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All morning we’ve been entertained with surfing whales that we can spot 100 yards out just under the surface of this beautiful clear water.

How do you tell a classy redneck fisherman from just any? The “beer can” he spent hours on forming into a fishing lure is a Guinness. Andrew cut the black shiny Guinness Draught can into strips to create feathered plume effect maintaining the rim, crimping into an aero-dynamic water dynamic foil, then adding weight and a giant hook on a wire leader making what he hopes will be the ultimate big tuna lure. I’ll give an update tomorrow.

All morning we’ve been entertained with surfing whales that we can spot 100 yards out just under the surface of this beautiful clear water. We watch as the whale(s) surf the swells then surface nose up, back up, tail up then dive and speed toward the boat and zoom under the hull so fast they must be doing 20 knots. Then minutes later one or the same show  up 100 yards off the starboard stern and start the sequence again. I’m sure there’s more than one because they’re in too many places too quickly to be one but I can’t say I’ve seen two next to each other this morning. That’s today’s whale of a tale.

The ENE trade winds have set in but only at 9-13 knots after a speedy night on a near beam reach but going a little north of west where eventually would take us to the BVIs. So Andrew on his watch gave a try to a wing on wing approach with the wind DDW (Dead Down Wind or the wind right on our back) pushing us in a better direction of 250 COG (Course Over Ground). We’ve whittled the distance down to 910 straight nm to go. Anything is possible with weather and wind change but at a conservative average of 6 knots per hour we could see St. Lucia late on the 15th.

Our stalk of bananas ripened, as expected, all at once after waiting a week for any. So after eating bananas for 4-5  days it was time for banana pancakes. With the bounty of Dorado caught yesterday sashimi was on the menu complete with wasabi, soy sauce and fresh lime. Lines are back in the water today because we’re all out of fish – we ate two Dorado all raw. Bert made a wonderful presentation with each chunk of Dorado on a square of onion aligned in circles on the serving round with dollups of wasabi on the outside circle with an inside out half of lime made into a mini-bowl to hold the soy sauce – very creative.

That’s the word from the middle of the Atlantic.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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It’s December 8th, our 12th day at sea, and although last night had a few squalls, high wind and rain, the day is beautiful with ENE winds 11-15 knots.

It’s December 8th, our 12th day at sea, and although last night had a few squalls, high wind and rain, the day is beautiful with ENE winds 11-15 knots. We could use a little more but how can we complain with 1049 nm left to go. We however will have to travel more than just a straight line because our spinnaker halyard keeps chaffing and we can’t fly the most appropriate sail in our locker for dead down wind. So we must gibe back and forth at angles to where we want to go. Its then block (aka pulley)  high up the mast that does not swivel as much as it needs to and cuts into the halyard and luckily we catch it before it cuts through averting a major disaster. If the sail suddenly collapsed and fell into the water the force of the forward movement of the boat and the filling of the sail with water would put so much pressure of the running rigging that something, many things, would tear, break and distort. We don’t want to go there so we just have to show our patience for the situation and realize it will take us longer than expected to get to St Lucia.

This morning as I was behind the wheel I looked starboard just in time to hear and see a passing whale surface just 10 feet away , checked us out, and submerged back into the sea as he carried on his journey.Another black pilot whale that I estimated to be about 30 feet long. Way Kool! Our fish stories don’t stop there our early morning trolling had a couple hits and we landed one, our biggest Dorado to date. No shortage of fish now.

Oh I almost forgot to share that we had a white bird land on the boat yesterday. It looked more like a shore bird with big legs than a long range flyer. Obviously he/she was tired, afterall it was 1100 miles from the Caribbean and about the same to the Cape Verde Islands. We not only didn’t bother it but when we caught those fish and cleaned them we gave the bird its fill until it took no more. Then it hung out for the whole day resting. Andrew and Bert picked it up and held it. Then just after dusk he/she was in flight to where we don’t know.

 

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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ZZZZIIINNNNNGGGGG! When you hear that sound and some one yells, Fish On! Day 10

ZZZZIIINNNNNGGGGG! When you hear that sound and some one yells, Fish On!, the whole boat jumps with excitement. Finally we caught two Dolphin fish (aka Mahi Mahi) back to back and guess what’s for dinner tonight. Of course we had to test the quality with some chunks of raw fish in soy/wasabi sauce and it passed with thumbs up.

