Transatlantic | Distant Shores Sailing Newsletters

Transatlantic to Saint Lucia with ARC+

Wow! 11 days (and a few hours) to cross the Atlantic! The winds were absolutely perfect with no gusts higher than 35 knots - almost all was 15-25 knots from ENE
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Main boom well out for downwind sailing!
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Our downwind rig with bow jibs flying - the windward one set on our Selden downwind pole…
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Main and Jib to port side and genoa poled out to starboard.
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Our sailing rig for almost all of this trip. Main on one side with a preventer, genoa on the other side on the pole, and the jib as well filling in on the same side as the genoa. More on this rig in an upcoming technical blog!
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A bright moon for much of the passage. Easy to sail and see the sails we always put the bimini back to enjoy the night skies.
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Sheryl prepared amazing meals!
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Lots of Sargasso Weed. We do not remember seeing so much weed on previous trips south like this. It fouled our rudders and our propeller a few times. We had to turn around and drift backwards a few meters to clear them.
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Our longtime Maltese friend Anthony came along to experience the transatlantic sail and "enjoyed every minute"! Our crew was excellent!!
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Passage to Azores Part 2 - Arriving

By Paul Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.

Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit (see IridiumGO tracker below)… This is the second part of the trip…

Click Here for Part 1

May 25 - Wind is up to 7 knots wow! Will these calms ever end ?? Sailing at 4knots close hauled again. Smooth seas grey skies. All well on board
May 26 - Squalls come through with wind up to 20 then back to 10-15 closehauled. Sailing well with 971 miles to Flores
May 26 - Sailing North! It's noticeably colder now and we're wearing fleece for the first time in years! Sailing close-hauled wind is 15 knots - I start nightwatch. Good night everyone!
May 27 - Closehauled! Lucky we are good at closehauled! Wind is ESE at 10 knots so we are hard on the wind still not pointing the Azores. Today will be a tweaking day trying to maximize the miles made good with this wind. I am nervous to check the forecast since I think we may have more calms!!
May 28 - Sheryl takes over the watch at 0300. Sailing closehauled at 4.5 knots 2 other sailboats around on AIS I'm off to bed
May 28 - Dolphins! Over 100 of the exuberant Common Atlantic Dolphin come by at breakfast. 10-15 play at the now! Lovely!!
Staying in touch!! We're testing the IridiumGo unit on this passage and it has been brilliant! We use sat email (no attachments) upload photos, tweet directly. Dawn in our office posts the photos to FBook! Cool #‎IridiumGO!
Heading north through Azores high means perfect calm seas for a proper dinner!
May 28 - Dinner together at the table!
Thanks to friends Dave and Janice on catamaran "Livin Life" who gave us some mahi mahi they had caught!!
May 29 - Moon set in the Azores high. Wind 2 knot motorsailing north perfect nightwatch. We sailors are all so lucky to see our beautiful planet!
May 31 - My wonderful first mate makes another great dinner at sea. We're sailing in light winds so it's nice and level for cooking otherwise I usually reef or feather the main to stand the boat up to make cooking easier
Downwind rig with genoa sheet run aft. It's a bit rolly downwind so we have the keel down to steady us. Nights are cooler now that we are so far north. Fleece and perhaps a hat
Sunrise on the Atlantic. Have picked up a NW wind Force 4 & are sailing wing & wing into the sun. Flores, Azores, 470nm to the east...
Enjoying the sunshine on my 1100-1400 watch. Breeze up. Sailing wing & wing at 6.5kts. #‎Flores, #‎Azores, 440nm to go. Sailing in company with S/V Indiana, a 39' catamaran that we caught up to last night. They left Puerto Rico on May 11. Track our position at
Atlantic crossings aren't all like this wow a proper sit down Sunday meal with roast duck (tinned) veg and mashed potatoes! The Azores high has given us such settled conditions
Evening watch as the full moon comes up. We are sliding downwind at 5-6 knots wing and wing with just 250 miles to Flores! Good night all!
Pouring rain still brings no more wind! True wind 1-2 knots!! So we motor a bit more. Just 172 miles to go. Can almost taste that dinner ashore.
June 2 - Practicing my Portuguese. 130 miles to go to #‎Flores, #‎Azores! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking
Auto steering (as usual) we take a break at the bow while filming dolphins! We got some great shots!! Naturally this will be in Season 10 of Distant Shores come sail with us on video as well!!
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105 miles from Flores in the Azores! All going well, this will be our last night at sea on this passage. And it's a gorgeous night! Big moon rising as we sail under main & genoa in light west winds. Just spoke to the Dutch sailboat "White Witch in Blue" who I saw on AIS was 9 miles ahead of us. They were anchored beside us in St. Maarten in early May, then sailed to Bermuda with several other Dutch yachts before making the crossing. They left Bermuda 15 days ago. We'll all meet for a drink in Lajes, Flores, tomorrow! #‎transatDS #‎passagemaking #‎sailingadventure
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38 miles to go!!! 8am and we are on the chart with Flores. Sailing 7 knots but can't see the island yet... Who will "get" the "land ho"? #‎transatDS #‎raymarine #‎navionics
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June 3 - Calamari anyone?? At least 2 came onboard last night. Glad I didn't get hit by that!! 20 miles to go!
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First view of land!! 13 miles from the south end of Flores ETA 1500 UTC

