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We have arrived in A Coruña safe and sound, and are very pleased with our first crossing. It took us about 60 hours, and we have learned quite a lot. We had some plans and expectations, and really everything went out the window.
Friday November 28th, we packed up and left La Rochelle at about 4 pm. We topped off fuel and once we were out in the bay we put the sails up. We sailed very conservatively, setting up the genoa and main with one reef. I went down to the cabin and rested. We had a heavy discussion and planned on doing 6-hour shifts, starting at 8 and 2, with the understanding that if needed, we could end our shifts early and adjust. So, at 7 pm I got up and got dressed and started preparing dinner. Unfortunately, being downstairs and dark, I got a bit nauseous from the movement. Dinner was easy – cream of pumpkin soup with crab. After wards, David and I sat at the helm station together for about an hour, and decided that it would be best if I tried to sleep a bit and David would wake me up when he was too tired to continue. I went down and slept on the main salon couch.
At 2 am David woke me up and I felt better. Getting dressed, I went out to the helm station and started my shift while David went to bed. It was quite cold out, so we have as many layers on as we could, including our foul weather gear. Getting dressed is definitely a bit frustrating, as the boat is rocking, you have to struggle with the layers and deck vest. Once outside, my nausea improved, but then we have to suffer in the cold! Kind of a lose-lose situation.
David and I had both seen bioluminescence shooting out in the wake behind us. At 4 am, something else caught my eye – dolphins! The moon had set, but somehow – from the stars or the bioluminecense – the pale skin of the dolphins was glowing! Their bodies swam just under the surface of the water, breaching occasionally. Not only were their forms glowing but their wakes coming off of their tails glowed like a white ribbon behind them, intertwining with each other as they swam, and the dolphins each cast off their own bioluminesnce net behind them. I woke David up (he panicked – we have since pulled out the walkie-talkies to try to calmly wake each other up) and he observed the dolphins for a few minutes and went back to bed. I tethered myself to the starboard jackline, and walked up to the bow pulpit to sit and watch more. I could tell that there were dolphins under the bow as well as the few on our starboard side, but I couldn’t see them as well.
The dolphins were just the excitement I needed to get through my first night shift. I told David to wake up at 8, but he was up around 6:30, as I was spotting and dodging some cargo ships.
I went to bed and set my alarm for 10, when I got up and had breakfast. I relieved David at the helm, while he went down to sleep. We swapped again at 1400, having discussed that 4 hour shifts seemed more reasonable. Saturday´s dinner was a pre-made meal I had prepared using our vacuum sealer (which is not vacuuming, but I sealed and froze anyway).
Sunday things started to get into a better groove. In the afternoon, instead of napping, we stayed in the main salon together and watched an episode of TV and had lunch. Our sleep quality was getting better.
I am excited to see what watches will be like once we are in warmer climates. I enjoyed being outside because the fresh air and view helped the seasickness, but it was so cold out! We were very good about always having someone on watch out at the helm at night, but during the day it would be very easy to keep watch inside. Our instruments do a great job – we really enjoy having the AIS as our primary vessel avoidance tool. It is fascinating to see what kind of boats they are (typically cargo or fishing), where they are going, how close we will come to them (CPA) and the time of CPA. The radar is good too, but we didn’t see anyone on radar that wasn’t on AIS. I wonder if we would be able to see anything unlit with our naked eye at night.
Monday we took our last shifts (me 7 – 11, David 11 – 4) and then we were both up to prepare for coming into A Coruña. We docked at the visitor dock, helped by a dockhand we had called on channel 9. He told us to check in at the office at 8 am, so we went back to bed for a nap!
For our next passage, we have agreed that I will try something for seasickness (I am thinking the relief band) and David will expect to pick up some slack when I am not feeling well in the beginning. We will keep 4 hour shifts at night, but once we are settled in, day shifts will be more casual. I will pre-make more meals in the vacuum sealer, as that was the best meal we had. We also added a few projects to our list, to make passage-making easier….David will tell you more about that.