Atlantic Crossing Complete!

2215Z 07JAN19, Atlantic Crossing, COMPLETE! Anchored in St Anne's Bay, Martinique.

Zephyros' 3 day race against the clock has come to a conclusion. We stuck with it even though there were many, many times when it looked like we would be 1-2 hours too late and then times (sometimes moments later) when we looked like we could just, barely, make it. Resolved it would be what it was, we kept pushing hard to beat the clock. In the end, we made it, anchoring just a few minutes past dusk, still a bit later than desired, but acceptable. We have learned, neither Jon nor I are cut out to be ocean racers continually pushing the boat against a clock, but we really wanted to sleep in our bed the whole night through tonight so it was worth the fight.

3012 nautical miles
21 days, 9.75 hours
5.9 knots average speed over ground
55.2 hours of engine time
180 liters of fuel consumed (approximately)
520 liters of water consumed
2 swims in the Atlantic
2 holidays (Christmas and New Year's)
4 sets of dolphin sightings
1 sea turtle spotted
2 big Mahi-mahi, 2 small, caught, landed and eaten
Blood (think everyone had at least a scratch), sweat (hard work and it is warm!) and tears (everyone but Jon!!!)

Our cell phones aren't picking up any coverage; which is a Google Fi issue. We will get a local SIM in the morning when we check in. We will be online again when we can be. In the meantime, we are safe and sound in Martinique! Champagne has been enjoyed, dinner served, and now we're off to our proper beds to dream of big blue.

Day 21, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 07JAN19, Day 21, Atlantic Crossing. We've completed 3 weeks at sea! The end is in sight and is expected to be just shy of 22 days. Zephyros put up a good effort yesterday but we probably need another hour or two of daylight. The winds were 10-15kts (not the predicted 15-20kts) during the day and 15-20kts through the night. We had some good hours and some slow hours. It was beautiful asymmetric sailing on a warm sunny day and the seas settled a lot so nothing to complain about. We hung with the asymmetric overnight to see what we could get - we succeeded in making a pretty straight course and good average speeds.

Current Position: 14 26.2N 059 49.5W
24 hour progress: 149nm, 6.1kts avg SOG, 2946nm total progress, approximately 66nm to go.

We will kill time to aim for an early morning arrival on Tuesday unless the wind really kicks in soon. We did what we could and had lovely conditions in the past 24 hours.

Not much is getting done on Zephyros any more as we all get excited about landfall. Everyone is looking forward to a restful night's sleep. The boys have not been sleeping well - like Christmas morning anticipation. The champagne is chilled and the phones are ready to start seeking out cell towers. Almost back to a world bigger than a 47ft boat with 2 adults, 2 kids and 2 cats...

Day 20, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 06JAN19, Day 20, Atlantic Crossing. Yesterday we gybed to get a more southerly course. We continued to sail with the main and the jib. The wind was definitely up yesterday and the squalls were bigger. We sailed in 20-25kts and the rain cells lasted longer and had winds in the 30-35kts range. We sailed with 3 reefs in the main and reefed the jib when we were near and in the squalls. We avoided the really bad looking stuff and we have not seen any lightning in these cells. The seas have been big and uncomfortable in the squalls but mostly ok otherwise. The occasional bigger wave pushes us around a bit. Over night the wind fell and we shook out reefs, going down to 1 reef before sunrise. We also ran the engine for 2.5 hours to charge our batteries - with all the seaweed we just can't keep the hydro-generator clear and the wind and intermittent sun aren't keeping us charged enough. At sunrise we brought down the main and put up the asymmetric. We are sailing downwind and the winds are lighter, around 15kts now. The skies are sunny and clear.

Current Position: 15 03.7N 057 24.8W
24 hour progress: 143nm, 6kts avg SOG, 2797nm total progress, approximately 210nm to go.

