After our two week marathon of boat repairs, provisioning and planning, it is finally done. We are ready to leave for the Atlantic crossing. We even find time for a small good-bye party with our nice neighbors and our friends Michael and Sonja from SY Pantera (nevertryneverknow.de), whom we met when Naima was still a floating workshop in Almerimar.
The next morning we get up early to fill up the tanks and do some final jobs (including taking a proper shower). Although we are quite excited to leave on this big passage, we sleep like babies, probably as a side effect of the drinks the night before. At noon, we are ready. Adi, Birgit and Daan, our Dutch friends help us with the lines and push us off. We wave farewell and before we realize it, we’re leaving Las Palmas after six weeks. We set sail, direction south. The big moment. Difficult for us to grasp what lies ahead of us. According to our passage planning we will sail more than 2700 nautical miles (5000 km), for which we estimate 18-25 days. Although we are confident in Naima and ourselves, this is quite a big adventure for us, and we will really have to rely on ourselves and be cautious. Any help, if at all, might be days away. Our planned route: southwest for about 800 nm, almost to the Cape Verdes (where we’d go to if anything goes wrong till here), to find steady trade winds. Then west for almost 2000 miles.
And then Las Palmas is behind us. All the way along Gran Canaria we watch the island and wonder how it will feel like not to see land for so many days. Finally, the sun sets but halfway through the night we still see the islands’ lights on the horizon. The next morning they are gone. The next few days there is hardly any wind and we make little progress and even resort to motoring a bit. We take 4 hour shifts through the night, but keep the schedule flexible during the day. On day 3 the wind picks up slightly. Our genaker is the hero of the day as this light wind sail pulls Naima even at 6 knots of wind. We also spot a group of small whales.
At night Naima draws a bright stripe through the water, glowing with life from small luminiscent algea to larger light-emitting beings, which we assume to be either squids and/or jelly fish. The remarkably strong light flashes from the latter turn the scene into something like an underwater press conference. In addition, dolphins join in from time to time, drawing long glowing tails as they speed through the water and flashes when they bump into something like the squids or jelly fish (these collisions don’t seem to affect them, however). They speed down to Naima’s bow, turn, draw circles, let themselves fall back and repeat the spectacle. Often several animals together, in perfect alignment. It is really a mind blowing natural light show reminding us just how full of life the ocean is.
During the days we sleep a lot to recover from the night shifts or listen to audio books. We also keep in touch with our families and close friends by email through our sat phone. An expensive investment, but totally worth it. It also supplies us with up-to-date weather forecasts.
By day 5 we have found steady trade winds and our speed finally increases. It is getting warmer, but also rainier and the last few days the wave size increased. Our initial excitement has left us and we fall into a routine as many things repeat itself day by day. We also start to be a bit exhausted, not only from the night shifts, but also from the constant shaking (if you want to know what it feels like, watch the crazy bus ride scene in one of the later Harry Potter movies, it is just like that! I’m sure you will find it on Youtube). I am quite curious how the first few steps on firm ground will feel like. Our desire to arrive is growing. Fortunately, we have so far had good weather and except for a day without running water no technical incidents to report. The genoa pulls us and the autopilot steers. We have plenty of fresh food left and might (we hope) not eat that much canned food after all. But let’s see in week 3.
At the time of writing, day 10, we have made one third of the way in terms of distance and a bit more in terms of time. We expect to make landfall in about 15 days if everything goes well. We’ll keep you posted. Thanks so much for following our blog and sharing our adventure – this means a lot to us!