Atlantis crossing by Martin Blouetby the Crew of Tres Hombres on 01/18/13
Here we are, on the other side of the world, or at least of the Atlantic. I just begin to realize what we did. We crossed the Atlantic ocean!!! I have been dreaming about this for so many years!!!
I will start with the news that I got a promotion, I am bosun of the Tres Hombres. This means a in my few changes in my schedule; 1. I am now on day watch, to organize the work party, 2. Because of this I now have more responsibilities... The first person to tell me after this journey: "So, you took one year of holiday after your study" Just doesn'tt understand what hard work it is!
We left Brava in Cape Verde, I was very very happy, the Atlantic crossing started and we set sail towards the sunset.... The routine of life at sea began again. Working, eating, setting and trimming sails, eating, having fun, but being on day watch and at 8:30PM falling asleep! I don't know who told me that crossing the Atlantic was a long ride of 2000 miles, almost without touching the sails, almost boring, but this person was wrong, completely wrong.
First of all I was working hard and the first week flew by. It was already Christmas. I was wondering how it would be. But "except" nice meals, some cookies baked, nothing really special happened. I prefer this kind of celebration, I was not really in the mood of having a party. I was crossing the Atlantic but my mind was often with all my family, being together! They put a picture of me on the chimney and also on the family picture. Strange, I have to say. I also got a Christmas package from my parents. That made me happy but to be honest, I tried to do not think about Christmas too much.
But at a certain moment the adventure really started again. We were sailing fast, all the stun sails set and we even made an extra stun sail with an old tent and that worked very well. We had something like 19 sails!!! At this moment we received a message saying that a boat had difficulties a hundred miles in our area. We changed course towards the waypoint. But in the morning, nothing was there, nothing at the horizon, just the ocean. We continued with the wind and the current, still nothing... When we deciede to go back on track a new message arrived, the boat had drifted a bit more and was nearby us. We went there and found the boat. It was a german sailor, sailing on a 12m and 18tons steel boat, Fidel. Fourteen days before we found him his rudder broke. He tried everything to fix a new rudder. A small boat tried to tug him but it didn't really work, and they didn't had enough food and water to tug him for more than three weeks (with the speed they were doing). The guy was more than exhausted. We made a nice manoeuvre and after three trials he succeed to get the tow line. And the rescue mission really began.
We set all sails again. 24 hours later the rescue centre in Martinique called us to know if everything was okay. 5 minutes later than Arjen said "Yes, everything is okay" the line broke (Murphy law...). We had been towing Fidel at 7 knots. It was too much! After one day at this rhythm the line broke because of the chaffing against the hull of Fidel. So we removed the stun sails, wear the ship (gybe) and went back. This manoeuvre was easy, the crew and trainees are getting used to the ship. But anyway it took us several hours to come back to the ship. This time, Eric (1st mate) and Jelte (trainee) went to the boat to tigh up the towingline. We protected everything against chaffing and set sails again. Instead of heading to Barbados we were now heading to St Lucia where Moritz, the skipper of the FIdel, had a friend who could help him there. The line didn't break anymore, Moritz was checking it every hour. And we didn't had a problem with the tow for the other 600 miles.
On board of Tres Hombres life went on, with our little friend behind us. It was not possible anymore to fish or to use the tow generator. About fishing, during the crossing we got three fish, 2 dorados and one "wahoo" (probably named because when you saw it you say "wahoo"!) and one flying fish hit the face of Clements who was doing the lookout in the night.
About the tow generator a little story needs to be told. We have two propellers and two tow generators. One small and one big generator. One propeller has just two blades the second one three. We were using a lot the small one but it didn't produce so much power. So we changed all the system in order to have the big propeller and the big generator. Not so much problem until here. The difficulties come when we use the generator. With the small propeller we just needed two people to bring it back on deck. With the big one (also called "the monster") we need all hands on deck when we are at a speed higher than 5 knots.
Concerning the rest, we "celebrate" new year between two watches. We received a message for a man over board in Alaska; don't move Tres Hombres Sailing Rescue Vessel is on the way! After all these adventures we arrived in St Lucia, in the Caribbean. 17 days uses to cross the Atlantic, with a boat behind us!
I can write "DONE" behind my dream "Cross the Atlantic" on my "to do" list. But I don't realize it yet. It's not like taking a plane and in 6 hours you come from the cold Europe to a warm island. Since the Cape Verde I have been just wearing shorts and sometimes a Tshirt. In 17 days you have the time to think about all this. It seems normal and in the same time amazing to be here. Another feeling, touching the ground, not moving, seeing other people, it's so strange...
When the rescue mission of Fidel began, Arjen, the captain, said that almost everything happened for a reason. I didn't really agree, and didn't see the reason at the beginning. But when we were on anchor in St Lucia, the reason happened. I saw a Volvo 70, one of the fastest monohull boats in the world, an extreme boat. With the dinghy I went there to ask for the name of the boat during the Volvo Ocean Race 2007/2008... 2 Days later I made a daytrip on the boat and that was just AMAZING. I always wanted to sail on this sort of boat for so many years, before discovering the Tall Ships. I have been following the Volvo Ocean Race every 2 hours each day during 9 months. You can imagine my excitement to sail on one! The boat, renamed True North, is sailing around the world and promote the city of Dubai for the Universal expo of 2020. They are looking for projects for the world and connect them. They were particularly interesting in our project.
Sailing on a boat like this is hard to describe. After 1 minute of sailing on the True Norht the speed was already at 12 to 14 knots. After 2 minutes I was already completely wet. I just went to the bow of the boat and had a nice shower. Then the ride was fast, against the waves, with lots and lots of water all over the deck. To steer the boat is very easy, the answer is immediate and the steersman has to be very precise. After tacking we set the spinnaker. The speed increased to 20 knots, 25 in the surf. The conditions were perfect and I miss the word to describe this experience. But another dream came true!...
Then we left St Lucia with Tres Hombres, heading to Barbados. 24 hours against the wind and the waves. We can also became a very wet boat while sailing. The bow was jumping in the waves, and the night in the foc's'ole, in the front of the ship, was not one of those relaxing nights, but a rocky one.
We arrived in Barbados thatâ€™s where we are now, on anchor, alternating between watch and free time on the island.Even if sometimes hard to be on board of the boat with a lot of other cres, as soon as you're free and enjoy the new place, you almost forget about these difficult moments. Life is beautiful!!!
The adventure continue... Greetings from the suntanned bosun : Martin