Updated: Mar 10, 2019
**please be advised that this blog is raw footage from 8 days at sea - future edits may drastically change when of sound mind.
wall of ropes (Such Fast bow)
Day 1 - delivery of Such Fast
I can’t believe how difficult it’s been to actually leave the dock for St Maarten. Getting the propeller fixed was the biggie. Once the boat was pulled out, Dave had the old propeller sawed off (yes he did that - as the boatyard guys watched and thought he was an idiot) and put the new one on in an hour. There are so many details for doing this trip safely and all for good reason. The weather looks good for the next week (but we know how quickly that can change) - at least that’s what the weather models are saying. Finally we got off dock Friday morning (2/16/2019) at about 10:15am. Thankfully we didn’t leave the night before because unbeknownst to David, he left his passport on the printer at his friend Dave’s (wanted laminated copies). The night we planned on leaving didn’t make sense anyways as we were both pretty tired and attempting to be wise, starting such a big journey exhausted is not good (although I think Dave has CF - that’s Chronic Fatigue *Phil F. identified this* but he thinks it stands for the Cool Factor) so we decided to rest and it was a good thing we did! No passport, no entry! We called for an Uber to transport it since it was coming from Miami - about a 90-120 minute drive depending on that awesome Miami traffic.
We want to give a big shoutout and thank you to a couple of seasoned sailors that Dave consulted with prior to leaving (and still talking with through this journey). Salty Dog Ron and Ron (Coconut Grove Sailing Club) from the Miami area. Their advice has been SO valuable as we navigate new waters of the Atlantic. We hope one day to sit down and share this adventure with them over a beer or two. Or three. Their advice has been rich with information, advice and support.
The sun has been out, the weather is beautiful but we are careful to not get too much sun exposure. Dave made an air-conditioned outside room for us on the boat. Doesn’t that sound amazing?!! Okay, so it’s a simple sunscreen (piece of wet canvas over the cockpit - ghetto style!) and it’s been great. Wind is between 5-15 knots, beating into it (ugh) which is not very fun and trying to trim the boat to at move at least 6 knots. It’s not a race we keep telling ourselves, it’s a delivery. The 1D35 likes to go fast with at least 7 knots of wind and always hoping for good wind. It was born for 10+ knots of wind and fancies when it heels. What a fun boat to sail. Such Fast loves a good heel! The boat is pretty raw inside - no cruiser comforts - just two cushions and the gimble coffee kettle - must have coffee Dave says.
It doesn’t matter as we’re so tired we’d sleep on a stack of sails!
The sunrises and sunsets have been stunning...helping to make up for beating into the wind all the pounding.
Bruise Count Kristen: 4 Dave: 0
Day 2 - shot us across the northern side of the Bahamas. Not a huge amount of wind but good. 5-10 knots. We made good ground and got into the trade winds and out of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is nearly 3 knots! The wind direction has been pretty favorable for us today. Still a beat but easier.
We are taking anywhere from 2-4 hour shifts. Dave takes the midnight shift 12 until 5am. Sleep is premium so when you’re off - you sleep, rest, eat, and wipe your body down with disinfecting wipes to get the salt water off :).
Day 2 I found myself getting a rash on my bootie - Dave warned me of this - you have to keep the salt water away from your skin. Strange that anytime I say salt water to Dave he groans (I guess he knows the woe’s of it more than I do). If it gets trapped between your skin and clothing it’s not a good result! Sea parasites cause the rash. I had to air out my bare buns under the sun for a few hours today. Now I know why babies cry so much when they get diaper rash! It hurts like hell! So thankful for Gold Bond and A&D. Having good hygiene and taking time to do all of that is very important at sea. We actually bought anti bacterial wipes that we’ll use daily...several times daily. Every time you come off driving shift you change out of your wet clothes, wipe down and into your dry clothes. The day we left the dock we both put on anti-seasick patches behind our ear. Dave always get sea sick - which is pretty crazy for the amount he loves being in the ocean. He did get pretty sick on our crazy transport of Such Fast from Miami to Riviera Beach (35-45 knot winds with 10-15’ waves) I, on the other hand, was just freaked by the conditions hoping to see another day (sorry Mom). Calm on the outside (self talk that I needed to remain calm) and freaking out on the inside. I felt physically great - not nauseous at all...I was that kid who loved “Tilt O World” at the carnival and “Tea Cups” at Disney. Bring it on. I was just unsure being in my 50’s now if my body could handle it. I guess 50 is just a number.
