Atlantic Crossing by Lochlann

Passage Island of Sao Vincente in Cape Verde to Martinique in the Caribbean February 2015

When we left the Cape Verde to cross the Atlantic I felt that we had finally succeeded in our dream. We had talked, planned, discussed, argued and eventually agreed about going to the Caribbean, and now we were actually leaving.

Flying fish

Cleaning the flying fish
Mum drew up a different roster for watches for this trip. I would do a long morning watch from 7 to 11 o' clock, while Fin would do a long evening watch from 8 till midnight. I was fine with that, but over the voyage I got more and more tired, until by the end I was hanging. When we were out of sight of land I felt no more of a momentous feeling about being further away from land than I ever had before, no more than I had crossing the Bay of Biscay on our first night passage. The Atlantic swell was enormous and the boat was heaving around all over the place.
flying fish ready to cook!
My biggest problem on the boat was hunger. Mum and Dad just don’t know how much food I need. I have been growing one to two inches every month since we left the UK and they just don’t seem to get it! They think I should have only three meals a day plus snacks. In Mindelo, as we were walking down the street a man called me a hobbit. I do not know if he said it because of my hair or my height, but I decided to take him literally. For the whole crossing I tried my best to have six meals a day - a breakfast of Muesli, followed by a second breakfast of flying fish that had landed on deck during the night, two lunches of whatever was available, and then afternoon tea (which consisted of cakey things that mum had made throughout the voyage) lastly, I had a supper of either delicious things made by mum or pasta made by the rest of us.
The air got warmer and warmer as we got further west and I got more and more tired.
Eighteen days at sea makes the best people grumpy as hell, and the others downright nasty. It’s a good thing that we are the best sorts of people (I hope) otherwise we wouldn’t have survived the crossing.
Flying fish became an ordinary sight but no less amazing. They jumped out in groups and fluttered and skimmed away over the water.
As we got closer to land we saw more and more birds. The high point was when we saw our first Frigate bird. We didn’t see it close up but they have inflatable neck pouches that when inflated look like bright pink balloons.
It was mum and dad’s wedding anniversary when we were three quarters of the way across the Atlantic, and the day was greeted by nature with a lightning storm. When the black clouds had skimmed away over the horizon, dad made some tea, with disastrous consequences. After pouring the hot water out into the teapots he put those objects onto the gimbal stove to keep them steady. Then when he saw some spilt food that hadn’t been cleaned under the stove, some ‘Simonly’ instinct made him lean underneath to clean it up. Then the boat rocked, the gimbal swung, dad’s arm stopped it from swinging... so the boiling water fell on top of him. We rushed him on deck and threw buckets of seawater over him for 20 minutes. We wrapped his arm in clingfilm, and mum checked it at intervals every day. Not a good start to their anniversary. The day progressed and ended like any other day after that first fiasco.
A few days later, on my morning watch mum had come on deck and out of the blue came a small outboard-motor fishing boat with two men aboard. It was so bizarre that we started laughing. We saw more fishing boats over the morning and later on, after straining my eyes at the horizon, I got out the binoculars and yelled with great enjoyment “LAND HO!!!!!!!!!!!”
It felt amazing and exciting and incredible, all at the same time, to sail into Martinique. But the annoying thing was that after I had seen land it took ages for us to actually get there! We had to check in officially at Le Marin so we motored into the huge anchorage that was stuffed with boats like sardines in a tin. As we were just contemplating where to anchor we noticed that we weren’t moving with the current. We had RUN AGROUND (four sharp dramatic semiquavers)!!!!
Clouds of dirt rose in the water around us as we looked over the side. We tried running the engine to see if we could get ourselves off to no avail. Eventually some local people on a motorboat offered us help with their two huge outboard engines.
It felt so weird to walk on land again. I thought the 'land wobbles' would make you actually rock on land, but it only makes you feel really weak.
Written by Lochlann, March 2015

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