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Atlantic Ocean 2007 EUROPE 2005
ATLANTIC OCEAN 2005
WEST INDIES 2006
WEST INDIES 2007
BERMUDA 2007
ATLANTIC OCEAN 2007
Passage East from Bermuda to England
ROUTE SUMMARY:
Depart Bermuda 31st May 2007
Detour via Horta, The Azores 17th-19th June 2007
Arrive Falmouth, England 30th June 2007
Total distance sailed 3145nm
Total passage duration 27 days
- Distance Bermuda to The Azores - 1835nm (16 days)
- Distance The Azores to England - 1310nm (11 days)

Click here to view Google map

Click here to view North Atlantic passage chart

DAY 1: 31st May 2007
FREE ELECTRICITY DAY!

Written 0930 1st June 2007, Position 32deg 42N, 063deg 17W

A squeaky prop shaft delayed our planned departure on Wed evening until early Thurs morning (31st May). At 0800 we motored out through the Town Cut and into a choppy sea and moderate headwind. The head wind continued throughout the day and night although its strength diminished and so did the size of the seas. Beating into this wind and its associated foul tide has frustrated our progress and Friday morning finds us barely 75 miles away from Bermuda on our current desired heading of 070. Anticipating a strong southerly wind on Monday we are pushing out east using the engine and our extra fuel supplies loaded for this purpose. We hope this will moderate the breeze and allow us to use it to move more to the north in its wake. Conditions are clear skies and sunshine. We are all settling in fine and having three aboard makes for more pleasant watch system. Reading books and relaxing are the order of the day - and because the engine's on it's free electricity day!

DAY 2: 1st June 2007
A LONG WAY FROM HOME

Submitted 1000 LT 2nd June, Position 33deg44N, 61deg45W

Since yesterday morning the wind has gradually dropped to nothing and the seas replaced with an oily calm. We have been making steady progress under engine at around 4.3 knots. Keeping the speed down to conserve fuel. Bermuda is now 160 miles behind us, but annoyingly Bermuda Harbour Radio are still coming through loudly on the vhf which makes it feel like we're getting nowhere. We have noticed large numbers of Portuguese Man-o-War. They are little rubbery floats about 10 inches long with a few tentacles dangling down and, wonderfully, a fine clear wing on top which acts as a sail. As the sea calmed we saw thousands of smaller ones too - body only an inch or less long. They seem so brave out here. Last night a Polish yacht came close alongside and we talked for a while, both happy to see another boat. Yesterday I wrote - The enormity of the voyage ahead is stunning. It's just so far and we travel so slowly. I have been trying to break the distance into smaller chunks, comprehendible targets, surmountable goals. Maybe present them to all aboard to prevent any brains melting. I came up with this; in 5 more days, if the conditions improve and we get some good winds, so that's 7 days out of Bermuda, if we're lucky, we will pass our one quarter of the trip completed (almost).......it's not going to work is it? There is only one way to think about this, it's to think about something else, go numb, fall into a daily habit, read a book. Don't sit there asking - are we there yet? This morning we moved some diesel from cans into the tank - we still have 5 x 24 hrs motoring available. The transfer was using a simple symphony which Rodger devised and which worked very well with no spills. We are all happy aboard and enjoying these very pleasant conditions. Maybe get wind later today, more certainly tomorrow.

DAY 3: 2nd June 2007
MOTORING THROUGH THE CALMS

Submitted 1000 LT Sun 3rd June, Position 34deg49N, 59deg54W, Distance made good from Bermuda 280NM

A pleasant day motoring on calm seas yesterday. Wonderful shower on deck with 1.5L of water, it really was quite enough. Nat is looking much happier recently as the last of her mild seasickness resolves. We sat in the cockpit at 1900 eating excellent spaghetti bolognese (veggie) and sipping French red wine. The breeze increased slightly and Rodger managed to sail through his night watch saving valuable diesel, breeze dropped for me though so we motored from 0100. Transferred another can of fuel into the tank this morning. This leaves an almost full tank (4 days running) plus one last emergency spare can (12 hrs). We then set the sails and guess what? we sail along smoothly in the right direction! Making about 3.8 knots at 048deg.

