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Panama Canal

Shelter Bay Marina

After ten hours of nice beam reach sailing, we are arriving to Shelter Bay Marina in Panama on Friday evening February the second. We are welcomed into a vivid sailing community with sailors crossing the Panama Canal from the Pacific to the Atlantic or vice versa. Many haul out and leave their boat in SBM during the Hurricane season or just stop by while sailing in the Caribbean. It’s a melting pot of different cultures, experiences and languages. With the Whatsapp group administered by Debbie we are quickly up to date and connected with thousands of other sailors.

On Saturday the Cruising Rally Ocean Posse organized an infotainment day with seminars about how to set up opencpn charts, security at sea,  interesting sailing grounds in the Pacific and a great Caribbean party in the evening.

Shelter Bay Marina is located on the historic ground of the decommissioned military base Fort Sherman with safety still a key with an active military base close by. The United States took over the construction of the Panama Canal 1904 and fortificated at both the Atlantic and Pacific entrance to the canal to defense the anticipated passageway. Fort Sherman was established in 1911 and the seven defense batteries can still be accessed by foot despite suffocating under verdant jungle. When operating, it was a complete base with barracs, a chapel, a cinema and family housing. After World War II the base served as jungle training for the US army. Since the Panama Canal was handed back to Panama in the end of 1999, the buildings have been abandoned and ripped of any valuable material and instead give a new home to termites and bats. The former officers quarter is now transformed to a very busy hotel and marina office.

 

 

 

 

 

Senor Carlos Chiari happily guides everyone who is interested in the history and wildlife of Shelter Bay Marina. And while Anders was travelling to Sweden for a week, Nilla took the opportunity to see the abandoned fortifications. Big blue morpho butterflies and smaller red doris longwing butterflies are thriving in the jungle where you still can find the remaining of a zoo. In the distance howler monkeys are roaring, slughs are crawling, coatis and agoutis are hiding. It would be a perfect scene for an Indiana Jones movie.


The crested oropendola bird is building its nest high up in the palm trees, hanging down like a pendulum from the tip of the leaf.
On Monday February the 12th we hauled out in Shelter Bay to clean the hull in preparation for Galapagos’s environmental inspections but also to change the anodes – ant to check the propeller shaft, after a significant encounter with a very long and strong fishing gear line – just outside St Barth in January.

 

 

We planned to be back in the water today for our transit slot in the Panama Canal on Saturday but the shaft bearings were damaged.  A worrisome message was that the aluminum housing for the Aquadrive (original from 2003) had a crack. We got a great tech-team onboard with a promise to fix this within a  week – and we have a new Canal slot for Saturday the 24th.

 

While Yaghan was on the hard, we spend the first three nights in the rather non exciting Radisson hotel in the totally non exciting and partly dangerous city of Colòn and then booked a room in lovely Riu Hotel in Panama City. Midday Thursday we were informed that two critical spare parts – a metal shaft bearing and the so called Black Jack rubber seal – was nowhere to be found in Panama. But hopefully three hours drive from Miami. It can take weeks to ship the part by mail, so early Friday morning our flight to Miami departures. No effort was spared and we got our spare parts, driving 370 km to the Tampa Bay where we met Joy at General Propeller who had prepared our spare parts. Thank you Joy!

One problem was solved but the next just waited around the corner. Yaghan still on the hard and we were moving between optimism and despair. When we did our spontaneous, fun and challenging trip to north Florida, the shipyard disassembled the propeller axis and realized our Aquadrive had a bigger crack that couldn’t be fixed.  It fell in pieces. Not good,  but lucky it happened here and not in the middle of the ocean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philip arriving in Panama

The only solution would be to get a new, 27kg heavy piece, which were nowhere to be found on this side of the Atlantic and initially also not in Europe. With support from Hallberg Rassy, Rodahls, the Swedish Aquadrive representative, and particularly Göran ”Bamse” Moberg, one single unit in a warehouse in Kerpen, 35km from Düsseldorf in Germany could be located. Now the organization of the transport started. We managed to get it delivered to the Sheraton hotel at Schiphol, from where  Philip, a friend of Nilla’s son,  was flying with the spare part to Panama. Luckily all went well and the aquadrive could be replaced and Yaghan splashed on Friday morning so we could use our slot to transit the Panama Canal the next day.

