It is a great collection of yachtswomen and yachtsmen’s usually rather embarrassing misadventures…and just for that, it’s a guilty pleasure to read it, a real treat.
You’ll read about night encounters, bad crew experiences, a wide variety of (often avoidable) failures, maneuvering of course, and generally poor choices facing unexpected events. Isn’t it what learning to sail is about ?
Obviously, it’s funny to read about others humiliating moments, and the guilt is totally manageable since we all had such moments, especially on a sailing yacht. But there is more to this original sailing book. It’s a good way to extend your knowledge about sailing, living onboard, living with crew members, etc.
Who said learning to sail had to be fair ?
The book offers a good alternative to technical guides and I’m sure there are very few sailors that would not enjoy such a reading. It was published originally in 2000 and seeing the positive returns, the editor since reedited it (in 2009) and published a second opus : “Further Confessions“. I have not read this one but will do on my next cruise for sure.
The publishing was made possible by the collection of 25 years of readers testimony in the columns of the magazine Yachting Monthly.
So thank you Yachting Monthly for sharing and publishing, and thanks to those who shared their not so glorious experiences. I really had a good time and will read the following ones.
I hope you’ll enjoy it as well…learning how not to sail proves to be a lot of fun too.
If you sail offshore on a regular basis, you know staying awake during the night watches, especially the quiet ones, can get tricky sometimes. I wanted to share with you the solution I found to make those watches easier: Listening to audiobooks !
With Audible, a branch of Amazon, it’s never been easier to find great books to listen to.
There are a lot of books available, for instance, on sailing voyage, which can help you gather experience and tricks, but there are also most of the bestsellers in fiction and non-fiction among the 200.000+ titles that are on the audible audiobooks catalog.
Audible offers a membership plan that will allow you to purchase an audiobook per month for only 7,99£ (or 14,95$ for the US and 9,90€ for the Euro zone). A typical book is between 8 and 20 hours of listening, so it will give you a good occupation for a few watches in a raw.
Best of all, Audible offers you a free (really free, with no tricks) trial for your first Audiobook !
All you have to do is subscribe to a monthly membership on Audible and the first month, i.e audiobook, will be free (not charged on your payment card). If for some reason you are not happy with the experience, you can at any time cancel your membership with 2 clicks, and you won’t be charged for any additional month.
The whole process to get your membership will only take 5 minutes (less if you are already an Amazon customer). After that, the best way is to download the audible app on your smartphone or tablet (IOS or Android) and you can start listening.
Here is a list of great books about sailing and offshore navigation to start with:
And a recommendation for a really excellent book:
If you have troubles staying awake or simply need something to make the watch time a little more exciting, I really think audiobooks will help you.
I had a few occasions to see the pleasure that triggers a good espresso delivered to a tired crew member in the middle of his watch. It’s like bringing chocolate eggs to a hungry kid !
Yet most of the yachtswomen and yachtsmen I meet have no way of doing an espresso on their boat. “I don’t have AC current”, or “an Espresso machine consumes too much” or “where would I put the machine, how do I fasten it ? It would be too complicated”.
That’s when I usually become an evangelist for Handpresso. “Guys, don’t you know Handpresso ?”, “It’s fantastic ! all you need is 2 arms, hot water and standard ground coffee or E.S.E pods, and you have your Espresso”. “No electricity required, no space required”. “See, we could be drinking an espresso right, instead of this !”.
After years of being that evangelist, I had a discussion last week about coffee on board with a friend, on his terrific Sangria, and he dared to tell me he knew nothing about Handpresso, “I don’t have 220V onboard, we’re on a Sangria, not the Aureus XV, how would I prepare you an espresso”. I know…it sounds like disguised self congratulation for building a yacht equipped in standard version with a Nespresso machine, but to be fair, the Sangria is a fantastic sailing yachts, only 7,62 meters, with a lot of love to give…and, I believe, the most sold sailing boat in the history of yacht building.
Anyway, my own buddy did not know about Handpresso…I had been a poor evangelist.
That’s it ! Now I feel compelled to say it again, this time on a blog post, shared on Facebook, to any sailing enthusiast that also happens to be an espresso enthusiast (not fake espresso): Handpresso is a must have on Board !
The image above shows a set that includes includes 4 unbreakable cups and an Handpresso Thermos Flask. This innovative has an integrated thermometer so you can always be sure the water is hot enough for your espresso. That way, you fill it with very hot water and can enjoy espresso all morning.
Now, check it out and please never tell me again “I can’t do an espresso”, just because we’re on a sailing yachts.
This makes the handpresso Wild Hybrid Outdoor set the ultimate gift for a sailing or hiking enthusiast !
Here is a 2 minutes video showing you how easy it is o make a good espresso on board with a Handpresso.
We’ve made a lot of sea trials on the Aureus XV since its launch in June 2013. More than 10.000 nautical miles for the first year, and much more to come.
Those tests, in all types of conditions have also been the occasion to test a lot of gears and tools, that we wanted to integrate on the boat to make her a really easy boat to sail with, to maintain and to live aboard. We’ve tested a lot, and a few appeared to be really indispensable once you know what they can do to improve your sailing experience. In that way, they also make great gifts for sailors, so think about that next Christmas if you’re having a hard time figuring out what to offer to your sailing enthusiast uncle. Those tools for sailors, or boat owners do not all look like the typical gift type, but they’ll make, at some point, a happy sailor or boat owner.
Of course the basic tools one finds on pretty much every boat are important, but I’d like to share with you the non obvious tools we’ve found to be extremely helpful for offshore sailors, and yet usually not part of their toolbox. Even if it’s not on the list, I assume all sailors have a multimeter, a set of Allen keys, and a basic set of tools (a hammer, a dead blow hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, etc?).
Also, I voluntarily don’t feature any Leatherman in the list, as it is really the basic tool for any outdoor enthusiast, including sailors. A Leatherman is “The” tool any sailor should have, and from what I see most do. Also it would have been difficult to choose which one to feature in this “potential gifts for sailors” list.
If you are looking for a gift idea for a sailor, check first if he has a Leatherman. I use the very simple Leathermans Freestyle(sharp knife and a good plier) or Skeletool cx (knife, screwdriver, plier). They are very easy to wear on the belt and the most compact of the Leatherman range. Leatherman Wave or Surge are excellent alternatives for sailors. They are heavier but have more tools.
This being said, here are, in my mind, the top 10 unconventional (read very rarely included in the typical toolbox) tools and gears to have on a sailing yacht which has an offshore sailing program. Most of those tools will do great gifts for sailors, in a reasonable price range. If you are looking for (small) gifts ideas for a sailor friend or relative, I hope those ideas will help.
