Crossing the Atlantic Ocean

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December 12th 2009
Published: December 13th 2009
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December 12 2009
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean
Hello Everyone, well this blog is a bit of a mixed bag to say the least. The first section is by Debs and recounts her memories of the trip across and the second section is copies of the logs we sent to Rally Control during our trip across. A fait bit of reading but seeing you all will have some time off over Christmas, you might be able to get through it!!!

Just over 24 hours ago we arrived on the beautiful Caribbean Island of St Lucia after 18 days sailing from Las Palmas. We all survived the crossing well with food and water left over!! (Mainly because we had only one shower the whole crossing, a few sponges baths and some baby wipe washes!!! We all still love each other (I can't say that was totally the case for the whole 18 days!!!) and we're all still keen to continue our adventure to Australia.

Sunboy also survived the journey very well. A few minor problems which will need to be fixed before we set off sailing again but we fared better than many other boats. One boat sank, one was abandoned mid ocean and a few other had to pull out to make landfall at the Cape Verdes. A few others have been limping in; one with a broken boom, one broke their forestay and a few without engines!!! The Atlantic, like any ocean I imagine, can be rather unforgiving!!!!

I survived the whole trip without any seasickness to speak of (all of us were the same luckily). Sometimes after cooking a meal in the galley I needed to get up on deck for some fresh air and the first 12 or 15 days I just about completely lost my appetite (but hey a bit of weight loss can never be a bad thing!!!) Al also lost weight, about 7 kilos or so. Not a drop of alcohol duirng the crossing would have contributed to that, as well as the physical exertion from helming in 25 to 30 knot winds, in swells sometimes about 6 metres. The first time I did it for more than two hours I felt like I'd been for about a 10 km run. My legs were shaking!!! Sometimes Al was at the helm for up to 12 hours at a time so it was probably the most exercise he's had for a while!!!! (One of our minor problems was our auto pilot which we couldn't use a lot of the trip!!!)

Even though about 220 or so boats left Las Palmas on the 22nd, by the following day we had basically lost sight of all boats and in the next 16 days or so we probably saw only about 5 or 6 boats and always miles away. We went days and days not seeing any sign of another boat at all!

We saw plenty of dolphins, a 4 metre great white shark cruised over to our boat to about 3 or 4 metres away. That made us all curl our toes in a bit tighter!!! We caught some dorados (which are basically our dolphin fish from home) which made great cooking and two blue Marlin. Each time it took the guys over half an hour of full on muscle bursting energy to get it to the back of the boat. Each was about 1.5 to 1.8 metres long and weighed too much to be able to get them onto the boat. Beside which they are such beautiful creatures and there was far too much fish that we could ever have eaten so after the obligitory photos at the back of the boat they were released to swim another day!!! We were captivated by the flying fish which we called Atlantic fairies (Layni didn't buy it!!) We often found them on the front deck of a morning and on night watch Luke once got hit in the side of the neck and Al got hit in the back of the head by one!!!!
The hardest thing was probably the constant rocking of the boat. The waves never seemed to all be going in the same direction and consequently the boat never seemed to stop rocking. We often used to dop the mainsail, particularly at night, and just run under the heady which often made it a much more comfortable.

Our arrival at St Lucia was very exciting. A number of the other family boats were already in so we were greeted out at the finish line by two tenders, one from A small nest and one from Elena, our very good Belgium and Dutch friends, with air fog horns and champagne and then when we got in to berth there was about thirty people cheering us in along with some Caribbean steel drums and some locals from the tourist board with a basket of fresh fruit (heaven) and rum punch for us all (really strong!!!) It was such a wonderful welcome. After that Layni just disappeared with the kids to the pool and I just enjoyed standing on land for a while before getting back on board and starting to get some order into the boat!!!! Quite a challenge. Al headed to the bar with some buddies for a few well earned beers. After a nice dinner out it was home for the best nights sleep I think I have EVER had, in my whole life!!!! The first time we had slept in our bed since we left Las Palmas. Most nights Al slept in the cockpit and in the last week I was there with him. We decided the conditions were just a bit tough to expect the kids to keep doing night watches so Al and I shared it about three hours at a time.
I am so proud at how well everyone went and to be able to achieve what we did when 6 months ago we all would have just about died at the thought of doing what we just did!!!

The best thing now though is that we can use the toilet without having to brace ourselves (a la Spider Man), we can lie down without sometimes ending up on the floor, I can cook without food flying off the bench halfway through and without having to brace myself just to stay somewhat upright, we can eat our food from a plate on the table without having to constantly keep one hand on your plate and you can put a drink down without worriying that it will end up all over your lap!!!!

