The last few minutes of the Atlantic crossing, St Lucia, Mum’s arrival, Peter /Javier’s departure, and the skipper in a wheel chair

Quick facts of the trip and then a blog update:

Passage = Las Palmas De Gran Canaria to St Lucia

Total Distance travelled = 2864nm

Time taken = 15 days and 8 hrs or 368hrs

Average Speed = 7.8kts

Top speed = 20.3kts Achieved by Javier surfing down a big wave

Best days (24hrs) average miles = 217nm

Average True wind angle (relative to the boat) = Down wind and in the Leigh (160-180 degrees)

Average True wind direction = North Easterly/Easterly

Average wind speed = 18kts

Max wind speed = 40kts

Min wind pressure = 0kts

Motoring propulsion hours = 0hrs

Engine charging hours=65hrs

Aussiemite consumed = 1 jar

Internet downloads = 35mb

Charm offensive position in division 1e = 3rd

Position overall = TBA


As we could smell the earthly air of land the excitement of finishing the Atlantic crossing and being in the Caribbean started to creep in. John and Javier quickly made a fishing lure to attract any last fish; we talked tactics and planned our arrival. There were many parties on arrival and some St Lucian Crew Olympics. I ended up in a wheel chair in hospital.  We all made hundreds of new friends and it was good to see familiar faces and my mum.

Javier and John spent hours making a killer fishing lure from orange fruit bags and bright coloured plastic bags. We were two days out and the lure had just been deployed when bang our alarm system rigged up to the fishing line went off with a shudder, within seconds while still surfing at 12kts we were pulling in a massive wahu. Much to everyone’s delight we ate the fish within the next few hours.

The finishing line was an interesting one, we had two boats behind us and we were going as fast as we could to keep a distance from them, one was an Oyster 82 from America (in hot pursuit of us) and the other a 52ft aluminium yacht called Drina from Sydney. As we rounded Pigeon Island we tightened from a broad reach to a close reach with 20kts of wind, the boat was flying upwind and we aimed for the port maker to shorten our distance as we came in. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. The camera man was there taking some photos and Javier who was on the main just wanted to get in the photos. As we got closer to the mark a 25kt gust hit us and I asked Javier to ease the main, Javier just sat there smiling at the camera and waving, I asked again with a bit more anxiety/anger in my voice as we were about to round up. I was counter steering more and more, Javier just kept smiling and waving and then I hit Javier in the back the second before we rounded up only 4m from the finishing line. Javier realized what was happening and dumped the main and we made it through the finish line just in time. I haven’t seen the photo but I think the shot of Javier realizing what had almost happened would have been the best shot.

As we dropped the sail it was an amazing feeling of achievement for, myself, John, Peter and Javier who had just made Christopher Columbus’s Atlantic crossing, perhaps in a little more comfort with fresh gourmet food, lots of TV shows, music, internet, a chart plotter, AIS and the occasional warm shower but none the less we crossed the same ocean on a similar route. We all congratulated each other and dropped the main sail that had been up for the last 15 days and 8 hours. We then kicked over the diesel and after 65hrs of battery generation over the trip we put it into gear.

As we came down the St Lucian canal to Rodney bay Marina we saw Damian from Australia at the bar on the side, then when we rounded the canal towards the marina berth the ARC team and my mother welcomed us with music, Rum punch and a fruit hamper. It was very nice Javier even had a go on the metal drums.

Then the parties started, and boy did they start, the St Lucian welcome party was on the first night, it was a very nice night with rum punch and great St Lucian food. We all had a fun night, the next day we officially checked into the Marina and I meet a guy called Adam Foster from Australia. He runs the marina here and it turns out we had lots of mutual acquaintances in Sydney.

My first job was for Dalbora Marina Akuna Bay and Adam was the Manager of Dalbora Marina Rushcutters bay for many years. It’s amazing how small this world is. Adam and his wife Alex have been excellent helping us with everything from designing tow generators, to slipping the boat. Yes after just 6 months Charm Offensive has no antifoul left and the growth is coming through.

On the third day we had the IGY crew Olympics organised by the Marina, we competed in the usual novelty races including soccer paddle boarding. As with all these Caribbean parties it was fuelled with Rum punch and beer.

As team Charm offensive was not doing so well we decided to join Tom and Jo from Laisez Fairez which is a New Zealand team, we know this is a no no but we quickly changed the team name to team Australasia. In the end even after doing the Worm dance in the Shark suit we still came last but won best dressed. Team Sumtra another Aussie boat won the event.

The day after the crew Olympics was one sad day, we had to wave Pete farewell and I went to Hospital but I’ll talk about the hospital later on. Peter was a real asset to team Charm Offensive and he gets a huge thank you for organising, purchasing and then transporting two second hand sails over 30,000km’s to Las Palmas de Gran Canarias. 30,000km’s you ask? Well peter bought these sails in America then flew them to Sydney, then from Sydney to London then London to Las Palmas. A really great effort for some sails that helped us greatly in the crossing and will be a real asset to Charm Offensives tiny sail wardrobe. Pete was also resident spectra splicer he has made some very nice spliced soft spectra shackles and loops around the boat. Pete kept threatening to teach me how to do the shackles but I somehow wiggled out of it. Thank you Pete it was excellent to have you on board, your wealth of knowledge, calm nature and help was greatly appreciated and helped us do so well in our Division.

Now back to the night of the crew Olympics which caused a visit to the hospital the next day. The injury can be narrowed down to either a sporting injury from the Olympics’, or a rum punch injury. Considering the Olympics were finished, although its alcoholic effects lingered, it probably leaves one option. Walking along all of a sudden a slippery rock appeared out of nowhere and flipped me up in the air causing my knee to on a sharp rock. At the time it was ok but then the next morning I couldn’t walk or move my leg.

The Hospital gave me a wheel chair, a staff of five to keep occupied, lots of tests and a huge bill. It was good fun as I’d never been in a wheel chair before. The outcome was no fracture but bad heavy bruising so a removal splint was attached to my left leg.

After the hospital  the taxi driver and I went to the barber. The barber Denver kindly included some free spiritual healing on my knee. Thanks Denver, hopefully within a few weeks it will be back to normal.

The next day was another sad day as long term crew member Javier Perez left us to see his novia in Venezuela. Javier has been absolutely amazing, an excellent sailor, brilliant helmsman, amazing cook and good fun person. He may be back for more of the Caribbean; Charm Offensive hopes to see him soon. Thank you Javier.

Dad is still on board but a huge thank you to him for all his help and support, before, throughout and after the crossing.

Aside from that we have all meet lots of very nice people, have made many new friends, the outboard is broken and now it is time to get back to boat jobs and repair the few things that broke on route.



“Photos from Las Palmas, crossing the Atlantic and St Lucia”

“Photos from Las Palmas, crossing the Atlantic and St Lucia”

From Goodbye the Mediterranean, Hello the Caribbean. Posted by Nick Black on 12/20/2012 (86 items)

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