Top 10 (unconventional) tools to have on board:
The room in a sailboat has to be optimized by architects and builders.
Lots of technical gears and equipment have to fit while sparing a constantly increasing room for living. It means builders try to limit the technical space by optimizing the space. There is very little space between technical hardware, it gets crowded under the floor panels, and cluttered technical accesses make diagnostics, maintenance and repairs harder.
A lot of the sailor’s efficiency will come from having the appropriate tools to cope with tough accessibility constraints:
A Claw Pickup tool and a Magnetic Retrieval tool. Very often, the boat owner is confronted to the impossibility to fit his hand where he should. Catch back the bits, screws, coins and other stuffs that fall between the water tank and the boat’s structure, or in any other tiny space. This Claw pick-up tool is very helpful every time some stuff decides to fall in an inaccessible space of the boat (between the hull and a tank, or between two batteries). It makes a real difference when you have it and might allow you not to go crazy trying to catch that piece that went right under your engine block ! Not expensive tools, but indispensable ones. I agree it doesn’t look like a gift, but it makes anyhow a great gift idea for a sailor.
A Telescopic lighted Inspection mirror… Yes, sometimes the problem is you can’t even see what you have to do or what you are doing. With this tool you’ll reach and enlighten most of the previously inaccessible spaces.
AMultibits Ratchet Stubby Set ! And when you find the screw to unscrew, you can’t fit the screwdriver… Hence the Multibits Ratchet Stubby Set ! Every sailor has a set of screwdrivers on his or her boat’s tool box, but too often it misses a Stubby screwdriver. This compact ratchet screwdriver is immensely helpful when you’ll have to unscrew stuffs in very little place. The Stanley Ratchet Stubby Set is a good product, it comes with 15 bits and will resist heavy uses in tough conditions (salty environment).
Sometimes electrical wires fails and short circuits happens. Sometimes you want to install a new device and not spend the afternoon wiring it:
Wago terminal connectors 5 ways block: If some wiring fails, and it happens on any boat at some point, Wago compact terminal connectors are an perfect solution, the most efficient and fast way to do it, at least in a hurry. They are very easy to use and apply a great pressure on the wire. They are also very useful to add equipments on in an existing installation. A thoughtful sailor needs Wago, period ! They are fast, safe and easy. You can do junctions, additions, repairs in a blink. Here is a great video, from the “ultimate handyman”, showing the benefits of those incredible connectors.
An Automatic wire Stripper is a fantastic addition to the basic toolbox. It will allow the boat owner to do a better job, a faster job at stripping wires. An automatic wire stripper reduces the risk of cutting the conductors, thus improving the quality of the wiring. It also reduces the risks of injury. Here is a video I found on youtube showing how to use an automatic wire stripper, you’ll see how easy it is.
Most of the time, sailors care too little pluming inventory. I know you can’t bring all sizes of hoses, seacocks and valves, but here is one thing you can easily have on board, that will solve a lot of problems:
Self Amalgamating Tape. It’s the fastest and easiest way to fix a leaking hose or connection. Self-amalgamating tape is a non-tacky silicone-rubber tape which when stretched and wrapped around cables, electrical joints, hoses and pipes combines or unites itself into a strong, seamless, rubbery, waterproof, and electrically insulating laye (source of this description: Wikipedia). Basically, if there is a leak, try this first !
On a boat, things have a tendency to fly if you let them unattached, and when they fly, they breaks !
Dual Lock Tape, from 3M, is a great way to fix light and medium weight objects to flat surfaces. This velcro tape is an excellent way to prevent tools, boxes and accessories from flying over the saloon in a rough sea. Check out this video to realize how helpful it can be for any boat owner. “Loose the screw” as they says.
Sugru is a really amazing product, really ! Among the best tools to fix and repair. Sugru allows you to do amazing things in a lot of domains . What the F…. is Sugru ? you might ask:
Though of course the boat owners will be more interested in the fixing aspect of Sugru, there is a lot one can do with this remarkable innovation.
Having a set of two “One Handed Clamps“, or “Quick-Jaw Clamps” is a great help, as sometimes you will need to keep heavy things in place, in contact, or apart at a minimum distance, while repairing. Those Wolfcraft One Handed Clamps are good to have on a sailboat for they are both light, quite strong, and remain very easy to use.
Finally, I could not make any list of tools without emphasizing the fact that there are tools and “Tools”.
I’m sure any boat owner has on-board a set of spanners, but the reference has now changed, since the introduction of the flex ratcheting spanners. With those incredibly awesome spanners, you do the job quickly, even when accessibility to the bolt is terrible. This FACOM Metrix Flex Ratcheting Spanner Set is the best addition I’ve made to my toolbox this year and I strongly recommend it. it’s terribly good, easy to store and a pleasure to use. A must have for any handyman sailor, admire the mechanic !
I’m confident any of those tools will make a welcome addition to any boat owner’s toolbox, and will make great gifts for sailors !
And since you might read this article as the result for a google search for “Gifts for sailors”, I’ll conclude this article by reminding you of the Handpresso, a.k.a the perfect gift for a sailor that likes espresso.
The Handpresso is a wonderful device that allows you to make proper good espressos without electricity. All you need is hot water and two hands to pump. The pumping will provide the proper pressure to make a real espresso. This really makes it an excellent gift, a sure hit, for sailors and any outdoor enthusiast for that matter…providing they love espresso.
Sailing Across the Atlantic – How to Do It ? When ? The best equipment. How to make the most of your experience ?
The Atlantic Crossing is an Accessible Experience for Any Sailor
Crossing the Atlantic is one of the best sailing experiences a navigator can experience. Especially a European sailor doing an Atlantic Crossing in the middle of winter, to the Caribbean. Nowadays, more than 1.500 sailboats are sailing across the Atlantic from Europe every year. The main road and most appreciated course, is to sail from Europe to the Canaries Islands, usually from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean. Some choose to leave from Capo Verde, a little bit more South, or from Madeira, a little bit more North.
On a well-prepared boat, with a well-prepared crew and at the proper season, you’ll find it easy and very accessible to any sailor, even a newbie, willing to learn. Sailing across the Atlantic for two weeks, with steady wind is a perfect occasion to better discover your boat, or even boating, to extend your sailing skills and to record lots of great memories. Many yachtsmen and yachtswomen choose to enjoy the Caribbean, Bahamas or Brazilian coasts for a few months after the crossing. All those places offer fantastic sailing destinations and dream moorings.
