Note to beginner transatlantics
Atlantic crossing guide for "dummies" Bruno and Natalie (Nathalie Chateau et Bruno Fabre) dreamed of crossing the Atlantic on their boat and their dream became a reality - they nevertheless moved forward on their "Salina" to practically feel the spirit of the sea and sailboating ... …and acquire the necessary skills and knowledge!
And now we have already taken the first step - we left! No, not as passengers - it's boring ... They themselves decided to manage the sailboat. But how? Where to begin? There are only two of us - green, newbies who can't do anything. And then we were overtaken by a flurry of doubts: can we cross the Atlantic hoping only for luck? Can we easily handle a sailing ship? What should we take with us? When will we finally be ready to deal with typical, but so far unfamiliar situations for us on a sailboat and at sea? – I think that without overcoming obstacles we will not be able to acquire knowledge about management.sailing and enjoy the voyage to the fullest.
Most couples who want to transition, with or without children, ask themselves, sooner or later, all of these questions. Especially because very often amateur sailing from the very beginning was accompanied by a sense of beauty, the realization of your dream, and then knowledge, experience of transitions, etc. And then, relying on our common sense and intuition, ready for the fact that we will make all the mistakes , which are only possible, to try to make the sailboat move in the direction we need - we did not despair, but went towards the wind and our dream. Of course wedidn't set any records, but we did it and it was a real success!
I was the skipper on board, Natalie, simply because unlike my husband Bruno, I had the experience of managing my first sailboat - Optimist, when I was a child and during the summer practice I went on different sailboats, as good as windsurfing , which became one of my favorite pastimes on weekends when the Mistral blew. Plus several regattas in cruisers or minis as a team member. Plus two weeks as assistant skipper on the Sun Kiss 47 with family along the coast of East India. As for Bruno, his entire sailingIt was acquired on only one adventure that was the defining factor in what we do today: we cruised for three months between the Grenadines and Venezuela in 2001, aboard a Tobago 35 charter. And I can say for sure that sailboating is addictive! Now everything in my head has turned upside down and, probably, finally fell into place ...
Yachting is, apparently, some kind of incurable disease that you catch from the first careless time.
This first experience of the "big adventure" allowed us to get to know the sea, to feel it. And the world has gotten much bigger since then. Tiny islands that look like dots on the map, and some do not exist at all, except that they are marked on the sea, turn out to be large. And you discover something new in yourself, your friends. And cities look different from the water. In general, being in a state of aching sadness from the fact that the cruise, alas, ended, we enthusiastically bent over the map, in anticipation of future victories. And in my head there is only one phrase: “We can recross the Atlantic in your own boat!”
The third member of our adventure was a boat. And if you take into account all the refrains we heard at the boat show: “choosing a boat means accepting all compromises”, “search for the impossible” or “a boat owner has two happiest days in his life: the day when he buys the day he sells the boat”, now you will agree with me how difficult it is to choose your boat.
When choosing a sailboat, we were faced with the question of what is better - sailing or is it easier to turn on the engine? And they came to the conclusion that a sailing sailboat is a silent and environmentally friendly means of transportation on water. Sea pitching is more easily tolerated on a sailing ship. And to avoid downtime on the water in calm weather or for better maneuvering, you can turn on the auxiliary engine.
Of course, a significant role in choosing a boat was played by our memories of the most amazing vacation in our lives - a vacation on Tobago 35. And we opted for a catamaran!
After many meetings, researching sailboating magazines and websites, visits to the shipyard, we chose the Salina 48 from Fountaine Pajot. When it was created, the most advanced technologies were used. In our opinion, this is a model in the European configuration, which implies the presence of various electrical equipment on board and a convenient location of the cabins. It has simplicity, and comfort, and independence, and security.
Education / Training
Maybe for some this will seem like an exaggeration, but to foresee any surprise, to foresee any trifle, to develop a detailed program, is just as difficult as crossing the Atlantic. It is not so difficult to get some specific information, it is important to see the situation as a whole. In particular, this applies to thousands of aspects of life on board during a long ocean cruise. There are several specialized courses devoted to large sailings, in which skills in sailboat management, port formalities,insurance, repair, storming, etc.
It should be noted that one of us had not seen the open ocean before. Bruno had no idea what a wave was and what the currents were in the open ocean. All this complicated the experiment, increased the risk, but after all, among the victims of shipwrecks, the majority have no serious idea about the sea, about sails, etc. It was necessary to foresee all the factors that could have an adverse effect on the course of the journey.
Therefore, we took only one course of classes, which was very necessary to really understand the seriousness of the subject and the responsibility for our lives and for the sailboat - this is a course that first of all deals with safety aspects, including fire fighting and passages in fog .
Program sections: preparation of the sailboat and crew, rescue equipment on sailboats, equipment check, rigging and spars check, course setting, logbook keeping, man overboard rescue, abandonment of the ship, practice of safe work on deck. Of particular note are the “what if” sections, such as broken steering, mast loss, towing.
We strongly recommend that you take this course, as they say, "he who is forewarned is forearmed." Modern romance is, first of all, a good organization of business and a responsibility that lies with us and only with us.
As for mechanics/electricity: we managed to make do with our own experience gained in our past lives and above all, we have a good library (documents, manuals for all our equipment). Of course, all this time we were surrounded by a hail of instructions and advice (to be careful, attentive, etc.). Of course, all the acquaintances have their own opinion about everything, which is obviously the most correct, especially when they have not yet encountered similar cases. There is a good saying - "Two sailors, three opinions ..."
On the medical side, first aid skills and the presence of a good first aid kit on board, stocked with my uncle the doctor, on his recommendation, we purchased Dr. Chauv's books (books written for people like us ...), and that is not least , we have the option of telephone contact with my uncle or with the Toulouse-based French Medical Services (SAMU), which specializes in remote support at sea, in emergencies. However, do not forget that medical research takes a lot ofbelt… so there must be a good reason to contact SAMU!
Lastly, don't rely on a "standard shipyard orientation" (or a tour from an ex-owner) to learn in a few hours everything you need to know about engines, electronics, sail and the many options you might want to use, because "it's hard to find a pin in a haystack" and the wire that should be blue will of course be green...
Theory is good when it is supported by practice! Therefore, do not rely only on studying the documentation. The last technical inspection before sailing, which is of particular importance to check everything is in order (from the shower pump to the bilge pump, changing the diesel fuel in the engines, reefs (all 3!), all electronics and communications / weather information, electric windlass, generator , water maker, lights, oven, chargers, computer and programs that you must install and check before you sail, videos and everythingsmall equipment ... everything you need to live on board).
We recommend that you solve all existing problems on shore, because consultation at sea will be problematic (due to geographical features, communication may be interrupted), paying bills for a satellite phone is expensive, and besides, you will not be able to purchase the spare part you need in the ocean?.
We never took a course at the Glenans sailing school and therefore for greater confidence and safety, because. we decided to leave the Mediterranean in March (during the strong Mistral!), we hired an experienced skipper, with whom we already went to sea.
It is already difficult, in itself, to be a team plus a third person on board your boat, but you can’t do without it, because only the skipper knows how to sail and does not necessarily have the same tastes as you (however, almost all the time the skipper spends on the bridge, he is in love with the wind, with the sails, he does not leave the deck: he does not go to wash, sleep in the cabin until all issues are resolved ...) And it costs a lot: a minimum of stress, since the person in charge on board is a professional who teaches practice, with lots of little "tips" and elementary rules,the opportunity to sail in 40-knot winds, as well as learning to use a spinnaker and its own spinnaker boom in practice.
By testing the boat before sailing, we gained peace of mind and confidence that our trip will pass without risk!
Another rule that we adhere to as soon as we started walking ourselves is “do not try to run right away, first try to walk” ...
