The Atlantic Crossing of 2016
Brought together a maiden sailing team;
A skipper, a cook, an emergency medic
A rigger, a boat and a handy mechanic,
They all came about the vessel Ludanka
And escaped stormy England in early November.
Arrival in Portugal started the fun,
With boat preparation and shopping for some.
A last earthy steak before falling asleep
Then off in the morning and out to the deep,
To charge through the waves, to be driven by winds
And collect passing squid, flying fish and dolphins.
So for five days and nights we headed due south
And only the medic required nil-by-mouth,
As the swells and the rolling had laid him down sick
The gusty old weather tore the black spinnie quick,
And a whisker pole bust when a squall did us kick
But the skipper hung on like a feisty bull terrier
And we soon saw the isle of sweet Gran Canaria.
Well, land brings to sailors a myriad of jobs
But two of the crew flew back to our sobs
When at last they returned it was now time to party
But this wouldn't be tuxedos or anything smarty
Off went the crew for a shave and their showers,
The theme was the 70's - of hippies and flowers,
Man were we stoned when we saw Austin Powers?!
After a week on the land it was time to move on
New spinnie, new ropes and rigging all checked
New provisions, frozen meats and water unpacked
And just as we started to panic and fume
Also new fruit new vegetables and a thousand mushroom.
Sunday morning arrived along with our friends
The crew looked magnificent and all were on trend
There were kisses and hugs and smiles all around
But also some tears in the eye could be found.
So off with the spring lines and up with the fenders
Ludanka edged out past all the small tenders.
One hour to go till the big gun was fired
The skipper checked skills of the crew he had hired
But soon it was seen the tests wouldn't be passed
As the gennaker spilled and got wrapped round the mast
And the marks for the start line couldn't be found,
but the crew turned it round and crossed the line fast.
Bang... at last we had started this fateful event
Ludanka reached forward with every intent
To lead all the catamarans in her class
And bring home a trophy of silver or glass
But bang went a spinnaker after just a few hours
And the skipper went early to whiskery poles,
that bulletproof sail plan uniquely of ours.
We rounded the headland to set off to the sea
And as the sun settled down we had our first chicken curry.
The adventure had started, thousands of miles to tick off
And those not on watch were allowed to bunk off
Whilst the two on the flybridge kept out a good look
Keeping everything shipshape, and all done by the book .
Under the dark velvet night sky with its LED stars
We were watched from above, by Venus, Saturn and Mars
It was not just that first night that their realm did we share
As we learnt further on they would always be there
Maybe just planets but surely much more
Maybe olden days' gods still in charge once offshore.
Darkened nights with darkened dials
Gave way each day to sunrise smiles
The golden glow around our world
Gave light to see the sails unfurled
Would the day be gusty or dead calm?
Would we all stay safe from natures' harm?
Would we start to head the leaderboard?
Would it be mince or chicken, oh dear lord?
These queries featured every day
And gave each man his thoughts to say
Perhaps the answers nay got clearer
But still each day the land came nearer.
It's fair to say the yacht's great fun
From sailing hard to bathing sun
But not all was good, there were restrictions
Here some examples of brief descriptions:
No marlin tuna or even perch
No satellite for Google search
No reach to family for evening chats
No wardrobe here for change of hats
No means to wander down the pub
No variety of gourmet grub
Tagliatelle, penne or paella
Curry, potatoes or jambalaya
These meals are fine but to aim higher
We needed something much less drier
A fresh wet fish would make a feast
And so to land the fearsome beast
Came huntsman John with all his skills
That Mahimahi was his for thrills
The rodded line at last came taughter
He jumped on deck and bravely fought her
A long hard battle before he caught her
Oh what a tale for his grand daughter!
So mid-Atlantic on our own
We fight the thoughts of them at home
Our early neighbours in this fleet
Are also gone, no more to meet
A nightly download of our stats
Is spread around our phones and pads
One day brings joy to skipper Dave
The first position that he craved
We're all agreed we've done so well
We're riding hard the downwind swell
Bring on the squall with its wind change
There's ropes and poles to rearrange
We check the radar for boat and cloud
We pray to gods or shout aloud:
Bring on your winds, your storm force 8
But not today lads, it's enough
To give you no more than a puff.
These light winds cannot drive Ludanka
It seems at times we're still at anchor
Instead of Rio and Ben Ainslie
Our Games on deck are rather measley
So on must go the Volvo vrooms
That Carl extracts from engine rooms
Whilst others sit to read a book
He gives the solar panels one more look
Or sparks the gennie for bread to cook.
Like fishing, kettles and a mate
For decent winds you have to wait
And eventually along
Comes what's right and not what's wrong
The strengthened blow begins to howl
And once again her sails do growl
Until at last she's on her knees and we throw in the boxer's towel
But Jase, her cornerman leaps about
To sort her cuts and bruises out:
The battens popped
The reef lines chaffed
The shackles stressed
The bolts released
All is mended at great speed
Ding ding next round we're on our feet.
Another sunset comes along
Another day of sail is done
When all sit ups, chin ups and planks are complete
The galley comes alive with music and with heat
Tim might have only learnt to cook
Half a dozen menus from a book
But with his wok and herbs and spices
Makes the dinners quite the nicest
And if the boat can auto steer
There's even time to sup a beer.
For days and weeks it continued thus
We soldiered on without a fuss
Until at night up on the horizon
A haze of lights we clapped our eyes on
My my my what have we here:
The lush green isle of Santa Lucia!
And so it is with heavy heart
That time is up we must depart
The crew may split and go their way
But deep inside they shall remain
A bunch of mates who achieved a feat
To cross the world - an ocean beat.
And as we give a final wave
It just remains to say well done and thank you Dave x