Sixteen days, one
thousand nine hundred and twenty nautical miles, eight
cans of spam and we have gone from the Americas to
Europe. Or, rather, from Bermuda to the island of Faial
in the Azores.
It has been a terrific
passage. We were late out of Bermuda, trapped there by
headwinds, but once out of Saint George’s the plan was
to strike north to find the winds which would blow us
eastward. Day 5 the wind found us – a half-gale that
reduced us to staysail alone and whipped us fast
northwards through grey, hissing seas and pelting rain.
‘Everything is wet’ the midnight log reads on June 27th,
but next morning, in improving weather, we saw our first
dolphin, hoisted the mainsail (two reefs), and turned
east towards the Azores, now 1,250 nautical miles away.
We had been driven a
little westward of our planned track, but now we were
wind-hunting with a vengeance. John and Sharon’s newest
toy is the ‘grib’. The ‘grib’ is downloaded by
sat-phone and shows, on the onboard computer, the
pattern of prevailing winds, so every couple of days a
new grib was downloaded and that dictated our course. If
there was wind to the south we went there, too
successfully as it turned out, for we were eventually
dropped into a windless hole and had to motor-sail for
two days, but the passage is notorious for calms so it
was only to be expected. Most days the log has comments
like ‘perfect sailing’ – ‘good wind on the beam’ –
‘sunny, warm, gorgeous’.
There were dolphins,
sea-turtles and, even a thousand miles from land,
shearwaters. The shearwaters are glorious birds,
skimming the waves with a careless grace. There were
remarkably few other vessels, all of them cargo ships,
but one afternoon a helicopter buzzed us. He was a US
Navy craft, evidence that there was a warship or task
force beyond the horizon, and he came low to identify
us, gave us a friendly wave and vanished northwards.
There were sunsets and sunrises of extraordinary beauty,
nights when the stars were hard and sharp as diamonds,
and the odd mishap. The engine died on us, which was
bad news, but John discovered the cause, repaired it,
and so kept the refrigerator cold, but no amount of
engineering could keep the loo working. John insists
the toilet is NOT broken, it merely doesn’t work, a
distinction that was lost on the writer in residence.
There is, of course, a very efficient en-suite bucket,
and all I can say is that it’s very good that we started
such close friends and nothing short of miraculous that
we have finished as even closer.
My other impressions?
This is a very competent, safe ship. The number one
priority aboard is safety, and John and Sharon meet
crises with a very calm confidence. Seraphim is in good
hands, and the hands are in a superb ship. As for the
rest, we have crossed from the new world to the old with
a great deal of laughter and much talk of those we left
behind. Right now we’re lying in Horta Marina and I have
to fly home today and wish I could stay and travel
further (more spam next time, please), but it has been a
huge joy and privilege to sail this far. Thanks, guys.