Just because you set sail across the Atlantic doesn't mean you are going to make it to the other side without hitting the wall.  In the 2005 ARC, two yachts didn't even make it halfway across the pond before incapacitating problems struck.


We watched the start of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in Las Palmas, Canary Islands.  Nearly two-hundred and thirty yachts sailed out of the breakwater at the appointed time to start their date with destiny.  Las Palmas harbor had swarms of yachts milling about waiting for the starting gun.  I had never seen so many mega yachts and mini yachts sailing in a regatta, and I had never seen so many yachts getting ready to sail into the jaws of misery and destruction. 


The ARC leaves the Canary Islands on its appointed date to sail, and it's up to the weather routers to safely get the yachts across the Atlantic.  This year Tropical Storm Delta was churning up the seas making the direct route to the Caribbean unpleasant, if not frankly dangerous.  We visited the ARC website to follow the intrepid sailors on their journey west, and the first week of the trip was not a picnic.  It was as rough as a cob with squalls and miserable headwinds thrown off Tropical Storm Delta.


The website showed the actual tracks of each yacht as it sailed across the Atlantic.  Many tracks optimistically cut the corner heading west soon after leaving the Canaries, but within a few days, most sailors had turned south toward the Cape Verde Islands.  Sailing into big seas and strong headwinds is expensive because you blow outf sails and break expensive gear, and most cruisers don't have deep enough pockets to support that style of sailing.  The Maxi ocean racers blast their way to windward in high winds and turbulent seas, but the rest take the path of least resistance.


But even the maxi yachts are not invulnerable.  Take a look at the large black Oyster yacht sitting in Cape Verde without a mast.  Yachts of this size and caliber usually zip across the Atlantic leaving the rest of us wallowing in their wake,  They aren't supposed to have problems, because their crews are paid to keep every piece of gear in immaculate condition in a state of one-hundred percent readiness.  But sometimes things don't work out the way they are supposed to.  The transatlantic chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and unfortunately, one of the links wasn't as strong as it was supposed to be on this Oyster.


When we arrived in the Cape Verde Islands, we saw the Oyster anchored in Mindelo harbor without its mast, and we wondered how the owners would put humpty dumpty back together again.  Shipping a new mast to the Cape Verdes and rigging it would be a major challenge.  Not impossible, but I reckon you would have to fly in the personnel and equipment to do the job.  It sounded like it would require buckets of cash and definitely be less fun than a barrel full of monkeys.  We left Mindelo without knowing the answer to the Oyster's dilemma.


We sailed for sixteen days across the Atlantic to arrive in Barbados.  Two days after our arrival, a freighter anchored behind Exit Only in Bridgetown.  Imagine our surprise when we looked at the ship and saw the Oyster lashed down as deck cargo on the freighter.  The Oyster actually made a transatlantic voyage in a week on the deck of a ship.  Now that's how to make a fast transatlantic run.  Why didn't I think of that?


On the aft deck of the same ship there was another ARC yacht that hit the wall during the transatlantic crossing.  The were sailing west of the Cape Verde Islands when their "keel box" started to leak.  They didn't know how bad the leak would become, and so the crew was taken off the yacht on to a passing freighter.  On a ballasted monohull yacht, a bad leak can sink the boat in just a few minutes.  So I can understand why they wanted get off the yacht to have safe passage back to land on a freighter.


They sent a salvage vessel to recover the yacht in case it remained afloat.  Fortunately, it didn't sink, and it was towed into Mindelo where it was put on the same ship as the dismasted Oyster.


What lessons can you learn from these experiences? First, you have to take a transatlantic passage seriously.  No matter how much money you throw at your yacht, one weak link can still stop the most seaworthy vessel in its tracks.  Rigging problems are especially tricky.  You often can't detect a problem until the moment disaster strikes.  Second, monohull yachts will always be a worry because small leaks can become big leaks that quickly sink the boat.  That's one of the reasons we sail in a catamaran.  A single leak in a catamaran can be messy and expensive, but it's rare for it to sink the yacht.  Third, setting sail on a schedule regardless of the presence of tropical storms is a bad idea.  That's why we don't join regattas that cross oceans departing on predetermined dates.  Leaving port in the face of questionable weather causes sailing disasters around the world


So what's a person to do?  Become an armchair sailor and leave the adventure to someone else.  I don't think so.  I have only one life, and I am not going to waste it making bun prints in the sands of time.  God gave me the ability to dream, and the goal of my life is to live my dreams, even though with every dream, there comes a parcel of problems.  The day my problems cease will be the moment they put me in the ground, and the preacher says his final Amen.  Until then I'll try to not hit the wall as I sail on the ocean of my dreams.