View of the Gatun Locks from the Atlantic Bridge

But firstly we needed to fill our food storage, so we took an Uber to Colòn  and found most of the things all we might need in the next months to come, because where we are planning to sail in the Pacific it will be complicated to find food.  We were lucky that Philip could help us and the supermarket gave us a ride back to the marina.

The receipt was longer than a meter and a half!

Swedish bags have found their was to Panama!

Transiting the Panama Canal

Months ago we contacted an agent to arrange a date for the transit through the Panama Canal and he also organized lines and fenders, well firstly some tiny ones, but later the right size.

We get the following message: “Good day dear Capt. Anders! Please be advised that transit schedule of your boat has been published by the Panama Canal and the specifics are as follows:

You should undock from the pier at 1430hrs/Feb 24th, then start moving towards the Canal entrance, stand by on VHF radio channel 12 for Cristobal signal station instructions, they will tell you the specific coordinates of where to wait for the transit pilot, he will come to your boat at aprox 1530hrs/Feb 24th, the transit have been scheduled to be “all the way through” departing the last locks at Balboa side at approx. 2330hrs/Feb 24th.”

So that’s what we do. The pilot is not a he, it’s a she, Victoria is boarding and we can proceed to the Gatun lock tied up together with the boat Rebel. Onboard are also Tina and Ingmar  from the boat Idalina helping us as linehandlers and Philip (who got lost in the jungle yesterday, but luckily was found! )

 

 

The canal locks operate by gravity flow of water from  the Gatún, Alajuela, and Miraflores lakes, which are fed by the Chagres and other rivers. The locks themselves are of uniform length, width, and depth and were built in pairs to permit the simultaneous transit of vessels in either direction. Each lock gate has two leaves, 20 metres wide and 2 metres thick, set on hinges. The gates, still the same since 1914,range in height from 14 to 25 metres. It is so impressive to be close to the gate and see the leaves open up to the new adventure awaiting us. You suddenly have the feeling being in “Lord of the rings”, waiting for hobbits to come entering the boat.

When we enter a lock, we wait for a line with a “monkey head” being thrown to us and  we then connect the thin line to our rope, which is now collected by the professional linehandler on the wall of the lock.  The lock chambers are 300 metres long, 33 metres wide, and 12 metres deep. In the Gatun lock, we are behind a big container ship and we are feeling really small. Luckily Victorias friend is a pilot on the big ship, sending us nice pictures of Yaghan.

 

After the three lockages upwards we entered into Lake Gatun, relaxing after well carried out activities with the crew – not only Nilla but three additional linehandlers operating  the four 30 meters long stern and bowlines that ties us up to the walls of the canal. Big thank you to our new lovely friends Tina and Ingmar who took their Arcona Idalina through the canal a couple of weeks ago, when Nilla was onboard and got experience as linehandler. And also to Philip, a friend of Nilla’s son who was kind enough to transport spare parts from Europe earlier in the week and now is staying onboard for the transit.

Out of the locks we could motor in 8.5 knots, while the sun was setting over the Gatun lake, the moon was rising and Nilla served Chili con Carne. After little less than three hours and 21 NM we reached our assigned overnight mooring location where Veronica was picked up by a pilot vessel.

At 8:45 AM we anticipated a new pilot to come onboard for the additional 7NM before getting into the next set of locks, downwards to the Pacific. But we had to keep on waiting for another hour until the next pilot came. We were still very happy that we had come so far. The new pilot showed us the way to the Pedro Miguel locks. We pass the Gold Hill, which never has hidden any gold, but the canal workers were told so to be motivated to dig deeper. The American white canal builders were paid in gold though, while non-American workers were paid in silver, or “plata” in Spanish. In Panama, money is still called “plata” in the local dialect.

 

 

Because of the delicate nature of the original lock mechanisms, only small craft are allowed to pass through the locks assisted by linehandlers. Larger craft are guided by electric towing locomotives, so called mules, which operate on cog tracks on the lock walls and serve to keep the ships centred in the lock. When we arrive to the third and last lock, the lock of Miraflores, the linehandler on the lock wall manage to tangle the thin line on the bottom of the wall and Yaghan slides down to the starboard side of the gate. Everyone on board and on land get busy, but it takes time to get a new line and we press against the wall, luckily only damaging one big fender and getting a small scratch on the metal molding. Behind us, the giant container ship is approaching, pulled by the locomotives. Its quite a stressful situation. You can see us sliding to starboard side on the picture from the live cam above. This day, the new platform for spectators was opened and we gave the 1600 visitors a good show.

