Some pretty big news here at HaveWind! Many of you have been wondering about our cruising plans this coming season, where we are going, which routes, etc. I’ll bet this one hadn’t crossed your mind! We’re going to complete our first Atlantic Circle! We’ll be helping some new friends deliver their new Lagoon 42 from La Rochelle, France to the BVIs, likely via the Canaries, in Nov-Dec, 2018. Phillip and I are both stoked to go and share the journey with you. We’re flying to France this very day to spend some time with Captain Yannick from our first Atlantic crossing and enjoy La Rochelle for a bit before we shove off. Check out the announcement video below and follow along in real-time via our Delorme posts on our Facebook page! I’ve also got some fantastic shipyard videos coming out here for you, too, while we’ll be offshore so be excited for those. Au revoir! : )
Ten. Thousand. I almost can’t believe it myself, but that’s my number. 10,025 to be exact. I’ve been keeping track and when Phillip and I sailed our gallant Niagara 35 back into the Pensacola Pass on our recent return from the Bahamas, it was not only a fantastic feat successfully completing another offshore voyage, it was also a pretty cool milestone for this little sailor, who began sailing only five short years ago.
Headed off on my very first offshore voyage: April, 2013
Captain Annie at the helm, returning from the Bahamas: April, 2018
Ten thousand … This calls for a ditty, no?
Five years, 5oo HaveWind posts, and one captain’s license later, and I dare say I just might call this little gal a bluewater sailor.
When Phillip first planted the seed, “I’m going to buy a boat and cruise around the world,” I immediately, without hesitation, heartily agreed! “Not without me!” was my creed.
Our very first photo at the cockpit together during our first voyage.
So, we started boat-shopping and, little did I know, the many, many new, exotic places I would go! In the bilge, in the fridge, “Get down in the engine room,” he said.
So down I went, bumping my knees, my knuckles, my head. On that boat, I’ve cursed, and sweated, and bled. There are so many, many things, you see, that have to be fixed, cleaned, fixed again, and re-bed.
But the good news is, as long as her hull, keel, and rigging are sound, you can work on her while you sail her anywhere, as long as you don’t run aground! Because the worst, absolute worst, thing you can do to a boat, is to leave her sitting stagnant, unkept and going nowhere, just sitting afloat.
Not our boat, oh no! Our beautiful Niagara, with her magnificent thirty-five feet. She’s often cast-off, sailing away, on a gentleman’s (or perhaps not-so-gentle) beat.
That wise, seasoned boat has taught Phillip and I so much about both her and the sea. Because out there, and you may not believe me, but she feels really rather small to me. The time that she grows, seems unwieldy and impossible to stop, is only when we are approaching a treacherous dock.
But out there, in bluewater, while romping and running, she seems so agile and nimble. Like a horse at the derby, impossibly stunning.
That’s where she and her crew love most to be — moving, gliding, slipping under sunsets at sea.
My heart and courage exposed, this amazing man and boat have challenged me, to push myself, try harder, learn more, travel further, set myself free!
So I did. I changed my career, my address, my focus, all so I could head out to sea. And the rewards have been limitless: Cuba, the Bahamas, Mexico, France, the Florida Keys!
All connected by big, brimming, bodies of blue, just waiting to challenge and test you, too. Each passage, each mile, will teach you something new.
Forty-six hundred of them took Phillip and I all the way across the Atlantic, with a hearty, hilarious French Captain named Yannick.
But the Gulf of Mexico, never to be out-done, over and above the Atlantic, has, thus far, won. The Gulf has handed us our most trying times, tossing and bashing us to windward, threatening to snap lines.
Thankfully the storms and rough seas generally do not last. You just have to ride it out, get the boat comfortable, and usually in twenty-four hours or less, it will pass.
And soon you’ll find yourself motoring without a lick of wind, albeit across the most beautiful glass you’ve ever seen.
And you’ll make the mistake of asking Mother Nature to blow. Just a little. Like ten to fifteen.
Or seven and a quarter, perhaps, just enough so we can be #spinning!
While a perfect passage (in our world, a nice downwind run), from shore to shore is admittedly rare, the toying, tempting promise of it is what makes us accept the dare.
Because when you get there, no matter how near or far your “dream there” might be, it’s an incredibly cool feeling to have the honor to say: “We sailed here, you see.”
And for Phillip and I, I believe one of our most memorable offshore voyages will forever be: Cuba. Because it was a trying, eye-opening, exceedingly-thrilling passage where we bypassed the Keys. And Phillip and I both felt great pride in telling people: “We sailed six hundred nautical miles, here to be.”
Hope you all have enjoyed this little sailor’s first 10,000 nautical miles here at HaveWind. Here’s to the next ten! Cheers!
