Experience the Trade Winds

When sailing across oceans we all look for trade wind routes. Winds that blow steadily from the same direction so that you can sail twenty four hours a day at close to the maximum boat speed.

On our passage from the Cape Verde Islands to Barbados, the trade winds set up about the third day out. While there was a lot of variability, no two days were ever the same, we did have winds blowing Van Kedisi at over six knots. With the trade winds set up, ocean swells grow in size. Van Kedisi would do over fourteen knots surfing down big swells.

In this video, we have captured the experience of being in the trade winds and the big swells. This video includes footage of each of the four crew members on the Atlantic crossing: Dick Leighton, Rick Lane, Andy Leighton, and myself at the helm dealing with the boat motion. Enjoy.

David

Four Guys Cross the Atlantic

Andy, Rick, and Dick

Andy, Rick, and Dick

If you are in Vancouver join us for a presentation by David Greer on our Atlantic Adventure. Here are the details:

Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Location: Royal Vancouver Yacht Club
Address: 3811 Point Grey Road, Vancouver, BC
Doors: 7:00 PM
Presentation: 7:30 PM
Information: david@davidgreer.ca

In 2013, four guys sailed Dick and Marian Leighton’s Prout 39 catamaran Van Kedisi more than 2,800 NM across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Barbados. Crossing oceans with your spouse is one thing, but what about when the spouses can’t or don’t want to cross an ocean? This presentation covers the ups and downs of how Dick, his 21-year old son Andy, and friends Rick Lane and David Greer coped with living together, sailing, and dealing with boat issues as we sailed across the Atlantic, including an emergency stop in the Cape Verde Islands.

David Greer

David Greer

David Greer started sailing before he was a teenager taking CYA lessons at Pigeon Lake in Alberta while racing fireball sailboats with his Dad. With his wife Karalee Greer, they have owned four boats traveling up and down BC’s coast. In 2001, they commissioned a sailboat in the south of France and for two years home schooled their three children while sailing more than 5,000 NM in the Mediterranean. David writes and presents extensively on sailing, passage making, and family living on a sailboat.

David

Quiet Mid-Atlantic Photos

Relaxing in the Cockpit

Relaxing in the Cockpit

The first few days out from Cape Verde on our way to Barbados saw light winds. From spinnaker sailing to swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, we took time to enjoy the weather that we had. A new set of photos have been uploaded to our Flickr account highlighting the first six days of our passage to Barbados. Click the link below to check them out.

Sail Van Kedisi Photos

David

First Videos of Quiet Atlantic Sailing

Every wondered what it is like on the open Atlantic ocean? In this post we share our first two sailing videos. Both were taken on relatively quiet Atlantic days. Even then, you get a good idea of the motion of Van Kedisi as the sails pull her along.

The first video was shot between the Canary Islands and Cape Verde:

This second video showcases Van Kedisi’s spinnaker showing how well it flies off the bow. Midway through this video you can catch a glimpse of Rick Lane at the helm.

David

Spot Us on the Atlantic

During the Atlantic crossing, David kept everyone informed of our progress using a SPOT device. This device communicates the current position of the device (and thus Van Kedisi) via satellites. Each position report is recorded on a public web site. Position reports are only kept for seven days on the SPOT web site so there is now no record of the position reports. In order to have this permanent record, David’s friend Wendy Riches captured these screen shots showing our progress from the Canary Islands to Cape Verde and from there to Barbados.

Canary Islands to Cape Verde

Canary Islands to Cape Verde

First Half Cape Verde to Barbados

First Half Cape Verde to Barbados

Second Half Cape Verde to Barbados

Second Half Cape Verde to Barbados

David

Day #27: Fourteen Days from the Cape Verdes

13° 32.4 N 57° 04.5 W at Noon Local

Bodrum, Turkey to Bridgetown, Barbados

Noon to noon distance 147 NM

Noon distance to Barbados 153 NM

Two weeks ago this morning we left Mindolo, Cape Verde. Looking around the boat today, all we see is the swells of the Atlantic Ocean, white caps, and puffy white cumulus clouds. The same view, more or less, that we’ve had since we reached the trade winds.

In the last twenty-four hours we se tied our best ever noon-to-noon distance of 147 nautical miles. Without our GPS and charts, we could be almost anywhere between Cape Verde and Barbados. The reality is that if the wind continues, we have fabulous sailing conditions, and we should be in Bridgetown, Barbados before dark tomorrow, Saturday, December 20, 2013.

Dick, Andy, Rick, and David have each settled into the rhythm of the boat and watches. Tasks have become automatic. Another midnight squall coming through? Ease the genoa sheet, pull in the furling line, use the flashlight to make sure the furling line is clear, and adjust the sheet to take the belly out of the genoa. We don’t have to think about it, we just do it.

