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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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70 hours in the INNcredible Sea Lodge has traveled 580 nautical miles mostly SW 11/29/2012

70 hours in the INNcredible Sea Lodge has traveled 580 nautical miles mostly SW. Last night for awhile the seas backed off and the winds slowed just as we entered the Canarian Current which runs S at 1 knot. From then on even though we were headed WSW (248) we were drug southward to a COG (course over ground) of SSW (212). But the good news is we eventually have to go more south any way yet we’re trying to keep as much westerly heading as possible on the way, after all if we sailed due west we would land in the Bahamas just like Columbus at about 23.5N when St. Lucia is 12N almost 700 nm south. Back to the 580 nm traveled divided by the 70 hours travel time equals over 8 knots average speed – bloody good!

At this rate we would arrive in 337 hours or about 14 days. That however would be amazing but unlikely. Anyway I’m stopping in the middle of the Atlantic to have a swim which may add an hour. And if we stopped for a picnic?

Crew report: all well, happy and well fed.

 

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Day Two

It’s night now after a beautiful sunset followed shortly thereafter by the rising full moon to light our way. Although today started out with strong winds and high seas both have tempered a bit and the wind is pushing 20 knots more or less almost behind us allowing us to point SW.

Beautiful day today with sun and a breeze which we all enjoyed. Every one  has to follow a watch schedule of on 6 hours and off 9. We always have two people on and during the daytime more people are up any way. The watch schedule moves like a volleyball team so no one is stuck with midnight until 6am more than once every three or four days. No watch schedule is easy to get used to but this one gives one the ability to get a long rest in between. Racing sailors prefer on 4 hours off 4 hours but Nate complains that he can’t get any real sleep within that short 4 hours. Every one agreed so we’re cutting our own path here despite good advice.

When the winds relaxed a bit, Big Blue (our big blue gennaker) went up and has been pulling us along all day and will all night. Tomorrow in the light it’s time to fly the new spinnaker which hasn’t seen the light of day since the sailmaker stuffed it in its sailbag. Excited to see it fly in full color.

Time to get some rest because my watch starts at 3am.

For dinner I made brown rice and fresh pumpkin in a spicy coconut curry sauce.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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And we’re off!

And we’re off! Except for the handle of racing boats that left on schedule Sunday, all 228 sailboats passed GO yesterday between 10:45 and 11:45 am under squally skies and strong winds. So much for delaying Sunday for weather because Tuesday didn’t turn out to be any relief. The INNcredible Sea Lodge had good position at the start and got out strong keeping up with the front of the Cat pack. Until that is that it was time to reef in and we turned up into the wind and it took us so long to get a good shape in our reefed sail that we had pulled way away to the east of the pack. With the winds coming out of the north and as strong as they were we could not use a spinnaker and had to sail ESE with jib and main. Constantly surrounded by squalls by mid afternoon we gibed to W but  had planned. Winds kept building (up to 35 knots) and we began to pinch a bit more west. Holding 252 WSW all through the night we are headed in the right direction but could use some relief from both the wind’s strength and direction.

 

I did however muster up a satisfying meal of sautéed vegetables and polenta with an herbed feta cheese. Crew is happy and despite the bumpy ride every one is sleeping well when there off watch. You do can actually see our position at www.worldcruising.com/arc and search for the boat name. However I am not keeping a blog there only here.

 

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Inncredible Journey 11/27

Folks all over are enjoying the INNcredible journey.


This is my last day with any possible WIFI connection until Santa Lucia in the New World so I’m sending pictures.
They clustered all of us catamarans out back in a separate alcove called Vela Latina. Having been living there for over a week now shoulder to shoulder with other crews.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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Friday night’s Farewell party at Real Club Nautico was probably sailing biggest party of the year with over 1200 crew members from 228 sailboats represented over 30 countries around the world.


Friday night’s Farewell party at Real Club Nautico was probably sailing biggest party of the year with over 1200 crew members from 228 sailboats represented over 30 countries around the world. Talking with crew from boats hailing from Halifax, from Norway, from Northern Ireland, from Estonia, from Russia everyone was ready to go whether they were three crew in a 37 foot sloop or 16 crew in a 70 foot racer. One boat was out of the water with a heater warming its rebuilt rudder so the fiberglass would cure hard. Engines were being replaced, repairs of all sorts made, chandleries selling more stuff in two weeks  than the rest of the year, this ARC has a powerful impact on the economy of Gran Canaria.

Then today, Saturday, came the Skippers’ Briefing were all near 500 skippers and first mates congregated in the Santa Catalina Hotel Grand Ballroom to hear all the latest on the timing and sequence of the starting of the race. Then came the weather forecasting with a low developing north of the Canaries moving into our area by Sunday evening bringing head winds up to 40 knots and swells topping 6 meters (that’s 20 feet) by Monday with wind chop atop. A bigger low was churning to the west and showing signs of getting stronger. The briefing was all but over when the Chairman took the stage and announced that for only the second time in ARC’s 28 years the start of this race will be postponed. Roaring applause filled. /. the room. Andrew and I weren’t applauding. We were ready to go; we’d been ready to go days ago. Living in the millionaires’ ghetto in the busy marina for more than a week is enough.

The chairman actually gave all boaters a choice: to start the race as planned tomorrow or wait until Tuesday to start. We’ll see how many start tomorrow. The word on the dock is if you started tomorrow the seas would toss you around for 48 hours such that everyone on board would be sea sick and the boat’s forward motion wouldn’t amount to much anyway.

So we went this afternoon for a little near sunset sail. Came back and I made a seafood saffron soup and celebrated Thanksgiving a day late and relaxed. Instead of an evening of anticipation and anxiety prior to the start we’re relaxing after a week’s worth of provisioning and make-ready/ship shape. We’ve got a stalk of green bananas hanging, a hammock full of 100+ onions, 15kg sack of potatoes, hard winter squashes, a 72 quart chest full of apples and oranges,  veggies stashed everywhere, cupboards bulging full of dry goods – you’d think we were crossing an ocean or maybe two.

Brian

Captain of the Inncredible Sea Lodge

 
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