BLUE MOON, skippered by Thalita, took part in ARC 2022 – Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Las Palmas in Canaries to St Lucia in the Caribbean. To record the daily life on the crossing, it was decited to write a blog post daily – sometimes it was a group effort, sometimes crew members wrote about the day individually. Katleen, Liesbeth, Margo, Mathias, Sergio, Wayne and Thalita captured the experience in their own words and style, sending it daily to the ARC Log and Second Star Sailing shore crew via satellite connection.
Day 19 – December 8, 2022
Almost there. 600 miles to go. And then all of a sudden the trade winds decide to leave us and we’re in squall zone with wind coming from exactly where we need to go. The swell is huge, the waves as well. The crew is doing their best to navigate Blue Moon without banging it too hard on the waves.
“Never have I experienced something like this” said our skipper Thalita who already crossed the Atlantic 5 times before. It somehow reminds me of the North Sea sailing with our parents’ sailing boat. I’m used to these kind of waves and the banging of the boat. Though having these winds for 3 days in a row, and the boat heeling quite a lot, plus the extra ocean swell, it takes it’s toll on our mind and bodies. Especially for me. I haven’t slept well these last days, trying to not roll over my bed partner, trying to ease my brain activity which is always on alert mode. And suddenly a huge migraine hit me. I tried to get enough electrolytes and drink enough water, take pain killers, but nothing worked. My head felt like somebody was standing on it and I felt nausea as if wanting to puke my guts out. The only thing I could do was try to sleep. I skipped dinner and the whole crew was super supportive. Margo took over my watch with Lis and everyone made sure I could sleep through the night without needing to get up. It helped. The next morning I felt way better and so thankful to the whole crew for getting my back. As if she heard my prayers, the ocean decided it was enough banging for now and reduced the swell and the waves.
Because we’re entering a wind hole for the next few days! This means our arrival time will be pushed back but it also means we get a bit of rest again after some wavey days. Who knows we’ll be able to swim again?! One thing is for certain, we need to take care of ourselves and each other on this big blue ocean. Drink enough water, eat enough food, sleep enough throughout the day, be kind to ourselves, support each other. We’re almost there!
Day 20 – December 9, 2022
I wonder if Lem and Tarkovsky have ever seen the calm waters of the Atlantic and experienced its spectacular swells… the endless breathing Creature underneath us seems exactly what one so vividly describes in Solaris, and the other perfectly depicts it visually later. The slow and rhythmic movements of the whole body of water must be someone alive from another world – breathing in, breathing out, sleeping, definitely having good dreams. We know it, because the Atlantic has been very generous to us so far – with fish to eat and warm water to swim in. We discuss how to call the surface – is it glossy, oily, is it a glass or a mirror?
Reality check named Atlantic Guardian is passing by in the distance, we run below for the binoculars and make contact on the radio. We haven’t seen a boat in days and it is so nice to hear another human voice! We ask for some spare fuel, as Blue Moon is running low on diesel, but unfortunately they can’t help us out. The voice on the radio kindly shares the weather updates for the following day, we wish each other safe trip and part ways.
The wind is playing hide in seek for the past 24 hours, and most of the time we are drifting on the oily-glossy-mirrory surface of the Creature. Blue Moon now dressed in bright orange storm jib (no, no, we are just experimenting on stability), colorful country flags of each crew member and the ARC flag, as well as Spanish courtesy flag, there is no way the wind will not be interested to check out this festive beauty! Meanwhile the ocean is also dressing up – one day in carpets of golden seaweed, another day in deep turquoise waters. Everyone ready for the trade winds to be back!
Drifting hugs, Margo
Day 21 – December 10, 2022
Our night shifts are turned into one hour single watches because we’re just drifting, so every person is steering on their own into the moonlight. With our main sail down and a small storm jib up for stability, Blue Moon is drifting with the current at 1knot of speed. My eyes are more focussed on the stars than on our course.. oops.. I give another turn on the wheel.. and my mind flies away over the soft reflection of the moonlight. The sea is calm with long ocean swells and silent, the noises we hear are the squeeky wooden interior constructions and ropes hitting the mast. Sometimes my mind is playing tricks on me and makes me think to hear a bell of a church or birds singing. I realize that after 21 days of hearing only sea relating noises, I miss the sound of land.
In my second night watch (0500-0600) when I come to switch watches with Katleen, we were treated with a most beautiful sunrise. We both kept on gazing towards a color changing sky. What a spectacle. I think to hear a sound of birds and I look around without seeing anything. It’s my mind again.. and I gaze into the horizon which is changing from grey to bright red and orange colour.
Suddenly the sound becomes stronger and appears closer to the boat, and Katleen shouts: It’s Dolphins! I count them.. more than 20. In group they playfully made their way over the swell towards the Blue Moon. They came to say good morning and continued their journey towards the sunrise. Unreal.
After my watch I decided to stay awake and let myself be seduced by Sergio’s scrambled eggs while gazing into the beautiful swell, taking in the breathing of the ocean without any winds. It was a good choice ;). After a good, long and needed nap afterwards, I shortly showed up on deck to say good morning to the crew with my sleepy head and Thalita brought me quickly back to reality: “Lis, it’s time to climb the mast to fix the Genakker’s halyard, the trade winds will be back tomorrow, and we want to fly the kite to St Lucia!”
