Auf dem Weg nach Hause

Wir haben heute morgen um 9:30 Uhr Lokalzeit das Südwestkap von Grenada, den Point Saline, in nordwestlicher Richtung passiert. Wir waren damit rund 7550 Kilometer Luftlinie (natürlich mit Erdkrümmung) von zu Hause entfernt und weniger als 100 Kilometer von Venezuela’s Gewässern entfernt. Uns allen geht es bestens und Yuana macht einen super Job!

Vor allem aber heisst das, dass wir nun geographisch gesehen auf dem Heimweg sind. Auch wenn wir noch nicht wirklich bald nach Hause kommen wollen, so ist das trotzdem eine tolle Sache für einen Montagmorgen!

Die Kiddies fragen, was unsere Freunde und Leser an diesem Morgen gerade tun. Also machen wir doch ein kleines Spielchen, wenn ihr Lust dazu habt.

Liebe Leser: lasst uns wissen, was ihr heute Montag gemacht habt, und wie es euch dabei ging. Wir fassen dann anonym zusammen und lassen euch die witzigsten Antworten auf selben Wege wissen.

Yuana’s Mr. Rope Cutter vs. Somebody’s Mrs. Super Yacht

We are exploring the southern part of ‘Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’. The distances from one sandy turtle bay to the next sandy coconut bay are very short. So we tow our dingy Dorie from one place to the next one, instead of taking it on deck. This isn’t an issue at all until the anchor is dropped in the next bay. But then one thing requires special care, and the captain didn’t care enough this time:

Once the anchor is dropped and the anchor chain lies on the ground, then the propeller must be engaged in reverse direction to make sure that the anchor is nicely digged into the ground. Before reversing, the dinghy towing line must be taken very shortly, otherwise it goes into the propeller and jams it.

One of the kids had the task to hold the line of the dingy today. The captain however didn’t check for a second time whether the kid was still doing its job. Sure the kid wasn’t there anymore and the dinghy line went into the propeller. I realized it when Dorie was quickly pulled towards Yuana. I disengaged the propeller, cut Dories line and checked the situation. Worse, the anchor didn’t hold at the first try.

Now the casino starts: we were drifting with the wind, right towards the bow of another yacht. The distance until collision was perhaps 150 meters and that yacht was one of the biggest Super Sailing Yachts I’ve ever seen. The width of her hull impressed me quite a bit.

– Hope that the anchor still grips somewhere. It didn’t look like that.
– Boat boy next to us could have towed us away, but he wanted to agree on a price only later. Sure he would have made his bill according to the prevented damage. Last option, under „Lloyd‘s open!“
– Pull out the genoa to get away from the other vessel: Possible, if we got the anchor in quick enough. „Anchor up!“
– Engage the propeller again an see if the rope cutter would do its job: first choice.

A rope cutter is a da.n sharp disc knife which we mounted on the propeller shaft. It’s task is to cut a rope or netting which is jamming around the propeller shaft.

So we had two options how not to kiss the superyacht. In the first attempt I engaged the prop again and increased the revolution immediately. There was an uncommon rattle from underneath the boat and now, also the rudder was going freely again. „Adrenalin off!“

So we dropped the anchor and Manuela The Mast Climber dived to take the last bits of rope off the propeller.

Now let’s talk about our neighbor, the Super Sailing Yacht which definitely deserves some capital letters. Her name is ‚Mondango 3’ and you can easily google it. The hull is 185 feet (56 meters) long. The 499 tons weight require some proper sails or a couple of thousand horsepower. 100 liters of fuel will only last for 10 nautical miles, according to the charter brochure. And this is the good news, my friends: You can charter it! The cost per high season WEEK starts at 224‘000 Euro, plus ‘a typical 25-50% on top’ of this for the operation expenses.

I‘m sure that some well known faces would have looked over Mondango’s reiling, would we have kissed her. But Yuana’s Mr. Rope Cutter was quicker, this time.

Tschau Schweizerflagge

Auf Yuana wird gerne mal der Klabautermann verdächtigt, wenn etwas unauffindbar bleibt. Ein USB Stick mit all unseren Musikdateien wurde in der ‚Grümpelkiste‘ anstatt beim Autoradio wiedergefunden. In der Grümpelkiste liegt alles, was keinen festen Platz. Die beiden SSD Datenspeicher zur primären und sekundären Sicherung all unserer Computerdaten blieben über vier Monate unentdeckt im Seitenfach von Markus‘ Reisetasche.