Winds calmed down today to barely 8 knots at times and we could only hold on to 4 to 5 knots speed. Thankfully now as we head through the afternoon the wind has freshened to 12+ and we move at 7 knots with Big Blue scooping up all it can find. It’s early on in day eleven and we’re on the ride home with under 1200nm to go.

To prevent the gennaker halyard from further chaffing Andrew and Bert creatively utilized materials at hand like the extra shelf cover plastic and of course duct tape and so far we live another day with  Big Blue the lead horse on the INNcredible Sea Lodge.

And the report from the middle of the Atlantic is: all crew accounted for, healthy and happy.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Clouds developing right now as we make our way to the exact middle of the Atlantic Ocean. ETA 4 hours. Day 9

Yesterday, the past 24 hours, were beautifully uneventful with the INNcredible Sea Lodge clocking 8+ knots consistently and making great gains to the west. So this is a good time to introduce you to our stowaways.

As you may recall our crew of four sailing from Lisbon to the Gran Canaria became a crew of three due to an illness. (Steven we all hope you’re doing well) Mark was flying in to Las Palmas to become crew member four but the plan was five which works well on a watch schedule. Of the four of us, two have zero sailing experience leaving Andrew and I. What we needed more of was both youth and sailing experience so we could always have at least one sailor on watch at all times. Folks were throwing themselves at each new boat arriving asking to join their crew for the crossing. No thank you was my first response. I basically didn’t like the method of solicitation without a little due diligence and/or recommendation. We were so lucky once I quietly put the word out that within 24 hours we connected with the perfect addition to our crew.

We were looking for a fifth crew member but got two instead. Two lovebirds that were willing to nest in the bow berth (aka coffin berth) which I know was going to be a challenge. Bert and Emily, now Mainers, are snow birds going south from Maine for the winter. Bert, although grew up landlocked in the Appalachian Mountains of SW Virginia (near Walton Mountain), has about 10,000 sea miles under his life vest sailing. Bert sailed on Auburn University sailing team in Alabama. Now he skippers a charter sailboat on the coast of Maine in the summers. Emily, born in Denmark while her US Navy Admiral dad was stationed there, has lived all over but mainly south of the Mason-Dixon Line. She attended Johnson and Wales in Providence RI for degrees in Event Planning, Hotel/restaurant management with an emphasis on beverage appreciation and received her masters in Global Business Marketing. She runs a B&B inn on the coast of Maine in Port Clyde, just south of Rocklin. These two lovebirds plan on starting a sailing charter business together this summer out of Port Clyde. As you can imagine these two have proven to be great additions to our crew regardless of their resumes, because they are great people, happy and energetic team members.

Clouds developing right now as we make our way to the exact middle of the Atlantic Ocean. ETA 4 hours.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Oh how welcome a little entertainment is 8 days out to sea. Starting with a sighting of a black fin off starboard… Day 8

Oh how welcome a little entertainment is 8 days out to sea. Starting with a sighting of a black fin off starboard, the excitement rose as the frequency increased of seeing one big black pilot whale turn into two running with us, crossing our bow, then aft and more on our port side. I was baking bread and chopping carrots and onions for our soup but the view from the galley is excellent nonetheless. But this show, starring two or more 20+ foot pilot whales was two good to miss close up. Everyone was up and took position right at the rail to watch the whales surfing waves from behind with the silhouettes visible in color just beneath the surface. Just off the port within 10 feet came the long black with white fin pilot whale, then amidship he rolled sideways to show his white belly and give us a wave with his fin. Don’t worry we have video but won’t be able to post it until we reach land in a week or so.

That made our day, as it would anyone’s, besides the fact that we kept an average of near 8 knots all day and night. We’re 1540 nm away from St. Lucia as of 11am our time (middle of the ocean time actually I haven’t changed the clocks since Lisbon so I have no idea what time it is). Nightfall always seems to rally round the clouds and by minutes after midnight the sky started dumping its load of rain on us and whipping up a bit too.

On the radar and the AIS in the middle of the night came a sudden mark of a boat. Looking out to its supposed position no lights were seen. So on watch at the time Mark hailed the unseen neighbor over the VHF (radio) and got a response mostly incompreh ensible due to its French tongue. But Mark deciphered enough to catch that the captain said his family couldn’t sleep with the lights on so he runs at night without any. Thanks a lot buddy.