Our watch system is working very well and we are all quite happy with it. It's like this: 2100-0100 R, 0100-0500 M, 0500-0700 N, 0700-1000 R, 1000-1300 M, 1300-1500 N, 1500-1700 R, 1700-1900 M, 1900-2100 N. Note Nat has engineered to get sunset and sunrise but no night watch. Hope to hold this breeze now as we proceed to our first waypoint (named TA1) at 38N55W, 300 miles away. Sun's out, seas are pretty calm and the breeze pushes us along effortlessly.

DAY 4: 3rd June 2007
AIR POWERED AT LAST

Written 1200 LT Monday 4th June, Position 35deg50N, 058deg29W

Yesterday morning (day 4)we set the sails and although slow and a little frustrating at times we are still sailing. We had a relaxing day and enjoyed the quiet of engineless travel. For dinner Nat made pizza. The dough mix was excellent and she span the base in the air like an Italian. Topping was tom, cheese, mushroom, olive, onion. This morning (day 5) we broke out Big Bertha (our cruising chute) and we are currently making a respectable 5.5 knots over ground. In 15 miles or so we will crossing the 36degN latitude line and the current becomes more favourable north of there - we should get 0.5-0.7 with us all the way back. The weather this morning is hazy sunshine, quite warm and feeling humid.

DAYS 5 & 6: 4th-5th June 2007
CRASHING ALONG

Written 1800 LT (2200 BST) 5th June, Position 37deg24N, 055deg57W, distance made good from Bermuda 525M, dist to Falmouth m2300M

The wind steadily increased through yesterday and last night. After wallowing listlessly in a calm sea we are now hurtling along crashing into and launching ourselves off the back of steep waves. We are sailing on a close reach into 20 knots from SE-SSE, the weather is overcast and a bit grim. Moving around and preparing food is difficult and we find ourselves lying in the bunks dozing whenever possible. The good news is we are really moving at last, our 24 hour run to now is 126 miles. We have been at sea for 6 days now and as the days go by, increasingly, they start to dissolve into one. Time starts to speed up a bit as we go into semi-hibernation. We are all quite well and getting along fine. Pasta and tomato sauce for dinner tonight. Last night we had black bean chilli with rice and chips.

DAY 7: 6th June 2007
RUNNING WITH THE GULF STREAM

Written 1930 LT 6th June, Position 37deg57N, 52deg48W, S15, overcast.

Last night and this morning we found ourselves in the fast running current called the gulf stream. This made the seas very rough and with the overcast wet weather gave us an uncomfortable and grim night. The waves seemed to coalesce and form pyramid shaped peaks and every 15 min's or so we would fly off the top of one of these 10 foot heaps and drop into the trough beyond. There followed a loud crash and the whole boat shuddered. Grapefruit flew! We reduced the boatspeed to 4.5 knots to limit the impact but it was still awful. The good news is the with 2 knots of favourable current even at the reduced boatspeed we managed our best 24 hr run of 148.5 miles! Since midday today the seas have improved, but the current reduced; we're happy. We passed another vessel here last night. It was research ship 'Atlantic Explorer' taking samples in the gulf stream. We had a chat on the vhf. It was good to see someone else out here, they were friendly. Using our tow generator is satisfying our electrical needs and we have started using short bursts on the radar as our primary lookout method at night. One week out now and Rodger made kedgeree to celebrate. All well. Now well past our first waypoint (38N55W) and only 600M to the next, the almost halfway point at 40N40W.

DAYS 8 & 9: 7th-8th June 2007
DARK AND STORMY

Written 1730 LT 8th June, Position 39deg08N, 047deg48W, SE 15-18, Sunny

Last night, having passed 52deg30W, we set our clocks forward one hour. We are now 3 hours behind current UK time (BST) or 2 hours behind UT. We celebrated with a Dark and Stormy (Dark Rum and Ginger Beer) then had some glorious baked potato for dinner. Unfortunately the sea built quickly after this and, tired now from 3 days beating to windward in these conditions, we all started to feel pretty hacked off. But this morning the sun came out and the seas subsided a little and, as always making good progress, we felt more positive. Today we have less than 2000 miles to go! The forecast suggests that the wind and sea will subside on Sun for a day or two so we plan to have showers and tidy the boat then. Monday should see us pass the halfway mark. Settling down for a dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese soon (veggie of course), then hopefully a quiet night. Tide is with us and we make about 6.5 miles per hour.

