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December 16, 2012

Have a listen to Aidan, Denis and I chatting about Indulgence and our trip across

We are sitting ashore now, safe and sound after our arrival in Rodney Bay.
As I found out late last night, our last blog never managed to post properly, so I have updated that page with all the moments of our arrival. Pop over here and have a look.
In the meantime, hope you enjoy this audio blog I recorded with Aidan and Denis on our last few days at sea.

December 14, 2012

Mission accomplished. Arrival into St Lucia

Friday, 14th December 2012

Current Position : Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia, Windward islands, Caribbean

A few miles west of Saint Lucia, dawn breaks and John and Denis are sitting on deck with the islands of Saint Lucia in the background. What a scene!

It’s already been an interesting night and we gave it our all, shaking out all reefs, full headsail and powering full steam ahead for our first sight of land in 17 days. Earlier that morning, I had woken up for my watch to see Aidan clutching a transitory radio, tuning into Raggea Santa, tapping the beats on the cockpit and proudly claiming we are only 60 miles away. We watched the Southern Cross pop it’s head over the horizon for the first time on our trip, and this ticked another item off Johns bucket list.

The Piton mountains fully dominated the horizon and we listened to many other ARC boats calling in their position as they too came close to land. As we came closer to the finish line we were joined by Bulbo-Mittio, a Sunfast 43. It really was a race to the end as she came in under spinnaker, but we closed the door on her on the pin end. Its hard to believe that after such a long time at sea that a finish like this would be so close, or even possible.  Also at the finish line was our photo mate Tim Wright, of photoaction, in his little dinghy, who manages to shoot every major regatta in the world including many, many Cork Weeks in Crosshaven. Good man Tim.

On our list of must dos was a SWIM. At last, a glorious swim, and as soon as the sails were folded away, all four of us dived overboard into that warm Caribbean bath of salt water. We should after all let the autopilot do its last bit of work after such a hard passage!

Also spotted was another Cork boat ‘Transendance’ from Kinsale anchored in the bay, so we must find out more about our ‘homies’.

Homies of the Carribbean kind were all around. Greeted by the ARC crew and the island tourist board, with a bottle of Chairmans Reserve St Lucian Rum, and a basket of fresh fruit, including bananas ( in case we were short). There was nothing really that could be done and all we could do was step off the boat, sit on the marina and just look at Indulgence. First the first time ever we were happy to sit on the pontoon and just look at the boat from this side for a change.

Of course the local enterprising Rastas weren’t long turning up and within 30 minutes we met Ryan, offering local crafts, more bananas and other herbal remedies, that we hear may be illegal in other countries. As it turned out, he had an Irish wife, had been to the Guinness Storehouse and kissed Blarney Stone, which we believe to be true, in its entirety.

And now, the day is almost over, still hard to fathom it all again. Delighted to be able to have completed another trans Atlantic. Sleep, more rum, and more stories will continue.

December 11, 2012

Email blackout and the homestretch….

Tuesday 11th December

Current Position: N 15o 26′.155 W 52o 08′.286

Current Speed : 6.5 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 511 nm

* * * * *

Email blackout and the homestretch….

No matter how hard we tried over the past days, we simply could not get the connection between the sat phone and our computer working. No more emails. No more blogging. No more, no more, no more!!!!! Ahhhh…. help, it’s a black out!. Breathe deeply Joleen.

Genuinely though, with the cessation of email communications, I was upset. Very upset. It was like someone decided they were going to cut off my right arm and it made me realise how important communications are to me. I’ve enjoyed bringing you all on this journey with us over the past few weeks, reporting on the days activities and general banter onboard. I’ve now taken to recording more audio blogs, including the sound of the waves at night and a nice interview with Aidan, which will be broadcasted when we get ashore.

For now, this blog post, is an attempt and I really don’t know if our computer and sat phone arrangement will cooperate today. None the less, it will remain in the outbox until we get our next connection. For your own information, lack of emails, also means lack of regular weather reports and we are not sure of our fleet position in the ARC rally.