Log 1 Peter Pan Around the World
Log 2 Weapons of Mackerel Destruction
Log 3 Pirates of the Malacca Straits
Log 4 Kissing Cobras
Log 5 Debriosaurus Rex
Log 6 Go Ahead - Live Your Dreams

Log 7 The Man Who Built His House on a Rock
Log 8 Ambivalent Eagles
Log 9 One-Shovel Full at a Time
Log 10 Hitchhiker's Guide to Planet Earth

Log 11 Keeshond

Log 12 The Red Sea Blues

Log 13 Feel the Freedom

Log 14 The Danger Zone

Log 15 Lucky Man
Log 16 Dream Machines - Land Rover Defenders

Log 17 Trade Wind Dreams
Log 18 Logs With Fins
Log 19 Everywhere, Everything
Log 20 Shark Slayer Is History

Log 21 Viking Funeral - Burial at Sea
Log 22 Improbable and Impossible

Log 23 Keep on Trucking
Log 24 Dream Machines II
Log 25 Bodysurfing Whales
Log 26 Hitting the Wall
Log 27 Surviving the Savage Seas

Log 28 The Next Step
Log 29 Welcome to Barbados
Log 30 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
Log 31 The Man with the Unplan
Log 32 Dali Dolphins
Log 33 Flying Like a Turtle
Log 34 The Foolish Man Built His House on a Pitch Lake
Log 35 Go West Young Man
Log 36 Crossing the Atlantic in a Row Boat
Log 37 The Unsinkable HMS Diamond Rock
Log 38 Catamaran Capsize in 170 mph Winds
Log 39 When Are You Coming Home?

Log 40 Master and Commander of Anegada - Frigate Birds
Log 41 Baths of Virgin Gorda - Batholiths of Central Arabia

Log 42 Free at Last
Log 43 Stalking the Wild Manatee

Log 44 Spreaderman
Log 45 Attack of the Flesh Eating Bees
Log 46 Sharks and Coconuts
Log 47 Stingray Picnic
Log 48 Boo Boo Hill
Log 49 Whale Slayers
Log 50 Noddies (Not Naughty)


Log 51 Exumas Land and Sea Park
Log 52 David and Goliath
Log 53 Turquoise Clouds of Paradise

Log 54 Momma Nightjar
Log 55 Maximillian The Great
Log 56 Chiton Kingdom
Log 57 Flying and Holding On
Log 58 Far Horizons
Log 59 Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend
Log 60 Getting Connected
Log 61 Fear
Log 62 Grand Schemes and Other Important Things
Log 63 If Jellyfish Had a Brain
Log 64 Cousins That Don't Kiss
Log 65 Swimming With Sharks
Log 66 Perfect the Way You Are
Log 67 Space Travelers
Log 68 Aliens
Log 69 Monsters of the Mind
Log 70 My Butterfly Collection
Log 71 Somewhere Other Than Here Societies
Log 72 Five-Hundred Pound Spiders
Log 73 Red Sea Sunsets
Log 74 Gibraltar Sunrise
Log 75 Big Sea - Small Ship
Log 76 Just Cruising
Log 77 Castle Mania
Log 78 You Must Know the Sea
Log 79 Flying Like a Goat
Log 80 The Joy of Photography
Log 81 Universal Camouflage
Log 82 My Rainbow Collection
Log 83 Indian Ocean Reward
Log 84 Fiber W
Log 85 Turkish Reflections
Log 86 Mirrors and Mirages
Log 87 Lycean Tombs Rock
Log 88 Rigging Emergency
Log 89 Pamukkale
Log 90 Volcano Land
Log 91 Sniffing the Air
Log 92 Why I Don't Kite Surf
Log 93 Resurrecting Exit Only in Turkey
Log 94 Greased Pole Competition
Log 95 Tsunami Damage
Log 96 Afraid of Living
Log 97 Living on the Edge
Log 98 Borneo Adventure
Log 99 Uligamu Tree Tender with Full Benefits
Log 100 God's Fireworks Display

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