DAYS 10 & 11: 9th-10th June 2007
AZORES HERE WE COME

Written 0400, Mon 11th June (early on day 12), Position 39deg56N, 042deg29W, calm, overcast. 635M to Azores.

Shortly after the last log was written (Fri eve) the wind dropped and we had to motor for a few hours. The wind picked up again early morning but light from a direction and which forced us well north of our course. Rather than strengthening to 20 knots as forecast it tormented us for the morning then dropped to very light in the afternoon. As we wallowed about we reviewed the situation. The wind had gone 24 hrs earlier than expected, we were in the middle of a region of high pressure. Winds were forecast for Mon allowing good progress east but a low pressure north of the Azores would block our progress north toward UK for some time yet. We decided to make a course for the Azores and make a stop there. The Azores are a small group of islands, similar in size to the Canaries or the Cape Verdes, placed mid-Atlantic a little over halfway on our way between Bermuda and UK and only slightly off the direct route. Most boats stop there on the way home. With this new refuelling stop we could afford to motor through the calm and good progress east was promised by the forecast winds from Monday. As a result we have been motoring just south of east since 1800 on Sat evening. We hope to make landfall on Sat (16th) at Horta on the island of Faial.

After the initial disappointment at not proceeding directly home we have all been much encouraged by the prospect of a friendly harbour just 6 days away. The past 36 hours motoring in almost smooth water have been very pleasant. The boat is steady, level and dry (no salt spray). No sail changes are required and progress is always in the right direction. The sudden increase in marine life has been stunning, a product I think of both a new area of ocean and the improved conditions allowing us to see more. Dolphins play around the boat a lot of the time; sometimes we see them chasing shoals of fish which leap out of the water. We pass turtles and jelly-fish, but most of all we have seen whales. Yesterday morning a whale swam alongside only 50 feet away before diving just in front of us, and on the horizon we see them leaping straight up then falling down on their sides. We are eating well. Nat's provisioning in St. Maarten and Bermuda was comprehensive, in fact I suspect we have enough food to complete a number of laps of the Atlantic. New snacks and meals emerge daily much to our delight and Nat baked a fruit cake and a loaf of bread yesterday.

The boat is working perfectly. We hope for wind today which should hold until we reach Horta.

DAYS 12 & 13: 11th-12th June 2007
RUNNING AT LAST

Written 0400 Wed 13th June (early on day 14), Position 39deg18N, 037deg12W, 391nm to Horta, ETA Sat 16th June.

As forecast, the wind filled in from the west and by midday on Mon we had stopped our trusty engine, spread the sails and with the gentle sound of burbling water coming from the stern we began running effortlessly downwind toward our destination of Horta. These dreamy conditions didn't last long though and by late afternoon cloud filled the sky, the sea was up and we crashed and rolled along with 20 knots behind us. We were all happy though to be making some real progress again without the use of diesel. Nightfall brought unbroken cloud and a succession of heavy downpours. Tucked below on watch we used the radar to pierce the gloom and watch for other vessels.

The conditions have remained broadly the same since then. The wind has veered slowly from SW to W and we expect it to clock around some more to NW. Windspeed varies from 25 gusting 28 to a low of about 13-15. Through the water we make around 4.5-5.5 knots but 0.5-0.8 knots of fair current means we make good progress. Our ETA into Horta is midday on Sat and below decks talk is of lively bars serving cold drinks with ice and restaurants preparing fresh fish and chips, of arriving in Europe (albeit a remote outpost), and of completing well over half of the trip back to UK.

DAYS 14 & 15: 13th-14th June 2007
HORTA - WATCHING THE ETA

Written 0400 LT, Friday 15th June (early on day 16), Position 38deg54N, 032deg19W, Horta 160nm, Bermuda 1625nm, Wind W20, squalls.

Conditions have continued much the same as those described in the previous log, although last night the wind dropped enough to reduce our speed to barely 4 knots and as we rolled limply through the night I watched, frustrated, as our ETA to Horta slipped into Sat night and even Sun morning. Daylight brought heavy rain then the wind resumed and we are again making good progress. Hoisted our cruising chute "Bertha" a few times yesterday, rushing forward to lower it sometime later when the squalls sent us into warp speed. The sea is quite rough at times and maybe as a consequence we have seen less marine life recently. We can hear dolphins click and sing through the hull though as they pass close by. Rodger saw a large shark pass close by yesterday - about 5m long and sinister. Our ETA is still Sat. The wind is due to veer NW then north soon so we will gybe the pole tomorrow and get a bit further upwind in preparation.

DAYS 16 & 17: 15th-16th June 2007
RAISING THE AZORES

Written 0730 Sat 16th June, Position 38deg33N, 29deg10W, N20 squally with periods of 30 knots.

Sailed well yesterday. Wind started to veer to NW then N last night and freshened bringing very rough conditions and an uncomfortable night for us all. Very large waves and gusty winds made it difficult for the wind steering to control the boat on a broad reach and I spent all night adjusting sails to get some balance. Daylight always brings more cheer and after a last brief torrential downpour 2 minutes ago I can see some blue sky appearing. We can't see Faial yet but it is only 19nm away so we hope to be in the marina at Horta in 4-5 hrs. All well if a little tired after 16 days at sea.

Arrived in Horta at 1300 (1300UT, 1400BST) on 16th June. Friendly here but busy. Out for beer and food then sleep. All happy and well.

DAY 1: 19th June 2007
ON OUR WAY AGAIN

Written 0500 20th June, Position 39deg50N, 027deg44W, 90nm from Horta, 1150nm from Falmouth, W10

We had a great time in the exceptionally busy but well run Horta marina. Refuelling, minor reprovisioning and some small repairs filled our days and we spent the evenings sipping beer and eating good simple food at (famous?) Peter's bar. With some sadness, but encouraged by the comforts of life ashore, Natalya flew home to England from Horta leaving Rodger and myself to sail the remaining leg. And so yesterday morning at 0930 we left Horta, missing Nat's presence aboard but otherwise happy to be moving again and to be setting out in such pleasant weather. The forecast was for light winds over the first 4 days and we motored all of the first day. Three hours ago the wind increased and we have been sailing slowly since, happy to be saving the fuel for possible calms later. The passage is around 1250nm which will take around 11 days. We have enough fuel to motor for 6 days or 600nm.

DAY 2: 20th June 2007
NORTH BY NORTH NORTH WEST

Written 0500UT 21st June, Position 41deg44N, 027deg21W, W10-12, overcast.

We've now been sailing for 14 hrs and have made some good progress. With the chance of light winds for the whole trip conserving fuel now is a real advantage. The wind remains light so our speed is fairly slow but the small swell means the going is easy and comfortable. We are not heading on a direct course for our destination; Rather we are steering between north and northnorthwest. We are taking this route to sail clear of an area of foul wind and current to the east of us, to make distance north in anticipation of northerly winds (blowing from north to south) which are possible on the weekend. This course also maximises our speed in these lighter winds by keeping it on the side of the boat. I made omelettes for brunch with beans and toast. They were filled with a French long life soft cheese (La vache qui rit - bit like dairylea) which made them dangerously tasty. Rodger cooked his excellent kedgeree for dinner then we watched a film (Wimbledon) - decadence indeed.

Another 2 days on this heading and we may be in a position to hang a right and head straight for Falmouth.

DAY 3: 21st June 2007
SHIP WATCHING

Written 0500 Fri 22nd June (early on day 4), Position 43deg32N, 026deg26W, SW12. 1000nm to go.

We sailed north for much of the day then as the breeze dropped late afternoon we started the engine and altered course to around 030 to make for our current waypoint at 45N25W. We are still motoring. An easy and relaxing day generally, we transferred some diesel from jerry cans into the main tank and I repaired the ripped canvas halyard bag which helps keep the cockpit clear of lines. So far the trip has been clear of shipping (or at least they are staying out of sight and radar range) but as we approach the channel we expect to see more. Ships for reasons of speed and fuel economy tend to follow certain tracks and yesterday I traced the great circle routes onto our passage chart between English Channel and both Panama and eastern US. While crossing these routes we will be especially vigilant. Our NASA AIS detector works well and this new device has quickly become an essential tool for us (it receives information on position speed and course broadcast by big ships). It's Friday today and we are planning a Dark and Stormy this evening. Tomorrow (Sat) will see us with only one week to go.

