Definition of a squall: “Self-contained convective system, creating an isolated strong weather event”. Basically imagine your personal big thunder cloud right above your head pouring down buckets on you while blowing a gale.
As closer we get to the Caribbean the more squalls are around us. So far we have been very lucky and on average had only beautiful sunny days (except of the three days of continuous haze). During the day you can monitor for squalls and get ready before they hit. At night it is trickier, as we do not have a radar and there is no moon now.
Long story – short procedure when a Squall is sighted on a converging course for us:
a) stop everything you are doing, put reef 2 in, and furl the jib immediately please.
b) those of us lucky enough to be on watch put on the X Bionic “It is not pink!” jacket, Spinlock life jacket, footwear, and clip on.
c) ready the boat for the squall. Batten down all the hatches, secure the food (its always when we are either cooking, eating, or have tools everywhere)
d) wind increases, shifts, massive rainfall and shaky boat. In about 10-15 minutes it is all gone, we are back to having a beautiful blue sky and low wind.
Our technical Atlantic Squall Lab results so far have been that the X Bionic jacket is still awesome, even in these conditions. Pouring rain and wind don’t get you wet (well, under the jacket at least!) Then you hang it up in the sun and it dries super fast.
The hood works, doesn’t blow off your head unless you are really facing into the wind. And anyway, in a squall you try to keep the boat going more downwind – unless you are a glutton for punishment and hate your boat mates who are being tossed around down below inside the boat.
In general I love night sailing. If the full moon is lighting up the sea and the white sails, it seems as somebody turned on a light dimmer light. This creates an incredible ambiance. When the sea then is ‘flat’ (remember we are still on the Atlantic Ocean) its just a smooth cruise over a flat plate, if we have some great swell its an awesome surfing thru the waves, and speed records get created, yeah. And then the moon is waining, and rises one hour later every night till it is black in black the whole night. Scary, not really. It is a completely different feeling to sail without any (except from the instruments) vision to orientate. Luckily we had most of the time fair weather and little cloud cover so we could use one of the billions stars to navigate. The last few nights the star constellation Vulpecula was a good reference point to head west towards Grenada. Night time is also a very quiet time on our watch and time to enjoy the silence and get lost in thinking. Just be aware not to get lost on the course while doing this.
As we change every half hour helming I do have 30 min to get a rest or watching the most beautiful star sky without any light pollution. I try to learn some constellations but it is kind of hard to remember their names. Great to have a Star Walk 2 App, try it!
After all the excitement and beauty of the night there is always a sunrise and those out here on the blue water are a story itself
As a not really experienced lake sailer, I had no night sail experience before. After the “no wind” start in Lanzarote, I looked forward to my first watch at night. I was curious, a bit nervous and for sure with a good portion of respect how it could be like. Even, because my sail experience on the ocean is just about 5 hours long in daytime…
And the first night was difficult for me. A lot of waves (in my opinion), clouds and strong wind. I had to use all my other senses except of my eyes, the most important one. It was little bit scary, but after a while a big adventure and some times fun! Now, after near 3 weeks of sailing, I feel more comfortable at night. I enjoy the sound of the waves, look at the stars and try to push my sailing skills to a better level. Just when it’s to crazy for me with the waves and wind, I struggle.
Siete mai entrati in una stanza completamente buia e a voi sconosciuta? Avete mai provato ad attraversarla senza rompere o urtare qualcosa? E’ difficilissimo ma fattibile se si ricorre a quei sensi che non siamo soliti usare: bisogna allora abituare gli occhi ad un gradiente di luce molto più basso, si allerta l’udito, l’olfatto ed anche la pelle aumenta la propria percettibilita’.
Nonostante abbia affrontato un buon numero di navigazioni notturne, se vogliamo, questo è quello che mi è capitato all’imbrunire durante la seconda parte del nostro viaggio.
