January 22, 2023
- Log
Tres Hombres

Atlantic Ocean crossing: (Tim Pion – first mate)

Crossing about one time zone per week, on a small floating island, powered only by the wind.

It's amazing when you think about it. No fuel, no complicated machines. Just a bunch of planks, ropes and canvas put together with love and craftsmanship. That's all you need to travel halfway around the world, from a cold winter in Northern Europe to a tropical island where you can climb a tree for a fresh coconut.
It gives you a different view of things.

We guide the ship as it playfully shoots over the water. The rhythm of the bow cutting through the waves resembles a heartbeat. Fast and excited as a good Tradewind pushes us forward. We're moving forward, even when we sleep or lie back to look at the stars. In the meantime, the temperature is increasing noticeably every day and we have to change the clock every week.

When you sail on the ocean you are completely cut off from land (except for a 4kb message to get the weather forecast) There is no one around. No lights from other ships, buoys or cities. Being so isolated from the world is like a breath of fresh air. No distractions. Just the sea and the ship. At night we bathe in the light of the full moon and see Sirius sparkle like a diamond in the sky. During the day we watch the flying fish glide over the water and hit their heads into the next wave. Sometimes a few jump past together towards the horizon. Is it a swarm or a school? We conclude that a swarm is the most appropriate term.

Along the way we trim the sails for balance and speed. A well trimmed ship is much easier to handle and faster, so I like to optimize and play with the sail plan as the wind and waves change. The mainsail provides a lot of power, but with little wind and some waves it can flap and the ship may roll more. It also needs to be balanced with more sail power on the bow to avoid windward drift (the tendency of the ship to want to turn towards the wind). The stunsails help a lot with this.
It is not just about maximum sail area or individually perfectly trimmed sails, but about the balance between the different sails so that they work together to propel the ship forward. Sometimes an extra sail throws the ship off balance and can even slow it down.

Keeping your senses open to small changes and adapting to them is like a continuous dance.
Here the Tradewind continues quietly between 3 and 5 Beaufort. At night, as the air cools, clouds can grow quickly and then pass or disappear as suddenly as they appeared. Sometimes they bring a little gust of wind and then we quickly lower some sails and enjoy the ride. The crew becomes attuned to each other and starts to perform maneuvers together like a well-oiled machine.

At the beginning of the trip we made a bet about when we will arrive. Everyone came up with a date between January 16 and 23. Except Eilish. She suggested January 12th. We all had to laugh at that absurd choice...

But hoisting the sails, with a strong wind and a great ship, made the 12th seem less unrealistic every day. A week ago I decided I didn't care about my bet (January 18) anymore. It would just be great if we could keep it going and actually let Eilish win!
It's now the 12th and we only have 200 miles to go... If we arrive before the morning of the 14th, she will still win. The wind dies down a bit. It will be interesting until the end of the race!

The trip went very quickly and I will be sad to leave the beautiful ocean behind. Maybe we should have gone a little slower… But hey, it's about that dance. And this was a great one.



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