So, besides the drama of this email outage, crew spirits and activities still remain high. We are on the home stretch now, with just over 500 nautical miles to go to Saint Lucia. For me, the last few days have been more of a reflective time, especially enjoying solitary night watches and chatting to the broleens.

One of our highlights over the past few days, was shortly after our last post, when we crossed the 1,000 miles to go barrier and had endured rain for the entire day. As the night set in, so did calm seas and a warm breeze. We sat in the cockpit and cracked open a bottle of rum and it felt like we were sitting at home in the marina. The party put a completely different meaning to the “Mid Atlantic Drift”.

Techie geekspeak for all of those who are curious. Our auto helm, Colm, is doing a fabulous job. Colm has steered us since we left, without complaint and didn’t at any stage call for union rules at the feeling of being victimised for over work.

To keep our power topped up, we run the engine for two hours in the morning, and again in the evening. The power consumption is low, even though we run our fridge for six hours and have our plotter and auto helm running continuously.

We have found the sweet spot with our sail arrangement. This is a number three reefed main, with same size headsail poled out. Minor sail repairs were carried out yesterday, due to abrasions against the shrouds.

Our food rations are fine. We just ran out of UHT milk today. We have plenty of everything else, including still half a banana plantation, which has gone well beyond ripening point. Several recipes have been endured by the crew. Highest scores goes to the banana bread and lowest to the oven baked bananas wrapped in serano ham. We may get adventurous in the galley again this afternoon and try fried bananas with fish curry.

Speaking of fish, our biggest catch to date was hauled in yesterday. A 8.5kg sail fish, with long blue snout and razor shape teeth was lugged over board by John and Denis. It was honestly, enormous and we now have enough fish steaks to feed a little village.

The conversations for now, remain on the topic of the home stretch and what is the first thing we all want to do when get ashore. John is taking his responsibilities very seriously and will be rushing to check us all in at customs and immigration, while Denis is looking forward to that first rum at the bar and Aidan a nice meal, preferably lobster, or crab and an extra bottle of chilled white wine. For me, all I want is a warm, fresh water shower, clean bedlinen (there has been three bed wettings, but only because the hatches have been left open) and my clothes not to feel crisp with salt. A walk on the beach would also be nice. Only a few more days now…..

December 8, 2012

Singing in the rain

Saturday 8th December

Current Position: N 17o 30′.573 W 44o 12′.916

Current Speed : 7 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 983 nm

* * * * *

It began as a promising morning, with bright blue skies and a salt water shower to start the day. So far, I’ve been smothering myself in factor 50, as red hair and freckles do not agree with the sunshine and this morning called for LOTS of factor foxy. Denis showed us all his guilty pleasure by turning up Frank Sinatra very loud on the mp3 player and dancing in the cockpit with his new sunhat. Priceless moment.

Well, well, well, the day was purely out to fool us all, as ever since we’ve been looking out at rain, rain and more of the same. We all feel right at home.

We passed a milestone today. Less than 1000 nautical miles left on the clock. They are ticking off slowly but surely.

John has been acting as a contortionist in his bunk watching chick flicks. Aidan spent the day cleaning out the bilges. I’ve made fish cakes for supper and Denis is diligintly sitting out in the rain keeping watch.

Our celebratory milestone rum will have to wait for tommorows ‘happy hour’ as its just too miserable to face sitting in the cockpit in these wet conditions.

Congratulations to Aidan’s son Robert Heffernan who correctly guessed who wrote which lines of our poem. Rob, your dad has given you full permission to raid the petty cash at work and treat yourself to a sauna. Ohhhh hang on, he has just shouted out to me there is a clause, maximum value of €25. Tough boss! The lines by the way were written by 1. John, 2. Aidan, 3. Denis and 4. Joleen.

December 7, 2012

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Friday 7th December

Current Position: N 17o 51′.516 W 40o 49′.509

Current Speed : 6 knots (motoring)

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 1177 nm

* * * * *

The good, the bad and the ugly.

So much for our predicated light airs and calm seas last night. Shortly after our last blog post, the rain set in. Hot. Sticky. Wet. Warm. Rain. We ate our evening meal below, peeping our heads above deck every so often hoping the squall would pass through. After a few hours it still hadn’t and the wind was picking up. Time to reef our main and furl in the headsail.