Quella luna piena e accecante che tutto rendeva visibile ha lasciato spazio al buoi completo.Cosi subito dopo il tramonto il mare non si presentava
più come quella lastra di argento che fino ad allora ci aveva circondato, quasi impossibile capire la qualità delle onde e la loro direzione. Le condizioni meteorologiche sono cambiate completamente, le nuvole incalzate dall’aumentare del vento si adagiavano lungo tutto l’orizzonte, rare le stelle, i movimenti di prua e delle vele invisibili. inoltre abbiamo avuto dei problemi alle batterie e siamo state costrette a spegnere le luci di via….buio totale. inizialmente il dispendio di energie è stato enorme, occhi incollati agli strumenti che rendevano i volti delle ragazze in pozzetto spettrali, in fondo, sono stati l’ unico punto di riferimento iniziale. Ma la curiosità è donna e per me le certezze non sono quasi mai appaganti. Allora, portando lo sguardo alla volta stellata oltre le nuvole ho preso a riferimento le stelle che Sammi chiama Francesca 235 (la costellazione dell’aquila). Avevo gia cominciato a studiare le costellazioni ed è stata una soddisfazione capire se la direzione della barca è cambiata con colpo d’occhio alla volta stellata. Un mio ex capitano mi diceva di provare a sentire le onde sotto i piedi, ora le sento scorrere lungo lo scafo e quel rumore sordo indica che il genova sta perdendo aria ed è arrivato il momento di orzare. Infine il vento. la mia giacca mi copre a sufficienza e lascio sempre gambe e testa esposte alle intemperie. sentire vento costante dietro l’orecchio destro equivale ad averlo a 120 ad esempio. Sentire i cambiamenti climatici a fior di pelle mi ha fatto comprendere il momento in cui un groppo sta per arrivare.
Nel momento in cui riesco a determinare un feeling totale con la barca la navigazione notturna è totalmente appagante, anche quando ci si ritrova in situazioni di difficoltà per vento troppo forte, un groppo, la risoluzione di un problema imminente ed al buio diventa tutto più difficile. Ma poi vado a prua osservo la volta stellata, in questo periodo colma di stelle cadenti, lo scafo fende il mare e rivela la presenza di miriade di punti luminosi, alghe che rifrangono la luce ed il contrasto tra il buio e quelle luci sparse mi ricorda che sto rendendo la mia vita straordinaria e dimentico la stanchezza.
Solo watches… I love being alone on deck at night, it is the only time I have space and some quiet time to myself, and can simply enjoy sailing the boat. I play the usual games, challenging myself on the speed and angle and trimming, hoping no-one down below notices I am slightly off course because I am practicing surfing down the biggest waves I can feel in the dark. When you are alone on deck, you have the opportunity to travel either very far inside yourself and get lost in your thoughts, or simply focus externally on the barely perceptible details of the sea surrounding you – all the while trying not to zone out too much. But then there are times when you have nothing out there. Last week we had three days of continuous haze, both day and night. Everything was shrouded, silent and surreal. It was like being in limbo. I knew we were moving because the instruments told me we were sailing along at about 5 knots but it felt like we weren’t going anywhere. No points of reference, the sea and the sky the same color and density. Limbo. At night it seemed to be an external manifestation of solitude. It was lovely.
On the other hand, occasionally it would be nice to have the bonding that you see develop among crewmates as they share more and more night watches, their inside jokes spilling into the daytime. (Don’t feel sorry for me, Sammi is sick and I am take her place on watch with Francesca)
Besides listening to the boat and stressing out about any new noise or shadow (note: the Domino Effect), there are the stars. It is the excitement of seeing shooting stars is the same as when we see dolphins.. each and every one is as it it were the first one, unique, special, makes you want to yell “look!!!” Even now with the Geminids meteor showers, which make you start qualifying your wishes ever more precisely…. Then there is the time tracing constellations and the navigational stars, promising myself I will remain on deck when my watch is over to review the ones I don’t remember, take a sextant sight… and instead usually go about my night skipperly duties, then end up crashing for the remaining hour and a half of my off watch
Swiss night – Raclette time
As we had a swiss day yesterday the blog will also be written in swiss dialect from the Valais. Sorry guys.
Geschter isch en hundskumume Segeltag ufum Atlantik xi. Zum Zmorge es feins Birchermuesli schwizerart mit epis weniges frische Fricht, also in dischem Fall trochuni Dattle und Wiberini. De gmietli in e Tag schtarte miteme tschinger Kaffee und jedi het ebiz ire Zig erledigt, Biecher laesse, Soitaire spiele, Chibelduschi, Waetter embricha lade etc. Fer emal isch nix kaputt gange oder suscht zum flicke xi, ohh Wunder. Ds Meer het schich stattli beruehigt im Verloeif vom Tag und wier, d Niflora und ich, hei beschlosse hite isch e guete Tag der es feins Walliser Raclette. Yep, aes Raclette mitsch ufum Putz, hueerra guet! (heisst im Fall nit guet, ich cha mit dem yankee Computer kei Umlaut mache und d Autokorrektur tritt mi fasst ine Wahnsinn). Wilwer nu gad di Zit umgstellt hei (alle 15 Degrees isch en noeji Timezone) het das gat guet gipasst mit dum Schichtwaexel. Das ja ufum Meer meischtens flott windet isch nu schwierig xi es Platzji ds xfine fer ds Rechaud Grill Oefeli. Hei de iner Galley (Bordchuchi) im Waeschbecki dri ds Raclette gebrutzlet. Mmmmmh isch das fein xi säg ich ew! Aes Raclette mitsch ufum Atlantik – einmalig!
