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Cassiopeia - Episode 5/6: Trade Winds - The Santa Lucia Express

Today we'll reach the 999 miles mark until our destination. My father, who left yesterday from Gibraltar, has still to master 5000... we are 6 on a modern and new yacht. He is alone on a yacht, which which is one year older than myself... Our boat was equipped by Liviu with a hydro generator which reloads our battery from the boat's speed as it is propelled by the wind. Without that we would have ended up as a "black ship", a boat with zero power in its battery. In any battery. And this, after we would have used up all the diesel in our tanks, trying to keep up the high voltage. We had foreseen approximately 21 days for our trip. Dad has 50+ to spend on the open sea. Without hydro generator.

Our nightwatches last 4 hours, for everyone, and upon finishing  everyone drops dead for another few hours to recuperate . He is on a permanent, 24 hours watch. Nobody there to replace him, nobody there to give him some hours of rest. He has set his phone up to remind him every 50 minutes, so that he can take a look around every hour, regardless of how tired he might be. I just realize how challenging such an adventure can be with a crew, left aside being all alone... One can hardly perceive the proportions and dimensions of such a venture from dry land, I just learned that only being out on the sea.

At first, I argued that the Atlantic Crossing is an adventure one can do with his family. But 24 hours of very heavy winds and very high waves are enough to change your mind. You are fighting seasickness and after 12 hours you start asking yourself, if all this will ever end. And this, even if you have been warned two days before: "Watch out, a cyclone is heading towards you , you'll be having wind of up to 25-30 knots, get a rest and get prepared for it." But one can't get fully prepared . The boat is tossed around, the sails reefed utmost moan in the sheets, the shrouds up the wind whistle , and the mast shudders down to the structural frame whenever the boat falls from any higher wave. 
Every second, at every wave, it crosses your mind: will the structure resist, was she made for this? Even though you know this is the truth, the question rises again the next second, the next wave . 

Now, I imagine my wife and my daughter enduring this, seasick, lying on the bed in a closed cabin. And when I imagine Eva raising her head, begging me: "Dad, I want this to stop. Let's go home. Let's go home now..." It would break my heart, being in the middle of the ocean... more than 10 days away from any destination! I told Cătălin: If you ever hear me saying that I want to cross the Atlantic with my family and my friends, take a step back and then a run-up to hit me directly into the face! And Cătălin once played rugby...

Because - believe it, or not - one forgets. After the storm, regardless of how long it took, you forget any sickness you may have had. A few hours of good weather and relative calm, some relaxing sleep or a meal without choking are enough ...and everything is shiny again . The sun will shine again for you. The wind doesn't hit you, it strikes you gently...

This is how we felt when we entered the trade winds area. Located approximately at the coordinates 20-30, meaning latitude 20°00`00``N and longitude 30°00`00``W, these are constant winds moving from east to west at a speed of 10-20 kn. Scientists consider them to be the biggest driving force on Earth. We named them "The Santa-Lucia Express". Our strategy, when we lest Las Palmas, was to descend as fast as possible under the latitude of 20°N. We were overrun by 2 storms and went thorugh 3 days of total calm until there. One week allocated for 750 miles until trade winds.Once we got there, we had 2 weeks to navigate 2150 miles with the trade winds up to Santa Lucia.

Below latitude 20 everything changed.
Tradewinds are all we were hoping for. They confirm all stories. They meet all expectations. We are riding for 7 days on winds from astern, only. Running. It didn't move an inch. A degree, excuse me. Sometimes slower, 8-10 kn...sometimes quite fast with 18-20 kn... but most of the times with just the perfect force of 10-15 kn.

We trim the sails once in 24 hours. We also take them in every 24 hours, to check the halyards and sheets for any sign of wearout. 
The boat moves, rising on and descending from the waves, but luckily not with the same pace we get seaasick. One can cook in the cockpit, we could read or watch series. The trade winds are good to us.

And the boat takes mile after mile . 
We are celebrating every hunderd miles we have passed. Hooray...1999 miles to go...under 2000 miles. Hooooray 1899. Hip hip hooray, 1450 mile,s we're at halkf way! Hip-hip-hip hooray, 1249 miles, we passed the middle of the ocean  (if you measure from the Afrian coast to Santa Lucia, you'll have 2500 miles).

And today we are waiting for the 999 on the screen! 
Feel free to put as many "hips" you want before the "hooray!"

Good watch ahead to all!

Ovidiu Drugan/Cassiopeia 


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