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11 December 2009

The Magic Carpet Ride... finally over. What an amazing trip. Over 2600 miles on only two gybes, sailing all the way (we turned the engine on twice, but only in order to slow down the apparent wind to make it easier to launch the spinnaker!) The boat performed beautifully, the weather was perfect, and the people were wonderful. An adventure for the books, indeed. After a bit of downtime, it'll be time to start final preparations for the World ARC departure in January, so look for updates after the start of the year!

10 December 2009

Land ho!

We "officially" spotted St. Lucia at 10 AM this morning, WT-time (currently UTC-4; but about to change, we believe, to St. Lucia time, which should be UTC-5).

We're now just over 13 miles from our arrival-bet point, due north of the northern point of the island.

Life's likely to be a bit busy until later today - more updates when we have time, but basically we're almost there!

10 Dec 2009 16:33 UTC 13 59.258 N 60 42.286 W

- Anne, for WT

09 December 2009

Coming down to the wire...

Our last sunset at sea.
With our destination in sight in ever-smaller-scale sections of the electronic chart plotter (everyone takes great glee in being the one to first zoom in a level and find both the island and our position still visible... what can we say, you find your amusement where you can out here), talk onboard has turned to our arrival. The list-making has started again, we're digging around the boat for things like the fenders (deflated for storage these past few weeks) and, with the seas calmed down a bit and the washer usable again, starting in on the mounds of laundry that have accumulated.

Sean has been charting our progress on an actual, physical chart of the Atlantic as we go (in addition to the electronic chart plotting), and tallying our daily mileage. Our record, thanks to the conditions (it wasn't even a spinnaker day) was on the 6th-7th, with 235 nautical miles, just a few miles short of an average speed of 10 knots. We are, in the local boat vernacular, chuffed about it.


  • finally saw some ships, two tankers (even spoke to one on the radio to check that our AIS [automatic identification system] info was being broadcast and received properly
  • 3 flying penguins (Anne promises to find a reference to look up what they really are when she gets home)
  • two sea turtles
  • mysteriously, not a single flying fish corpse on deck this morning
  • one really spectacular sunrise
  • 209 miles to go!

The prettiest sunrise Anne ever saw.

9 Dec 2009 16:41 UTC 13 28.739 N 57 24.953 W

- Anne, for WT

08 December 2009

Fenceposts, flying penguins, and other randomness

Heidi driving.
All continues well aboard the WT. We've just had our daily "how many days have we been traveling, anyway?" discussion (we left on a Wednesday at noon; it's Tuesday, so we're in our 14th day of travel; not everyone agrees when this 14th day started. Anne maintains that it started at noon, Oisin disagrees and says it started when Tuesday started, i.e., midnight, and the rest of the crew mostly elect to stay out of the fencepost/counting argument, except for Casey, who keeps asking "so, is it 15?") This is almost as complicated as the "what time is it, anyway?" discussion, which also happens regularly.

We're testing out the second autopilot on the boat - a nifty hydraulic (i.e. very strong) system that should work in heavy seas, and have it tuned well for the current conditions, so we're getting a bit of a break from helming (and everyone got to sit down for lunch, and dinner last night, at once. Very cool.)

We've nicknamed the seabirds that continue to visit us the "flying penguins" since, really, they look surprisingly like penguins - except for the long wings and the flying bit, of course.

We had a record showing of suicidal flying fish, with 5 little carcasses on deck this morning. It's been windy and rolling enough that we haven't been fishing much the past few days, so we couldn't even make use of them as bait, sadly.

The conditions continue to be excellent, and we're chewing up the miles, with a current estimate of 366 nm to go.

Video of sunset at sea - hoping to see another green flash, spoiled by a big wave at exactly the wrong time.

8 Dec 2009 19:25 UTC 13 10.139 N 54 43.971 W

- Anne, for WT

07 December 2009


Flying along. (Still on port tack when this shot was taken.)
After what seems like forever on port tack, we did the unimaginable early yesterday evening and gybed the boat. Between the wind shifting and our need to keep the boat reasonably flat lest we starve (ha), we'd come a bit south of our direct course to the island. So amidst shouts of "starboard!" (not that there were any other boats to hear) we turned and headed a bit more directly for our destination.

