Day 1 – 25th November – We leave Las Palmas as part of a grand parade. We all dress in Rainbows and Dad plays the Rainbow song on his guitar whilst we sing along. The sun is shining on us and the boat is loaded with anticipation of what lies ahead. She is also loaded to the rafters with food – we have a very impressive net in the cockpit which is fully laden with fresh fruit and vegetables.
The start gun sounds at 12.30 and we are off! The first day is spent in the company of other boats but as the day draws to a close we realise it may be the last time we see any of them and any land until we get closer to St Lucia. Jay has made up a delicious pasta sauce in advance and we feast on a yummy prawn pasta. Liberty says she is tired, I take her to bed and she is promptly sick on her duvet. Urghhh! We have all been taking sea sickness tablets since a couple of hours before we set sail. The idea is to take them for a couple of days and avert the perils of sea sickness. Alas, with dear Liberty it didn’t work! Happily the sickness was shortlived and she went to sleep shortly after.
We divvied up the night watch – I did the 9.30-1.00am, I woke up my Dad and Nephew Alex for the 1.00-4.00am and they woke Jason for the 4.00-7.00am shift. The night passed fairly smoothly apart from the fact that Dad mistakenly locked a very cold Jason out of the boat so he couldn’t come in and make a much-needed mid-shift cuppa! Brrrrrr
Day 2 – 26th November – Oh my we are all sleepy! A combination of the anti-sickness tablets, sea air and night shifts has meant we all feel shattered. We rise for meals, take it in turns to doze in between, and repeat! We are all finding our sea legs. It apparently takes about 4 days for people to settle into life aboard doing 24/7 watches – we are in the adjustment period. By the afternoon we have more energy and set up our first afternoon of fishing. The best time is an hour before sunset. We have done much research into the best ways to catch fish – the most likely catch in the Atlantic is Mahe Mahe and Tuna. Alas no joy tonight! We shall resume our efforts again tomorrow.
Rex and Jago both cut their feet onboard today – a regular peril with boat life. There have been various knocks and bumps to as we adjust to the constantly bobbing motion. We all need to hold on wherever we move and it is easy to forget! As the day draws to a close, we are treated to a spectacular sunset where the sun literally melts into the sea – how does that happen?! Such a thing of great beauty!
I cook a meal of tasty beef with rice and veg and it is devoured enthusiastically by the crew! We settle in to watch another half hour of The Karate Kid and then we settle the little kids and the night shifts begin. Rex and Ruby take on their first night shift, holding the fort until 10.30pm. Jason takes over until 1, wakes me for the 1-4, for the last hour of which I am struggling to keep my eyes open, then Dad and Alex take the sunrise shift. We pass the odd container ship and occasional sail boat but largely the sea is ours. The boat is gaining good ground, winds of around 11 knots giving us a speed over ground of around 5.5 knots over night.
Day 3 – 27th November – Waking to the sound of waves lapping the boat is now a comfort rather than disconcerting. For the most part, we have our sea legs. Liberty and Jago are running around the saloon and cockpit like little monkeys. We are greeted by beautiful sunshine this morning. The ocean looks a glorious deep blue and the sky is perfectly baby blue.
After breakfast, a brave few of the crew decide it is time to try the salt water shower. Do you know that the average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water per day? Onboard we have 8 litres per person per day and we are fortunate enough to have a boat with 900 litres of water storage, on our previous boat we had half that amount and much less is usual on a monohulls! It is a lesson in frugality. Water is a precious resource onboard. Where we can, we use salt water, which is of course in abundant supply! The salt water shower head needs fixing, so it is a bucket over the head, wash with soap and a frugal rinse down with a sponge of fresh water. The kids decide that baby wipes are the way to go for the next couple of days and when they might brave the shower!
Everyone on board has a job to do. It is important to keep crew focused. Today Jago is our rigging checker. Liberty is checking and turning the fruit and vegetables in our net in the cockpit. We divvy up the tasks so that everyone is involved and has purpose.
Rex says to me today, “It is so much nicer than I thought it would be Mummy, floating around in the middle of nowhere with nothing much to do!” We are all surrendering to the moment, winding down from the pace of our lives at home, recognising the benefits of physical and metaphorical space.
I kicked off the watches tonight, with Jago snuggled in beside me. He was in awe at the stars – you can literally see the whole milky way. A sight that neither of us have never enjoyed before. The night passed smoothly with Alex doing his first solo night watch and Rex and Ruby joining Jason for the sunrise shift!
Day 4 – 28th November – I awake to the smell of Eggy Bread – yum! The sun is shining and everyone is in high spirits! We are amazed to have sailed passed the Sahara desert to our left. We are coming up to the Cape Verde Islands and are steering West in advance of them. We have reached a milestone, we have sailed South until the butter melts (as was the case many moons ago when boats sailed the old trade routes) and now it is time to head towards the Caribbean.
The wind and waves pick up and we are reaching speeds of 13kts down the crest of the waves. It feels like we are surfing but in a 24 tonne boat! This is exhilarating sailing.
We baked today and all luxuriated in the warm chewy sultana squares – they seemed extra delicious at sea! Thank you Linda for the recipe!
We are all already sharing so many more conversations than we do at home. There is so much time to simply hang out together with no distractions. We have all agreed that the passage will be device free. There is no Wifi but the kids still have games etc on their devices and it would be easy for them to slip into the habit of playing games on them intently! Instead we have an hour or so of DVD watching all together at the end of the day. The rest of the time we are interacting, playing card or other games, colouring, sewing, playing music (guitars and keyboard onboard) telling silly stories, cooking, reading books – a generous list of activities to pleasantly pass the time, whilst being connected to the present moment and each other. Tonight we play an enjoyable game of Stop The Bus, much loved by us all!
The sea temperature is slowly increasing from 25 degrees in the Canaries to 27. We debate who is brave enough to jump in and swim once the seas get a bit calmer!