We plan on staying here in St Lucia until about the 20th of December when all the ARC activities will be over. After that we'll probably head to a little place called Bequia which is supposed to have some beautiiful anchorages and a restaurant where we might go out for Christams lunch. To be honest we haven't thought too much past where we are at the moment. I've put some coloured Christmas lights on the back of the boat tongiht as well as a few Christmas banners and I think that might be the extent of our Chrissy decorations although Layni is very keen for a little tree. We'll have to see what we can find! We just hope Santa Claus can find us all the way out here!
I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and 2010 is everything that you hope for. For us we hope for a happy, enjoyable and safe passage home. We look forward to seeing you all again in about 10 months time!
Love and best wishes to you all from Deb

Logs posted to Rally Control A.R.C

1.12.09 - Marlin Strike
The crew of yacht Sunboy entered the A.R.C 2009 fishing comp in a big way
today. About 14.30pm UTC just as Deb was down below organising a nice hot
lunch, the reel of the fishing rod started to scream away. Fortunately the
crew was in relax mode today and the yacht was sailing along nicely under
headsail alone and autopilot when adrenaline levels shot through the roof.
After nearly burning a pair of leather gloves trying to stem the peeling
away of the braid line and with what seemed like only metres left on the
reel, the tide started to turn. Luke quickly took control of the helm while
the headsail was furled and the boat brought back under some control in the
3 - 4 metre swell. With cries of 'thats a fine time to catch a fish you
*@*^&&*T, lunch has ended up all over the galley' The decision had to be
made; have lunch or haul in whatever was pulling my shoulder blades apart.

With the boat sliding down the sides of the swell it was complete mayhem in
the cockpit. We had managed to bag a couple of nice dorado but this was
different, it was the biggest and hardest tug of war we had ever had. The
boat was turning circles with the wind and swell and everyone was trying to
lend a hand. After about 20 minutes the identity of the fish was
established when it came flying out of the water head shaking from side to
side, trying to toss the lure - MARLIN, holy $@!$.

It took us just over half an hour to get it to the back of the boat and to
let everyone get a chance to look at this magnificent animal. Whilst we
know that some find the marlin very tasty, there was no way we were going to
take this animal from the ocean, apart from the fact that it was so bloody
heavy we couldnt lift it into the boat if we had wanted to anyway. The best
we could do was take some photos and we cut the line and let it go. The
fish swam in circles for a brief moment and then dived below, appearing none
too worse for wear after giving all of us the most excitement we have had on
the trip so far. So while we cant give an exact weight or measurement, we
think it should make an interesting addition to the fishing comp list.

2.12.09 - White Pointer Shark Attack
Well it could have been, the @*&^@! thing was so close to the boat!!! We
were sailing along this morning about 11.30am and Debs called out that she
could see a whale coming down a wave about 60 metres of our port stern. She
said she could see something big and that she saw quite a large dorsal fin.
Well that whale did turn out to be big and so did the dorsal fin, except of
course it wasnt a whale it was a 4 metre great white shark. Everyone
initally rushed to the cockpit to see the whale but were transfixed as the
great white came up along side the boat, literally about five metres from
the port side. It just seemed to glide past us, about half a metre under
the surface and at the time we were doing about 6.5 knots. Once it got past
our midships, it took a downward turn and disappearead in the deep dark blue
sea. I must say, I think everyone's adrenaline levels took a leap northward
for a while and all day after that, everyone made doubly sure there life
lines were securely attached when they had to leave the cockpit for any
reason. We have seen lots of sharks scuba diving in various parts of the
world but never have we ever seen a great white in the wild and to see one
so close was incredible.

4.12.09 Sunboy under attack in Mid Atlantic
One of the pride and joys of our boat is the fantastic little herb garden we
have been growing since we took up life on the boat in March this year. We
bought a fine array of herbs from the Lymington markets and they have been
tendered lovingly since then, travelling all the way with us to our present
location. We have enjoyed their incredibly fresh flavours and shared them
amongs friends on so many occasions. We have been growing basil, thyme,
rosemary, chillis, parsley, mint and baby tomotoes, as well as some red
geraniums (Courtesy of Osborne House) and some bizzy lizzy. Yesterday
morning as the sun rose a bit higher, it was evident that all was not well
in our little herb garden of the sea, the stems looked stark and battered
compared to the lush growth we had been used to. Closer inspection revealed
a veritable army of little green caterpillers, happily munching away on our
pride and joys, on the mint plant alone we picked off 25 of the marauders,
the only plant spared attack is the bizzy lizzy, for reasons we dont know.
At this stage our plants are in the critical care ward ward (a.k.a bathroom
sinks) and are all currently on life support being given I.V drips of fresh
water and seaweed fertiliser, the last thing we want is to have a burial at
sea, we will keep you updated.

