During this passage, nearly 6 years after leaving their home port in Pensacola, FL, Ron and Joanne complete the loop as they return to the Americas aboard Antares catamaran s/v Miss Jody. Below is a summary of that crossing.
Summary Report; Atlantic Crossing
8/30/12 thru 12/11/12
Gibraltar to Rabat, Morocco, 150 miles
Morocco to Canary Isle, 570 miles
Canary Isles to Antigua, Lesser Antilles; 2974 miles, 23 days, 19 hours, 10 min
The normal route from Europe to the Americas is to follow Christopher Columbus. South down the coast of Africa to the Canary Islands before the weather turns cold in Europe. Wait until the end of hurricane season and the trade winds begin to fill from there, then further south down the coast of Africa until the trades fill from the west then turn right to the Lesser Antilles.
The passage from Gibraltar to Morocco to the Canaries to Antigua was filled waiting for the right weather. Coastal passage or Open Ocean Passage, the criteria is the same. Wait for the weatherman to say “GO” if you want a chance for a safe and comfortable ride. The North Atlantic is notorious for it’s changing conditions with the movement of highs and lows from the Americas and from Europe.
Sarah Gillette and Will Berry joined us in Gibraltar to make the passage south. We departed Gibraltar on Sept 7, 2012 after waiting 8 days for the remains of a tropical storm to dissipate. The voyage through the Straights of Gibraltar was filled with anxiety given the area’s reputation. However, by following the advice of local sailors the passage was smooth and fast. We arrived in Rabat, Morocco, 150 miles, 24 hours later. The only hazard encountered were numerous unlit fishing floats, we only hit one.
Morocco is in North Africa and has a stable government. Rabat was a pleasant stay in a nice secure marina. There were reports of American flag burning by local Muslims because of the Libyan attack on the US embassy. We did not witness any adverse behavior toward us. The ladies enjoyed shopping in the Arab Souks [17th century shopping mall]. We took two land trips by train, to Casablanca [Humphrey Bogart was gone], and to Fez. We enjoyed the presence of two other cruising boats from the USA, Cyan & Freebird, and one from Australia, The Southern Cross. Joanne threw a birthday party for yours truly the day before we departed Rabat on Oct.2. The last two weeks of our stay was one of waiting on the right weather to continue our passage south to the Canaries. Tropical storm Nadine, was trying to die offshore near The Maderia Islands.
The passage to the Canary Islands was motor sail the first day then screecher and spinnaker for the next two days as the wind moved toward the north. We chose to make land fall on the south end of Graciosa. This was an easy access anchorage with no reports of government clearance problems. The passage was 470 miles and took 3.5 days. We had initially planned to cruise portions of the Canaries with the ladies but our weather delays used all of our spare time before they were to catch flights to the USA. Consequently we moved to the island of Lanzarote without further delay. These two islands are only 25 miles from the African coast and the weather is very dry. The land is barren with only a small amount of vegetation, very dramatic and beautiful.
Next stop, Las Palmas, Gran Canary. This popular port has the only all weather anchorage that we saw in the Canaries. The neighboring marina is the port of start for the ARC which is the annual passage of 250 sailing yachts from Europe to St Lucia, Lesser Antilles leaving the end of November. Our arrival on Oct 7 placed us right in the middle of these yachts preparing for their Atlantic Crossing. Joanne and Will spent many hours planning the food requirements for our pending passage to Antigua. Their efforts resulted in a very pleasant menu for our next four weeks. Joanne and Sarah departed “Miss Jody” on Oct. 10, headed for the USA. Will and I explored the islands off Gran Canary and Gomere for 8 days. The islands are beautiful but very few desirable anchorages. We returned to Las Palmas and prepared “Miss Jody” for the coming passage.
Our additional passage crew, Madison Schill and Larry Bowyer, both from Gulf Breeze Fl. arrived on 11/13 and 11/15. We departed Las Palmas on 11/17 @ 0830 UTC. The weather forecast was good from Las Palmas 800 miles south to the Cape Verdi Islands off the coast of Africa. The forecast west to Antigua was variable with several calm areas mid way across the Atlantic. We decided to make toward Cape Verdi and monitor the off shore weather. Madison became ill soon after our departure and did not recover. The winds remained light for the first four days. On 11/22 the wind filled in with 400 miles to Cape Verdi. We decided to continue to Cape Verdi so Madison could depart “Miss Jody“. We arrived on 11/24, 0630 UTC, 870 miles, 7 days. We refueled, and departed by 1000 hours, nice quick stop so we did not check in. Madison departed and well prepared to continue his adventure.
The following 17 days, 2104 miles were filled with lots of action. The wind ranged from 5k up to 30k with increases during squalls. The seas were confused from the NE up to 15 ft, and from the E up to 10 ft. The winds remained behind us most of the way. “Miss Jody” handled the sloppy sea very well. The main sail did not see the outside of her bag after the first 5 hours of the trip. We had numerous sail changes from spinnaker to screecher to jib and back again. The Schurr Sail inventory got a good workout and preformed well. Rain squalls were a continuing problem with wind increases of 15-30k for 1-6 hours at a time. We hit a light wind area about one half way across, making 350 miles in 4 days. Then the wind came back, this time a little south of east. The squalls became more frequent, and the wind began to shift up to 120* from the NE to the SE. More action. Will Berry and Larry Bowyer both did a great job guiding “Miss Jody” across the North Atlantic. Will Berry also carried the continuous burden of providing meals to the crew around the clock. He gets an A+++.
“Miss Jody” arrived in English Harbor, Antigua @ 0200 UTC on 12/11. A total passage of 2979 miles, 19 hours, 5.22 mph. We moved to the Jolly Harbor Marina on 12/12 where “Miss Jody” received a few hours of attention for abuses during the passage. The crew departed for Pensacola on 12/14.
Dec. 11, 2012 was a great day for “Miss Jody“. She is back in the Americas. We departed Panama, Central America 2/2007 and have been gone 5 years and 10, months!!!!!
Joanne and Ron returned to “Miss Jody” on 1/14/13 for continued progress toward Pensacola.