Errngh, errngh! We interrupt your regularly-scheduled Bahamian program for this important announcement. Peter Nielsen with SAIL Magazine submitted an article of mine to the 2017 Boating Writers International Writing Contest and I won third place in the “Boating Adventures” category. Thank you Peter! Sitting in the cockpit one morning on Plaintiff’s Rest in Marsh Harbour, harvesting a sliver of wifi, and I never dreamed the email I would find in my box. Peter Neilsen saying: “You won!” Won what? I thought. Unbeknownst to me, Peter had submitted one of my articles from 2017 in for the contest and I took third place! I’ll take third place any day! I’ll take any place any day! I didn’t even know anything about BWI or the contest but I was so excited, when I Googled it, to see two of my favorite sailing/world-traveling idols grace the cover of the webpage. Little ole’ Annie Dike up there with the likes of people I have looked up to since I started sailing and writing: Tasha Hacker and John Kretschmer. WHOA. More info about the contest and my prize-winning article below!! Thank you, Peter Nielsen, for believing and betting on me. I couldn’t be more humbled and proud!!
Want to know which article of mine placed? Feel free to take a blind guess in a comment now and see if you get it! One hint … it had a bit of a racy title. Those are always attention-grabbing and, apparently now, contest-winning!
I remember when that article first came out in stores! I was so excited!
Want to be the judge? Feel free to read my article and let me know your opinion of how my story performed according to these BWI criteria:
How complex is the story? Does the author use solid knowledge of the subject or information from multiple sources to craft a balanced and informative piece?
Is the lead effective? Does the introduction draw the reader into the story?
Does the story flow well? Good transitions? Good structure?
Is it well researched? Accurate (or has the writer relied on press releases)?
Is there a distinctive personality? Or voice?
Effective use of language, metaphor, imagery, sentence structure?
Beyond the basics of reporting the story, is there originality? A fresh approach?
Is the story fair?
How well does the story accomplish its intended mission? Does it entertain? Educate? Inspire?
Finally, how well did the judge like it personally?
Seeing this article again, and the photos included in the layout brought back about a thousand memories. Crossing the Atlantic on a 46-foot catamaran … what an adventure. And timely to reflect on that just as Phillip and I recently made our way back across a portion of the Atlantic, crossing the Gulf Stream from the Bahamas back to Florida. We were just texting Captain Yannick via the Delorme while we were out there, telling him it reminded us of the many, many memories we made with him aboard his boat, Andanza, the first time we traveled in those blue waters. Below are all of the photos I submitted to Peter Neilsen for the article. What an incredibly challenging, rewarding, and unforgettable adventure! And now, a monument in the BWI archives! Go little French Story go!
“Thru-hulls? Oh, hush! Nothing goes through my hull.” You gotta love Mitch! And every other new boat owner out there who is in that particular stage of boat-buying grief: Denial. When he thinks he is the only person in the world who just bought a boat that can’t sink. As Phillip and I are preparing our boat for the big, blue water passages ahead, I have a much greater appreciation now for all of the gear, supplies, and spares we need to carry aboard not only to make our boat comfortable and well-stocked so Phillip and I enjoy the passage, but more so the safety gear and supplies we must pack to keep her and the two of us SAFE. And by that we mean supplies that both: 1) ensure the boat is prepared to handle rough conditions, inadvertent collisions, fire, power shortage, or one of any other hundred equipment or engine failures that can happen out there; and 2) in the very unlikely, but possible, situation where Phillip and I need to ditch or distance ourselves from the boat, that ensure we, too, are prepared to do that as safely as possible.
While these are not the things you want to think about when planning for a voyage (i.e., a potential emergency), it is something you need to prepare for. And, the more I have truly opened my eyes to cruising this past year and pushed myself to learn and master the more difficult tasks such as navigation, steering, docking, weather planning, and emergency response, I see the need more than ever for the safety gear we carry aboard. I am also noticing that each time Phillip and I set off for another 4-5 day (or even 30-day) offshore run, we learn a few more lessons and add a few more very handy items to our safety gear and spares list. I will share below the new spare items we have added to the list this year as a result of our experiences in sailing from Florida to France with the esteemed Captain Yannick on his 46’ catamaran and mine and Phillip’s longest-ever five-day offshore passage to Cuba, both in 2016. And, since our Holiday Book Giveaway #3 will be a signed copy of my third sailing book, None Such Like It (of the tale of our Amateur-Kretschmer-like experience delivering Mitch’s Nonsuch across the Gulf of Mexico), I’ve included a fun excerpt from the book below from our efforts to fully prepare Mitch’s boat to safely handle an offshore passage. Enjoy and good luck on the trivia!
