Two weeks into the Atlantic crossing

December 26, 2018
Winds ESE at 15 knots
speed averaging 6.5 knots the past several hours

750 nm to go….

We finally have our wind back after two very windless days. It gets a little scary when the wind dies and the weather forecast says there should be wind,but there isn’t. We checked our fuel and found we had used less than half of our 600 liter tank (after motoring a total of roughly 3 days out of 14). We also have an extra 140 liters in jerry cans so we are in good shape. Now, with the wind back, and the weather forecast looking excellent for the next five days we should hopefully not be turning on the engine again until we reach Martinique.

We had a fun Christmas/holiday celebration on the boat with Tom and Vivi with yummy food ( curried fresh mahi-mahi and an Asian cole-slaw) and even presents for everybody.

Ben asked us about how we handle sleeping, and night watch on the boat.

We all do three hour shifts for the hours of darkness , but since Tom and Vivi want to do their shifts together, they do a single six hour shift. Since we are sailing during the winter solstice, this means some very short hours of daylight. Also, because we are continuously moving west, the sun rises and sets about 20 minutes later each day so we turn our clocks back an hour every five days or so, so that sunset roughly occurs when Mark starts his watch and the sun rises just as I am finishing mine.

Mark starts out the day with the 6 pm to 10 pm shift. I try to go to sleep by 7 ( for the night) while Tom and Vivi take a nap and Mark does his watch. At 10:00 pm Tom and Vivi come on deck and Mark spends a little time with them discussing the sail plan for the night. I wake up at 4:00 am and the crew go to bed. It is a nice shift for me as I get at least two hours of darkness so I can star-gaze or moon watch, and then an hour of watching daylight breaking. Mark gets up after 7 a.m. and then we have breakfast together while the crew is still sleeping. , Mark has the responsibility of getting up and helping on deck in the middle of the night if something needs to be done and the crew is not 100% confident about what to do. This has happened two or three times so far.

By the time Tom and Vivian get up (9:30 – 10:00 a.m. ) I am usually back in bed for a nap.

The rest of the day is spent chatting, preparing and eating delicious food, napping, reading and listening to music and audiobooks.

By 6 pm we are usually done with everything and just as the sun is setting, we are once again preparing for the nightly routine.

The days go by quickly. Our big excitement is always catching fish. We have caught 7 so far ( ok, three got away at the last second, and one looked like a sea serpent and we threw it back)

We are having a great trip but are now really looking forward to reaching land. Time for a walk and a swim for all of ous.


Midway through Atlantic crossing

Saturday December 22. We are now on day 11 of our trip. It’s amazing that this passage which I was anticipating with so much anxiety over the past few months has been so great. The key is good luck with winds ( although we lost our wind last night and had to motor more than 12 hours) , competent and compatible crew, lots of food and of course a great captain. We have managed to sail, albeit slowly, most of the day today, even though the winds have pissed off to only 5-8 knots. We put up our mizzen ballooner, along with our other three sails, and it looks so beautiful right now. Tom prepared us a dynamite lunch… he is a great cook and takes a lot of care in his preparation.

Just before lunch we caught yet another mahi-mahi ( our fourth of the trip). This one was huge and just a beautiful blue and yellow color. He was so big, however, that when Mark tried to haul him up off the back of the boat, the fish fought back and managed to break free, taking with him our safety light at the back of the boat. We were chuckling to think that the fish and the light could possibly be tied together and the poor fish would be lit up for the next 72 hours. Doesn’t seem likely.

Unfortunately the forecast is for continued light winds tomorrow and then hopefully it will pick up a little by Sunday night.

We are at least halfway to Martinique and expect to be there around New Years.


Day 8 at sea

Day 8 at sea

Latitude N19 28.410
longitude W 029 45.53
Course over ground 270 degrees
Boat speed 7.5. – 8.2 knots

We are now starting our 8th day at sea. On day 6 we had very little wind and had to motor for about 11 hours. The wind picked up beautifully by ten pm on that day and we have been sailing along at between 7 and 8.5 knots, occasionally exceeding 9 knots, which is very good speed for us. Along with the wind, we have had an increase in the size of the swells, but it is still only about two meters. Everyone is doing well and we are able to cook, eat and just hang out without feeling any seasickness. Maybe it’s just the magic of meals on the boat at sea, but we have been eating like kings….. fresh caught mahi sautéed in garlic and olive oil, mahi tacos ( “macos”), chicken curry, Asian cole slaw with peanut dressing, fruit smoothies. It is lots of fun and Tom-Erik and Laura are the primary cooks. The crew are so helpful and always eager to help out with cooking, cleaning, and keeping watch. Tom even taught me a new boat knot, and they are working on teaching me a simple Norwegian song.

We each have our moments when we feel totally exhausted and yesterday was my turn. Luckily with Mark and the crew, there is always someone to step in and do whatever needs to be done so the exhausted person can take a nap. Today it’s Marks tired day.

We are feeling very lucky in terms of weather ( knock on wood), seaworthiness of Sabbatical III, and crew compatibility.

We are now more than 1/3 of the way to Martinique.


