Position: 47°34'N, 22°21'W
After travelling over 15,000 nautical miles since last September, we are
now down to the last 600 miles of our journey. The past five days since
leaving the Azores have been slow going as winds in the North Atlantic
remain light. Like our first passage across the Atlantic from Florida,
we are pleasantly surprised to find it is not at all the fearsome ocean
that is usually portrayed in the movies.
We're finding it hard to believe that we're on the last leg and that the
Skipper's dream is finally within reach of fulfilment. We look back at
this time last year, when we were frantically preparing to leave our
land-life, and wonder how on earth we have made it this far. This
passage always seemed so far away, a trip that could only take place
after overcoming many obstacles. And now we're here, doing it, at last.
In a way, the dream has already come true.
Using these final days at sea to reflect on the year that has been, the
author cornered the Skipper on his most poignant memories of the voyage:
Highlight: Three days in Ensenada Naranjo, Panama, arriving after 54
long, stressful days at sea. A secluded beach and lush, green jungle in
a safe, sheltered bay, all to ourselves. Dry land never looked, smelled
or felt so good!
Favourite destination: I'm hard pressed to decide between the Marquesas
and the Azores. In many ways both island groups are very similar and the
perfect destination for sailors and landlubbers alike.
Favourite anchorage: Cook's Bay, Moorea. Sheltered, stunning and close
to beer, bread and coffee
Favourite marina: Shelter Bay, Panama – friendly sailors, great
restaurant (that does a mean half roast chicken!) and a swimming pool!
Most challenging time: Finding ourselves in gale conditions just days
after leaving New Zealand. Physically and emotionally exhausted after
packing up our life on land, the big seas and grey skies made us wonder
if the doom-and-gloomers were right and that we had indeed made a big
Scariest moment: Going overboard to scrape goose barnacles off the
bottom of the boat, mid-Pacific, just days after sighting sharks in the
Most used tool on board: A miniature 8cm flat head screwdriver used to
poke, prod, screw and scrap all sorts of things every day. I often call
for it saying "Please pass me the..." and before I finish, it's in my hand.
Most rewarding repair to Ashling: Replacing the rigging, after hands-on
schooling from Mike Barker in Panama and Irish Pat in Cayman.
Most useful alteration to Ashling: Installation of reef rings for easier
reefing. A small change, but I'm grateful for it every time we reef in
Most used medical supply on board: Arnica – I was highly suspicious at
first, but it's great for treating bruises. Of course, it would be
better have something to subdue the First Mate to prevent her bashing me
in the first place : -)
Second time round I would: Install a dodger before leaving NZ, visit
Isla Providencia (Caribbean) en route to Grand Cayman and invest more in
cockpit comfort, and some caffeine pills to help keep the First Mate's
eyes open on night watch!
Skipper's essentials for crossing an ocean: A strong boat, a sat phone
and a Sweeney. The boat goes without saying. The phone proved invaluable
for both getting weather info and words of encouragement from many
friends during the toughest days. As for the Sweeney, all jokes aside,
Eithne has brought a whole lot more than deckhand skills to the voyage.
Her courage and determination helped us overcome every obstacle, and
were it not for her communication skills, the whole experience would
melt away in foggy memories.
Our current ETA in Old Head, Louisburgh is Sunday 14th July. Visit the
blog towards the end of the week for more details.