Arrived June 3 at 3pm local time - almost exactly 17 days…

We have arrived! We're in the Azores after 17 full days at sea! Distant Shores II is safely tied up in the new marina in Lajes and we have had a good walk to get our land legs back! We'll sleep well tonight and start exploring the island tomorrow. Thanks everyone for all your kind comments and for sharing in our adventures. More to come!

Passage to Azores Part 1 - Week 1

By Sheryl Shard, copyright 2015. All rights reserved.
Here is a summary of the trip with the pix we put up on Facebook using the IridiumGO unit… This is the first part of the trip… Click Here for Part 2

May 17 - Departure
We leave St Martin with the 1030 bridge out of the lagoon. This whole area for hundreds of miles has seen higher than average amounts of Sargasso Weed in the last few months and we try to divert around these house sized floating islands of the orange weed. When it gets caught in our rudders/keel and prop keg we are slowed quite a bit. We reverse and try to clear it every few hours but it is impossible to dodge in the dark. Nice sailing for the first day.
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Caribbean breezes take us north. Wind is not too strong and seas not very large so getting our “sea legs” seems easier than it would have if winds were stronger.
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We are testing an Iridium Go unit to get email, upload photos and tweets, as well as to access Predictwind and get routing advice and Gribs.
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Every morning we have a few flying fish onboard. Sometimes 5-6. They only come on board at night when they can’t see and make the mistake of hitting us in the dark. The first night a large one lands in the cockpit flapping wildly around until I manage to grab his slippery muscular body and toss him overboard.
Passage Sun-Thurs -flyingfish
May 21 - we put in our 4 spare jugs of diesel.
#‎autoprop testing. We are motoring in a "zero wind puddle" and want to extend our range as much as possible. The autoprop adjusts it's pitch so hopefully we will make more miles at low revs than a conventional prop. We have been making 5.6 at just 1600rpm in a flat calm.
May 21 - Wind is just 2-3 knots seagulls around all day. Mainly shearwaters plus tiny British Petrels and flying fish. Good night
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May 22 - Sea legs and a calm night mean we can have an amazing dinner! Sheryl makes an excellent flank steak with baked potato and green beans. We even get a small glass of red wine Bon a petit wherever you are!
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#‎Sunrise on the Atlantic. Another day of calm weather on Day 6 of our #‎offshorepassage to #‎FloresAzores from the #‎Caribbean
Sailing in the rain. There is a little more wind in the rain shower passing now so we can sail.
We are now one third of the way to the Azores so might expect 10 more days at sea. Fair winds everyone

