The time has come for the crew onboard Arcona 400, S/Y Liv to make it back to Europe and cross the Atlantic once again. Sailing from Sint Maarten to Horta in the Azores. Mum, Sanna, Dad, Jonas, and their three children, Axel, Alma & Atle, have been joined by family friend, Helena, for the crossing. They are keeping all of us on dry land updated with daily logs of their adventure. So far they are two weeks in, and we thought it was the perfect opportunity to update you with some highlights of the journey so far.
DAY 1, MAY 12TH – SO LONG CARIBBEAN, NOW BRING US THE HORIZON
Distance to Horta: 2200 NM
And we are off. We were more nervous about leaving the dock in the heavy gusts than the actual crossing. The routing software says the crossing can take anything between 17-32 days. Our plan is to take the traditional route of going north for a couple of days until we reach the latitude of Bermuda and then bear off east towards the Azores. Hopefully the weather will play ball.
Pretty soon after leaving the harbour, we noticed more wind than expected and were hit by some squalls. But we were flying! Passing through the islands north of Anguilla we were doing 11 knots. We started with the jib and one reef in the main but quickly took a second reef.
Our plan was to go upwind NNE at 20 degrees. But the heavy wind and waves has made us go a bit lower to make it more comfortable on the boat. With the side waves we are all feeling effects of seasickness. The only ones not feeling seasick are Atle and Alma. Fortunately, they are keeping the spirits up and helping with whatever they can. We have also prepared food for the first days in advance so nobody needs to be inside cooking food.
DAY 3, MAY 14TH – A BOOST FOR MORALE
Distance to Horta: 1790 NM
What a difference when everyone is feeling better and no one is seasick! Today was a great day and we could finally start getting into our routine.
The boat is performing excellently, and we are going fast without pushing it. The only issue is that we have a leak in the coachroof which we haven’t noticed before. We are constantly having water splashing over the cabin roof, that water is leaking into the cabin somewhere. To disassemble the ceiling wasn’t easy. However, the reassembly was almost impossible. After several tries and all of us helping out we finally managed to reassemble the inner roof, exhausted and dripping in sweat.
The good news is we managed to find the leak, the not so good news is that we can’t fix it until we get to the Azores, so now we have to make the best of the situation.
After all the hard work we were exhausted, but then Helena pulled up two cartons of hallonkräm (a smooth kind of raspberry compote). We haven’t had this since we were in Sweden and it used to be one of our go to lunches when weekend sailing. What a morale booster it was!
DAY 5, MAY 16TH – SPA WEEKEND!
Distance to Horta: 1564 NM
What do you do when the weather is calmer and you have almost zero waves? You treat yourself to some Spa time! Not only did everyone have the chance to have refreshing showers in the morning. After lunch it was time to really spoil ourselves with face masks and fresh fruit before it got too ripe. Some fruits, such as apples last long. But pineapples and mangos don’t last forever.
It’s really nice to have these days when the boat is steadily just cruising along at an OK speed in almost flat water. One of the more popular activities is listening to the podcast Spöktimmen. The kids have downloaded all the episodes for offline listening and now everyone is listening to the same podcast.
We are now following the edge of the high pressure ridge. The forecasts stayed true and it is slowly moving east. In these conditions the weather is very calm and there are hardly any waves. We are not going fast but are making steady progress without having to start the engine.
We now notice how experienced the kids are from all the sailing and a previous crossing. They are all helping out a lot and are staying up late helping with the evening and early night watches. Or in Atle’s case, getting up early for the early morning watch. Things are so much easier when everyone can pitch in and help each other.
DAY 9, MAY 20 – HALFWAY!
Distance to Horta: 977 NM
After the rough weather we had yesterday we were all exhausted, and relieved that the wind settled down. Hence the main focus of the day was to recover and do a little bit of celebration…
From Sint Maarten the linear distance to Horta in the Azores is 2200NM. Even if we have not been sailing in a straight line we have been using this as our reference to how much distance we have left. With the rapid pace of the previous 24 hours we reached our halfway mark at 13:00 on 19th of May! This we had to celebrate. There was some debate about what we should bake. But we finally settled on chocolate chip cookies. Thank you Alma for loving to bake and baking for the rest of us on the boat.
We are running a similar shift set-up as we did the last crossing. But there is one big difference: this time the kids are helping out as well. Axel and Alma have been helping out with the evening shifts and Atle with the morning shifts.
So far this crossing has been much easier than the last crossing. We are very fortunate to have Helena sailing with us. Everyone is trying to help out as much as possible and pitches in when someone else is feeling tired or a bit down. The kids are eager to teach Helena all the ins and outs of our boat and we are really enjoying her company.
DAY 10, MAY 21 – CHAMPAGNE SAILING
Distance to Horta: 839 NM
All of us started by having warm freshwater showers. Starting the day with a warm shower really gives you an energy boost. With all the extra energy we all had from the flat water, sunshine and showers everyone started to fix things. We cleaned the whole inside of the boat, filled the water tank with the water maker, completed various checks on the boat and tried to find the fault to the wind vane that broke during the passing front. We also aired out the boat and dared open the deck hatch in the bow and even took some of the cushions out for airing.
To top things off we even had apple pie that Sanna and Alma baked in the afternoon with our last vanilla cream that we bought before the last crossing in Las Palmas.
With the beautiful blue Atlantic and no wind, you would think taking a swim would be amazing. It would be if the surface wasn’t littered with Portuguese Man-o-War. These beautiful but evil little things have quite poisonous tentacles and both small and big ones are littering the surface.
This day we also saw our third pod of dolphins since we started the crossing. All three pods we have seen have been from a distance and none of them have shown the slight interest in our boat. Quite the opposite of the dolphin pods we used to see on the European Atlantic coast or the pods we saw while on anchor in the Caribbean. We hope that we will see some more fun pods before we reach the Azores.
This day was an absolutely great day. Everyone’s batteries got recharged and we are ready for the coming days. It is so much easier when you have days to recover after some tougher days.
DAY 13, MAY 24TH – CATCHING UP!
Distance to Horta: 357NM
We had a weird day trying to reset ourselves to a new time zone. In our bubble we have been using Caribbean time (UTC -4) but now it’s time to adjust our time to Azore summer time (UTC +-0). Breakfast and lunch became a brunch and the dinner was a bit earlier than what we were used to.
But instead we had daylight in the evening so for evening “fika” we baked an apple pie. Green apples are one of the fruits that lasts a long time when doing a crossing.
During the night we saw the first sailboat on our AIS since we left the Caribbean. It is a Swedish boat that left together with several other Swedish boats four days before us. When we left Sint Maarten they were over 500NM ahead of us. But we have been slowly gaining on them and now was the first time we could see one on them on the AIS, only 12NM ahead of us. And this boat also has one of Atle’s friends onboard. Nice to be close enough with another sailboat for a VHF call for the first time in 12 days.
At the moment our ETA at Horta is on late Thursday evening. Most likely we will have to anchor outside the marina since we will arrive after 20:00 when the Marina Office closes. But if we are too slow and arrive on Friday instead, there is a risk that the bad weather with high winds will catch up with us. Then we will have a rough ride the last days. With a damaged mainsail we don’t want the high winds from the bad weather. At the same time, we don’t want to push too much because then we might break the mainsail again. It’s a tough balance.
Written by Jonas Edholm, edited by Hanna Ericksson
Note from the Editor: at the time of writing this, 12.00 GMT -1, 26th May, are about 40NM from Horta, sailing at 6.6 knots!