January 22, 2012
Sunday, 3pm, the sky is grey, we leave the bay of Faja d’Agua on the island of Brava.
I can still hear the music played by the crew of MOMO (the ship of Norwegian street-art acrobat & musicians with whom we befriended) as they left the bay, leaving for their transatlantic. I can still hear the horn of Didi and Eva’s car to say goodbye and wish us good luck. Poignant. Aboard not a word … Our hearts are tight. We’re lost in our thoughts, everyone lives in his own way this great start and this new farewell.
Soon a kind of thick fog swallows the island that disappears like a dream. We barely see its outline. We force on our eyes not to lose it. We know it’s there and yet it is not anymore, leaving us alone at sea, facing the Atlantic Ocean which we hope to cross in 15 or 21 days.
The swell is still well formed, with waves of around 3-4 meters and the wind not too strong, just what we need (20 knots). I wonder what will happen during this crossing. How each of us will experience it. Noé sees the earth disappearing without apprehension. Camille wakes up from his nap, a little buffeted by the waves.
Here we are, at the beginning of our great TransAtlantic. I hope everything will be fine, without heavy weather.
Our captain is sick. All symptoms of a sort of food poisoning (although we all ate the same thing), unless it is the accumulation of tiredness coupled with heavy seas that gave him a form of seasickness … Vincent and I assure navigation day and night and I take care of Olivier bedridden. His condition is stable, but I prefer to keep an eye on him …. Hmmm …
Do not think about the finish .. Do not think about the 2000 miles that still separate us from the Caribbean sea. Think only of our route, alone counts today. Do not watch the amount of miles traveled, nor calculate what we still have to go when we make the point on the map.
Only the route counts, the cap, sail trim, the occupations of children to live peacefully this experience in a limited space. Break the spacial monotony to fully appreciate this Transatlantic.
We glide over the ocean and yet I sometimes feel as if we were not moving. I feel confined. Strange that marriage between freedom and incarceration. At first only my dreams could make me escape from the boat, taking me away from the constant movements and constant noises. And then came the abandonment, that moment when I stopped thinking about the arrival, the number of days at sea. That moment when I agreed to live mindfully this adventure just live and enjoy every moment. Then, and only then my living space expanded, my world became infinite. “Living our lives and forget where you are going,” was the only way for me to enjoy it.
Olivier is feeling better. Phew !… It was nothing too serious, indigestion and seasickness.
But the wind dropped and the boat crawls at 3 knots … and this is not to please our captain! He doesn’t want to sail for 3 weeks across the Atlantic. 😉 Well I understand, neither do we, for we might then be short of gas, fresh water and Noé could not see his friend Anatole who is on vacation in Martinique until February 11th. At the same time, apart from invoking Aeolus, tuning the sails to nab the breeze, setting the spinnaker, you can not do much more.
The kids are giving us a big lesson of life philosophy. It is not always easy for them either to live this constant promiscuity, in a boat that moves all the time without being able to go out running nor swimming. They never ask when we arrive and they simply enjoy everyday, every moment in great simplicity. When the weather is calm like today, they take the opportunity to play with us on the trampoline: rolls, somersaults etc..
1000 miles from Cabo Verde … almost half of the transatlantic. Night shifts go by and none alike. Failing to sail under a starry sky, tonight we glide over a sea of stars, illuminated by billions of phosphorescent plankton. Last night was so quiet that we almost felt anchored, the wind failed and PlanetOcean was crawling at 2 knots (which puts the captain in a bad mood!). And then there are nights like tonight. It’s colder and it rains. The wind turns constantly leaving me without a respite. We must steer to relieve the autopilot and as soon as we can breathe a little we get inside for some warmth. Then I take the opportunity to write you these lines in the middle of the night and the ocean.
Yesterday, while there was no wind we took the opportunity to cut our children (and captain)’ hair on the trampoline followed by a shower of sea water with a final rinse with fresh water (sun heated). Then we took out the spinnaker, to the delight of children who find it beautiful, even though Camille was “a little scared” as he says. Then we did some workshops (clay, comics etc.). In fine weather we install the small pool for children, wading with delight.
Today was Olivier’s birthday. Children made him a necklace as a gift and the wind was back which quickly brought back a large smile to the captain. We even got to eat outside!
The trade winds are well established, steady at 20-25 knots, and despite bad waves we are finally making our 8 knots average with peaks at 12 knots. The captain is smiling. For children, workshops are adapted depending on the swell and the number of flying fish that landed on the boat at night. Soon anatomy of fish will have no secrets to them…
I remember …
I remember this navigation from Puerto Da Furna up to Faja d’Agua on Brava island. Waves of 4-5 meters in the nose, shaking the boat like a washing machine. Camille said he was afraid and Noé complained starting to be seasick. So I sat outside on the bench “protected” from waves and wind with the children on my lap. I hugged my children to reassure them. We watched Olivier at the helm. We amused ourselves by counting the big waves and surf and laughed when the captain was a bit sprayed by big waves. And then it happened: The Big Wave! One in which PlanetOcean plunged. It went over the trampoline, the roof of the boat to come right over us! We were wet to the skin in a ¼ of a second. Camille and Noé utter a cry of surprise, paralyzed by fear and finally burst out laughing! The wave also flooded the boat … we’ll have to wipe and dry.
PlanetOcean devour the miles. We just changed our landing point so that Noé can meet his school friends in Martinique. So we will not stop in Barbados … If we keep the same cruising speed we should be able to arrive around 6 or 7 February at the port of Le Marin in Martinique.
The end of the days begin to be a little difficult for the kids who need to unwind physically but the swell is too strong to go play on the trampoline. Fortunately our fish catches bring some fun, foam-pool sessions help to bring out the emotions and sheds in the boat (with the seat cushions) open new horizons.
Before this transatlantic I must admit I never really thought I’d get used to the constant noise and sudden movements of the boat. I dreaded seasickness and those two or three weeks behind closed doors in the middle of the waves. After these 14 days at sea, and especially after letting go, forgetting myself and the arrival I feel better at sea. Now that I can better maneuver the beast, I am more confident. The captain too. To the point that I sometimes struggle to wake him up and get him out of his dreams.
The bad surprise this morning when we woke up was to see that our jib began to tear … It’s going to need a new beauty.
We should see the Martinique tomorrow … I want to arrive and I enjoy my last night shift, alone with Planet in the middle of the ocean. I cross off the first boat since we left …
10am we land! Off into the mist …
I had imagined that we would all be super excited at that moment .. but strangely no … and the atmosphere on board is a bit strange. We’re all a little pensive … we’ll have to land, get back to a different pace of life.
We sail along the south-East coast of Martinique. Children come to realize that the finish is close and they are now very excited to be able to go swimming and play in the sand. The green of the rainforest flash on the turquoise water.
A first mobile phone is revived .. and immediately it rings … “Orange. Welcome to O The etc. ..” OOhh Naannn!
15h We anchor in Le Marin! 15 days after our departure from Cabo Verde. These 15 days remain for me a great lesson in life, with nature, with time, with myself.