Such a crossing on a sailing yacht offers you a unique opportunity to really change your environment and quickly experience totally new sensations, a completely different routine, in a fantastic natural environment. I remain amazed at how fast we can take new habits or get read of others on such a sailing trip. 2 to 3 weeks is a very short period of time actually, but it always leaves an awful lot of good memories and quite a bit of nostalgia.
Here are a few tips and equipment recommendations. When it’s possible, I provide links to Amazon, for they offer fair prices, fast delivery anywhere in the world, security and allow you to save a lot on shipping costs, by grouping different product categories into one order.
When to cross the Atlantic ?
From Europe, the best season is from the end of November to March. NE trades are quite stable between the Azores and the Caribbean, averaging 4 Beauforts and usually ranging between 3 and 6.
Doing the Atlantic crossing from Europe between December and March allows you to benefit from steady winds and currents, assuming you go for the conventional road, through the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, and avoid the Hurricane season that starts in May and ends in the end of November.
If you are serious about sailing across the Atlantic and about ocean cruising in general, I suggest you get your hands on the excellent “Cornell’s Ocean atlas : Pilot Charts for All Oceans of the World“, by Jimmy and Ivan Cornell. It’s an excellent source to understand the weather patterns on any major crossing (all the Oceans, the main seas) at any time. You’ll find for instance one chart per month on the North Atlantic, allowing you to compare the statistical weather conditions month by month. It’s based on the study of the last 20 years data and reports informations such as currents, dominant wind’s direction, force and frequency, frequency of storms, etc. and it remains easy to read. It’s a real must have for any offshore sailor or circumnavigator.
Alternatively, you can go for an even more precise atlas and still very qualitative, dedicated only to the Atlantic Ocean (but including Mediterranean and Caribbean weather Patterns too). It is the “Atlantic Pilot Atlas” by James Clarke. If you are sure your Atlantic crossing won’t turn into a circumnavigation, you should prefer this one to Cornell’s Atlas.
The main distances from Europe to the Caribbean (Saint-Lucia):
Las Palmas GC
“At a 7 knots average cruising speed, crossing the Atlantic between Las Palmas and the Caribbean will take you 16 days. The record for the Atlantic Crossing belongs to the Maxi Trimaran “Banque Populaire V”, that crossed the North Atlantic in 3 days and 15 hours, averaging 32,94 knots !!!”
The best starting point for an Atlantic crossing with the trade winds is without any doubts Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, it’s kind of the best entry on the Trade winds Highway.
Las Palmas offers all the services any offshore sailor might need. There are plenty of shipchandlers and yards in the main marina and the major brands have teams stationed in Las Palmas during October and November to help their customers prepare the Atlantic crossing.
The ARC, the well-known Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, has chosen Las Palmas as a starting point, and Saint Lucia as a destination. The ARC leaves Las Palmas at the end of November, just after the end of the Hurricane season. There are dozens of possible landing points; the ARC usually goes for Saint Lucia. Clearly, arriving to Saint Lucia and its spectacular pythons is a great momen but you can choose any Caribbean Island, the Bahamas or even Brazil. Fernando de Noronha is also a great choice to land.
To fully benefit from the Trade Winds, most yachts choose to sail South to 20″ North, 30″W. This is the place where you’ll catch the steadiest Trade Winds, both in direction and force. From here, they sail West to the Caribbean.
From The North Bahamas and North American continent; choose to cross the Atlantic on a northern route between the end of April and August. This is a less frequent way of crossing the Atlantic, but arriving in Europe in May and heading straight to the Mediterranean Sea for a great summer of sailing must be at least as memorable as the classic trade winds crossing and Caribbean sailing. To prepare a trip from the US to Europe, I recommend the book: “Atlantic Crossing – A Sailor’s guide to Europe and Beyond“, by Les Wheatheritt.
Personal preparation – What to pack for this ocean passage ? Communication devices:
First of all, know that sailing offshore does not necessarily means going dark, with no phone, no mail and no connection at all from your friends or company. That was true 15 years ago, that’s not anymore. It is now possible to live in a sailing yacht, as you live in your home, with broadband Internet access, Wi-Fi and a modern dose of comfort. Of course, communication on sea still costs much more than inshore, where we now benefit from unlimited access for a very reasonable price. The Sat installation (antenna and modem) on the boat is the most expensive: 8.000 to 15.000 $, but after that 1 MB (broadband speed) costs around 1$, and it’s easy to adapt your system to download less images or unnecessary data.
You can also choose to go with a simple iridium phone or a yellowbrick (both tracking device for those who stay ashore, sms sender/receiver and text e-mail). In that case, it will cost 700 to 1200$ to get the device and the first month of communications. My point here is to underline that offshore cruising is no longer reserved for people that can cut the bridge for months.
There is even a new alternative that is very exciting: an Iridium module you can connect wirelessly to your smarphone. You just type your sms (150 characther max), connect your phone to the device and send it. You can also receive sms and post Facebook updates !
Your location will be tracked, and a ping sent, every 10 minutes allowing your family and friends to know where you are at any time.
A new version with a colored screen is available and has a great reputation already. It is the Delorme inReach SE.
You don’t have datas or internet access, but you can communicate at any time by text messages, from anywhere on the ocean, for a total investment under 400US$.
FIY, this nReach device is buoyant, waterproof to 3 meters, and impact-resistant to military standards.
All in all, it will cost 15.000USD$ +1000USD$ a month to get broadband Internet and voice calls. This is perfect for a (wealthy) entrepreneur or independent to stay actively in touch with his or her business while at sea. I do it using software like the excellent “Basecamp”. For someone who only wants to give news to close ones, the price can be as low as 300$ + 65US$ per month (without annual subscription).
Plan on leaving for at least one month if you do only the crossing, 6 weeks or more are ideal if you want to enjoy the arrival and enjoy a stay in the Caribbean…
Pay attention to where you land and whether you will need visas or not, or if you should prepare local currency (for instance, landing in Fernando de Noronha, Brazil, you might be happy to have already prepare Brazilian Real, as there is no currency exchange office).
“A good preparation is the key to success”
With the good info, you’ll make a good preparation to make the best out of your Atlantic crossing experience and you’ll save yourself administrative, logistic and technical troubles, administrative. Get the good navigation library, starting with the compulsory and really great “Atlantic Pilot Atlas” written by James Clarke I mentioned earlier. It’s the best resource I know for Atlantic crossing, with detailed and easy to read Monthly Pilot Charts for both North and South Atlantic.
Other good resources are “The RCC Pilotage foundation Atlantic Crossing Guide” by Jane Russell, which details how to prepare the boat, the crew, organize the routine and be administratively prepared. Once you have chosen the destination and stopovers, this book contains all the links and contacts to prepare any eventual visa request, or administrative obligation to fulfill.
