Preparing for the Atlantic Crossing

 

January 4th: we departed Santa Cruz at 7:00am for Port Mogan on the bottom of Gran Canaria Island. We departed first and Starlet followed us out. Mark had a close call as the gear shift broke in the fly bridge as he was in forward to come out of the berth. He had to make a run for the station in the pilothouse and throw it into reverse and use the

It was uneventful passage and we arrived at Port Mogan just after 3pm. We were greeted just outside by Laust in his very flash duck which has AIS! Unfortunately the marina could not fit us in so we had to anchor just outside the marina. This was a very busy traffic area with tourist boats, submarines, dinghies with waterslides and Jet Ski’s whizzing by creating quite a choppy rolly anchorage.

As soon as were anchored Robbie got his diving equipment on and with the hooker (this is not what you think! It’s a long air hose connected to the dive tank so he can clean the bottom of the boat without wearing a dive tank on his back) he spent about an hour cleaning the very bottom of the boat and all the running gear – shaft, propellers, keel coolers, underwater lights and checking all the anodes. (Zinc sacrificial anodes which stop electrolysis attacking the other metals)



Laust invited us for drinks on his beautiful 76’ Nordhavn L’Adagio. We took our duck off and picked up Mark and Jennifer and went into see Laust. Wow – what a gorgeous boat. It is absolutely huge, with stunning décor and so much room. The grandeur and feeling of luxury boat overwhelms you. We had a very enjoyable tour, the engine room is outstanding with twin MTU’s 400+ hp each.




We then headed to one of the many restaurants around the marina for dinner. I had a whole sole and the boys had ribs, Jennifer had Fajitas. Jennifer had a gorgeous looking Margarita also.

January 5th: Robbie went under the boat again to finish cleaning the hull around the waterline, without the hooker this time. I was concentrating on cleaning the inside of the boat getting ready for Peter and Heidi. I was checking on Robbie frequently and then I heard him throwing up. He got really quite sick, and we think it was a combination of the roliness of the anchorage, and lots of swell and chop from the boats whizzing by and he ingested some salt water. I have never seen him so pale!


Around lunchtime we got the go ahead to enter the marina. We had to wait for the yellow submarine to exit the entry before we could enter. It’s quite strange watching it slowly submerge until you can’t see it anymore.


Puerto De Mogan (Port Mogan) is a very quaint harbour with the marina surrounded by cafes and restaurants. There is a very nice small beach just on the other side of the marina. It is a very popular holiday spot as it is very protected, surrounded by high cliffs, where the buses have to beep their horns before they go round the corner, and the temperature is around 24 degrees all year round.

January 6th: Final clean and sort out before we pick up Peter and Heidi today at 3pm. We also needed to do our final provision for the crossing. It is a public holiday today here, Three Kings day a religious holiday. We checked online and it said Carrefour supermarket would be open but with different hours for the holiday. So we headed off just after 11 for the 40 minute drive. Of course we arrived and it was closed. We headed back and took a detour into the township of Mogan which is about 20 klm’s up the valley. Everything was shut except for one fruit barn so we managed to get some fruit and vegetables but the choice was limited.

We went and picked up Peter and Heidi from the airport, it’s a 45 minute drive. We took a wrong turn and ended up in the departures area so by the time we drove around again and took the right turn, I ran into the terminal and Peter and Heidi were there. It was very good to see our travelling partners again, it’s been 8 weeks since we farewelled them in Agua Dulce.

We got back to the boat and Heidi unpacked, then Laust, Mark and Jennifer came and had a drink on Southern Star. The girls went for a short walk to check out the beach and we did a bit of shopping. I brought some shorts and a blouse. I have struggled the last few months to buy some shorts as all the shops in Spain were only selling winter clothes.

Peter’s first job was to install his Yellow Brick GPS Tracker. A GPS device that sends our position every 4 hours via satellite through Peter’s website. You can follow our progress across the Atlantic by:

The device will send every four hours our position, speed and course to our website and our account at the yellow brick web site. The direct link to that is:

 

https://my.yb.tl/stormvogel/

 

In the headline of this page, just right of “SY STORMVOGEL” there is a selection box to select a specific event. There will be a new event called “SOUTHERN STAR ATLANTIC 2016” which will be the default value for the next few weeks

The website displays our way as a route inside GOOGLE MAPS. By a left mouse click on one of the position marks a small pop-up window appears with all the details for that point. So time, position, course, speed and so on.

 

We all went out for dinner with Laust to a Chinese restaurant and took a set menu option which turned out to be a very good decision. The food was very good and the perfect amount. They even gave us a calendar each.

January 7th: Mark took Tori to the vet to get a new chip in her neck so they can enter Barbados. Once he returned with the car Robbie took Heidi and I back to Carrefour to do the provisioning. We had a tight time line as Mark and Jennifer had to go and pick up Mike, their crew who was flying in from the USA. Heidi took one trolley and did the fresh produce, I took a trolley and did the 42 bottles of sparkling water, long-life milk and Robbie went on various missions to find miscellaneous goods such as white vinegar, cheese sauce mixes, bread etc. We successfully finished in about 40 minutes and were on our way back again.

