The night was spent just sleeping. Nothing else, no crazy stuff happening, no rolling around and hitting the wall, just deep restful sleep. So deep in fact that the first thing I heard in the morning was Heidi speaking out in shock that it was already 11.41 o’clock. We had slept for just over 12 hours, but it was sorely needed.
But, once up we all had a heap of energy to spend, so we got all the bedding out to air, as it was a fine sunny day in Spain, anchored out in front of a Spanish town with someone in town jelling something in Spanish into a megaphone. Still doesn’t feel like Spain, though, as there are mountains that are green, it is only 21°C and there is no inquisition (didn’t expect that, hmm).
Fortunately nothing exciting happened on this night. Dad woke me up at four in the morning for my shift, mentioned that the wind was nice, a bit overcast skies and the Spanish coast was approaching. Another sailing boat had passed us going the opposite way, so that was the only light visible, situated somewhere behind us. Stuck my head up and was overwhelmed by what was going on. Sure enough, the other boat’s light was behind us, but there was a slight drizzle, I could see a flashing light from a Spanish lighthouse to the port side on the horizon, two lights were to my right and pretty much straight ahead there was a flashing orange light. Most of the things I don’t have a problem with. The lighthouse is known, the rain isn’t a problem and the two lights to my starboard (right) I knew were two boats. The flashing orange light had me stumped, though, so I got dad up to check it out. Turned out it was a fishing boat doing some trawling. The official sign for a flashing orange light is a hovercraft, but apparently Spanish fishermen love to use them, too. Kept my distance from him and Dad went to bed after a while.
At one point during the night I was once again awoken by the rocking of the boat due to the waves and swell. Also Dad was standing at the chart table right next to my bed and had to have the light on to check a few things. The boat felt like it was off by a bit, so I stuck out my head and asked him if everything was all right. He replied that he was just checking the wind, as there seemed a bit of a change around. This was at about two o’clock in the morning, so Heidi had just gone to bed and was in a semi sleep state. So, back to bed and tried to get to sleep. The next minute I hear a shout from outside that Dad needed a hand. The wind had blown the main sail around in a weird way and the wind vane had been messed up and twisted around. As I didn’t know the exact problem from down below and for all I knew the mast could have been ripped out of the boat (probably not to that extreme, though), I got dressed and geared up in record time. Once outside the problem became clear and Dad and I tried to get things sorted out just between the two of us. After a bit it became apparent that a third hand would help greatly, too, and as Heidi had been woken up by our activity she came out to help. So in the end we had to pull in the genoa (front sail), screwed that up, sent someone forwards attached to the boat with a safety harness, folded up the genoa correctly, turned the boat to get the mainsail around properly, make sure we weren’t messing up the wind vane during the whole procedure and do all this whilst it’s dark outside. It was, as said, two in the morning, and we were at least one hundred nautical miles from land with a bit of an unkind sea and wind.
The second day dawned, me getting up at 4AM in the morning to take over my shift from Dad. Heidi had given over here shift to Dad with a healthy five knots of speed, but during the night the wind had dropped, so Dad and then me carried on with only four knots (I think it was). Got reprimanded by Heidi later on (heh), but what should we do.
The fog was still out, but the chances of meeting someone were even lower now. Just stick your head out every fifteen minutes or so to check for sounds and sites and then back into the warm interior of Artemis with a good book and tea. Generally you can hear big boats coming from quite a distance, as the noise their engines make can be heard over miles of water. The big risk is other sailing boats, as all of us tend to be rather quiet, but that’s a risk you take sailing.
So, the big crossing, the one that a lot dread, the bane of sailors of yore,… and a bit more of some sayings like that. In modern times it is still interesting, as the winters can be rather harsh and in summer you’re out in the middle of the ocean with not a lot of information coming in other than from passing ships or satellite phones (which we didn’t have).
Max joined us as crew for half a year and sailed on Artemis from England to the Canary Islands. Here are the blog posts he wrote about his time on board.
So, I had been promising to write a blog about my time on Artemis with Dad and Heidi forever now. It seems like Dad has given up pestering me for a blog (but it’s understandable on his end) and now I feel bad for nearly letting two years go by without writing it. First of an apology from my end to both my captain (Dad) and his first mate (Heidi) for dragging this out so long. But I should still be able to get a rather good recap of all the things we managed to do together, as sailing for that long is rather memorable (and I still have the unedited four day crossing of the Bay of Biscay).