Get paper and electronic charts, a lot of brands offer packages including wide range and short-range detailed maps.
Useful Personal Equipment:
To enjoy the 2 to 3 weeks crossing, you must have a well prepared boat, but also the proper personal equipment Here is the most valuable equipment, in my mind, to take with you on your Atlantic Crossing (a list of mandatory Safety equipment for the boat and the crew is available for download later in this article):
Your personal drugs or specific medicines (head-hake, back-hake, possible allergies treatments, serum for your eyes, etc.). Also think about warning the responsible for supplies purchasing if you suffer from allergies.
Your passport, sailing licence (if applicable) and radio licence, first-aid certificate.
An iPod or MP3 player with your Top 100 Albums on it, and maybe audiobooks. Audiobooks are excellent ways to go through a watch, and if you are not the novel type, you can learn a lot about pretty much everything (business, science, hobbies, history, etc..),
Books or eBooks on Ipad or Kindle. If you have an iPad with wifi, it means it can geolocate you via GPS. With a navionics chart (buy on the Navionics app for 49€) you will turn your iPad into a safety chart plotter. Think about how useful this can become !
Don’t forget the earplugs, chargers, and take a international plug adaptator.
A Leatherman. Security wants you to always have a sharp knife on you. While you are at it, you might want a few other tools. Leatherman tools are the best ! I always carry a Leatherman Freestyle with me. There are only two functions, pliers and a knife, but it’s the most compact one.
A good headband lamp, with leds and a descent autonomy (rechargeable batteries is mandatory). Petzl is the reference, the tikka + for instance. Try to take one with a red filter that you can put when you’re not alone (the red filter makes the lamp less dazzling)
Take a good pair of polarized sunglasses,
You should take Foul Weather gears (vest, hi-fit trouser, boots) and technical clothes (synthetic t-shirts, fleeces, synthetic sockets). Remember that cotton is the worst fabric to wear in a (very) humid navigation night, it absorbs moisture, while technical clothes (100% Polyester) evacuate it. I recommend you bring at least 2 fleeces, as it will be cold at night.
A pair of sailing gloves,
City clothes, shoes and swim wears.
An app (Android or iPod/Ipad) to study the stars (Skymap for instance),
A navigation app like Navionics.
Some Wrist bands to prevent seasickness if you are subject to it.
The usually recommended boat’s size is over 40 feet for a minimum comfort, ideally 50 feet for 2 to 4 sailors.
Monohull or Multihull ? This is a passionate debate. Usually monohull sailors would not consider switching to multi (though I observed, while working with Catana Catamarans that women more often want), and multihull enthusiasts would not consider switching to monohulls.
The light multihulls (Catana, Outremer or Gunboat catamarans for instance) are usually faster; some people prefer the stable horizon it offers. An Atlantic crossing on one of those, with the appropriate equipment, offers a great deal of thrill.
There are also heavy multihulls but I can’t say a lot about those, as I would really not consider sailing on those houses on water, my interest for sailing being mainly driven by a search for thrill.
I prefer monohulls…well fast and modern ones. Knowing what technology and naval architecture can now offer, I would not consider an Atlantic crossing or offshore sailing at all on anything but a light displacement sailing yacht using carbon fiber and infusion process. If I’m going for long range sailing, I want to sail fast and almost every time without having to use the engine. Only a light sailing yacht can offer that level of performance at least under 65 feet. And since I want to be very well equipped, only a very light structure, like carbon/epoxy or pre-preg can do the job. I want a sure yacht but I’m OK with getting wet in the heavy times, with Gore-Tex gears, when steering in an open cockpit, as long as it is well designed and conceived for safety. Actually, I even like it as those are sensational and thrilling moments when you know your boat well, when you get to understand her character and when you see how well she sails!
Others are OK with using the engine a lot and not being able to sail to a descent speed (over 5 to 6 knots) in light winds conditions. They like to take their time. They usually go for medium to high displacement yachts with central cockpit, and feel safer with a big closed cockpit and a rigid cockpit shelter.
Though I’m sure all of these can deliver great moment, this post might be a little oriented towards the “Atlantic Crossing on a light monohull”.
A brief analysis of the ARC 2012 edition’s participants gives a good idea of the repartition of the offshore sailors when it comes to choosing their boat’s philosophy and type.
250 boats were engaged
Less than 10% of them were multihulls, and 90% monohulls
Among monohulls, it looks like it was 50/50 between “light to medium displacement” and “Medium to heavy displacement”.
The average length of the boats was 48 feet
Most of the boats over 30 feet will do the work if you make sure they are properly maintained with an operational engine, a working autopilot, a GPS, controlled rigging and mast, and a set of descent sails (and lots of jerricans to carry extra water if there is no water maker).
In any case, you should make a complete check-up of the rigging, the sails, the engine, the electrics and electronics. Make sure everything works and do some preventive maintenance. You should also make checking those key parts a habit, at least once a day, while at sea, just for a visual control.
Zoom on the energy consumption and production
You’ll need to produce a lot of energy, starting with the energy that will be necessary to supply the autopilot, but also fridge and night lighting. That’s a minimum. Today, it’s possible to have, even on a fast sailing yacht other pieces of comfort, such as microwave oven, water maker, washing machine, air-conditioning and heater, a “urban” TV Hi-Fi system, broadband internet, bread machine, dishwasher, etc.. We had pretty much this equipment on the Aureus XV Absolute on this year’s crossing. Enjoying the Atlantic desert while feeling as comfortable as in a modern condo is a pretty cool experience, but luckily none of those comfort equipment are mandatory to enjoy the passage.
You’ll need a lot of energy, whatever the on-board lifestyle. This is why paying attention to the electrical power system is essential. Start with making a factual “energy balance” of your system putting together all the energy you’ll need each day, based on the average number of hours you’ll use each electrical consumer. For instance, you’ll use 20 to 24 hours of autopilot, but probably only 1 or 2 hours of TV each day. Get the consumption data for your equipments and add the consumptions. It will give you the amount of energy you need to create on a daily basis.
Now you must match this amount, in Amp, with electricity production:
How many amps per hour does your engine produce via its alternator ?
Do you have an extra alternator ? How much does it produce ?
Do you have a generator ? How much does it produce per hour ?
Do you have a wind generator ? How much will it produce per hour (you can consider 90% of windy conditions)
Do you have solar panels ? How much do they produce hourly ?
Do you have an hydro generator ? How much does it produce per hour (at your average speed) ?