None Such Like It, Chapter Two: DENIAL
Having gone through the process of trying to outfit a new-to-us boat for a pretty extensive offshore passage on the Niagara, Phillip and I knew, if we were going to be making this trip with Mitch, that that we needed to start making lists early. It’s amazing the things you remember to bring the second time around. Before Mitch even went down to Ft. Myers, Phillip and I jotted down critical safety equipment, spare parts and other items that would be needed for the boat and crew to safely make the passage from Ft. Myers to Pensacola so Mitch could verify whether any of the items were already on the boat while he was there for the survey/sea trial. We sent Mitch with our rudimentary checklist and told him to inventory the items, note what was missing and what might need to be replaced, replenished or re-certified before we headed offshore in the Nonsuch.
LIST FOR MITCH
The house batteries─What’s the situation?
How big of a bank?
Starting battery and house? 2 bank?
Charged by the alternator?
Power cord, battery charger, etc.?
Is there an autopilot?
What safety gear does the boat have?
Check expiration dates on all of those
First aid kit
Emergency underwater epoxy kit
Does the boat have a 12 volt (cigarette lighter) charger?
What spares are on board?
What fluids are on board?
Is there a repair kit for the sail?
Cotter pins, etc.
Make sure the head functions
Does the boat have a life raft?
Do all sea cocks function just fine?
How many and where─identify and try all
Dock lines, fenders, etc.?
Make a list of what tools are on board
Make a list of galley supplies on board dishes-wise─pots, pans, silverware, etc.
What’s the bilge pump situation?
How many bilge pumps?
Are they wired together or separately?
Check for manual bilge pumps─how many?
Check for emergency tiller, make sure it works
Make sure there’s wooden plugs, nerf balls, whatever for plugging holes
How many and expiration date
Smoke alarms, CO2?
How many and where?
Radio and VHF─check them
Reef the sails during the sea trial─learn the procedure
While Mitch really was taking it all like a champ, checking and double-checking the list with us, I knew he was having trouble understanding the real need for some of these things.
“Nerf balls,” Mitch screeched at me over the phone one day while he was getting ready to make the trip down to Ft. Myers, and I figured that was a reasonable question if he didn’t know that that magically-squishy material, an accidental invention by NASA I’m sure, is wickedly effective at stopping leaks. But, figuring when it comes to Mitch is where I went wrong. Turns out he knew they could be used to stop leaks, he just didn’t expect any leaks.
“Yeah, Mitch. You can use them to plug a leak.”
A moment of silence and then: “But, isn’t that what the sea-cocks are for?” Mitch asked, sincerely curious. “Water starts to come in, you just close them, right? That’s what they do?”
I was glad he couldn’t see my face because I could not hide a smile. That’s when I knew it. He had reached stage two. Mitch was knee-deep in denial. I knew because I had been there. When Phillip and I were looking at our Niagara for the first time, I kept looking around the interior for a good bulkhead wall to mount a television on. Yes, a television. When I finally showed Phillip the “perfect place” I had found for it—the wall between the saloon and our separate shower stall—I only found one slight hold-up.
“We’ll just need to take this lantern out,” I told Phillip, all Bambi-like.
“We’ll need the lantern,” Phillip told me flatly. When my blank stare back didn’t convey understanding, he tried another route. “How are you going to power the T.V.?” which was met by an even blanker stare (if that’s possible). Then Phillip tried to walk me out of my denial, into the land of the knowing. “Honey, we have to run wires and power it. We need the lantern for light and warmth. I don’t think I want a T.V. on the boat.”
It turned out he didn’t. Neither did I when I finally understood what we were truly buying and outfitting—a completely self-sufficient mobile home where we had to engineer a way to generate every bit of light, power, refrigeration and energy needed. I’ll be honest, it baffled me when I first learned the two-prong AC outlets on the boat simply would not work when you’re on anchor. They’re such a tease! I thought they would always magically have power at any and all times, just like they do on land. In Innocent Annie Land, boats out on the blue are still connected to the grid.
I was up to my eyeballs in denial. Like me, Mitch was now refusing to believe he had just bought a complete mobile home that sat, at all times, half-dunked in water with the ability to sink.
“You’ll want the nerf balls, Mitch, trust me. The sea cocks don’t always work.”
But that didn’t really frighten him either. I truly believe Mitch felt he had purchased the only boat in the world upon which sea-cocks never seized up, because he maintained his stance, renouncing all things possible.
“Well, what about the spares? How many of those impellers and fuel filters and zinc things do I really need?”
“However many make you feel comfortable,” I told him, thinking a little fear and weight on his shoulders might help give him a little bit of a reality check. Pssh! He thrust it off like a rain-soaked jacket.
“Oh, nothing’s gonna break twice.”
After a while I kind of admired Mitch’s euphoric “can do” attitude—as in “my boat can do anything.” It was actually nice to not have the significant worry and responsibility of making the trip on our own boat. For Phillip and me, the fact that we were embarking on this journey on Mitch’s boat made it less stressful and more pure fun. It was also exciting for us to think back through that mental process of rigging out a boat for the first time on an offshore passage. It’s a little frightening, a little exhilarating, certainly a fun prospect for adventure. I remembered when Phillip and I wrapped up our own survey/sea-trial and reached that point where it was really happening, we were really about to buy a boat and we were really about to sail her out into the Gulf of Mexico.
Wow, that photo was taken April 12, 2013, the first day Phillip and I ever sailed on our boat. Can you believe that? Time doesn’t just fly, she soars! Because she does, it makes me even more grateful to know we spend most of our days on the boat, on the water, in the sunshine, soaking it all up, even as it’s soaring by. Phillip and I have been busting our hump this summer and fall getting our boat ready for another offshore adventure this winter and I believe she (and we) are more ready than we’ve ever been. And I also believe that our “ready” benchmark will continue to notch higher and higher with each passage we make because we always seem to face a new situation (in addition to the ones we’ve faced before) that teaches us a lesson and prompts us to add something new to the safety/spares list.
Fuel filters. You can never have enough fuel filters. We changed our primary just last week and are bringing 5 spares! We also changed the oil, transmission fluid and coolant and stocked up on extra fluids.
In addition to all of the safety items we usually carry (EPIRB, hydro-static life vests, jack lines, life raft, handheld VHF, handheld GPS, Delorme, Weems & Plath SOS light, flares, compasses, first aid, not to mention our dozens upon dozens of engine spares (oh heck, here’s a detailed inventory list from our Cuba voyage HERE if you want to see everything), Phillip and I have added the following to the list this year, just … in … case:
A spare raw water pump for the engine: It is our old re-built Sherwood which we replaced this year with a new Johnson one (because the Sherwood often leaked around the two seals that separate the oil side from the water side). After seeing the struggles Yannick faced with his raw water pump on the starboard engine across the Atlantic, we thought a complete spare pump would be a good idea.
A spare alternator for the engine: We recently found the old one our previous owner, Jack, had taken off our Westerbeke 27 when he replaced it with a higher-output one. We had it checked by B&M Starter and Alternator here in Pensacola, who verified it runs great. So, just in case our alternator goes kaput and there is not enough sunshine to allow the solar panels to power our battery bank, we have a spare alternator we can put on the engine to ensure we have continued power for radio transmission and the bilge pumps in case of an emergency. Speaking of bilge pumps …
Two spare bilge pumps: While our boat technically already has four (a 500 gph one in the forward bilge, a 1,000 gph in the center bilge, which sits under our sump box that has a 500 gph pump, as well as our manual bilge pump that is operated from the cockpit), we thought it never hurts to have more. So, we purchased a back-up 500 gph and 1,000 gph to replace the pumps in our forward and center bilge areas if need be.
A spare carburetor for the outboard: Okay, so this isn’t technically a safety item. The dinghy is more of a luxury, but if a failed carburetor would stop us from being able to see and feed the Swimming Pigs, or get to a killer kite-surfing spot, or even just get to shore so we can be served drinks by a chesty bartender who smells like coconut rum, I might consider that an emergency ; ).
Phillip was a grease monkey this week, rebuilding both the raw water pump and the spare carburetor.
Now, since we’re having so much fun talking about spares and packing safely for an offshore voyage, even those where Phillip and I are merely helping to deliver a boat as opposed to sailing on our own, I decided to base our book giveaway trivia this time on a very important spare that we certainly could have used on the Atlantic-crossing. This one is for all my diehard YouTube fans out there.
What was the first and foremost spare Brandon said we should have carried on our Atlantic-crossing on Yannick’s catamaran, a system which did ultimately fail us and forced us to pull in for repairs in the Azores?
When you need one of these, none such like it will do! First follower to answer correctly gets a signed copy of None Such Like It. And … GO! And, if any of you do not know the answer because you haven’t yet seen our two-hour YouTube movie on the Atlantic Crossing, then you’re in for a holiday treat. Pop some corn and call it Movie Night!
Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season. Phillip and I are excited to take you along vicariously on our holiday cruise! ’Tis the season … to go to the Bahamas Mon! Ha!
“Bouncing cement really captures it.” I love that line. Because it does. It just does. “Each time water trapped between the two hulls rumbled, thundered and finally bashed its way out, I had to convince myself that we had not just hit a whale.” So true. And, yes, yes, I know that is just the offshore-on-a-catamaran experience which Phillip and I became very familiar with during our Atlantic crossing last year on Yannick’s prized 46’ Soubise Freydis, Andanza. Island hopping and on the hook, multihulls are a total floating condo, spacious and stable. But, with boats, there are always trade-offs. When Phillip and I announced last year that we would be crossing an ocean on a catamaran, many followers told us that we would “be converted.” I can assure you we were not. There’s just something about monohulls and the way they feel (and heel) under sail that we have fallen in love with. Like the fiesty little French gal we met in the Azores put it: “They dance with the ocean.” Real treat for you here followers! Many of you have often asked me and Phillip our opinion on monohulls versus multihulls. Now you can read our thoughts on the matter in my latest article in SAIL Magazine. Many thanks to Peter Nielsen and the hardworking crew at SAIL for publishing another article of mine. It means a great deal! Go grab a copy and let us know your own thoughts on mono versus multi in a comment below. Enjoy!