Reducing the sail regularly before dusk, using a jib without a mainsail, turning on the engine for maneuvering (not forgetting to keep an eye on the fishing nets ...) - all this allows you to take care of the boat and the crew, which, on a long passage, may turn out to be useful, or even necessary. ?
The thirst for something heroic often pushes for extravagance. And we found a genre where there is a place for a peaceful feat - for us - this is sailing across the Atlantic! And nothing compares to this freedom, where all movements are calculated and ordered, the discipline is the strictest, and at the same time little is predictable, and every moment there is a place for impromptu.
On board, just like in the army: it is strongly recommended to discuss each maneuver in advance, to avoid decisions that could lead to a difficult situation, especially in a boat of this size - and only in this way, and not otherwise - the success of the entire transition depends on this. … and yet, it is important to remember that nets that come across, a staysail overturning, a mooring that is approaching too quickly, are situations that cannot be corrected.
Companions, who on land are a noisy and quarreling camp, on a sailboat instantly turn into a well-trained hard-working crew. Women get women's experiences of fear and delight, men's calm fury of heroes performing a feat. All this is the education of character and the drill of the intellect. No need to be afraid! Pleasures will be much more than all the oddities and inconveniences.
The first step is usually the most difficult. But we did it! All that's left is nothing. The sea is waiting for us. We left our professional skipper in the Canary Islands, the weather conditions were undeniably favorable, all that was left was provisions, and ... Go!
One visit to the supermarket and our monthly budget is gone. And then our appetite immediately somehow diminished, of course we were not exactly sure about Bruno's ability as a fisherman, so we still had to supply the boat with everything edible. We loaded up as many fruits and vegetables as we could fit in the fridge, plus a few favorite precooked meals, rice and pasta for 6 months, sweets and biscuits of all kinds, a whole forecastle, various drinks (about 3 liters per person per day plus a preparation of 45 liters mineral water).
Before we sailed, we made our last visit to a good restaurant, made quick calls to all our loved ones to assure them that everything would be all right with us. And let's go! June 3rd, 2008 at 8 am La Gomera: We set sail for Tobago, to our final destination of 2700 miles.
We smoothly entered the rhythm of the trance. With the right amount of sail, (or even a little less) for these conditions, we lowered a spinnaker at night and took reefs on the mainsail. Those. we tried not to overload the boat with sails until we were completely drawn into the rhythm of the ocean. We find the correct trim, the correct position of the sails, which does not wear out the boat and our team, according to the “belly” of the sails and the wind.
All our previous training helped us find the best settings for the asymmetric spinnaker, which we learned to do with one hand (and said goodbye to the mainsail, with its constant risk of untimely change of tack). Of course, the Atlantic is not a sanatorium for you, and we immediately had to literally plunge into a real ocean wave. But, as not very smoothly, we correctly formulated upon arrival that it is in such conditions that a person can return to his true self.
Efficient and light wind from 10 to 20 knots, which does not require much participation, but mobilizes you from the inside. It is necessary to constantly monitor the increase in wind strength (we should not turn it off with an increase in wind up to 25 knots ...) and yet it is a pleasure! The ability to combine a passion for life under sail and work is truly happiness. Here at sea, you realize that the Earth is knocked out from under your feet, the settled boredom of five-star hotels and the bustle of cruise anthills-liners is excluded, no routine of beaten routes, the sailboat is your home, your soratik. I want to roam the sea, I want to choose my own course, I want the sea to be near, I want to dive into it whenever I want!
Every 2-3 days, we caught weather information on the radio to determine the route and the changing anticyclone that moves from south to north. We checked, just in case, if we received a warning message from the chart plotter. We marked our location on a paper chart every 12 hours, thanks to this we could at least see how slowly but surely we moved in this vast ocean ... Now, when mechanisms reign everywhere, only a sailboat can give a feeling of unity with the sea. No wonder the salty wind is a favorite image of roantiques. But here - he is far from being an image, but a reality: March on the Adriatic is not the season ... for relaxation. We have work to do...