For instance, on the Aureus XV Zig Zag Wanderer, we have a consumption of 18 Amps if we use the electronic, the autopilot, fridge and freezer. We have a hydrogenerator that produces 500W at a speed of 8 knots. The boat being in 24V DC, it means that we produce 20 Amps (500W/24V= 20,8 Amps). With that, I know that when we are sailing at 8 knots or above, we will be able to sail in autonomy. If we want to use the dishwasher or water maker, then we will have to match the consumption with an hour or so of Generator for every extra 150 Amps we consume (outside the essential functions that are covered with the hydrogenerator).
If you don’t do that energy balance properly, chances are you’ll find yourself frustrated at one point, not being able to use some pieces of equipment when you’ll want, or need, to do so. One possible output of this study is you might realize you will need lots of extra Gasoil to produce the energy you need (keep in mind you must save at list a full jerrican for your arrival).
Alone or as part of a Rally
Well, the great advantage of a rally is the professional tips and help with preparation that the rally offers, with courses on safety procedure and weather forecasting. Basically, if the rally organizers lets your boat cross the line, then it really means your boat is ready for the crossing, and has the appropriate equipment, a checked rigging and a long list of safety equipment.
Rallies are also a good occasion to meet other sailors, from many different countries and share experiences. Those are usually really friendly events.
The main Rallies are the ARC (for Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and the Atlantic Odyssey, here are the basic info about those rallies:
The ARC exists for almost 30 years. Nowadays, it gathers every year more than 200 boats for a crossing between Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Saint-Lucia (2700 NM). The cost for a 50 footer and 4 crew members is approximatively 1,550£ (1,975€ or 2,480US$). The inscription includes 2 weeks of harbour fees in Las Palmas and 1 week in Saint-Lucia, plus an invitation to 2 parties for crews, a full safety inspection and briefings and trainings. The ARC starts from Las Palmas at the end of November. Check out the ARC’s website to learn more. Additionally, the ARC organizers (World Cruising Club) has secured special deals with local businesses and also discount in a few European marinas that might be on your way to Las Palmas.
The Atlantic Odyssey is a much younger rally, created (as the ARC 30 years ago) by Jimmy Cornell. It’s a smaller event, with less than 50 yachts in 2014, divided into 2 groups. The first group will start their crossing from Lanzarote at the end of November. The second group starts from Las Palmas in January. The entry fees are a third of the ARC’s entry feeds (from 500 to 700€) and the list of mandatory safety equipment is slightly less expensive to purchase. The fees include 4 days of free docking before the start and one week of free docking in Martinique, safety inspection and briefing.
Safety is especially important offshore. You should carefully prepare the first aid kit, medicines and drugs with your family doctor. Do you or your crew have known allergies or medical conditions?
Also think about seeing your dentist before you leave. There are few worst sailing experiences than having a raging toothache in the middle of an ocean crossing.
Concerning the safety equipment, the best is to go with a heavy inventory, which is much more than the inventory required by regulation. I won’t detail this inventory since the World Cruising Club has already done the job, and greatly. Look at the mandatory and recommended equipment to participate to the ARC, organized by the World Cruising Club.
This helpful list shows the tremendous experience of the World Cruising Club when it comes to offshore cruising. Generally, the ARC organization sends to every crew a complete Rally Handbook that contains everything you need to prepare for a good Atlantic Crossing. It’s another good reason to participate, as you will most likely gain a precious amount of time thanks to the ARC handbook.
A man overboard is the worst fear for a skipper, but today, great personal beacons and MOB individual alarms are available.
On “Zig Zag Wanderer”, every crew member carried constantly his personal AIS device, to be localized and a “LifeTag Wireless Man Over board system” that launch a sound alarm instantly if a crew member fall overboard. He or she would then be easily retrieved thanks to his or her personal AIS device (we used a McMurdo Smartfind S10 AIS Beacon). Also, we had one AIS device fitted in the Jonbuoy recovery module attached to the buoy in case we loose sight of the MOB at a given moment during the recovery maneuver.
After that, you need to check your boat and identify the spare parts you’ll need:
Engine filters, belt and oil, plus an impeller kit and oil
A set of spare stainless steel bolts, screws, rings, axes, pins, circlips, o-rings, etc…
2 or 3 spare valves, 4 meters of plumbing hoses in different diameters, 2 or 3 hoses adaptators (to switch diameter)
A spare bilge pump with it’s electric (12 or 24VDC) sensor (switches the device on when it detects water)
Light bulbs and Leds for your interior lights and navigation lights
ATC Fuses: 1A, 2A, 3A, 5A, 7,5A, 10A, 15A ( for your pumps and electronic). I strongly recommend the use of ATC fuses with LED indicator wherever you can. The “EasyID Fuses” will shine if broken, making it easy to spot a problem as soon as you open the technical comportment (where they might be 5 to 20 fuses, maybe not all marked).
An Epoxy composite kit (West system sells some) with a few different fibers (Uni directional, Bi-Axial and Quadri-Axial). Epoxy works fine on polyester if you sand it properly, in case you wonder,
I also recommend the multi purpose “Stay Afloat”. It’s a fantastic instant water leak plug and sealant. It’s a must have product. If you have never heard of it, and if you’re serious about safety, take a look at this video,
I also recommend a “Composite Patch” kit. for it can save a boat that has hit a floating hazard. It’s a prepared composite patch that can be used to patch areas of the hull or deck, with epoxy and fiber, even under the water. Anyone can use it. See that video of a repair under water:
A Sails repair kit, built with your sail maker or the boatyard if they care for their customers. If you don’t have this type of kit, search on the web for descent kits. Alta Sails does some pretty complete kits, with the Altabox. You’ll need an automatic sewer, needles, a splicing kit, and of course some spinnaker repair tape matching your sails. I also recommend to have a few meters of different types of Dyneema Rode, without cover. For instance 5 meters of 16mm (can replace almost any heavy duty rope with a breaking Load at 19T), 10 meters of 10mm (Breaking Load: 9T), 5 meters of 6mm (breaking Load: 4,3T), and five meters of 3mm (Breaking load 960 kg). They are easy to splice; you can do a textile shackle in less then 5 minutes and it will hold as much as a stainless steel one, weighting only a small fraction of it.
Everything else you could need for a specific piece of equipment you have on board (mechanical spare, lubricant, electronic board, electrical relays, fuses and connectors).
I recommend having a spare autopilot. I know that autopilots are quite reliable but if it brakes during a crossing and you don’t have spares, the whole thing will immediately become painful.
I also recommend an emergency kit, such as a Sta-lok deluxe rigging spare kit, just in case. (but obviously, you have carefully checked you’re rigging before leaving for such a trip).