 

We are so happy when the last gate opens and we can sail out in the PACIFIC!

 

 

We continue to Marina La Playita where we are staying and installing solar panels, enjoying Panama City and preparing for the next destination: Galapagos.

 

 


 

 

 

Guna Yala

Guna Yala – San Blas

Ever since we started to plan our journey many years ago, we heard that the San Blas Islands in the Archipelago of Panama would be a place almost like paradise. We left Aruba together with our buddyboat Ahlam at dawn and with with favorable winds and current going our way we have done 200NM in the first 24h or just above a third of the distance between Oranjenstad, Aruba and San Blas, Panama.

It was worth waiting in Aruba for the right weather window. We got pleasant downwind sailing in 18-22 knots NE. We reefed both sails quite a bit to ensure we keep below 8 knots SOG (speed over ground) to avoid arriving before sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hola Panama! We finally arrived in San Blas and Isla Porvenir or Gaigirgordub and anchor close to Ahlam. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Guna Yala, formerly known as San Blas: an archipelago off Panama’s eastern coast that contains more than 300 islands, 49 of which are inhabited by the indigenous Guna people.

 

 

 

 

 

Very friendly locals paddled out and greeted us, and sold their traditional molas. Molas means ”shirt or piece of clothing” in guna language, and is a skilful   reverse applique art form. A long time ago, when the guna people lived in the mountains between Panama and Colombia, they didn’t wear clothes, but painted their body in beautiful patterns. The Spanish conquistadores made them start wearing clothes and dispelled the gunas to the archipelago. The beautiful and historic patterns are now sewn on the molas. We got invited to celebrate the 99 year anniversary of the revolution when San Blas inhabitants won the right to maintain their traditional lifestyle against Panamanians, who among other things had forbidden them to wear their molas. Their flag sports a black, left-facing swastika, said to represent the four directions and the creation of the world.

 

 

Gunas still live as their ancestors did,  in small wooden shacks covered with palm leaves and hammocks representing the only furniture. We learned that when a young man is married off, he moves into the brides home. From that point on, his work belongs too the woman’s family and its the woman who makes the decisions. Beautiful bracelets cover the women’s ankles with one layer symbolising one year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Together with Toni, Ana and Carlos on Ahlam we are curious about these paradise islands and move forward to another island called Cabanas Niadup or Isla Diablo. where we find a wonderful anchorage, enjoy swimming and really fresh fish.

 

 

 

 

After just two nights with the breeze going through the palm leaves we had to leave this paradise and sail to Shelter Bay Marina on mainland Panama to secure a good spot for transiting the Panama Canal.  Before leaving, two young and very kind San Blasian fishermen came by our anchorage in their traditional canoe- and sold us fresh tuna, only 2USD per fish. On February the second we are leaving Guna Yala at sunrise.

 

 

Sailing in the Caribbean St Barths, St Martin and Aruba

Saint-Barthélemy

Suddenly back to double handed sailing, we set the course on St Barths. This island has been well known to us for a long time since it belonged to Sweden between 1784-1878. We had heard that the street signs would be in Swedish, and some wooden houses built in a typical Swedish style.

This Island had been on our wish list for a while. We were almost there, having motor sailed for the last 6 NM we were starting to plan our anchor strategy when we heard a noise and the engine stopped for half a minute and then started again. We were slowly going forward, but we had the feeling that we dragged something. After a minute we could increase the speed. We thought about jumping in the see directly to check the propeller, but we were so close to the anchorage, that we decided to wait.

There were at least 200 boats in the anchorage, and we had to search for a while before we found a spot. Nilla jumped in the water to check the propeller and found that it was tangled in by a long rope from a lobster trap.  Anders put on his diving gear and equipped with a knife, he started to cut off the mess. After 45 minutes and an empty tank, he had managed to cut half of the nest and also cut himself on the blades on the propeller shaft, which normally cuts the lines. A shark came bye to inspect our methods. Luckily Anders could stitch the deep wound on his right hand with his left hand.

