The Blog - ARC 2012 Las Palmas to St Lucia 

The following is the blog that we posted daily as we crossed the Atlantic. 

Day 14: Settled into Rodney Bay Marina St Lucia

Well we made it.

Lee and Andrew still talking to each other and Lee planning where to next (as you would expect) 

Pete and Darb still talking to us and each other and reflecting fondly on the past 2 weeks and desperately awaiting fresh company (their respective wives) 

Distance Travelled: 2782nm 

VMG: (straightline speed) 8.9kn 

Max Speed: 19kn 

Max Miles in 24hrs: 265nm 

Miles without Main sail (flaked on deck): 1800nm 

Miles without Jib (flaked on deck): 620nm 

Miles under spinnaker (prior to it exploding): 110nm 

Number of Flying fish on Deck: 24 

Number of Dorado Caught: 3 

Number Gourmet Meals Consumed (cooked with fresh ingredients): almost all 

Best Breakfast: Poached eggs with Serrano ham 

Best Lunch: Fresh Cooked Quiche 

Best Main: Slow Cooked Pork Belly with Asian sweet sauce and rice 

Best Red Wine Consumed: Penfolds St Henri 

Breakages: Main Sail Outhaul and One Batten lost, Jib Top Shackle Broken, A3 Spinnaker with top half divorcing bottom half, Generator Inverter Fried 

Lost and Found Notice: #3 Main Batten approx. 600 miles east of St Lucia lying in 4000m approx. 

Bubble Wrap Crew Member Award: AB intrepid Boom Rider and Mast Climber Max speed 17kn in 35kn wind while riding the boom with dyneema lashings in teeth 

Most Versatile Cook: Pete can make any sauce from any ingredients 

Most Agile Fore deckie: Darb happy to spend hours making sure all halyards, sheets, kickers, toppers tweakers, poles, strops, foils, blocks and any other parafinalia carefully aligned and stowed. 

Most Valuable Crewmember: Lee, keen to hose off the cockpit to remove discarded body hair and fish scales, vacuum the salon whilst healed at 30 deg and keep the bathrooms all sparkling whilst preparing a meal, keeping the log up to date, plotting our course and most other things us guys just don't think about. 

Just a really good time had by all 

Lee, Andrew, Darb and Pete 

Day 13: Sunday 9th 

Started the morning with eggs and iberian ham and continued on with a relatively non eventful day which is how we prefer the day to be. 

Consistent winds around 20 – 24 knots saw us put away some good miles through most of the day. Unfortunately mother nature decided to put in a reminder around 6 pm that we weren't home yet and there was still no time to be complacent. So just as we were plating up the tuna salad - which took on a life of its own and began to head to all corners of the bench – basically any where but in its bowl squalls came in gusting to 30 knots plus along with a call from up top for immediate stowing of food while we reefed down. 

With strong winds we made good progress throughout the night and are excited to say that for the first time we have St Lucia on screen and only 70 odd miles away. Looks like a good chance of arrival and berthing in the daylight which is a change from the midnight arrivals in strange ports that happens far to often on passage. 

Should be a busy day today as we shower shave generally tidy up and prepare for our arrival. 

At least it will be an end to the cyclic watches that see you dragged from bed just as you have entered the deepest of sleeps or having some strange dream that somehow incorporates the sounds and motion of the boat so effectively into a completely unrelated scene. 

So not long now and we will be raising the next of our courtesy flags – St Lucia. 

Day 12 - Saturday 8th December

The focus of today was on Darb’s birthday. Thinking we should spoil him he had an entire day free of washing up duties. Birthdays don't excuse you however from watches or sail duties so he still had to put in for that time. Pete and Lee set about planning an appropriate dinner which now will see us all joining weight watchers on our return to Terra Firma.

120812 3 What better way to celebrate a birthday at sea

The Menu: 

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with another special secret sauce on a bed of Rice 

Crispy Green Salad 

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding with Macadamia Ice-cream 

Accompanied by a bottle of 2005 Cote De Imaz Reserva Rioja 

Not too bad for a birthday meal nearly two weeks out to sea. 

