Drew Irwin - Trans-Atlantic Adventure Update
Drew Irwin
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Drew Irwin - Trans-Atlantic Adventure Update

Landing in Palma de Mallorca

Greetings to you all,

Just an update to recent events having departed BC and landed in Palma, Mallorca.   Arrived in this centuries old port surrounded by yachts of all descriptions but noticeably likely the largest percentage of sailing yachts anywhere in the world.   A huge community of refit and repair specialists both stationery and mobile making this a key location for voyage preparation or major refit work. 

The sense on the docks among yacht crews rushing around it is soon time for those headed across to North America will soon be departing as hurricane season is coming to an end.   We fall into this category as our vessel “Intrepid” an Oyster 72 has just completed a 9 week refit session with a multitude of small projects in addition to 3 or 4 major projects.   Largest is a new carbon fibre fixed bimini over the cockpit complete with a full array of solar panels inset into the top.    This new top has attracted significant interest along the docks as it provides exceptional visibility and protection for offshore cruising without looking out of place on this yacht.
Another major project was upgrading the battery and charging capacity with 12 new lithium ion batteries, additional chargers, 300amp engine driven alternator plus the solar array all intended to allow dramatically less generator or main engine operation.  Fingers crossed all the gremlins have been ironed out before we depart offshore.

Nasty weather kept us a few days longer than anticipated but ensured all necessary tasks got completed without too much stress.   Our weather window opened at dusk Wednesday, November 3rd when we slipped the lines and pounded out into short, 2 metre seas and roughly 20 kts of wind.  This was the first 1100 mile leg of the classic “we are sailing around the world” chant of the six person crew.  

It took a bit of getting used to thundering along at 8 to 10 knots all night long as few of us from the Northwest do much cruising at night.  Watches were divided up into three hour stints which went by quite quickly keeping an eye on progress, other yachts and the larger ships and passenger cruisers.  There always seemed to be some vessel on a conflicting course between Palma and through the narrow gap at Gibraltar.   Happy to report there are no large logs in the water in the Med or Atlantic, so far…

Naturally most of the action, wind, waves and conflicting traffic happened in the dead of night keeping those on watch on their toes.  At times in the Med we were surrounded by distant thunder storms which provided an entertaining if worrisome light show particularly those directly in our path.   While transiting the Strait of Gibraltar we had five conflicting ship traffic forcing us directly into a very active thunderstorm at 4am.   All worked out as the storm moved aside swiftly and the traffic left sufficient room for us to slide through.   Having passed a couple of 1000 foot cruise ships in the night we come to appreciate the speed these monsters move at.

Once clear of Gibraltar it was a single tack for the 600 miles to Madeira, a Portuguese island our next stop.  Landing there after 6 days and nights at sea was welcome as sorting out several issues was on the work list as well as playing tourist in the main city of Funchal.  Not to be missed in Funchal is the gondola ride from waterfront over town to the mountain top above, then a “luge” ride down the steep streets managed by two locals steering and braking by dragging their feet.  Bit like “dog sledding without the dogs” as son Andrew commented upon viewing the photos.

Will address a few boat tasks, reprovision on Madeira for 2 or 3 days then strike out for the Canary Islands to the South as our next port of call.  From there we will trek further South to Cape Verde off the African Coast, a few days there, then make the turn to starboard for the 2000 miles across to Antigua. If we can continue to run just over 200 nautical miles per day, we should be 10-12 days for the crossing.  

We are aware of roughly 250 boats also doing this crossing in the next few weeks as the cruising fleet heads to the Caribbean for the winter but despite these numbers do not expect to see many while underway.

Will report again soon.


Cheers, Drew

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