Heute hat es leider die grosse Schweizerflagge am Heck von Yuana erwischt. Alleine auf dieser Reise hat sie uns 10’000 km begleitet, und wir waren stets stolz auf sie! Mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit ist nicht der Klabautermann schuld, sondern einmal mehr der Autor selbst.

Was ist passiert? Während die Kinder Schule hatten habe ich den Ölwechselservice gemacht. Danach liessen wir den Diesel einige Stunden laufen, um für die nächsten Tage 350 Liter Frischwasser machen und die Bordbatterien laden.

Irgendwann bemerkte ich, dass unser Beiboot Dorie nahe am Schiffsauspuff im Wasser lag. Um Dorie vom Auspuff wegzuholen habe ich ihre Festmacherleine vom linken an den rechten Heckkorb von Yuana verlegt. Dabei blieb unbemerkt, dass Dories Leine jetzt um den Flaggenstock gelegt war. Die Wellen haben Dorie rauf- und runtergeschaukelt, und das hat wohl den Flaggenstock aus seiner Verankerung gehoben.

Kurz vor Sonnenuntergang stellt die Bordfrau den herben Verlust der Flagge fest. Eine sofortige Suchaktion mit dem Beiboot hat zur Einsicht geführt, dass der Flaggenstock längst mitsamt Schweizerflagge von der ablaufenden Flut zum Riff hinausgespült worden sein muss.

Nun muss behelfsmässig erst mal eine neue Flagge her. Dafür wird wohl ein rotes T-Shirt über die Klippe springen müssen. Dann endlich habe ich einen Wunsch, Weihnachtsmann!

AO-Xing Day 15, Aftermath

Here we are, having arrived in Barbados after a safe crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The last hour brought the dolphins! Finally arriving and now being here after a planning time of more than three years feels outstanding at every extent.

The crossing took us 15 days and the ocean has been very kind with us. So was Yuana: she kept going so well and didn’t have the smallest technical issue for that longest stretch she had ever done. Last but not least we had (and still have) a wonderful crew. Each day was fun, which couldn’t have been expected in such a confined space.

Particularly the last days were easy and quick downwind sailing. Compared to previous crossings, this one was more relaxed, mainly because of the additional crew. Moreover and due to the length of this leg, the general target was more to survive the day and less to arrive in Barbados. We just sailed without thinking about estimated arrival date and time.

This leg included some strategic route  which was a very nice part as well. On which route would we find the combination of favorable winds, short distance and a good position for the following days of the journey? Each day midday brought the new position update for all the ship.

Who would have gained or lost a bit of ground? Studying the boats and sailing record of some of the crews, I believe that our team has done very well! Congratulations from the Captain!

How was it, compared to our expectations?
– Weather was easier than thought: winds below 25 knots, waves below 3 meters, almost no squalls
– Health: practically no sea sickness
– Fishing: we didn’t catch the big guys (or they took our lures away)
– Family: on & off sleeping patterns and the tiredness from sleeping in motion made it a bit difficult at some times to enjoy the family time. Kids were however happy with movies and pop corn
– Extra crew: reliable, lovely, charming
– No 24 hour news stream: bad, but survived

Last but not least, our daughter who always wanted to fly rather then sail announced that she will be part of the crew also once the time will come to travel back to Europe. Flight ticket saved, hooray;-)!

AO-Xing Days 9 & 10: Continuous Cruising

So this is day 10 of what seems to become a 15 day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. We are two third through and there is still the long stretch of 700 nautical miles to go. It is almost as much as from Tenerife to Cape Verde. And guess what, I‘m not the only one who wishes that this could go on like that for a bit longer!

Well, let’s check this again after another three days. The sea rolls the boat quite a bit at times. So we even couldn’t think about the classical mid Atlantic swim. Glad we had our swimming and plunging a few days earlier when the winds were low.

One of the great things on board is that everybody enjoys a sweet water shower and hair wash every second day. The silky dry skin feeling would last for a couple of hours, before the salty air would take over again until the next shower.

There are two equally sized water tanks aboard Yuana. The upper tank is full and closed as a drinking water reserve during a long passage. This is a safety measure, should the water in the lower tank go bad, for example due to a malfunction of the water maker.

The lower tank is refilled with the water maker every second or third day. A water maker processes sea water into super clean demineralized water. We even use a mineralization and hardener station to enrich this water for drinking and easy rinsing of soap.