DAY 4: 22nd June 2007
MOTORSAILING IS THE WAY

Written 0500, Sat 23rd June, Position 45deg11N, 025deg14W, WNW 12, misty with limited visibility.

Mild and changing conditions yesterday. The wind backed to SW and varied in strength throughout the day. When I say varied I mean increased whenever we were motoring and decreased rapidly whenever we set tried to sail. This became irritating. Keen to get north of my projected Panama/Channel shipping route we decided to motor with the sail up and ignore what the wind was doing. If the wind increased for a while we just went a bit faster. During the night the wind has veered to WNW, as predicted, and although its strength is as before its direction means we can sail with it. These conditions really are quite different to those during the previous passages. The wind is steady in strength rather than all or nothing experienced over the last month and this steady mild/ moderate wind leaves the sea fairly flat - unlike the large angry swells which threw us all about between Bermuda and Azores. This passage is comfortable and easy, but slow. No ships and only the odd brief visit from dolphins makes it feel quite lonely.

For our Friday evening the sun came out briefly for us and we sat in the cockpit for Darks and Stormies. Dinner was baked Azorean potatoes (excellent) with frankfurter sausages, fried onions, sweetcorn and peas. A truly inspired combo which was delicious. It's getting gradually colder (19degC) and as the temperature difference between the inside of my bed and the outside world grows I find, with the exception of food, this is what pre-occupies my mind - getting between those covers for as long as possible.

This afternoon we should be clear of that shipping route and in a position to set a course for western approaches to the Channel.

DAY 5: 23rd June 2007
ON COURSE FOR THE CHANNEL

Written 0430, Sun 24th June, position 46deg15N, 022deg59W, NNE 15, cloudy some rain, Falmouth 750nm

Conditions have changed quite a bit since the previous log. The wind which blew from behind us has veered (swung around clockwise - the opposite is backing) to blow in our face. During the change we had an afternoon of glorious fast easy sailing as the wind came from the side, but since yesterday evening we have been beating hard into the weather. The boat is leaning over and crashing into the waves. We were unable to make our course for a while, always a bit disheartening, but we're doing better now. This change in wind direction also signalled the time for us to stop heading north and aim straight at Falmouth. We passed some ships today (well, travelling at 20 knots I think they probably passed us). They were just where we anticipated them on the route to Panama. Although we look out to the horizon and use the radar the first indication of their presence is always on the AIS - I know I keep going on about this but it really is making a big difference. It's been pretty overcast for days now and we haven't seen much sun, stars or moon which is a bit sad, hopefully it will clear up before we arrive.

I've been doing some calculations on the passage to UK from St Maarten in the Caribbean. We have travelled 3000nm so far since leaving on 9th May, and have just 750nm left to go giving an ETA of Sat 30th June into Falmouth. On arrival Free Spirit will have been on passage for 40 out of the 52 days since leaving the Caribbean.

It's dawn and the first light reveals our boat bravely pushing through the swells and toward a beautiful sunrise. We are on course for the Channel and making 5.5 knots.

DAY 6: 24th June 2007
HALFWAY

Written 0500 Mon 25th June, Position 46deg51N, 019deg56W, 625nm to go, N-NNE 12-15.

We've passed our half way point in both distance and time now. With Falmouth on the bow and estimated arrival on Saturday it's starting to feel closer. The wind is coming from a little east of north and this is forcing us to sail as close to the wind as we can to hold our course. Although the boat is sailing well we are looking forward to the predicted backing of the wind to north then north-west which will give us a little more speed and smooth out the boat's motion. This northerly wind is perishing cold and without much sun to tempt us into the cockpit we are spending most time below; eating, sleeping or reading. As I noted previously emerging from ones bunk to start a watch is becoming more difficult with this drop in temperature and we considered eating one very large meal then going to sleep until, say, Friday afternoon. Like the opening scene from "Alien" we would rise from our deep slumber, stretch a few times, have a bite to eat and then start rigging fenders.

On our mostly easterly course we are chasing the dawn each morning and the difference is quite noticeable. The boat is on UT (Universal Time, the same as Greenwich Mean Time) and we've decided to hold with this for the remains of the trip. We are 1 hr behind England which is on British Summer Time.

