I’ve dreamed of sailing across the Atlantic Ocean (and/or circumnavigating) since reading the book Dove as a teenager. It’s about a 16 year old boy from California that circumnavigated the globe on a 20 something foot sail boat. It’s something I’ve talked about and prepared for ever since.
I’ve owned small to medium sized sailboats, read countless sailing books and magazines, sailed as much as possible, got my Captain’s License, crewed from New York to Florida and from Bermuda to Newport.
But I grew tired of talking about it (after 35 years). I read a compelling boat advertisement about 10 years ago that said that most people either don’t have the time, the money or the health to make an ocean voyage, so if you find yourself fortunate enough to have all three, you’ve got to go. The time was right for me to make it happen.
There are so many great “blue water” boats, but I decided that a performance (fast) catamaran was for me. I decided on an newly designed Outremer 45. Outremer has a proven track of building Ocean worthy catamarans. Since she’s built in France, I would have the opportunity to sail her home, across the Atlantic.
I signed the contract in January, 2014 and was euphoric until two days later when I was up all night trying to figure out how I was going to find the time to sail the boat from France to New York, provision the boat, find a Captain and crew, do adequate sea trials, with family and work responsibilities.
After interviewing a few Captains, I hired Captain Jan Cluistra. Jan has crossed the Atlantic 36 times on Catamarans and his references spoke to his terrific experience, skills and integrity. Catamaran manufacturers hire Jan to deliver their new boats to the United States from South Africa. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to sail with probably the most accomplished ocean crossing sailor of catamarans on the planet.
Captain Jan and his fantastic crew (Claudia Dengler and Larry Roland) and I left the dock in La Grande Motte, France on November 5, 2014. After stops in Mallorca, Spain, Gibraltar, and Lanzarote, Spain (Canary Islands) we sailed the trade winds west to St. Marteen (Caribbean) and arrived December 10th. (17 days from Lanzarote).
There are so many reasons why the voyage was so wonderful. First the boat was fast and comfortable and seaworthy. Surfing the waves and running with the wind on a catamaran is a pleasure. Second, Jan, Claudia and Larry were so fun to sail with. Jan is a great sailor, a confidence inspiring leader, and a wonderful person for whom I have great respect. Everyone on Davali was passionate about sailing, woke up anytime of night with a “can-do” attitude and enthusiasm, and knew what they were doing…awesome!
The weather…steady favorable winds between 15 and 23 knots, and sunny for all but three days. We hoisted our 150 square meter Code D sail and ripped. Every day brought new adventure including catching fish, seeing whales and dolphins, beautiful sunsets, sky spanning rainbows, swimming, fixing something, downloading weather and learning how to interpret the grib files and surface analysis, reading, playing guitar, using sextant, night watches under incredibly bright stars, lots of shooting stars, huge moon rises, eating Claudia’s great cooking and Larry’s masterful sandwiches, and cranking music.
We enjoyed the latest technology like Delorme two-satellite texting with maps which enabled family and friends to follow us on a map and communicate, satellite phone for calls and weather download, and other modern-day navigation electronics.
Recap: Davali the morning of 11/23/14 Lanzarote departure.
Tuna jumping in Canaries
Anitgua, Canary Islands
Heading West at dusk
Code 0 sailing into sunset
Hoisting Code D sail
Larry Jan and me
lots of rainbows
follow the rainbow
Just before they swam under Davali
Hiking out on trapeze (Hobie style)
nearing the Caribbean, time for a dip
beautiful blue water
broke out the gennaker for some light wind
Catching a Dorado (mahi mahi)
Captain Jan taking noon sighting
At dock in St. Marteen with Larry, Claudia and Jan
Thank you for a wonderful voyage!