Und de isch ja scho wieder Nacht xi (ha sowieso ds Gfuehl aesch immer eswie Nachtschicht hie, smile) und ischi Schichte ds zweit fer zwei Stunde sind wieder los gange. Isch nu ximli happig 2 h segle, no problem, aber de numu 2 h Schlafenszit, inklusive ins Bett ga, WC, uefstah und alege natirli. Da bisch froh wens wieder hell wird und die dri Stuender afaent und ds fein Birchermuesli schon wieder ufum Menüplan steiht, smile.
SAIL, EAT, SLEEP AND REPEAT!
Ok friends and followers a short summary in english. Yesterday we had a beautiful normal day on the sea starting with a delicious Birchermuesli and ‘fresh’ fruits, dried dates and raisins. After a proper italian coffee everybody did their thing, reading a book, playing Solitaire, bucket showering or downloading the weather report. Nothing broken, nothing to fix. Niflora and I decided today would be a good day to have a Swiss Raclette as the weather calmed down and we also changed the time (every 15 degrees is a new timezone). Since we are on a sailing boat and we definitely have wind now it was quite tricky to find a place to make Raclette with a tea lights oven. The sink in the Galley was the best place for it. Mmmmmmh it was just delicious and sooo unique – a Swiss Raclette in the middle of the Atlantic – awesome!
And there we go, it is night again (I have the feeling somehow it s always nightshift time). Its a bit intense to sail 2h and then only have 2h off – including going to bed, toilet, get up and get dressed again. It makes you happy to see the daylight again and go back to the 3h shift. Voila there is the Birchermuesli again, smile.
SAIL, EAT, SLEEP AND REPEAT!
When you are about to cross the Atlantic, you know you need foul weather gear, a red light head torch, a sleeping bag, your tool, boots/sailing shoes, a lifejacket etc… but you would be surprised how many experienced sailors ask “what should I bring to wear?”
So you put together the joining instructions and send them off to the crew before the trip, and there! first thing they ask, again, even if it is detailed down to the very last pair of underwear. If you are wondering, this is not just women. Any delivery trip, same thing.
Finally, really, how long does it take to get some wind, we have some great breeze. Since yesterday we have a constant 20-25kts of wind and a steady 3m swell from more or less astern and once in awhile a bigger one, making for some interesting speed competitions (by the way it does not count if you go 11.8kn, even with a reef in, if you are off course!)
Great sailing, constant sunshine, so it is definitely getting warmer every day. Everybody is happy about the weather.
This said, we have had several wardrobe transmutations the first two weeks-
Week 1, while we were sailing upwind with 27-30 kn of wind:
Daytime: long warm merino layer top and bottom, usually light pants on top, supersocks, vest and the jacket if it is cloudy
Nighttime: long warm merino layer below, supersocks, vest/sweater, foul weather gear/ the jacket – and a hat
Week 1, while we were becalmed – don’t ask, no wind, as in 0.00kn:
Daytime: pants/ 3/4 length layer, running t-shirts, slowly undressing as the day warmed up more
Bikinis for swimming while becalmed… and then quickly clothes on again
Nighttime: long merino warm layer below, supersocks, the jacket
Week 2: finally getting some wind -woo hoo sometimes it is 10kn!, but getting warmer
Daytime: shorts, t-shirts.. and bikinis!
Nighttime: 3/4 length layer, long sleeves and the jacket
(underwear… to each their own, you should see our bucket laundry, full selection available!)
We have been testing our X-Bionic gear, and the unanimous vote is that we love the Apani Merino long layer. It is both cosy and warm so no one wanted to take it off the first few days. We lived in it. Thalita especially would have gladly exchanged her swiss passport for it, as we tell her she must not really be from the Alps anyway as she is always freezing. Well, for a week she never complained about being cold. Amazing.