As for the sailing side. The temporary fix to the outhaul clew gave way again and needed another set of Dynema lashings made. Looks like the area where it attaches has some sharp edges that are literally knawing their way through the fastenings. We also managed to lose another batten today – it literally catapulted itself out of its pocket and over board. Having no bottom batten has seen each batten above slowly destroy the batten pocket or sleeve. So two battens remaining, one original and the trusty home made batten we built in Las Palmas. Lets see which is the last one standing. 

Great nights sailing with more miles put behind us. 

Less than a Darwin to Saumlaki to go.

Day 11 - Friday 7th December

120712 12 ake that two

Great day on the water. The wind came in and with Katherine's Headsail and Main restored we have been able to sail though out the night averaging 9 plus. The lack of battens – three on the deck and only three top remaining has only caused issues with her stability with wind and and wave movements – an annoying occasuinal luffing and slapping that keeps the watch person on their toes to stop. 

We haven't been overly successful on the fishing side and apparently the number of flying fish that we have caught don't count as Islay’s crew believe we have the advantage of an airstrip for landing. However we may have just gained the upper hand in this competition with the catch of not one but two fish on the one line with a combined length of 1m. 

During the night we started our last Sydney to Hobart – less than 600 miles now to go and with wind conditions looking set to stay we are hoping for a good run all the way to St Lucia and a bed that's not going to roll. 

Darbs birthday today so lets see what comes out of the galley, could be interesting 

Day 10 - Thursday 6th December 

120612 3 Starting to think andrew has a thing about going up the mast

With light to non existent winds for the majority of the day the fellows took to sending AB up the mast again to retrieve the halyard and retrieve the top swivel and set about rechecking and removing another batten from the main, while Lee attacked the inside right down to digging out the vacuum cleaner. With sail wardrobe almost restored – don't have a sewing machine on-board to stitch up the A3 – every one was feeling pretty impressed. Even better we also got to dig out the Code 0 for a short time and put it away without any damage! 

To make the most of the calmer conditions we decided a BBQ was in order and set to cooking up some steaks with a good Aussie Shiraz as an early celebration for Darbs birthday which is actually Saturday. 

120612 11 There be a whale

Highlight of the day was around 5pm when a small whale breached several times beside the boat. Unfortunately by the time we grabbed the cameras he was over playing and settled into swimming in our wake for about twenty minutes. 

With just over 2000 miles covered were doing our best to get Pete into port for his 34th wedding celebration as he hasn’t missed one with Sue yet. 

Wind's have been variable for the last 24 hrs so we have motored and or sailed with Jib or code zero and full main on and off in between the rain and squalls 

Roll on St Lucia. 

Day 9 - Wednesday 5th December

A day earlier than expected the wind dropped below 20 for a short period of time and we were able to rerig the main sail webbing and rehoist the sail. Never appreciated the main sail so much even if the top batten is hand made and the bottom batten is totally removed. The boat instantly went from wallowing in 5 knots to sailing 10’s and that's with the staysail. George the autopilot is also much happier as in the lower speeds hand steering was the preferred option to listening to George labour. 

120512 6 Morning tea to celebrate

To celebrate the main sail up morning tea of freshly baked Apple and Walnut Tea Bread. Just as well we have had a few hiccups to slow us down – still plenty of food to cook and enjoy. Think this should be called the Gourmet Food Crossing of the Atlantic. 

Around 4pm with squalls approaching we sailed through the most magnificent rainbow. It literally looked like we were sailing through it – didn't have time to stop and dive for the pot of gold. 

As predicted winds have dropped out and we are anticipating a relaxed clean house and fishing day today and what better way to start then with AB’s poached eggs. 

Under a 1000 miles to go – its the home run – nearly!

Day 8 - Tuesday 4th December

A number of firsts in the last 24 hours 

- first time since we’ve launched the boat we haven’t had to wear overalls and thermals must be heading in the right direction 

- the number of miles to go are less than what we have sailed 

- Lees had her time in the office crossing the Atlantic! 

