Tag Archives: crossing

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.

Diary of the crossing Canaries – Cape Verde

Crossing from Canaries islands to Cape Verde will take us 6 days. But the hardest time is not  days. We count nights, and there’re seven of them in front of us.

Night one

Cinderella’s fairy tale is over. It was left in Mediterranean sea, where dolphins escort yachts, nights are full of shooting stars and water is turquoise and warm. We’re in Atlantic ocean that is far less kind and nice.
There’re just two of us now, Cristiano and me. That means – shifts 4/4 hours. How to explain to the organism that now it is awaken for four long hours, after which it needs to fall asleep fast, not to waste a minute from only four hours of sleep that follow. And then to stay awaken again – no matter if it is day or night.
The first day of crossing prepared an unpleasant surprise for me. There was nothing unusual about weather but I started to feel sea-sick. Not a frequent state of health for me. In precious three months of sailing the only time I felt bad was at ‘afterparty’ day. But at this case I needn’t go to the sea to feel terrible.
Breakfast was abandoned. Luckily that wasn’t my watch so I went to struggle with my own treacherous nature to bed. My shifts are from 10pm to 2am, from 6am to 10am and from 2pm to 6pm. By the way, the system of 4/4/4 was first applied by James Cook. In case you didn’t know : )
During the first six hours we went to the south along Gran Canaria. Island’s massive is not a shelter for us, but opposite – Chris was expecting strong wind near the middle of the eastern coast of Gran Canaria.
Soon we turned. The next 7 nights our course – 220, plus-minus.
Weather is dull and and moderately windy – about 10 knots.
The first night is cold and humid. Chilly wind infused my thin summer clothes (Paris and hitch-hiking trip made me leave at home some wind-proof and warm things). And humidity – it’s everywhere on board, while in sea. In air, carpets, on the table and in socks, and in bed too. You breath it, walk in it, sleep in it. Only in sea I really feel that 90 percent of me is water.
I stuffed a deckbag with things, necessary for average Russian amateur sailor, crossing the Atlantic.

Survival pack “a la Russe”:

500 grams of nuts, bar of milk chocolate;

phrase book on Brazilian Portuguese, textbook on Spanish, collection of travel stories of Paul Therraux;

i-Pod with French and Portuguese study audiocourses;

headlight (for reading and looking forward); blanket, “loaned” from AirBerlin the last year in trip to Southern Africa.

Night Two

After Crisa’s shift from 2am to 6 am we have tea and cake on a deck. I ask him when, in his opinion, organizm is able to adapt new schedule. He answer that to him it usually happens on the 3d day. All right, it’s coming, can’t wait for this moment.
The second night is surprisingly warm! Despite the fact wind is from the north-east. Its gasps, varying in direction and strength, keep me awaiting for the moment, when the genoa (headsail as we call it among the Brazilian-Russian crew) will ‘turn flip-flop’ (self-made sailing English term).

The sky is covered with thick layer of grey clouds. The sun and the moon are lucky to get from behind just for few hours. Well, Canaries while our stay were not sunny too: we haven’t seen the sun for several days. Autumn has come to the northern Atlantic. I try to imagine what’s now in Saint-Petersburg…

Night Three

Night shift is a hard time: to stay awaken for 4 hours, but even harder to wake up. This night is not an exception. I almost hadn’t slept between the last two shifts. Despite tireness, mood is still all right.

We go 227, wind is not that strong on my shift from 10pm to 2am. I’m listening to Portuguese audiocourse. “Eu intendo Portiguese, e eu falo Portuguese”. Today I made four lessons, 30 minuted each. And French – I have started French course. I dearly miss Paris and my friends there…

At morning shift 6am-10am I tack and set genoa. Now we go more to the left – 217. I started to count time till arrival:  +4 nights are in front of us.

Night Four

It’s one color overboard. The sky and ocean look one piece – enomous black curtain. No horizon, no “in front” and “behind”. No moon and stars – only sparkles of plankton mysteriously shine for a brief moment in a wave, split by “Vagabond”.
It’s warm, almost pleasantly warm. Particularly, because there’s no wind. We go with a main sail – 207. GPS says it’s 70 hours till Cape Verde…
I feel random drops on my skin. Scarce tears of Atlantic.
I’m tired. Almost didn’t sleep the whole day. I’m weird creature: my body waits till the moment it is exhausted, then – happy two hours of oblivion, that follows refusal to take a nap again. Kind of self-torture.