First days of Atlantic passage

Sunday, December 16,2018

We are having a terrific sail so far. We are now in our fifth day out (departing from Marina Rubicon’s fuel dock at about noon on Wednesday December 12th) and have only had to motor for 5 hours. All the rest of the time we have been sailing with smooth seas and moderate winds. The first day was a bit uncomfortable due to irregular swells, and none of us felt that well, particularly Vivi-Anne for whom it was her first foray into the true ocean. After that, however, winds and seas have been fairly consistent and pleasant. Today was supposed to be almost windless, but we have a lovely breeze and have been sailing all day. The big thrill today was when we caught a fish early this afternoon. Mark has been trailing two lines behind the boat since we left, and suddenly today, just as we were discussing what to have for lunch, there was a catch. We all got so excited and Mark pulled in the big mahi-mahi without any trouble at all. Tom helped with the cleaning and Vivi took pictures.
We cooked some fillets up with garlic and curry and lemon and followed up the meal with a perfectly ripe mango. Great day. Our crew, Tom and Vivi are super nice and helpful and their presence has made our trip so much easier. We eat well every day, enjoying some of my pre- cooked dinners and Toms special potato,egg and onion specialty dish. We have so much good food on board that we are certainly not going to be losing any weight on this trip.

The weather forecasts we get are not as accurate as we would like, but thus far, our weather has been better than forecast, if anything. We have been sailing with our two headsails poled out for two days now which is a very comfortable sail configuration and perfect for our primarily downwind sail.
Mark does the first shift every evening, while Tom and Vivi sleep a bit, then they do the hard 10 pm to 4 am shift, and then I do the 4 to 7 or 8 am shift. I get to see the sunrise which I really like. During the day we all kind of keep watch, with Mark playing the role of captain extremely well.
We’ve only seen a couple of other boats and all are quite a good distance from us, so it feels like we are the only ones in the whole Atlantic Ocean.
Tom and Vivi think they may have just seen a whale, we are all going to keep a lookout for more sightings.
We are hoping everything continues like this for the whole trip. Suddenly the interminable 18 days sounds like a piece of cake.


PS. Scores of dolphins just visited the boat for an hour just before sunset. They jumped, and swam back and forth across the boat, and put on a fabulous show.

Departing for Martinique

Tomorrow morning (December 12) at about 10 am local time, we will leave Marina Rubicon heading for Martinique in the Caribbean.  To get the best winds, the planned route will take us southwest towards Cape Verde before we turn more to the west.  The passage is about 2900 nautical miles (5370 kilometers) and will take us 18 to 21 days.  The forecast for the first week is excellent.  The boat is ready to go and so are we.  Having Tom Erik and Vivi-Ann along as crew will make the Atlantic crossing much easier.  We will post updates to the blog en route and you can always check on our position at our shared map page here:


Touring Lanzarote with Hannah and friends

Our daughter Hannah (center) with her Swiss friend Adina

We are still at the Marina Rubicon at the southern end of Lanzarote Island in the Canary Islands.  We have become very fond of this place, even more so now that we have had the opportunity to explore the island by car and foot.

The highlight of the past month was the visit of our daughter Hannah and her friend Adina during the week of November 17.  Unfortunately, the uniformly good weather we had been having ended with an unusual weather system that brought some rain, strong winds from the southwest, and big seas.  So leaving the marina in the boat was out of the question, but we were still able to explore by land.  Hannah and Adina went off hiking for two days while staying at an AirBnB near the surfer’s beach, and with the big waves, there was plenty to see.

Hannah and Laura at Los Hervideros, famous for its lava cliffs.
Hannah and Adina with the unique volcanic “vineyards” of La Geria in the background
Hannah and her parents at La Geria
View from Mirador del Rio at the far north of the island
Squalls cast shadow on the water, as seen from Mirador del Rio
Mark and Hannah at Caleta de Famara, a surfing beach
Surfers preparing to enter the water, Caleta de Famara
Low tide at Caleta de Famara
Mark and Laura at Caleta de Famara

Our good friends Barbara and Frank from the sail boat “Destiny” also caught up with us in Lanzarote.  They came while we were in mainland Spain and France and spent a month at the Marina Rubicon.  They are now at sea on the way to the Caribbean.  We had some great walks and memorable meals with them.

Fisherman’s house near El Golfo
Barbara and Frank on our hike to Caldera Blanca.  The volcanic plain leading to Playa Blanca is in the background.
Los Hervideros on a calm day
Camels walk back to their resting place after a long day giving tourists a ride
The rain brought our some greenery on the rocky path north of El Golfo.
View of Playa Blanca, the town with our marina, from the promenade leading to lighthouse (Faro Pechiguera)
View of the sunset from the promenade between Playa Blanca and Papagayo
Red clouds over Marina Rubicon at sunset

Since Hannah returned to California, we have spent almost all of our time preparing Sabbatical III for our upcoming Atlantic crossing.  We have a Norwegian couple, Tom Erik and Vivi-Ann, joining us for the crossing.  We found them on a volunteer crew site and they even visited us for two days when we were in Valencia in May, We all seem very compatible.  Their presence will shorten our usual 6 hour night watches into 3 to 4 hour watches and give us much more time to rest during the day.  Tom Erik and Vivi-Ann arrive tomorrow (Monday, December 10) and we may start our nonstop crossing of the Atlantic as early as Wednesday (December 12).  The boat is in excellent shape and full of more food than we could possibly eat.  Laura has prepared a few meals of  chicken curry and “Shirley’s” meat balls and put them in the freezer.  The forecast is for pretty light winds to start so we may delay our departure for a couple of days.  We will post our departure to the blog and you can always check on our position at our shared map page here:  You will need to scroll out to get an idea of where we are, otherwise you will only see blue ocean on the map. Our position and other relevant data are updated on this map page every 10 minutes once we depart. The sail will take 18 to 21 days.  Our destination is the Marina du Marin in Martinique.