Dave and I had some irritable moments (that’s normal in this high intensity undertaking, right?!!) yesterday. He also told me that the seasick patch can cause some mood changes. The patch is a psychosomatic. Oh great! Just what a woman wants to hear - especially one with changing hormones. In the ocean there could be a myriad of things that could go wrong with the boat or the crew. Although we have tools for many jobs, Dave still ends up McGuyvering stuff.
During a tack this morning the boom swung over too hard and popped the gas can pour spout right into the drink. He was pretty frustrated knowing he shouldn’t have had the gas spout out. He told me “no mistakes” as it will cost you out here. Being smart and thoughtful about everything we do is important when you’re in the ocean and its also just a good life lesson. Everything we do has a result.
The sunset was stunning last night. It was all over the sky.
Reflection in our solar panel.
The sunrises and sunsets are like no other when you’re in the middle of the ocean. 360 degree view and nothing but sea and flying fish everywhere!
Dave has told me that transporting the boat would be hard and it is and it isn’t so far. I think the two main difficult things for me is sleep (chopping it up into segments) and trying to move around the boat heeled at 15 degrees +/-. I just may have a bruise on every part of my body now. I’ll spare you the pictures! Now I know why everyone kept saying “ eat your bananas”. Haha Grabbing the handrails or sitting down on the floor are a must. No trying to be a super balancer - it doesn’t work. You sure get an amazing core work out though! Your body is always working. It’s hard to believe but you are pushing and pulling and doing all sorts of activity all day long on the boat except when you’re sleeping of course. But I never felt like I was deeply sleeping as I was trying to keep my body from falling out of the bunk most of the time. Dave told me yesterday that you can’t estimate when a wave hits so when you’re moving about the boat always hold onto something. True. I’m finding myself crawling on my knees more as the days progress. It’s amazing how many muscles you are using on a daily basis on the boat.
Just getting dressed at 10-15 degree heel is hard! You find yourself saying. awe forget it, I’ll sail naked. ;)
Bruise Count Kristen: 9 Dave: 0
Day 3 - Dave woke me around 5:30am - I was pretty darn comfortable and had to muster some energy to get up. Unlike Dave, he pops right out of bed. He always says “wake up, get up” and rubs his hands quickly together like he’s starting a fire - no hitting the snooze bar for me - darn!! But I have a love for the snooze bar! But I also have a love for a great sunrise!
The transitions from dark to mornings have been indescribable.
Morning winds were great today - we were moving 7-8 knots.
Afternoon winds stunk. We’ve had to motor and be careful with our gas usage.
So what’s it like eating on the boat? I’m glad you asked! Eating on the boat is a bit challenging. No refrigerator - all dry and canned goods. If you don’t get board with food, it’s easy. Lots of canned soup goods. We brought some fruit and Vegetables but need to consume them sooner than later.
For lunch we had a “meal-o-cado” on crackers. But we forgot the salt! :0
We have a couple heavy duty fishing lines that we put out yesterday. Dave’s looking for a fresh poke bowl filled with raw tuna. Order up!
We’ve seen very little marine life. The first day out we saw dolphins swimming with the boat. Other than that it’s been lots of flying fish. No whales, sharks, nada.
I took the late evening shift and finally the wind is back up between 5-10 knots. We’ve been averaging 6 knots of speed. When the boat gets balanced she flies so effortlessly.
Sunset was simple tonight and it was very fitting with a rum and Dt coke in hand and Kenny Chesney on the blue tooth.
We don’t hardly ever see any boats - just a few freighters. I’ve learned a bit about navigating and using the radio with boats near me. One came a little too close for comfort - not sure they saw us so we called them on the radio. They turned from their course to avoid us.
Bruise Count: 11 (notice my daily average is down) Dave: 0 (seriously?!!)
5am: 8.5 kt wind, boat averaging around 6 kt - wind not in a favorable direction the past couple days and have to sail at 90 degrees +/- vs 120 degrees. Off course but not terribly. Listening to Ben Rector eases the fact we will sail longer - that’s what you get with sailing - completely dependent on the wind direction.