 

We went ashore to fill up our tanks and were lucky that the local diving company could fill two tanks for 20 dollars. This and a good haircut were some of the cheaper things on Saint Bartholomey. During the last ten years, the island has become a playground for toys in the luxury class. We could park our dingy between mega yachts before we strolled on the picturesque streets with wooden houses, almost feeling like on Marstrand in Sweden. The restaurants were fabulous with quality service and attention to customer at the level we haven’t been spoiled with recently.  Almost too good to be true. The experience was as exquisite as the cocktails, but the Caribbean feeling had got lost somewhere in all perfection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before sailing off to St Martin, we stayed for a night on anchor in Anse du Columbier. Where we snorkeled among turtles. We found some nice corals, but years ago fishing with dynamite was a custom with a terrific effect on the corals. Luckily some corals have survived the radical fishing tactics.

Swedish handcraft  from the 18th century. Made in St. Barths.

 

 

 

Sint Maarten

St Martin was our next waypoint, as we had heard, it would be the best place in the area to get our hydraulic system fixed. On a Friday in Valencia, more than a year ago, we had a leak on the hydraulic tubes to the kick of the boom. The tube had been replaced in 2015, but the sun had been reckless. It was a Friday before long holidays, and we found a company that could help us. Unfortunately, they could only make a steel connection (not stainless), which had to be changed in a year. We changed this connection later in Cadiz, but now the connection inside the boat had started to leak. The hydraulic oil container was almost empty.

The Island of Saint Maarten and St Martin is divided in two halves between The Netherlands and France. The oldest treaty in effect in the Caribbean is the treaty of Concordia. It was signed between the French and the Dutch for the partition of St Martin in 1648.

 

 

To reach the berth we had to be there right in time for the opening of the bridge. An agent came out to us to give us advice. We got the right timing and motored stoically in the line of boats slowly passing the bridge and the biggest parking lot of superyachts we have seen. We are directed to our berth beside a fisher boat and a catamaran on the Dutch side of the island. The Marina is nice, but as lively as the reefs in St Barths. It is interesting to indulge with the different cultures on either side. The French have the good restaurants and supermarkets. Really everyone on the Dutch side recommends us to go there. On the Dutch side we find all spare parts and electronics we need.

Dingy dock at the local marine store.

This is how the old hydraulic hose looked like.

The upper cover of the hydraulic hose was brittle, so we decided to change the 10-meter hose. This took quite a while because some of the interior had to be removed. The new hydraulic tubes are installed within three days, and we are already planning our next longer sail down to the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) close to the boarder of Venezuela. Our hope was to sail to Bonaire, because our Swedish diving instructor said it would be the best diving spot in the world. But we were not that lucky. The mooring balls are too small for Yaghan’s 33 tons and the Marina was occupied by a fishing competition and anchoring is forbidden to protect the corals. We set course on Aruba instead.

 

 

 

Sargasso weed on the way.

 

 

Aruba

We left the Lesser Antilles from Sint Maarten Friday morning on the 12th of January for a 530NM crossing to Aruba – the A in the ABC islands for a first stop over on our way to Panama.

 

After 72h and close to 600 NM we arrived on the morning of the 15th January in Aruba. After a bit tricky docking were we touched ground in the very shallow Barcadera Harbour for clearing customs and immigration we could move to very nice and modern Renaissance Marina.

We can now enjoy resort life until a decent weather windows opens to continue to Panama

Aruba, also known as “one happy island” is the perfect spot to relax while it has any convenience you would wish for.

It was impressive to see flamingos walk by stoically between al the sun bathers on the beach.

Every second day two to three new cruise ships arrived to Aruba, making more than hundreds of new tourists happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had to stay in Aruba a bit longer than planned due to one of those Columbian low pressures which often causes stronger than desired winds in the western part of this sea. So we got time to check the rigg with professional help. Luckily all is well.

 

The sailing community is very active in Aruba and it was great to have time to learn to know other sailors and share experiences. Most of the other fellow sailors were sailing to Panama. Toni and Anna on the Oyster Ahlam from Spain became very good friends and we were both checking the weather systems thoroughly and decided to sail together to the San Blas islands in Panama.

 

 

It was time to set sail for Panama!

Sailing in the Caribbean Guadeloupe and Antigua

Marie Galante (Guadeloupe)

We have tried to sail to the island Marie Galante of Guadeloupe in other seasons, but the winds have not been favorable. Now the winds were perfect and after we had cleared out of Portsmouth, Kish joined us on the six-hour smooth sail to Marie Galante. There were quite a few boats in the anchorage, so it was easy to find a spot to pull down the anchor and take the dinghy ashore. It was four in the evening, but the souvenir shop, where we could clear in was closed until the next day.