Man … I look a little TOO excited! But, it is exciting! Another article penned by Yours Truly, Author Annie, in SAIL Magazine, this time their Multihull Sailor edition, covering our Atlantic-crossing in 2016 on the esteemed Captain Yannick’s 46′ Freydis. I had a lot of fun with this one from start (catchy title, no? ; ) to finish, tying together a memorable moment from each of our thirty days at sea across the Atlantic Ocean. I have included the complete text from the article below so you can read at your leisure, but definitely pick up a copy when you get a chance and see what a great job the folks at SAIL Magazine did with the photos and eight-page layout.
Phillip and I also had a great time making and sending Captain Yannick a fun video letting him know about the article (it was a total surprise) and how it appears he’s right up there with the Vagabonds now. Mr. Big Time!
There she goes, crossing the Atlantic Ocean herself, off to Nice, France to find her way into Yannick’s hands. Go, little magazine. Go! Let us know when she arrives Yannick!
Without further adieu … I give you:
FIRST TIME WITH A FRENCHMAN:
A Virgin Crew Sails a Catamaran from Florida to France
Dolphins and diesel fumes. A blood orange moon rising on starboard as the muffler melts on port. A taut, glowing veil before a sun that will shine down later on its wet, shredded remains. We were thirty days at sea. A virgin ocean-crossing crew aboard a French-built multi-hulled rocket, bashing our way non-stop from Florida to France. That was the plan anyway, before the tide came in. The actual unscripted voyage, however, with all of its detours and unexpected deviations, proved infinitely more memorable than our foolish man-made scheme as daily it was feats and failures and one of the most exciting, exasperating experiences of our lives.
In the Days Before One: Fate has twisted plans for our French Captain. With both retirement as a fighter pilot in the French Navy and his family’s next chapter as live-aboard cruisers on the horizon, Yannick has one solitary goal in mind: sail his 2005 46’ Soubise Freydis single-handed, non-stop from Pensacola, Florida home to Roscoff, France. Fate, laughing, devastates his boat with a lightning strike that suffers Yannick six costly months at the yard but also an impressive re-fit and a loyal, motley bunch to serve as his Atlantic-crossing crew.
Crew emerges first in the form of Johnny, a weathered sailor and diesel engine mechanic who helps Yannick repair his engines and who—at 71, still surprisingly healthy and with bucket in hand—seeks to scratch “cross the ocean” off his list. My boyfriend, Phillip, and I—slugging away on a devastating re-fit of our own Niagara 35 at the yard—catch wind the Frenchman on the freaky-looking cat is taking on crew and shamelessly ask for passage. Having crossed only in cavernous carrier ships to remote, scorned places in his youth as a U.S. Marine, Phillip is chasing his lifelong dream to cross the pond in a small boat. A tomboy turned lawyer turned “this sucks, I quit” vagabond so I can seize the very type of opportunity a trans-at affords, I sign on for fist-clenching adventure and blue water experience. Two weeks from cast-off, the newly-formed crew scrambles to replace blown windows, step the mast, test new sails and pack the cat with thirty days’ worth of food, safety gear and supplies in the sweltering Florida May heat.
Day One: Heat pours out of the starboard engine locker as Yannick lifts the lid two hours out of the Pensacola Pass, with the high temp alarm still ringing in the crew’s ears. Boiling the extracted thermostat reveals impaired coolant flow and installation of a new one affords us a slightly high, but steady temp on the Lombardini albeit with a “lot of piss,” I note. The Captain finds it comforting enough to keep motoring across the glassy Gulf and amusing that the first language I start to pick up on is Diesel, not French.
Day Two: “It’s French for ‘Cheers,’” Yannick tells us as the crew “Santés” over an immaculate steak dinner in the cockpit. The motoring, while monotonous, affords us beautiful satin sunsets in the cockpit and leisurely time for quid pro quo French-English lessons. “Well how should I say it?” Yannick asks when I snort at his post-dinner inquiry of “How are you going to clean your dirty body?” Chuckling, I reply, “Would you like to take a shower?”
Day Three: Showers of glitter trail behind them as they zip and glide through the dark waters below the bow. Yannick and I forge a lifelong memory during a midnight shift change when we are mesmerized by a pod of dolphins slicing through phosphorescence. Forty-six feet away from the chugging engine on starboard, their breathy puffs and water lapping on the hull are the only things we can hear.
Day Four: “Did you hear an oil alarm?” Johnny asks, raising his head and greasy hands out of the starboard engine locker, a silk sheet of saltwater behind him, trying to figure out why, at 5:06 a.m., the starboard engine shut down on its own. Replacing a clogged fuel filter proves an easy engine fix. Making drinkable water with a faulty water-maker proves not and starts the slow parade of minor equipment failures and boiling of the Captain’s blood.