- The wind finally dropped enough so we could get out the A3 – the Brolga is flying and we are sailing! Back to 10 kn boat speed 

At midnight we added another first 

- in twelve years of sailing we've never damaged a sail now we have another failure on this trip. The A3 literally split last night with no warning or change in wind strength. 

So we are running out of options in our sail wardrobe back to the trusty staysail and wallowing for the moment in an awkward swell at 5kn Boat speed and 15-20 wind 

Still smiling, eating well etc Lee made Gourmet Pizzas for lunch and we had Pete’s Curry that he took 2 days to prepare 

Day 7 - Monday 3rd December 

We’ve had consistent winds since starting and last night it once more blew for a while to 35+. We know we have a hole coming up and have been hoping that its just long enough for us to rerig our main in some fashion and now sort out the Jib etc. So just when you think you have a plan – something new comes along. 

120312 6 Andrew going up again this time to try and retrieve the halyard

At 8am while changing shifts our headsail let go at the shackle, considering we are sailing at the moment with only the staysail and the headsail this wasn't a welcome event. With sail retrieved and back on deck Andrew headed up the mast once more this time to try and retrieve the halyard after a while being beaten about at the top trying to hang on and sort out the jammed swivel and other complications he came down with a lot of serious bruises and no halyard or swivel. . This is when you wish you didn’t have a 31 m mast, you were 20 years younger and that we had packed a crash helmet as part of the safety gear – buying one of those in St Lucia. 

With Plan d, e or is that f now in place and we are back sailing again. Next time we are using a lashing on the snap shackle as a backup and changing some of the allen head shackles to ones with eyes as thread locker is not sufficient in these bouncy windy conditions. 

Even with the hiccups with sails we've been able to maintain around 8 knot averages or 200 mile days – even now with the headsail flying from the A3 Halyard with the staysail out to give it some protection from too high load we are still running well. If the wind drops a little more we will have to find some more power as we move closer to St Lucia but we will work that out when it happens. 

Now just over half way and into our third Sydney to Hobart equivalent - we are still enjoying gourmet meals with Lee cooking a Chicken and secret tomato sauce Fettuccini last night with Garlic bread. The only thing missing was the red wine as the 4 of us have decided to stay off the alcohol for the 2 weeks (so far so good). It will be an AFD combined record! 

Day 6 - Sunday 2nd December

120212 4 Gourmet salads for lunch Day 6

With a change of sail plan overnight comes a new challenge on board. We’ve now all got to learn to dance to a different rhythm on board and cupboards that were previously safe now require skill and calculation to open, remove the intended content and close without being imploded upon by everything secured behind the door. 

Food is still the highlight with Pete and Lee now looking at how they present the antipast platter for lunch or the next days salad with secret ingredients like kiwi fruit 

We are not far off or 2nd S-H just 2 and a bit more and we are there.

DAY 5 - Saturday 1st December

120112 2 Nice to have some sunshine for meal time

Had the best night to date on the water – brilliant moonlight relatively settled seas and an almost consistent wind. Made for a much more pleasurable sail then the previous nights. 

Today we have a boat in front of us – one of the Sunday starters - we’ve been slowly creeping up on her and its amazing how suddenly it becomes the point of interest for the change of watch. Not that we're competitive just cruising with intent! 

We are trying to 2nd guess the weather, as there is likely to be a big hole coming up, if we were more experienced with Atlantic weather we may have been brave and tried to go over but discretion says go under. I guess we will know which was the best decision in the end. Slowly trying to make some south but its been a difficult route as we want to keep up a little boat speed. Still way too rough and windy to contemplate trying to get the main back on but we will no doubt need it when the pressure drops out. 

Another milestone last night with the 1000nm covered in the early hours of the evening, next target Sydney-Hobart 2 (1280nm) need to have some targets as the end is to far to make interesting at this stage. 

