June 21, 2015
Serafina has crossed the Atlantic! It was certainly hard to imagine, as she sat at the dock in Seattle, that it was just a matter of time until she’d be at a dock in Lagos, Portugal. We even considered, almost until we were under way from Miami, that an Atlantic crossing might be too much for us and for the boat. Thanks to Hannah Stapleton and Dan Crookes, the long hours didn’t fall entirely on our shoulders, and we had wonderful companions for key parts of the trip. Anita Straupenieks was another essential part of the team, supplying weather information every day, with occasional back-up from Sarah Stapleton.
We were extremely lucky with the weather. It is quite possible for an Atlantic crossing to be deadly dangerous, and although there were occasional threats from gales and an early tropical storm, we skated through without any frightening weather. Only a few weeks before our crossing, five large sailboats were abandoned in a storm near the Azores, the owners and crews rescued by the Portuguese Navy, with the very sad loss of the life of a six year old girl who died of hypothermia.
Our last passage from the Azores to Portugal, a little over 800 nautical miles, was just the two of us, reminding us of how valuable the help was from Hannah and Dan. We had one day of unpleasant weather – poor Birgit’s birthday! The next day, on the other hand, was one of the best sails we’ve had on the trip, seven and eight knots in perfect wind on calm seas.
The last day was pretty exciting too, since to get to Lagos you have to cross one of the busiest shipping channels in the world, where scores of ships pass in and out of the Straits of Gibraltar every day. The photo below is the AIS information as we got close, each triangle representing a cargo ship or tanker. We ended up doing nearly 36 hours with virtually no sleep – which explains why there was no blog post yesterday about our arrival.
Keeping things in proportion, we’re proud of ourselves and of Serafina, and very aware of our debt to the long human experience at sea. Millennia have gone into the design of hulls and sails that can carry you across 3,000 miles of open water with energy from the wind alone. Ok, we had the option of motoring, but it could have been done without it. It just would have taken longer.
Now we’re done with living up to a schedule. Since we left Seattle we’ve had to make dates, to get south after Pacific hurricane season, and to get across the Atlantic before the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. We had a month for preparation in Miami (and lovely help from Peter and Nancy), but other than that it was mostly push, push, push.
Finally we can drift, spend time where we like, explore places in more depth, and do our passages in comfortable one-day chunks. It will take some time to get out of the “voyaging” mind-set, but I bet we can do it. Hopefully we’ll have some interesting things to report from the Mediterranean…
The “fleet tracker” from the rally is done, so “Find me Spot” will once again be the source of information about where we are.