Finally, you must be able to use the tools you have to detect a default, a broken fuse or a sudden death of your impeller. There is an excellent collection of “Practical companion” to help you with diagnostic, efficient use and maintenance/reparation. They present all the information you need to keep all your systems in a tip-top condition (diagrams, pictures, step by step process). Each companion presents diagrams, pictures, step by step interventions in a set of aspiral-bound splashproof cards. They cover the diesel engine, electrics, vhf radio, first-aid, sails trimming, cockpit companion, etc. Highly recommended on any offshore cruising boat.
Electronic is an incredible comfort. With a good level of equipment, you can make a lot of things easier, such as avoiding collision, thanks to AIS and radar, or knowing instantly where you are on an electronic chart. Some people like it the old way, I can understand. Autopilot and AIS are mandatory to take the best out of any offshore navigation. The rest depends on your philosophy and your budget. For instance, on the Aureus XV Absolute, we chose to have the following electronic equipment:
A good Computer Process Unit to analyze collected data. We chose A B&G H3000 for it’s very adapted to offshore cruising, their outside displays offer maximum viewing in all conditions and the instruments are fitted and embraced by a majority of offshore sailors and crews.
A chart plotter, with electronic charts.
4 big display screens 20×20 on the mast base. And one general display on the chartable. This way, you can get the information from any point behind the mast.
The autopilot is the central piece of your navigation, and one of the most frequent causes of bad experiences. We chose to stick with B&G and went for Hydraulic ram and an ACP2 pilot with excellent sailing algorithm to steer well in any condition and wind angle. You’ll spend two weeks out there; you want your autopilot to work fine. The best security is to embark two pilots, but oversizing a little bit the pilot (going for an auto-pilot suitable for a little bit longer and/or heavier boats). Hydraulic works fine when mounted the proper way. The autopilot data are displayed both on the chart table, and on each helm station.
Broadband radar, connected to a B&G Zeus Multifunction Chart plotter, especially designed for sailors. You can easily upload and display GRIB files for weather forecasting and set all kinds of alarms.
Having an AIS Class B device is a great and safe option, to automatically share your position and reduce risks of on water collision. Many rallies will make this mandatory. Of course, it does not make a constant visual surveillance optional. An advantage of AIS is your folks will be able to follow your trip on sites like Vessel Finder, thanks to your AIS emissions.
Other brands such as Raymarine, NKE or Simrad also offer complete and reliable solutions. The important thing is to be consistent and use compatible modules.
Man Overboard: Prevention, alert and recovering
Man Overboard is probably the worst fear for any skipper. Since crossing the Atlantic will most probably mean solo watches, have the topic well covered before leaving.
Attending a 2 to 3 days ISAF course will bring you more than a simple certificate. You’ll have the occasion to launch a life raft, fire flares, wear a survival suit combination in action and learn more about Search and Rescue operations and regulations. Events such as the ARC ask for at least 2 crew members to have a valid ISAF certificate (ISAF stands for International Safety At Sea).
Choose modern inflatable life jacket, with integrated harness. 150 Newton is usually OK for an average adult wearing no heavy tools. The lighter the better, so that wearing them can become a habit. The best safety lines are fitted with two or three shackles so that you can move being always attached. Example of good models are: Spinlock Deckvest and Ocean Safety Kru Sports life jacket.
Now that’s we’ve been through the safety aspects, and if you’ve decided to make your Atlantic crossing, I strongly advise you to take a few minutes to make 2 or possibly 3 very important phone calls.
If you don’t own the boat you’ll be sailing on, whether it is as the skipper or a crew member, give a call to the owner to ask for the insurance policy of the boat. Check the insurance policy papers thoroughly and make sure you understand clearly the level of protection you’ll have and your responsibilities too, together with potential limitations (such as restricted areas/countries/seasons). It’s typical to have restricted countries in insurance contracts for sailing yachts.
Once you have in mind the protection and risks covered by the insurance policy attached to the boat, call your insurance company to expose your project to your advisor and make sure you have the appropriate risk coverage. Though it’s unlikely you’ll need them, it’s always good to know that you are prepared should you face an accident and for instance require a repatriation.
Before asking about the proper protection, you should tell your advisor about:
the route you intend to follow and a “guestimation” of the planning.
tell him or her about the boat, the safety equipment you’ll have, who it belongs to and possibly share with him a copy of the insurance of the boat.
tell him about the rest of the crew. How many members, are they experienced sailors, who is in charge ?
The last important phone call is to your bank.
What if you loose your card abroad ?
Do you need to raise the limit of monthly cash withdrawal ?
Make sure fees won’t go through the roof when you pay in other currencies, or withdraw cash abroad. Sometimes the banker can do slight temporary adjustments on your contract terms and make things easier/cheaper.
Also, you probably don’t need a phone call for that one, but check you Smartphone plan for abroad communication and, above all for the price of data downloading (per Mb) abroad.
I’m not sure about US people, but I can assure you that there has been a considerable amount of European people that have been shocked to discover there cellphone’s bill after a trip abroad, and even more after an Atlantic Crossing going through many country.
With the navigation apps, GPS on our phones, various leisure apps, it became a habit for a lot of us to consume a lot of data through our phones (checking the news, the weather, downloading our mails, sending pictures, updating apps, etc.). Some companies charge up to 5$ per Mega downloaded outside your country or continent. If you’re not aware of it, the bill can quickly reach 1000$ or more.
Progress is good. Navigation software is also good for you.
Now, software like Adrena or Maxsea allow virtually any sailor equipped with a laptop to sail like pros and take the best routing and tactical options. They are affordable, and really simple to use. Moreover, they gather and store all the information from your navigation to help you improve your skills, set of sails and weather tactic.
On “Zig Zag Wanderer”, we use the Adrena Pro Offshore, in which we set our VPP and sails. This way, the software not only helped us choosing the best route regarding the winds, but also recommended us the sails combination to use. It can help any sailors, even very experienced ones. It was developed in collaboration with Michel Desjoyaux and is now used by most offshore sailors, in the Vendee Globe for instance.
In a word, if you are concerned with speed (and comfort, when it comes to choosing a route that will keep you outside the biggest depressions), this is really one of the best investment you can make for your boat, I would say even before fancy sails.
The sailing part of the experience:
Now let’s talk about what it’s like to sail across the Atlantic from Europe to the Caribbean. Sailing the trade winds provides a lot of excitements. A steady wind, downwind most of the times, it makes the trip both faster and more comfortable.
Some choose to make the crossing in a racing spirit and will be trimming all the time, choosing their route depending only on the performance aspect.