We have a bet on with Berend of Islay as to the biggest fish caught but at 9kn plus we have given up trolling we have however caught 1 squid and 1 flying fish so we think we will change the rules to the most species. 

DAY 4 - Friday 30th November

Sleep suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance when your on four hour shifts and nothing stays still. Our third cabin is set up for passage making and works well with the bunks and lee cloth but the second rear cabin we knew would present a challenge. So unless you have the grip of a gecko or the reflexes of a startled cat and can propel your leg at the right moment whilst asleep then the safest and most comfortable option has proved to be to wedge oneself between the bed and the wall on a mattress. Then no matter how much we roll you have a chance of sleep! 

We have developed some games to keep ourselves amused one is to calculate the exact time we cover 640nm each time, that is the distance of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. After 3 Days and 20 mins we covered the first 640nm only three and a bit more S –H to go. 

Another mile stone for Katherine was that she has now covered 4000nm since launching in April this year so she will have covered almost 6000 before we get to the other side. 

113012 1 Pete cooking up storm in the kitchen

Last night Pete made his chicken surprise which was magnificent, was a baked dish with Chicken, Mushrooms and Potato in a sauce made from his secret ingredients, we know there was chorizo, tomato, peppers etc. but the rest must remain the secret of the chef. 

All going well so far, we keep looking at the main sail and thinking of a way to get it back up there but it is not likely to go back unless things change and we get a lull in the breeze and can fabricate a good fix, at this stage we are still making good time without it. 

Will post some photos soon but having some problems getting the Sat PC to read the USB stick 

Day 3 - Thursday 29th November 

112912 5 Our first catchall be it landed itself

Well we have our first catch on board but don’t think it can count as it landed itself and no one considered the size of the squid worthy of making into calamari. So Pete with his gear ready is awaiting the opportunity to have a real crack at landing the “Big One” – could be interesting to watch on this boat. 

Lee made us a Beef Stroganoff last night with rice and hot crusty bread hop we don't run out of this bread in a hurry. 

All going well and getting used to the sleep depravation and continuing confused swell, waiting for some long ocean swells to arrive rather than this bumpy stuff.

Day 2 - Wednesday 28th November

Day 2 saw us get a break in the weather to drop our mainsail on deck, sounds so simple, in practice a mammoth task. AB took on riding lessons once more with the boom to cut the lashings and has the bruises to show how well you can grip when at sea riding your boom in a lumpy offshore swell. 

112812 4 The webbing that let go

The only problem with having four on board is that when incidents happen you need all hands and no one seems to have a spare hand for the camera and I also note AB doesn’t seem too keen to hang on for a photo. 

With the main on deck we now know the problem was, at this stage we will see how we go and try and continue without the main. All it means is a bit slower crossing at the moment as we are around 2kn+ slower than normal targets. Bit disappointing as we only got the first 3 hours from the start before the failure and then less than 24 hours later we have had to pack it up, but none hurt and still travelling well. 

With all the work on deck we decided a good evening meal was called for and Pete baked a lasagna and served with salad and hot crusty bread “How good was that “ 

Overnight was clear of anything too nasty with moderate 15-20kn NE and a few light squalls and not much rain.

Day 1 - Tuesday 27th November

The first day saw us head out under full Main and Genoa, we quickly found ourselves in the first couple after a few hours and after 3 hrs passed what appeared to be the last of the fleet Raven. 

112712 14 Can we call the finish line now with Katherines nose out in front

Not for long - in 30kn + we tore the outhaul webs off the main and found ourselves fighting to manage an untamed main for an hour whilst Andrew sat on the boom and fashioned a repair. 

We contemplated returning to port but were able to fix the main in the 2nd reef position and believe we can repair the webs if we get a calm day so we can drop the main on the deck. Not going to be easy with a furling boom and a sail this size. 

For now we are travelling well but a little underpowered in the 25-35 kn conditions a beautiful moon made the conditions nice between the squalls. 

Sea state is settling, crew are all well and we are starting to relax as sunrise arrives and we settle into the long passage ahead.

(For more photos click here)

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain