We departed Lanzarote on November16th with 33 other boats. A mixture of catamarans (9), and yachts(25), set sail with much anticipation and an air of excitement, and there we were, crossing the start with our ParaSailor chute flying and the Odyssey Team and many other spectators waving us off. It was a fun start to an amazing voyage for the three of us on The Larrikin.
We took 18 days to complete the crossing from Lanzarote to Martinique
The conditions were light as we set out however through observing the latest weather forecast
downloaded through our IridiumGo it was decided that we would head
west to meet up with a pressure system that would push us south.
Friends had told us, and it was also reinforced in the discussion groups with Jimmy Cornell and the Odyssey team, that if you had sufficient fuel
it would be wise to use it to get yourself as close to the Trade-winds as quickly as possible. So we motor
sailed west for a day and a half until the front kicked in. And we certainly knew when it kicked in! It was a lovely strong wind
of 15 to 20kts allowing us to sail at 60 - 70 degrees. Before long we were doing 8 - 9 knots in a strong, consistent wind
. We felt like we were flying and after 6 days we were into the Trade-winds at a position 20N and 30W which is about 250nm from Cape Verde
. We took down the main and headsail and sailed for the next 11days on just the ParaSailor spinnaker
. What an amazing sail!
The ParaSailor setup on the He'lia makes for very easy management underway. We sailed between 120 degrees either side and dead downwind leaving the sail up day and night. We only experienced two or three squalls and with the apparent building up toward 28kts we just released the bow downhauls a meter or so to release some of the pressure. The boat was sailing along at up to 15.5kt and very stable.
Down wind the crew were able to relax as we settled into a good routine for our night watches and daytime activities. Dinner was usually around 7pm. First watch was Lou 8-11pm, Phil 11-2am, Gordon 2-5am then Lou again 5-8am. By that stage Gordon and Phil were up for the day and Lou generally caught another few hours sleep. The days were fine, the wind around 15-20 knots and our average speed 9-10 knots. We did two 200 nm days in a row. Then the wind dropped slightly but it was still consistent as the miles disappeared and our destination
We saw dolphins
and sea birds and one of the highlights of the trip was when we were joined by two Minke whales who swam around our boat for about two hours. It was a very special moment. In the lighter conditions we trolled a lure and were rewarded with a few Mahi Mahi and a magnificent Blue Marlin. Life on board was busy but very relaxed and lots of fun.
Throughout the passage
we were making our own water
was keeping the batteries charged during the day. We ran the generator
for a few hours in the early morning to maintain battery
charge as during the night we were using all the instruments, radar
and the A/P as well as running two fridges and a freezer
We carried around 600 ltrs of fuel
and arrived after crossing a distance of 2946nm with 150 ltrs remaining, having used the engines for heating
sailing during the light wind periods. The boat performed beautifully with no breakages or major problems. We now have a total of just under 10,000nm.
The use of the IridiumGo on board satellite
router was amazing allowing us to e-mail, txt or talk using our iPad
or smartphone from anywhere on the boat. We communicated with the Cornell Rally Control and downloaded weather
gribs every 12 hrs viewing this using Weather4D Pro app. We found this to be very accurate. We also communicated by email
and friends as well as some of the other boats. In this way we were able to share our adventure and keep updated on the rest of the fleets progress as well as happenings at home in Australia
On our final day as we approached Martinique, we had visual contact with another boat that had been chasing us for the last 17 days. There was much excitement and chat over the radio
as we approached the finish line and it was decided with the Italian owner of the German Frere 53 (Hallberg Rassy built) that 'in the spirit of the Odyssey' we would cross the finish line together. Both boats flew their spinnaker
for a spectacular finish. We were the first boats to arrive in Martinique with the bulk of the group arriving some five to seven days later!