The single most used piece of gear so far is what we call the “it is NOT PINK Jacket” We do not know why every female crew always gets pink kit… But we have gotten used to the magenta colour. The jacket is just awesome. Everybody wears it every single night. It is comfy, allowing for great arm movement while we winch, the pockets work with the lifejackets, and it is just the right thickness and weight. The length on the back is right for both standing at the helm or while tending to the main sheet. Those of us who deal with reefing the boat and are bow monkeys during sail changes or rough weather love the venting system, especially when either exertion or stress make us… glow a bit more. Anyway, by now we do not need it to stay warm but to stay dry, as we have entered the fun-filled squalls zone, and it is performing under that point of view as well.
The supersocks. Ok these are also fantastic. Only problem: they all look the same in the dark, so we steal each other’s socks continuously and with the red head torch you can’t tell the left from the right. Yes, we have to smell them to tell them apart, but the technology is so good and they actually don’t stink!!
The only article of X-Bionic clothing that was not worn much so far the top to the long sleeve mid layer, which seemed to be a bit constrictive, especially in the neck area. Skipper wore the bottoms the most, loved their compression and temperature balance, as she was too hot in the Apani merino after a few days. We think that it would work well for racing in Winter in the Mediterranean or a nice British Summer, such as sailing in the Solent… but none of us wants to go there just now.
The 3/4 technicals and short layers are being tested now, so more on those later – because most of the time, during the day, its definitely bikini time. We do look a bit silly with full lifejacket over triangle tops, but safety first (..this is not just in there for the RORC safety inspection team, we really do wear the lifejackets on watch, and everyone is complaining about their tan lines)
The Hatha Maris Crew
We are hoping for an X-Bionic Bikini (NOT in PINK) for us to test during the Caribbean season!!!
Happy Happy Birthday Sammi
Big day today – we have a birthday child onboard. While Sammy went back to have a little sleep after the early watch we started to decorate the boat a little bit for her birthday. Lyss baked a tasty chocolate wave cake (as I am not allowed to bake anything anymore on a boat after one almost on fire and one cake actually on fire on the last crossings) and Nicole drew up a creative birthday card. As we are kind of a gourmet crew, with Francesca as our titled Master Chef, I set to prepare a beautiful lunch. Salmon (we did not catch that here in the middle of the Atlantic) with boat-grown sprouted rocket and Philadelphia lemon crostini, accompanied by a healthy Feta Tomatoes and basilicum salad, also grown on the boat by Master Gardener Sammi.
Sammi, who has been suffering from sea sickness the whole trip, for once has great day, feels good, and eats her birthday meal and cake! (Sarah- she did not open her present until today, it looks great on her!) Beautiful weather, finally good wind, nice food, and some great stars. Happy birthday may all your wishes come true.
“The Truman Show”
We all sit together for dinner, the lights we use to prepare the meal are off. We eat dinner with the light from one of our “Luci’s”. Enjoyed the meal and cleaned the dishes, then it’s time for the first watch. It’s dark, no moon rise for now, no stars, nothing. Just the lights from the navigation instruments and the noise of the boat and the waves. Not too much wind. Where are we? Middle of Atlantic?
Then the sun starts to shine behind of the clouds. The horizon is closer then on clear days because of the clouds. It feels like a November day on a Swiss Lake with mist, not too much, but enough, that you can’t see till the other side. I like this atmosphere. You can feel there will be a end, a end of the horizon, a wall… The Truman Show.
In the daytime, when there is not a lot of wind, again, and all the jobs on board are done, you will find some time to play. For example Backgammon. That’s what our Skipper and our “first maid” did during Thalita’s watch. It was a board present from her. Keep helming direction with her foot and she lost the game.
This was more then one day ago. After a hard evening yesterday with broken oven (our pastas everywhere over the floor), hard time to fix it (good job Lyss and Thalita) and finally dinner at 9.30 pm, the night watches started with more wind and no light and waves from all directions (not really). Now I’m sitting outside in the cockpit at 11.20am, the sun is shining, we sail with near 9kts thru the waves, backwind course, direction of Grenada, more or less. You need to balance in the wave to keep Hatha Maris as quiet as possible. That is sailing how I like it. Get into better and better, even when there are some moments when I am unsure, but more at night. Lyssandra uses the off time to read a new chapter in her book (The book of murder), Thalita is singing and sailing, Sam and Francesca are sleeping after the early morning watch and I finish now this blog, it’s my turn to helm! Till soon, Grenada, hopefully.