Another, easier, way is to go for comfort and speed on the traditional road (passing by the 20″ North and 30″ West waypoint), and choosing to stay at an angle of 150 to 160° most of the time, with an asymmetric spinnaker, or gennaker or a parasailor (a sail that has a flying wing in it that allow a better stability and more control in the gusts, but is slightly harder to take in). This kind of sailing, together with the possibility to get fresh gribs at sea, will result in a much more comfortable cruise. It will not put your speed down, on the contrary but you will have to make a few tackings. In this configuration, I strongly advise you to use the “Wind Mode” on your autopilot rather than the “Compass mode”. This will allow the boat to remain perfectly trimmed and balanced on long tacks, staying at the very same angle relative to the wind.
Some sailors choose to go with a pooled-out genoa, to be able to sail full downwind in wing-wing. That’s a choice made to reduce the work. If you have a spinnaker furler, I think it’s much better to go with the asymmetric spinnaker. And if you don’t, you have a choice to make with your crew. it’s useless to sail full throttle down the first day, just to realize when the first watch comes that your crew don’t feel like keeping that much sails out at night. Rather, find a sail configuration that provides comfort and confidence to the crew and make the most of it, especially with the wind mode, that can prevent chinese gybe. Your sails and your boat will thank you for that. A boom brake or “preventer” might still be a good. On such a long trip, it’s wise to equip your boat with one. It will cost between 300 to 800US$ depending on the length of your sailboat.
The closer you’ll get to the Caribbean, the more squalls you’ll encounter. They are very localized and sudden gales, with variable direction, and come very often with a heavy rain. On a day with normal visibility, you’ll be able to spot them miles away and maybe go around them. At least, you will have time to prepare (take one or 2 reefs on the main and reduce your foresails).
At night, it’s a whole different story. You can either be very vigilant on your radar (it spots the dense clouds of the squall) or chose to reduce the sail area for the night, so as not to be overpowered if you encounter a squall you did not see coming.
Though storms are really rare in the best season (from Early November to March), it’s wise to be prepared for one.
Becoming a true “Shellback”
If you are among the few who choose to sail directly to the Brazilian coasts, rather than the Caribbean, this Atlantic crossing will probably be the occasion for you to sail across the Equator for the first time…This is another good reason to go sailing across the Atlantic, as this is the occasion to become a true “Shellback”.
A true what ?
Better explained in video…but of course you don’t have to adopt the same haircut, you might just celebrate this new “Shellback” status your own way. It’s also common among superstitious to make an offering to Neptune for the safe passage, a glass of fine wine for instance.
By the way, Fernando de Noronha, the Brazilian archipelago, is a paradise for sailors, if you ask for the necessary documents and clearance. Check out this article to know how to prepare a landing on Fernando de Noronha after your Atlantic Crossing.
What sails to bring ?
The ideal combination, in my mind, is:
One Mainsail with a minimum of 2 reefs (ideally 3) or mounted on a furling mast or boom (less performing).
One genoa (ideally on a furler). A genoa pole is strongly recommended, both to preserve your genoa and to keep a better balance. A heavy Geneoa will be used when the breeze gets too strong to hold a spinnaker.
One medium asymmetric spinnaker, ideally on a furler, or with a spinnaker sleeve (or sock).
A staysails, or storm sail just in case
In option, if you have some extra space:
On heavy asymmetric spinnaker (smaller, heavier)
A gennaker, mounted on a furler for sailing between 90 and 140° relative to the wind.
The first day of the trip will be very emotional. The result of a long preparation and a lot of expectations. If you cross as part of a rally, this days is fantastic, with hundreds of people attending the start of the rally, full pontoons and dozens of boats hoisting their sails together.
Then come the adjustment period. You’re switching from the land mode to the “Sea Mode”, in which your rhythm is totally different with night watches, lots of naps and a relatively tiny, and moving living space. You’ll probably experience dizziness and fatigue, but your body will adjust in 48 hours both to the new rhythm and the constant movement. You’ll find your “sea legs” and enjoy the rest of your Atlantic crossing with new perspectives.
The Atlantic produces large and long waves, that will, most of the time, not be aligned with the wind direction, meaning they’ll come from the side. The boat will therefore roll most of the time and you’ll probably regulate your activity depending on the conditions.
Be warned, it gets very humid out there, especially at night. Try to get some air in when the sun is out and close everything when comes the night. Synthetic fabrics will help a great deal in keeping the air dry as humidity won’t be trapped in the fabric. Since I first used a microfiber (polyester made) sheet, I never got back to cotton. It’s so dry ! As I told earlier, wearing microfibers will also keep you much drier.
A little tip to sleep better, use Sheets Fasteners, they’ll maintain your sheets on the mattress. If you don’t have any, there are real chances you’ll wake up on a naked mattress, for the combination of your weight and the boat’s constant movement will make the sheets slip away.
It will also get very sunny, especially when you’ll get close to the Caribbean so pack a hat or cap and some sunscreen.
Depending on the weather and sea conditions, it’s sometimes difficult to prepare proper food, because it’s difficult to stay in the galley (too hot, too chaotic, etc.). It’s a good idea to prepare a few meals that you could microwaved in such conditions. Also rely on a lot of snacks for people have a tendency to eat more often at sea, where days are splitted in more sub-parts. But don’t worry, if you are a passionate chef, you’ll find many occasions to cook, maybe even to cook some very fresh fish. Dinners will become the real event of the day, maybe the only time when everybody will be awake at the same time. It’s usually a moment everyone looks for.
Very soon, you’ll feel natural in this whole new environment, with much more contact with the nature. You’ll naturally listen to every sound of the boat, even at night. Your brain will put you on a constant vigilance mode.
Then there are the watches. Depending on how many people form the crew, they are between 2 and 5 hours of watch. I think 3 hours is a good compromise. It’s relatively easy to stay awake and concentrated for 3 hours. For instance, on a boat with a crew of 4, I usually set a night watch between 10 PM and 7 AM. Every night, there are 3 watches of 1 person for 3 hours each. The fourth crew member is sleeping. We turn shifts every day so that every 4 nights, each one of us get a real 9-hours night.
Of course, if you are 3 or under, everyone will have to participate each night and watches will probably get to 4 hours, or 2 times 2 hours. Some skippers do not allow single watch. I do it because my crew is well prepared and we agree on the obligation to wear life jacket and harness with life line attached during all the watches. The organization of the watches is crucial and, if not handled properly, is one of the main sources of dispute (with the supply repartition of course). So get things clear prior to leaving for the Atlantic crossing, or any passage.
The main reason for keeping a watch is to avoid risks of collision. In that sense, a radar, an AIS and a chart plotter are precious help for the crew member on watch, who will look at them regularly.
