One of our most stunning boats – a Swan 46 – is crossing the Atlantic in the ARC Race. Here are the logs!
LOGS MILANTO – 24 NovemberOur first day has been spent heading south west to find some wind and to get to know each other and the workings of Milanto. The route is somewhat of an enigma. Someone said go south until mthe butter melts the turn west, or follow the leaders who must know the best route We have an on board computer downloaded weather report showing expected wind directions for the Atlantic together with speeds and seven day projection This is generated as a pictorial wind map of the Atlantic on the screen which helps with the guess work… But the weather can be a fickle friend or foe
We passed down the coast of Gran Canaria at a good speed of 6 knots and watched the wind almost disappear as the sun went down with the sun as it set. the night was spent under a canopy of stars watching the sky glow of gran canaria slowly disappear on the horizon
A fresh day brought more sunshine with ambient temperatures up to 28 degrees centigrade.
We caught a fish this afternoon. We dragged a lure behind the yacht and when the wind drops we have an attractive lure that is in reach of any passing fish. The fish we caught was a Dorada. Now that is fresh fish! The race is now 24 hours from the start only five other yachts are in sight now as there is no fixed route and the Atlantic is a big space. Our speed has reduced somewhat for this day but has been made up by good winds in the evening and overnight. We are still in communication with another Italian crewed yacht through our VHF Transceiver that has a range of 20 miles. The talk is not secure so we can listen in on all the other chats within 20 miles of our position. This morning we had the most glorious sunrise after a night that was so pitch black you could not see beyond the dimly lit decks the red glow from our compass light and the surrounding streaming foam from our passage
We have now settled to a routine on watch, meals sleep, on watch again .We socialize at meal times and have a general social life in the daylight hours on deck. This night however has exhausted all of us. Several sail changes as it became dark left us with the combination of a spinnaker and mainsail up as the evening progressed the wind became much stronger and we picked up speed peaking at 11 kts. Handling the Milanto with the spinnaker and main sail was difficult for the helm. We all donned our lifejackets on deck and down below the ride was rather like standing in a roller coaster ride. A visit to the bathroom or the preparation of food became a major challenge! As the night progressed it was decided to lower the main sail to help reduce a rocking motion as this happened calamity struck the spinnaker disintegrated from a large ballooning kite to a stream of tattered strips We slowed to remove the remains of the spinnaker and replaced this one sail with two goose winged sails on the forestay. While this was going on the whole crew where summoned to the deck to help. At that same moment a fish struck the line and the noise from the running reel had to be ignored for the time. One hour later we where under way again and had another fish which went in the freezer. The next day we were all exhausted and off watches were spent recovering with deep sleep
We have no other boats in sight of us now, and feel very alone on a big ocean. Our 46 foot Milanto feels very small. The days and the evenings are very warm and we all change watches with just shorts and light T shirts for wear. We all don lifejackets at night and for rougher day weather just in case one of us looses balance on a rolling deck and falls overboard. For more safety we all have a two metre safety hitch from our lifejacket harnesses to the deck or some other fitting 28 November The sea today is surreal it is so calm with the appearance of a lake like surface. It is so hard to imagine where we are. Not to last for very long thank goodness as we would be here for months not weeks! Today we were contacted by another ARC sailboat by VHF radio (range 30 miles). They could see us on the horizon. Apart from the normal greetings of such an encounter they advised is their spinnaker pole had broken irreparably and they additionally could not receive weather broadcasts. We advised them of the latest weather we knew and said farewell We have caught a weird fish this evening. At 80 cm long with a thin long and slender body it looks at first appearance like an eel but there the similarity ends. The head resembles that of a Barracuda with rows of nasty looking teeth. The eyes were huge reflecting altogether a nocturnal carnivorous monster.
Having a shower is a different experience on board. The inside of the toilets are analogous to a windowless box the size of a small elevator Inside are the sink, loo and shower( very cosy) ,but the roller coaster ride at sea makes for a lot of fun and effort no matter what you are doing! We have seen a pod of Dolphins this day. We have had them prancing alongside us and crisscrossing the bow for over thirty minutes. This evening we also had a strange visitation. The sky was blackness and only visible was our wake in the dimness. Suddenly, there appeared to be a large rat scurrying across the deck catching us all by surprise. Further investigation revealed a flying fish that had come to a sad end by his poor night navigation! (We have had this occur many more times since this first incident). We reckon they think Milanto is a big whale approaching and scatter on its approach through their airborne escape route.
Waves of the size of a bungalow at 15 metre spacing are causing a lot of rolling overnight and some seasickness and nausea has raised concern. Winds of 35 knots are the culprit and sail changes make the going tough. A night visit by a pod of dolphins has enhanced the phosphor fluorescence accompanying our wake each night. The dolphins create an iridescent glow of sparkling fluorescence around their torsos as they zip through the sea alongside 1 December A celebration today of Valerio’s birthday A beautiful moonlit night has really given the song “Moon River” its source. When there is nothing else beyond the yacht a low moon gives a fantastic shimmering blue-white “river” of sparkling iridescence.
A great celebration today of Don’s 50th Birthday
Today we caught the largest Dorada weighing in at approximately 7.5 Kg. A long fight with this fish for about twenty minutes needed the efforts of three of us to “land” it in the deck of Milanto. Dinner this evening was a great presentation of the Dorada cooked by Mauricio. Some of us are now exceptionally tired as we have had several evenings now of sail changes and a few problems. We expect things to settle now for the rest of the crossing due to our improving experience and efficiency in managing 24 hours of each day with changes in direction of the wind and our planned track.