On Monday, December 5, I decided to stop trying to solve the endless problems, which probably could never be solved anyway, and to sail. Fortunately, the major part of preparations has been more or less done, so I invited friends to say good buy and to celebrate my departure.
To say I was calm – will be a lie. I was nervous, excited and hesitated to make a final step. The prospect of meeting with the North Atlantic in winter was scary, but there is no choice, I have to go! And realization that after I leave, there is no turning back, tat I can only move forward, added even more, to already exceeding normal level adrenaline. It could be clearly seen on this video a>.
But the fun-time is over! But I suspected that even more fun is waiting for me in the North Atlantic so, with the shaking (from the rum, of course) hands I hugged my daughter, friends, and gave the moorings.
Five minutes before the start. My friends, came to say a final “farewell”, oh, no – it was “see you later.”
The first five hours I was using the engine until it said – “Good luck and good buy” and stopped working for the remaining part of the journey. By that time I was already outside of Halifax Harbour, Genoa sail was already half-rised and I started to move exactly in the opposite from Bermuda direction, to the east-south-east (Ost-S-Ost), because the wind was purely a headwind. After one hour of sailing under Genoa, the Tiller-Pilot also said “Good buy” and stopped working as well. I expected some damages, but not so much so soon.
December 6. The first dawn. Continue to bear half of Genoa. I did not put the Groth because of the south wind, which is exactly headwind. Selfstiring still holds the course + -10 degrees, while the speed is up to 5 knots.
December 7. During the first day i covered 120 miles, not bad for a start. The wind is getting stronger, I reduced Genoa and noticed that it started to rip at the very top. Like that is not enough, at the night it started! The wind speed was increasing to 5-6-7 knots and the blade of self-sterring was not holding in the position…
December 8. Genoa started to rip so rapidly that I had to take it down completely and tried to repair. In 20-30 knots wind, it took me about five or six hours and I was totally exhausted! Than I returned to the cabin and cooked some noodles. Hot meal – at least something is nice!
On December 9. Something gone bad. Wind is 10.7 knots and moved to the northwest (NW). Put the mainsail. Reduced Genoa to the maximum, leaving just the “handkerchief” for stabilization, it is torn apart in many places and my repair kit is almost gone!
Tsylka is gone! Searched the whole boat and she is nowhere to found! She felt bad and was seasick all these days, throwing up on everything, including my pillow and then just disappeared …
December 10. Freaking storm totally smashed Genoa! Repairs again. Returned from the deck wet to the bone. That was fun!
At 06.00 am saw a ship on the radar five miles, and contacted them. asked them to call and tell Sasha that I am live and kicking, going south. She was an Ukrainian ship, the boys have promised to call. Thank you, fellows! I was so preoccupied that that forgot to ask the name of the ship.
At night the wind struck again so hard that all my life flashed before my eyes … What did I do? – Tried to fix self-steering blade falling off and prayed. So the night had passed.
December 11. On the morning the storm is not over, as it usually happens, on the contrary, it became stronger. Block postings from the rudder of steering wheel was straightened and the wind is only at 30-40 knots? What are they thinking selling this garbage for 5000 Green? In the afternoon, after being sick and tired of trying to fix self-steering started to steer manually. Wind is 40-50 knots …
Tsylya appeared as suddenly as it disappeared, hurray, I’m not alone again!
December 12. self-steering just does not work! That’s how it looks when it breaks because of the speed. The boat is not holding direction and the whipping sails damage themselves, until nothing is left! Steering manually, cursing self-steering manufacturer …
December 13. The hand pump joined the engine and Tiller-Pilot. The boat takes a lot of water and. I wonder – where it comes from? If the boat is leaking – it is bad, if it comes from the deck I can live with that. I remove manually 7-10 buckets of water every day. Another “joy” of sailing the North Atlantic in winter.
Tsylya began to eat and drink, the worst is over?
On the night the wind started to blow with such force that I had to steer all night, keeping the boat on FordaqFurniture. Under the corner of Genoa boat was flying 12/10/15 knots rolling over the waves. Have to be very careful or you wouldn’t have time to say good buy! Only in the morning the wind became weaker …
December 14. A whole day flied under a small piece of Genoa. 330 miles to Bermuda. I talked with a passing boat “Figaro”, asked for the weather. The next two days – northern wind. May be I will have time to reach this cherished Bermuda?
December 15. Warmed up. After the storm named “I wish I was never born” found on the deck the first flying fish.
