Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Day 17 of Atlantic passage from Ascension Island to Tobago

Hi everyone Dave reporting and sorry about the long gap in updates. It's been a rough continuous probably 5 or 6 days and we are pretty exhausted so have not had the energy to write. I thought I would start off by copying and pasting the below email text Gaby sent to my folks and sisters this morning.... It's a great perspective of what the last few days have been like, but specifically last night.... Here goes from Gaby:

"Gaby Reports" was the the email title...

Hi there...

Well, we had a heck of a night. The wind came up to 35 knots, and the waves were huge and I'd say about every 30 minutes a big one would crash over us. And I mean everywhere. It came in the helm station and down the to the cockpit even with all the canvases shut! I bet there isn't a inch outside that isn't covered in salt!😂

Just to add to all the stress and horribleness, when we turned the generator on it shut off by itself... TWICE!! And so that scared me when I heard the steady rumble of the generator and heard it fading away. Daddy thinks it is the fuel filters that didn't allow enough fuel through to run, I think.

In light of all this, we did amazing speed with just the jib up and the current with us: 179 miles in 24 hours!!! So that probably saved us half a day of sailing. We think we will get there on the 23rd... ONLY 3 DAYS LEFT!!!!🎉 I still can't believe this but right now the wind is 22 knots (side-on), we have just the jib out, and we are doing 9.3 knots!!! Consistently!!!!!!!

Well, poor Cool Runnings is getting punched by all these mean waves from all directions, but we have to remember there are people who have gone through much much much worse.

Love and miss you all (and stable ground!😂)

Dave back now...
So that's the unedited description to my folks from my brave little girl :)

Backing up about a week, we were doing OK on the rumline going directly to Tobago. The wind and seastate was OK and we got to celebrate Guds birthday at sea on a nice sunny day, after many days of grey skies. We had pancakes for breakfast, fresh baked bread for lunch and a birthday cake in the afternoon. Guds present was a necklace that Gaby made from a piece of blue coral we had only ever seen in Chagos. We had collected some of it off the beach and so I drilled a hole in a nice specimen and Gaby did the rest, creating a beautiful unique necklace.

That same day Gaby also wrote a lovely message and placed it in a bottle and cast it into the sea. Time will tell if anyone ever finds it and gets back to us :)

So a day later on the 19th, we started running into a progressively strong current against us. It was pretty frustrating sailing at 8 knots, but actually only doing 6 knots SOG as the current held us back. So we made the decision to change course and head more west towards Brazil to try and pick up the favorable NW flowing Guiana current. This would entail altering course quite radically and adding additional mileage to our trip, but we figured we had to get out of the counter current. A ship passing us that we had radioed, confirmed that if we continued on our then current course the opposing current would get even stronger and in his thick Russian accent told us in no uncertain terms "....and you vil suffer if you continue on zis course". Decision made.... We don't like to suffer !!!!!!!

So with that, we altered course and sailed west instead of north west for a few days. One of our blog readers and fellow Lagoon catamaran owner emailed us back and forth as he watched our online live tracker, and yesterday morning confirmed that we should be in the current according to the pilot charts he had. Sure enough early morning we hit the NW flowing current and made a course change back towards Tobago. Thanks for your help Gerald... very much appreciated!!!!

Sadly the wind and seas have not been kind these last few days and over the last 3 days in particular it's been extremely rough with strong winds of between 20 to 35 knots. Last night we had sustained winds of 36 knots with gusts of 38. The seas have been extremely confused and BIG. Last night and today we have had many waves breaking side on to us and the spray shooting up and over the helm station roof that sits about 12 feet above the sea.

To add insult to injury last night when starting the generator to charge our batteries, it ran for about a minute and faded out and stopped. It's the first time this entire trip around the world that it's given any trouble. It did this twice until eventually it ran. Gaby said a prayer, and just like that it worked. I discovered this morning the fuel filter that I put in brand new in Capetown just under 2 months ago was blocking. Unfortunately the diesel we got in Ascension Island looked really dirty, but we had no choice as we had a 3,000 mile passage ahead of us, so took it onboard and into the tanks. What has happened I bet, is with all the rough sea, the bad fuel and any other bad dirt in the tank is all stirred up instead of settled at the bottom, and has plugged up the fuel filters. Once I found that, this morning I changed the fuel filter, and have been running the " fuel polishing" system my dad and I constructed before we departed, so that basically
continually circulates fuel from the tank, through a 30 micron filter, and back to the tank. Unfortunately it's too rough to open the engine room hatches and change those filters, but if we get a calm patch I will do it.

We have also had a watermaker issue for the first time ever since leaving home. I have not been able to solve the issue yet, but have been able to run it on manual bypass mode which makes water, but no "automated safety shut down protection". It's OK to do for a short while until I can get it fixed. I have emailed Spectra in the USA where I bought the unit so hopefully will hear something back today or tomorrow .... I think it's a faulty sensor that sensors water pressure differences and is thinking the filters are "clogged " based on a faulty reading, despite fitting brand new filters.... We will see :)

We have been sailing with only our jib and no mainsail for the last 48 hours. It's been so rough. Luckily with the current in our favor now we are making up lost time and hope to arrive in Tobago on the 23rd February. We now have only 535 miles remaining and likely another 3 or Max 4 days at sea..... Yay!!!!! I can taste that Carib beer already!!!!

So with that news I will end off and wish you all well. Thanks for the many emails from old and new friends we have received on this trip. It's great catching up with you all!

Cheers Dave and the very bouncy Cool Runners!

Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.


  1. Happy birthday Gudrun! I posted in facebook as I could not find your email. Glad to hear you had CAKE! The way it should be for all birthdays! Wishing you good winds and safe arrival for that Carib beer!

  2. Hang in there, guys - and nice reporting from Gaby! :-)
    Much Love!
    Thorsten xx

  3. Happy belated birthday Gudrun! What a roller coaster ride for you all! Sending our prayers & hopes for rest & enjoyment in Tobago. Love reading your posts. ♡ Hysells

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