The story of our Atlantic crossing

After our first long offshore passage (Tortola to Bermuda) we finally faced the crossing of the Atlantic ocean on the morning of May 20. Coincidentally, Aunt Carol, Uncle Joe and not-so-little Joey were visiting Bermuda on a cruise ship and thanks to Bermudian (and sponsor) Joanne Kippax we were not alone that day. She had the courtesy to pick them up in Hamilton and drive them all the way to our dock to see us off on the Big Day! Thank you, Joanne!! You're truly amazing!

The start through the Town Cut under sail was spectacular and the 18 days we spent at sea were full of adventure. Watch the video below to see what our life was like every day, our autopilot drama and how we traded engine oil for some much needed fuel in the high seas:

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First stop in Europe

Being on land after 18 days at sea was real treat. We spent a few days rafted up in Horta, prisoners of Mid-Atlantic Yacht Services’ busy schedule, just like everyone else that was waiting for some repair.

To make matters worse, once the repairs were done and we were finally free to leave we dropped a vital screw inside the mast driving us to desperation. You see, that day all stores were closed due to Portugal Day. Little did we know that the solution to our problem was sitting just a few feet away in Mike’s “bag of screws” on Private Affair’s spares box. Ah, the wonders of crusing in great company!

Horta is also known for the artwork left behind by crews that have been there before. The whole marina is covered in paintings, some of which are real works of art. Where was Marc Fuste (the designer of the Can Drac logo) when we needed him most?

Another of the highlights for us was meeting Peter from Peter’s Café Sport, the most famous watering hole for sailors in the whole Atlantic Ocean. As you can see below, he was kind enough to post one of the flags we flew all the way across the ocean for everyone to see.

The last leg: five days of Force 8 winds!
Despite the Azores being our first European port of call, we still had another 800 miles of Atlantic Ocean to cover before reaching the mainland and we decided to bring some family along for the ride. Franc’s dad and brother, Lluis and Marc signed up right away, not knowing that could be the toughest leg of all…

And it was! They wished they had brought their thermals instead of bathing suits. We had a fantastic start proudly flying our baby spinnaker out of Ponta Delgada but soon the wind started to climb the Beaufort scale all the way to the high 30s and the going got tough.

The night of June 15 will be one to remember for life. That was when the waves started to build to match the strong winds. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luxury to turn and run with the wind because we had to stay North of the rhumb line to avoid the treacherous waters over the Josephine sea mountain.

This meant we had to sail close hauled all the way. We were dealt five days of constant pounding, much longer than ever before. In fact, some of the yachts that were returning home from sailing the World ARC Rally said they had never had to endure a leg this tough in any of the oceans they crossed during their whole circumnavigation.

Oh, and did we mention we didn’t catch any fish? We must have lost our mojo because all we saw was a calamari that decided to commit suicide on our deck. I don’t blame him. It was really rough out there!

Dinner and a movie
All it took was for the wind and seas to calm down a bit on the last night for us to go back to our usual cruising habits. As soon as we had a chance, we grilled some steaks and potatoes and played a movie for the crew that was off-watch.

What a difference it makes when your whole world stops rocking violently and you can finally enjoy some rest out on the water!

Fog ho!
The last morning was expected to bring us the long awaited “land ho” moment. Apparently, Cabo San Vicente, the South West tip of the Iberian Peninsula is a spectacular sight.

Instead, all we saw was the profile of a mountain below the sun as it rose, before a thick fog took over and covered our view all the way to the breakwater in Lagos. Oh well…

What matters is that we did it. It’s done! We’ve crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Some people only dare to dream of a challenge of that caliber. Others give up somewhere along the way. We just did it and no one can take that away from us. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always fun. But it was all worth it!

If you want a 4 minute visual summary of this leg take a look the video below. As the lyrics go: It started as “a beautiful day” and ended with “the moment we’d been waiting all our lives”:

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Finally in the Old Continent
Once we were all tied up at Marina de Lagos, all we could think was long showers, drinks that don’t spill and a full night sleep! Here are our friends Mike and Pat from Private Affair, bruised from a tough passage, holding a bottle of Catalan cava that Andrea decorated with band-aids.

Considering the damage other boats sustained during this leg, we must say we are quite proud of Can Drac’s performance. Everyone had some challenge along the way and so did we. One of the two bolts that holds the port back stay failed but we caught it during our routine rig inspections and were able to remove the pressure before the mast had a chance to come crashing down. It was a close call but all is well that ends well!

If I had a dime for every friend we made…
When you have a chance to share an experience like this with other cruisers, going your separate ways is always tough. That’s why we decided to have some friends over for some good wine and live music on the last night before the closing ceremony of the ARC Europe Rally. Want to take a guess of how many people we can fit in our cockpit? Nope. More… Keep trying… Higher…. Yep: 26 people!!

Special thanks to all who purchased charity: water bracelets to support our cause on this very magical night!

The last official event of the rally brought us a wine tasting, prizes and many heart-felt good byes. We must thank World Cruising Club for organizing such a unique adventure, for always being there for us and for recognizing our efforts to document our adventure with the Oscar for Best Motion Picture!


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Comment by Suky Cannon on July 1, 2009 at 12:11pm
Sicily ~*!*~!**~!* ~! ... can't wait to see those pics and video.... ! ...
Comment by Suky Cannon on June 28, 2009 at 3:51pm
I second that ~!~!* Well done ~!~ .... where are you off to ? do you have a particular next destination in mind ? Thanks so much for maintaining such great communication with the SeaKnots and Sailforwater crowd ~!~! I especially love the pics of CanDrac ~!~!! Fairwinds ~!~!
Comment by Alain Brauckmann on June 26, 2009 at 2:44pm
Well done!
What`s your next destination? Do you leave the boat now in Europe ?
Would be nice to meet you, just tell me where you are sailing next
Comment by Kevin on June 23, 2009 at 1:00pm
Glad to hear you made it safely and had fun along the way.
Comment by Capt Tom on June 23, 2009 at 11:21am
Franc & Andrea,

As expected a quality job done in fantastic style!!!!

Capt Tom Blue

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