4.12.09 Recipes from the mid Atlantic

Well by now those avocados that you havent eaten that looked so nice and
green and firm when they arrived on board should be just about ready to toss
over the side. Dont despair, the following recipe will keep you in avocado
heaven for a while longer:

Mix and mash two large avocados to every 250gms of creme freche (in
Australia we use sour cream), cook up a good handful of chopped bacon until
nice and crisp and add that to the mixture (yep we use the bacon fat as
well), to this add enough sweet chilli sauce to your liking, usually about
three tablespoons. Mix it all up and then cool off, if you can in the
fridge for a while. This mixture is delicious added on top of hot bread
rolls, toast, crackers or anything you like. We particularly love it with
slow roasted tomatoes, a recipe we will send you tomorrow!!
Crew of Sunboy

6.12.09 Marlin Strike No 2.
This afternoon we were casually cruising along as you do after 14 days at
sea, autopilot on, fishing rod set and ready for
Nikki at the helmNikki at the helmNikki at the helm

deep concentration in 5 to 6 metres swells
a nice fat dorado and then
it happened again, reel screeming, people jumping around like crazy and this
time Luke was first to the rod and the battle royal began again. It was
exactly a week ago today that we had our first big hook up and caught and
released a beautiful big game fish, we think it was a marlin but will have
to get the photos checked to see for sure. After about 20 minutes we got
sight of Luke's fish and it was the same stunning royal blue colour and
about the same size. It took at least another ten minutes to get it to the
back of the boat so we could get some photos and cut the line, allowing the
fish to go free and donate another expensive lure to Davey Jones locker. At
least by cutting the line, the lure drops off, leaving the hook which we are
aware will dissolve quite quickly. Luke was so pumped by the experience,
never having hooked up or caught anything like this before in his life. We
are all well, looking forward to making land in a few days time to share a
beer with other fishermen and talk of the ones we let get away!!!

7.12.09 Dear Santa
I know we are a long way from home and we might be a bit hard for you to
find this year so we have kept our Christmas wish list quite short. It
would mean so much to us if you could find it in your heart to bring us
these little gifts that would help improve our lot;
1. A toilet seat that we can sit on
2. A bed that we can lie on
3. A plate that we dont have to hold
4. A cup that doesnt spill
5. A shower that we can stand up in
6. A *^%$#@) boat the doesnt rock!!!!

thank you Santa, from all of us on Sunboy and I think maybe lots of other
crews doing the 2009 A.R.C !!!!

8.12.09 A Christmas Recipe- not very traditional
Back home in Australia there is one dish we have during our festive time, it
is certainly not traditional Australian fare but is an adaption of the
famous Chinese Peking Duck recipe. Good thing this one takes far less time
and tastes fantastic. We usually have it with friends the night before
Christmas Eve and share this dish with a few glasses of a powerfully good
Aussie Shiraz. The dish does not come under the category of low fat or get
the tick of the Australian Heart Foundation but hey, its Christmas. We did
have it a bit earlier this year when Layni, our baby of the family requested
it for her 10th birthday dinner and we were lucky enough to share it with
our good friends John and Sue Allison, previous A.R.C winners when we were
in Lorient, Brittany where the duck breasts were plentiful and of excellent
size and quality. Yes I know that you wont have any duck breasts on board
now but who knows, maybe we might be able to buy some in St Lucia, if all
else fails, try it out when you get home.
Okay back to the recipe guys;

At least one full size duck breast per person with skin ON (that is the
minimum I would recommend)
1/4 cup of Chinese Hoi Sin Sauce
1/2 cup of Chinese Plum Sauce
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce (or to taste)
dash sesame oil
Make up TWO batches of the above mixture - or simply double it and divide
it. One batch you will use for the marinade and the other will be spooned
over the pancakes.
To serve with:
Fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into straws
Fresh chopped red chilli
Fresh Coriander or if you can get it, vietnamese mint
Roti Bread to use as the pancakes - you can go to the trouble of making your
own but I think this is much easier. Generally you get two pancakes to each