BONUS BLOG from Deck 1
…. here is a new section we wrote last night from the forthcoming book The Hatha Maris Merry Companions: if you name all the stuff that breaks on board, you sound less crazy when you mutter to yourself that you need to check on the batteries (Steve & Mike) or while you fix a piece of the water pump (Alex).
If you have a boat, and it has a galley, it will most likely also have a cooker/stove/fornello – whatever you want to call it, right when you have a full pot of boiling water for pasta on, something will happen.
Last night was supposed to be happy Italian night.. so no rice or potatoes, and I was sitting – yes, sitting! with no specific job to do, simply waiting for dinner, when I heard Sammi say with a little voice “Lyssandra? Lyssandra? could you please help us?” I don’t like that tone of voice any better than when people yell up on deck. It does not bode well. So I go take a look and the stove has fallen off the gimbal (I thought it was spelled gymbal, but apparently I have been wrong on that this whole time, thank you spell check) and the cooker is completely crooked and jammed into its space.
We take the boiling pasta water off and place it in the sink as I ask Thalita to shut down the gas and come help me move the stove to see what happened. Nothing against having Francesca, who is standing next to me, help with this, but Thalita is a *bit taller than her, and can actually reach behind the stove to help me lift it all the way up and out. It is immediately apparent that the gimbal piece into the left side of the wall is loose – so I assume it just a small screw-it-back-into-place job, not even worthy of a name, until I realise that actually, the gimbal piece that holds the stove up is completely sheared off on the right side of the oven. Here we go again.
At this point, you need to make a mental list of all the pieces, spares, and tools you have on board, retrieving that information at the speed of light, including their location on the charts that are displayed on the walls of the boat and their real current location, where you stuffed them last time you made a repair and you thought, oh now I won’t need this again anyway..
1. No existing spare parts for it on board
2. It is an integral piece coming out of the stove.
3. We need the stove lifted off the bottom of the space where as that is where the gas valve is, so we cannot simply put it down and crush the valve.
4. I cannot think right now of any “lifting” material I have on board that would
a)hold the weight of the stove and b) be not get too hot around fire
5. We have no simple way of retaining the stove into place unless we use the emergency hatch boards, but have no immediate ideas on how to do that and if they would even fit.
6. What do I have that looks vaguely like this?
AND, most importantly, we need to cook Sammi’s surprise birthday cake tomorrow, so I need a functioning oven by then.
Francesca and I take the stovetop apart to try to get to the inside of where the piece comes from. This is where we have the good news of there being an additional potential hole in the side of the oven that we could use if we just had a gimbal piece. So, obviously, we set to making one. After about five tries with different size metal screws and washer combinations we come up with what looks similar to the remaining gimbal on the other side of the oven. Excited, we make two of them, install them, and go to test if it is going to work. The lifting team picks up and then lowers the stove back into place, and oops, forgot the remaining left gimbal – it sticks out and won’t let the new one go in.
A naming opportunity arises at this point as I want to gently talk to the stove about it being a pain… the three of us are all over it: Gunther it is.
We pull the stove back up again and while Thalita holds it, I grab the hack saw and with some fine work and patience cut it off the stove. Then we get to do it again. And this time, the number of washers is wrong. Lift up again, hold, and take the contraption we created apart and then put it back together. Again. So after a few tries and Thalita doing some surgical insertion of the washers into the gimbal holder with Francesca’s assistance, we get the stove back on and.. it works! Its floats in space as it should, swaying with the waves.
It is also way cleaner than before, (notice a pattern here?) as while one of us was working on the pieces, one of the the others was taking the opportunity to clean all those spaces that get doused in coffee when you spill the first espresso of the morning down the back of the stove, and your eyes are barely open so you can’t even see where the coffee went anyway…
The water goes back on the stove, which due to the slightly different positioning of the gimbal is listing a bit more than before toward the outside of the boat, and it makes me wonder a little.. I ask Francesca, who is one of the two of us who is allowed to make pasta (non-italians need not apply) to be careful, just in case.
Meanwhile, Nicole had been helming trying to keep the boat as even as possible while surfing down some big waves (this kind of stuff does not happen when you are becalmed) thank you for that! Dinner was eventually served last night at around 9:30 instead of 7:30pm, and apparently there was some pasta and water down the back of the stove at some point, but as Julia Child said, what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen.
…Sammi’s birthday cake you ask? well, that is another story.
The Maintenance Crew
If Matt Damon can grow potatoes on Mars then growing green vegetables in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean would be easy, right?
