Friday, December 31, 2010

Still Atlantic

day 12
It's flying fish day! The water is exploding with them, escaping the fearsome dragon boat's prow. I wonder if it's a special flying fish party, or is it normal to see them fill the sky like this? (It WAS a special flying fish day, but you could watch them all the way across the Atlantic, pre-historic mythical dragonflies)
We have a Northerly swell so 'Nav-boy' can't handle the steering and it's all by hand for the last 2 days. Shoulders ache… Sabine, where are those massage hands when I need them?
Day 17
didn't fuss about xmas. I cooked a loaf of bread and we had bread and butter for lunch. it was pretty good! Today we have 25-30kn, so not too restful. Had our first squall, decks have the salt washed off. Just lost the beautiful heavy black bucket over the side… Marcel had knotted a fantastic painter for it. Both paring knives and most of our teaspoons are gone as well….
Day 19
two pretty awfull days. wind was down to 20-25 yesterday and down to 10 now, but sea is horribly confused, so we have been rolling terribly. I almost expected to wake up with a broken bone from being thrown around in bed! Mainsail tore a seam last night, despite being so carefully tied and reefed and positioned. We have been unable to make much distance these days as the roll means we can't put up much sail without flogging them to pieces. Spent yesterday trying different sail arrangements and combinations, but nothing worked. Now we are back to just the yankee, rolling and hoping to get back over 4kn. We dream of waking to a calm sea and 10kn or so and we will spinnaker to the finish line! Or even back up to 30 would have us moving..
Day 20
Sunrise and we're still rolling, but… a tropic bird flew by, the first I've ever seen, then came back with some friends to circle us for a while, chatting to each other about Ellida. Marcel has his sewing kit out and sail repairs begin. We are taking turns sewing.. it's a slow job. Rolling is not as bad now, but still can only go 4-5kn. It's a gorgeous day, if we didn't have people waiting for us in Martinique we could more enjoy the salubrious weather.
Late in the afternoon finally have a sea that let's us put up the twin headsails again and we are comfortably cruising in the right direction. No hands! Sunset was scrumptious, trade wind cotton wool clouds… peanut sauce, mahi mahi and potatoes.
Day 21
Marcel pointed out after we had raised the spinnaker that it was the new year! That was the lowest key NYE ever, forgot about it completely. What a contrast with last years at Woodford with Aristotelis. We've had 24 hours of nice running but now a painful day with spinnaker averaging 3.5kn, wind shifting constantly. Back to motoring and we can't even catch a fish for dinner. Last few fish have been one hour of lines in, choose the small one and put the big one back. Andy cooked last night, a tin of tomatoes, a tin of baked beans and a tin of Plumrose cocktail sausages in a saucepan. Well it was a change from fish! Actually it was nice, it had the last of the Canary chillis in it. Dolphins came for the New Year, we haven't seen any since leaving Cape Verde area about 12 days ago, and another tropic bird.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Atlantic

Day 9
Last night caught a long thin toothy fish and a nice fat albacore, so no more fishing for a few days.
What a day… it's a shame to be motoring, there is not a breath of wind, but the sea is glass. Just the long low swells to remind us where we are. You can see all the life when it's like this, turtles, fish breaking. It's a fairy tale when flying fish take off, breaking through the mirror, chasing their reflection away over the crests, scattering jewel drops. Sabine! Where are you!! the songs you could write today… Marcel had a swim with dolphins.
Day 10
For ten years we've been listening to 'Ferro Gaita', music from Cabo Verde, and dreaming of visiting their land. This morning the sun rose and there she was, Santo Antao, just a few hours sail.. but we have people waiting for us in Martinique, so with a lump in the throat and tear in eye we sail on. One more lost dream… perhaps life will give us another chance, another trip around the world?
Middle of the day we are rewarded. A pod of what I confidently identify (can't have too many experts) as False Killer Whales join us for some bow riding. They also do a few acrobatics. Wonderful.
All day I could smell the trades coming… 1kn from the North, then 1.5 from North East, then 2 then in the late afternoon we had 8kn from NE. I've been telling everyone I was not going to try using our spinnaker, but Marcel says it is just another sail, no problem, so once we'd worked out that 'T' didn't stand for top, nor for the French for 'pole', but was an English word for the corner at the bottom and front we were away. What a glorious sight! Motor off and gliding. Marcel also said taking it down is easy, it's just another sail, however he did have quite a sweaty brow after our second and successful effort to get it back on deck. Lucky we took it down in the dark so we couldn't see how frightening 'just another sail' is. Seriously, Marcel is fantastic, handled the whole thing beautifully and we hope to use it again sometime.
We now have our trade winds and did 156 miles on our first day.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Crossing the Atlantic