Sheryl makes dinner as we get ready for nightwatch. Sailing fast closehauled we have reefed the main to slow up a little for the night so we are going 8.2 instead of 9 knots. I slow us to 7 to stand the boat up while making dinner. More comfortable for my wonderful galley chef!
May 23 - Close reaching 7knots main and Genoa. Sher is making bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast plus cappuccino. All well onboard
May 23 - Morning stroll today's crop of flying fish plus there was also a squid who squirted ink all over deck and dinghy but managed to escape (we hope)
May 24 - Wind is 3 knots on the nose so we motor on a gorgeous sapphire sea. Just saw our first Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish. 1300 miles to go.
Omg- 3kt wind again! ESE breeze motor sailing main and jib weather a bit cooler as we are out of the tropics now nearly half way to Flores
What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition. Will try to post more shots of other angles. What is this?? Steel tank floating looks like part of a ship. It hasn't been floating long judging by minimal growth in it and good condition.
May 24 - That she blows!! In the middle of 3-4 sperm whales. Easy to see in calm conditions. Smaller juvenile swims towards us to take a look. He is perhaps 30-35 feet long (full grown are over 50)
Wind is up to 6-8 knots so we are sailing main and jib 32deg apparent at 4.6 knots. Unfortunately the wind is directly from Azores pretty evening. We had another visit from a pod of sperm whales…
Continued Here

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Martinique - South and East Coasts

Hello Everyone!
IMG_8693 storm
We've had a rather exciting time during the last few days in Martinique as Tropical Storm Chantal blew through the islands on Tuesday! We have just untangled the boat from the mangroves where we had tied ourselves onto the mangrove roots in a spiderweb of lines and anchors to protect the boat from the 50+ kn winds. Paul has written a few detailed reports in his Tech Blog about how we set up the boat for the storm and how we fared as Chantal vented her fury, so I refer you to those for the Tropical Storm update:
Tropical Storm Arrives
Securing in a Mangrove
Tropical Storm Chantal is coming

My newsletter is about our cruising adventures preceding the storm as we sailed to some lovely places on the the south and east coasts of Martinique.
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Anchored off the seaside village of Ste. Anne. Photo by Sheryl Shard

Ste. Anne & Marin
After sailing down the west coast of Martinique (see previous newsletter) we arrived at the south coast at the seaside town of Ste. Anne.

There is an enormous anchorage here which is the outer harbour of Marin, the yachting capital of the Eastern Caribbean. Every kind of yachting facility and service can be found in Marin and its inner harbour, Cul de Sac Marin, is also huge with over 1,000 boats there.
Better yet, it's a huge hurricane hole with several mangrove creeks running off it so for summer cruising during Hurricane Season it's a nice place to be close to.

Outside in the anchorage off Ste. Anne, which is a quiet little town built around the village church, there are many lovely white sand beaches and the atmosphere is relaxed yet festive with numerous beach bars.

Ste. Anne has lovely clear water for swimming and snorkelling.

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In Ste. Anne there are a couple of small grocery stores, a vegetable and fish market, a post office and bank that both have ATM's, several internet cafes that frequently aren't working, a couple of really good dinghy docks with free garbage disposal at the main pier, and many boutiques and souvenir shops for fun shopping.

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We have been spent many nice days at anchor here while we work on our latest assignments taking breaks to go snorkelling and enjoying beautiful sunsets in the evening.

When we need more supplies or a visit to a chandlery we just raise anchor and in 15 minutes are in Marin where we can fill our water tanks at the fuel dock at the huge marina there and anchor while we run to several good grocery stores, phone centres, etc. When our chores are done it's an easy run back to peaceful Ste. Anne.

When we left the island of St. Maaretn/St Martin in June we felt as if it was the end of the season with yachts migrating back to Europe, north to the US and Canada, and south to Grenada and Trinidad for Hurricane Season. But here in Martinique the season is on-going. Marin has numerous active charter fleets and lots of places around the island to cruise to, local boating families are now on summer holidays, and the French live-aboard cruisers are basing themselves here as they do annual maintenance or get seasonal work to improve their cruising funds. (I will write more about Working While Cruising in a future Life On Board article.)
When we arrived in Ste. Anne on June 20th we were greeted by a group of French sailors that we had shared a dock with in Rabat, Morocco, 6 months previously.
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Jean-Noel saves the day in Rabat, Morocco, by swimming lines across the harbour to the opposite pontoon. This is where we first met and are now having a reunion in Martinique on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - and dealing with another storm together!