The wind and seas have picked up quite a bit (steadily over 20 knots, with occasional gusts to 30; Sean describes it as a "brisk following sea," which translates to fast-moving, sometimes 3.5-meter waves) and driving is a blast. Anne notes: "If you'd told me two months ago that driving at night, downwind, in 28 knots and big rollers would be something to look forward to, rather than run screaming from, I'd have laughed at you... But last night's watch was great fun."

The current course-over-ground speed record is held by Sofia with 14.2 knots (she's got an unverified further claim of 14.7, but no one else saw it.) We are, indeed, moving right along!

Our arrival date/time bets are written down and posted on the fridge door (along with our galley rules, garbage-handling instructions and the map to the stash of beverages under the floor in the master cabin). They range from Wednesday through Friday. We'll see!

Only one flying fish carcass on deck this morning; we've been visited repeatedly by some sort of large seabirds which seem to think we ought to have interesting stuff in our wake (a sign, perhaps, that fishing boats get this far out?) Still no other boats in view, though.

578 miles to go!

7 Dec 2009 19:00 UTC 13 04.206 N 51 03.888 W

- Anne, for WT

06 December 2009

"Flash? More like a green smudge, really."

(Actual WT crew, who shall remain nameless, quote.)

Probably anyone who sails (and lots who don't) has heard of the fabled "Green Flash," the green light that folks sometimes see at sunset (and maybe sunrise) at sea. Conditions have to be really good - a clear view of the ocean-horizon, no clouds, etc., and still it's a somewhat rare sight.

We can now safely report, however, that the entire boat saw the phenomenon at sunset on Friday. Not really a flash, so much as the light of the setting sun, just as it disappeared below the horizon, changing from bright orange to a very clear green for just a moment.

Very cool.

(And, apparently, sometimes it really does flash, almost like a lighthouse beacon. Casey says it's the first time he's been on a boat where everyone saw it at once.)

Random tidbits/news:

  • finally saw another boat, just lights that passed behind us on a night watch
  • only one suicidal flying fish on deck this morning
  • saw an airplane overhead this morning (first one in ages)
  • 808 miles to go!
  • Sofia's Beer Bread is amazing.

Oisin says: "Happy Birthday, Cian!"

6 Dec 2009 16:21 UTC 13 21.901 N 47 05.740 W

- Anne, for WT

05 December 2009

11 days on port tack, and nothing but flying fish

Looking back from the bow: Heidi and Sean smooth the caulking on the deck with chisels.
Erratum: Anne forgot to add, yesterday:

Heidi says: "Happy Birthday, Dad!"

We are steaming along, still on port tack, still wing-on-wing, downwind in 15-20 knots of breeze, with occasional 10-foot following waves... driving is too fun for words. (Not so attempting to make food down below in the rollers, apparently. Sofia gets major kudos and thanks from all of us for an awesome lunch under nearly impossible cooking conditions!)

We haven't seen a light or a sail (or pretty much anything except the occasional seabird and the ever-amusing flying fish) in ages. The biggest excitement on the night watches was a random wave that nearly washed into the cockpit out of nowhere on Casey & Anne's watch around 3:30 AM. Yup, you know you're in the middle of nowhere when a *wave* is newsworthy. Heh.

Our mileage-to-go went below 1000 miles this morning (Casey elected the Grateful Dead's "Truckin'" as the appropriate soundstrack for the moment) and we've started a "what time will we arrive" pool.

Other than that, things continue to hum quietly along.

5 Dec 2009 16:49 UTC 15 00.671 N 44 07.431 W

- Anne, for WT

04 December 2009

(insert clever title here)

Unusual view of the jib!
We're sailing along again under main and jib, wing-on-wing, in classic downwind tradewind sailing (pretty steady 15 knots, just south of east), on direct course for St. Lucia.

We continue to marvel that we've sailed, so far, the entire way - we've only had the engine on to slow down the apparent wind over the deck while hoisting/dousing the spinnaker. And we've been on the same tack since we set the sails outside of Santa Cruz harbor! Just amazing.

We have a truly enormous lure out on the fishing line, hoping for a tuna; we hooked up something early this morning, but it escaped before we could see what it was.

Sofia continues to experiment with various baking projects, and the crew is only too happy to demolish the results - we had little croissants for a morning snack, amazing with butter and jam. (Which we have taken to pronouncing "yam" in deference to the Swedish pronounciation. The container for same is the "yam yar.")

We all ended up being way too lazy to dress up properly for the evening halfway party, and mostly lounged around on deck snacking and watching the moon come up.

