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Thursday, December 1, 2011
Preparing for the Atlantic crossing
Rolled oats; tick. Tea and coffee; tick. Long-life milk; tick. Books (dozens of them); tick. Enough fresh fruit and vegetables for three weeks; tick. A freezer full of prepared meals for rough days; tick. Loo paper; double tick - imagine running out of that mid-Atlantic!
Preparing and provisioning for a three week Atlantic crossing is a mission. In theory (and mentally) we’ve been doing it for five years and are confident Bandit is fully stocked, well equipped and ready to go, but I can’t help having a last minute panic. There just seem to be so many last minute things to do even though we consider ourselves fairly organised.
A blue water ocean passage is always a challenge, especially shorthanded, but our shake down passage from Gibraltar to the Canary Islands (via Morocco) brought smiles to our faces. In a stiff breeze Bandit went better and faster than we expected. A solid boat weighing 18 tonnes (and that was before the Turkish rugs, Italian marble ware , Sicilian pottery, Moroccan tagine dishes, 20 kg of Italian pasta and 20 litres of Spanish olive oil went on) she proved she had the legs to cope with the strong wind and big swells.
The only aspect we found difficult was adapting to broken sleep…..although our night watches (four hours off/on) were made easy at times with pilot whales and dolphins accompanying us. For those who know nothing about sailing…..no, we cannot anchor at night, yes will go three weeks (give or take a day or two) without \seeing anything but ocean and no, the Atlantic isn’t a frightening prospect – it’s far safer than driving down State Highway One.
Will we get bored? Strange as it seems – there probably won’t be time. There’s navigating, (David navigates by the stars with a sextant as well as GPS), constant watches, meals to prepare, the boat to keep clean and tidy, emails and blogs to write and of course all those books to read as well as snatching sleep whenever possible.
While we’ve done two Atlantic crossings before, we feel complete novices (and a little nervous) going into this one but are looking forward to the challenge. And, once out there on the blue Atlantic with those lazy swells rolling by, the days getting warmer and catching plenty of tuna and mahi-mahi, we’re confident it will be bliss.