Dave took watch from 1am - 5amish. No need to wake me this morning I popped right up - okay not really popped - you can’t really pop when you’re at a 15 degree angle on the low side. It takes every muscle just to climb out of your bunk. I always wanted to be a morning person but now I think it’s overrated other than the sunrises. When I came out of the cabin he was wide awake standing at the corner stern with a big grin on his scruffy bearded face. For all of you that know Dave I know you can picture that! You can just see that he’s right at home. It’s thick in his blood. He told me that during the night he got this super strong smell of a tropical concoction. A combo of pineapple, hibiscus and other tropical fruits and flora. He said he felt like he was swimming in a tropical drink. 😂 He said it was so strong he almost woke me up. He looked at the map on the GPS and we were just north of Dominica Republic. Ahhh...the smell of the islands! It’s interesting because the ocean really doesn’t have a smell. It’s strange - although I’ve never thought about it. It doesn’t smell salty or fishy - just clean - just purely fresh.
You have a lot of time when you’re at sea to think and contemplate life stuff.
Almost a full moon. Nothing more beautiful and peaceful as sailing under the brightly lit night sky. Nothing as far as the eye can see. Just deep deep blue ocean.
Sometimes you find yourself playing air drums to Van Halen and sometimes you’re wrapped up in your thoughts - you know the unlayering kind that goes to another level. This morning my contemplation is not about deep past regrets or how to solve world hunger, it’s been about the lack of women’s sailing gear. Deep thoughts with Kristen (haha), that’s this segment...feel free to skip ahead if this doesn’t interest you.
It’s a male dominated sport and it’s so hard to find sailing clothes made for a woman. I still have my sailing bib overalls and jacket from my 20’s. I know the technology of clothing has changed dramatically but they’ve been working just fine so far after 30 years. What was frustrating was not finding sailing shorts for women. I never did find any - online or in stores. The few shorts that were listed were sold out - except for XS sizes. I ended up buying men’s sailing shorts with the pads and they suck on my body. They fit but fit terribly and they’re uncomfy. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I thought, maybe I’ll start a women’s line of sailing gear. There’s really only a few big brands that I know of - Gill, Helly Hanson, Camet, Henri Lloyd, West Marine. Im sure the market isn’t super big but think about it - sailing clothes can somewhat cross over to women who love to kayak, or really boating of any kind. Smart Wool has some great gear for mid layers but there’s a ton of brands that do well with mid layers - just step into an REI and you’ll be pleased with the selection.
Shower day today. Wash with salt water and soap twice and rinse with the sun shower last. Clean and happy.
It’s amazing how a shower at sea improves your mental state. Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, staying clean and having good sanitary practice at sea is important.
We also did some clothes washing today. Some of our clothes start to smell pretty rancid. They could walk away if we didn’t pay attention.
Almost everyday we lay out our bibs and jackets inside out to dry out and let the sun kill any ocean parasites. Here’s what the sun can do - kill parasites, heal a rash, warm your body, make you smile. :)
Up and down wind speeds today. Motored part of today. Plus running the engine helps charge our electrical so it’s not all bad. We just have to watch our fuel consumption. We have 779 km to go. If we can average more than 150 km/day we should get to St Maarten by Saturday.
Cabin cleanup and keeping things organized is so important and helps your sanity. When you’re heeled at 15% and inside the cabin, you’re always holding a hand bar, sitting on the floor and you are always trying to keep your balance - that never lets up. You never want to be slipping on anything on the cabin floor. You only have one hand free so knowing where everything is becomes super important. Once you’re done with something it’s so key to put it right back. The boat eats misplaced items. It’s real. I'm already missing one of my black boat shoes.
Bruise Count Kristen:15 Dave: 1 (it's about time!)
It’s 2:30am and the wind has picked up a bit. David’s on duty.
Yeah that’s him. Auto pilot on. Captain asleep.
At night, once everything is balanced and the auto pilot is doing its job - this is what you do! Radio is on to alarm us of any boats within 12 miles. It’s a BIG ocean. Yesterday we saw only two boats - a barge, several miles away and a large racing sailboat that came within a football field from us.
The moon is either full or almost full and it’s our night light. It’s really awesome timing.
Bigger wind and bigger waves today. Very choppy water with currents running through - very hard to drive when it’s blowin 12 knots. Hardest driving I’ve had to do in a while except for Wild Wednesday last week (35-40 knots)! Takes a lot of concentration to hit the waves just right without slamming the boat and stay at your range of degree you’re sailing. Today we’re at 122 degrees to make our next target / Little turn before we can head South. Wearing my Gill jacket and my men’s Gill shorts with pads.