Yet Another Beautiful Sunset at Sea

Flora and fauna count:

  • lots of flying fish, of course
  • one flying fish suicide attempt foiled by Sean; only one very tiny carcass found on deck in the morning.
  • another big white bird with a long tail
  • assorted other seabirds
  • Casey and Sean saw a sea turtle

Casey says: "Rock and roll! Couldn't be nicer - ocean sailing at its best!"

4 Dec 2009 15:08 UTC 16 26.727 N 40 54.289 W

-Anne, for WT

03 December 2009

Halfway Day

Exactly halfway!
At just about 10 am (local time, which is currently UTC-3) or just under 8 solid days of travel, we hit the halfway mark of 1325 miles to go to St. Lucia. We celebrated with all hands on deck and mimosas in the bright morning sunshine.
Casey celebrating halfway point.
Then Casey put us to work, and we launched the spinnaker again, and have been cruising along steadily with it all day. The wind's been a bit variable in both direction and speed, so it's keeping those on watch busy driving.

We had pizza for lunch - three versions of Sofia's most creative topping selections - and are looking forward to the official halfway party tonight. Everyone's been too lazy to work on their outfits (there was much napping after the pizza lunch) so there may be some extremely creative last-minute work going on shortly.

Things are otherwise extremely quiet out here - no sign of another boat for days; only one suicidal flying fish on deck this morning (though lots zooming around all around us); and one big, beautiful, mostly-white seabird with a really long tail flew by this afternoon.

Sofia says: "Grattis pa fodelsedagen Eva-Britt och Gunnel!" ("Happy Birthday Mom & Aunt Gunnel!")

3 Dec 2009 19:03 UTC 17 23.076 N 38 33.359 W

- Anne, for WT

02 December 2009

"How are you going to land that fish, bore him to death?"

We hooked up another dorado last night near sunset. There was some disagreement as how best to bring it in (Oisin: play the fish, tire him out; Sean: haul the thing in as quickly as possible, it's just a little dorado.) The fish escaped just before being landed - Oisin maintains it was so terrified by the blod-thirsty mob waiting on deck with knives and winch handles that it managed one last heroic effort to escape.

In other news, we've been one week at sea as of mid-day today.

It's another spinnaker day; going by the holes in various sailing gloves, the score is spinnaker 2, gloves zip. But we're sailing along nicely with it now.

Sean coiling spinnaker lines; gives you an idea of how big all the lines on this boat are.

Lots of completely random things going on today: did a bit of cleaning (things do get grubby with 7 folks living in a confined space!); and some laundry (the seas are calm enough for both washer and dryer to function well); glove repair (see spinnaker, above); and we've come far enough west that we're setting Boat Time to be minus another hour. There's a rumor of scones to be had later with some tea - we can be civilized even here in the middle of nowhere.

The Flora and Fauna report is getting a bit repetitive - plenty of flying fish, one suicidal fish overnight, a couple of dolphins heard but not seen on a night watch.

The off-watch crew have started playing a card game called "switch" - very much like the game of Uno, but played with a regular deck of cards. It's likely to become an obsession if we're not careful.

Hard to believe it's December - the water temp is 82, we're all on deck in shorts & tank tops!

If we stay on this schedule, it'll be time for the Halfway Party tomorrow - it's fancy dress (which none of us brought, except perhaps for Casey) so we anticipate getting very creative with bin bags (that's WT-speak for trash bags for our North American readers) and duct tape...

2 Dec 2009 14:00 UTC 18 23.975 N 35 24.241 W

- Anne, for WT

01 December 2009

Sex, drugs and rock n' roll

...there, we got your attention, didn't we?

We're starting to run out of news, here in the middle of nowhere, at least beyond the weather and what we had for dinner. (Continued nice; roast lamb and potatoes. All excellent.)

We did have a few lines of clouds blow through with a bit of rain in them, but the last brief shower this morning resulted in a really nice full-sky rainbow (not to mention giving the deck a quick fresh-water washdown) so no one minded especially.

We never get tired of the sunsets at sea.

Flora and fauna report:

  • NO other boats for days... more proof that the ocean is really big, and we're pretty small!
  • no dolphins in a while, we're hoping we're about due for some more
  • still lots of schools of flying fish
  • 2 ex-flying fish on deck this morning (one put to use as a fishing lure, with mixed success: a fish went after it, but we lost the fish, and bait, trying to reel it in.)

1 Dec 2009 19 31.051 N 32 50.370 W

- Anne, for WT