We are all getting anxious to make landfall. We are calculating and recalculating what we have to do to arrive in daylight. The last 24 hours we have not put up the speed that we needed to ensure a daylight arrival. This morning we put up the asymmetric hoping to see some speed, but so far the winds are just too light. So we will need to aim for arrival at first light on Tuesday. Friends of ours that are there now say there are lots of fish traps and it therefore is not a good idea to arrive in the dark. So very close, but best to wait another day and have champagne for breakfast - at least the refrigerator is currently working so we can put it in to chill!

We have tried all we can try - just a little life lesson in patience, perseverance, doing what you can with what you get, and safety.

Day 19, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 05JAN19, Day 19, Atlantic Crossing. We've continued to sail with the main and the jib. The main has been reefed and unreefed throughout the day from 1-3 reefs depending on the wind speed and direction. During the day the winds were around 20kts, by night time they were back to around 25kts and are holding around there so far today. We continue to make pretty good speed. We are sailing a broad reach and doing our best to point at the southern end of Martinique. We will gybe to get some more southern progress today. The seas have been larger, but comfortable enough. They do come from two directions and get a bit rolly at times.

Current Position: 16 23.3N 055 28.1W
24 hour progress: 148nm, 6.1kts avg SOG, 2654nm total progress, approximately 340nm to go.

It was a pretty uneventful day. The boys were tired and therefore a bit cranky. School work continues and decent progress is being made. Trying to be cautiously optimistic that landfall will be on Monday! Need to squeak out a bit more of a direct course and/or a bit more speed to ensure a daylight arrival though. Everyone is looking forward to the accomplishment of finishing the crossing and stretching our legs on land again. Still hoping to see a whale...

Day 18, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 04JAN19, Day 18, Atlantic Crossing. The wind has continued to be a bit flaky. We have not been getting the consistent ENE trade winds that many others have seen already this year. Just unlucky it seems, but some years they set up earlier than others. We sailed with the main reefed up and the asymmetric for a good bit of the day, yesterday. We were watching for rain and did a good job avoiding the cells, until we got unexpectedly slammed - this time no rain, just cloud cover and very gusty winds. The cells are quite small and only last for 3-5 minutes. Afterwards we talked about putting the asymmetric back up; however, there were some more cells around and sunset was approaching. The forecast suggested that the winds would be up a bit more overnight and bringing the asymmetric in at night has its challenges so we crawled along with a single reef in the main and a full jib in 15kts of wind waiting for it to fill in. After dark, it definitely filled in and we were glad to be on the jib. We put a second reef in the main at watch change over and sailed along nicely with 2 reefs in the main, full jib, 25+kts TWS on a broad reach, making 275T COG. We got hit with another squall in the predawn hours, and saw gusts close to 40kts which is significantly higher than we had been seeing in the earlier cells. That cell and it's surrounding wind pushed us a bit north and the seas have gotten a bit bigger and more rolly. Today looks to be more scattered rain cells and lots of sun.

Current Position: 16 04.4N 052 58.5W
24 hour progress: 140nm, 5.8kts avg SOG, 2507nm total progress, approximately 475nm to go. Finally putting up decent miles again, hoping it holds.

We are fine and trying to take our progress in stride. Everyone is ready to make landfall, and just trying to make the best of the situation we are in. We have simply been unlucky with the wind. We had to go really far south at the start to try to keep the wind, but ended up in a dead zone anyway. The forecast then looked good for the rest of the trip until slowly a big dead zone just grew and grew, and again we found ourselves in it, despite our efforts to get around it. Of course, wishing for more wind is tricky business as we don't want a storm or big seas either. We want "just right" trade winds. We'll keep looking and hoping, and deal with whatever we get dealt in the end.

We have been seeing a lot of seaweed since around the middle of the Atlantic. It is small clusters of weed and in places there is quite a bit of it on the surface of the water. It gets caught on our hydro-generator and Jon clears it multiple times a day so that we keep making power. Since we started sailing again, the other day, we had noticed that our speeds seemed to be slow for the conditions that were seeing. We had started to think that we must be collecting the weed on our centerboard, rudder and dagger boards. This morning in the squall we ended up with the boat nearly stopped in the water for a few minutes (we briefly heaved to) and now our speeds are more as expected for conditions. So perhaps we did shake loose a bunch of weed that was creating significant drag!!! With speeds back up we have a third reef in the main again and are making similar speeds to what we saw with 2 reefs in before.

