Bermuda to Azores

Bermuda Tuesday 28July15

It is Tuesday morning, and I am on a plane. Last Tuesday I puttered around the house. I’m back, I thought. I have returned from Europe and from the ocean. I have returned from my 500 mile race from Chicago. I can sit back and put my house back together and put my life back together. I can relax. And then, Greg read an e-mail. “Hey” he said, “I probably shouldn't mention this” he said… I felt the vortex suck me in. A 63 foot Shipman, never heard of that kind of boat, but the photo said it all. Stunning. All expenses paid. A free trip to Bermuda, and then on to Azores and Gibraltar and then into the Mediterranean and on to Palma de Mallorca, a Spanish island in the middle of the Med. It was like dangling sashimi in front of a hungry alley cat. 

Friday… “He says he wants you to come asap! do you think you can be ready to leave by Monday morning?” “Greg, I still have to go meet Mark and take our boat through the Welland canal on Saturday”. 

First views of Bermuda
Downtown St Georges

First view of Yanosha
Provisioning Yanosha
Storm coming in
Setting out in a light drizzle
Our course

Waiting for the Cruise Ship

Sky has cleared - gonna be a beautiful first night.

Goodbye St Georges Bermuda 

2am My First Watch

I have got to admit, I am nervous. Matt went over all the systems quickly when I arrived. So much information to swallow in one big chunk. Fake it until you make it. We have a jib up, but we are motor sailing. “Be careful if the middle number gets up past 150 too much,” Rowan says. “There would be a possibility of an accidental gybe”. I look at the middle number, apparent wind angle, yes, that could be problematic the closer it gets to 180… I will watch that. “Other than that, just follow the red line, it’s on auto helm”. 
I am alone. I am on the deck of a 63 foot yacht. I am responsible for four lives right now. I swallow hard, and push down the urge to run back to my bed and slam the door and hide under my pillow. I shine my flashlight on the gauges, fuel ok, temperature ok. Good. 
We are drifting off the red line. I correct course a couple of degrees. The sail luffs a little and the number jumps to 155. We are not going to be able to follow the red line exactly. I go back upwind a degree. The boat and I agree on 145. I wonder what to do if I have to go too far off the red line. What is too far off. When should I wake Matt. I wait and we don't go too far off. Eventually the wind angle changed and the number dropped to around 120, and I was able to correct course back onto the red line. I checked the gauges again. I checked the course again. I felt more confident now. I am worried about tomorrow night. I am worried about seasickness. It usually strikes me the second night out. 
I felt someone slap me on the back, not hard, but enough to get my attention. As I turned to see who it was, I felt a creature slithering around my ankles. “A rat!!: I thought, a big rat. I jumped and sidestepped my bare feet away, careful not to wake the others by shrieking. By now I was also starting to wonder what kind of ghost had slapped my back. I was alone on deck. I looked carefully into the darkness at my feet and saw the flying fish. He was about eight inches long, and quite thick, I had found my back slapper and the rat  my mind had imagined, all in one look. I tried to grab the fish to get him back in the water, but he slipped easily out of my hands. I trued again, with the sleeves of my sweater pulled down over my hands to give some grip. He slithered easily out of my grasp before I could lift him a centimetre. I tried a few time, but other than making my sweater sleeves smell like a starving alley cat’s wet dream, I had no success. I finally reached down and grabbed one of his frail little wings and threw him overboard by it. I hoped I hadn't broken the wing, but I guessed he was better off in the ocean with a broken wing, than glued to my deck in the morning. 

My shift ended and Travis came up. I smiled at him, so glad to see him, so glad that I survived my first shift without incident. I filled in my log, and only had to ask him where to find one number. I smiled to myself and felt my confidence grow again. Maybe, just maybe, I do know what I am doing.

Great first sunset

Matt - our English Skipper

Travis - our Aussie

Rowan - our Kiwi

Thursday 30JULY15

And still no seasickness. It is almost midnight, and I am typing this in my incredibly hot and humid cabin. I cooked supper tonight, and Matt tasted it and said I could stay:) And still no seasickness. So far these are a great group of guys. Matt, the captain, is a Brit, Travis is an Aussie, Rowan is a Kiwi and I of course am a Canuck. We seem to all get along great, or at least they are all really good at pretending to put up with me. There has been no wind, it has been incredibly hot and sticky, but everyone is in a good mood and cheerful. Maybe all Atlantic skippers aren’t crazy assholes, After the last three, I was really wondering if it was me, if I was the crazy loser that everyone in the world couldn't stand to be around. These guys make me feel good about myself. They make me feel like I as interesting and intelligent as I find them,  For the first time on an Atlantic adventure, I am really enjoying myself. Now if only we could find some wind. 