That water from the tank goes again through a coal filter. It removes any smells from water we would have taken in from marinas. So we have always perfectly clean and nice tasting drinking water available. The six of us consume up to 100 liters of fresh water per day for drinking and cooking, dishes, washing and body hygiene.

The water maker is the largest energy consumer aboard. To get 55 liters of fresh water per hour requires a high pressure water pump working at 56 bar. The electric motor for that pump consumes 38 Amps at 12V. That electric power is generated with the Diesel engine.

Conclusion is that we run quite a complicated process to turn oil into water. The one aboard who understands the whole system appreciates the showers even more;-).

Nautical miles during the crossing:
Day 10: 140 nm
Day 9: 147 nm

Atlantiküberquerung Tage 7 & 8: Bergfest!

Es ist der 1. Dezember. Gestern war ergo der letzte Tag eines Monats und das heisst für uns, dass wir den Rest unserer monatlichen Satellitentelefon-Minuten aufbrauchen. So haben wir fast zwei Stunden mit Familie, Freunden und Schulfreunden in der Schweiz und in Schweden telefoniert.

Stellt euch vor, in der Schweiz war es abends schon dunkel und auch kalt, in Schweden sowieso. Von Schnee und Weihnachtsmärkten haben sie erzählt!

Weil wir seit dem Juli fast täglich die Sonnencreme in Händen haben (ausser in England natürlich), liegt uns das dezemberliche Nordeuropawetter ziemlich fern. Allerdings muss ich gestehen, dass ich bereits im Oktober in einem Aldi auf Lanzarote Eliesenlebkuchen gekauft hatte. Für den Christstollen hingegen schien es mir damals doch noch etwas zu früh zu sein.

Ja, wir sind gerade ziemlich mittendrin und mittendurch den Atlantik. Kleine Feiern sind willkommene Abwechslung im Seealltag. Zum Glück gibt es viel zu feiern. Mit dem 7. Reisetag seit den Kapverden ist logischerweise die erste Woche voll. Für die Kinder hat sich diese Zeit angeblich wie zwei oder drei Tage angefühlt. Für die Erwachsenen waren es immerhin fünf gefühlte Reisetage. Das ist doch ein gutes Zeichen! Wir verdanken dies der spassigen Crew, den leichten Wetterbedingungen und nicht zuletzt unserer komfortablen Lady Yuana!

Der achte Tag bringt nun das Bergfest! In beide Richtungen sind wir runde 1900 Kilometer vom Land entfernt. Das ist doch mal etwas Ungewöhnliches. Der geographisch nächstmögliche Landfall wäre in Französisch Guyana, dort wo die Franzosen ihren Weltraumbahnhof haben, EU-Gebiet also, no Problems.

Französisch Guyana oder auch die frühere holländische Kolonie Surinam sind für uns Ausweichziele, sollten wir aus irgendwelchen Gründen dringlich An Land gehen müssen. Im Moment gibt es allerdings keinen Grund, nicht direkt nach Barbados zu fahren. Alle sind fit, die Wetteraussichten sind nahezu perfekt, und alle Systeme an Bord funktionieren einwandfrei. Wir können also munter in die zweite Hälfte unserer ersten Atlantiküberquerung ziehen.

Normalerweise sind wir während den Passagen ein dry boat, wie die Engländer zu sagen pflegten, welche wir letzte Nacht abgehängt haben. Das heisst, dass wir unterwegs keinen Alkohol konsumieren.
Dies ist eine reine Vorsichtsmassnahme. Sollte sich ein Unglücksfall ereignen, so ist man im Kopf stets auf der Höhe, um sofort den notwendigen Extra-Effort leisten zu können. Mit etwas schwedischem Charme hat sich diese Regel nun kurzzeitig aussetzen lassen, und so gibt es zum Bergfest ein Glas Champagner. Kulinarisch gehen wir mit einem Avocadobrötchen, einer Schale Reis-Linsen-Mais-Gurken-Karotten-Salat durch den Tag, und Abends stehen frische Ravioli auf dem Menü;-).

Dass wir nun die halbe Distanz hinter uns haben heisst nicht, dass die zweite Hälfte der Reise nochmals acht Tage dauern wird. Erstens haben wir nun viel bessere Winde als am Anfang, und zweitens müssen wir wahrscheinlich keine windbedingten Umwege mehr in Kauf nehmen. Karibik, wir kommen!