We had ridden out a bad storm with them in Rabat (related to weather weirdness following Hurricane Sandy) where Jean-Noel of Julie 1re swam across the harbour to the opposite pontoon to secure our boats from the strong crosswinds that had broken the pontoon in several places.
Our French friends had been sailing together in a casual flotilla of 3 or 4 boats and, while we sailed west from Morocco to the Canary Islands and across to the Caribbean, their route to the Caribbean had been to continue south visiting more ports along the west coast of Morocco before heading offshore to the Cape Verde Islands, then Senegal, then French Guyana from where they jumped off for the islands of the Caribbean. This seems to be the preferred route of French-speaking sailors just as our route is preferred transatlantic route for most English-speaking sailors (with some overlaps in the Cape Verde Islands for example.) Language and cultural familiarity seem to be the determining factors in these choices as well as wind and currents.
Babette and Jean- Noel, French friends aboard SY Julie 1re.

Our friends were making Martinique their base while they worked for the season. Babette, a nurse, had gotten contract work for several months filling in for women on maternity leave, etc. Her husband, Jean-Noel, an engineer, was working at the shipyard in Marin as well as doing yacht deliveries. And Virginie of SY Marjalou was working as a waitress at a local restaurant while her husband David made repairs and modifications to their boat, their fulltime home, for the coming winter sailing season. All were enjoying the break and the sociability of their new jobs in a new community. Working is fun if it is part of an adventure!
Many of our cruising friends with shallow-draft yachts had waxed poetic about cruising the east coast of Martinique that is wild and natural and full of quiet coves and bays that you often have to yourself. But the east coast is the windward side of the island which is open to the ocean swells of the Atlantic. This means you have to wait for calm conditions to sail safely into these anchorages since you enter with seas behind you. Many of them have bars at the entrance which can be dangerous in large seas and because of this you must cruise here fully provisioned with food and water in case the weather turns suddenly and you get trapped here for a few days.
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Courtesy Navionics Mobile

So last Saturday. July 6, we finally got the conditions we were looking for and raised anchor from Ste Anne to spend the weekend in quiet solitude – or so we thought! It was an absolutely beautiful blue-sky day and as we headed around Point Dunkerque to sail past the gorgeous stretches of white sand beaches on the south coast there was a parade of charter yachts, speed boats and jet skies headed the same way! Uh oh. Was everyone taking advantage of the weather and heading for the east coast for the weekend too?!
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However, when we reached Anse des Salines we saw that they all stopped there since there was a huge beach festival going on. The largest raft-up of small power boats we'd every seen, probably more than 50 boats (later we saw that stern moorings had been laid out to make this safe) was strung out in front of the beach with probably another 50 or so yachts anchored further out. Music was blaring, people were dancing on the beach, bubble machines were filling the air with sparkling bubbles and foam, and lots of Martinique rum was being consumed – at 1030 in the morning! What was up? We had to stop and get the story. Turns out it was Mercury Day, the island's biggest beach party sponsored by the company Mercury that manufactures outboard motors.
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After partying for a couple of hours we said goodbye to new friends and continued on around the corner to the east coast.

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What a change in scenery! It was rough and wild exposed to the Atlantic swells.

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But today it was lovely and we had no problem navigating into Baie des Anglais.

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However when we got into the anchorage we discovered it was now a nature reserve and anchoring no longer allowed in certain areas. But moorings had been laid and we joined 2 catamarans there for the night. We always dive on moorings to make sure they are safe and these looked well maintained.

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We had a very pleasant weekend there and the Mercury Day party provided quite a contrast to the peacefulness of Baie des Anglais.

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But then we got word that Tropical Storm Chantal was on the way ETA Tuesday so we headed back to the safety of Marin on Sunday afternoon.

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The weather was still great and we had a lovely downwind sail back to Marin past the south coast beaches and right into the harbour.

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What a weekend!

Warm regards,
Sheryl and Paul
Aboard SV Distant Shores II

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