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  • Writer's pictureEliza Brown

Crossing the Atlantic - Palma to the Caribbean

We sailed over 2,700 nautical miles from Palma, through the Gibraltar straights, then south to the Canary Islands. A pit stop to fuel up before setting sail south again. 'Once the butter began to melt' we changed our course so we were down wind, heading in a more south westerly direction, goose winging our sails, catching the trade winds that carried us across the pond to the Caribbean.

I was very new to life at sea, I joined this boat a couple of weeks before departure! The day I started, I was told that we were leaving to sail the Atlantic in a couple of weeks time, with that I was given the responsibility to prepare and provision for a month at sea.

We were a boat of eight crew, ranging form the ages of eighteen to eighty-five! An Aussie, an Irishman with dreadlocks, a Brazilian, and the rest British.

After endless menu planning, ingredient calculations and food shopping; fridges and freezers packed full, we left STP boat yard and waved goodbye to Palma.

Here is my menu for the crew - breakfast was 'help yourself' but the options were there.

The trip was a huge learning curve. I quickly created a set routine, rotating the fruit and vegetables, using fresh goods first and saving the butternut squash and leeks for the final few days. As well as cooking I took my turn on watch.

My first watch of the day was from 0600-0800. I would always see the sun rise whilst I washed away biscuit crumbs and coffee marks from the cockpit, peeled the sun roasted flying fish from the deck and put out the fishing line (dusk and dawn - prime time for fishing!!) I would then set breakfast and leave it out all morning as everyone would be getting up at different times. A couple more hours sleep would put me in good stead to prep a hearty lunch and a quick clear up. By the time everyone had raided the galley I would be back on deck for my afternoon watch.

I aimed for a 19:30 supper, always ensuring enough for second helpings to feed a boat of hungry boys, any left over would be available during the night for those who got peckish during their watch. The Irishman was my main man for hoovering up the scraps!

Galley clean and everything away, I'd watch the sunset, shower and jump into my bunk to catch some shuteye before my midnight watch. A clear sky, full of stars, glowing phosphorescence and the spray from dolphins. Incredible moments!

A forty kilo catch was our prize winner of the trip. A yellow fin tuna! Bled and filleted within the hour. It was a good job I had made some space in my freezer - there was enough tuna steak for week!! That evening I rustled up a spread of sashimi, ceviche and steaks with new potatoes, salad and salsa verde. Food coma was an understatement.

I woke one night to the sound of flapping. Given my cabin hatch was open, I thought it was just the sails backing in the wind. I fell back to sleep, only to be woken up again to a more rapid flapping sound. I flicked on the light switch. SCALES. EVERYWHERE. I will never make the mistake of sleeping with my hatch open again. A flying fish had inadvertently propelled itself into my cabin and was now having a fit at the end of my bunk, slapping itself against my lee cloth. I grabbed its tail and flung it straight back to where it came from.

Counting down the miles until we arrived in tropical waters, the days grew warmer and nights more clear. Everyone filled the abundance of time with good stories, banter and the odd bit of betting. After seventeen days at sea, we arrived. Everyone jumped into the clear water and spent that evening settling our gambling debts with drinks at the beach bar, reminiscing about our 2,700 nautical mile journey across the Atlantic.

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