Day Five: Blood rains down from the fighting tuna on his hook as Phillip thunders “Fish on!” to the crew. Soon, boat sushi is bouncing in our bellies during a swift, sweaty two-hour stop in Key West for fuel, ice, water, “And a not so crappy can opener!” Yannick shouts, orchestrating our pillage from the boat as the crew shoots into the town like darts.
Day Six: Rain darts into Yannick’s eyes at the mast while he directs the crew’s first attempt reefing as a squall off the tip of Florida brings winds over thirty on the port beam. A merely intense but brief storm proves fortuitous as the crew learns their many mere discussions about safe practices did not serve them near as well as drills would have. The afternoon is spent doing reefing drills where the Captain has made separate reefing instructions for each crew member and taped them up at his/her designated post.
Day Seven: “Post A connects to Post B,” Yannick reads from yet another manual. I watch in half-admiration, half-exhaustion as the Captain flutters from one boat project to the next, cleaning out the elbow of the starboard engine exhaust, tapping new holes in the water pump, even sawing a chunk out of our only cutting board to make a mount for the windex that allows it to account for the fancy rotating mast on the Freydis. “That’s fine,” our head chef, Phillip, grunts from the galley. “If you use it all, I’ll just cut on the counters.”
Day Eight: Cans jump on the counters. Teeth jar in mouths. The bashing of the water on the hulls of the catamaran is like a nervous system message so strong it bypasses your brain. Muscles flinch without instruction. The crew grows accustomed but never comfortable with it. When two hundred nautical miles are slaughtered in a day, we know: with the bashing comes bumpy but beneficial speed.
Day Nine: “It is used, primarily, for speed,” Yannick says, trying simultaneously to learn and teach the crew the purpose of his rotating mast, one with so much windage it can be trimmed like a sail. Strictly monohull sailors, the crew stares at him dumbly, not nearly as intrigued by the ability to use the mast as a fourth reef as the initial inquiry that started this free physics lesson: With a rotating mast, what happens if you overtighten the shrouds?
Day Ten: The shrouds continue their murderous shudder with each crash of the boat. As non-catamaran sailors, the crew knows not how tight the shrouds on a Freydis should be but, as mere sailors, they know they should not be so loose as to vibrate and clang to their death with each romp of the boat through the Atlantic. The Captain sends satellite messages to professionals, checks hourly the chain plate on the port side and tears through texts on rig tuning.
Day Eleven: “Tuning must be done very slowly,” Johnny and I chuckle to ourselves, cotter pins in our teeth, wrenches in trembling hands, as we tighten the shuddering shrouds on each side the following morning and wonder how anyone could possibly do this quickly. Coupling this “slowly” advice from a rigger back home with a turnbuckle thread measurement from the previous owner, Yannick supervises the rig tuning and we slowly ease the shuddering of the rig underway.
Day Twelve: While underway on a cat, it is a myth you do not have to stow anything. Bowls slosh off counters. Wine glasses topple (but are quickly refilled) as the crew members “Cheers!” a record 243 nautical-mile day and peak boat speed of 19.5 knots. Steady winds of twenty-three and eight to ten-foot rolling seas entrance as the catamaran climbs and skids down each magnificent wave.
Day Thirteen: “Magnificent,” Yannick sneers as he eyes the melted end of the muffler Johnny has extracted off the port engine at dawn. Phillip and I now know we were wrong in thinking the eased winds and smooth motoring the night before had been a gift as we now cough up plastic melted fumes while clambering out from our port berth. Undeterred, Yannick earns his “MacGyver certificate” for the trip by reassembling the melted exit point of the muffler with the PVC tiller extender arm for his outboard, a blow torch and some hose clamps.
Day Fourteen: Hands clamp and tug the head of the spinnaker as she billows ethereal and enormous in the water behind the starboard transom. Her halyard cinched only in the winch but not clutched at the mast allows the sinister waters of the Atlantic to suck her down between the hulls and drag her all the way back to the stern. Yannick, in a sacrificial attempt to salvage both the sail and the rudder on starboard, emerges blood-spackled, dripping on its remains splayed out on the trampoline, wet, twinkling and tattered.
Day Fifteen: “Tattered glittery skirts,” I hear Yannick telling Phillip as he hunts for a hard drive. Mourning the loss of our spinnaker, Yannick claims, will be eased by a video he and the other wearisome pilots used to watch during long hours on the carrier ship. It is a four-hour rendering of the glittered, scantily-clad, cosmetically-enhanced women who populate the neon-lit night clubs of Ibiza, and he is right. We find ourselves immensely comforted by thumping pink panties.
