Sailing Around The World

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28 Days At Sea “Squalls”

Over the last three days we have been fighting our way through the lite air and squall filled ocean. This lovely area of the Atlantic ocean we are currently in is the doldrums which is a stretch of ocean near the equator that has very little wind. Luckily we have been getting low winds of 8 kts to high winds of 25 knots and is staying on our beam to stern starboard as we continue to the Caribbean BVI’s. The problem with doldrums is the amount of sail changing that needs to be done to keep Dragonsbane moving safely and on course. In any given 4 hour shift the sails may be change 2 to 6 times because of the continuing squalls that plague the area we sail in. Our worst squall so far was two days ago. It began in the morning around 10am and continued with heavy rain and 20 knots of wind that swirled from bow to stern along our starboard side for 8 hours. We had been running our lite drafter head sail on a spinnaker pole making way at 5 kts but do to the length of the squall we were in and the bluster winds I decided to drop the drift headsail and switch with our heaver cruising sail.

I waited till the winds died down to 18kts and the rain slowed a bit to allow us to see what was going on. Cary and I came up with our plan and dropped the pole and drifted with out a problem. I stuffed the drifter into a sail bag and dropped it below. We then prepped the headsail, Cary would feed the sail into the foil track and I would grind the winch hoisting the sail. I put Dragonsbane on a pinch course to the wind to make hoisting the sail easier. The wind picked up to 22 kts and I wanted to take advantage of the wind so I proceed with hoisting the sail. The sail went up with no problem except for the last 6 feet of sail. The luff cord on the front edge of the sail that feeds into the foil groove jumped the foil track and was jammed. Cary told me to release the the halyard so I did dropping the sail 10 feet, Cary managed to get the sail un-jammed and working again. I winch the sail up again and once again the sail popped out of the track. Cary could not get the sail un-jammed and at this point the sail was flogging violently shaking the whole boat and rigging. I went forward to help and saw the luff cord had ripped a bit and would catch on the feeder when you tried to take the sail down. SO now we could not raise the sail or take it down. I decided to roll the sail up and did so wrapping the sheets around the sail. This was a big mistake. The wind pulled the lose sail off the fuller and began flogging uncontrollable. The sheets were now swing at our heads hitting both Cary and I in the face and body. The sheets wrapped around the sail now knotted and I could not unroll the sail now. Dragonsbane now crashed up and down in the swell and heavy wind. The headsail banged, and slapped the haul of the boat. From cranking on the winch so much I was out of energy and Cary tried to control the sheets from hitting us. But I managed to free the sheets from around the head stay. I then ran down below grab a screw driver and unscrewed the foil feeder from the foil. Cary released the halyard and the sail dropped to the deck and into the sea. I pulled with everything I had to get the sail out of the ocean as it filled up. Cary ran forward jamming his toe and helped pull the rest of the sail to the deck. We lashed the sail to the rail and hoisted the Staysail instead. We were exhausted from the 30 minute ordeal. We are now battling a 1 knot counter current under full sail and makeing slow progress as the squalls still swirling around us and soak our already soggy souls and sails.

Current Position: 22:43UTC 5deg 18.9min N, 38deg 52.2min W, SOG 4.7kts, COG 320deg-m, Swell 1M, WS 14kts, 1012MB, Overcast/Rain

Thank You,

Jacques & Cary

Day 24 Passage to Caribbean “Equator Crossing”

12/24/14
Happy to finally be back in the northern hemisphere, but it is hoooooooot! We crossed the equator at 14:00 today and are working our way to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. We hoping to be there in 17 days. Right after the sun went down today I made out what looked like Santa’s reindeer crossing the Atlantic ocean. I am pretty sure because his running lights were blinking the song Jingle Bells and he winked at us in the ocean well calling us crazy laughing all the way. I laughed back because he was wearing a speedo as he crossed the hot trophic’s, I don’t blame him because I am about there. So if your one of those kids waiting for Santa he is on his way.

Merry Christmas Everybody and God Bless!

Jacques & Cary

Current Position: 18:33utc, 0deg 25.0min N, 30deg 44.1min W, SOG 5.8kts, COG 344deg-m, WS 10kts, Swell <1m, DR 2297nm, 1010MB

Day 22 Passage to Carribbean “Boredom”

HI! it has been 22 days of non-stop sailing action. Most of the sailing action is rocking from side to side causing a little bit of stress or humor if you laugh at what happens. By funny I mean watching Cary or myself chase stuff around the cabin or cockpit as we get tossed around, it can be a real challenge especially when its a kitchen knife. Its funny out here in the middle of the ocean watching dolphins swim by, falling stars, crazy schools of flying fish running into the side of boat, and squalls because I am so bored. I joke with Cary and ask him to change the dam channel as I look out over the ocean. All you can see to the end of the horizon is many shades of blues with white clouds. In the last week we have seen two ships. Luckily the weather has been outstanding and we just sail along at 6.3kts. Based on my outlook schedule for landfall we are still on track for a mid-day landfall on January 9, 2015 but who knows what will happen in the next 19 days. I guess the hardest problem we have to deal with is our limited supply of LPG “propane” so making snacks is out of the question. Not to add to the problem but all our popcorn went bad so we had to toss even that into the ocean. Also all the snacks we did bring are now all gone except for a few, mostly jerky that I bought and you can only eat so much of that. Some snacks we could eat but in the event that we run out of propane we will have those items to eat because you don’t have to cook them. So for snacks we make a extra cup of rice when we make dinner or couscous. I just add some kind of sauce and bam you have a really bad snack but its better then chewing on you thumb. But all in all it is amazing to look at the chart and see how far we have come. We have sailed 3,329 nautical miles as of this afternoon and only 2614 nautical miles to go. I haven’t had to run the engine except to dodge a ship at night that was asleep at the helm so we are getting great gas mileage. Right now I am at 1/2 gallon per 3,329 nautical miles not bad, i should sell green credits to big companies. Our fresh water is holding up and we are looking good there too. Anyway I am looking forward to watching for some reindeer flying by here in a day or so. That should be a great sight to see, I will let you know that minute I do. Well I guess I will go back to doing pushups, pull ups, sit ups, and I may read another novel too.

