The world of blue engulfed us.
Like good subjects, we acquiesced ourselves to her rule; her wind, her waves, her life.
I’ve spent so much time at sea this year, it’s like home – being out on the water!
Three French Amel ketches set their sails, leaving the picturesque friendly lands of Bermuda in their wake.
Tuesday 22 May; and first Antinea, then Maskali, and finally Turia [after immigration and a mammoth duty-free refeuling session] began our Transat.
After sailing a FRENCH named catamaran (Papillon) to FRENCH Guiana and the FRENCH islands of Martinique and Haiti. And then hopping from one FRENCH boat (Grande Ourse), to another (Turia); I finally succumbed.
The whole world seems to be turning FRENCH.
It was probably time for me to start learning FRENCH.
I’m rather glad that my skipper, Guy, picked up English a lot faster than I learned the latter for otherwise it would have been a rather silent trip!
Although it was not without its misunderstandings: normally hilarious, sometimes near-fatal.
Et je voudrais continuer à apprendre la langue parce qu’elle est belle [quand elle est parlée par d’autres au moins] et que le monde entier est français et il est bon de savoir ce que disent les créatures fous que je m’entoure.
By day two we’d settled into the gentle sway when we noticed a small problem with huge ramifications –
our genoa’s roller furler had completely severed its aluminium sheath and had ripped into the sail.
After much debate, Guy hammered a steel butter knife into the aluminium and we padded it with old clothing before manually rolling it tightly shut.
[It’s the first time I’ve fixed a problem without duct tape, WD40 and cable ties.]
We were reduced to half a foresail.
On day three, we found the doldrums.
We also found a new problem – the fancy ventilation system on our high-tech vessel would not start, making the engine obsolete.
We tried to jump the batteries, we checked the circuits.
Guy ripped the boat apart trying to find a solution.
But I found a better resolution:
I abandoned my usual tools once more and this time I fixed the problem with prayer and positivity.
We motored for a few days, relishing the hum of motor, but basking in the beauty of the glass waters as we drifted further and further away from land, into the depths of the Atlantic.
When we did find the wind we found lots of it.
We also found ourselves dancing on the deck, constantly altering and setting new sails.
42 knots. Then 16. And then back to zero.
Westerleys, Northerlys, Southerlys… we had it all.
On Day 9 we bid au revoir to our French counterparts and they veered slightly North, to France, while we continued due East.
Alone once more in the abysmal vortex.
I tried my hand at fishing, but the ocean had her usual tricks awaiting my lure.
And life was a little too exhausting to appreciate them.
So, I stowed the line and we continued to feast on the over-abundance of legumes and other produce the Bermudians had gifted us.
We read, we wrote,
Being mesmerised is a full time job!
Still I counted down the miles till land, to English conversation, and walks, and hugs!
But the wind was good, and Guy wanted to get home.
We sailed straight past The Azores.
(Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll go back some day.)
Day 15, and in a moment of restlessness, I threw my lure back into the ocean depths.
This time she threw me a tuna.
We took on our token hitch hiker on day 16.
He was nice enough to decorate our decks in gratitude.
On Day 17 Guy awoke me long before my watch.
I crawled out of my luxury chamber to hear our name on the VHF.
Sailing Yacht Brain Storm wanted to say hi.
I congested the airwaves for the better part of an hour enjoying conversation with the outside world.
The day got even better with a whale visitation.
And then, for the first time in my life I managed to get a Frenchman to make me French toast,
Except they call it “Pain Perdu.”
Day 19 bought a morning bow of dolphins.
And then Portugal. And Spain. And the straights of Gibraltar.
The traffic increased until our AIS malfunctioned with the overabundance of vessels surrounding us.
We’d finished crossing the Atlantic.
We arrived in the Med.
The coastguard and search and rescue called us.
A small inflatable boat carrying fifty refugees had gone adrift somewhere in our path.
We spent the night searching and watching and praying for their survival.
Which brings us to day 20.
When, after 481 hours and 11 minutes of swaying.
3413 Miles of sea.
(and all our energy expended in some last minute crazy zigzagging through an assortment of randomly sprewn, incredibly inconvenient fishing traps)
We tied up in Saidia, Morocco.
It’s been an excellent crossing on a fantastic boat with an exceptional skipper
And while the sailing is over for now, we have a lot of cleaning and sorting and washing (including ourselves) to do.
In a couple of days Guy flies home to his family in France.
Well, I haven’t got the faintest idea.
Europe – Yes.
Find a job – Yes.
But when? And where? And how?
Here we go again – let a new adventure unfold!