 

 

 

We managed to rent a car for the next day and drove around the little island, flat as a pancake with giant sugar cane fields. The cane is used to produce one of the world’s best rums, which we also got to taste. We can recommend both distilleries; Bielle and Bellevue. A friend recommended the restaurant Dantana on the east coast and we were pampered with delicious seafood and a beautiful beach. We might have been to Marie Galante out of season because the island was very quiet even though it was a weekend.

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Guadeloupe

On Sunday morning we sailed for three hours with a beam reach to Point a Pitre in Guadeloupe. We said farewell to Kish, who took the ferry back to Dominica and planned the upcoming festive season when family was about to join. Marina bas du fort had a nice space for us, it was the first time Yaghan was docked in a harbor since Mindelo in Cape Verde. We were welcomed by the Swedish sailing vessel Celeste from Långedrag in Gothenburg with Captain Svante and friends.

Early Monday morning we rented a car and made all wishes come true in carrefour. We had a lot to stock up for a crew of ten. Now it was also time to check the rigg, especially our whisker pole, that got some scratches on the Atlantic crossing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chute du Carbet

Nillas brother Johan came bye on a short stopover from New York to Finland. Together we went to see Chutes du Carbet, the place where Nilla had a severe accident two years ago, flushed down two waterfall, lost in the rainforest and saved 20 hours later, thanks God, alive! (for more information see: https://wavelength.nu/the-miracle-at-chutes-du-carbet-guadeloupe/ 

It was an emotional moment to be there together. The personnel of the national parc  were very happy to meet us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good friends on Guadeloupe

 

 

Family Joining

 

 

On Wednesday the 20th of December Anders and  Nilla motorsailed to the west side of Guadeloupe and anchored in Plage de Malendure. In the evening all children with spouses and beloved grandchildren. We stayed and snorkeled in the nature reserve of Costeau to nights before we moved on to Deshaies to check out of Guadeloupe and sail to Antigua.

 

Antigua

On the crossing we were so lucky to spot a pilot whale, coming eally close to the boat. It passed us on the bow and turned to look at us on the side. All on board, young and old were so amazed and happy fo this encounter.

We had booked a berth at Nelsons dockyard in English harbour, wich is a the historical UNESCO world heritage, and kept it as a base for Christmas celebrations, nice snorkelling and beautiful hikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the help of readymade dough from Ikea on the Canaries, we baked some Christmas ginger breads in the Antigua heat. The smell was delicious and gave a special Christmas feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also recorded a sailing song on Antigua, soon to be released.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course there were some work to do on deck and great with helpful hands.

 

 

 

 

 

Barbuda

Harbour masters  Que and Sherwin kept a place for us when we sailed to Barbuda. With long white sand beaches, Barbuda is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. It is also the nesting habitat for the frigate birds.

 

 

The New Year of 2024 began with spectacular fireworks and a big party in English Harbor. Being together on a boat gives a lot of bonding time as a family. We are really thankful that we got the time together. After some days we sailed back to Guadeloupe to say farewell.

 

 

Sailing in the Caribbean Carriacou, Bequia and Dominica

Early  December it was time for us to sail west and return to the Caribbean Islands that we had visited in 2021 on our first Atlantic crossing with our previous boat, Ydalir II (www.wavelength.nu).  We had a good sail to Carriacou and anchored in the welcoming harbour of Tyrell Bay.

It was great to find some marine equipment at the well equipped marine store. One reason to return to Carriacou was to meet up with John at Xpert Studio to record some new songs. Stay tuned!

 

 

We moved our anchorage to the beautiful Sandy Island and  Paradise Beach Club we are enjoying delicious food and also painting our new name tag for Yaghan.

There was also time to renew our dive training and dive around the Sisters Rocks west of  Carriacou.

 

Finally Birk had to fly back to Europe and we gave him a dinghy ride to the small airport on Carriacou.

We continue tto sail to Union Island where we clear in and continue to Salt Whistle Bay and Bequia where we meet Scandinavian sailors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are happy to be back , but also curious to continue  north. So we sail with around 8-10 knots for two days to Dominica and the Bay of Portsmouth.

 

Finally we can meet up with our dear friend Kish again!

She takes us on a tour to the Organic Farm, a non profit project where all the delicious tropical fruits are grown fully organic.

