Thursday 9th December
14.06.36 W 56.56.95 N
To the tunes of Bob Marley and Wailers, we have enjoyed a great dinner, a spectacular sunset and the end of our last “regular” day on the Snow Wolf, expecting to arrive in St. Lucia late Friday or early Saturday (local time). We have all had our individual high and lows during the past 18 days, but for each and every one of us, the crossing has been an unforgettable experience we would not do without. At the same time, with the target so close, we are all more than ready to set foot on land and enjoy a shower and a cold beer. 230 NM to St. Lucia is nothing more than a rounding error in the grand scheme of things, but we still want to complete them in style and with 15 knots of NE wind, we’re in a good position to do so.
Now as our blogging is drawing to a close, we (especially Phil) wanted to clarify a couple of points made in previous blogs to avoid any misunderstanding amongst our readers:
a) the Snow Wolf is not a Star Ship (although at times comparisons to Apollo 13 have felt highly appropriate), but a Swan 48
b) crossing the Atlantic on the Snow Wolf is not a recognized dieting scheme and any claims of efficacy are without any scientific foundation or empirical evidence. This doesn’t rule out that Phil may have lost weight.
c) Phil is not a domestic God. Any references to Phil’s skills in this area and his commitment to doing more domestic chores when he returns home were purely intended as humoristic. In fact, Phil is close to completely useless in this area; so useless, that we would have had to leave him in Las Palmas, had we known (because his downwind helming skills are quite dubious too ...). (Phil, do you think Helen will buy that, or is it too thick? Your downwind helming is not just dubious, as we all know ...
If these three points make no sense, we suggest to re-read the earlier blogs (and if they still don’t make sense, give up. No need to be stubborn about it. In that case you simply had to “be here”).
On behalf of the Snow Wolf crew, Jens
Wednesday 8th December 2117 UTC
428.1 NM to go
Getting closer !
Ever since we passed the 1000 miles to go barrier, our thoughts have turned to arriving in St Lucia, with the promise of cold beers, showers, and clean sheets ... not to mention returning home to family and friends. (And I’m sure Matt is looking forward to having the boat back to himself). The chart plotter now constantly reports the distance to St Lucia. At the end of each three hour watch, revised estimated arrival times are discussed. “Underperforming” watches are berated in a friendly manner.
426.7 NM to go ....
We continue to have good winds. Tony and Matt’s repair to the generator seems to be working, which means we don’t have to run the engine all the time to charge the batteries. The absence of such noise is a welcome relief. Yesterday saw us travelling over 200 miles in a 24 hour period. A good feeling. Today we poled-out the headsail and are now sailing downwind. The downside is that we’re constantly rolling from side-to-side, and are wandering around like drunken sailors. A lazy day of reading, listening to the iPod, etc. when not on the helm. I suppose this is what the trip would have been like had the winds behaved in the “normal” manner.
425.8 NM to go ....
Phil performed spectacularly again in the galley tonight. He’s a reformed man and can’t wait to get more involved in domestic matters when he gets home. Speaking of food, the only fresh food we still have are some oranges and apples and tomatoes. We’re relying on canned vegetables for the evening meal. The bread we purchased in Las Palmas is still fresh -- I hate to think what’s in it! -- which means it’s sandwiches for lunch.
424.6 NM to go ....
OK, we’re not quite this obsessive in monitoring how far it is to St Lucia. It is hard to believe that our adventure -- something eagerly anticipated by all -- will soon be over.
The crew of Snow Wolf send their love to all.
423.4 NM to go ....
Tuesday 7th December
Position 13 17’N 50 28’W
Absolutely flying !
Dear All. Snow Wolf is absolutely flying! on a big sleigh ride to St Lucia! – The trade winds have kicked in big time and we are all enjoying surfing off the waves! – so everyone fighting to get on the helm – big Atlantic rollers add to the fun – difficult to record by photos – you just have to be here! – So we are trying to break 200 miles in 24 hours – we should know by midnight if we have broken it but looking encouraging at going through the 200 mile barrier! –so race is on! – we did 192 miles in previous 24 hours
We have got the generator working again which is great news – adds to comforts down below which are much appreciated by all! – despite our affinity to the boat we are all looking forward to a proper bed and shower as soon as we arrive!
