozen. Poetically speaking : )

Sure I want to sail around glaciers of Iceland and Canada. But I suppose several days there will be more than enough for me.

Crossing in couple is not that bad, even pleasant. I’m happy to meet good people in my life, even better than I expect them to be. Sincerely speaking, I has never met bad people. And here’s the question: is it a matter of an attitude or luck?

Our picture of the world is black and white. We call it – statistics. We know well how many assaults or murders took place in last time, how much cheating or ignorance is around, but who ever counted values or compassion or help of people? Many bastards around, we know numbers, but who has counted good people?

We has entered a cloud and got some wind. Course 195. Some rain drops are falling. Little one, hurry up back on board, we miss you here!
Day 9, 8th of November 2011

Toady is my sister’s birthday and I can’t even call her…

Happy birthday, dear Masha!

This night was turbulent. Wind picked up on the evening before. It came from the south but was cold. And unstable: it’d been frequently changing from 10 to 20 knots. Wind brought waves against us. “Vagabond”‘s fore was jumping on them as a basketball ball. Landing back to the wave’s spine, the hull made a terrible noise.

The sky was low and full of clouds. They looked ominous on a dark grey background. Every time the fume passed above us, wind got stronger. We both couldn’t sleep. Downdrums are left behind.

It became a bit better, when Chris changed the course. Before we went to the south along African coast. Now we made a turn in the point that lays more to the west from the first plan:

01°24,3665N, 021°23,2031W.

Now we go straight to Recife, Brazil.

Atlantic crossing: birds of prey

Day 4, 3d of November 2011

…Night shift seems fun!
It’s calm outside: wind is insignificant so we keep going with engine. We haven’t changed sails for two days.
Perfect time for enjoying movie session ; ) From a back cabin I brought to the deck a long wire that is connected to a yacht’s battery.  It’s dark so there’re no blinks on a screen of my computer.

I wrap myself in a blanket. It’s not a mean of survival anymore, but of comfort. Nights are amazingly warm here, so I can stay the watch in light summer clothes. We’re getting closer to equator!

I watch Japanese cartoons and started a serial about a dead girl, who helps souls to get to heaven. It’s called “Dead like me”. And it helps me to kill time.

So at night in the middle of the ocean I’m sitting on a deck, wrapped in AirBerlin blanket and watch a movie about dead people. Could sound ridiculous but it’s fun!

… It’s 6:00, and the sun is up. It takes it not more than an hour to climb ¼ of the sky.  It wakes up early, right at the beginning of my morning watch. And goes down with the end of my day watch – 18:30.

This night I unexpectedly felt asleep. Now I have a slight hope that my sleeping habits will adapt to new conditions. Humans, not alike other animals, can get used to any way of living. That makes human kind so widely spread. Rats, cockroaches can do it too.
And we have hope that dies the last : )

…It’s still calm – just 5 knots wind. Perfect for that limited list of activities that are available for me here: sleep, eat, watch movies, write, study, take a shower. You say, perfect being? That one you have always dreamt about?  You kidding me!

Day 5, 4th of November 2011

The moon is so bright that stars are barely seen. A huge dark cloud crawls on it: first it looks like a caterpillar, then – like an old crooked man, and the moon itself turns his only eye. I imagine that the cloud is a fume from a burning battleship, which crew needs help and looking for SOS signs.

The rest of the day made me the most amazing present I could dream about here. Excited?

Unfortunately, I guess, all of you will be disappointed with the further story. But for me it was a miracle.

This morning I was bored: with endless water, studying, movies on a small screen, reading, nuts and chocolate and even sleeping (my organism finally adapted to a new schedule, thanks gods!).

I switched on my dull sense of humour and tried to figure out some fun. Idea to jump from a board with a rope around the waist was rejected by Chris categorically. Boredom continued. I took a sunbath.

Around 3pm we noticed a dark curtain of clouds on the horizon in front of us.
Looks like it’s going to rain…
“All right, some fun” – was my first thought. Tho I left it without being said aloud. Chris as the owner of the yacht and experienced sailor wouldn’t share my excitement.

So I stopped watching my serial and started to look forward thoroughly, awaiting for thunderstorm – big waves, strong wind and rain.

We were entering dark area…

Reefed sail was flopping annoyingly without wind. In Russia we say “Quiet before storm” – I almost rubbed my hands like bad heroes in cartoons          ( – What a stupid girl, welcoming nasty weather! – everyone thinks now. I do not deny))

And here he came… No, not a storm : ) A big bird crossed the sky above me.

She tried to cling on a stay. Circle, attempt, another circle. It was a birg bird, much bigger than all those we saw before. It was definitely a bird of prey.

