Nov. '03 - Dec. '03: Transatlantic

We sailed about 3000 miles from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to St. Lucia, along with over 200 other sailboats as part of the ARC. It was our longest passage, but probably one of our easiest - no upwind slogging here. We spent weeks preparing the boat in the Canary Islands, and wondering what else we should bring. Then, our crew arrived - Michael Fay, a Connecticut merchant marine turned sailboat racer, and Clay Sanborn, a dinghy racer from St. Louis - for the final preparations.

Somehow all the boats crossed the starting line on November 23. Then, in the lee of the island, the wind died, perhaps a sign of things to come. We settled into our watches - 2 hours on and 6 hours off as we watched the other boats fading from sight. On the second day out, problems arose with a generator leak, but we were able to repair it underway. The wind was 15 to 20 knots and we were making great time! Soon enough, it was Thanksgiving. We had too many leftovers in the frig from a few days of queasy stomachs at this point, so we decided to celebrate it on Friday (since we didn't really have any other plans). Thanksgiving dinner underway went surprisingly well. The next major event on Vanish was the long-awaited "Halfway Party" - celebrating the fact that we had gotten ourselves in the middle of the Atlantic. We also set our clocks back two hours during the party to compensate for our time zone changes (and the recent lack of a sunrise on Renee's morning watch).

After the halfway party, we started to worry about the ARC issued forecasts for very heavy (60 kt) squalls going through. Fortunately, forecasts were all that they were, and, in fact, we had to worry about the lack of wind. Whether and when to run the engine then became our favorite subject of conversation, as we watched the light wind and waves flog our sails around. Our frustration grew as the wind continued to diminish, and we ended up running the engine for a total of about 120 miles/19 hours in the last few days. Engine or not, we had sailed for about 2800 miles and Rodney Bay was a very welcomed sight!

Getting prepared on the dock at Las Palmas with fruits and vegetables for the crossing drying on the deck of Vanish. Las Palmas is well set up for boats getting ready to cross the Atlantic. All our provisions were delivered to the dock and many items were pre-frozen and vacuum packed.

And we're off - Fay, Clay, Bill and Renee!

Bye, bye land!

Even this fancy new chute couldn't carry on in the very light wind start of the ARC.

Second day out and we hear the bilge pump going off! Thankfully the water was coming from a relatively small leak in the generator water lock. Until we fixed the problem, we all listen to the hum of the engine to charge the batteries, cool the frig and run the watermaker. With a very handy crew, we managed to re-fiberglass the leaking seam on the waterlock. Quite nice work considering we're in the middle of the ocean on a pitching boat!

Our marine oven was able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey!

Thanksgiving mid-Atlantic - we had turkey, stuffing, squash and cranberries.

And homemade pumpkin pie (the leftovers of which were enjoyed by Bill on several late night watches).

Clay at the helm concentrating on the chute.

Renee quite happy with the autopilot on her watch.

Fay trying to make out those "tradewind clouds" that Clay so often spoke of.

Spinnaker up in the calm seas.

Wow, those last four minutes just flew by!

Enjoying the passage, Michael Fay?

I think this is going to be a big one!

Bill's yellowfin tuna - enough for about 2 days!

The majority of the trip we sailed wing-on-wing with a poled out genoa.

Bill's lucky lure, bought in Las Palmas.

Land ho! It's dawn and St. Lucia's in sight!

Vanish approaching the finish line of the ARC at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. Looks like we made it!

Bringing it on home.

You've come a long way, baby!

The fearless crew.