According to world famous yachting guru Jimmy Cornell, 1,200 boats cross the Atlantic East-West from Cape Verde to the Caribbean each year. And our floating home Waiata is about to be one of them. It’s a rather exciting yet scarily daunting prospect to undertake such an epic voyage of adventure.
Our staging location is the Canary Islands, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, opposite the African continent Western Sahara. It is a popular staging spot for most who cross the Atlantic toward the America’s. Currently the ARC fleet is planning to depart here for their crossing on 20 November. Now with around 8,000 nm of sailing experience, we plan to cross a couple of weeks after the ARC.
The Canary Islands consist of about 8 islands. You will likely have heard of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. We are currently in an anchorage called Playa del Pozo in Lanzarote, but there are no avian canaries here.
There Are No Canaries Here
The ‘Canary Islands’ are a cruisers’ paradise. And they just happen to be a tax haven. The islands are volcanic, wild, windy and beautiful. You might perhaps think you could find sunshiny yellow canaries here – but you’d be mistaken. The origination of the name for this archipelago is derived from the Latin word for dog – ‘canaria’. Apparently when the first Europeans arrived they were greeted with large dogs on the island of Gran Canaria. And Gran Canaria is ultimately where we will set sail from when we depart.
Family Crew And Support At Sea
Our son Nicholas will take a break from his television work and join us to crew the Atlantic crossing. He sails with RNZYS and recently completed the famous Coastal Classic race. He has one of the craziest flight plan’s imaginable to get here. He will depart New Zealand and ultimately go as far north as Finland on his multi-stop journey to arrive in Gran Canaria on 2 December. He brings with him some important pieces for our trip:
- Sims for our Sat Nav which were simply too difficult to arrange from here.
- Electronic maps for the Caribbean.
- A valve for our water maker that needs replacing.
But crossing the Atlantic requires more than just Waiata’s family crew team of three. We vitally need a land based crew too. We are grateful and lucky to have a land based support crew that will span both hemispheres.
Back in New Zealand our terrific son in law Matt will be taking care of communications and checking important factors such weather. He will be ably supported by our great friend Mike, on the other side of the world, in England. Mike and Julie holidayed on Waiata in Croatia earlier this year. They know our floating home well and regular readers might remember our hilarious dinghy incident after a day adventure in Dubrovnik a couple of months ago.
Leaving for the Caribbean
Preparations are well progressed. There are new tasks such as soaking our sheets and lines (ropes) to remove salt. The captain is also popping on his mask and snorkel, diving under the boat doing a little scrub daily on our copper bottom to ensure a clean smooth hull.
Our envisaged departure date is 5 December. We will sail to Cape Verde which is a 5 day transit. We won’t linger there for long, maybe just a night or 2 so we can top up with fresh provisions, check technology and give Waiata a check over. Around 11 or 12 December we expect to venture from Cape Verde and sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean island of Martinique.
This means we will have Christmas at sea – somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic!
Christmas at Sea
We will have a traditional Christmas onboard. The oven will be fired up and we’ll feast on the usual fare. But the four hourly night shifts and day watches will continue until we get to our destination of Martinique.
It is famously a mix of French and West Indian cultures. Where bananas, sugar cane and white rum reign. And if the trade winds are blowing kind in our way, we’ll make it there by New Year’s Day.
Atlantic Crossing was Rod Stewart’s 6th studio album. The title was influenced by the glam rockers departure from England to escape the 83% jet set income tax of Harold Wilson’s government, and referenced his move to Warner Bros.