Three OCSC Instructors sail across the Atlantic…

OCSC Instructor Alumni Harley and Jennifer Earl own a boat once again! They already took off to the South Pacific a few years ago. This time the journey starts by delivering a new boat from Europe to St Lucia. Sean McAllister and Tom Prior helped Harley and Jennifer deliver their new boat. As Sean put it: “Kailani is a Deerfoot 63, Dashew design, cutter rig, 28tons, and she loves to sail!”

Read the update from Skipper Harley Earl:

As most of you who have followed Kailani’s progress are aware, we lost our ability to communicate by HF radio somewhere in the vicinity of the Canary Islands a couple of weeks ago and thus were unable to provide our loyal fans with regular pithy updates of our Leg 2 journey from Mallorca to St. Lucia. We therefore are sending this passage summary out by regular email in hopes that our vast audience will not drift away to more productive pursuits before we resume our travels next year.

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First off, a few statistics.  Based on our daily 0600 position we sailed a total of 3,923 nautical miles in 25 days and 16 hours for an average speed of 6.4 kts reflecting the unusually light trade winds which characterized much of our passage below latitude 20 north. Our worst day was November 23 when we only managed 48 miles in 24 hours.  At one point that day we found ourselves being pushed back toward Africa by a west wind, something that is so rare in the trade wind belt as to be virtually undocumented in the pilot charts for November.  But what you lose in the swings, you gain in the roundabouts, and when the trades finally filled in during the last few days of our crossing we managed our best 24 hour run of the passage, 224 nm.  At one point when the skipper was deep in the engine room trying to repair the fresh water system (a frequent occurrence) Kailani hit 18.8 knots surfing on the 12 foot Atlantic wells. In the depths of the engine room you could feel her vibrate as the rushing water triggered the harmonics of the hull.

Sean with the catch of the day!

Sean with the catch of the day!

Even in the light airs, however, Kailani proved to be a sweet sailer particularly with a double headsail rig. Notwithstanding the disappointment of logging only 4 miles on a two hour watch (log entry: “we are getting nothing and that is from the wrong direction”) you could not help but feel that another boat would have just wallowed in the same spot in those conditions.

Once we hit the trade winds there was little for the crew to do except for read and daydream of food.  We caught several fish but chose to land only three: a nice wahoo, a big eye tuna and a small dorado.  The sugar scoop became the fish cleaning station with the fillets going into the fridge.  Although our fresh vegetables had dwindled to a few onions by that time we made up some killer ceviche for appetizers followed by pan seared steaks and rice.  Considering that we had subsisted up to that point largely on rice and pasta with a side of chorizo, the fish was a morale booster.  In fact we had eaten so much chorizo that when it came time to pick a date for our arrival, the prize for the winner of the pool was to force the three losers to eat the remaining chorizo (Tom won, the rest of us got indigestion).

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The trades were not all boredom, however.  We had a couple of all hands, middle of the night incidents to keep us on our toes including the parting of the light air sheet (we saved the sail) and the cover unraveling on a spinnaker halyard (and we saved the sail yet again).  We had to go up the mast to retrieve the radar reflector that chaffed through and we took advantage of the light airs to swim in 10,000 feet of water. There were also the typical system issues including a faulty engine alarm, the finicky fresh water system, the seizing of the propane solenoid, and the failure of all three autopilots which meant three days of hand steering, heaven forbid.  We managed to fix most of these, sometimes just by blasting the offending component with loopy juice (aka contact spray).

As we sailed into our last day talk turned to our first meal ashore.  Cheeseburgers were the choice of all, and upon securing the boat we managed to get to a restaurant just before the kitchen closed, where we did indulge our cheeseburger fantasy washing them down with several beers.

Kailani will spend the next couple of months on the hard in St. Lucia.  There is a worklist to complete, but once that is done she’ll be ready for some Windward Island cruising before she sets out on her final legs home in April.  In the meantime my thanks to Tom, Sean and Marc in their roles as crew.  Tom was his typical rock solid self, always there when needed and the best imaginable guy to serve as an XO. He also understands the importance of a good cup of tea before jumping into whatever the repair project of the moment happens to be.  Sean proved to be as good a cook as he is a sailor and has been certified as an autopilot repair technician. He also humored the captain by allowing the latter to win a few games of cribbage.  And finally Marc managed to build on his sailing knowledge while at the same time finding time to read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

And finally thanks to all of you out there who followed our progress.  Sometimes while on watch in the dark of night on the open ocean you get a peaceful feeling knowing that someone is out there pulling for us.

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