Current Position: 02:33UTC, 2deg 16.1min S, 27deg 44.9min W, SOG 5.9kts, COG333deg, WS 10kts, Swell <1 meter, 1013MB, DS2600 NM, Sunny & Hot!

Marry Christmas Everybody,

Jacques

Day 20 Passage to BVI “Slowly We Go”

12/20/14
The weather has been very nice and is now becoming more organized. We do get low flying clouds that add a few extra knots of wind and makes flying the spinnaker a bit exciting. We have flown the spinnaker for about 48 hours and early this morning we had to change it up with a head sail. Looking forward at the weather it looks like we may have wind to cross the doldrums hopefully and then the wind picks up to 20 plus knots in the northern hemisphere. That extra bit of wind should push us quickly up to the BVI. Systems on Dragonsbane seem to be holding together for now other then chaffing through head sail sheets but I guess that happens when you sail 24/7. Currently making contact with another ship off our starboard. The ship is not transmitting a AIS signal so extra care will be given to this vessel until we are clear of her, always a fun game at night.

Current Position: 22:09utc, 5deg 51.6min S, 23deg 19.1min W, SOG 7kts, COG 314deg-M, WS 12.5kts, Swell<1m, cloudy sky, 1014MB, DR-2852nm

Thanks,

Jacques & Cary

Day 16 Passage “Snapped a Halyard”

Not such a bad day today as we make our way I produced 30 gallons of fresh water with the water maker. I also topped up the batteries and charged our laptops too. Its funny when you complete the above taskes its like having fresh laundry folded and put away. BUt the sad news is last night around 2am our headsail halyard snapped at the mast head and the jib sail fell into the ocean. We had to struggle to get the sail back on deck and then used our secondary jib halyard to raise it back up. Looks like I will be climbing up the mast when we get a calm day to fish the halyard back through the mast, fun stuff. I also did a look ahead based on our current average speed of 6 kts. We should arrive in the BVI in 24 days 8 hours, fingers crossed.

Current position: 17:04utc, 11deg 52.9min S, 15deg 08.1min W, SOG 5.8kts, COG 335deg-m, Swell <2meters, WS 12kts, DR 3,456NM,1014MB

Thanks,

Jacques

Day 15 “Sailing On the Salty Razor”

Its been two years of liven on the edge of a dream, reality, and the dark salty sea. Instead of a slug crawling across a razor I am on Dragonsbane rocking and rolling along its salty sharpened edge. For months on end I have sailed through squalls, and storms that foam with roaring shrill . Whistle winds that sound more like a freight train then butterfly wings. Blood filled with adrenaline for days till my stomach aches. Sailing on this tight rope, holding together and repairing my Dragonsbane I only hope to make to the next port.

I have Thirty Five Thousand nautical miles to go! I dream of fare winds, star nights, and sunny days to put my mind at ease. But as I write the clouds are dark, my jib sheets groan, my heart quickens, and the sea roars. For tonight I go into the dark night that shrouds my sight. With only hope to see me through to the sight of day I go with fear and fright to accompany my night.

After hours of icy dark night a light is cast through the shadows. The sun rises and shows the sight of angry sea around me. I am not afraid anymore, for I made it through another night on the salty razor. God give me strength and courage for next 35 nights as I live the dream!

Thank you,

Jacques S.

Current Position: 19:05utc, 13deg 06.8min S, 13deg 13.4min W, SOG 6.7kts, COG 329deg-M, WS 15kts, Swell <2m, 1015MB, ALL IS WELL On BOARD!

Day 14 Passage to BVI “Ship”

At 00:02 hours we made contact with a west bound ship traveling at 15kts that was overtaking us. I was awaken by Cary to point this fact out to me. I haled the ship VHF 16 indicated on our AIS as “AURORA BULKER” listed as a cargo ship, destination SOuth America. I did make contact via VHF but the night watch could not speak English. We were on a collision course and by this time I could see the bridge windows and noticed that the bridge lights were on, on the inside of the viewing deck for night watch. Its a well known fact that you cant see out a window at night when you have your bright lights on inside. So sense the ship would not deviate its course I decided to drop sail and turn the motor on and run in a perpendicular direction. I based this decision on the fact that both the white, red, and and now the green running lights were both coming into view meaning that the ship was coming right at us. No sooner did I do this when the ship passed right off our stern by 5 boat length or so. I used the Chart plotter to find our distance. I can not believe in the middle of the south Atlantic ocean we almost got run over by a commercial ship because they did not give a rip about what was around them. Sometimes I hate stupid people. But all is well on board.

Current Position: 19:25utc, 14deg 31.2min S, 11deg 3.3min W, SOG 7.6kts, COG 343deg-M, WS 12kts

Thanks,

Jacques

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