For good spirits and well-being, we showered daily and used sun and salt protection products - this is a must. We also paid special attention to nutrition. We changed clothes often - this gave us a feeling of freshness and cleanliness, however, in constantly changing conditions, we sometimes forgot about these basic principles on which the success of our event depended.
Boating at night is another critical issue! How to schedule shifts, provided that there are only two of us? How can we steer the boat and not exhaust our strength? How can we maneuver? We found a very good compromise, which allowed us to adjust the correct time for the watch (to make it convenient for each of us, the first watch was from 22.00 to 01.00, the second from 01.00 to 06.00 and the third from 06.00 to 09.00). And all this is approximate - it depends on how you feel, if you are not tired and feel vigorous enough, then you can stay on duty longer and vice versa. Quite a fewIt matters when you can trust the watchman. And plus a few siesta if necessary.
The radar is our indispensable vigilant "assistant", installed with an automatic switch - every 20 minutes and an alarm in the vicinity of 15 miles from all boats approaching us (on average, half the boats per day).
We had a dream by the hour, but if necessary, the watchman could take a nap in the cabin on the sofa, in which case he could quickly respond to the current situation.
We have accumulated weekly fatigue, we want to sleep, but we drink every day to the end, enjoying every drop of it, so that later we can tell ourselves - I did not steal this day from myself.
For safety, we clearly adhered to the unwritten rule - the presence of the WaveFinder in your pocket or attached to your belt all night, no amateur activity (we made decisions on maneuvering the whole team, especially on the forward), life jackets and a seat belt are fastened to the rails, regardless of weather conditions ( otherwise fix any problems that arise at dawn). And the last safety point is the availability of free space on board, especially in the cabin and in the cockpit, in which we placed a box with everythingemergency equipment - to repair a leak or breakdown on board.
We placed signal rockets and everything necessary for evacuation in a visible, accessible place: life jackets, waterproof and floating first aid bag, etc…
We also agreed among ourselves that we always tell each other where we are and what we are going to do if we are not in each other's field of vision.
Once all these steps have been taken it's time to finally! start crossing the Atlantic itself: a measured life on a sailboat is a completely new feeling of relaxation in an atmosphere of complete relaxation!
Here fishing is a whole adventure (with the sound of spinning “zzzhzhzhzhzhzhzh” you immediately need to slow down, but I can’t, because we are under a spinnaker) and the first experience of making bread (excellent, what is the smell and taste of salty butter, which melts on everything still - warm salmon), there is time for reading, some essential repairs (a water pump that broke, a leak in the watermaker, a temporary repair of a spinnaker that unwound too quickly), stargazing, photos, videos for memory with our new friends, with daily incidents, but best of all– this is sailing at a depth of 5,000 m (at a slow speed, tied to a boat with a cable), dreams….. Enjoy life!
It seems to me that an irresistible desire to fulfill your dream can compensate for experience and technical skill, you can boldly go “where the sea meets the sky”, enjoy and you will succeed. Do not hesitate, plunge headlong into the biggest journey of your life!
More common sense, mutual understanding in the team and cohesiveness in decisions allowed us to solve almost all the problems that we had.
A strong desire, preparation and vigilance in terms of safety allowed the inexperienced team to fully enjoy the transition, avoiding panic in difficult situations. As for the budget for the boat, you must first of all decide for what purpose you need it, especially since it may become your new home in transit.
We are still Newbies, but what a joy to make your dream come true. And now we can move on to the next stage of our journey ... anchoring and where is our guide todummies! ?
But it will be tomorrow. In the meantime, I remember how the setting sun sank into the sea. The sea monsters have calmed down. Quiet ... And we fall asleep happy!
PS What happened next? Initially, Bruno and Natalie planned a transatlantic trip, sailing through the Caribbean and returning to Europe. But when they crossed the Atlantic and spent time in the Caribbean, the decision changed and they went around the world! And then there was another catamaran and another circumnavigation!
By the way, they have their own website.
According to http://wwportal.com/