The second mission of the crew member on watch is to eventually adapt the sail trimming (or the course) to changing conditions. He or she must be briefed by the captain or skipper, thanks to a pre-night briefing. It’s the occasion for the skipper to expose the plan for the night:
Expected conditions for the night,
Expected tacks during the night,
What to do if the wind gets low ? At what speed lower limit should we start the engine ?
What to do if the wind goes high ?
After each watch, the crew member going to sleep should debrief the new watcher and tell him what he saw (or what he heard), how the conditions evolved. Ideally, each crew member makes an entry in the logbook after his or her watch.
One piece of advice: while you’re at it, make the most about every watch (read audiobooks, listen to new albums, study the sky with an app to learn how to recognize stars and constellation). It’s much easier to stay alert when you are stimulated.
Your living rhythm will be quite different from your normal rhythm, hence the frequent naps. You’ll also be quite disconnected from the world (less or no e-mails, no TV, etc.) and you might find this quite pleasant (though it will be a real thrill when you’ll find them back on the other side).
You’ll enjoy loneliness and find time for meditation, and a lot of time to observe the sky, the stars and the sea (that changes all the time!). You’ll rediscover simple pleasure and realize how much we take for granted our modern comfortable lifestyle, like a hot shower, or a cup of espresso.
It’s a little bit out of nowhere, but if you are an espresso lover, you don’t have to settle for bad coffee, even if there is no espresso machine on-board. There is a very smart manual system, the Handpresso that only requires hot water and a coffee pod (ESE). The pressure is actually created via a hand pump. For an espresso fanatic like me, it’s such a luxury to be able to drink a real espresso, even in the middle of the Atlantic.
All day long in your tiny boat in the middle of a huge ocean, you’ll see and experience a few magic experiences. Wonderful sunsets, different each night, sometimes facing the moon rise, an escort of dozens of dolphins. You’ll see a dolphin fish jump on a pray, or flying fish flying hundreds of metersto end up…in the middle of your cockpit. By the way the world record for the longest fly of a flying fish seems to be a 45 second-long fly at an average speed of 30km/h…this is 375 meters !
At night, you’ll observe the lights of fluorescent plankton, that light up in the wave of your boat. Sometimes you’ll even see birds, right in the middle of the ocean.
What to do with all this time ? A few ideas:
There are many things you could do during this passage:
Take your first 15 electric guitar lessons, with the excellent Rocksmith learning game. Of course you would need one electric guitar, a cable and a computer PC or MAc (or Playstation PS3 or X-Box) with one version of Rocksmith. You plug the guitar to your computer via USB and you can tune your guitar, learn riffs, etc. I’ve tried it and it’s really a good way to learn. It’s like playing Guitar Hero but with a real guitar, and a really efficient learning process, divided in very gradual difficulties.
Listen to audio-books. Ideal for the long watches (2 to 4 hours alone, at night, watching around). You’ll find pretty all the successful novels, Business books, travel books, history books on audible.com. You can download a book in 2 minutes with most of the internet connections and listen to the books on your smartphone, your iPod, etc. If your watches are 3 hours long, you can read the entire “Moby Dicks” in 7 watches. You can also read 5 or 6 business books during your watches. I find that it is a good way of learning and a good way to keep you stimulated during long watches.
Observe the wild life, learn how to recognize the different species of dolphins, whales and fishes you’ll see.
Fishing is also a good way to keep busy while making something useful, but please fish only what you eat.
To Fish or not to Fish. The material to fish during a passage:
Between 4 and 9 knots, you have every chances to catch something if you decide to fish. It’s virtually impossible not to catch a fish on such a long distance.
If you want to fish, just get a stand-up rod (30-50 lbs is good), and adapted reel that you fill with 60lbs nylon or dyneema line, and a few lures. Here is a selection of good material. Choose a solid (preferably stainless steel) rod holder and protect your pulpits with a slice of rubber hose. A butt pad will make the whole thing much easier.
Once you’ve caught a fish (tuna or dolphin fish most often, but you can also catch king mackerels for instance), and take it near the boat, you’ll need something to hoist it. The best is to use a telescopic fishing gaff, but you can do without it (it will be much easier if you find how before the fish is here). Here is a selection of good material.
Christmas under the Caribbean sun ? and then ?
Spending christmas under the Caribbean is a great reward for those who crossed in December. Touching land is always a great moment after a long sailing passage, but it’s even better here. You’ll take disproportionate pleasure over little gesture, like walking straight for more than 10 meters, or eating an ice-cream, and you’ll be surrounded by beauty.
So enjoy your stay !
After a well deserved rest, you’ll have to think about getting back home (if you are not into circumnavigation). To sail back in good conditions, it’s recommended to wait until May, and to take a route more North, through Bermuda and the Azores. You can wait and cross back, or hire a skipper to sail the boat back, or even pay to put your boat in a cargo ship (we call that a “barge” in French, I’m not sure about the english translation). It’s an expensive solution and you’ll probably get better fees if you are part of a Rally.
This is the end of this article. I hope this will convince you to give the Atlantic crossing a try. Sailing on such a beautiful passage is a lifetime experience.
The seventh edition of the “Boat Data Book” has arrived. This book is really an excellent resource to find technical answers. It’s really useful for those who are willing to plunge into the technical details of their boat.
For instance, you can easily find charts and table to :
Match the size of your future winch with the max strength on the mainsheet of your boat.
Find the breaking limit of the bolt you are about to fix something with.
Find how many liters of antifouling you need to lay 2 full coats on a 50 feet modern sailing yachts (14L acutally), or on a traditional design, etc.
It’s finally in color, in this seventh edition, which makes the book more digest. This book is not a “How to book” for newbies, but rather a bible for fixer uppers to gather technical data they might need some day. Some of those data are horribly difficult to find (if you look for a reliable answer) on the Internet, and the book will make you save some time and worries if you tune your boat on a regular basis. The book gather data about pretty much everything you have on board (composite, metal, electrics, deck hardware, pumps, seacocks, pumps, ropes, engines, mast, rigging, batteries, etc.).
“this is not a How To book for beginners on how to work on a boat. It’s the book that gathers all the technical data (strength, weight, breaking limits, etc..) a person who works regularly on boats on different technical matters will eventually need to choose the proper bolt, convert sizes, calculate resistance, estimate weights, etc…”
It’s a good book, and a huge documentation work, on which one can rely to prepare all kind of technical works or interventions on a boat. Have it near you when you are working on a technical task (replacing a piece of hardware, installing a new windlass, or wiring a new electronic device), and if you have doubts about matching materials, making sure it will resist the strength that will be applied, or simply adapting this to that, go to the index of this bible.