1. Crossing The Atlantic boatbook

 

  1. It wasn't a case of just leaving La Rochelle and pointing Aluna in the direction of St. Lucia. First we had to find the wind to take us there and to catch up with the ARC in Las Palmas to participate in the fun that was normally associated with the event. At this time of year in meant sailing 1400NM south to pick up the northern equatorial trade wind that blows from east to west.

    With a brand new boat there is the risk of teething problems so we minimized the first few passages to short 1-3 days. The route we followed was La Rochelle - Bayona - Lagos - Lanzarote - Las Palmas - St. Lucia. In Las Palmas we would meet the ARC and the trade winds. The ARC was to start 21 November 2010 the 'official' end date of the hurricane season when it was considered safe to venture into the Atlantic. We knew the marina at Las Palmas would be overflowing with ARC participants so we planned our arrival in Lanzorate as the ARC boats departed. To our surprise there were another 50 or so boats with the same idea !

  2. Departure

    3 November 2010

    By the start of November we hadn't fitted everything we wanted to on Aluna but we had her in a state that we could sail at any time. It was now paramount to get out of the Biscay as quickly as possible. There was aleady a storm raging out there and we were hoping it would quieten down quickly so we could go. Finnaly on the 3 November a 24 hour weather window appeared giving us the chance to 'escape'. Our last view of La Rochelle
  3. We are under way on engine power, at that time we had both engines running, now we only use one at a time - it´s all a learning process! We had the right speed for trawling and catching fish, we were very lucky, we had several strikes and got some in. We caught Tuna, very tasty! Andreas fried the fish and from the leftovers we had "Bratherring" for the next 3 days, breakfast, dinner and lunch! We actually enjoyed it.
  4. Arriving in Bayona

    6 November 2010

    In the morning we arrived in Bayona. What a relief! We made it! Andy Webster is leaving for the UK and a new Crew member Javier Perez arrives with two bottles of red wine and 2 bottles of a coffee liquor. The boys always found an excuse to get the liquor out when they wanted to celebrate a highlight. The bottles did not last long. Normally, we had made a rule booze underway was not allowed !
  5. Daring to Continue

    10 November 2010

    When we arrived in Bayona, we noticed quite a few boats making a very quick departure. Another gale warning! We could not run, since we had to change crew and Aluna needed some attention and we had to catch our breath. So we were in the safe harbour tied down with extra care, lots of ropes everywhere. Even big ships were hiding in the harbour to sit the gale out. We got talking to a British boat, a racing boat, "British Soldier" which was going to enter the ARC race, the crew were mostly young soldiers with the marks of battle. Brian, the skipper, had a very difficult job to watch over his boys. 
    British Soldier and us decided to make a dash for the open water before the next big storm arrived. It was great fun going out through the surf.
  6. Under way to Lagos

    12 November 2010

    Andreas and Javier sponsor a blackfooted ham for the trip to the Caribbean! Oh dear this ham has got a long story. Poor Javier could not enjoy the ham at all, he became so badly seasick that he decided to leave Aluna and fly home to Madrid. We were very sad to let him go, we loved having him on board he is a lovely fellow. He owns a catamaran himself and could not understand that he suffered so much under seasickness, also his stomach ulcer was playing a part in his decision to leave the boat. It looks like everyone gets seasick now and again. 
    We had the wind from behind most of the way with a big swell. We were happy we had good radar and AIS navigation instruments.
  7. Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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    Maiden Voyage, La Rochelle to Las Palmas

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  8. Lagos to Lanzerote

    14 November 2010

    We spent a night on anchor in Lagos and early evening set sail for Lanzerote. The first evening we encountered strong winds and big waves breaking over the side. The next two days we had 30 knots of wind and three reefs in the sail. We clocked up nearly 20 knots. Now we tested the seaworthyness of Aluna. It was like going down a ploughed field in a racing car with no suspension. Still we had lovely cooked meals.
  9. Lanzerote

    18 November 2010

    We decide to sail just the three of us and pick another crew in Las Palmas. Lanzerote was our first experience of warm weather, nice restaurants and bars. It was hard to move on. But we wanted to make the start of the ARC. Richard fitted the last components to make the watermaker functioning, now we could even use the washing machine while under way. What a luxury.
  10. Now or Never

    25 November 2010

    The first days we could set the sails and then we had to motor again running away from a depression. We decide to avoid the storm by heading south towards the Capo Verde Islands. We even toy with the idea of refuelling. Night watches are easy, not much traffic and without sails you can relax
  11. Las Palmas

    23 November 2010

    The ARC boats are starting in Las Palmas heading to St. Lucia, 236 boat start at the same time to cross the Atlantic. A big party atmosphere on both ends. In Las Palmas lots of equipment suppliers were checking the boats and helped people to find the best gear. Another 50 boats arrived with us, as NARC´s, not in the ARC, just following the pack. 
    There was a big choice of mostly young adventurous people literally queuing for crew positions. We were very lucky to find Jasper, an experienced Dutch sailor who wanted to cross the Atlantic and fly from there to Brazil. He was very interested in Celestial Navigation and Wildlife, he took lots of pictures and logged all the sightings of whales and dolphins. Very interesting encounter.

    Again we leave in hurry. Shortly after arriving in Lanzerote we found out there was heavier weather with northerly winds approaching which would last for at least a week so we made a quick decision to depart for St. Lucia. Bought food for the crossing, unfortunately not enough vegetables and fruit, big mistake!.
  12. Half Way

    7 December 2010

    I wish we made this speed all the way.
  13. After 22 Days We Arrive

    11 December 2010

    We arrive in St. Lucia after 22 days sailing and 2700NM. We crossed the ARC finish line in Rodney Bay. Many ARC boats were still underway. Surprisingly, they were a little confused as they could not find us on their list of participants. I am writing this in hindsight, memories are blurred, we did not keep much of a record. Most of the time we had good days.

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