I thought that for my 47 years I have an iron health. A week of struggle with storms and self-steering clearly demonstrated that my iron health is not so iron. A pain which appeared a few days ago under the left lower ribs, became so intense that I had to contact passing ship, and explained the situation, I asked them to speak with my daughter and to tell her that I’m still alive but … may be not for long. Sealed the cabin, left a piece of Genoa, shifted the wheel on the wind and before going to sleep, recorded a video and strapped camera to the arm …
December 16. I woke up surprised … So, it’s not yet my time! During the night the wind was over, totally. Brewed the first cup of coffee since leaving the Halifax, it is the eleventh day of the voyage. Dead calm. Drifting to the south, could be worst. 200 miles to Bermuda.
December 17. In the morning put the mainsail and a small piece of genoa. Wind blows from the southwest, direct headwind. I’m trying to go a steep bij de wind, but with these remains of the sails I can go only bij de wind or even halve wind. I’m going to south-southeast. The second block postings from the rudder of steering wheel got straightened… And I asked this man – isn’t is too weak? No, he assured me, it will be fine… No more bread. It is so wet that it didn’t even turned into rusk, alas …
December 18. Wind from the southwest (SW) continues to grow. It is already 30 knots exactly. Noticed new breaks in genoa. Cleaned the cabin. The remains of the sails do not remind the handkerchief any more, they look like thong …
At night the wind became so strong that boat started to drift to the east-south-east (Ost-S-Ost). Steering manually, self-steering just died.
170 miles to Bermuda.
December 19. Morning is no better, wind is so strong that I decided to go south to the Caribbean. If I am not allowed to go to Bermuda, there are just 800 miles to the Grand Bagamas! But I have no maps of the island, and no maps of the Caribbean. Mine ends two degrees to the Bahamas. Well, when I get there we’ll see.
And for now – storm breakfast. Bon Appetit!
December 20. Headwind from Bermuda. Reduced portions to 240-260 gr. Took down genoa, again which time is that? Repair kit is gone a long time ago, using darn simple capron rope, just to hold it together. My mom wanted me to be a surgeon. But I became a sailor, I’m sorry mommy. My patients would have enjoyed an invisible and neat stitches, like my sail does. Maybe it is for better that I did not “pleased” anybody with the cosmetic stitches?
December 21. Calm. Dead calm. Drifting. A day passed but the boat remains at the same place. After the last storm with heavy rain there is short-circuit somewhere in the electric grid. The battery is loosing 3-4 amps. Turned of electricity completely, hoping to save battery. Tomorrow morning will try to start the engine, to charge the battery. Full sky of stars and the Milky Way. Tsylka sleeps at night in the cockpit, enjoying the beauty of tropical waters.
December 22. I woke up at five in the morning. No wind. I press the starter button … and nothing! The batteries are so dead so that the VHF radio is not working!
At 07.00 noticed vessel coming straight at me. Making a quick revision of water supplies, food. I wouldn’t die from the hunger, but I have only a week supply of water. Reluctantly took out my flare gun, and shoot the red one. Then another one, and another one. They noticed me and offered to take me on board it came as a surprise to them when I refused. I explained my problems and they gave me water and bread. It was LUISIA COLOSSUS, Sasha wrote about this meeting at the sea. A> Thank you guys. Finally the captain shouted, – you’re a fool, you will loose your life because of this stupid boat … The Lord bless you! How could I explain him what this boat, this idea, this voyage means to me?
December 23. Complete calm. Drifting. Thinking. No engine and no radar, VHF radio is not woking, no map either, probably Caribbean are not such a great idea. That means I still have to try to reach Bermuda, it is 140-150 miles.
I tried to fish. A lot of dorados around, but they just swim behind the boat, no biting. Did the get smarter over the years? So how am I supposed to catch you?
December 24. I asked Him to give me a gift for His birthday – to celebrate Christmas in Bermuda. 130-140 miles per day + entry into the harbour without an engine …? – You need a miracle to make it happen! The wind started to blow along the way, and then it became stronger and stronger. Twenty miles to Bermuda I activated EPIRB, not wanting to be blown in the ocean with the remains of the sails.Came close to the shore. When I was at a distance of 3-4 miles from the entrance to the harbour a rescue ship jumped out in front of me and stated to pass by, evidently I did not look distressed enough. So I took a flare gun, shoot a red flare … They turned around, threw me VHF radio and then towed me to marina.
Finally arrived! Thank You Lord, for a miracle! I am on Christmas Eve at the beach! And thank you Innochka, because thanks to you I had bought the whole emergency kit, including EPIRB, flare gun, life-raft. I can not even imagine what I would have been doing without them? Innochka I am so thankful to you.
After taking care of formalties, I even managed to run to the store and buy myself a few vegetables, grilled chicken, wine and rum for a holiday dinner. Under the kerosene lamp with a radio Bermuda I celebrated the Christmas Eve. In the morning there were no Christmas tree or the gifts under it, but St. George was around, that is the best gift for Christmas, from the Him…
That is not the end of story!