Atlantic Ocean , 07 June 2006

8:th letter, The Atlantic Crossing

Not a second to early we left St Martin on a Wednesday afternoon. Even after a whole week of preparations I was still busy hanging in the mast fixing a few things ten minutes before the chosen bridge opening. This opening would take us out from the lagoon into the big blue again, meaning not only the start of our Atlantic crossing but also the start of going home. During the past week I had not spent much time thinking about it but when passing under that bridge,  al sorts of feelings came over me. It stroke me that after this wonderful time spent on al the islands, me and my two friends were now facing a much bigger challenge than cruising the Caribbean! Where we prepared? What would break (because something always breaks), and how big waves will Windwalker face? My knees were feeling a little bit week and I hade the same feeling as when entering a ghost house on a playground; you know you’ll come out alright but what’s going to happen in between? Scary but exiting I would say!

Anyway, after calling family and friends we sat sails east bound with the Azores as the next waypoint. The GPS showed 2189 Miles. Many days would pass before we would stand on solid ground again. That evening, after dinner we sat down in the cockpit to watch the first episode of “LOST” (With cola and popcorn this was later showing to be addictive). That night I fell asleep with a smile on my face.
The following day the smile on my face was gone as our self steering mechanism decided to fail on us. This was not fun at all as this meant that we would have to steer by hand every day, for the next tree weeks. The same day all sorts of things broke down leaving us with water leaks and bilge pump failure. That day, we all agreed on that if things were going to fail on us as much as now, each day, then Windwalker would soon be under water! Luckily things looked a little brighter a few days later after fixing most of the problems including the windvane (wind roder).Unaware of how many things that could break down and how long time it takes to fix them, we had loaded Windwalker with amusements as our guitar, books and music to prevent our selves from committing suicide due to boredom onboard. Probably one of the most important things we installed before departure, far more important than the life raft for example was a subwoofer witch allowed us to fully enjoy music and movies all the way to Europe.

The first two weeks we sailed under calm weather leaving perfect conditions for watching “LOST” in the cockpit. Conditions we now call “Lost weather”. During those weeks there was plenty of opportunity to relax, chill, and then relax a little more. We were pretty much alone out there for many days before we heard or saw another sailing vessel. Leaving us only in company of visiting dolphins. I must say, every meeting with them is for me special.

The third week was going to be a little windier! Over the SSB-radio we heard that there soon was going to be Gail force conditions in our region. To avoid the strongest winds we decided to go in a different direction. As the wind gradually picked up Windwalker was setting speed record after speed record. Reefing the sails was unevadable and I was going to be the one who did it. In the evening, after many hours of sailing in 7-10 knots and surfing the waves, we decided to heave during the night to let the low pressure move away. We had never tried this before but now were a good time to practice! After backing the jib and putting the rudder into the wind we noticed how well the boat was taking the seas. This was going to be a lot more comfortable than we could ever imagine! During that night we slept like babies (one always on watch) while Windwalker only drifted 15Miles (28km) south.
Next day the strong wind was gone and we continued east towards Horta on the Azores.

 The night after I was woken up by Dan’s voice before my night shift. The pole to the wind generator had broken of and Dan was hanging half way outside the boat trying to save the wind generator. All men on deck was ordered and we al three managed to rescue our only power plant while sailing. Next day was of course spent repairing the pole to something that could hold until we reached Horta. As a gift from God him self, Jonas had decided to bake his  first bread ever that day. Tasting this fine bread made my day after all repairing.

With only five days from Horta I begun to feel that this crossing was coming to an end or that the end was not to far away anyway. Not that I was bored sailing, but the underwear sailing era was over and three weeks of shore is more than enough even if you are surrounded by the best guy´s in the world, if you ask me. Another Gail warning came over the radio but it was not supposed to last for very long. Soon we would walk the streets of Horta eating in restaurants, taking a shower and most important of all, sleeping in a non moving bed the whole night long!

/Fredrik onboard windwalker 7th June

Bye Bye St Martin
Full sails Towards Horta!
Reparing the wind vane
Crossing is easy!
Riding the Gale winds
Heaving works perfect
Impressive waves!