DAY 7: 25th June 2007
A FINE BALANCE

Written 0430, Tues 26th June (early on Day 8). Position 47deg42N, 017deg16W, 505nm to Falmouth, NNE 12-16, overcast.

We continue to sail into the wind and swell. The motion yesterday was quite violent for much of the time. The boat, always heeled at an angle of 20 deg., jolts from side to side unpredictably. Pouring liquids is comical. Turn on the sink tap and, rather than filling the cup you hold beneath it, the water emerges horizontally and lands on your shoe. Then determined to brace yourself you spread-eagle across the cabin, shoulder on one wall - foot outstretched toward the other, but as soon as you occupy you hands in some task the boat then drives into a wave and decelerates abruptly sending you flying forwards and hitting your forehead or cheek against a door or wall. It's not really painful or dangerous but can get quite annoying and although we have plenty of water for showers we must wait until conditions improve. Although tempted to ease away from the wind and head more to the south to reduce the motion our resolve to keep pressing north was renewed when we encountered a foul current. This slowed the boat by 0.7 knots for most of the afternoon. Heading north seems to have moved us out of this contrary stream and now we have 0.3 knots in our favour. The wind has been quite variable through the night. In the gusts, unless the sail balance is just right, the boats swerves off in crazy directions with our wind steering struggling to regain control. I spent an hour peering into the darkness this morning balancing the sails and watching the effects. A regular pattern has developed for me each day. After writing the log and other emails at 0500 I connect to a station in Belgium to send them, the radio waves travel well at this time. Then I get some cereal for breakfast before waking Rodger at 0600 and sleeping until 1000 - I normally sleep well during this time. At 1000 I am back on watch Rodger goes to sleep again. While on watch we check for other vessels every 15 mins or less. We do this with the AIS receiver and using short periods on the radar. We look out visually as well although we rely on this less than the electronic aids. The weather emails are in by then so I connect again to download them and analyse them. About 1330 Rodger wakes and we have some lunch together - perhaps an ommlette or pasta with tomato sauce, until 1430 when I lounge about reading or dozing until 1700. We wander about, chat and have dinner until about 2100 when I go to sleep until I come on watch at 0100. With only 500 nm to go we are starting to feel closer to Falmouth now.

DAY 8: 26th June 2007
MOTORING THROUGH THE LULLS

Written 1300 on Wed 27th June, (afternoon on day 9), posn. 48deg35N, 013deg12W, WNW 10-25, overcast, 332nm to go

Yesterday, as expected, the wind backed around to blow from our port quarter (over our left shoulder). During the change there were a few lulls and, being now rich in diesel (i.e. enough to motor all the way back if reqd), we motored through these. Falmouth feels close now; we are in the British sea area of Sole and we can hear R4 on longwave at night, so we get impatient with anything less than 5 knots. Since leaving the Azores we've been sailing in around 4000m of water but over the next 24 hrs the water depth will decrease to a relatively shallow 200m. We will pass onto the continental shelf. We've had a busy night and morning. A succession of squalls have overtaken us since around 1100 last night. In a 30 min cycle the winds built up to 25 knots, causing a steep choppy sea then after a brief shower leaving us stationary but rolling badly in 10 knots. We had to adjust sail constantly to keep the boat balanced and use the engine to keep moving. It's finally settled and I can get this log written.

As you will know we get email aboard while at sea using our long distance radio and Sailmail. Our subscription to the service expires tomorrow (Thurs) - probably in the evening. This means any emails sent after that date must be sent to our land email address, given in the "contact us" pages of this web site. The MK***@sailmail.com address will cease. We will be in mobile phone range on Friday sometime so you can send a text and we will update the site using that.

And so our last leg of the passage home from the Caribbean draws to a close, a passage that at times was so awesome I couldn't believe it would ever end. A long ocean passage aboard a small boat is so removed from life on land that it can be difficult to imagine its value. The unremitting and sometimes frustrating environment of the boat can make those aboard the most confused on this point, including myself. However, it makes its mark. The endless expanse of nothing around the boat becomes a place for thought to expand into; the simple tasks of watch keeping and sail handling the mantra. Images and feelings, sounds and movement so slow, simple, repetitive and foreign to those of normal life imbed deep into memory. For me the experience is unique and valuable, perhaps making a subtle change to the way I approach life ashore. I know I will miss it once it ends.

