The Sailing Life

Over the next few days we were affected heavily by the harmattan wind that blows from the Sahara desert.

It reduces visibility substantially due to the sand filled atmosphere and coats everything on board with an orange tinge.

You could quite clearly see the effect on one of the many white 3-strand and braid lines on board – the port side(in this case the east side) would be orange and the starboard side would remain white.

The sails took on a heavier sepia cover than normal and you could feel the sand in your hair as you turned into your bunk.

Nevertheless we sailed on and paid particular attention to the radar for any targets that may appear.



29TH January 2012

After 24 hours of helming we tried out ‘Otto’ the Simrad autohelm!

It is the first time he had such a test with following, steep seas (3-4metres) but he handled admirably. The seas were not the usual rolling Atlantic swell that one would normally expect, but were confused, as if they were bouncing off the African coast-line over 50 miles away.

However, Otto steered handsomely until morning when we decided not to push our luck and took the helm once again.


The Crew

Here the crew:

(from left to right): Edoardo Nardelli – delivery skipper, Stefano D’Oria – Chef , Giovanni Funis – Delivery Crew (sitting), Dan Houston -Classic Boat Editor – Guest, Jesse Green – Stewardess (sitting), Andrew Cully – Captain & Stefano Valente – Engineer (sitting).

(from left to right): Back row – Yoichi Yabe – Photographer, Edoardo Nardelli, Giovanni Funis (sitting), Stefano D’Oria, Dan Houston.  Front row (sitting) – Stefano Valente & Jessica Green

The Watch

I like the watch system as it provides everybody with plenty of rest and also works on a rotational basis so that you do not have the same watch every day.

The idea was for Dan and Yoichi to move around as they feel so that they can meet and spend time with all of the crew. Eventually, as they are experienced sailors themselves, they decide to take on a watch after our Cape Verde stop.

Even more ‘rest’ available!

Once the sails were set , we had some supper and fell into the watch system.
Our watch system works as follows:

  • Day 1

08.00-12.00        Andy, Jesse, Yoichi

12.00-16.00        Edoardo, Stefano D

16.00-20.00        Stefano V, Giovanni, Dan

20.00-23.00        Andy, Jesse, Yoichi

23.00-02.00        Edoardo, Stefano D

02.00-05.00        Stefano V, Giovanni, Dan

05.00-08.00        Andy, Jesse, Yoichi

  • Day 2

08.00-12.00        Edoardo, Stefano D

12.00-16.00        Stefano V, Giovanni, Dan

16.00-20.00        Andy, Jesse, Yoichi

20.00-23.00        Edoardo, Stefano D

23.00-02.00        Stefano V, Giovanni, Dan

02.00-05.00        Andy, Jesse, Yoichi

05.00-08.00        Edoardo, Stefano D

Surfing Down Waves

Today we were briefly becalmed in the lee of Gran Canaria, and with the help of the ‘iron sail’(engine), we gybed off the coast and motored SW.

An hour later we were back in a Force 5 and enjoyed surfing down waves – record speed for the morning: 13.7knots!

In the afternoon we lowered, stowed and covered the mainsail, and centred and secured the boom with two quarter tackles to deck (a pulley made up of 2 blocks and line, which was fastened to the pin rail on the outer deck).

In this position she would remain for the rest of the trip.

Subsequently, we hoisted the loose-footed Cruising Main, a sail purpose-built for Trans-Atlantic downwind sailing. It slides into the same track that the mainsail uses by way of a 10cm segment of the track. This can be removed just above the top slide at the head of the stowed mainsail.

Although a little fiddly, it means that the luff of the mainsail can be held in its natural position for the duration of the trip, and if needed in an emergency is already rigged and ready.

We also hoisted the mizzen with one reef, and the jib was hoisted on the end of the bowsprit to join the staysail in the fore triangle. This provided increased balance to Eilean, whereas previously we had too much weather helm (when the boat desires to head up into the wind).

In this way we sailed south and by sunset even the southernmost island of El Hierro had disappeared below the horizon.


After being informed that Tuesday 17th was a superstitious day in Italy we decided to leave Santa Cruz, Tenerife at the last light of the day.

Destination: St. Maarten – 2800 Nautical Miles away.
Departing into a fresh 20 knot breeze we hoisted the main with one reef, and the staysail, and with the wind at around 130 degrees on the port quarter we headed SSE towards the south of Gran Canaria. Although our ideal heading is SW the acceleration zone sits off the SE coast of Tenerife by the airport and this phenomenon increases the breeze by 10-15 knots, an effect I was happy to avoid for our first night’s sail.

Eilean between Viareggio and Tenerife

Eilean’s last hours in the Mediterranean as she approaches the rock of Gibraltar. Note her capping rail, bulwark and cover board are covered in cap-wrap designed to protect the varnish from the elements.

-Eilean back in the familiar ocean swell-

-Sailing south to Tenerife-