I reckon the lads were on a conspiracy against me, because they all sat below and jointly exclaimed ” I’d be Fffff’d if I go up up there, Joleen it’s your watch”. Good luck now. And all three huddled together whimpering, while I sat in the cockpit, for what seemed like an age, dumping the main continuously with salt water trekking down my wet gear. Feeling utterly miserable watching the wind gauge read, 25, 30, 35, 40 knots. Surely my watch would be over soon.

Eventually 9pm came, and Denis poked his nose above board. According to the grib files, light airs were ahead, and the wind would settle down eventually. We’ll hold tough. The wind dissipated throughout the night and by the time I came back on watch at 4am, we had settled into a steady 25 knots of breeze. Overnight, we had problems with our furling headsail, which stubbornly decided it would only leave itself half out, or in, depending on which way you would look at it. In please, I hate bad weather.

As I sat in the cockpit for my second watch that night, sheet lightning storms continued on all sides, which had already been going for six hours. John, our normally steady steady sea dog does not do fork lighting. Fortunately, none were near enough to be a threat. But it was a reminder of how small out little magnetic boat was in this vast ocean. We were after all the only lightning conductor for around 200 miles around.

As the morning set in, the light airs and predicated lull set in. We’ve been motoring for the most of the day. Baking again in the tropical heat. I’ve been dyeing for a swim, and reckon a mid Atlantic dip, sans sharks, whales and super sized fish would be the right order. The washing is out, and the boys caught our biggest catch of the day so far this morning, sighing in at 5.75 kilos.

In more pressing news, which I know you have been all waiting for, the results of the shirt competition are now in. Thanks to all our dedicated readers for your input in this hotly contested competition.

Second runner up, and in a margin we didn’t expect, is the outboard engine cover at 5%, sporting a tidy black Dunnes Stores ‘Bag for Life’. Joint first runner up goes to Denis at 20% of the votes with John at a similar 20% of the votes. But, for the first time ever and in the majority by a clear lead is Aidan Heffernan (even though there was a blue stain in his chinos without anyone noticing) with a staggering 55% of all public votes. Aidan has won a massage in the spa of his choice when we get to Saint Lucia. Clearly it was his good looks and tropical shirt that clinched his lead.

New, new ships time is now UTC – 2 hours. We changed our watches today, so we don’t get jet lag when get to Saint Lucia. Please note, when trying to get in contact with the Indulgence office HQ.


December 6, 2012

‘Aslyum Indulgence’ or ‘When good crew go bad’

Thursday 6th December

Current Position: N 18o 05′.833 W 38o 40″.129

Current Speed : 7.3 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 1301 nm

* * * * *

‘Aslyum Indulgence’ or ‘When good crew go bad’

The blog has become topic of the day, especially since we are completely ignorant of what is going on in the outside world. This afternoon a notebook was handed around, with all crew members asked to write a line in the effort to compose a limerick of some sort for our readers. Read on, and ask yourself, is it time to be a bit worried about crew mentalities at this stage, or will we make it one piece? Can you guess who wrote what?

Captain Blood, Scully, Esmerelda and Bob Johnny Smart Pants

With dreams of coconuts a plenty and lobster thermador.
Are we there yet?

We added a bit of colour to our own 200 sq metre of Mid Altantic today
But no one to see it

Yet, we will keep on going to where the sun keeps shining
No longer finding a trail of jettisoned bananas
Skipping over the ocean like stones

Weather conditions are very much like a wet day in West Cork right now. Cloudy, rainy yet very sticky and hot. Just a bit miserable really (poor us!). We’ve flown the spinnaker for almost the whole day and are expecting lighter airs tonight. Drive on. We are on a one way ticket to Rodney Bay, St Lucia and hopefully there within another seven or eight days.

