Posted by: Vegard Bleikli | 19/12/2012

Across the Atlantic!

8Last things first; we made it across!

19 days and 2900 miles after leaving Las Palmas, Værbitt was safely moored again. A distance equivalent to more than 1/8th of the earth’s circumference has passed under her keel, all in one go.

14Leaving Las Palmas, Gran Canaria and Europe

View towards the ARC start line

The first days the weather was a bit rough. Luckily we were going downwind and we had the waves to our stern. These are conditions where Værbitt, with her wide hips but narrow aft, is in her element. Consequently, we were flying along, overtaking what was supposed to be faster boats by the dozens. Several times we had breaking waves on surprise visits in the cockpit. That in it self is not too bad, but during a particularly big wave one of the hatches was left open. This allowed the cuddle-craving wave into the saloon, waking August in a very cartoon-like manner. At about the same time Vegard discovered that some holes in the cockpit drains into the aft cabin bed. On deck Jørgen stood laughing and asked the bewildered and wet off-duty crew, peeking their heads out the companionway “You noticed too?”

Two Bleiklis on deck

3A lonely morning rain cloud

During the second half we had less wind. The times the moving air could no longer support our sails the motor was brought to life. The waves gradually died down untill it the sea was calm enough for us to go for a swim. Good for bodies that had seen little water apart from the odd squall or breaking wave. The water was crystal clear and warm, and we didn’t have to worry about bumping our knees in the rocky bottom; that lay some 5000 meters below. Nor did we have to worry about hitting shore as we drifted along. Mid-way in the Atlantic the international space station would be closer than any piece of land.

Being quite in the middle of the Atlantic

A beard and a flying fish

All along the crossing we could see flying fish as we sailed along. At times they were quite elegant, navigating between the waves as low-flying birds. Other times they would just come crashing on to the boat. One night Jørgen got hit in the shoulder and head by the kamikaze sushi, but escaped without injury. To revenge the assault August set up the fishing gear. Before long a mahi mahi was caught, and soon after that fresh dinner was served.

17Mahi mahi!

12August preparing the catch of the day

A combination of good fortune and being well prepared saw that we had no major things happen to either us or the boat. Everything held together more or less as expected and we’re all very pleased how it turned out. We had to change the main sail about mid-ways as the old one was getting badly worn out. As we left Norway we all made bets as to how long the main sail would hold together. The most optimistic voices suggested Gran Canaria, and other said it was already overdue throw it out. Still the sail stayed in one piece, though with many torn seams and hours of dockside repairs. When it finally was allowed to retire it consisted more of duct tape, cable ties and new seams than sail cloth, and had carried us some 4500 miles. The new main sail worked well apart from a slide jamming close to the top of the mast. As climbing the mast out on sea can be quite violent and dangerous we winched the sail down a bit first. After a quick fix it was back up and made no trouble for us for the rest of the trip.

5Front row seat to nature

As we moved south and west the weather became gradually warmer. In the beginning we had a frosty 22°C in the water, but as the miles flew by the temperature crept upwards. And it continued to do so until it reached 27°C. Enough for even the wimpy Vegard to jump in without too much apprehensive evaluation. The temperature above sea-level increased as well, and inside the boat it reached a steaming 37°C on a sunny day with no wind. Too much for the refrigerator to effectively cope with, but the normal room-temperature sodas felt refreshingly cold nonetheless.

9Light sunrise posing

On the ocean there is a phenomenon called squalls, which pretty much is a heavy rain cloud accompanied by a wind increase. These were one of the things we had to watch out for as we sailed along, as they can be quite violent. The most dramatic one we encountered was when we were going down-wind at night with a full main and full genoa. As the squall hit the wind jumped to 35 knots. We furled in all of the genoa and put two reefs in the main, effectively reducing our sail area by 80%, and still did 7,5 knots boat speed.

10Fire and water

11Out for a swim

As the boat moved westward through the longitudes the sun rose later and stayed up longer. We stayed on UTC time the whole passage, so when we arrived in St. Lucia and adjusted our watches the 4 hours back we were suddenly all jet-lagged. A bit amusing considering we spent nearly 3 weeks getting there.

2A promise of what to come

After getting clear of land there is only sky-meets-water horizon wherever you look. The feeling of moving is ever-present as the boat glides restlessly but effortlessly through the water. The feeling of getting somewhere, however, is vague and only nurtured by changing digits on a GPS-screen. It feels like you get aboard, sail, and then after a while, you’re suddenly and almost without warning somewhere completely different. Upon reaching its destination, a sailboat is a thing of magic.

7Landfall St. Lucia



  1. Wow, looks fun. Beautiful photos. Wish I could go on a ride with you! 🙂

  2. Good reading. Looks like you had good fun during the crossing. To Jørgen: welcome home. To Vegard and August: happy sailing!

    • Takk saa mykje!

  3. Thank God you all crossed the Atlantic ocean safely. Will you all come to our part of the world? If so, be in touch and we will be happy to host you. Keep in touch and safe sailing. Enjoy reading your blog.

    • Thank you! Where we will sail in Asia is still undecided, but it would be very nice to come by Malaysia again. I will definitely let you know if we’re close by. Merry Christmas 🙂

  4. Velkomne i land! Det ser ut til å ha vore ei fantastisk oppleving 🙂 Det var moro å følge dykk på trackingen dei siste dagane – då eg endeleg oppdaga den funksjonen. Og eg seier som onkel: God tur vidare, gutar – og velkomen heim, Jørgen!

    • Takk skal du ha 🙂 Ja det var en flott tur over, og Karibien har vaert nydelig saa langt 🙂 God jul!

  5. Lovely and inspiring writing. Your photos are beautiful, too. Thank you for posting.
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle from hopeful sailors!

  6. Gratulere med en flott kryssing. Det er morro å følge dere. God jul og nyt Karibien, her er snart en meter snø. Anne og Vidar

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