The answer is actually yes, with very little effort a small amount of preparation, the right seeds, and a small amount of space in indirect light a surprising number of nutritious micro greens can be ready for eating in 3-4 days.
Having already experimented with sprouting seeds on a previous race with mixed results plan B was formed.
Small packets of organic micro greens which include rocket, alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek and basil have been placed in shallow trays on top of damp kitchen paper (needs to be unbleached) and then placed on a sill in indirect sunlight. Each morning they are given a little water, turned every other day and then cut ready for eating in wraps or salads and that is really as hard as it gets.
The most important thing is to eat them as they are cut, they don’t last unless you have the luxury of a fridge on board.
Sprouting organic chickpeas and lentils after a day of soaking in water make really good snack finger foods.
I have done a few races now on a few different boats, without reservation I can confirm without a shadow of a doubt that meals on Hatha Maris in comparison would have been awarded a Michelin Star.
If you didn’t know by now, Italians love and honour the food they eat, from breakfast right through to pre-dinner aperitivo, yes you heard me right, for example thinly sliced carpaccio and zucchini soaked in lemon juice with a side of anchovies and pomegranate, If you don’t believe me, then go to the Second Star Facebook site in a few weeks time and see some of our amazing meals.
In Lanzarote, I met up with a fellow provisioner, their trolley 300 oranges, 100 5 lt bottles of water and 2 trollies of noodles to rehydrate…. by comparison our provisioning was so yummy that another boat took the delivery and we had to fight to get our food back!!!!
News from Deck -2 yes, you read right, Deck Negative2
You know those days when you take a great bucket shower, you put a clean bikini on, and think to yourself: now I am going to go back outside, and – yes! read my book, just a chapter, then we can fly the big genny if the angle is right.. Maybe I should put some sunscreen back on, since I washed it all off. Oh ok, since I am still down here I should first check in with Brian, the bilge, and then put the sunscreen on, so I don’t get it all over the interior of the boat. And while I am at it, introduce Thalita to him, she hasn’t met Brian yet.
So I call Thalita and open up to say hello to Brian, and find that we have A LOT of water in there. A LOT, sloshing around. I had just checked it less than two hours ago, and there was nothing. Immediately I do the most important test and stick my finger in and taste it, to see if it is salty or sweet water:
b) it is salty.
First thoughts running though my mind: Where is it coming from? What part of the hull is damaged? Is a seacock is leaking? Did we hit anything and I did not hear it? Does anything sound different? WHERE is it coming from? Dang, what if it is the keel bolts?
We tear up all the floorboards and we have water in all the bilges on the starboard side. I check around the keel bolts and they seem ok, but won’t be really able to tell until we get the water down some. And it keeps coming in, slowly seeping in from the communication holes between the hull and the bilges. It is a light grey/cream color, cloudy.
Paranoid skipper brain already goes though the sinking/evacuation scenario and I immediately send a satellite message to the office, alerting them that we might have a problem and our position.
Then start checking each and every seacock. Thalita checks the port side ones, I go for the starboard side. Nothing seems amiss. Engine seacock is dry. But the engine bilge is wet? What?? We mop up 10 litres of water, and I am able to check the keel bolts. They are OK. Then we each crawl into the back of the boat, all the way to the stern near the steering shaft (there is water mostly towards the rear of the boat not forward..) so that we can methodically check as much of the hull as possible. Port side, nothing.
When I crawl into the stern on the starboard side I see water both on the bottom and splashed on the walls of the space. This is where where our engine exhaust is located, as well as the cockpit seacock drain. New evacuation scenarios run through my mind and I wonder if I should mention something to the rest of the crew, who are up on deck helming, reading and hanging out… ok just a few more minutes and I’ll do that. I dry around the engine exhaust and its seacock and have Thalita run the engine, to see if that is the cause. No. Phew, I don’t have a replacement piece for the exhaust line anyway, and we might need the engine to keep water out or get us somewhere.. What am I thinking? Where would we go? We are so far from anything right now and have not seen a single boat in two days. Not even on AIS.
I test the drain. No, it looks gross but its not leaking. Then I look up, instead of below or around the waterline of the boat. That’s when I notice that the outside shower handle is hanging, somewhat caught up in one of the hoses that crisscross the space. Huh? I realise that the cup that holds it outside has been cracked and pushed into the space. I test the water on the walls – just icky this time, it is clear – and it is salty, but not as salty as it is in the bilges. It dawns upon us that it might be the culprit. I ask Thalita to shut down the water pump, although I don’t see much evidence of active leaking, and to check our water tank level. The tank is now empty. Great. So maybe we have a source of the problem. Great. Well, that was intended to be sarcastic, but at the same time, we might now also have a different type of problem. I then grab the plumbing diagram and see if I can shut down only the outside faucet somewhere, but it is not an option.