We had our 4th flying fish on deck this morning but not enough to eat! – our fishing has not been that successful – they just seem to take the line and lures!– which is a bit disappointing but that’s fishing for you.
There is much talk on board about rum & cokes- & a shower! in St Lucia and all keen to get there now – we have 621 miles to go and hope to be in late Friday evening or early Saturday morning depending upon trade winds.
Kind regards to you all from Snow Wolf
Monday 6th December
Position 12.36 Deg N 47.07 Deg W
What a day today
What a day today. Trade winds. 15 to 20 knots of wind. Enabling Snow Wolf to power through the Atlantic with on average over 8 miles per hour.
Waves of 2,5 meter. Sometimes a bit choppy. 35 degrees. It is a joy. We also understand that we are improving our position both overall as well as in our class.
We are still some 5 days over here until we reach Saint Lucia, which is some 800+ miles away. We passed one vessel. Unfortunately not ARC. So not yet another one that bites the dust.
We will hunt for others. Other good news is that we saw pilot whales. Dancing with our ship. Over dinner made by Erik. And Matt succeeded in fixing the generator(almost). That will mean water, cooking, heads working etc. Good for morale.
All enjoy it thoroughly. But also look out for the finish. Not only to finish well. But also to enjoy the things we do not have or can not do on a 48 feet Swan with 8 crew.
Ton (the Flying Dutchman)
Sunday 5th December
Position 12.10 deg N 43.45 deg W
Trade Trade Winds have arrived
Lose weight with champagne? Yes it’s true, just read on! For those of you that feel the need to lose the odd pound or two then there is no shortage of ideas to accomplish your goal. Try a diet high in protein, low in carbs, take more exercise, try the Atkins diet, try some slimming pills. And so the list goes on. There is a new way. All you need is a boat, a very large quantity of sea water, seven men (or women, but we are all chaps), mix together with 15-20 knots of wind (according to taste), and a passage plan of some 2800 nautical miles. There are the essential ingredients for losing weight. As Matt confidently, informed us, ‘you will all lose weight on this passage’. How can this be? The reality is that we all eat really well every day. In fact we eat as much as we like, including chocolate, biscuits and cakes! Each day on a boat we are all constantly re-learning how to walk and to move around our home. This constant balancing uses muscles that use energy and burn calories! All very simple really. Even climbing into the sack is an effort with great care needed with strategically placed feet on the bunk below with sleeping crew - as Jens will testify! Indeed, somebody may well write a book on this very subject and get scientific. It should be easy to work out the pounds lost per nautical mile and work out the square root of the wind velocity to calculate exactly how much your projected weight loss as a function of time and weather. Where does champagne come in? Well with only 1000 miles to go we are opening our magnum! Perfect and appropriate to our success to date, and a celebration of what is still to come! Tony arrived in fancy dress looking for a good time. Bruce watched on with delight and kept order. Ton left early wanting to go to bed! Jens also had fancy dress in mind with his fetching go faster Volvo Racing jacket! Tim was at the helm at all times keeping us afloat and in the right direction! Erik was with camera and was the paparazzi. Our skipper Matt said something about us being the best crew ever, and lied so well with a smile! Me? I had the champagne bottle working on my diet! Cheers!
Before signing off, apologies to my daughter Sarah in getting your email wrong when sending you Happy 19th Birthday Greetings from the Atlantic. For others sending messages to the crew on our ship, fear not when you receive no reply, but the connection has been down these last few days and/or we are too busy sailing or dieting to reply!
Saturday 4 December
Trade Trade Winds have arrived
The good news is that at last the promised North East Trade Trade Winds have arrived and Snow Wolf has lifted up her skirts and is doing what she does best. Blasting along like a train, and the miles are suddenly clicking down. There is every chance that the winds will continue for at least as long as it takes to reach St Lucia.