Rubbertree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally Nilla has a chance to perform her song `Mountain Island` about the nature island Dominica live on stage  at Pays.

https://youtu.be/pchukdI5XbY?si=fLQ9Y8UsRKUElUJb

Sailing in the Caribbean – Barbados

Barbados

Bridgetown

On November the 23rd at 8AM we drop our anchor in Carlisle Bay.  We are advised to go with our dinghy to the big commercial port to clear in to customs and immigration.  We call the port officer on VHF and ask for permission to drive in to the great port and, once there we try to find a way up on the quay.  Between giant cruise ships we sneak to find a ladder and we really feel like Liliputians.  Finally  a ladder is found  where we climb up and lock our dinghy.

 

Clearing in to Barbados was a longer procedure than expected. We were greeted by a very nice health control officer and he, like most of the people we meet on Barbados, is very surprised that we have crossed the Atlantic in our own sailing boat. Barbados is  a Cruise ship friendly port, with the slogan to be the best cruise ship port in the world. Sailors on the other hand, are almost invisible and the clearance take about two hours, mainly because the personnel is not used to clearing in smaller boats. 

 

Nevertheless we want to give Barbados a fair chance and take the dinghy up the  Careenage channel  to the centre of Bridgetown.  We find a good spot to tie it up and quickly we are in the busy centre of Bridgetown. The mixture of historical buildings, modern glass department stores  and long forgotten shacks is overwhelming .  You quickly feel the British history infused by modern times vivid Caribbean vibe. 

 

 

On Sunday we are searching for a church, ending up taking a taxi drive to see Rihannas dive and the tiny church where she sung when her voice got discovered. She grew up in the township of St. Michael, close to the cemetery, where, according to our taxi driver ” a lot of people are dying to get to”.We see several nice beaches, super exclusive hotels on St. James coast. The service in the church has already started, so we just sneak in shortly.It’s a peaceful place. We learn that the best way to find the way back is to look at the bus stop signs. If it says ”to the city” you are on the right way, if it says ”out of town”, you have to turn.

 

The currency in Barbados is Barbadian dollars, but the most practical currency is US dollars. We rent a car and drive around the Island. Barbados is the most densely populated island of the Caribbean with 656 people per square kilometer. Still we find wide sugar cane plantations and beautiful nature. The cane is cut with big machines, but also by hand. We visit the Rhum distillery, St. Nicholas Abbey and enjoy a ride in the steam train. (This must be the Island Lummerland, where the protagonist in the German writer Michael Endes story ”Jim Knopf” drove around in his Emma-train.) The Georgian style house is a museum and tells the 350 years story of one of the oldest surviving plantations on the island. 


 

 

 

 

The Georgian style house is a museum that tells the 350 years story of one of the oldest surviving plantations on the island. Here we find precious examples of the Sailor’s Valentine, a  souvenir of beautifully arranged shells, popular in the 1860s .

 

The anchorage in Carlisle Bay is calm and it is easy to snorkel to the nearby wrecks and dive into a colourful world of corals and turtles, only a stone throw distance from the boat. We drive to the fishing harbour to get some gasoline. All fishermen are genuinely helpful and show us where to dock our dinghy and where to gp to find some fuel. The three of us also need some more substantial fuel and order Coucou with fried fish. Ooh, it’s so fresh and delicious, worthwhile crossing the Atlantic for it. The national dish is flying fish, which is way more tasty than you think when you see the fish land on your deck. 

 

 

 

Barbados has beautiful beaches and we enjoy having lunch or dinner at the Barbados Yacht club. We got a membership for a week and take part in life music and BBQ. Our British sailing buddy boat (we met in Santa Cruz and sailed almost  parallell to Mindelo) Ellen with Julie and Malcolm, arrive to Barbados some days after us and it is wonderful to share the experience of a new crossing.

 

 We take the dinghy in to Bridgetown to celebrate and what a big party there is. Barbados is celebrating the inauguration of the new monument in the center of the town.

 

Some years ago the statue of Nelson was removed and now it was time for the peaceful monument ”the Barbadian Family”, symbolising the family’s role in producing national heroes  who fought for freedom and independence. The Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and the Bishop are present while unveiling the monument and the celebration continues for hours with many skilled singers and groovy music. Blue and Yellow are the colours of the day and we should have brought the Swedish flag! We are happy to be back in the Caribbean vibe and carefully dinghy back under the shine of the full moon, hoping an outlook for turtles.

