This log is to share a story of our crew that Left Las Palmas on November 20th 22 and is crossing Atlantic to St. Lucia. It'll be a bit subjective, as every blog is, but I'll try to capture the spirit of this adventure so everyone can identify at least a bit :) Our crew:
Szymon Kuczynski - sailor and adventurer. This guy sailed around the globe without any stop in a tiny boat. Real badass and our Skipper.
Ania Jastrzebska - adventurer, sailor and Szymon's partner in crime, wonderful cook, she makes it harder for me to impress others with my cooking skills :P
Danuta Kuczynska - Szymon's mom, claims she was downhilling 70km/h on a bike, looks like we have a source of the badass gene.
Marek Hojsan - USCG Master Captain with great experience, photographer, IT guy, jack of all trades.
Mariusz Lesniewski - it's me, Mario. During day I make video games, this year in September I started to sail, never been on sea or ocean before.
I did not know any of my teammates prior to the rally, but we've lived on our Fryderyk catamaran for 6 days before we left Las Palmas within ARC 2022 so we could get know each other a bit. We appeared to be a good fit and nice company to each other, I really liked my crew.
Position: Las Palmas
Distance to destination: 2717Nm
I have troubles writing about this day, because so much happened and damn, it was so intense, that at least part of it feels like some kind of a dream. So maybe let's start from the beginning?
We crossed the rally start line at 12:30pm on Sunday 20th, and we had pretty good starting position. We maintained our speed and course south as weather forescasts confirmed it to be the best route if you don’t want to be cought off wind. The wind was getting stronger with base speed aiming to be ~30kt, and waves were growing bigger, around 12feet - that's what Szymon reckoned, to me they were bigger, but it could probably me my imagination and freshman's excitement :)
Our catamaran was swinging and tilting on waves pretty heavily up-and-down. Danuta felt sea sick and she needed some assistance and rest. I've never been sailing sea/ocean before and I didn't know how I'll react, I hoped I'll be fine, but expected some wear. To my surprise I was totally fine and after Szymon steered first, Ania second, I got my chance to take over the steering wheel next.
It felt great and freakin unreal at the same time! My first thought was that steering 46 feet catamaran on uneasy ocean is like driving a Cadillac. You know those old fashioned american cars that have super soft suspension and it doesn't exacly take you where you want, but it takes you "somewhere" with great comfort and grace. But it was even different though. The wind was getting stronger, blowing up to 35kt increasing waves amplitide even higher, so it didn't feel like sailing or driving for sure, it felt more like… walking. Walking on shoulders of a giant Ogress that keeps you safe from waters, but she has her own curiosity and ideas. So you two have to get to know each other a bit and work together on your mutual needs. Her steps were huge, she was making noises, I never saw her face actually, but somehow I knew I could trust her. The wind was warm, sunset was nice, a perfect date with my Ogress. It's hard to compare to anything I've ever experienced and it was super fun!
Later was not so fun. When sun was down the wind got brutal and we did an uncontrolled turn (jibe ho). I've just finished my watch and I was inside, but I heard the boom hitting hard ripping some lines off, also felt that rapid change in direction. I jumped out on the fly deck to help as all four of us was trying clear the main sail as it was a mess of tangled lines that was making our boat very unbalanced. We were all clipped to jacklines so we don’t fall of the boat to dark waters, as the ocean was quite stormy and we only had our headlights as the only source of light. We were all helping Szymon as he had to climb up boom and clear that mess so we could pull down our main sail and get control over our Ogress. Seen him dancing on our boom, while our boat was sailing autonomously on auto pilot, tossed by the wind and waves in a darkness was fascinating albeit dangerous experience. I knew that we are in a good hands as he's no ordinary sailor, a ninja sailor at least. In Poland we say "Not my circus, not my monkeys" (as for not my business, not my problem) but at that moment I knew, that its Szymon's sailing circus and we are his monkeys. Eeek eeek!
The rest of the night we sailed south on our jib, slowly, but steady.
Position: 26'37,930N; 16'24,800W
Distance to destination: 2599Nm
After eventful night we woke up to eat breakfast together and assess damages. Unfortunately, main sail was not the only issue we had. Our generator was switching off randomly burnig its fuse and not having power generator during 2w+ cruise is a big issue. Fridge and freezer won’t hold, water maker will… not make any water and so on.
I've grabbed a frying pan trying to make some eggs using my new monkey balancing tricks. Szymon and Marek started to tinker with our core systems. Danuta was still feeling bad. Ania was helping everyone whenever she could.
We are still relatively close to a shore, so waves are stil big. It doesn't help sleeping or resting on a catamaran. Our speed is ~4kt and it's quite slow as for ~2800 nautical miles to go. We need to get our main sail back.