Although my sleepy face didn’t show it, I was very looking forward to changing perspectives, climb onto that mast and enjoy a new experience from above! The whole team was called on deck to support this new venture, Wayne and Sergio on the winches to pull me up, Mathias briefing me on the work that needs to be done on top, securing me and prepping me mentally for the journey. And up I went! I practically flew up, with all that men power grinding away. Thalita was doing her best to stabilize the boat, but with such a swell it was pretty difficult. So I swayed left and right quite a bit and had to hold on quite tightly and focus in order to get the job done. I had to put a new shackle in place for the Genakker Halyard, because the dyneema soft shackle broke. And when I was there anyways I did a double check-up and found that the tricolor navigation light came loose, and I taped it. The topping lift was shaved and also taped it. Done!
I took a moment to look around and surprisingly saw the curvature of the ocean, the breathing longs of the ocean’s beast, the new green color of the Atlantic and our tiny (from my point view) Blue Moon and it’s crew. It made me realize how small we really are and I felt very humbled. How we managed to stay afloat the 7 of us on such a tiny surface for 21 days?! I was taking it all in to remember it forever. I quickly took some snapshots with the GoPro and was ready to get down again.
After several rig checks to prep the boat for the last leg towards St. Lucia, and a Brotzeit lunch with tuna-egg salad, there were still no trade winds in sight and this meant we could for the very last time enjoy a deep blue swim again. Ahh the joys of feeling the ocean water around your body. Heaven. We sunbathed, showered, washed clothes, read books, sketched, slept, while the Blue Moon was drifting with its storm sail over the ocean swell.
Sergio ended – probably this last – chill day on this ocean, with a mushroom artichoke risotto, served at sunset. Topped off with tea and chocolate for everyone we entered a starry night again and searched for star constellations and shooting stars. The storm jib was put down, the pole and jib put back in place, and the Blue Moon and its crew was ready to welcome the trade winds once again with open arms. Fly us to St. Lucia!
PS: as I’m writing this blog I’m in my night shift again with Katleen and I can report that the main sail is up, we have steady 10-13 knots of wind and hopefully tomorrow morning we can hoist the Kite!
Day 22 – December 11, 2022
Good Morning dear Daylight
Its maybe my last blog entry for this trip…after the trade winds picked up yesterday night. we are back on full sails, what a pleasure and a wonderful power inside awakens.
The winds pushes us again from behind with 12 to 15kn and we are so ready to hoist our kite again…
But bevor there is some importend fluid to give our old lady blue moon …give a guess…
Yes she needs the magic Diesel to run our engine.
So far we have used from our main tank about 170l and filled with another 40l to run the rest of our trip. But we keep 20l for emergency run and also to motoring in to Saint Lucia.
So Thalita is at the helm exactly at spot where we should fill in the diesel,grrr…
Of course she can move to the side and helm from a different angle.
We got to grab out two canister out of the back locker at the stern, the far end of our boat.
Like always ist not just picking and doing the job nicely in working position…its again a master piece in moving material, squeezing and holding yourself in position while the boat is moving from one side to another.
We put some soap around the hole where the diesel needs to go and put the paper towels around …in hope of not spelling one drop of our survival fluid…to communicate…loading batteries and moving in emergency’s.
It take us at least an half hour to fill in 40l of diesel in here thirsty mouth, smile …
Finishing this job and put all back on place in a cool teamwork makes it even more fun
Ready and motivated for the the last upcoming miles,juheee
We are all tired and looking forward to find land in the Caribbean sea, we still did not found the edge of the world and the door wich supposed to be there… you see our minds need soon some land…smile
As we finish this night there are 235 nautical miles to go, wind looks good …so its 5.45 in morning…put up the kit folks and get some speed, jehaaaaa.
Saint Lucia we are coming…
Happy day to all and biggest hugs
Day 23 – December 12, 2022
Tuesday, December 12 – day 23 – was a rainy day. We believe it was a cold front that brought the rain that lasted for a couple of hours, with shifting winds and then zero wind. Thankfully, the winds picked up again later in the day. Weather gear on, music on, and the thought of a fresh water shower crossed our minds – our version of dancing in the rain.
During our night shift, a friendly little bird – a sign of good fortune – stopped by our boat to rest for a while, and then it took off again.
Today is also the last date that we predicted our arrival date to St. Lucia. We’re almost there, less than 150 miles to go. See you soon!
ARRIVAL DAY – December 15, 2022
The island of St Lucia welcomed us like superstars, haha!
Our first long awaited encounter with the outside world was a friendly ARC team voice on the radio – guiding us to the finish line, and warning us about flash photography… what? An amazing James-Bond-like photographer appeared out of nowhere, equipped with a photo camera in one hand and helming the dinghy with another – flash, flash, flash!
All masts in Rodney Bay dressed in ARC 2022 flags all together again, and pink sunrise makes it all even more unbelievable – LAND! Few boats greet us as we are entering the harbor, cheering as quietly as they can (it is around 6 in the morning, sorry mariners!). Other friendly crew members of ARC greet us with local goodies – coconuts, bananas, lemons, hot sauces and famous Rum Punch chilled on ice. What can be better than that?
Our log says 3496 NM sailed from Las Palmas to St Lucia
Our calendar says it is December 15, 2022
Our lives will be forever touched by the all mighty Atlantic Ocean