For day the forecast promised strong wind, so we decided to try only genoa that is easier and faster to operate. We didn’t loose in speed, but the boat started to swing horribly, making my damn sleep impossible. I felt myself inside the Russian doll “nevalyashka”: you push her, and she always wakes up – making a dozen of right-left nods before. In 2 hours I crawled to the deck and asked Cris to set the mainsail back. Quick exercise in underwear – at least one hour of sleep.

Night Five

This day was hot, even sunny. Finally, it’s possible to stay a shift in minuskirt and top. Warm clothes go under my back. I slept a bit on both sets of my rest hours – from 2am to 6 am and before the lunch. It’s amazing! Only here really understand importance of sleep.

I do not feel perfect still but uncomparebly better if to remember the last night.
Chris cooks delicious lunches – my only normal meal a day. I suppose if he wouldn’t feed me, I would die from starvation. Generally, I don’t have appetite. That’s strange, because usually waving makes me extremely hungry, and food I consume is counted in kilos then. Looks like my tireness is bigger than my appetite.

Diet “Sailing a la russe”:

nuts, oranges, random fresh vegetables and water with lemon juice.

Now there’s  no wind at all, and sails are making “flip-flop”. Ocean is calm, and we go with the engine. Stars are dim. very few are able to struggle their light through thick clouds.
I touch the water with a torch. It literally starts to shine – this is plankton gratefully responsing on a beam of light.
While sailing at night, I recall my past. First time in 10 years without fear I’m back to my Golden age – my childhood. I couldn’t accept for many years that it’s over, my little fairy tale. So one day 10 years ago pushed all my remembrances to the dark cellar and screwed the door. Now they are free again. I remember everything so well as if it was yesterday. It’s cut in my memory and stay there forever unchanging. Every house, every tree and hole in fences – unique map of the amazing world, one-of-a kind story.
GPS shows 60 hours before arrival.

Night Six

Still little wind. GPS supposes we arrive at night from Saturday to Sunday. Damn, that means we need to slow down. We don’t want to enter the unknown harbour before the sunrise.
I dream about marina shower : ) And sleep of course. The last three attempts to fall asleep (3 times for four hours) were rather unsuccessful.
This sleep problem makes me talk to Crisa about searching the third crew member. Who’s in Cape Verde for the next week and ready for Atlantic-Brazilian adventure? Drop me a message : )
At night I rewatched “Truman show”. We’re all in someone’s show. Why not to try to open your eyes and imagination and start writing script by ourselves sometimes? Even if on the first glance someone else’s look more convenient and safe. Big world is worth exploring.
I see a lonely creature – fly fish. I hear  splash and point her with a torch. For the last days we haven’t met a soul. This is it, so-called “solitude together”.

Night Seven

This is really thrilling: no wind, no moon. Darkness. Splashes behind. There’re still some waves – its gousts appear randomly from nowhere. From time to time I see a glare of plankton as if there’s thunderstorm under the water – brief sparkle that dissapears in the darkness sooner than I’m able to praise its beauty in my mind.
Lonely light far away on starboard. And quiet, ominously quiet.
I’m waiting. In  Russia we have an expression: “Quiet before storm”. Law of contrasts that keeps the life running.
We make 2-3 knots (5 km/h) – speed of a walking man. Sails flop restfully. But I don’t want to ruin this sinister atmosphere with rude sound of engine. I’m waiting…

In 2 hours some wind has come. Skies have been cleared, and stars are seen now. One – extremely bright one – spotlights from the height as if someone examines me with a torch.  I send him a wink.
I’m charmed by the beauty of the small canstellation, which stars crowded close together. It’s right above me.

There’s no Big bear seen behind the clouds near the horizon. And Orion is not here yet, it shows up closer to the morning. My father used to tell me about stars, when I was a child.
I see a shooting star – magnificent present from Atlantic ocean. It crosses 1/4 of the sky in its last bright and free flight. Thank you, I have something to wish!

Far -far away I see the glare above the horizon.

This is land. This is Cape Verde.

Morning Eight

We go between Ihla de San Antao and Ihla de Sao Vincente. Silhoettes of the mountains wake up tired imagination. Their volcanic nature is apparent: that unique mixture of poor and splendid that charmes me so much. Waves crushes on solid black rocks that are separated by beaches of yellow sand.
We enter the harbor of Mindelo, where the only marina of Cape Verde is situated. We pass the port. Its rusty boats and dirty cranes do not look dull but picturesque, backed by beautiful scenery of mountains.
We have arrived to Cape Verde – Islands of Green Cape.