The bad news is that our generator has packed up, and so far resisted all attempts to restart.So cold rations for maybe a day or two,till the problems are overcome. No one seems to mind now that we are really motoring, for journey’s end is now only about six to seven days away. This is the type of sailing we came for – blasting along hour after hour on a blue, blue Ocean in brilliant sunshine with not a boat in sight on the horizon. More difficult at night as the helming is quite demanding, and we have to watch out for Sqalls (High energy Rain clouds) which can cause problems for the boat if not managed correctly. It’s New moon tonight so it’s very dark and that doesn’t help. No matter – come morning we will have clocked another 100 miles and St Lucia suddenly seems not so far away after all!
As I sit here typing todays blog,there is a sudden loud bang from above. The Spinnaker halyard (The main rope attaching the big fore sail to the top of the mast) has failed and 200 square meters of expensive sail are thrashing about in the water, and must be be retrieved as soon as possible.So it’s all hands on deck in the pitch black night. Soon all is under control and we charge onwards towards St Lucia! There is never a dull moment on Snow Wolf!
Friday 3 December
This year is most unusual
It is Friday evening and Snow Wolf glides serenely towards a magnificent sunset. We have been at sea for over 13 days and thoughts inevitably are beginning to turn to the end of our journey. It is easy to imagine land just beyond the horizon but the reality is that there are still 1300 miles to go!
This year is most unusual weather wise, and despite being promised trade winds in yesterdays forecast they have still failed to materialise. So progress is slow and occasionally frustrating.We work hard constantly trimming the sails to squeeze an extra half knot of speed from Snow Wolf. She is a heavy boat built to withstand severe weather and is not well suited to very light winds.So we try to live for the moment taking each day as it comes and appreciating our good fortune at being able to participate in this great adventure which many of us have dreamt about for years. Once it has finished the dream will have become a reality and we will have memories to savour forever.So a few more days really doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of things and we may finally catch a fish for our supper! Who knows but by the time I am back on watch tomorrow at 3.00am, the elusive trade winds may have finally arrived and we will be on the last charge with 200 mile days and a wild sleigh ride downwind, rocking and rolling all the way to St Lucia. Fingers crossed.
Thursday 2 December
Greetings Earthlings! from Star Ship Snow Wolf. A strange salutation you may say but really quite relevant. We are eight soles gliding serenely over the Atlantic night swell in our self contained capsule. There is only the occasional hiss of the surf to break the silence. The moon has not yet risen as we are very far south and it is quite dark except for the light of the stars.
Our little capsule is entirely self contained – we make 200 litres of drinking water a day, generate thousands of watts of electricity to power all our systems : we have food for a month, and enough diesel to motor a 1000 miles. And we have the wind for free- or we should of had! but for about 5 days it has been most elusive, and only through the skill of our skipper Matt and the sophisticated on board navigation software have we managed to pick our way through the mine field and find good sailing wind most of the time. But tomorrow all this will change, when the long promised trade winds which blow steadily from the NE are at last predicted to arrive.
Life aboard our little capsule is not all a bed of roses! – conditions are cramped and as we are so far south night time temperatures are fierce! – But none of this will matter if the winds that are promised finally arrive – the expectation of 200 mile days looms large and spirits are beginning to soar again. We shall see what tomorrow brings........
PS Some of you may be trying to get emails to/from the boat but we have been maxed out on on our band width – so dont worry if you dont hear from us! - all is fine
Wednesday 1 December
An update from Snow Wolf’s crew
After most of the night motoring light wind enabled us to stop the engines and move forward the way we are really supposed to.
Sailing. With approximately 8-11 knots of wind. Making approximately 6-8 knots of speed under main and spinnaker. Not very impressive. But the best we can. It is rather humid and temperatures differ very much in this microcosm.
Outside we have a little bit of wind and it is around 30 Celsius. In the main cabin (where 4 crew , Tim, Phil, Bruce, Jens) actually also sleep and all the cooking and navigation is done)It feels 40.
In the front cabin it is even warmer. Erik and Ton sleep there and it feels sometimes like sleeping in a Turkish Bath. One succeeds to sleep simply because one gets tired of the watches. (3 hours up, 3 hours off, 3 hours up, 6 hours off and on and on.
We are all happy there is wind again and that we are nearing the area where we will experience the trade winds. Making head way in light winds is challenging and requires sometimes more skill than in normal winds.
In addition the long and impressive ocean waves make Snow Wolf roll a bit. We are happy that also in sailing we do well in comparison with the rest of the boats. We are one of the front runners.
The nights are rather dark now. We are approaching new moon in a couple of days. The vastness of the sea and sky are impressive, But remember this trip is definitely not only about sailing. Also very simple thing are important.
3 meals a day, of which 2 cooked. Keep the boat clean. Including the kitchen and heads. Separating waste. Doing the dishes, Doing the laundry and so on and so forth. So far it goes very well.
Given the wind and forecast we are probably still more than a good week under sail before we reach Sint Lucia. Another crewmember will inform you tomorrow. All there best from Snow Wolfe’s crew via Ton ‘The Flying Dutchman’
Tuesday 30 November
15.32.024 N 32.01.293 W
What a difference a day makes!
After a couple of exciting and exhausting days, today has been quiet and rather uneventful – in fact, just what the doctor ordered. With weak and erratic wind, skipper chose to drop the flapping sails and use the engine. Calm sea and motoring gave us the opportunity to do some much needed tidying up, cleaning the ship and ourselves and getting some laundry out of the way. We lost our third lure in our third attempt to catch a fish, and must conclude that we won’t be successful in the fishing competition (we’re out of line for the fishing rod); hopefully, we’ll do better in the sailing competition. Phil once again impressed the crew with his domestic capabilities, serving top notch bacon and egg sandwiches and leading the cleaning charge from early in the morning. He must be a real domestic hero at home (when he’s there) .... Calmer seas also provide Tony the opportunity to show his mettle in the galley, so we’re looking forward to the evening meal with high expectations. Spirits are high as we expect to pick up some wind from the East shortly and get back under sail. All is well on board the Snow Wolf.
On behalf of the crew / Jens
Monday 29 November
17 deg 19.45N 39 deg 58.76W
Some good wind
Apologies first of all but we missed our log yesterday and so this will suffice for yesterday and today. Let’s start by asking a question. What do sailors and pregnant ladies have in common? The answer is easy enough; they both can suffer from sea sickness. There are many preventatives, don’t sail, don’t get pregnant but none of these are of use to us. Instead, we rely on an assortment of tablets, the electric shock watch, and, for my part, the patch strategically placed behind the ear. For me the patch has worked in the sense that fortunately I have had no sickness, but instead of one patch lasting 72 hours it seems to fall off and I use 3 per day! This is all highly relevant because we have had the wind on the nose for more than 48 hours at about 20+ knots which creates a constant list of 30 degrees. This makes for fun sailing for the first 6 or so hours. Slowly however, the sheer effort of moving to do anything aboard Snow Wolf is a major undertaking whether it is visiting the heads, getting into our bunks, remaining in our bunks (on the starboard side), making a meal or simply finding stuff! Our energy has been slowly drained aided by interrupted sleep. Ton has suffered most, but I’m happy to say he is now eating and feeling much better. Our meal yesterday started well with a surprise bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast which I had hoped would earn me some credibility with my crew mates all of whom seem to be trained cooks. As it turned out that was the only meat we had yesterday because nobody fancied much for dinner (given the wind from the west) and so we ended up with pasta with tomato source only. Last night we had our first experience of a mid Atlantic squall that saw the wind increase on the boat from 25 knots to 44 knots in seconds. Fortunately, our skipper Matt took control, but we will remember, always, to be vigilant for black low clouds.
Our spirits have been raised today when we passed a catamaran. We have news that we are well up in the fleet but have no details of which ships are ahead of us. Dinner tonight was to a higher standard with Bruce doing the honours.We are also pleased to have clocked up our first 1000 Nm!
All is well on Snow Wolf.
Sunday 28 November
Some good wind
Finally some good wind, we are sailing on a port tack and close haul. Really nice when you are at the helm, but not that nice when you are trying to sleep, especially if you are in the front or port side. I am in both, but it still so much better than motoring.