When you leave port full of perishables that hopefully ripen slowly, I set my daily menu based on what’s ripe and needs to be eaten. So today I made carrot soup and if I do say so meself – delicious. Diced carrots, onions, celery, ginger, garlic,olive oil, heavy cream, salt, peeper and cumin. Tighten down the pressure cooker lid and 40 minutes latter – perfection. And with two loaves of hot bread right out of the oven life on board doesn’t get any better.

All crew healthy, happy and accounted for.

This is your captain speaking

 
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It feels like a runaway 10 wheeler going downhill… Day 7

If you weren’t really paying attention when the Captain said ‘All aboard’ you by now realize that this St. Lucia Express is truly non-stop in so many ways. It feels like a runaway 10 wheeler going downhill and up and down banking left then right and left again. Hold on with every move you make or you will look like a partially bruised partially tenderized piece of meat. And it won’t suffice to stay in your seat because there is no in-flight service here. But boy is the scenery spectacular. Yes it looks the same in almost every direction except for the building clouds that hover and slide across the sea.

Although these floating weather bombs we call squalls develop any time they please, they enjoy congregating all through the night so you cannot always see them coming. Sneakily we turn on our radar and we can see them big red blobs of various shapes sometimes lining up and moving across our screen like a marching band. But they do more than march. They dump rain, lots of rain, in angled trajectory approaching horizontal in their fiercest moments. And the winds, they called them micro-bursts, jump from 15-20 to 25-35 and more in minutes. We keep two reefs in all night just to be prepared and we’re still barreling along at 8-9 knots and as I just looked up now 10.5 knots. So on watch on the bridgedeck it’s full foulies on and expect to get pummeled with torrents of rain now and again, sometimes now and now again.

But there’s entertainment out there. Mark got slapped in the face with a flying fish, caught it when it fell to the floor and now its waiting for us to sacrifice it and a few of its friends for dinner tonight. Amazing to see these flying fish fly incredible distances across the waves and sometimes as high as our boat deck and bridgedeck too. We collected 3 flying fish who just flopped onto our decks.

We’re exactly a week out now and we’re 1697 nm out from our destination. ETA 8-10 days and that’s just open to all sorts of possibilities.

Our entire stash of avocados ripened in 5 days, enough for two weeks. So I made potato fish cakes topped with generous scoops of spicy guacamole.

ALL crew well and accounted for, full sails ahead (actually reefed).

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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When she gets on a running reach this INNcredible Sea Lodge moves like a freight train. Day 6

When she gets on a running reach this INNcredible Sea Lodge moves like a freight train. She’s more than 13 tons cutting through the seas with a momentum that you couldn’t stop (there are no brakes). All day yesterday and even stronger throughout last night the wind blew 20-30 knots and even with three reefs in and a reefed-in jib we barreled along at 7-9 knots surfing to 11+  non-stop. And luckily we move in a SW to now Westerly direction making great gains toward our destination.

Starting off with the darkest sky peppered in reverse with a million bright stars, we enjoyed the clarity of star gazing rivaling even the best of summer nights at home atop our hilltop in Fair Play. Then the moon rises and works its way up through the distant clouds and ultimately changes night into a brightness that needs no additional lighting to see all horizons. This morning’s dawn gave way to a sunrise up through the squalls with rainbows dancing on the opposite horizon doubling up at times with vivid intensity and sharpness of each color. Now as we end our 5th day and head to the noon hour we’re in for a mixed bag of blue skies and passing squalls bursting in both rain and winds.

For a little change of pace last night I carmelized some red peppers and onions then through in a couple cups of pine nuts, fresh garlic and Andrew’s freshly harvested basil off his potted plant. Toasted that up finished with chopped fresh tomatoes and olive oil atop some Chinese noodles – yum,yum! with a Portuguese Vinho Tinto. We’re struggling out here, believe me.

Check our position at www.worldcruising.com/arc

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Day 5 was productive but a bit unsettled. Last night … Day 5

Day 5 was productive but a bit unsettled. Last night … zing, zing, Nate yelled, “fish on!” right now as I’m writing this. We all jumped into action, Andrew took the rod and started feeling, reeling. Excitement filled us all but almost as quick it was gone. Two lines out since dawn, we’re ready but we haven’t even had a bite until now. Back to last night …

Last night or let’s back up a bit, yesterday afternoon it was time to gibe and set course to SW. Using the cut down gennaker halyard we raised Big Blue. In less than an hour we notice chaffing beginning just like before, bad news for if it cut through a disaster could ensue whose domino effects could add up to disasterous. So will only an hour or so of hesitation, not wanting to give up the 8 knots of speed we lowered Big Blue quite possibly for good on this crossing. Time to put up the main, third reef heading into the night for safety, and then the jib and gibe to a reach. Luckily we could get a COG (Course Over Ground) of 220 plus or minus. That’s a straight shot to St. Lucia albeit 12-13 days from now.