Cut slices into the breasts down toward the skin side, marinate duck breasts
for at least a couple of hours or longer.
Pre Heat oven to about 180 deg C
Heat a heavy grill pan and cook breasts skin side down firstly to release
fat, turn and cook the other side until almost done and then finish off in
the oven. Reserve duck fat

While the breasts are finishing off in the oven, place the second part of
the marinade batch in a saucepan and heat gently. Grab another clean pan,
something like an omellete pan is ideal, heat and add a little of the
reserved duck fat (This is where I see the cardiologists cringe in fear!!!)
quickly fry a roti on either side in the fat and continue until all are
cooked. Make sure you keep an eye on those breasts, once cooked remove from
over, cover and rest.
When all the roti's are cooked, slice up the duck breasts and place meat on
a platter with the cucumber, chilli and coriander. Grap a pancake, top with
the duck and other bits and pieces, spoon over sauce, roll up and MERRY

11.12.09 Arrived safe and sound
Hello everyone, sorry it is about 24 hours after we have arrived that we
post our final log but better late than never. We arrived just after 1400
local time after 18 days and 5 hours at sea. We sailed about 2900 miles and
have to say it was a true life experience. Our joint aim was to arrive in
St Lucia safe and sound with the boat still in a seaworthy condition and
that is what happened. We had some minor damage and I doubt if there would
be one boat that did the crossing did not suffer damage of some sort. We
enjoyed a variety of weather and I think that in the main, we enjoyed really
good conditions. The strongest winds we had was about 40 knots yesterday,
always at the most innapropriate moment! It was about 0700, I had just gone
to the head, Debs was half asleep in the cockpit and a cloudless squall
snuck up behind and smacked us. Fortunately, Debs grabbed control and
allowed me to continue with my job at hand and then take over. We had some
big swells, all of which were hand steered through at various times by
everyone who did a watch. We experienced the most brilliant moon and star
lit nights and have never been more isolated from civilisation in our lives.
The ocean is majestic and something to be totally respected at all times.
We were just very fortunate to spend some of our lives out there and have
come away with wonderful memories. The A.R.C is an incredibly well run,
well organised and totally worthwhile group to be a part of. With 32
nations represented, we have increased our circle of world wide friends many
times over. To be greated by various friends who came out in their dinghies
to greet us with fog horns and champagne and then to have so many people
waiting at the dock for us to give us such an incredible welcome will be
something that we will remember forever. We still have a long, long way to
go to get back home to Australia but crossing the Atlantic with the A.R.C
has given us so many more skills and knowledge to help us on our way. So
after a wonderful night sleep last night, the batteries are recharged and it
is time to get into some serious partying!!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


14th December 2009

Pancakes coming up
Hi Everyone, I've cut and pasted the recipe and I'm going to give it a go. Think I'll use chicken as I'm not much into duck. I can't believe the gourmet delights u guys think up whilst in the middle of the Atlantic. I still can't believe 5 of u live on that "little" boat!! I love reading about all of it. Just been in Coffs for 10 days and had a great time with the Blacks and Garrels. Funds are short so might just go back up there in Feb and hang out. They are all such great company and I feel like part of a family when I am with them. Works work and I'm still waiting for the lotto win!!! Uni is going really well and I still enjoy it. Anyway think of u all often, stay safe, Love Frannie x
14th December 2009

Alan and family, I am pleased to know that you have got across the Atlantic in one piece and I have enjoyed reading your blogs. When you are planning your Pacific leg you may care to let me know. For about ten years I was marine consultant to Dept of Foreign Affairs and during that period I was involved in numerous Australian aid projects projects in the Pacific. I got to know the South Pacific pretty well When you have nutted out your Pacific itinerary you may care to let me have a look at it and maybe I can suggest some good places for you to have a look at. All the best in envy. Noel Riley
15th December 2009

Congratulations with your crossing and thanks for posting these wonderful blogs. Makes me feel closer to my brother Willem and my family (or should I say crew). Anton
22nd December 2009

Oi from Coffs
Oi saprksie[es] great to google this blog...........we have been thinking of you heaps.........what a life changing experiece.........congratulations and well done!! The booths
28th December 2009

Finally found your website, how cool! Lost your Carib number, please text it to the satphone. All here is well, had a very nice christmas on Mustique just behind the beach with small nest. Now we are back at Bequia, but on the eastern shore, friendship bay, nice! We are of to pick up some familyfriends in Kinstown the 30th, Small nest is gone south allready. But we will meet again. Will be in Curacaou around the beginning of feb. Hope to see you guys! Love Elenacrew!

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