 

 

Barbados is busy, especially when cruise ships arrive. We get up early to check out, this time we take a taxi to the harbour. We have got the information , that we have to pay 50 USD to an office, before we can clear out. Finding this office takes us over two hours. We are told to go to a big blue shack, which we do, but underway we ask for the direction. We follow the advise and walk all the way to the other side of the cruise ship terminal. Only to find out that we are completely wrong. The personnel are friendly and shows us the way back and we are gently directed outside of the Terminal. Half an hour later we come back. Nobody had heard about the office and we got the information that it moves now and then, so nobody knows for shure. The clock ticks and the office will soon close and we are running around in circles. It’s good with some exercise, but our patience is strongly tested. Finally we find the office and another very friendly man on the place which we had passed by five meters four times. This odyssey really makes us want to leave this maze asap. Which we do and sail to Carriacou.

 

Yaghans 11th Atlantic crossing

Endless ocean

 

 

We are so happy to witness Yaghans seaworthiness under her 11th Atlantic crossing. Yaghan is happily romping along in the steady following winds, behaving just like a horse livening up when smelling the green grass on the fresh spring field. Yaghan knows her way on the Atlantic and we just have to adjust the course some degrees optimise the angle of the winds into the sails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite seldom  our night watches were enlivened by passing vessels. The day after we caught a Mahimahi, we saw three big fishing ships from South Korea. Otherwise, the surface of the Atlantic was totally empty. We take turns during the night whiteout a scheme, just seeing who needs some sleep and then change when we feel its time to switch. Only waves until the horizon, until Nilla spots two finns of what could have been pilot whales. One day we catch a mahimahi, but it jumps off the hook in the last second, avoiding being heaved on deck. We learned that this will bring us a bigger fish one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the 16th of November, we only have 1000 nm to go and celebrate half way. We have now been on the Atlantic for six and a half day. A Cidre from Santander ( a gift from Joaquin) to a meal with tournedos, salad and potato gratin is the perfekt treat. A cheesecake baked by captain Anders has never tasted better than on the middle on the ocean and Birk brought delicious chocolate from Bruxelles as a surprise.  We still have a lot of fresh food and fruit as papaya and mango and we feel that we can continue to sail for several weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waves, ande especially the swell is growing up to 3 meters and when we get closer to Barbados, we see a squall on the horizon or the radar now and then, but not too close. On our whole crossing, the waves vary from 1.9 to 2.8 metres height and the swell, mostly from NNE with 1-2.7 metres.

 

On the 20.11 we have to gybe for the first time and 24 hours later the wind goes down tho 6knots and we start the engine. We still have 4500 metres under the keel when we stop the engine and decide to take a short swim in the deep blue ocean. We stay close to the boat all the time and hold a line, not getting lost. Now we now for sure, that there are not many boats to help in case something happens. The quick dip is really refreshing and it’s a lifetime experience to swim and be surrounded by the special clear blue water of the ocean.

 

When we set the sail again in mild 11 knots wind, Nilla and Birk go on the deck to put the whisker pole in the right position and Birk spots a really big whale around 200 metres in the direction of Barbados! We see the big fin slowly go up, before it dives! Size wise it might even be a blue whale. This is such an emotional encountering and we are happy to share the water, or more so, be a guest in the territory of this giants.

 

 

As the sun arise on Thursday morning,  November the 23rd 2023, we see the lights of Bridgetown, Barbados. We are welcomed with a short soothing sweet rain, washing off all the ocean salt after 13 days on the Atlantic. It´s a truly amazing feeling to see land again after having been surrounded by water and colours of blue 360 degrees around us for almost two weeks. At 7:45 we ask for permission to drop the anchor in Carlisle Bay and we anchor in the white sand, close down all systems, jumps in the dinghy and drive to the cruise ship marina, where we visit the health department, customs and immigration. Now we learn to live in island time. Everything works a little bit more relaxed. After two hours we can finally drive back to the boat and sleep for some hours before we drive into Careenage in the centre of busy Bridgetown for a local beer. The Bajans (local name for Barbadians) are friendly and Bridgetown is a funny colourful mix of houses from different epochs and cultures.

Yaghans eleventh crossing took 314,5 hours and the distance was 2088.5 nm with an average speed of 6.4 knots. We are so happy for having such fair winds during the whole crossing.