It seems that skipper Matt’s strategy works, we are fourth in cruising division and first in class. Then ones in front of us are bigger, so we might beat them on corrected time. A big fish missed our dinner table, so we had to settle for prawn with avocado for starters and then chicken for main.
This ocean is really big, I think we all will think about that every time we fly over it in an airplane. It is a bit hard to write this blog, because the keyboard keep sliding when i write, so this it for now. Everybody is happy and no one is seasick.
Love and regards to our families and friends and everyone else that reads this blog.
From all of us on board the Snow Wolf
Saturday 27 November
20’04 N 25’47 W
Sail south till ....
Well it’s day 5 in the big brother boot and spirits are running high. The typical ARC weather plan of “sail south till the butter melts then turn right to catch the trade winds” has caught many people out, as the weather has refused to run to plan.
This strategy has left many people floundering down by the Cape Verde islands of the coast of Africa. Many are short of fuel and have decided to put into Cape Verde for a few days break. So much for the ARC!
A few brave souls ourselves included have decided to venture west and this tactic has paid off handsomely as we are now making steady progress toward St Lucia and have less than 2000 miles to go. It’s a very dark night as the moon has not yet risen and we have not seen another boat on the horizon for nearly 12 hours. We are either going the wrong way or we are out in front !! Quite a strange feeling as our universe has contracted to the confines of the boat. 25 years ago on the very first ARC without the benefit of e-mail on the hoof it must have felt very lonely indeed! How the world has shrunk! Time to go back on watch – the star scape is wondrous to behold!
Thursday 25 November
22’12 N 23’12 W
Dear All. Welcome to our third blog from Snow Wolf from 22.16N and 23.11 W – we are ~600 miles across the atlantic with another 2200 miles to go. The last 24 hours has seen flat oily calm yesterday to a force 5 on the nose which started about 0400 – so yesterday was book reading and catching up on boat duties and today has been sailing in the grove and trying to make good progress to windward.
Matt has expertly routed us with the weather and looks like we are in good position – It appears the majority of the fleet have sailed south to Cap Verdi Islands to pick up the trade winds and we seem to have cut the corner – but hoping we dont get stuck in a calm patch – so all up for grabs and currently steering 215 degrees to try and intercept the trade winds and get ahead of the fleet! – all up for trying to get a piece of silver in St Lucia!
We are currently running a 3 hour on, 3 hour off, 3 hour on and 6 hour off watch system which is working well- meals are a big social occasion and thanks to Ton yesterday who seemed to spend all afternoon in the galley but produced the prize meal of the trip so far!
We have just put our watches back an hour as we have gone through a time line – so big debate as to what this means to watches –and the log – good to move away from GMT –and seems we are making progress- towards a cool beer in St Lucia! – we are running a dry boat but so far all surviving!– bet you all thought we are all drinking G&T’s as the sun goes down!
Have not seen any boats today or dolphins – the dolphins usually put on a good daily show for us – had pilot whales the other morning trying to compete for attention but they just cant seem to balance a ball on their nose!
Matt has just informed us that he has changed his underpants today! – so things are looking up! – you dont want to hear the rest it is quite cosy with 8 blokes!
Logging off from Snow Wolf
Tuesday 23 November - 2040 UTC
23’58.8 N 19’48.6 W
Third Night !
We are now settling down into our third night on the water. Jens and Erik are trying to get some sleep before their next watches. Phil, Tim and Tony are up on deck with Matt, and Ton and I are down below waiting for our next watch to start at 2100.
Seven boats were visible at breakfast time this morning. The last sail disappeared over the horizon early this afternoon. We are now all alone on the wide wide sea, aside from the dolphins that is. The first cry of “dolphins” at 0815 saw everyone emerge from their bunks. (We received another visit soon after lunch.) I wonder how soon the wonder will wear off.
Like most ARC boats, we have a fishing rod attached to the back of the boat. We’ve been trolling a lure and got one strike this morning ... in the form of Neva (a fellow ARC entrant) as she passed astern of us on a more southerly course. We decided to let her go and cut the line. We gather that other boats are having better luck.