First catch - a Dorado

Dorado Sashimi/Ceviche

Friday 31JULY15

And still no wind. None of us will have any desire to visit a sauna for a very long time. But our spirits are good and everyone is cheerful as they wipe the sweat off. I have set up my scarf to scoop the wind and try to send some of the apparent breeze down into my cabin. It seems to have at least some psychological effect.

Travis caught a fish today!. A dorado or dolphinfish or mahimahi. So many names for the same fish apparently. It was not a large one, but it will be tasty as sashimi, and then later lightly sautéed for supper. 

And still, no seasickness or crazy captain!! 


The moon rise

The full moon was so bright

This little friend jumped on the deck at my feet!

Saturday 01AUGUST2015

Matt asked if any of us would like to give swinging a try… Hey, why not I said. 

The mast was already out to starboard to act as a makeshift whisker pole for the jib. He strung up some extra halyards and out we went, swinging on the boom, splashing our hot sweating bodies in the cool ocean water. We each had a blast at it. Matt said he 
couldn't because he was on duty, but Travis, Rowan and I had long, fantastic tries at it! We definitely need to try this on our boat!

Matt out on the boom

Sunday 02AUGUST2015

Today the world crashed in around me. No, nothing happened. I have a toothache, I have had it for a few days now, so maybe the pain brought me down into a bit of a depressive state. I don’t know. But all the problems at home suddenly sprung forth, and my salty tears flowed over my salt water washed, salty sweat stained cheeks. Some days, I just don’t know where to turn.

Our message in a bottle

Monday 03AUGUST2015

I started a course of antibiotics yesterday since the pain in my jaw was worsening and I was having trouble thinking and acting and balancing. It was beginning to move to my ear. It took about 18 hours, but I am starting to feel better. Travis had some pain killers that helped me, and I am starting to feel more rational and coherent now. 

Travis caught another fish today. We think it is a leerfish or something like that. Aysa or something. In German it is a something Mackeral… Anyway, it is fairly small, but hopefully will be tasty. 

Travis with his catch!

Wednesday 05AUGUST2015

The past couple of days has been a blur. The pain in my jaw and especially one lower molar, has been pretty much unbearable. We have about six days left. I am looking at the pliers in the tool kit, and considering the possibilities. I am taking codine/paracetemol and ibuprofen for the pain. I alternate back and forth. It is 7pm and I can sit up and write this. I am existing on powdered cup soups with some quinoa/bulgar wheat added. I have been laying in my cabin with an ice pack, sometimes feeling almost ok and sometimes staring wild eyed at the wall sobbing with pain. I have e-mailed Greg and he contacted the dentist and she says we are on the right track with antibiotics and pain killers. I will need to see a dentist as soon as we get to Azores. My dentists says it sounds like I may need an emergency root canal. So here I sit, waiting for the pain to increase to unbearable again.

We had our half way across the Atlantic party today, and threw a bottle into the ocean with a message inside to contact us if someone finds it. Matthew does this whenever he is in the middle of the ocean. I thought about doing it on my last trip, but didn’t. Now I wish I had:) 

Everyone (except me) is having a couple of drinks to celebrate the half way point. That’s the cool thing about AIS - I mean, if the coast guard was going to show up and catch you drinking, you could see them on the AIS three hours before they got here! Lots of time to sober up!

Thursday 06AUGUST2015

The rain in spain 
Falls mainly on the plain

The tears of Elaine
Fall mainly from the pain 

Toothache Haiku
Pain shed tears
Big waves form an endless sea
Wimper sob

Insanity creeps in around the edges of my mind
Darkness surrounds me and holds me
I can feel pain and nausea.

I focus on the images of home
These are what keep me going
I see those, that I love more than earth.

600 miles then 400 miles to go
A distance that seems an eternity
An ocean that never ends

I add my salt tears to the salt water
Of the ocean that surrounds me
And keeps me in my misery.

There is no end to the ocean
There is no end to the pain
Just hold on to the visions of 
A happier future.

Curled up with an ice pack

My loving thoughtful crew made me a penicillin sandwich. 

Friday 07AUGUST2015

So far my crew mates have seen sea turtles, lots of dolphins, a pilot whale, incredible phospho-luminescence and a giant shark. We decided that maybe we shouldn't hang ourselves off the boom and slash across the surface of the water like the lures off the fishing lines at the back of the boat after seeing the enormous shark.

Azores Sunday 09AUGUST2015

We are finally approaching the Azores. Except for the blinding pain, I have had a really great time. I am consisting on a diet of pain bread, soup, water, canned fruit and custard. Now I get to do something so un-touristy in a foreign country. I get to visit a dentist!


Steve Burgess said…
Sailing is a lot of fun and the sunsets onboard a yacht are unreal. You really have to know what you are doing though. Then again, you can always go on a cruise with a full crew. You guys look like you had a lot of fun on your travels. I might just have to make that trip myself!

Steve Burgess @ Atlanta Yacht Sales