The Night Before the ‘Big Thing’

(By Joline. Logged in under the wrong name while posting, ugh).

Unless something unforeseen happens -always a possibility- tonight marks our last night before actually crossing the Atlantic! We are currently planning to make landfall on the Salvation’s Islands, French Guyana, before sailing on to Surinam.

I’m not quite sure what I am feeling at the moment. One part of me is feeling a weird mixture of childlike pre-birthday apprehension and the dread of an appointment with a dental surgeon. Another part of me is actually quite relaxed about it, however uncharacteristic that may sound if you know me.

It’s like that joke about eating an elephant. How do you cross an ocean? One mile at the time.

After coming into the port of Mindelo Cabo Verde when we sailed here from the Canary Islands , we learned from other (more experienced) sailors who crossed at the same time that this passage was to be classified as ‘pretty rough’. We spoke with a guy from Sweden who had crossed the Atlantic before and he told us the same thing, plus that while he crossed the Atlantic the previous time it was nothing like what we just experienced on our way here.

Currently we are hearing from Dutch boats (who are crossing as we speak) that it is mostly steady winds and overall ‘boring’.

I’ll take boring over ‘eventful’ or ‘interesting’ every time when crossing an ocean, I think.

It gives me hope to hear all these things while prepping for the ‘Big Thing’.

It is weird to be about to do something that won’t lead to a climax until roughly two weeks later. It feels a little bit like this scene from Despicable Me.

What did we do to prepare? A little bullet list to give you an idea, though I’m probably forgetting a thing or two:

  • Had a chafe spot in the mainsail repaired that was caused by one of the spreaders on our passage to Cape Verdes.
  • Installed covers for the spreaders to (hopefully) prevent such damage in the future.
  • Repaired the lazyjack system that came down.
  • Reinforced the stitching on both sides of the lazyjack lines to prevent the same problem in the future.
  • The kids decided that 10% of their current toys would be plenty for now (!!!) so we took EVERYTHING out of their room to sort while I deep cleaned it. Put the remainder of their toys away under our bed. They are now down to a couple of barbies, one small bag of playmobil, one small bag of other stuff and one small bag of LOL dolls/mini hatchimals  and half of their stuffed animals. (Mind you; we had previously already halved their playmobil on board because I was bloody tired of finding it everywhere or cleaning it up myself OR waiting until they had picked everything up which could be anywhere around midnight. And what we have on board is about 50% of what they used to have at home! The kids even handed out some of their toys to local kids last week, something they came up with themselves).
  • Reorganized most of the lockers and cabinets, rearranging some stuff to make it easier to reach for things while sailing and to prevent future mess (learned lesson from the past, hopefully).
  • Washed our bed linens and did a lot of laundry.
  • Installed a hammock from netting outside under the solar panels to keep fruit in during passage.
  • Bought lots of fruit to go in that hammock.
  • Bought more groceries, mostly fresh items (fruit, vegs, eggs) as we already have a lot of dry goods on board from previous provisioning runs. Some soft drinks and juice. Local booze. Lots of ramen (we tend to eat a lot of ramen noodles on this boat, especially while sailing) and snacks.
  • We also bought some alcohol gel, a tip from a befriended sailor, to use after a visit to the head (toilet) to preserve water and maintaining hygiene. Not a luxury item if you have kids, trust me.
  • Re-installed the baby stay to its original place on the foredeck that we had put to the side when we bought Blue Pearl, so we can put up a storm sail if needed.
  • Hosed off and cleaned the boat to rid it of salt, sand and dust. Ran fresh water over most of the lines as well, to wash the salt out. Some had become quite rigid and hard to work with!
  • Poured oil on the anchor chain and spread it out a little. When we wanted to anchor after our last passage, we found that the chain had become a tangled mess, probably caused by the constant movement and the waves. We had never had this problem before. It took us around 20-30 minutes to sort everything out again before we could lower the anchor. Hopefully this measure will prevent this problem in the future.
  • Actually still on the ‘to do’ list for tomorrow: move the supplies we currently have in the spare cabin to our bed in the front cabin. Make a comfy bed in the spare cabin for Rene and me to sleep in when we are not on watch. We usually just put a sleeping bag there and leave the supplies (we have plastic bins with ramen, coffee cups, nuts, tortillas, toilet paper etc. stored there), but on our way here I found I lacked the space to sleep ‘sideways’ to help with the movement of the waves.
  • Do a final engine check on the generator and main engine.
  • And lastly, very important: Went to the beach yesterday to relax, swim and have a simple dinner out with fancy caipirinhas.

Are we ready? I honestly can’t tell you. We left from the Canaries with less preparation and we got here, fixing issues along the way, that’s about as much as we know. We’ll just have to take it one day (or mile) at the time.

Follow along and we’ll try to keep you updated on our journey! We’ll try to post little updates with the iridium on our website & facebook page as we cross. And of course you can always head over to our Garmin tracker to see our current position.

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