Day 4, Martinique to Horta

Wed May 20 2020
22º 28.009 N 56º 26.435 W

COG 55°
SOG 6kn
WIND 115° 9-12kn
1714 NM to Horta

We had some problems with the Hebridean wind vane last night. Not the wind vane as such, mind you, but the drum bolted to the steering wheel where the control lines are attached. A line got jammed between the steering wheel and the drum and one of the bolts snapped. Fortunately we had a 6mm threaded rod that could be used to replace the broken bolt, but we still had to unbolt and remove the steering wheel, in order to remove the stub of the broken bolt. A little tricky while sailing. Anyway, now the wind vane works like a dream again.

We are approaching the high pressure ridge, and the wind has dropped to around ten knots, but we are still making good progress, around six knots towards the Azores. We’ve chosen to go straight towards Horta, approximately on the great circle course. Currently it seems like a good choice, as the high pressure area is forecasted to move north in about a week, so it would be a very long way to go around it. It looks as if it’s going to be more or less upwind legs all the way to Horta.

Hugs and kisses to you all!

Day 3, Martinique to Horta

Tue May 19 2020
20º 13.094 N 58º 01.006 W

Another beautiful day! 😎
After a night winds shifting both in speed and direction, today brought a steady breeze, 100° and 14-15 knots. Sunny and warm of course. The days are already getting longer and the sun is rising a little past five in the morning. On the minus side, the water is cooling down, it is already below 27°C 🙁
Now in the evening the wind has increased to 17 knots and the sea is choppy, so we put a third reef in to lessen the heeling and get a better night’s sleep. Even so, we are still making 7-8 knots.

We’ve now sailed almost 400NM and we have another 1877 to go to Horta. We hope that the wind will be easing during the night and that we’ll have less waves tomorrow.
All the best, and fair winds to you all!

Another Brick, Day 2

Sun May 17 2020 
17º 48.464 N 59º 15.428 W

After a windy night with not much sleep (Marit wasn’t too thrilled with the weather) we woke up to a new warm and sunny day. The wind lightened during the day to between 14 and 16 knots. With an apparent wind of 55°, today was far more pleasant than yesterday.

To conserve some electricity, we gave Lazy Luke a break and broke out the Hebridean. After a lot of tweaking, relocation of the blocks etc, we finally got her working properly. Three cheers to Lady Hebridean!

Lady Hebridean

Another Brick, Atlantic West to East, Day 1

Sat May 16 2020 
15º 35.371 N 60º 45.361 W

Wind 110° 16-20kn
COG 30°
SOG 7.8

This morning at 0620 we left St Pierre and waved goodbye to Martinique. We motored up to the northest point of Martinique, where we set sails. The breeze was variable both in speed and direction, influenced by the high Mount Pelee volcano. We held a high course, concerned not to get too close to Dominica, should the Dominican Coastguard be in a bad mood today. When the breeze settled, it was initially from a comfortable 140°, but soon veering to not quite as comfortable 110°. We were sailing with our jib and two reefs in the main, occasionally heeling a bit too much, but making good speed, 8+ kn. The waves were growing and we soon had the cockpit thoroughly rinsed.

So far today, we’ve made 70NM in a little less than 10 hours. It has been a warm, windy and sunny day, except for a few drops of rain in the morning. Not a bad start of our Atlantic crossing!

Buying the Yacht

We searched the web and contacted the broker of some of the more interesting yachts. It is really surprising how much time this takes. Finally, we had reached the point where we had shortlisted the most interesting ones. It turned out that more than half of them where located in the southern UK, so that was where we headed.

Picking a suitable autumn weekend, we flew over on Saturday morning from Helsinki to London Gatwick, where we picked up a small rental car. We headed southwest towards the Solent area where we visited yachts in Poole and Lymington. In addition to the three First yacht we’d planned to se, the brokers of course showed us a few additional ones as well.

It turned our that our #1 choice, a 42s7, while otherwise very nice, was smaller than expected. It was therefore not suitable for charter, so we turned our looks towards the 44.7 and 47.7

The 47.7, while magnificent with new synthetic teak deck, had two arguments against, apart from the price.
It was a bit on the deep side, with a draft of 2.80m. Which is no problem whatsoever when spending your time on the ocean. But not so good when in the Bahamas or back home in the Finnish archipelago.
Secondly, being quite wide, it wasn’t very fast in light weather or upwind. Again no problem on the ocean, but more so in the Finnish archipelago.

Therefore, disregarding the other Bavarias and Oceanis boats shown that day, the winner was a First 44.7
At first we had actually disregarded it, as there were some signs of wear in the interiour. All of that, however, was only a metter of some restauration work to be done and not significant in itself.

The second day of visiting other yachts didn’t bring anything better along. Suddenly even the fact that this First 44.7 was deep enough, 2.65m, didn’t feel as much of a problem anymore. It anyhow felt sleek and fast both on the ocean and in the archipelago, even in the grey autumn weather of Poole.

Which led us to start the negotiations of course. And through the normal survey procedures and mendings of the faults found, we bought ourselves our new working home. Only a year or so of restauration an preparation until fit for charter.

How it all started

I’ve been sailing virtually all my life, well since I was big enough to remember anyway. It has always been in the back of my mind that I want to be able to spend more time sailing than on normal vacations only. I’m a software engineer, but for more than the past decade, I’ve been working in a sales organisation. My job job has been mainly technical sales support and consultancy services, but the driving factor has been the shortsighted sales cycle – you’re only as good as your last quarter type of thinking. Over time, I’ve grown tired of this and less motivated by my job.

I started thinking about a Plan B. What if I could leave the sales business and do something more meaningful, less hectic and more fulfilling. Even something more in tune with nature!

Professional sailing as an alternative

What other capabilities did I possess besides software and systems engineering? Well, being very practical I knew I could do almost anything working with my hands, so I had several options that I started to explore. However, I realized that most of my talents – solving practical problems, building and mending things, electrical engineering, electronics and software etc. all come together nicely in a sailing yacht charter business. A crewed charter business so that I get the chance to be sailing most of the time, not having to sit in an office.

As I had been sailing all my life, owning different types of boats, constantly upgrading in size, I started planning for getting the type of yacht needed for such a business. A prerequisite for this line of business was of course that I could talk my sweet wife into joining me in this venture. I am blessed with a beautiful and absolutely marvellous wife who shares my love for the sea and also the wish to work and live together 24/7. Furthermore, she brings to the table a long experience from healthcare working as a nurse in different capacities. A huge asset on board any charter yacht!

Finding the perfect Yacht

So we started scanning the market for a suitable yacht while trying to sell the old one. We got the old yacht sold in september 2017, and were now able to start seriously considering what to buy.

It is interesting what makes you tick. A friend of mine, against whom I some years ago was competing in the X-99 class, has now for some years been running charter on a Swan 51. To me, having had a few X-yachts, which I liked, and then a Dehler 36 CWS, which I didn’t really like, I feel that these heavy old Swans, while certainly beautiful, aren’t quite nimble enough for my liking. Looking for something fast but not reckless, comfortable and spacious, even luxorious to some extent, our sights turned to the Beneteau First line of yachts. Having identified a number of potential yachts, we went to the UK to have a look first hand.