There is much I want to share of our experience, but where to start? Given that a complete accounting would entail too much information for some, I’ve decided to be as brief as possible (ha-ha) in this blog post, but for those brave souls who would like to hear even more, you can read a fairly detailed account with photos of what it was like to be onboard Taka Trois during the crossing on a new page here on this website entitled “The Crossing.” (http://www.takadventures.com/the-crossing.html) .
I guess a good way to begin is by saying that the journey was both much easier and much MUCH harder than I expected. From a purely sailing, technical and a ‘what-if’ standpoint, it was a breeze. We had no major technical problems, no accidents, no medical emergencies and managed to sail at a decent speed for most of the journey without too much effort or mishap and arrived at our destination within at our original estimated timeframe.
Patrice, our faithful skipper would say that the sailing was not without its challenges. With the wind coming from behind us for most of the trip, our main point of sail was downwind, a difficult point of sail especially with swells of over 2 meters rocking us back and forth over that course and putting us in danger of gybing for a good part of the trip. Although we had installed ‘a brake’ to stop the main sail from gybing, with winds of force 5 on average and squalls which brought us sudden gusts of up to force 7, we couldn’t trust it 100%. We therefore chose to do a fair amount of our sailing with just the headsail. Unfortunately we were unable to use our new Code 5 sail or the Spinnaker which would’ve been perfect sails to use to sail downwind, but were too fragile and unwieldy to use in winds above 15 knots. In the end we did an average speed of well over 6 knots on our route which was not bad, all things considered.
Two of my personal concerns before leaving were seasickness and having enough fresh food. In the end, I only had a bit of queasiness at the beginning, but no real seasickness, thank God, so I felt pretty good for most of the trip and I was able to function normally and perform my duties easily. My concern about food was also unnecessary. We had enough fresh food and rarely had to open a tin can (I have an intense loathing of Spam and other such canned delicacies traditionally used by sailors on long hauls). As those of you who followed us on the blog saw, we managed to prepare some wonderful meals which greatly helped our morale.
What was so very hard for me was in fact a combination of several factors: The seemingly endless number of days ahead of us, the sheer monotony (there were days and days and days when we saw NOTHING except that seething ocean), the constant vigilance and therefore a constant, under-lying stress that something could go wrong and the never-ending fight to stay balanced on the heaving ‘bronco’ that Taka Trois had become and even the smallest tasks were exasperating and exhausting (to get an idea of the movement and the swells have a look at the slideshow below). This was all highly amplified by serious sleep deprivation which has always been a bête noire for me personally. We never got more than 6 hours of sleep at a stretch (if that) and although we took every opportunity to nap during the day, the lack of continuous sleep eventually took a toll on our mental outlook. Every three days or so for me, I could feel my spirits plummeting and it was only the kindness of my shipmates and my faith that kept me going.
Highlights of the Trip:
Thanks goes first to God for His protection and guidance throughout, but also to you dear friends and family, for your continuous support through prayers and encouraging messages. Knowing that you were following us on that precious ‘yellow brick’ felt like an extra boost of wind in our sails and we were very grateful for it. Thank you.
The following is a slideshow of Shelagh and my mother's photos from our arrival at the Catamaran Marina, Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. What a joyous occasion!