Myakka director Robert set off in November on the adventure of a lifetime, fulfilling a long-held ambition to sail the Atlantic. Right now he’s somewhere between the Canary Islands and St Lucia. He is taking part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) which involves around 200 boats of varying sizes leaving Las Palmas in the Canary Islands together and heading for St Lucia in the Caribbean.

Below is a half way update from Robert as is literally in the middle of the ocean, miles and miles away from land. You can track the progress of his boat El Mundo by following this link…. 

Thought I would send a missive from mid Atlantic – we have just passed the half way mark (calculated in a couple of different ways so as not to tempt fate), approx 1400 miles behind us, and yet to go. 

The weather picture changed with a big low-wind-hole opening up as we get nearer to St Lucia so yesterday we altered course 20 degrees to the south, aiming to skirt round the bottom of this hole, probably heading directly west in our last leg into St Lucia. This route is already being revised as the forecast changes- we get very detailed forecasts over the web.

The weather has been mostly fine, with a few wet squalls, and generally warm, occasionally hot. We have “enjoyed” Force 6-7 winds since the start, which is a bit more than typical for this time of year, and more than we, and the rest of the fleet (200+ cruisers plus racers), anticipated. The wind has been from the east to south quadrant, unusually for this area quite a lot of south. Behind us from the East is what we want – the upside is speed, the downside is that it is blasted bumpy! Big seas, some quite scary, quite a bit of surfing (in a 33 ton yacht!) and whining wind in the rigging.
Force 7 is described as a Yachtsmen Gale which is quite enough gale for me, especially mid ocean and even with the wind from behind which removes some of its sting. We would certainly not want to be beating back the other way in these conditions! Wind is forecast to moderate from 25 knot average to 20 knots, and later in the week to lessen further to 15 knots. That’s fine with me! Today the wind has moderated and it has been sunny and much more of a trade winds day.

We have averaged roughly 190 miles a day, or about 8 knots per hour. Maximum hull speed is about 9 knots. Captain is pretty pleased with El Mundo’s performance, I think.

Every four days one of us is Mother – doing all the cooking and cleaning, but no night time watches. I was dreading my day as Mother on Saturday, worried I would be sick and screw up generally – chopping, preparing and cooking inside a bucking bronco is a whole new experience. But it turned out OK, cooking bread and brownies in the morning. My turn again tomorrow! 

We are eating extremely well on vast quantities of victuals we laid in before we set of, every spare corner and cranny is stuffed with everything from courgettes to cheese. For some reason the Captain ordered literally hundreds of tomatoes so these appear at virtually every meal – ever tried tomato flavoured porridge?!

Today at lunchtime we have been joined by a completely exhausted White Egret that must be lost and over 1,000 miles from land. We have been trying to feed it anchovies from a tin. It is no better at balancing on our heaving deck than we are and is rather comic – but also sad as it surely is unlikely to make it to land. 

We keep a rough track on the fleet over the radio and via ARC daily position reports – not using the website tracker you might be using as the internet usage would be high and therefore expensive. The fleet has dispersed in different directions and at very different speeds, but we are mostly within quite close range of several boats at any one time, although not likely to be in sight as our circle of vision is about 4 to 5 miles radius. Captain chats daily on the radio with other skippers, many Oysters of the same size with whom we are having an informal race.

It’s a fairly amazing experience. The stars are myriad – being away from the light loom of land, and before the moon comes out. Today has been blue skies and fluffy clouds, like in the brochures.  The knowledge that right now we are a minimum of 7 days away from land in any direction is a sobering thought.

If we maintain similar progress we could make St Lucia mid next week in time to enjoy a few daiquiris and rum punches before flying home to chilly England.