Day Sixteen: “They’re my Paris panties,” I explain as Yannick eyes a pair of rather fifth-grade looking underwear with little Eiffel Towers and “Bonjour’s” on the lifelines. “I bought them special for the trip,” I say with a smile as Laundry Day proves special bonding time for the crew and reminds us all how truly few blue-water days we have left.
Day Seventeen: Left, only left. It freezes the wheel only when Yannick turns left. The ten-year old electronic auto-pilot on the cat starts to show its first signs of wear when it refuses to disengage when de-powered and allows steering only to the right in what the Captain dubs “ratchet-fashion.”
Day Eighteen: “Hand me a ratchet.” Yannick’s requests come muffled from the starboard engine locker as the auto-pilot’s housing refuses him any attempt for disassembly or repair underway. Auto-Turn-Notto will die. Soon. All we can do is watch and listen as each mechanical movement of the wheel is followed by a grind and squeal.
Day Nineteen: “Whee!” I can’t help it. Gleeful squeals leak out of me at the top of each wave. The boat moves underneath me like a stallion galloping at speeds equal to the 22-knot winds that hold during my entire night shift. But when a wave kicks the the stern out and shoves us almost ninety degrees off our heading, the thought that it might soon fall on me to right us, I stop squealing and decide to get my bearings.
Day Twenty: Bearings and bolt threads that were once intact and operating in the cavity of the auto-pilot now pour out into a pile of metal dust on the salon table. “R.I.P. Auto” reads the log book as I head up to hold my first night shift hand-steering. “Dress warm. Wear gloves,” Phillip warns.
Day Twenty-One: Warning him we “should not do it” would have been better, but the crew knee-jerks initially and simply tells the Captain we “can do it” as he struggles to decide whether to hand-steer the remaining eight or nine days to France versus stopping in two days when we reach the Azores to repair the auto-pilot. A stern discussion between the fighter pilot and the Marine results in a wise decision to stop our non-stop voyage mid-Atlantic.
Day Twenty-Two: “Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services,” she answers over the sat phone as the crew books a slip at Horta Marina and schedules auto-pilot repairs with MAYS fifteen hours out from the Azores. Morale soars as we see whales and our first sighting of land in sixteen days and immediately tanks when bad injectors on the starboard engine cause it to shut down an hour out from port.
Day Twenty-Three: I’m on port with the big “boat-saver” fender as we shove off from the hundreds of colorful, weathered boat insignia on the Horta dock. After nine incredible days downing beers at Peter Café Sport, exploring volcanos, and indulging on impossibly fresh cheese and beef from the very cows chewing cud and watching you eat from the hillside, we leave the Azores under port engine alone but steer our catamaran north to France by daintily clicking buttons on a screen.
Day Twenty-Four: The screen lights our faces as the crew indulges in book after book, movie after movie, matinees, even double features in beautiful fifteen knot winds on the stern. Crossing an ocean with a functioning auto-pilot makes even devil’s work too much for our idle hands.
Day Twenty-Five: My hands are tied. Yannick has outright busted me. “Oh, it’s a time change day,” he says in a mocking high-pitched voice. “Oh, we need to conveniently jump forward an hour again during Annie’s shift again,” as he squints his evil French eyes at me. Putain! Time change occurs during Phillip’s shift that day and I take revenge by choosing My Cousin Vinny as the movie that night as it seemed, among our rather impressive 500GB hard-drive of movies, the most … American.
Day Twenty-Six: “Try not to act so American.” Yannick advises us as we approach Roscoff. “No selfies, eat slow, wait for the check, and don’t revert to Spanish when you can’t recall your French” he looks at me. “We know the difference.” Fun, lighthearted discussions about our expected arrival in two days seem to jinx us as the day ends with a rather harrowing hoist of the Captain up his seventy-two foot mast after the main sail came flying down on its own inexplicably around dusk. We suspect the topping lift, inadvertently left taut, may have chafed through the main halyard. This mystery, however, is instantly tabled when the Captain’s descent brings worse news: the rig is compromised. The troubling shuddering of the shrouds earlier in the trip has caused five of the sixteen wires on the starboard shroud to snap just below the swage at the mast. Worried a wind-filled main or worse, change to a starboard tack, could dismast us, the crew decides to remain on a port tack, flying only the genny for the remainder of the now four- to five-day trip. Yannick spends the night poring over rigging textbooks and catamaran specs.
Day Twenty-Seven: Yannick spends the morning documenting potential cracks at the base of the mast and re-tightening the spinnaker halyard we ran to a starboard cleat in case the shroud goes. I find him later standing in silence, his heavy head laid against the bulkhead in his berth. The crew tries to rally le capitaine with the cinematic masterpiece that is Hot Tub Time Machine and succeeds when we settle upon Yannick’s mantra for the trip—“I’m on my waa-ay. Home sweet home!”—blasted at decibels that could be heard from Roscoff, rounding out the movie’s final score.
