Our itinerary this year and last has been a constantly moving target. This summer in particular it has changed more times than I can count. Whilst the wind is the ultimate dictator, we have been fortunate to keep plans loose and research a few weeks ahead. Effectively we’ve crossed the Mediterranean from east to west – Turkey to Spain – signifying that our departure from this enclosed sea and popular cruising grounds is fast approaching.
And as of last week, we now have an important date to work towards. Dad has signed up finally my darling for the Atlantic Odyssey – an organised group crossing of sailing yachts departing January 8th 2015.
Departing from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands (off the northwest coast of Africa) and landing in the southeast Caribbean at Martinique, Dad anticipates the crossing will take anywhere from two to three weeks. Upon reaching the trade wind belt that runs north of the equator, we hope to fly our sweet downwind sailing Parasailor for a vast majority of the passage.
On deciding to the make the January crossing, dad approached a cruising friend he’d met at Marmaris Yacht Marina in Turkey. Seasoned sailor Doug hails from the UK and will be a welcome addition to the crew joined by his bright and adventurous first mate and son – 14-year-old William. Although mum has surprised even herself in finding her sea legs, she will be returning home to Oz to spend Christmas with the family and grandkids, re-joining us early in the New Year.
We are slowly taking steps to ensure the boat is in ultimate safety and performance condition for the crossing. Finally my darling’s standing rigging and life raft have been professionally surveyed. Next on the list includes repairs and re-enforcement to the mainsail and Dad is researching the purchase of a satellite phone and/or SSB (single-sideband) radio for communications including sending and receiving emails and weather reports while at sea. In addition to these major items, the maintenance to-do list is an arm’s length long and will be chipped away over the remainder of 2014.
For now we’ll continue cruising Spain through October, followed by a few weeks in Gibraltar to seriously focus on preparations. Then venturing out into the open ocean for the first time (the Atlantic) we’ll track south along the Moroccan Coast – stopping and travelling inland along the way – aiming to arrive to the Canary Islands sometime in December.
The Atlantic Odyssey is a new event that started just last year, with departures in both November and January. Some of you will know of the ARC (Atlantic Rally Crossing), a hugely popular rally founded in 1986 by British author and world cruiser Jimmy Cornell. Twenty-seven years on, the ARC event and its global offshoots have grown beyond Jimmy’s wildest dreams. Although success has also turned the ARC into somewhat of a giant with 200+ boats per event, competitive divisions and a substantial entry fee pricing the event out of reach for many long-term cruisers. Jimmy Cornell branched away several years ago, returning in 2013 with the new Atlantic Odyssey and intentions of “returning the spirit of his earlier rallies; that of a non-competitive event for cruising sailors, with the emphasis on safety and the enjoyment of participation in this kind of amateur event”. Crossing a vast unforgiving ocean on a sailing boat is no small undertaking. So for our first major ocean passage, we are pleased to benefit from their seasoned expertise and advice, safety in numbers, daily weather reports and the social aspect of otherwise a very long time without of sight of land.
Our Atlantic crossing countdown is officially on, though for the remainder of 2014 we have plenty yet to sail and explore. And as always, we look forward to sharing those highlights with you over the coming months. Adios Amigos!