We’ve been in our own little world. There’s no MTV, unless it is listening to Mark Knoppler and Dire Straights singing on the stereo. We are in tune with the rhythm of the day, the ocean, the boat, and each other. We all expect it will be a big change to back in civilization. While we are all ready for ice cream and a bunk that isn’t tossing you from side to side, there is an inherent beauty to ocean passage making that we have each got to experience. Along with the trust, friendship, and shared experience that the four of us have had in the twenty-seven days since we left the Canary Islands.

David

Day #25: One Nice Day

14° 45.8 N 52° 11.6 W at Noon Local

Bodrum, Turkey to Bridgetown, Barbados

Noon to noon distance 145 NM

Noon distance to Barbados 447 NM

Yesterday was what all the brochures promised. A beautiful afternoon, steady winds, and moderate seas. Easy watches. A comfortable ride for those off watch. And a new single day distance record for Van Kedisi.

All four of us were in the cockpit as the sun set yesterday evening. As the sun got close to the horizon it would disappear behind big ocean swells. A moment later it would appear under the clew of the poled out genoa. Before we knew it the sun kissed the horizon and within a minute or two had disappeared.

After dinner, David put on Diana Krall’s Live in Rio video on his iPad in the main cabin. Andy was on watch and he took breaks sitting on the cabin doorsill watching the video with the rest of us. Behind him the full moon rose shining down as Van Kedisi sailed on into the night.

Today, the sea is gun metal grey again, although it still has those amazing patches of white and turquoise where wave crests break. Slate grey squalls come through packing sustained winds of 40 knots. The swell is at odds to the wind direction, slewing Van Kedisi down wave fronts and throwing things across the cabin. The off watch is hunkered in their bunks resting and dealing as best they can with the boat motion.

Watch on and watch off we look after each other taking the wind and waves as nature gives it to us. Van Kedisi continues to bob along the Atlantic Ocean making distance as we sail closer to Barbados.

David

Day #22: One Hour At A Time

16° 27.2 N 44° 59.3 W at Noon Local

Bodrum, Turkey to Bridgetown, Barbados

Noon to noon distance 142 NM

Noon distance to Barbados 875 NM

We set a new noon-to-noon distance record today surpassing our previous record by one mile. Dick, Rick, and Andy all pointed out to David that saying we will likely be in Barbados at any time is a huge stretch of the imagination.

The truth is that we sail the boat one day at a time. In fact, one watch at a time. David does 12-3, Dick 3-6, Andy 6-9, and Rick 9-12. Same times AM and PM. We break those watches into one-hour logbook entries, so truly we sail the boat an hour at a time. In each hour those conditions change, wind shifts, sails come in, sails go out, and from moment to moment everything changes.

The two other unknowns are weather and the boat. At best, we can forecast weather three days out. We have no idea what the weather will be doing when we get close to Barbados. Our daily noon-to-noon distances could easily be half what they are now.

Van Kedisi is amazing as is all the work Dick has put into making VK work for us. We have had the poled out genoa running for over five days now. All four of us know that it is this configuration in these wind conditions that has allowed the amazing daily runs we have been getting. Yet we are only one fitting, one line, or one little mistake away from something that could easily cut our speed in half. We inspect and maintain daily, but you never know.

The truth is that we’ll get to Barbados when we get to Barbados. One hour at a time.

David

Day #21: Halfway to Barbados

16° 49.6 N 42° 32.4 W at Noon Local

Bodrum, Turkey to Bridgetown, Barbados

Noon to noon distance 138 NM

Noon distance to Barbados 1017 NM

When we left Mindolo in the Cape Verde Islands the great circle distance to Bridgetown, Barbados was 2020 nautical miles. At 1312 local time today (UTC-2) we had exactly 1010 nautical miles to go. We are halfway there.

It has taken us eight days to get to this point. We are not taking bets on how much longer we will be, but expect it will be at least another eight days. And once we arrive it will likely take a day to check in the boat, captain, and crew to Barbados.

As our halfway milestone arrived, we were all outside in the cockpit enjoying the sunshine. Within moments, a squall had overtaken us, the wind increased, and it started raining. David was on watch, so while he donned his wet weather gear, Dick, Andy, and Rick retired to the cabin. Andy had a rum and coke, Dick and Rick a scotch, while David enjoyed a hot cup of tea that Dick made him. After all, we may be halfway there, but we still have more than a thousand miles of sailing to go. The big celebration will be when we actually arrive in Bridgetown.

David