Heidi and I cooked, Pumpkin soup which also had leeks, carrots, and sweet potato, Heidi’s speciality meat balls and we cooked a big fillet of beef for dinner but also to have cold meat for the first few days of passage.

We had a skippers meeting on Southern Star, with Mark and Jennifer and we got to meet Mike. We rang Stokey our weather router in England just after 7pm. There was a large low developed in the Atlantic which means it is not a good option for us to depart tomorrow. We would be facing 40+ knot winds and 6 to 7 metre waves. Peter and Robbie had already checked the weather and decided that we could head south down to Cape Verde Islands an 830 nautical mile trip. There we can wait out the weather and then it’s only a 2100 nautical mile trip to Barbados.

Mark had recalked (Mark is the king of calk!) Starlet’s kitchen sink and the silicone had not set so he had to spend time doing it again and had not had time to change his engine oil. He needed time to do this in the morning before we depart so we agreed to aim for 12 midday.

We were all pretty tired and it was a “white day” (no alcohol) so we all had a pretty early night. We are ready to begin our journey!

January 8th: We cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast as it will most likely be easy breakfasts on the passage as it will be rough. Heidi and I went for a walk to buy fresh bread and discovered they had markets on today. It was mainly handbags, jewellery, clothes etc. and not really fresh food. I managed to find Heidi an early birthday present and Jennifer a coral bracelet with silver charms in her favourite colour.

We got back to the boat and it was time to depart and head to the fuel wharf. Laust very kindly offered to film the two Nordhavns departing with his drone. We departed first and tied up at the fuel wharf. I jumped off to get ready to pay and check the diesel bowser and as I was climbing off the side my thong dropped in the water. Luckily there was a fuel attendant right there and he fished it out for me with a net. We only took 249 litres, $185 euro our cheapest fuel bill ever! Wish they were all that small!





Starlet was parked right behind us to also fill up. There was only 1 diesel pump so they filled up after us. We had to move as a local fishing boat wanted to get petrol. He also wanted to know if we would swap boats with him! So we departed the fuel wharf and sat at the entrance for around half an hour and Laust had the drone filming us. The yellow submarine was also in action again. It was very calm conditions and very pleasant just sitting enjoying the warm sunshine.







 Starlet appeared and Laust filmed both boats until he ran out of battery on the drone. He was very adept with it and the drone landed like a trained bird in his hand. We then farewelled Laust and set off for Cape Verde. We had only 1.4 knots of wind, virtually nothing. Conditions were perfect.

We discussed the watch system and it was agreed Robbie does 9 – 12, Peter does 12 -3, I do 3 -6 and Heidi does 6-9. (Am and pm) The person going off watch has to make the new O.O.W. (officer of the watch) a tea or a coffee to ease them into their shift! This will be different for us as we are not used to having a regimented schedule so it will be interesting. We have also never had crew before – only guests!

We had some of the pumpkin soup for lunch with the fresh bread rolls and it was very good. The afternoon was very pleasant we spent some time up on the fly bridge just relaxing.

Robbie Bar-B-q’d some fillet steak for dinner and I made our vegetable bake in cheese sauce. All watches went well, Heidi came up one early (5am) as her watch was set wrong but we sat and had a cup of tea and just as I was about to go down to sleep a ship appeared on the AIS, “Tiger Guan Gdong” and sure enough the CPA (closest point of approach) was .2 of a mile to us, too close. So we monitored it for a while and it did not appear that the ship was going to change course, so I radioed him. He did not answer the first call but I called again and then answered, with very good English. I stated that we were going to pass very close and what was his intention? He stated that he would change course to Port and we would cross Starboard, to Starboard. I also changed course slightly to Port to give us more room. Heidi was comfortable with that so I headed down to bed and slept really well.

January 9th: I never woke up until 10:30am. Again it is a perfect day, blue sunny skies, warm and flat seas. Robbie had my breakfast ready for me in the fridge, Papaya, Kiwi fruit, strawberries, banana, yogurt and muesli. It was very nice. The others had all theirs earlier. I guess I missed the team talk! We had a great day, sitting in the sun on the bow, reading on the fly bridge and generally very relaxing. We had a simple dinner of Sausages with new potatoes and salad.

The watches were very uneventful and most of us are reading, Peter is on his computer sorting 3,700 photos from the Med.

January 10th: Another uneventful night, Heidi and I had a good change over and off to bed I went. I woke at 8:30am today to a 2 metre swell, so it’s a bit rougher and about 11 knots of wind so more than yesterday but still not so bad.

Breakfast today was Kristie’s speciality – Avocado on toast, topped with sliced tomato, then crispy bacon with a poached egg on top. Very nice although a bit roly during the preparation but not so bad!

The wind has stayed a constant 10.5 to 11 knots all day. We have all had a good day reading, sorting photo’s, writing blogs, or sleeping! So we can post a blog through the satellite phone but it’s too expensive to send the photos so they will come when we get internet again.

Just as we were cleaning up after dinner one of the rods went off. Robbie was in the engine room so Peter Heidi and I ran for the rods. It was the back rod that a hook up but as Robbie arrived it dropped off. We put all three rods back in and about 1 minute later one of the side rods went off. This time with success, we landed a nice yellow fin Tuna,

We expect to arrive in Mindelo, Cape Verde late on the 13th Jan.

 

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