At that moment I felt myself an acient priest, receiving blessing from Gods. I was a priest, as natural wisedom and power is what I believe in.

The bird was a hawk. What did he do in the ocean? Watching him returning from another circle, I rushed downstairs. He noticed empty cockpit and landed on a railing.

It was light rain outside. In order to escape water, he moved under “doghouse”. He perked on a winch and from there inspected me, frozen downstairs in fear to scare him.
In this silent position 10 minutes passed. Then he slipped from a winch and moved on a railing again. For a while we continued to watch each other.

My uncareful movement made him leave. Another round above the water. I climbed to the deck. He wasn’t afraid and returned to the railing. I pretended I read book. The hawk stayed calm, silently swinging from side to side with a boat. I turned to look forward – he didn’t mind.

Now it’s night, and he’s sleeping on top of the mast. Not the most convenient place but the bird of prey wouldn’t risk his freedom for comfort. Unlike most of people – they sell their freedom for much less…

Even if the hawk is not a sign, as a Greek prophet would tell us, but just a tired traveller who had found some rest on our boat – doesn’t it make all this meaningful?

Day 6, 5th of November 2011

All the night “Vagabond” is followed by thunderstorm. Light bolts are so frequent that interrupt each other.  It’s coming…

When I start to distinguish twists and curves of the lightning, I reef genoa. And wait.

It doesn’t happen. The wind from the south comes and throws clouds backwards. They continue chasing the boat, but she slipped from their sparkling fury, thanks to the southern wind. Keep your paws away of “Vagabond”, thunderstorm!

My happy hawk was sleeping on the top of the mast. I saw his tail swinging above navigation lights. In the morining he left. I wish him safe flight.

Light southern wind that accompanied us at night, at dawn turned into the wind “to the face”. Massive raincloud has arrived from the south-east. Waves rise, sails tremble hysterically.
This wind makes us to go almost 30 degrees to the right. Boat’s fore hits wave that comes with clouds. After 3 days almost without wind that doesn’t make us happy.

– Damn, we’re in downdrums, what a f*k is that?  – I thought (sorry for my French).

I turned off the engine. For half an hour we made 5 knots with wind. I tried to find the most painless course against messy wave.

Go 190.

This day my desire for swimming was fully realised. And who cares that I was already completely out of mood of jumping to salt water?

Chris wakes up and asks if I hear that sound of the engine has changed. Well, I would lie if I say I notice that. But the reason is: we wrapped a seaplant on the propeller.

So we roll genoa, Chris turns the boat against wind and I jump under the hull. It takes me 5 minuted and 2 dives to clean the propeller and check all screws.

Thought of the day: beware your dreams – they can come true.

1000 and 1 …troubles

In Tarife we met Dominic – a sailor from Belgium, who adores Brazil. He couldn’t miss a boat with Brazilian flag – not a frequent quest in a small harbor of Tarife. Dominic works as a guide of whale and dolphin watching tours, taking excited tourists to the Atlantic for the adventure of their life. www.turmares.com

Arabic spirit infuses the whole town.

Dominic became our guide too – he showed us around numerous bars and pubs of old Tarife. Bar crawl started with calamari, continued with alco drinks, accompanied by crying of flamenco singers, finished on the boat with psychological discussion and smoking session. The evening was all right.

In four days the wind calmed down. But we were destined for Cadiz… The freezer died.

Actually, time in Tarife (and Gibraltar in the plan A) we devoted to preparations for Atlantic crossing. There was much stuff to fix, like pasting holes in a sail, checking the engine, cleaning winches, repairs of a deck table, fixing a loose rudder… And freezer. It theory, we could feel it with ice and buy more cans – some sailors do round-the-world trips without the freezer. But that was considered the last option.

As you understand, the master, who knew all about yacht freezers, lived in Cadiz…

…Autipilot wasn’t in list. It was another unpleazant surprise. But in Cadiz it decided to join the freezer. We were not glad of idea to steer 24 hours a day, 21 days consecutively.

Another unpleasant one was that there were no technicians in Cadiz. But we were still lucky: we found one in a small town in 3 miles from the city center – Santa Maria. Here, spent 15 minutes and 300 euros, we resurrected capricious electronics.  We are ready for departure.

The quay of our marina – artistic maritime Spain

Another news waited for us… On our way to Canaries we could be caught by 35 knots wind, the latest weather forecast indicated. We decided to stop somewhere between… in Rabat, the capital of Marocco, for example. What about Arabic fairy tale for night?

Our almost neighbors – the copy of the ship of the 16th century. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to meet the crew and kindly ask for a tour.

Cris on his site www.mundovagabond.com wrote a post about “gender” of a ship, a yacht. I can’t not agree: in amount of troubles SHE can be compared only to us, women : )