While I can’t speak for the others, being woken up at 2350 after just over 2 hours of sleep has seen me struggling on to deck for the 0000-0300 watch asking myself “why am I doing this!?” Such thoughts disappear as the day progresses. The pleasures of watching the full moon set as the sun rises and lying on the deck in the shade of the spinnaker as the boat surges through the water are just two of the many compensations. It’s wonderful to be out here!
We’re all in good spirits.
Monday 22 November - 2100 UTC
25’26 N 17’23 W
On our way!
This is Snow Wolf with its first blog since departure Grand Canaries for St Lucia! The build up to our departure was what I would describe as frantic. As all crew arrived at our new home for the next 3 weeks, we were each greeted by our skipper Matt. On board we are 8 in total. Our talented crew were all complete strangers to one another (albeit it now feels like we have known each other for ever) and consist of Tony, Tom, Eric, Tim, Bruce, Yens, and me, Phil. Our first task was to figure out how much food and drink we would need, and what we should bring. This all turned out to be very logical based on weight of food per person. For example, 125 gm. of meat per person per day was made up of chicken curry, sausages, beef stew, chicken stew, etc. Our meat was delivered to our boat in 1 kg vacuum frozen packed. Similarly ingredients were approached on the basis of consumption per person per day. For example, 75 gm. of rice per person for 8 days, one potato per day to provide 160 spuds, and 5 prawns each to total 240. The whole process took several hours and we have everything from chocolate bars, to crisps, nuts, apples, oranges. Every spare space is now occupied with our rations. Drinks are included with 188 cans of Coke, 60 litres of milk, tea bags , coffee; but no alcohol, save for champagne for the half way Atlantic Ocean point!
We left with band playing and spectators everywhere on Sunday at 11.00 for the start line. On route Matt had us undertake various tactical exercises on Snow Wolf including setting up the spinnaker pole, goose winged until we too passed over the start line, just last but one, out of some 200 boats! This was no mistake! We smoked passed many yachts with the spinnaker up, and we have just heard we are now 14th! Unbelievable really.
Moral is very high. As night fell we had our first crew prepared hot meal thanks to Jens and Eric. Delicious mince with onions, tomato, pasta and other secret ingredients. We have now settled into our watch system which goes 3 crew per watch, 3 hours on, 3 hours off, 3 hours, 6 hours off, 3 hours on, 3 hours off then final 3 hours on every 24 hours! The highlight to date on the 0300 to 0600 watch was to have a flock of 6/8 dolphins right alongside the boat! Fantastic!
All is well on Snow Wolf as we continue our long journey. Each day it is hoped that each crew will contribute to this blog.
Friday 19 November
Getting Ready In Las Palmas!
As Star Chaser is staying in Barcelona this year and therefore not doing the ARC (see the Latest news for more information about Star Chaser), we have chartered the 7 berths for the ARC on Snow Wolf, another beautiful Swan for our adventurous crew!
The ARC is an annual transatlantic rally starting each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and has now become a very popular way to cross the Atlantic. The largest transocean sailing event in the world, every year the ARC brings together over 200 yachts from all over the world. The Caribbean destination is Rodney Bay in St.Lucia, one of the most beautiful islands in the Lesser Antilles. The 2700 nautical mile passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.
The crew have now all arrived in Las Palmas, where they have been met by Matt, their enthusiastic skipper, on Snow Wolf. Everybody is busy doing the last minute jobs on the boat, getting all the provisioning on board for 8 men for 2,5 weeks...believe me, it’s a lot of groceries to haul on to the boat!
The docks in Las Palmas are heaving like a busy beehive, with everybody flitting everywhere, last minute tips being exchanged, help offered for those points on the job list (it’s a boat, there is always a list!) that cannot be tackled alone and great friendships being forged. After all, everybody is there with one thing in mind: sailing across the Atlantic!
It is a daunting prospect: about 2700nm (3100 miles or 5000km) between Gran Canaria and St Lucia...and they will be sailing it, with for about 2.5 weeks no land in sight...
The start is Sunday 21 November around lunch time, so they still have a little bit of time to get everything ship shape before they set off into the wide ocean.
It is going to be very interesting to see and read about their adventures while they are out there, so check back daily to get the latest!