December 5, 2012

Kites and Eggs

Wednesday 5th December

Current Position: N 18o 59′.816 W 35o 37″.020

Current Speed : 7.6 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 1480 nm

* * * * *

Kite and Eggs

Denis expressed a craving for a boiled egg this morning. Luckily enough we did manage to stock up on fresh eggs at our supermarket sweep in the Canaries. We bought 56 in fact, just in case. So far, only four had been used for the previous days birthday brownies, so we’d better get cracking! Aidan took position at the galley, since he proudly claimed he knew how to cook poached eggs, and we all enjoyed “Huevos” poached in Atlantic salt water. You can’t beat that.

We were all contented with our previous nights super sail, overtaking Aidan’s new mate, Jeremy on Sirius, a Tayana 56. Now with full bellies, we decided to launch the spinnaker up for the first time. There is a running joke that we turn into sailing bandits by night, overtaking the boats who choose to slow down. The darkness is our secret weapon!.

Back to the kite and less of our super bandit tactics, as our spinnaker enthusiasm only lasted about forty minutes. We all agreed it was far too much like hard work. We did however, get around 8 knots from the super sized coloured sail. The spinnaker which had been packed down by the team in McWilliams sailmakers to a nice tidy size, now takes up about five times its previous space and occupies approximately half of the forepeak. John will be comfortable in his bunk tonight.

Interestingly enough, we haven’t been this brave since we took to the start line at Las Palmas. We approached the start line with full set of sails and quickly put in three reefs to our main before we even got over the line. We haven’t seen much past the second reef since then, until again today when we were feeling extra courageous. With a moderate 20 knots, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see a full set of sails before us. And so, right now are cruising along nicely, with full main and headsail at comfortable 8 knots in 25 knots of breeze. The sun is blazing and the Eagles are pumping out Hotel California in the cockpit.

We are keeping a very close eye on your comments as to who should win the shirt competition. Aidan believes there is a conspiracy against him, as he self confesses that he tries to hard. As it stands the results are John : nil, Denis : 50 % and Aidan 50%. Considering that Johns shirt in a unique shirt, and Aidan’s in a mass produced number in Taiwan, he is very upset that not one person considered him to be worthy of the title. As previously mentioned, voting will be open until Friday at 17:00UTC, so get your votes in now. After this time, you may still express an opinion but your vote will not count in the final selection.

No fish was caught today, although one did escape. We are also on our reserve water tanks. Not a pack of tinned food has been opened yet and Joleen is fighting hard to keep it that way. Tonight’s meal will be Mahi Mahi, stir fried cabbage and baby pops. One of the crews favourites so far has been Ceviche, marinated fish in lime, garlic, ginger and red onions with lots of soda bread. Even Aidan liked that one and he is known for being the fussiest eater alive.

That’s it for now folks, thanks again for all your comments on the blog posts, which we are receiving loud and clear.

December 4, 2012

Please help us pick the best shirt onboard Indulgence

Hi All,

Asking for your help in judging the best shirt onboard Indulgence this afternoon. Unfortuntly, i cannot post pictures directly to this blog, and so have posted the picture on the ARC world cruising club blog. Please have a look and tell us should John wearing a beer stained green number, Aidan in an authentic Haiwainn shirt or Denis with his recently purchased Canarian sombrero and cleanest t-shirt take the prize.

Sorry, again, cannot post a link, as no internet access, but a quick google will lead you in the right direction.

Many thanks!

December 4, 2012

Message from: Yacht Indulgence

Tuesday 4th December

Current Position: N 19o 42′.426 W 32o 54″.267

Current Speed : 6.8 knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 1638 nm

* * * * *

Close your eyes. Imagine you are on a thirty six foot yacht, crossing the Atlantic. We are eight days in, about half way there and our night watch has just passed. As it happens, it was a dirty night with several squalls and lots of rain passing through. Our headsail is shortened in and the three reefs still sit in the main. Me, I’m in my bunk, pretty cosy and all wrapped up. Aidan calls ” Ten minutes Joleen, but take your time” and I know that i have to get up. Right. Here goes!.

After a small stretch, I make my way out to the heads, and back again to my little corner to freshen up. But STOP!!!!! Go no further, because three guys are above in the cockpit shouting my name!. Hahahahaha.

