Low on gas. No fresh veg left. Mainsail dropped. Now the spinnaker pole has broken! This is the pole that holds out the gib (front sail) at 90 degrees to the boat so it can run goose wing, downwind. Bit of a bummer since we had westerly winds and we’re heading west.
England are the rugby world champions! We followed the progress via the BBC World Service, whose coverage went something like this:
‘There are loads of people here in Sydney preparing for the World Cup. And now back to the news’
Highlight of the day, however, was going for a swim in the middle of nowhere (24’ 40.61N, 18’ 44.12W). With the sun baking down accompanied by slow winds Simon devised a safety harness for us to wear whilst we took it in turns to dive off the bow into the warm, clear blue waters, floating a few miles above the sea bed.
Dave the Egret joined us for a 24 hour leg somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. Obviously tired from flying he decided to take passage on Ocean Indies and earned his keep by staying on anchor watch for the entire time he was aboard. When he parted he left behind a little present for us on the deck.
Ahhh. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat. Can I put this experience into words? Probably not but as you see I did keep a log for each day and as you read through it you’ll discover that each day was very different. A lot happened. The night time became a lesson in astronomy. Dreaming became a major talking point on this trip. With such a long time at sea a trip like this is no longer an excursion but a lifestyle.
9am and there it was – the great isle of Gran Canaria, welcoming us with hot sun and open arms! We sauntered into the marina, moored up and took our first step on dry land after a rather eventful six days at sea.
Like a character out of Tom Sawyer I spent my day bathing and reading on the trampoline and checking my line at the back of the boat, occasionally playing with the line as though I knew what I was doing.
It was as we were commenting on the huge waves coming at us that the reel of Dave’s fishing rod began to screech and we all jumped up like a bunch of excited monkeys, swinging around bars and leaping from bench to bench. Of course I instinctively grabbed my camera when I should have been sheeting the gib to slow us down. Vincent sprang into action whilst the rest of us just stood and marvelled at the master in action.
The next 24 hours became a blue of slamming, spray, 5 metre waves and queasiness. Most of the watches were done in saloon, though I preferred being outside, harnessed in and riding the boat as if on a surf board! It was either feel sick and feel sh!tty, or see it for what it was and make the most of it.
A fellow yachtie we bumped into in the showers warned us of Force 9-10s and 9 metre waves. This didn’t really phase us since Vincent was a grand yacht master (though I don’t know anyone who would want to see him put to the test in those kind of conditions) and the rest of us actually wanted to see 9 metre waves! (How foolish!)
And that was it. The three remaining crew members packed their bags and we hailed a passing boat and got off Voyager. I shook Paul’s hand and wished him luck, vaguely guilty that we had had a good working relationship, but I knew I had done the right thing.
My stay in Sintra, however, was topped by a visit to the enchanting Quinta de Regaleira. Although the house was interesting it was the garden that could not fail to impress. Set in large tiers this steep tangle of orchids and large trees was littered with castle turrets and water features, but it was the Initiation Well that really blew me away. The well was over 60 feet deep and wide enough to walk down. Truly this was something out of Tomb Raider as I descended down the well via a stone staircase bordered by large archways.
Over the next couple of days Mario would try to teach me Portuguese. Every time I repeated a word he would tell me I’d said it wrong. He’d repeat it again, this time sounding completely different. Every time he taught me a new word I never learned it as he corrected me over and over again, repeating the word with different emphasis each time.
This introduction was written by my brother when the original FTB website was put together, preceding the Europe and Atlantic trip undertaken in 2003.
Tim helped communicate my adventures to family and friends by setting up a small site to contain these stories. This is the very original introduction that preceded the FTB web site.