DAYS 9 & 10: 27th-28th June 2007
AHOY QUEEN MARY II

Written 1500, Thurs 28th June (afternoon of day 10), posn 49deg11N, 009deg56W, SW18, sunny periods, 175nm to go.

The wind settled yesterday but didn't have quite the puff to make the progress we wished. We motor-sailed for a few hours last night. Today though the wind has backed to the SW and is blowing well - we're moving at last. We hadn't seen much shipping for a while but yesterday we had the worst possible situation. A large vessel appeared on the horizon at 8nm, about as close as we can pick them up reliably, it was heading in the exact opposite direction and directly at us. And it's speed was 27 knots! We ran around a bit knowing that avoiding action had to be taken pretty soon. Luckily they steered clearly south very quickly. As it got closer we saw it was Queen Mary 2, a very smart cruise ship. They went past about 2 miles away and we said hello on the radio. This morning we passed over the Sole bank and weaved our way past a number of slow moving fishing vessels. With only 175nm to go we're starting to feel like we're almost there. It would be quite fun if it wasn't for a deep depression which is determined to give us one last thing to worry about. Saturday morning looks to be breezy (poss 30 knots) with heavy rain. The good news is that the wind will be coming from directly behind us so it won't be too bad. Anyway so we are going as fast as we can hoping to get there before it catches us. We hope to arrive early Sat morning. I think that this will be the last log until we get home from Falmouth. So don't worry if it fails to report our arrival for a few days. You can always text us or email on the land email.

DAYS 11&12: 29th-30th June 2007
ARRIVAL IN FALMOUTH

It is tempting to feel a rush of relief and security as land approaches after a long passage. This is a mistake. The end of a passage often brings more taxing navigation, increased shipping, and of course the threat of shallow water and land to the crew at a time when they are most tired. Additionally, in our case, strong winds, rough seas and poor visibility in heavy rain were forecast for Friday night and Saturday morning. I decided we should make all reasonable speed in an attempt to beat these bad conditions to Falmouth and so after making good progress on the Thursday night when the wind eased on Fri morning we began motor sailing and in fact continued in this manner until our arrival into the port on Saturday morning.

On Fri the conditions were good throughout the day. As we approached the shipping lane south of the Scilly Isles I decided take advantage of the good conditions and push north across the lanes and into the inshore zone near Landís End . This was a mistake. The lanes were clear but the narrow unregulated zone closer inshore was very busy. Without the order of the lanes ships were approaching from all directions and many were turning as they cleared the end of Britain and set course for ports in the Channel. This made tracking them more difficult. Rodger and I worked non-stop for 3 hours watching, tracking, logging and sometimes contacting these large ships to ensure they had seen us and were steering clear. It was a bit like rolling an egg across the floor of a busy shopping centre and hoping that in addition to avoiding each other each person kept an eye on the egg. We were the egg! In fact all the crews on these large ships were glued to their radar and AIS just like us and I think we were detected and tracked by all the ships despite our size. A quick call on the radio certainly made us feel better when they approached too close though. Thankfully the weather remained benign and the visibility moderate or good throughout.

In the first hour of Sat morning we rounded the Lizard headland and finally left all the traffic behind. Despite only 3 miles distant the powerful lighthouse could not be seen. A little later as dawn broke we saw that torrential rain was cloaking this famous landmark. With the first signs of light and only a couple of hours of easy motor-sailing remaining I could relax and indulge myself with memories of our trip which began exactly two years before in this same place. Our voyage around the North Atlantic had given us a decade of experiences, adventures and friends in a fraction of the time. Although taking us many miles from our families their support was always unquestioning and complete, and we return closer to them than before.

As we entered Falmouth the rain enveloped us and dripping wet we tied up alongside and stepped ashore. Almost immediately John (my father) arrived and we drank hot coffee and recalled details of our trip as the wind howled through the rigging Ė we had made it back just ahead of the bad weather.

A few hours later found us heading north on the rain-battered roads, towards Natís parentsí home. There we toasted the perfect end to our sailing adventures Ö a new adventure already begun. A little life was already 4 months in the making and we canít wait to meet our beautiful baby in November.

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