The afternoon has been difficult. Dave’s taking the next two hours and it requires a lot of focus.
We sat together for a little bit today just talking about the importance of looking at everything on the boat - being an observer. Ropes can come out of pulleys, start to get frayed and sometimes the rope will get eaten by hardware for example. Look for things getting loose, etc. the pounding from the waves takes its toll.
Hard weather sailing today but it’s beautiful. Getting warmer as we inch our way South.
Quote of the day “Don’t gaze in my eyes or I’ll veer off course 20 degrees”. Haha. It's easy to veer 20 degrees - you have to pay attention!
Bruise Count: 16 (got one on my arm 8” long - colors of a deep sunset) Dave: still 1
Hard day. 16-18 knot winds and big ocean pounding waves 10-15' tall. Supposed to have another day of this...ugh. We both drove for a bit but it was hard! We opted for the auto pilot and it’s driving better than us. We’ve been in our bunks most of the day. Dave got sunburned and maybe dehydrated - very easy to forget to drink water. It’s essential out here. It’s super loud in the cabin. Between the annoying auto pilot sound and the boat crashing on waves really hard it’s not easy to rest - you’re consistently jolted with the pounding. Before long you think the auto pilot is talking to you - sounds like voices. Probably the side effects from the seasick patch behind my ear!
I’ve only been out on deck twice today. Very windy, lots of salty splash. I just needed fresh air. In the short moments I was on deck a school of baby porpoises were jumping all around the boat. So darn cute jumping in sync in twos and threes. The only highlight for me of the day. Slogging through. Wondering what I've got myself into. This is hard! We’ve gotten behind on drinking our water and really pushing ourselves today.
Tonight we slowed down by taking the main sail down and keeping up the storm jib (baby orange). We need to rest. The stars were out like I’ve never seen them before. Stars upon stars. Magical really.
Tough night - lots of crazy wave action - coming from a couple directions. Winds coming out of the north and east. Auto pilot has a hard time with that and there was lots of pounding. We just had “little orangey” (storm jib) up - only went 3 knots but better to try and rest than drive through the night.
Dave had to fill the diesel tank when the weather settled a little.
In case many of you don’t know - we are always harnessed up and tethered into a jack line on the boat for safety. At all cost don’t fall out of the boat. Stay low, crawl, always have a hold of something. Rescues are hard in the Ocean - easy to loose sight of anyone beyond a couple swells. (Sorry Mom - I’m sure you didn’t want to hear that!)
Bruise Count: 18 Dave: 2
Winds are ranging from 15-22 knots and the waves are crazy big and inconsistent. Ugh! Dave and I are taking one hour shifts because it's so taxing. It's hugely difficult with weird currents and some waves 15-20' high. No wonder there are hardly any boats out here. We are crazy! The sea's just continue to smack you. No mercy. I find it really hard to drive - one day I think I'm mastering it and the next day I can't do it at all. Always trying to land the boat gently off of a wave, never trying to slam it down. So hard! Plus all the time you're trying to point the boat at the right degree and keep your speed up. Complicated formula.
While one person drives you can find the other person either taking water out of the bilge or laying on the cabin floor. We're exhausted. Resting (even if you're not sleeping) is important as this requires strong attention. No foolish mistakes. It's only 1pm and the windspeed is 18-22 knots. We are going on average at 6 knots only because the waves are so big. In fact, the waves are humongous - no other adjective to use.
We should be on a course of 143 degrees to get to St. Maarten but can't point that high with the wind direction so we've decided to go below Puerto Rico - which unfortunately will add more time to our trip. ;( Beam me up Scotty.
This has been, bar none, the most challenging adventure I've ever done. Dave and I check in with each other everyday with scores 0-10 for mental and 0-10 for physical. I've had my moments of fear for sure but I've also learned strong self talk in the moving forward. No one is going to come get me out here. I tell myself, "you've got this girl", "no mistakes, be careful", "take it all in - the good, the bad and the hard"...and "stay present". Staying present is important - I love how that parallels my daily life back home. Don't wish away any moment. Live fully. Live in the present.
As I write this I'm sitting on the cabin floor and the whole starboard side of the boat is wet. It keeps sloshing all over. It's wet on the Starboard side and things are getting a bit messy. Hoping for less wind tomorrow - what sailor is wishing for less wind?!! We really need to dry out.
Bruise Count Kristen: 20+ Dave: 2