 

 

Waving from the Atlantic Ocean

This is day 4 on the Atlantic Ocean, sailing from Mindelo, Cape Verde to Bridgetown , Barbados.

We have sailed 500 NM wing on wing since we heaved the sails and connected the whisker pole on Friday the 10th of November. With more than three meters high, rocky, choppy waves, the first day was quite bumpy. Birk, Anders and Nilla shared the nightshift on the fluorescent surface, and we were all happy to be on the ocean again and finally able to start the approximately 12 days long sail to the Caribbean. With winds of 18 knots, we were able to make a speed of 8 to 9 knots. We gradually grow more distant to our buddy boat Ellen.

 

The further from the Islands, the weaker the wind and its gusts. On Saturday the seas calmed, and the winds decreased to a pleasant 12 to 15 knots with perfect visibility. We have a good meal, play guitar and sing. In the next night we see a ship and call it on the VHF, and it changes its course. Birds and flying fish keep us company while we gently sail with free wind straight on the rumbline. We enjoy papayas from Cape Verde and bake banana cake while we suddenly catch a beautifully blue striped Barracuda.

Even though this fish hardly has eaten any reef fish, we don’t take the risk to get intoxicated by ciguatera, since there is no chance for us to reach a hospital while we are out here on the ocean. 1500 more nautical miles to sail and the forecast is good.

Refuel diesel and sherry in Gibraltar and Cadiz

 

Having reached the impressive hill of Gibraltar, we steer among a fleet of freighters to refuel our diesel tanks in the English port. There is no need to  check in at customs and it’s easy and unbureaucratic to fill up around 1600 litres of tax-free diesel. We have booked a berth in Puerto Deportivo de Alcaidesa, on the Spanish side of the border to Gibraltar. We dock and are welcomed by  a crowd of strong, athletic women and men, competing in weight lifting. If we hadn’t changed the washing machine already, this would have been the place for it.

We take a walk to Gibraltar, where we meet people whose families have been living there since the 16th century. Gibraltar is a beautiful town and it’s hard to imagine how many battles have been fought here on the threshold to the Mediterranean Sea. After one night in the harbour, we anchor on the western side of the bay of Gibraltar, so we can have our regular morning swim.

Gibraltar

Early Monday morning we sail from the Bay of Gibraltar along the Strait of Gibraltar to Puerto Sherry. We are a little bit nervous. This time there are no
submarines that awaits to attack us, the danger in the water comes from orcas and the area from Gibraltar to Cadiz is one where the most frequent attacks have been reported. Since Summer 2020 there have been several interactions between orcas and sailing boats, where the orcas, also known as killer whales, have been slamming into boats and pushing the rudder. Some boats sunk after the attacks, so we take precaution and go close to the coast in shallow water. Luckily there are no orcas in sight.

                            Lighthouse of Trafalgar    

Puerto Sherry in the Bay of Cadiz is a magnificent Marina where we will leave Yaghan while we fly home to Gothenburg for a wedding and birthday celebrations.  With a lot of joyful memories after two weeks of quality time with Annika and Ben onboard, our ways sadly part for this time.

Busy Bay of CadizPuerto Sherry

Our first month onboard

The first month with Yaghan has been filled with amazing moments on and in the water together with family, friends, dolphins and medusas. We have sailed from Valencia via Denia, Mascarat, Alicante, Isla Tabarca, Torrevieja, Isla Gros, Gabo de Palos, Calabardina, Cabo de Gata, Agua Dulce, Motril, Herradura, Benalmadena, Puerto Banus to Gibraltar.  355 exciting nautical miles on the hot but rather calm Mediterranean Sea.

Gibraltar

Luckily there is a lot of space on and under deck.

 

 

 

 

And if not, there is always some more space in the dinghy or in the 30 degrees warm Mediterranean Sea.

The winds have been fair so far and even though we had to motor a bit, we could sail gently most of the time.

The light and all reflections on the surface awakes a lot of thoughts and deepens the understanding of life.

The high, rough cliffs of the Spanish easterly coast bring contrast to the smooth water. The ever-changing shapes are a delight for the eyes, especially the hidden white cliff of Cabo de Gata.

 

On Monday the 14th of August Joaquin drove down to Denia to give us a proper farewell with Champagne and it was time for us to sail south. Twelve days later we reached Gibraltar. It was a very special moment for us to reach this impressive landmark of Europe.