Day 17, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 03JAN19, Day 17, Atlantic Crossing. Yesterday we started sailing again, but started off rather slowly. Around sunset the wind finally started to really fill back in and we were sailing in 18-20kts of true wind. We put 2 reefs into the main and kept the asymmetric up. Zephyros likes to sail this way with winds in this range and broad reaching. She stays a bit flatter and doesn't seem to lose much, if any, speed with the reefed main. Just before sunrise we took down the asymmetric due to some larger gusts and an impending rain shower. Time to put it back up now.

Current Position: 15 55.2N 050 37.2W
24 hour progress: 123nm, 5.1kts avg SOG, 2367nm total progress, approximately 610nm to go.

It was a bit of a quiet day. The boys played imaginary games for a good part of the day. It is fascinating to listen to their discussions, what they come up with, and how they are processing their experiences. Jon and I had good naps and read. We all just enjoyed having the motor off, the calm seas and quiet, slow progress. The seas will start to pick up today with the wind's return.

Day 16, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 02JAN19, Day 16, Atlantic Crossing. Yesterday we had very little wind and we motored all day. We are hoping that we can be back to sailing today though it is a slow start. Around 1030Z we secured the engine (ran for 35.4 hours this round) and are hopeful that it can stay off for awhile. The weather suggests we should get out of this dead wind zone at some point today. On the plus side, we make ok progress on the motor, especially compared to 3-4kts trying to sail in 8-10kts of wind. We are very happy we changed the prop cassette and got the bottom cleaned before crossing as our speed at reduced rpms is much improved.

Current Position: 15 42.3N 048 32.7W
24 hour progress: 126nm, 5.25kts avg SOG, 2244nm total progress, approximately 725nm to go.

The negative of the day was needing to run on the engine. Otherwise is was a great day ringing in the New Year. We had two excellent fish meals and still have some mahi-mahi left. The weather was warm - 87F (30C) with a water temp of 75F (25C). By the afternoon, we were all quite warm and we decided to turn off the engine for a bit to ring in the New Year with a "polar plunge". At 75F this was a plunge that even Jon, our warm water swimmer, was happy to complete. Atlantic Ocean, New Year's Day, skinny dipping checked off the bucket list for the human crew!!! The cats weren't interested it seems.

The boys got Jon to play monopoly with them again and I made a pumpkin pie. So all the kid's baking requests and related "passage bingo" squares for the crossing have been completed (muffins, cookies and pie)! Other highlights of the day included dolphins playing at our bow and seeing our first sailboat in around 2 weeks. We chatted with them on the radio for a few minutes and wished them a Happy New Year.

All is well. The cats have been active in the calm seas and motoring, because in warm weather you definitely need lap cats!

Day 15, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 01JAN19, Day 15, Atlantic Crossing. Happy New Year! Things continue to be a mixed bag. Yesterday we had the asymmetric up and got slammed by high winds in a cell, pulled her down in the rain and then immediately it was around 10kts of wind again. Because there were more patches of rain around, we sailed with the jib and main, mostly broad reaching. By the evening, winds were still well under 10kts and we decided to motor for a bit to find the wind again. So far we are still looking and the weather reports now suggest it will be 2 days before we find it again. We really don't want to motor for 2-3 days, but we can if we need to.

Current Position: 15 50.2N 046 23.4W
24 hour progress: 125nm, 5.2kts avg SOG, 2118nm total progress, approximately 850nm to go.

Other than the slow speeds and then the drone of the engine, we had a pretty good day. Jon got the refrigerator working again (at least for now). We caught a huge mahi-mahi, 49in! There was a sushi lunch and a nice fish dinner. Today will be poke for lunch and fish tacos for dinner. There may even still be fish left after all that! There was also popcorn and a bunch of movies. The boys powered through to midnight (but were up early again) while Jon and I made our watch rotations.

All the very best wishes for 2019 to everyone!