Day Twenty-Eight: I score no sympathy points from the Captain in my plight as I pass him at 2:00 a.m., flashlight in hand, on my way to the port engine locker. I can’t decide whether I want to prove or disprove my mind’s wild concoction—down in the auditory carnival that is my berth—that the port engine has become submerged, fallen out and left a gaping hole in the hull of the boat. Yannick laughs when I seem vexed at the sight of a completely safe, dry engine and says, “Tonight, I’ve only slept twenty minutes.”
Day Twenty-Nine: Twenty ships surround us in the English Channel. The radar screen that has offered only an empty halo around our boat for weeks is now filled with dozens of vessels. The excitement of the night shift is bittersweet as we all know it is our last on this trip. In an amazing show of endurance and inspiration, the boat and Captain, equally tired and compromised, carry on, both fighting their way to France.
Day Thirty: Fighter pilots scream by in a heroic show of unity seeing their former comrade coming home by way of sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean. Yannick waves heartily at them from the bow, his smile so big I can see it from the stern. A small crowd cheers as the crew and boat see it, the finish line, the final feat in sight as we prepare to dock the gallant Freydis in Roscoff. Yannick’s son’s is the first voice we hear in France as his small, powerful pipes rip through the air: “Bonjour Papa!”
Ahoy crew! A real treat for you here. An interview with our very own Captain Yannick from our Atlantic-crossing on a 46′ catamaran in June of 2016. After all of the photos, stories, blog posts, even a two-hour movie that I have produced talking about our ocean-crossing, Yannick said he needed to “set the record straight.” Ha! He was really happy to do this interview, though, as it was an incredible adventure, such a learning process and an eye-opening experience, it’s definitely worth talking about. Yannick is also a very interesting, multifaceted guy with a lot of great insight and perspective and he shares a lot in this discussion about his boat-shopping process, recovering from the lightning strike and his thoughts and preparation for an ocean-crossing. Thank Jeffrey Wetting with Shooting the Breeze Podcast for putting this together by leaving him a review on iTunes. I hope you enjoy the interview.
Many thanks to Yannick again for letting Phillip and I and the infamous Johnny Walker join him for a life-changing, challenging, fulfilling voyage across the ocean. It brought back many memories hearing his French accent talking about our trip. We miss you Yannick!
Hey hey HaveWind followers! A real treat for you here. Crazy Annie, at it again. I get so excited talking about our wicked sail to Cuba I can hear myself running out of breath. It just bursts out of me. This is my first podcast interview post-Cuba, talking about our sail across the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream to Cuba as well as the repair process we went through at the shipyard to be able to make that voyage and some discussion of our Atlantic-crossing in 2016. I think I talked Jeffrey into interviewing Yannick. I know you’ll be excited to hear from our faithful French captain! I hope you enjoy this conversation. Thank Jeffrey Wetting with Shooting the Breeze Sailing Podcast for putting this together!
And cracks me up in the photo Jeffrey chose of me for his website. Looks like there’s a crew member behind me on Libra puking over the side. Ha ha. While that is not far-fetched when you Sail on Libra, that was Greg Spivey (hello Greg!) just leaning over to film the waterline with his GoPro. Hilarious what it looks like he’s doing though. Way to go Jeffrey! : )
Friends, followers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from HaveWindWillTravel! A real treat for you here, available for the first time to my entire audience: my two-hour movie from our trans-Atlantic. For those of you who are new, Phillip and I had the good fortune to be invited as part of a four-member crew to cross the Atlantic, sailing from Florida to France, this past June on a 46’ catamaran and I created my first full-length film documenting our journey. I thought it would be a great way to kick off Season Five of our YouTube channel which will be all about our TRAVELs, with our biggest voyage of 2016!
When Captain Yannick first met me (which was around the same time he agreed to let me make this tremendous voyage with him, brave guy), he had no idea who I was really, the kind of videos I made, my audience or how I might portray him and his family on film and, because he has plans to produce video documentaries of his own someday, he initially asked that I not share the movie publicly on YouTube. Now, after having watched many of my videos, particularly the movie itself, and with a better understanding of the purpose of my platform (to help share the realities and rewards of a cruising lifestyle) Yannick graciously granted my renewed request to let me share it with my entire audience, for free on YouTube.
So, kick back, make some hot cocoa, round up the last of the Christmas treats and enjoy the show while Phillip and I explore the vast historic castles, churches and smoky cigar holes in Cuba and work to get videos to you all from this incredible adventure as well as my sail to Isla Mujeres, Mexico this past November and our upcoming sail to Miami in February for the Miami Boat Show (we hope to see some of you there!). Thank Captain Yannick for inviting Phillip and I on this incredible voyage and letting me share the experience with you: a crew of four on a 46’ foot catamaran, thirty days at sea across the Atlantic Ocean. The perfect way to kick-off HaveWindWillTravel 2017!