Later in the night we received message from ARC HQ about an empty boat drifting around 80nm from our position. No crew was found nor distress signal was relayed. We hope it's just some boat that drifted of shore and no one is hurt.
My calendar shows only one message: "no events withing next 2 weeks". It is the best message I got for a long time.
Position: 25'00,412N; 18'05,617W
Distance to destination: 2500Nm
Today I finished my night watch at 5am and got up at 10am strangely woken up by… the silence. Boat is gracefully surfing long waves, engine emergency charger is humming trying to feed our depleted batteries as we still struggle with generator failure. I crawled out of my cabin to the deck and… there's nobody. Catamaran is cruising on auto pilot, no sign of a living soul. You cannot help but the very first thought is "shit, am I on my own here??". But then I go up to the fly deck and I see Marek, keeping his watch and taking a sun bath to his favourite audio book. The rest of the gang is probably still resting in their cabins. Everything is in the right place.
Mornings or should I say, awakenings (I'm talking about you, night watch!) are becoming a bit tough. Not only because of lack of proper sleep routine, but also due to some strange and fascinating dysociation that I'm experiencing while awaking in a small and dark echo chamber (aka my cabin) that bombs my senses with the most peculiar mix of sounds, noises, visuals and tactile feedbacks. I'm pretty sure I'll write more about it, I just don't know how to express it now. The very first minutes after waking up I'm starting to ask myself "is it really what I wanted", but once I go up, take a breath of fresh air and see the ocean I'm instantly like "yeah, everything is in the right place".
The ocean is grey today, liquid silver. Waves are much smaller, but the surface is never calm, myriads of tiny freckles, all shimmering in the southern sun.
Szymon and Marek had some luck with bringing water maker and generator back online (at least for now) so eventually we could take care of our sailes aaaand our main sail is back! The ocean is calmer, waves are lower and with longer distance beetween them, so finally it feels like we are sailing! Not walking on our Ogress back, not surfing nor bouncing, but sailing!
Position: 23'55,800N; 20'00,780W
Distance to destination: 2385Nm
Okay heerings, we are ready to activate our secret weapon, Code Zero sail! And boy, what a fine piece of sail it is. Mounting was relatively easy and now we got much better speed, so watch your back, heerings, we're gonna attack!
Today our skipper's mom, Danusia, finally got recovered form sea sickness and she took over cooking for a day. She made us traditional crumbled chicken breast kotlet with fried potatoes and mizeria, what a treat!
One of the provisioning fails that we've made was ordering 24 boxes of an orange "juice", that - like we say in Poland, besides mizeria and that weird heering or monkey saying - did not even stood next to the real orange juice. It's some kind of an orange concentrate that we try to find any other solution for (fixing generator, boat balasting, fish stunning or toilet desinfecting maybe?) but the drinking one. Mood is good so at least we can laugh about it.
Today we experience first truly beautiful Atlantic sunset. Ania did not give up on the juice predicament and she made us delicious ginger-lime drinks with a rum topping and… the "juice"… it was soooo gooood! The juice is definitely not made of orange, but the sunset is purest orange blast we could wish for. It's perfect!
Position: 23'03,113N; 21'53,906W
Distance to destination: 2276Nm
Night watch is starting to wear me off. 7-10pm then 5h sleep, wake up at 2:45 and again, 3-6am. And it's not the night watch that is bad, it's quite okay tbh. The boat never stops, it's always on the run. It's 24/7 echo chamber of eerie sounds and noises that especially in the night, plays like nothing else. I make video games and I play a lot so to wake up in the middle of a vessel floating through dark void feels like piloting a starship in Elite Dangerous while exploring vast outskirts of the universe. You can sense the speed, genertor is humming from the distance, deck is glowing with orange blooming lights of map plotter and you feel so… isolated from the entire world. But there's more as we're sorrounded by the ocean, so hull and lines are squicking from the tension, you can sense those vibrations, wind is blowing, water is spraying, waves are crushing the hull.
And waves, on a catamaran, deserve a separate parahraph. When you sail, say 8kt, and solid ocean wave gets under your hull and crashes somewhere between left and right hulls, to spice things up, somewhere close to cabin and your sleepy head, the sensation is… like you've just had a car accident (Ania said this and I find it very accurate!). I swear to Poseidon, it's not an exaggregation. You jump straight on your bed with no idea what is going on, and it's the next wave that hits the hull making you realise what happened. The sound is so loud and turbulence so strong that I still didn’t get used to it and each time it's a bit of a shock to me.
So, when I wake up during night in my small cabin that resonates all those sounds, in particular within those first few minutes when you still feel dizzy pulled out from the sleep, I have this sense of dysociation that feels both creepy and fascinating. It's something completely out of this world, in my mind I could easily be in an escape pod from Alien: Isolation cutting through asterodis belt. Add wearing a sailing parka, then heavy lifejacket and safety line so you can clip to jacklines (to keep you on a deck in case of heavy tourbulences), and a headlight on the top of your head and you feel like a space miner Ceres station of the world of Expanse. Once you get up to the Fly Deck you realize it's just the ocean, and only ocean that is around you. Particularily lonesome those days as it's almost 24h since we saw last boat.