Etmal Tag 8: 145 Seemeilen
Etmal Tag 7: 125 Seemeilen

Day 3 & 4: Partying and trouble shooting

Days 3 and 4 usually are more relaxed, compared to the first two days of the passage. The biorhythms get used to life at sea, which includes the continuous motion from the waves and the need for a day and night watch. With three adults on board, night watches get considerably shorter than for a couple only, what a luxury!

So we had more time for party: we celebrated the crossing of the 20st meridian which happened to be in the middle of the night. The boy set the alarm clock. At 4 a.m. sharp one pair of proudly looking kids eyes appeared at the cockpit. I welcomed him to the party and suggested to get properly dressed. The search for his clothes however made him so tired that he fell asleep again on the next bunk. So we’d better party during the day. To eat, kids choose popcorn and sour worms. Captain offered drinks and the ladies on board even made colorful paper decorations for it.

Later the same day Jeanette is the one who realizes that we are just about to pass the half way point to Mindelo. That calls for another great party, namely a Half Way Party (this is a thoroughly legendary term for some of my dear readers!). As we discuss to celebrate this one, we whiteness the fishing rod going all the way back. “Fish! Big Fish!” Our fishing line is really strong, the last meter even in steel so that fish can’t bite it off. The line is unfortunately not strong enough and snaps. You know what? Mr BigFish now carries a beautiful lip piercing. It is a bluish-silvery jelly octopus, contributed by Swiss blue water cruisers Carmen & Maurice. RIP, dear Jelly Octopus. You were the best lure we had. Dear Carmen, I believe to know that you really liked this particular octopus. When we will be back in Switzerland, we shall party for luckily pierced Mr BigFish. Apologies for the loss!

Noteworthy is also that we are back in Summer, on a day mid November. Day temperatures are like on a convenient beach day with water finally being up to 25 degrees C. It is hard not jumping into the deep blue. Problem is that the way back onto the boat could be troublesome (if not dangerous) with the boat rocking up and down in the seas. Anyway, no one on board misses typical November weather in our home places Switzerland and Sweden.

After we had a bird messing up to whole starboard deck last night we had his colleague sitting inside the boat on the galley this night. It must have come through the open hatch above the galley. Sure the galley gave a nice toilet for him. Markus was actually out on the watch when he heard some very uncommon noise inside. There was the bird, but the noise was like a cat which would continuously start to hiss. Chhhh. Chhhh. Chhhh. First I brought the bird out. It was weighing just nothing. Incredible how they can survive at sea. As expected the noise didn’t stop when the bird was away. Chhhh, Chhhh, Chhhh, … The engine room was ok, the water maker in the cockpit locker and the fridge as well. Finally we found that pressurized water hose underneath the galley board died after four month of use only, a manufacturing mistake. But why did hissing start and stop all the time? The puncture in the hose was relatively small, so small that the water pump was able to fill the pressure vessel for a few seconds each time. Good that we carry all kinds of spare parts, also water hoses. Issue fixed.

Another defect was that the position tracking for our boat failed shortly after we left. We could start tracking of the error only with a big delay. The cause of the error was that we had to re-configure the interface between our satellite communication system and the weather software. When doing that, the weather software has re-directed our tracking signal to the weather company. This remained undetected by myself since the setup for tracking is not in the same menu as the weather interface. Apologies to the ones who were frightened for some time. Please rest assured that everybody is fine and we have a great time together.

Let’s talk about sailing:
A sail change at three o’clock in the morning is quite a mind challenging task. Actually we took the Code Zero light wind sail down and changed to a poled out genoa. There were not less than eight different lines in the area. You don’t want to mess up with these ones, and one action which is not clearly thought to the end can easily trigger an unwanted event. Markus likes such tasks. The ladies however didn’t like seeing me on the foredeck at night with the waves rolling the boat.

To make it even nicer, we have reached a first sailing culmination for our entire trip so far. There were force 6 winds from astern and waves peaking up closely to 3 meters. For a couple of hours the boat was going really fast. We were often above 8 knots of speed, well competing which much faster boats. Another boat remarked their respect about our sailing performance over the VHF radio. We put it down to our nice Swedish Hallberg-Rassy design and the Swedish sail trimmer. Once Yuana was even doing 11.2 knots when surfing down a wave. The boat felt so stable and kind of unaffected by the waves. It was a big pleasure, and the weather gods may be kind enough to give us more of that!

Data log
Day 4: 150nm
Day 3: 148nm
Day 2: 126nm
Day 1: 134nm