We are finally away. It's day three, motoring at 5kn. Not much wind, but we have had 24hrs of only sail so far. We are supposed to be heading south for a week to pick up the trade winds, but we have gone a fair way west while keeping our speed up in the light breeze we have. There is a small tuna riding our bow wave all day. He goes up and down both sides of the boat, but shows no interest in a lure! No idea what he is, they look different on the deck… electric blue flashes along the side and tail, and vibrant brick red splodges on his cheek. He got me excited enough to put a line back in. We caught a nice mahi mahi yesterday, so don't need more fish yet, but we don't want to be hungry do we! Other boats are talking on the radio about the fish they are putting back as their fridges are full of supermarket food. We started out with lots of space in the fridge because all we will eat is fish and rice!
Day 5 (Ellida feel better)
Well we had a day of sailing at 6 or 7 kn, and one of struggling under motor into a light headwind, but what was there not to like about today! We were sailing into the wind, in slightly the wrong direction, only doing about 4kn, but it was calm, sunny, warm. A very large pod of dolphins came to visit. Sparkling clear water.
Discovered a few new problems.. I did know there was a slight leak from the rudder stock, however it was only a few drops..
While we cleaned the bottom I scraped out the barnacles and worms between the rudder post and stock. They were doing no harm, but I thought they might have babies and cover the hull! Well the rudder turns out to have no actual seal, just the bearing was keeping water out and it is a little bit worn rafter 12 years of service, so it's the barnacles that have been keeping the water out and I removed them. Now we are in the Atlantic, pumping the stern bilge every hour through the night.
Also found that sailing towards 7kn the prop shaft gets a terrible shudder. Since we hope to sail at those speeds as much as possible we have a problem. Marcel suggests putting the gearbox in reverse, which we tried and it does hold the prop still, so we will lose some speed and add some stress. Hopefully it turns out to be a successful solution..
Day 7
yet another day of sailing as close to the wind as we can, slowly and mainly going south, which is better than not going at all. Wonderful water, warm.. warm sun. Flying fish on the deck, flying fish all around. Fish all around! There were so many small fish I put my 'Hickey' lure, the blue one from xmas a few years ago, on the light casting rod and had a go. Should have known better out here. Hooked a few small ones and lost them and then, bang… up in the air she went, a nice

Friday, December 10, 2010

Radio send-off

New crew Marcel has a friend in the radio here, so we had a nice announcement wishing us a good journey, telling the people of Canaries to look out as Ellida 1 sets out over the ocean with 3 nationalities on board and some other nice words. We will sail at first light, weather looks excellent at last.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clean bottom

No photos today, but took Ellida out of the pool of dead rats and into the slightly cleaner waters of the French quarter (of the marina) and scrubbed all the weed and barnacles off. Well actually Nausica did the bulk of it I think. Marcel turned up as we started and said he is coming with us, so we have our 3rd crew member. He turned up in a wetsuit and jumped straight in to scrub as well. Andy did a fine effort too, but the captain did little more than scrape off the odd barnacle or tube worm. She looks wonderful now, all blue and smooth and ready to race across the ocean...
We've been stuck here in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, for some time, but this weekend looks really good for leaving so the long wait should finally be over. Apparently the ARC boats, who have been having a slow and difficult trip, have been catching lots of fish....... it's the year of the wahoo in the Atlantic.... Look out for a mountain of fish photos in early Jan!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow in Veen

Well this doesn't exactly belong on Ellida's blog, but here are Anne and Sabine enjoying snow in Germany.

Snow in Veen

Well this doesn't exactly belong on Elida's blog, but here are Anne and Sabine enjoying snow in Germany.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Plan was to clean the bottom of the boat....
but we hired a car again and drove to the top of the island. Well to be fair, we actually walked some of it. Great views again, dizzy heights, a European Serin (that's the little bird), followed by a spot of socialising on No Rehearsal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life Raft

Amongst a few inaccuracies in the advertising for Ellida was 'liferaft, due for test'. When I learned the word 'due' it was for library books, and it meant they had to go back. If you didn't take them back it was called 'over-due'. I assumed 'due for test' meant around about now, and tried a few times to get it tested in the Mediterranean, but various religious holidays foiled my plans. Finally was able to test it here in Gran Canaria and found it HAD been due for a test five years ago! It failed the test totally and would not have inflated at all, so we did the most dangerous parts of our trip so far with a useless liferaft. Boat shops in Las Palmas know you have no choice so prices for liferafts and certain other essentials are double the price of Europe, so we have left the zodiac inflated on the front deck and hope the price will be better in the Caribbean.
just found the receipts... it was actually still in date, only 5 years since the last check, but it was not written inside, and the water and 'food' had not been replaced at the time. Flares were from 2005. We have a replacement now, second hand but still in survey and fairly new.

Finding a crew…
tied up to the quay in Las Palmas, we have a constant stream of would be Atlantic crossers, asking if we need crew. Some were pushy, some polite, some very scruffy, some too neat. I began to duck for cover whenever I heard another one approach, but fortunately, Andy was very good at conducting interviews. We had a few disappointments, Charlie changed his mind after a sleepless night and flew back home for the best of reasons. Nausica wanted to come, but would have been late home for her children. Bruno wished his boat had sunk so he could come to Tas with us, but it didn't. In the end, it was just a few days before departure when Marcel decided to join us, with bicycle. He has turned out to be a most excellent crew, knowing much more than I about sailing. He is never still, fixing things, improving safety, trimming sails (Ellida feel better!), studying English boat words, cooking, cleaning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sabine's songs

Sabine would sit on the bow and write songs while sailing along. She recorded them in 'Garage Band' to send back to Distance Education. Unfortunately the laptop's fan is dying and is the loudest instrument, but I think it's nice to hear her songs! When she finds out I've put them on the blog she will want to murder me, but she's in Germany so I'm safe for the moment. She will probably demand I remove them, so listen now while you can...

yes, I was right, she wants them removed.... so they... are.... gone..... pfft