So into the night she bounced, rocked, banged, tossed, creaked, cracked, slammed and growned, the INNcredible Sea Lodge was going for a ride as the ocean was a convergence of swells coming in from all directions coupled with strong winds and several powerful squalls with rain, chilly even though the sea water temp measures 78 F. So sleep was difficult at best until about 4am when things settled down  enough for me to pass out for about an hour and a half before I was on watch. Mark woke later saying he slept 8.5 hours straight and never felt nor heard a thing.

We’re now running at 7.5 knots, winds 20-24, heading SW, just hit 8.8 knots must have surfed a wave.

Crew is healthy, happy and well fed. Dinner last night was my best rendition under the circumstances of my wife’s Diana’s Eggplant Farmer John, a perennial favorite. Start that with a carrot, celery, apple salad with a honey lemon-lime dressing with Sherry-soaked raisins for our salad. A stunning Douro red wine from Portugal topped it off.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Maybe a made a wrong turn, down a different road but we’re on the same latitude that Columbus sailed on his first voyage. Day 4

Maybe a made a wrong turn, down a different road but we’re on the same latitude that Columbus sailed on his first voyage. Of course he ended up with his first landfall being a little island called San Salvaador in the Bahamas, so we are not going to hold this course forever because we need to end up 600 miles south in St. Lucia. However with beautiful blue skies, strong winds and a relatively mellow seas we are on a near downwind reach and making good speed not great though. But about that wrong turn, I say that only because we haven’t seen a soul since we changed course to avoid colliding with a freighter 30 hours ago. When you think that we left with over 220 yachts  less than 600 miles ago, we either turned up a different lane called Sea Breeze and the others took Ocean Ave. Actually we all expected that this big blue ocean would have plenty of room to swallow us all. So I expect will have the ocean all to ourselves for the next 10 days or so until we start converging toward our destination.

We do get daily emailed weather reports and positions of all yachts in the ARC. As of noon yesterday we were about 145 from the front of the pack or ahead of 80 other entrants. Our goal is more noble than just being first across the finish line yet just as challenging for a crew made of two that have never sailed before in their life, one as a passenger only and three with limited but varied levels of experience and of course none of us have ever crossed the Atlantic before.

Down to more satisfying things: Colcannon was on the menu last night with the leftover made into potato cakes for breakfast. Fruit salad was delicious and has become Mark’s culinary trademark of which he is always happy to share his recipe. Fresh baked bread was such a hit yesterday, I made chocolate scones and two loafs of a roasted corn and wheat flour bread with pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Happy crew is a high priority here on the INNcredible Sea Lodge.

 

Brian

Captain Of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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8am November 30th…

made great time all day and night averaging 8+ knots. However an hour ago after sailing past one squall after another one squall seemed inevitably to overtake us. So it was time to take Big Blue, our gennaker, down and replace with the jib while the winds increased inside the squall. As crew bagged the gennaker we all saw the halyard was chaffed badly and had we not pulled her down when we did it wouldn’t have been long when it would have dropped under full sail pressure certain to cause mayhem and damage to our favorite sail, Big Blue. Lucky in one sense but the not so good news is the halyard barely has enough extra length to cut off the chaffed length. Without Big Blue we dropped our speed 50% flying the jib.
Then as if to cheer us up we became surrounded by 40 or 50 dolphins frollicking with INNcredible. We had just turned on the generator and we think the hum attracted them.
I made some measurement mistakes yesterday, our average speed is 7 knots COG but as the bird flies we are about 450 nm SW of Las Palmas. That leaves 2288 nm between us and Rodney Bay, St Lucia.

Apple, celery, red onion, walnut, blue cheese, grated carrot in a honey rice wine vinegar dressing – our salad followed with spicy white beans rounded out another vegetarian dinner. Lines in the water but no fish for dinner yet.
Rising brown bread right now to have fresh baked bread ready for a big avocado day – we eat our way through what ripens and we’re looking forward to fresh bread with avo, tomato, cheese and my meathead crew adds some mystery luncheon meat.
All is good on the INNcredible Sea Lodge.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Seal Lodge

 
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