I realize to those of you who sail a lot this could sound weird or just innacurate, but to me, it's a way to process this uncanny experience.
I'm not half bad cook in my "normal" life. I love to cook and there're some simple yet charming meals I can prepare. I'm nowhere close to professional chef, I just like to chill while cooking and see my friends (mostly) enjoying food I prepared. Cooking on an always-on-the-move boat is some other kind of sorcery my dudes, but somehow it feels great! Today's shrimp trofie with cherry tomatoes and piri-piri in garlic-butter-wine-orange (not that "orange"!) sause was so good, that our skipper, Szymon, released me from my night watch. One dysociation and fascination less, one full night sleep more!
Position: 21'21,000N; 23'41,826W
Distance to destination: 2166Nm
Orange-pink sunrise and warm spray, it's a first night I don’t have to wrap myself in a parka, soft wind cuddles skin. It's getting wormer. The night was windy, up to 25kt, so it was a bit bumpy, but at least we got some decent velocityaking up for the first slow days. Still, no one around though.
I start to miss my Barbra a lot, thinking about… wait, what was that? Is it a plane? Is it a fly? Is it a fish? Damn, it's a plain flying fish! A flying fish!!! I know I know we all heard about them, but some things you have to see to realise they really exist. Some have to go to space to realize earth is round, I had to see a flying fish. A shiny pebble bouncing on waves just in front of my eyes. Probably not the most proficient of the flying fish species as soon after few of its mates gladed like a silver bullets passing our on-deck grill from a safe distance. I heard they can be a treat, but "not today" they wispered and dissapeared in deep waters. We shall see.
We've lost a lot of time repairing sails and core systems within first days, but eventually we got to a place where butter melts (it really works like this!) so we took a turn west and it looks like we have a perfect route to St. Lucia. The wind is strong again with base TWS ~20kt and with a little help of our Code Zero friend we start to be up to speed again!
Tonight she showed to ourselves for the first time. Her majesty Luna, beautiful crescent moon. It looks different from the one I know. Here, on the ocean, you can see not only her dazzling rim light, but also her full face, like it's retracted and watching you from a shadow, but she's there, so tangible and charming.
Position: 20'58,423N; 26'25,290W
Distance to destination: 2012Nm
Aaaand it's gone! Our Code Zero sail just ripped in front of our eyes and fell into the water. We managed to grab and ull it out quickly, but we're slowed down, again. Unfortunately it's rope broke in a place where we cannot reach it from the deck. Our ninja skipper is on a trip to the top of the mast and trust me, climbing the top of the mast on an ocean crossing boat is something that even ninja skippers are not so fancy doing so. It took us around 90 minutes to mount a new rope, still sailing on our main and jib, as it's getting windy and dark, Code Zero has to wait until tomorrow.
Flying fish are getting cocky and for some of them it ends badly as they land on our boat in their last airshow so we can find them another mornig cold and lifeless :( One of them has just flew next to me while I was keeping may watch on the fly deck. Fly deck is circa 4 meters above water. 4 meters! This must've been a star of their arishow, I hope you never land on any boat.
Position: 20'57,005N; 29'08,939W
Distance to destination: 1860NM
Aaaand it's back! Our sweet Code Zero sail is repaired, stretches proudly in front of western sky. It gives us enough speed bump to be in St. Lucia before December 10th (8-9th maybe) if winds are strong enough.
Another good news is that Szymon probably nailed our generator (its named Panda) issue and it seems like it's 99,99% fixed. It appeared to be a small cable hidden somewhere on Panda's back that was worn enough to cause accidental short circuit. If this happens to be true we have one major reason to worry about less. We can focus on sailing and enjoying our trip, as this freakin Panda was our main stress for over a week now.
Today is also 3rd day since we have salmon for a dinner, day by day. We had to save energy ([email protected]
#$% Panda) and our freezer had to be switched of from time to time, hence the need to eat all the salmon we had. The rest of provisioning is fine (with some minor wastes, bye bye carrots and portobellos!). First day was salmon steak, yesterday we had salmon tart (Ania outdone herself with it!) and today was salmon pasta. I like you salmon, but we need to slow things down, okay?
Aaaand it's gone again :(( Code Zero broke again, different part of the halyard this time, meaning Szymon will have to climb the mast again and we are slowed down, again. We try to stay positive and happy about generator and eating all the salmon. You can never be sure on the ocean and you never know what happens next, so be happy with your panda and your salmon.
TBCboat crew smallsailtitanic