The three of them, dressed in no more than swimming shorts and sparkly colour co-ordinated ties, holding out a tray of chocolate bars with candles.

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you… the seagulls are even jealous at the harmonious chorus! If it wasn’t for my sleepy vision, I would have thought three chipendales were before me, but no, it is the three stooges, Aidan Heffernan, John Hanly and Denis Hagle. Why any woman would be jealous of me now!.

I couldn’t help but be in convulsions of uncontrollable laughter. Quickly, quickly, there’s more… Birthday presents! And what does everyone get on their birthday in Ireland? Why scratch cards of course! These ones, Gran Canarian shopping lucky dips. I was unsuccessful. Surprise, surprise. A keyring to remind me of my birthday at sea and so I could fit in with the crowd, another sparkly tie. Lucky me. To match, co-ordinating sunglasses to match my hair. Muy expensivo!, I’ve been assured but the skipper.

So the day has continued and so has the birthday party. Chocolate brownies have been baked and eaten. Even a few beers have been cracked open and the mp3 player is on overdrive. As we sit down for dinner now, John has requested that all gentlemen onboard wear their best shirts. I get to judge. This will be interesting….. Updates tomorrow.

Thanks everyone for the comments on yesterdays post. It is great to know that you are all reading our updates and interested in what is going on out here. We’ll keep you posted.

Over and out.

December 3, 2012

‘Dar she blows…

Monday 3rd December

Current Position: N 20o 40′.375 W 30o 17″.111

Current Speed : 7.3knots

Distance to finish at Saint Lucia : 1792 nm

* * * * *

‘Dar she blows…

At 9.30am, Denis stopped, paused, looked at us all and exclaimed “hey guys I didn’t sign up for a job in a fishing trawler at all!” At this point of the day, we had already caught and filleted two fine Mahi Mahi fish. That was lunch and dinner set, and just as well since the majority of our fresh provisions have now run their course.

Denis already had a tough watch the night before, and we had all heard a lot of “Ohhh fffff’s, ohhhh bloody fffff’s” and so on from our cozy bunks below. At one point a rouge wave crashed over the starboard stern, soaking Denis and causing a ripping noise from the push pit. By the time he got his wits about him, which is rare, he noticed the Dan Bouy was gone. It’s not the first sacrifice Indulgence has given to the sea, as we have now lost a winch handle, a fishing lure we had christened “The Big Fella” and a pair of Aidan’s shorts. If we don’t hurry up, by the time we get to the Carribbean, we will be using banana skins to cover our modesty.

As rest of the day settled in, we enjoyed 25 knots of constant breeze gusting up to 35knots. Indulgence is very comfortable on her first ocean passage, hosing along at 7 – 8 knots. We have our headsail poled out and three reefs in the main, a bit like two National 18 dinghy sails at home.

The waves at times are truly awesome, reaching heights comparable to small buildings. At one such point during the mid afternoon we were all sitting in the cockpit mulling over the days tasks and looking behind at the surf. We noticed a large dark shadow slip by in our wake. Moments later, there it was again, and we realised it was a very, very, VERY large mammel.

For the next hour or so, we enjoyed the company of an enormous fin whale. Within metres, she glided around the boat, swam under our hull, and surfaced for air almost every 4-5 minutes. It was a really special moment, as all four of us sat in wonder in our 36 foot boat, surfing alongside a whale the same size as us. I for one, felt very small.

The log book is filling up, and we have noticed that John prefers to record in sketches rather than words, so a little picture of a whale is now decorating the pages of Day Seven at sea. This is along side five little pictures of fish to indicate our Mahi Mahi catch so far.

Tommorow is December 4th, my 31st birthday, and our one week anniversary of our ARC passage. We’ve now gotten so comfortable with our surroundings, that when Aidan heard the engine on this morning to charge the batteries, he thought we had pulled up alongside a marina somewhere, while John imagines women and children talking in the background. Hmmm…… maybe it is time we hit land again soon.

PS: For the whale watchers out there, the co-ordinates where we first spotted the fin whale were N 20o 51′ W 29o 40′

PPS: Rafiki is very close by again. “We will fiiiiiiinnnnnd you”