Thalita and I start really emptying out the bilges of water to see if it keeps rising, and slowly we make progress. The electric bilge pump is making a funny noise.. and I become uneasy using it as the cloudy stuff in the water turns out to be fibreglass dust, and it becomes cakey mud, at the bottom of the pit, potentially clogging up the impeller if it gets sucked in. I just changed it in Gibraltar, and now I do not have a spare of that one on board -either.
I finally feel comfortable enough to send a message to the office that I think I found the problem.
Music is turned on, nice and loud. Thalita and I smile at each other, making faces as our hands start stinging more and more from the fibreglass dust in the water. So we manually remove the water, container by container, with sponges and – since the backup manual hand pump won’t fit in the small crevices, and we are creative, 10ml at a time with the used syringes I gathered up after the Medical Care at Sea course we just took in the UK and threw into the toolbox (Sue: thank you… probably the first time your antibiotics injection practice leftovers are used in this way.) Finally after two hours, the water has stopped rising and just comes into the bilges from the interstitial spaces when we have a sudden movement, but it is minor. Enough that we are now monitoring it, and simply trying to get as much out as possible at every watch change.
We did lose at least 1/4 of our freshwater Tank 1 to this. So forget seawater bucket shower rinse-offs even for 10 seconds. And I have to fix the handle and the faucet outside. And maybe replace the juncture T valve with one with a shutoff lever. I think I might have one of those of the right size… so voila’ added it to my “oh look, I have a spare moment, what should I do?” list.
The rest of the crew, you ask? Apparently had no clue. They thought it was normal to spend close to 3 1/2 hours “playing” in the bilges. Thalita, thank you for all your help, especially for laughing and keeping me sane while it was happening. I promise I will not suggest you have a second date with Brian. EVER.
On the positive side, we now have very very very clean bilges. All the food that was stored in some of them has been removed, dried, reorganised. We now know that we have a vast quantity of corn cans. Looks like our menus will be focusing on this fabulous ingredient in the foreseeable future.
That’s all from the Deck Neg2 problem resolution desk. It is time to put some sunscreen on and to go outside and sail, so please come back with any issues after 4pm.
All is good onboard Hatha Maris, just another boring day in the middle of the Atlantic
Today is shower and laundry day – really necessary again. Back on the stern on Deck 2, the Wellness Deck, a queue builds up for the shower. Lyss is hanging outside the lifeline and throwing buckets of refreshing 25 degree sea water over herself, Nicole takes her time and enjoys a Hammam in the very private shower area whilst singing, Sammi is happy to be able to finally wash her hair again and rinse it with fresh water and Francesca is getting a whole spa treatment with pedicure including nail polish, body scrub and face mask (she was so happy) whilst I just have a quick shower as always and wash my hair by putting my head into the bucket. Today is a good day, everybody is happy and now also smells good.
Lyss wanted to introduce me to Brian (the bilge). So we opened up the bilge and o-ohhh – full of water! This was not much fun. Quickly we opened up the whole boat and …. you will know tomorrow how it ends.. So we decided no more introductions for the day and to leave the meeting as a one day stand, :-).
Early in evening I could also hear Santa Claus. Yes, he came all the way from the Swiss forest to bring us our little ‘Samichlaus Sackjini’. For all the non-Swiss, Santa Claus in Switzerland does not show up on Christmas. He has his own day on December 6th. Everybody got a little Samichlaus bag full of treats and I was as happy as little kids are.
Never cook pasta for Italians I have been told! But I wanted to learn how to cook it properly and decided – tonight is Carbonara night. Francesca gave me all the right advice and, at the end, on the tricky part, a hand. At this point I should mention that it is not easy to cook even when the boat is not heeling very much. We lost about ten eggs this night. First the bowl with the eggs and parmesan ready for the pasta flew into the sink, so we got some more out of the cupboard, (shh…a few broken ones in there too!). Second time, just before putting the eggs into the pasta the boat heeled suddenly, — swear words in swiss dialect wich I can not write down — and the whole bowl flew over my hand and leg and onto the floor. Oh well, will do better next time!
And then it was already night again and we were back on the short shifts!
Dec 6th 2017
Crew member Thalita explains: Why do I cross the Atlantic?
I have learned you always have two options. Either you stay in Europe through the winter and freeze or you go to the Caribbean and enjoy “coco locos”. The decision is quite easy. Then there are two options again, you can either fly to the Caribbean or sail. Why would you want to fly if you can sail?!
I’ve sailed across the ocean for last two years and both times I just loved it. It was not always Deck 4, 2, 5 or sleeping. Sometimes it can get really tough, soaking wet at 3am, at the end of your watch and you have to change the jib in rough sea, or cook a meal for your crew mates whilst everything is just flying around ‘cause of the heeling’ (don’t even mention sea sickness). Or you are going crazy just bobbing around in a wind hole for days and not moving away from the islands.
It is a challenge every time, you make friends forever and it fills you with happiness.
Tuesday, December 5th 2017
Another long or short night (depends of the point of view) is behind us and a beautiful morning welcomes us to another day in the Atlantic. Finally good wind (15kn from the quarter) is moving us closer to our destination at a more reasonable speed (averaging 6+ kn lately). The big swell keeps us awake whilst at the helm (I love to surf on it, but I don’t like those erratic side kicks), and helps us fall asleep when in our bunk… I feel more and more comfortable by the day to sail Hatha Maris through the ocean.
And you may wonder, what we are doing beside sailing, sleeping, eating, or cleaning?
It may be just a 40 feet boat, but put a bunch of crazy girls on Hatha Maris and it suddenly feels like a big cruise liner: Welcome on Deck 4, our crafts desk; Is there something to fix? is there some technical stuff to do? do you want to create a new fancy bracelet using lines? Join us on Deck 4. Do you need a massage, wanna do some fitness or yoga? Then Deck 2 is your place! Of course our Sun Deck is open the whole day. Should you wish taking a bath in our thousand miles wide pool, please help yourself to Deck 5 (or was it Deck 6? Can’t remember…), no need to ask our butler, the pool is always open during daytime. And today we actually welcomed all our crew members on Deck 2 for a much needed shower! It was really time now. The dirty laundry instead can be dropped at the reception. surely someone will deal with it…or not?!?
Being so close together in a confined space like a small boat really does make you more creative. We are never bored, there is always something to do when we are ‘off duty’. For Thalita it’s sleeping, Francesca is studying hard for her Yachtmaster, Sam instead takes care of her herbs garden down below, whilst Lyssi has always something to fix and to check whether we are still in the right direction towards Grenada. As for myself, I read a book, sunbathe or nap. What else… I’m on Deck 4, where else!
Ps. The Dolphins visited us yesterday evening again! We love them. And the flying fishes are all around us. I am just waiting, till the first one jumps onto our boat, people say they are very smelly
Oh and yes, I admit I did get to go SWIMMING while we were becalmed. It was absolutely beautiful! Always good to know you can breaststroke faster than your own boat. Ok, while I was at it I did a hull check and made sure that the log still worked as we were getting 0.00kn of boat speed for over two hours… but more on that later.
At change of watch last night a huge light was noticed tucked under the jib. Look once, look away. Look twice, look away. Look 3 times, and its definitely not an optical illusion. IT IS another vessel! the AIS showed not a light house but a 50 metre boat with “moored” as its status while doing 8-9 knots straight at us. Hailed them on VHF channel 16, nothing. Dial MMSI, still nothing. Alienic light getting closer, we shine the searchlight on our sails to make ourselves more visible. After 10 minutes of watching the “strobe” light as Francesca called it, the alien answered in Spanish, sounding shocked at encountering our little 12m boat in the middle of nowhere. Lyss got them to change course and the excitement was over. Made for a quick watch though…
Thu November 30th
Still not a lot of wind… Everyone tried hard to keep Hatha Maris moving, with (no) wind around 3 to 4 kts. Sometimes we even went backwards :-0 !!
Francesca and Sam are now getting ready for their watch – time to go to sleep and get ready for the night. Still not my favourite watch. Good night.
I’m excited, nervous and a little bit tired. I’m sure, Lyss, Thalita, Sam and Francesca are excited and a bit nervous too. For me it’s the first time to be such a long time on a sailing boat – looking forward for all this experience. Hatha Maris, our boat, is ready and will hopefully bring us across the Atlantic. Tomorrow at 12 am we will cross the start line and the adventure will begin. We will write our blog as often as possible, so as to can share with you the lives of five crazy, lovely, friendly and funny women. I’m Nicole and this is the start of our blog.
More infos about the race: