Sailing across the Atlantic - the 2022 version


Back in July 2021, I published a post on several Facebook groups, looking for a crew position on a yacht which intended to sail from Europe to the Caribbean, during the yearly "winter transatlantic migration" period.
Several people responded, and Peter, the skipper of S/V ("Sailing Vessel") Nerio, was one of them. We talked, but it did not look Nerio was going to be ready in time for the transat that year. So I crewed on another yacht (S/V No Worries) from November 2021 to January 2022, sailing from SE Spain to Barbados via the Canaries and Cabo Verde.

But I stayed in touch with Peter, and a year later, it looked like Nerio was ready for the trip. In September 2022, Nerio was in Cartagena (SE Spain), and I was in Valencia for work. I dropped by to see the ship and the skipper, so I could make up my mind if I would be a match with both. It seemed we did match: Although Peter sailed the boat mostly single-handed, he was looking for a competent first mate (and a crew) to do the transat passage. From my end, I was looking to extend my experience by sailing on a boat, bigger than I ever sailed before.

And Nerio was "big"!... She is a Jongert 2200S, a 72 foot (24 meters) aluminum hull "racing cruiser", so she has most of the "cruising" features - such as full bunks, galley, saloon, etc..,. But she is also a full-bread racer, which used to dominate off-shore regattas with 22 crew onboard.

As I stepped on Nerio for the first time, on Sept 23 2022, my immediate impression was "wow, this is not a yacht, this is a ship!". As Nerio has a conventional "sloop" rigging, with a main mast (and main sail) and a set of foresails, like most sailing yachts have these days, from the pictures, she looks smaller than in reality: in pictures, it is difficult to show the "absolute" dimensions. Especially on the pictures when Nerio is on the dry, you only see the "relative" dimension: you see a boat with mast, rudder and keel, and all looks "normal". Until you stand next to her, and you see that the dimensions are a "superlative" from a "normal" sailing yacht. The mast is not your "normal" 20 meters aluminum mast, but a 30 meters carbon mast. The keel is not your normal +-2.5 meters keel, but Nerio's keel draws 4 meters. All running rigging (the ropes to work the sails) and winches are twice or three times the size of a "normal" yacht. While a "run-off the mill" charter yacht would have four winches, Nerio has 18 winches, including two massive winches on the aft-deck, with "coffee grinders": the grinders one sees on racing yachts... None of the running rigging has clutches: all running rigging remains on the winches, all the time... No wonder they needed 22 crew to sail her in regattas!

As I sat on deck with Peter, in Cartagena, while sipping a coffee, I expressed how "wow-ed" I was. Peter said one thing which stayed with me, during our whole trip: "Nerio is just like another sailing yacht. But things are just bigger: all ropes are thicker and longer, and there is more tension on all rigging, the sails are bigger, even the helm is bigger. But she sails like any other sailing yacht, although you need to plan maneuvers a bit further in advance, and be aware, there is more tension on all ropes..."

And with that, we had a deal: I would sail on Nerio, for my next transatlantic trip, as her first mate. And Peter would give me the opportunity to manage a big part of the preparations and planning and help in the overall execution of the trip. And on my first day on Nerio, I was already hoisted up the mast, 30 meters up, to repair the HF radio antenna...

Leaving Gibraltar

Date: 7-November-2022
Position: Gibraltar

We agreed I would meet Nerio in La Linea, Gibraltar on November 7th and would help sailing her to Las Palmas, Canaries with three people on board: Peter, the skipper, Hanne, a friend of the skipper, and myself. Hanne is not a sailor, so Peter and I would do single watches, 4 hours on and four hours off, while Hanne would share some of the cooking duties and be an extra hand on deck. I would do most of the passage planning for our trip to the Canaries.

At noon of Nov 7th, right on time, Nerio motored into the marina of La Linea, and once moored, Peter said "Right.. So what is your plan?". I briefed Peter that the best combination of winds, tides and currents, would have us leave at 5 AM the next morning. Without many questions asked, we had a nice dinner, and an early night. And I have to say, the "not many questions asked" from the skipper, continued throughout the next 6 weeks aboard Nerio: Peter trusted my judgment and planning, so I could learn to sail a yacht, bigger than anything I sailed before... Much bigger...

What follows is part of my real-time passage notes, which I posted online, as the three of us sailed towards Las Palmas, where we swapped crew: In Las Palmas, Hanne left the boat, and four other crew, Jan (one of my sailing buddies), Xabi and Bego (our Spanish crew), and Saoirse ("Sushi", our Irish crew) joined us for the passage to Cabo Verde and Barbados.

These online postings are uploaded via a Iridium Go Exec satellite phone system we had on loan from Iridium, as a test for my work, at the time, in the UN security team.

From Gibraltar towards Las Palmas

Date: 10-Nov-2022
Position: On route between Gibraltar and Las Palmas.

Wind picked up in the morning and continued during the day and next night, peaking at 20 kts sustained, mostly from aft (we ran for hours with TWA 175-165). We ran on our 140% genoa only, no main sail.
Despite waves picking up to 2-3 meters, the boat runs like a train on a track: very stable, no flapping sails, no weather helm. Very very impressive, she is.

We fine-tuned the HF radio to also allow conversations on amateur radio bands. Did a test with a ham friend in Belgium.

We are debugging the boat’s Iridium sat phone (data can’t be activated for some reason), but currently using my Iridium as backup for data, email, weather reports, etc..

Fine-tuned the autopilot’s response: the helm is now far less nervous, with no over-steering.

We snapped our leech-line in the genoa (minor problem, will be repaired in Las Palmas). Also have a small hole (seam got loose) in the genoa.

Used the day to learn fine-trimming the genoa (sheet pressure, car position, …). Despite the fact we ran on genoa only, at a boat speed peaking 7.5-8 kts, there is almost no weather helm. Impressive.

Had cabbage soup with meatballs and smoked meat chunks, and cut slices of pancake for lunch.

Weather is super nice, sunny, clear. Slightly fresh at night. A bit of fog/dense moisture in the morning. Dew on deck too.

Continuing our watch system of 4 hours on and 4 hours off between Peter 1 (the skipper) and Peter 2 (me, as crew).

ETA in Las Palmas is now during the night of Nov 12-13.

Observation of the day:
SV Nerio is a 72 ft (24 meter) Jongert 2200S racing cruiser, which used to run competitive regattas. And today she showed her pedigree:
I woke up for my shift at 8 AM, feeling the boat shiver: we were still under engine but the wind finally picked up to 10 kts… And she felt the wind coming up: she felt eager to get her sails up, like a race horse still in her stable, which knows she will get out of her barn to run for the day. Nerio shivered in anticipation. And once her sails were up, she galloped away. Born Free, Running Free…

Signed: Peter 2 aboard S/V Nerio…

The beginning of a love story

Date: 11-Nov-2022
Position: On route between Gibraltar and Las Palmas.

We are three aboard our sailing yacht “Nerio”:
  • Captain and owner Peter 1
  • Hanne, a friend of the skipper. Non-sailor but does a lot of the cooking, cleaning and hands-on help.
  • Myself, Peter 2

The deck watch routine is 4 hours in and 4 hours off, split between Peter 1 and myself.
I also do some of the cooking in-between (when I feel hungry mostly).

Peter 1 has been sailing this big vessel solo for the past years, so knows her inside and out. For me, it is the first time I sail a big vessel like this, and even more so, I now sail her “solo” during my shifts.

This also means raising and dropping the sails. And these are BIIIG sails: our carbon mast is 30 meters high, like a 10 story building. So the main sail is 30 m tall and at its foot, is about -I guess- over 10m long…

After 72 hours into the journey our 4 on/4 off schedule also means sailing day and nights while the days of the week become unimportant. The only important thing is: when is my next shift?
My shifts are:
  • 00:00-04:00
  • 08:00-12:00
  • 16:00-20:00
  • and back 00:00-04:00

Today 11-Nov, wind died, so we motored in the morning (this vessel has a 6 cylinder 220hp Mercedes engine, same as an autobus). This is the point where we left the proximity of the African coast, and we headed straight into the ocean (Southwest) to Las Palmas.

Late at night, wind picked up again to 8 then 10, then 13 knots, but from straight behind us.
Peter and I agreed to raise the big genoa (the front sail) only (and not the main sail), and give it a try. By the time I came on watch at midnight (morning 12th), Peter had already raised the genoa and I had the pleasure to trim it and play with it for my 4 hour watch 00 to 04 AM.

The sailors amongst you know that sailing with the wind straight from behind (180 dgs relative to the ship) is difficult. I also did not know how our 140% genoa (foresail) was going to behave and likes to be tuned (for the sailors: the track for the genoa runs from way before the mast all the way back to the helms position on the aft of the ship!).

For 4 hours, it was a (love) affair between Nerio and myself, in the middle of the night under a clear starry night. And she loves to be touched (trimmed), tuned and looves to experiment and above all, loves long intense fast runs. She likes it fast and long…. And from different angles.
We started at 165 dgrs to the wind and gradually increased the angle to 176 apparent wind angle, where the actual wind angle often went to minus 170. ( ! ) That is right: 10 degrees into the other tack. We ran a starboard tack, but when the wind went 10 degrees into the port tack, the sail did not even collapse. Impressive... Even more so: we don’t have a whisker pole to keep the foresail out. We run barebones white sails.

And she looooved it, galloping without a hitch: no sail flapping - even though we had 2-3 meter waves from aft quarter. She just sailed 15 knots' winds as if she was a 2 m dinghy on a lake in a light breeze. She flew. For the sailors: and she had only a 1 degree weather helm.

The night before I tuned the autopilot so that the helm when steering under autopilot would not behave nervously and rather react calmly to the changes of the waves pushing and the wind changes. The helm hardly moves now.

Little cracking or creaking in the whole boat, she does not make much of a noise. Later from my cabin, I could hear her: the noise sailing through the waves was only a calm sighing, like a hand rushing through a silk sheet. Unbelievable, she is.

Day 1, she intimidated me with her looks, dominant appearance, dimensions, and thorough-bred rigging.
Day 2, she impressed me when running free over the ocean
Day 3, I fell in love with her.

Peter 2 on S/V Nerio

In Las Palmas

Date: 19-Nov-2022
Position: 28º 07.570 N  15º 25.495 W

We arrived in Las Palmas-Canary Islands now 6 days ago.
Time flew by. From our original crew of 3, Hanne left the boat and Jan, Xabi, Bego and Saoirse ("Sushi") joined us for the next two legs to Cape Verde and onwards to Barbados.

A diverse bunch, with all but one, experienced sailors.

Now, you need to understand that Nerio is a big vessel. A 24m racing cruiser. A big boat means bigger “stuff”, more expensive stuff and more maintenance.

Just to give you an idea:
Nerio has 18 winches, of which 2 hydraulic and two grinder-driven.
She holds 1.5 tons of fuel
2x800 liters of fresh water
Holding tanks keep 460 liters of wastewater…
Her main engine is a 6 cylinder Mercedes engine of 220hp
She has a 25 kva Panda generator.
She has a fresh water maker with a capacity of making 80l/hour of drinking water
She has a 4m draft
Under engine, she consumes about 11-12.5 l of diesel per hour at 6.5 kts (at 1000rpm).
Her carbon mast is 30 meters tall (same as a 10 story building). The estimated new-cost of her mast, alone, is about €900,000……
She has a 140% massive genoa, which needs 6 people to carry (we know, we did it this afternoon)…
Her standing rigging is kevlar. Her mainsail is a laminated carbon-fiber racing sail.

What I mean to say: This is not a standard glass-fiber cruising sailboat, but she us a racing stallion. But as the skipper keeps on saying “big boats means big systems. means expensive systems, means extensive and expensive maintenance”….

Our stay in Las Palmas was a witness of that:
  • Out came the faulty fresh water pump and in came the new pump
  • HF radio refurbished
  • Wind generator installed
  • IT systems upgraded
  • Freezer revived while the fridge compressor died
  • Vacuum heads’ pump debugged
  • Genoa (foresail) taken down and repaired (leech line had snapped and there was a small tear in the sail)
  • alternator and regulator still to be repaired
  • etc

Meanwhile we re-provisioned with about 300 kgs of fresh and dry food rations covering 5 weeks for 6 crew.

And busy we were, while keeping an eye on the weather window. (while I am writing this, it is gusting over 30 knots in the marina….).

I have not seen much of Gran Canarias other than hardware shops and food shops…At this moment it looks we will leave Las Palmas on Monday, heading for Mindelo-Cape Verde. Fingers crossed. But spirits on board are high.

Peter on board SV Nerio

Getting ready to leave Las Palmas

Date: Sun Nov 20 2022
Position: 28º 07.570 N  15º 25.495 W

We have 24hrs left before we sail south-southwest. The wind is now calmer than in the past days, so hopefully we can get the repaired genoa up today.


Date: Sun Nov 20 2022
Position: 28º 07.570 N  15º 25.495 W
We’re ready to leave tomorrow! The electrician is coming at 7 AM to try and fix our main engine’s regulator, but that should not stop us from leaving at 8 AM - fill the fuel tanks and set off.

We left Las Palmas!

Date: Mon Nov 21 2022
Position: 28º 07.570 N  15º 25.495 W

We left Las Palmas port at 13:00 local time (after taking fuel, prepping the boat etc).
True wind speed is 15-20 knots, running 6-7 knots boat speed. Sea is relatively calm - about 1-1.5 m waves at the moment, but we are still protected by the island.
As we are clearing the South/East side of Gran Canarias, we will then turn towards Cape Verde - almost straight.

Wind forecast is very good with solid 15-20 knots of wind all the way to Mindelo.
According to the wind predictions, we should be in Mindelo in 6 days (Sunday at noon).

Like a train on a track

Date: Mon Nov 21 2022
Position: 27º 58.190 N  15º 19.5 W

Nerio is flying like a train on a track.
As of mid afternoon, we have 20-25 kts (gusting up to 30 kts) of wind. We’re sailing under full genoa only (no mainsail and without a reef)
Nerio is flying at 8-10 kts (we had a peak of 11.4 kts when we surfed off a wave. We’re basically sailing downwind right towards Cape Verde.
Talking about waves: sea is reasonably calm… about 3 meters coming from our stern.

All good on board, we had pasta with meatballs and vegetable ragout. Njam. 2 crew feeling a bit under the weather, but we give them plenty of love and care.

Peter 2

Fast forward

Date: Tue Nov 22 2022
Position: 27º 17.8 N  15º 33.7 W

It is around 3 AM now. We are making excellent progress. Wind up to 2AM was 20-30 kts at about 165 degrees. We were cruising at around 9 knots average boat speed, but regularly with stretches of over 10 knots. Our record stands at 11.4 knots. And we are sailing only under our genoa. At this wind angle, it makes no sense to put the mainsail up, as it would shade the genoa.
The waves picked up considerably. Difficult to see at night how big they are, but I feel they must me 3-4 meters. From time to time we surf down the waves.
We are trying to keep the genoa from deflating/re-inflating when the boat moves in the waves. When the genoa re-inflates, she always gives a massive bang, and is not good for the sail nor the rigging. So dependent on the wind speed, angle of the waves, we play with our heading to find “our sweet spot”, still heading in the right direction and avoiding the cargo traffic around us. At this very moment, we are heading straight for Mindelo.

The boat is happy. I can feel it. Two crew are still a bit under the weather so Jan and I (“team Belgium)” took over two other watches, as well as the mother watch (cooking) from those feeling a bit sick.

At this speed, we might be in Cape Verde in 4 days, though by Wednesday the wind will ease a bit.

PS: In the picture, taken by Sushi from the cockpit - which is about 7 meters forward from the stern- you see me on the bow. That will give you a perspective of how "big" Nerio really is.... She is... massive. And her sails are... massive... (post edit: I still, 16 months after sailing Nerio, can not believe my fortune to experience this passage. She really is a BIG ship. And I still love her, and the way she sails....

Peter 2

It’s gonna be a lovely day…

Date: Tue Nov 22 2022
Position: 26º 08.080 N  16º 15.3 W

Lovely sunny day here on the ocean. Still a nice fresh wind, so it is not too hot — Nerio does not have a bimini, so only the forward part of the cockpit is sheltered (from rain or sun). But with this nice cool wind, it is really fun.

We just completed the first 24hrs of our trip to Mindelo. We covered 186 nautical miles (about 330 km) in that 24hrs. Not bad! With that we already broke the daily speed record from our WHOLE trip last year.

During the night the wind was solid at 20-25 kts, with gusts up to lower 30’ies. Nerio did very well and handled the wind well, running for hours 8-9 knots average with longer stretches of 10 kts and some peaks of 11+ knots as she’d pick up a wave to start surfing.

Waves were considerable last night, about 3-4 meters, but at this moment (1 PM) the wind calmed down to 15kts and waves are only 2-3 meters. Not a problem when sailing down wind.

Love from us all!

Peter 2

Almost sunset

Date: Tue Nov 22 2022
Position: 25º 07.4 N  17º 11.370 W

We are about 40 minutes from sunset, and most crew are up and running about. This is our usual time for some salty snacks and our sunset beer (the only “one beer” we drink per day). It is also the time dinner is prepared. Our Irish regatta sailor “Sushi” is on dinner duty. - she is making a chicken curry. Looking forward to that. Xabi is cutting the veggies on deck. Peter 1 is working on the Iridium system, Jan and I are on watch duty. Bego just finished her shift and is taking a nap as her throat ache is not over yet. But she is much better than yesterday.

This afternoon we had a big pod of dolphins jumping and playing around the boat. Dolphins love to play around boats, especially right at the bow. All sailors love dolphins. it was the first time that Xabi saw dolphins in his life, but even for the salty sailors amongst us, this is a spectacle that never grows old.

Ok, back to my watch now, looking at the sun closing onto the horizon while soft music is playing in the cockpit.

Peter 2

Good morning

Date: Wed Nov 23 2022
Position: 23º 57.370 N  17º 47.9 W

Almost 4 AM. Time to relieve Bego and Xabi, our Spanish crew from watch and for me to take over with Jan (“the Belgian crew”). Peter 1 and Sushi (“the Austrian/Irish team”) ran the 8 PM to midnight watch.

It is pitch dark outside. No moon. During night we run "dark" on the boat: we have head torches with red lights. Below-deck we run red lights and on deck, all instruments are dimmed so it does not impede our night vision.

The boat runs like a freaking train on a freaking track. We have 20-30 knots of winds. The wind comes from NE, hitting the boat at 165-170 TWA. AWA is swinging between 140-175 degrees as the boat surfs over the waves.
We are running at 8-10 knots boat speed.
We are going fast, still on genoa only, on the same tack as we left Las Palmas.
Despite that I can hear the waves are about 3 meters, Nerio is very stable,  showing her racing pedigree. With her 4-meter keel, she loves a good breeze, and we love her for it.

OK, time to go on watch now. Looking forward to the moonrise and sunrise…

Peter 2

Steaming along

Date: Wed Nov 23 2022
Position: 22º 56.5 N  18º 32.9 W

Last 24hrs, we covered 158Nm rhumb line (the distance straight to the destination), but the actual distance covered was slightly more as we never sail in a straight line - at least not until the rum is finished. haha.

In the late morning, the wind picked up again, and so did the waves. With a constant 20 kts of wind, the waves are 4+m .
It is an interesting sight to see how the waves are rolling towards Nerio. Some of them are 1m higher that the aft deck of Nerio. Like a professional surfer, Nerio then speeds up, get’s her backside onto the wave and starts surfing, while speeding up.
That is how we got our new record speed of 12.2 kts…
As the waves are faster than Nerio, eventually she gets off the waves. slows down a bit and gets ready to surf the next wave…
And the next…
and the next…

That is what Atlantic tradewind sailing is like.

The only challenge is when the waves come from an odd angle, pushing Nerio slightly sideways while she tries to surf the wave on an angle.
Not easy for a 45 ton vessel, which includes a lot of helm movement. Bob, the autopilot is busy!! But eventually Nerio gets then off the crest and goes back on her course. So often the ship swings horizontally 20-30 degrees, while rocking left/right and to-fro.

Sushi got the brunt of that movement last night while making dinner. While we were on deck, we regularly heard pots, pans, cutting boards and cutlery rattling violently. But I have to admit that Sushi was a champ. She did not curse once and when we shouted: “Sushi: do you need any help”, she would just say: “So, you know where the chili pepper spices are?”. Funny she is, our Irish regatta champ.

Greeting from the Atlantic, all.


Date: Wed Nov 23 2022
Position: 22º 40.7 N  18º 41.990 W

Doh… a small 15cm rip appeared in our genoa, over a seam…We furled it to protect the sail. We’re now running on our 2nd foresail, a smaller jib. But our small jib is still as big as a 95% genoa on “a normal cruising boat” so we’re still moving at 5.5-7 kts. Not bad!

OMG OMG, we jybed!

Date: Wed Nov 23 2022
Position: 22º 18.0 N  18º 52.2 W

By now we had sailed on the same tack since we left Las Palmas 2.5 days ago, and OMG tonight we jybed onto a starboard tack: this will put us on a slightly more westerly course, which is good, as there will less wind close to the African coast.

Well, “close” is relative, though… we have been sailing for almost a day now without seeing any other ship. So this evening we started calling other ships we could see on our plotter. Had a nice chat with the Dutch skipper of “Spirit of a Geisha”, a sailing vessel 30 miles ahead of us. The poor guy probably still wonders what happened to him during that conversation, as we invited ourselves for coffee on his boat tomorrow morning.

Anyway, that was the evening report from SV Nerio! Nite, nite!

Sailing is like a thriller in slow motion

Date: Thu Nov 24 2022
Position: 21º 51.6 N  19º 25.8 W

Some people find long passages boring… Always the same sky, always the same sea, not much to do but to sleep, run your watch, eat and repeat.

I find long passages exciting. Often as exciting as a thriller. All be it a thriller in slow motion.

(1) You can see a 200m long cargo ship, steaming at 20kts right towards you, but she is still 40 miles out. This means you have about 1.5 hours before you cross her (or bang into her), which means you have about half an hour to decide what your strategy will be (sure, cargo vessels are supposed to give way for vessels under sail, but I am still to see one who does).
And after that 30 minutes decision time, you have half an hour to see if your strategy works. If not: decide what to do, if you are still coming too close to the cargo vessel (we typically stay a mile away from them)…
With a plethora of options, you need to make up your mind and execute, which might mean jibing in the middle of the night...

(2) Like, right now, we will soon have to decide that to do with the sails: in 2-3 hours, the wind will drop to 10-15 knots which might be too low to run under our jib.
Do we raise the main sail? If so, would it not flap too much in the waves? Should we unfurl the genoa (though it is torn, the seam tear might hold in less wind)... Decisions, decisions....

(3) And then there is the need to decide if I will have a coffee or tea or instant soup…

But right now I decided to look at the stars. The night is clear. I am looking forward to the sunrise too!!

Peter 2

Flying fish attack

Date: Thu Nov 24 2022
Position: 21º 51.6 N  19º 25.8 W

You can feel we are heading further south. More flying fish start to appear.

We just had our first close encounters tonight. 5 minutes ago one flying fish flew into my side and just now, one flew into the cockpit.
There is only one good way to grab them and release them: take em with a paper towel, and throw them back without damaging them. They are too slippery to take by hand (especially when they are alive, as they put up quite a fight….).
If they continue to fly into the cockpit, we will keep them and make fried flying fish, a national dish in Barbados, by the way!

In the morning, we have to do a flying fish patrol on deck to clean the bow and side decks of dead flying fish otherwise Nerio will start stinking like an old fish truck.

Desert sailing

Date: Thu Nov 24 2022
Position: 21º 13.1 N  20º 27.6 W

So with our daily position updates we tested who pays attention. And only 2 people noticed that our last logged position was in the Sahara desert
PS: it is Saoirse’s fault.
PPS: Thanks Dave (Ed: that is Saoirse's dad), not for Saoirse but for noticing the error :-)
PPPS: And the Sahara is not really that far off from us. The sky is hazy, filled with fine sahara sand dust.
Peter 2

When I wake up in the morning, love..

Date: Thu Nov 24 2022
Position: 21º 13.1 N  20º 27.6 W

When I wake up in the morning, love…
and sunshine hits my eye.
Then I know it’s gonna be…
a lovely day,
a lovely day…”
(Bill Withers, was it not?)

Gorgeous sunshiny day here on the ocean. We’re thinking of all you lovely people in the cold and rainy Northern hemisphere. Nooot! :-)

Around 11 AM it seems like all crew was on deck, enjoying the wind, sun, sea… Out came the guitar, flutes and drums, and cheery seamen songs were had by all…

“I tell me ma when I go home,
the boys won’t leave the girls alone.
They pulled my hair
and they stole my comb.
Well, that’s alright till I go home”.

Good to see a cheery crew. All who felt a bit sick or flu-ish are now better. You can see by the smiles. Guess it takes a couple of days to get into the groove of a passage…

Last 24hrs we did 122 Nmiles, so we suffered a bit from swapping the genoa to the gib, but we could not risk ripping that seam open more… But we do need to have that wind around 15 knots minimum, to keep a bit of speed.
The good news is that last night we micro-analysed the weather forecast and routing. We download wind, rain, waves forecast via satellite every day and the software does an analysis with a suggested routing — so far several of the weather forecast models were exact, up to the hour. Amazing.
So we decided on a strategy for the next days: we’re heading more westward now following some higher wind zones (or rather avoiding the low wind areas closer to the coast), on a 244 dgs heading, and then, in a day or so, do a jibe to go more southerly. and all while we continue to fill the sails.
At this moment, we’re still cruising around 5 knots, with 15 knots of wind…

Mindelo: get the beers in the cooler, daddy’s coming to port! Ihaaa!

PS: we’re having Spaghetti con ragu de carne tonight, spiked up with my home made spicy sauce. It is already prepared and will mature in the pot for 6 hours.
I might throw in a fruit salad as desert too as this crew ain’t eating enough fruit!

Greetings, land people on shore.

Signed, the salty sailors aboard S/V Nerio!

We got company

Date: Fri Nov 25 2022
Position: 20º 50.6 N  21º 10.7 W

Goooood mooorning!

Well, not really… it is 02:25.
The night sky is really clear. No clouds, but also little humidity in the air. And there is no moon…
This is the first night we can see the Milky Way clearly.

We chose the right course to stay in the wind: still 15-20 kts… We decided we’ll continue until with a single jibe we can turn towards Mindelo, our destination…

It is also the first night we can “see” so many sailing vessels around us. We counted 6, including “Rantje” (see AIS plot on the picture), who is part of our virtual flotilla - a whatsapp group we created some weeks ago, of sailing vessels crossing the Atlantic. Most of the sailboats we see around us, are all heading towards Cape Verde, so, as the days go by, we will all start congregating and we will see more of them in Cape Verde…

By the way, I say “we can see vessels”, this is not with our eyes of course. We have not physically seen a vessel since this afternoon… But we can “see” much further with the AIS (Automatic Identification System) most vessels have on board. AIS broadcasts (via VHF radio), a digital signal containing basic data (vessel name, number, type, course, speed, length/width etc.
On Nerio we have and AIS class A, same as the commercial vessels, 50x more power than AIS Class B which sailing vessels normally use. We also have a separate AIS antenna. At this moment, we are picking up AIS signals from vessels over 600 km away. A sign we are clearly into the tropics where VHF signals can be heard much further, as they travel in a tunnel between the sea and air layers which have temperature inversion (higher layers having higher temperatures than lower layers, the reverse of “how it should be”). VHF signals then bounce between the water and those air layers, as if in a tunnel. This tunnel can be thousands of kilometers long. Last year, 1000 Nm from Barbados, we heard Las Palmas radio, then about 4000km away…

Ok, enough science. Back to gazing at the stars on this lovely night.

PS: We met up with Rantje's crew in Mindelo, and at the time of this post-edit, they are sailing along the Antarctic. Well done, guys!

Peter 2

Preparing to jybe!

Date: Fri Nov 25 2022
Position: 20º 47.2 N  21º 16.8 W

We are preparing to jybe tomorrow night. The crew is very busy preparing (throwing in some humor here )

Seriously, here is our plan:
Date-time-avg wind-wind gust-true wind direction-tack+wind angle-course-boat speed
26 Nov 17:20 16.8 21.6 39 S159 239 4.5
26 Nov 18:59 17.1 22.1 40 S161 239 4.5
26 Nov 20:40 17.3 22.3 43 S163 239 3.9
26 Nov 22:37 17.3 22.3 45 P150 196 4.9
27 Nov 00:10 16.7 21.6 48 P148 196 5.0

Rolly afternoon

Date: Fri Nov 25 2022
Position: 20º 12.7 N  22º 25.3 W

We had a nice run this morning, but in the early afternoon we struggled a bit as the wind weakened to 13 kts, while the sea state was considerable (3 meter waves), so Bob, our autopilot tried his best to keep a good course to our gybe point of tomorrow.
As it was difficult to keep good pressure on the jib, we went a bit off course to keep the sail happy and keep up some speed. But the ship did not feel happy. She does not like to sail slow. The autopilot has some settings to define how fast Bob reacts to correct when waves lift us and push us left or right, so we adjusted these settings to ease Bob’s work.
I helmed manually for half an hour, to feel how Nerio likes the waves, and build up some speed. An autopilot is reactive: it reacts on what the waves do, but if you helm manually, you can anticipate the waves and counterhelm before the waves hit. Nerio liked it, and it was no surprise that the wind picked up again.
At this moment, it blows 20-24 kts again and Nerio is back in her element. Still some freak waves hit us from time to time, and some spray the deck, but while sailing downwind, Nerio is not a wet boat at all. We’re also well sheltered in the cockpit.
Still impressive how the waves come in towering behind us, often higher than our aft deck, lift up her stern, pull down the bow. And as the waves roll under us, Nerio’s stern lifts up, pointing the bow down. Looking from the cockpit to the bow, we see that often the bow point down into the sea and the next moment, the bow points into the sky. Pretty impressive. Even more impressive is that none of the crew got seasick, not even while preparing dinner for 6. And it gets real hot, damp and smelly in the galley!

All a good rehearsal for our transatlantic passage after Mindelo.

We had a good English breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and the 2nd part of the ragu with pasta for dinner.

Called the Mindelo marina to book a space, and we ahould be ok…

Life is good.

Peter 2

Watching Nerio

Date: Sat Nov 26 2022
Position: 19º 23.0 N  23º 50.5 W

On Nerio, we have 6 crew (well, one skipper and 5 crew), divided into 3 teams:
  • The Irish/Austrian team: Peter 1 and Sushi
  • The Spanish (well Bask) team with Bego and Xabi
  • The Belgian (well, Flemish team) of Jan and Peter 2.

Each team has 4 hours watch and 8 hours off, followed by 4 hours watch and 8 hours off again. A team on watch is on deck and “runs” the ship, minding the sails, the course, traffic etc…

Each week, for one week, we run the same 3x4 hours. Every week we shift the teams 4 hours forward, so over 3 weeks, each team has done every 4 hours slot.

For instance, this week, Jan and I have the “wonder” shift: we have both the sunrise and sunset shift: We run the 4AM-8AM and 4 PM-8PM watch shift.
Bego and Xabi have the shift before us; and Peter 1 and Sushi have the shift after us.

In addition, there is the “mother watch”: this is the team which cooks the evening meal, and that rotates daily.

And beyond that, there are the “ad hoc” duties: overall boat maintenance, debugging systems, ad hoc minor repairs/adjustments or stinky jobs like de-clogging one of the heads (the favorite job for every skipper!).

So, we’re quite organized here on Nerio…

PS: this evening we’re having potatoes hashed with minced meat, mixed vegetables and gravy, courtesy Sushi.
PS: we already made our “to-do” list for Mindelo: provisioning fresh/frozen food, genoa patch, mainsail bag repair, laundry, boat cleaning etc
PS: looking forward to be back in Mindelo. It’s been a year already! Looking forward to an “anchor beer”, some good cocktails in the many cafés, and a good meal in one of the many restaurants with great live music (Mindelo is the birthplace of Cesaria Evora, a famous Cape Verdian singer - who was also a goodwill ambassador for WFP, the UN organisation I work for)
PS: No flying fish caught last night.
PS: Another 2 mast sailboat crossed our bow, 1-2 miles away, yesterday. No IAS signature. I was off watch and asleep. #dah

Oh. only covered 110 Nmiles last 24 hours. Slow day. 163 Nmiles to go to Mindelo.

Distance covered this far this trip

Date: Sat Nov 26 2022
Position: 19º 23.0 N  23º 50.5 W

Extract from Nerio’s log:
Star-date (ending 24 hour period) and distance (1 Nmile is abt 1.8 km) in 24 hours
22/11 186 Nm
23/11 158 Nm
24/11 122 Nm
25/11 123 Nm
26/11 110 Nm

Peter 2

We jybed! We jybed! OMG, we jybed!

Date: Sat Nov 26 2022
Position: 19º 11.8 N  24º 01.1 W

We reached our planned waypoint to jybe, and we did.
Closed the hatches which were open to vent the boat a bit, checked the lazy sheet, and… Xabi pushed 5x 10 degrees port, Bego released the active sheet and after the genoa lost power, Jan pulled in the other sheet. Secure the two sheets, swapped the running backstay tension, and done.

Easy - Peazy.

Now we’re heading straight to Mindelo. 135 Nm to go.
134 Nm to go.
133 Nm to go.
132 nm to go…

Peter 2

Land in sight. Almost

Date: Sun Nov 27 2022
Position: 17º 56.670 N  24º 34.280 W

07:00 AM
The past hour we have been struggling to find some stretch of wind. Sailing downwind in a considerable swell, with 11-12-13 knots of wind on our smaller jib is not fun. Nerio feels like a stallion ready to gallop, but is restrained. Even though we sail downwind, her sail is pretty tight. So with every puff of 15-16-17 knots of wind, she jumps up, and stretches her legs, jumping from 3.5-4.0 knots to 6/7 knots of boat speed…

We have a Bluetooth speaker in the cockpit. “The Mass” by Era is playing… Keeps our blood pumping in anticipation of the final stretch to Mindelo.

We just spotted land on the radar, 50 miles away. Mindelo, get the beers ready. “The Italians are coming!” (watch the YouTube video about Luna Rossa in the last America’s Cup! - “The Italians are comingggg!”)

Peter 2.

Land ahoy! Land ahoy!

Date: Sun Nov 27 2022
Position: 17º 29.680 N  24º 41.740 W

We sighted the first contours of the islands of Sao Vicente and Santo Antao an hour ago. 18 Nmiles (3 hours at the current speed) to the entrance between the islands. Add another 2-3 hours to sail towards Mindelo, prepare the boat to get into the marina,… and we should be getting into the anchorage area around 19:00 local time… After sunset… We’ll see if we can get/want to get into the marina in the dark, or drop the anchor in the bay of Mindelo and go into the marina tomorrow morning…
We gave the marina an advanced notice of our arrival 3 days ago. They said they had space for us (not obvious as we have 4 meters draft: just on the edge of the marina, the maximum depth is 4.1m,. But the marina did not take bookings/reservations. Cross fingers we can get in…!

Whale spotting

Date: Sun Nov 27 2022
Position: 17º 29.680 N  24º 41.740 W

We had occasions where we saw pods of dolphins, swimming towards Nerio, but today was the first time we sighted whales.
Jan spotted the first, who was really close to the boat… I mean: “close”. like 50 meters close!
The whale turned and followed us for a while…

Just now, we saw another whale behind the boat. Always cool to see these creatures.

At this moment, we are cruising like a steam train: 5-7 kts of wind, very broad on a 17-22 knots of wind.
We’re right on track… while we are 12 Nm from the islands, we can see some contours, but it looks like the air is very humid. We have a telephone signal, but still can not clearly see land.

Peter 2

Safely arrived in Mindelo

Date: Mon Nov 28 2022
Position: 16º 53.1 N  24º 59.5 W
It was a "hairy" approach to Mindelo. Even under the best of circumstances, this is not an approach you want to do in the dark, as the anchorage is dotted with wrecks, unlit large mooring balls and unlit abandoned vessels... And we were approaching Mindelo just after sunset.

Plus, just as we rounded the corner of our approach, the wind picked up to 40 kts. We were prepared and had dropped the sails already before our approach, but Nerio was "sailing" at 3.5 kts only on the windage of its standing rigging.

As I had been in Mindelo last year, and knew the marina and anchorage pretty well, the skipper asked me to take the helm and take over command of the team. It really became hairy, as while the team was putting the fenders out, in the howling wind, the navigation system died, and we no longer had electronic charts nor reliable depth readings. Bummer

Luckily (luck favours the prepared), I had the charts on my mobile phone, and could see (see screenshot), in red the approach we did last year. In green, you can see we followed that track, did two U-turns while we waited for the marina crew to give us a "go ahead" to approach the fuel dock, where we would moor overnight.

The skipper took over the helm and moored Nerio flawlessly.

So,last night, at 18:30 local time Nerio docked safely in the Mindelo marina in Cape Verde, in the dark. Time for us to celebrate!


Date: Mon Nov 28 2022
Position: 16º 53.1 N  24º 59.5 W

It is amazing what adrenaline does to you.
We came into Mindelo last night with plenty of energy and agreed to get up at 8 AM to start work.
And we did… We cast off the fuel dock around 08:30 (wayyy before my first coffee and my usual wakeup routine, so I was super grumpy).
We took down the torn genoa, moved the boat to its final berth. Bego and Sushi sewed the seam of the genoa, Xabi did the laundry, Jan got the marina access cards, Peter 1 checked us in, I booked work orders for boat repairs and did my usual thing of bossing people around and giving anyone who tried to boss me around, a hard time. (Mainly Sushi, though)

And then, it seems people fell flat. The adrenaline had gone and we decided to chill for the rest of the day. Meet the yachties around us, and “ease down”. Tomorrow is another day.

One thing I realize is that I start to grow a deep affection for the people around me, with all the oddities they have (especially Sushi… #DominantLeo she is, Sam will confirm)
And that is a good thing. Passage sailing is not about the sailing: it is the crew that makes or breaks a passage.

And I love them! I do. Even Sushi, #DominantLeo she is. (I am kidding, Sam!)

And I realize I am right where I want to be in life. On a boat, salt on my skin, wind in my hair, and lovely people around me. This is where I belong.

In the picture, Sushi and Bego are sewing the small rip in the genoa.

Peter 2

Getting ready to leave

Date: Thu Dec 01 2022
Position: 16º 53.1 N  24º 59.5 W

Most of us had little time to explore the town or the island: we tried to get Nerio ready for the next longer leg of our passage. We had a number of mechanical and electrical issues on Nerio, some which existed already since Cartegena, some which popped up during our passage.

With help of our remote shore crew, we found the cause of the the failing navigation system, which we experienced during our Mindelo approach: Nerio's navigation system is a rather complex UNIX system interfacing all input devices/information, like wind instruments, gauges, charts, radar etc... The UNIX server's buffer files were overflowing and filling up the hard disk, causing the system to fail (of course, it failed at the most critical point of the last passage, as we approached Mindelo at night under 40 knots of wind). Luckily, I had some UNIX programming experience, and together with the remote shore crew, we put in a batch routine to daily clean up the temporary buffer files.

But we had a number of other issues: the fresh water pump was still leaking and acted up. It was patched up with some rags.
The fridge compressor was no longer working, and we could not reach the compressor to dismount/repair it. For the first days, we would cool the fridge with ice we bought in town (I will spare you the crusade we undertook trying to find blocks of ice in town!). The freezer never worked well, and a technician came on board and (correctly) identified the problem (being a frozen thermostat). The freezer would never freeze again, but at least we could use it as a fridge
Since Las Palmas, we had issues with the battery charging system, which would not charge from the two alternators. Several technicians (in Las Palmas and Mindelo) came and went, but we could never be sure if the problem was with the alternators or with the charge controllers. Two things were sure: (1) We could only charge the batteries with the generator, but unfortunately, that only charged our house battery bank, and not the starter batteries, so we have to start the engine from the house batteries. (2) Both the starter batteries and the house battery bank are lead-acid, and were cycled too deep, in the past. So none would really hold their charge well. This means that we would have to charge the batteries regularly with the generator.
There was a sea cock leak in the engine room, and we could never identify the source of the leak. This means we needed to run the massive engine room bilge pump every day. (in hindsight, probably the engine room bilge water slushing around, soaked and short-circuited the two alternators). After we left the boat in Barbados, this leak proved to become critical and the saltwater intake proved to be greater than the bilge pump capacity to pump it out. As Peter 1 said: "A boat is nothing else but a sinking home."
In Mindelo, we had a major electrical short circuit, which almost burned our electrical panel. It was analysed to be a problem with the isolation transformer (isolating shore power surges from the boat's systems). We never really solve that problem.
We never got Nerio's satellite data system to work, but I got the voice call system to work (hurray!). But I had brought my own Iridium satcom system, so we were covered
The HF radio system could send, but not receive. We never got to the bottom of this problem (after we left Nerio, it all boiled down to a software problem: with a hard-reset of the HF radio system, all seemed to work).

Now having said that, Nerio has so many contingency systems, so we felt "OK" to continue our voyage. For me, it was an eye-opener, though, on how much can/and will go wrong on a big ship like Nerio. As Peter 1 said, the first time we met in Cartagena (under a wave of gin-and-tonics): "Peter, my key advice: Don't buy a boat. Sail on boats of others..." That was an advice I did not take lightly, as at that point in time, I was planning, with my sailing partner Mats, to buy our own 60-70 ft expedition-ready boat, somewhere similar in size to Nerio, maybe slightly smaller. And the transat passage on Nerio was my attempt to gain experience in "managing" a larger vessel, like Nerio - not only in navigating and sailing, but also in terms of "overall experience": "what does it take/cost to run a bigger vessel like this?".
And I took Peter 1's advice to heart. While I love the idea of (co-)owning a sailboat, my overall conclusions, after this trip were (1) Yep, I can sail, skipper and manage a big vessel like Nerio but (2) I do not want to spend 50% or more of my time refitting or repairing all things that could (and will) go wrong on a yacht of this size: I like sailing, but I am not the type of person who geeks on doing DIY projects on a boat. I like to sail, and not "repair boats in exotic places".

(post-edit:) So, my experience on Nerio, was invaluable for me. --- And I want to thank Peter 1 for his insights, allowing me to (re-)direct my focus from "finding a vessel and to co-own it" to "yeah, let's just sail on boats of others"....

Back to Nerio in Mindelo...

Up early today. We’re getting ready to leave. Last boat chores, last provisions for fresh food. Ice for the fridge. Clear customs.
After casting off, we will have to raise the repaired genoa.

We’re ready. But the weather is not (see screen shot). We should have good winds the first two days but the following 8 days are a mixed bag of light winds, and very patchy spots of no wind.
Strange how climate change unstabilizes the trade winds.

Nevertheless, we should cover the 2,100 Nmiles (about 4000 km) to Barbados in 16 days.

Cross fingers…

PS: I uploaded some videos of our last passage on my Instagram “theroadtothehorizon”

Peter 2

We’re off!

Date: Thu Dec 01 2022
Position: 16º 53.1 N  24º 59.5 W

We lifted anchor at 13:30 local time. Hoisted our repaired genoa and around 14:30, we headed into the open sea.
Off we go in 20 kts of wind!

Rolly night

Date: Fri Dec 02 2022
Position: 16º 10.7 N  26º 41.160 W

Good morning, people!!!

A few hours after we came rolling out of the strait between Sao Vicente and Sao Antao islands, we came into the wind shade of both. Wind speed dropped to 7-8-9 knots. Sailing downwind with low winds in waves of 2-3-4 meters is not fun.

Nerio was not happy. Her genoa flapped and lashed like crazy. We tried anything in our book: car forward/backward, tighter/looser sails, sharper into the wind or broader. We jibed 3 times.

Nerio comes alive at 10 knots. Below that, at least under white sails, she ain’t happy. And the stallion she is, she showed her discontent in rolling, pitching… Almost like kicking air as wild horses do.

We were in radio contact with 4-5 sailing vessels around us, and they were all struggling.

At midnight, just as Jan and I took over from Bego and Xabi, we decided one more jibe.
And ……. the wind came alive as with a snap of a finger, it went from 10 to 17-18 knots in 2 seconds, and turned towards the North. We went into a beam reach towards the West, and we let Nerio’s reins loose.
She started flyyyyyyying: 8-9-10 knots. No more rolling and kicking: she ran like a freakin’ train on a freakin’ track…

At this moment it is 09:41 AM and we still do 7 kts on 16kts of wind.

Wind will probably die tomorrow, though. Unless we reached quite south today (North Atlantic depressions are neutering the trade winds in the next days)…

Depressions, obsessions and oppressions

Date: Sat Dec 03 2022
Position: 15º 47.7 N  28º 11.7 W

Well good morning everyone. Look out your window: if you see a fast ship flying by, it is us.

It is midnight and we're flying at 7.5-9 kts. But it was not like that 15 minutes ago. We were fighting with winds dropping to 9 knots and flapping sails. To put pressure on the sails, Xabi and Bego had to go sharper into the wind, so gradually, we were starting to point more Northerly. So when I put my head out of the companionway, they said: “We gotta jibe”!

There are three things we don’t like on this boat: (1) low wind (2) Northerly course (3) our three course breakfast not being served in time, 9 AM sharp. (last one was a joke)

So, no Northerly course, hey? Why, you might ask. Well since the Western civilizations have been crossing the Atlantic East to West, to conquer and oppress all other cultures, we have been sailing that direction using the trade winds: the steady North-easterly winds roughly between 20-25 dgs North and 5-10 dgs North. These winds are part of the great circle: Winds start somewhere off the Africa Northwest coast, blow towards the zone we are in, cross to the Caribbean, create the Gulfstream turning to Florida, Bermuda, Azores and then turn back down to NW Africa.

But in recent years, the North Atlantic winds (going West to East) and the South Atlantic winds (going East-West) have been coming closer together. Where they touch, they neutralize each other, creating large areas of no wind.
The more as the Northern systems (in winter) carry strong low pressure systems (depressions, or “storms”), they can turn our wind against us, or at least kill our wind: wind in those depressions turn counter-clockwise…

So we, representatives of the oppressing cultures, have obsessions about depressions.

So, more south we go.
Also because it is good for our sun tan

Peter 2

All sails up!

Date: Sat Dec 03 2022
Position: 14º 58.2 N  28º 45.6 W

We knew today we’d have lighter winds (and almost no wind tomorrow).
This morning “it” started. After struggling in 8-9 knots to keep course AND keep the genoa from flapping, we gave up when the wind dropped to 6-7 knots.

We motored further south for 2 hours, and when the wind came back to 10 knots, we raised the mainsail (for the first time since leaving Las Palmas) and then unfurled the genoa again.

We are now sailing with full genoa and main sail in 10-12 kts of wind, on a steady SW course, running at 5-6 knots of boat speed. Prrretttty good!

The sea is very calm, and it is HOT: 32 degrees… But the sails are happy, and so are we…

PS: last night we had the first signs of the North Atlantic depressions I wrote about in my previous post: We spotted dark clouds with slight rain. But we zigzagged around them, taking optimum advantage of the extra wind these clouds generate.

All is good on Nerio!

PS: extra “hi” to Camino, Bego's friend, up in Iceland! Come to Barbados! The rum, surf and reggae are much better there than in Iceland!

Peter 2

Our progress so far. Und about ze Panzerprint

Date: Sat Dec 03 2022
Position: 14º 58.2 N  28º 45.6 W

Every 24 hours, we log our progress to Barbados in a straight line from Mindelo.
That is the PROGRESS, not the DISTANCE SAILED… We sail more than the daily progress as we are zigzagging at different angles.

And to be honest, from time to time, we take a side road to have dinner at a pub or to say hello to a boat close to us. (joke)

Progress done in the 24h ending on (at 15:00 local time):
1/12: 0 Nm
2/12: 130 Nm
3/13: 100 Nm

Yep, we zigzagged a lot last 24 hours. All Sushi’s fault. Darned Irish! - just kidding!

We actually have a boat close to us, at 5 Nm. I will call them on the radio. We have a standard survey we ask every boat:
  1. what is the name of your vessel and nationality of your crew. ((Often we explore around that topic, specifically to make fun of Dutch, Australian, American, South African crew. Well we make fun with/about/on top of any nationality
  2. What did you have for lunch
  3. Are you seeing anyone these days and is it serious?
  4. What are you wearing?

Last year we did the same Ralf, ze skippa from S/V Frida. Ralf anzwered:
Answer 1: He was from Dzermany. With Nina his Kiwi wife.
Answer 2: Wir have eatzen kartufflen mit wurst
Answer 3: yez, my nina and ze iz naked on ze bed right now
Answer 4: I am wearing my wanzy mit ze yellow pantzerprint.

We loved Ralf und Nina, up to today.
Especially Nina!
Naked on ze bed. My god!

PS: For a while we were able to sail with both the genoa and gib out. Cool stuff!

Greetingz from ze Nerio!

Peter Panzer Pan

And… we’re motoring

Date: Sun Dec 04 2022
Position: 14º 19.5 N  29º 34.7 W

As predicted, the wind gave up on us late afternoon, and we have been motoring since then…

We had a few light rain clouds. The wind will be on the edge of “sailable”.

It is definitively getting warmer. 34 degrees yesterday noon and 26 degrees now at midnight.

AH, coffee is ready. See you guys later.

Climate change: wind and sargassum

Date: Sun Dec 04 2022
Position: 13º 49.4 N  30º 21.4 W

Good morning lovely people!

There are two significant changes between my first transatlantic crossing in 2006, my crossing last year and now.

In a previous post, I explained we were heading more South to avoid the North Atlantic depressions (storms) killing our winds. We just downloaded the latest weather forecasts and it is worse than we could see a few days ago: We need to go as low as 10-11 degrees North to avoid “no wind” areas. Up around 13 degrees North it is that bad that for some days we could have Western winds. Can u imagine: in the trade wind belt, you get headwind?! As far South as 13 dgs North?!
12 years ago, this never happened: we happily sailed across the Atlantic around 14 degrees North with steady 20-25 Knots of wind from North East as it should be and has been for years.
This is climate change for you: the North Atlantic depressions are getting much more South as they used to go.

A second thing is that at this moment, we are sailing through seas of “sargassum”, a seaweed which floats on the surface of the sea. We did not have this, 12 years ago. Over the past years, sargassum has become a pest in the Caribbean where it suffocates whole bays: it drifts at the surface and takes away sunlight and oxygen from the waters below. Killing most micro-organisms in the water, and as such killing the whole food chain in the area. In some places it is so dense, that fishermen can not even get out of the beaches anymore.
The wild-growth of sargassum is attributed to more pollution in the sea, particularly run-off of agricultural fertilizers, on which sargassum feeds. And overall higher average temperatures. Climate change.

On many beaches in the Caribbean, sargassum drifts on land and starts to rot, producing gasses, which further contribute to climate change.

Last year when Nadia, my dear twin-sister-from-another-mother (who is a native Barbadian) showed me the West coast of Barbados. She had a sad look in her face while showing the massive floats of sargassum along the coast and on the beaches. “this was not the case in the past”, she said…

Now, I cannot browse the Internet here on the boat, so I cannot research this, but is a mystery to me how this Sargasso gets into the middle of the Atlantic, where we are, as it does not originate from Africa. Maybe it follows the great wind circle, and is picked up by the Gulfstream, and then carried south and west again. Someone needs to research this and tell us..!

PS: Jan made us lovely dhal last night. Mmmm! Wrapped in tortilla, it went down really quickly.
Today we are planning for spaghetti carbonara, and an exotic desert.

Greetings earthlings, from the Atlantic!


Peter Zwei.

I think we nipped it in the butt…

Date: Sun Dec 04 2022
Position: 13º 49.4 N  30º 21.4 W

Today, low to no winds were predicted, but we found a small patch where there was still 10 knots…

And I think we found it… I think we nipped it in the butt…
We have the wind now on a beam reach at 9-11 knots… so we stopped the engine at 10:00, unfurled the genoa, and then … unfurled the jib on the same tack.
Both sails are very close together, but with the wind at 90 degrees, the wind can still slip between both sails, keeping both happy.

Hopefully the wind stays above 9 knots so that we can bridge this predicted low wind patch.

PS: U2 is playing right now “All I want is you…”

Peter Pan.

Nerio: a big red dot on a tiny ocean

Date: Mon Dec 05 2022
Position: 13º 19.8 N  30º 45.020 W

Nerio used to be a cruising racer - in her previous life, she was called “Inspiration”. She used to sail regattas with 22 ( ! ) crew in board.

Part of that legacy was stowed in the front sail locker for years: A big red gennaker, an asymmetrical spinnaker.
Peter 1, the skipper, who mostly sails this ship solo, never had the occasion to use this gennaker. It is a massive light sail, stowed in a sock, a snubber: like a long cloth tube.

We had no clue what the state of this gennaker was. She was inspected a 1.5 years ago by a sailmaker, which we did not trust 100%, as this guys f$$%$cked up the rigging of the reefing lines on the main sail, disabling Peter to reef the main sail in 40kts of wind (now we know Nerio can sail under full main sail in 40kts …)

So, today, as we had flat seas, and a steady 10 knots if wind, we had all hands in deck, to get this big res monster out of her locker.
And a monster she is: 30m tall and probably 15 meter wide at the foot. Gennakers or spinnakers are made of light nylon, though “light” is relative on Nerio. It takes 2-3 people to take the gennaker out of the sail locker and prepare her.

We were a bit... concerned... Gennakers are very powerful, and one small maneuver executed badly can make your day go “sideways”. On my first transatlantic, a 57ft Beneteau, we “shaved” thru our spinnaker halyard, the rope which pulls the spinnaker to the top of the mast. That rope “broke” and the spinnaker, still attached at the bottom, flow forward, and then landed in the water, where it formed a bag, scooping up water and grinding the boat to a hold in just a few seconds. It took all crew to hoist the sail back into the boat. Luckily we had no major damage.
More or the less the same happened last year on our 49ft Jeanneau: the halyard shaved through and swoooop, she landed in the water alongside the boat.

Spinnakers are known for their awesome power, which can broach, capsize boats, throw crew overboard, cause major damage, like breaking the mast (“dismasting”).

So we were anxious to hoist this red monster, but also apprehensive.

Sushi sails regattas, and knows how to fly spinnakers. She was in charge of hoisting it. Bego and I helped her on the bow to pull the sail out of the locker, Peter 1 was at the winch controlling the halyard, and Jan was at the helm. Once the sock was hoisted, Bego would control the sheet on the aft deck.

As the gennaker, in its sock, came on deck we already saw the snuffer line was tangled (the snuffer line is a looped rope that goes from the bottom, inside the sock onto the outside. The snuffer line is used to pull the sock up or down, to either let the gennaker fly or to stow it in the sock.
Untangling lines on a 30m socked sail ain’t easy.

Anyways, Sushi coordinated the efforts of running the gennie sheets aft and connect it to the clew We connected the head to the halyard and the tack to the tackline, attached to the very front of the bow.

Sounds complex? Mmm it is not really, bit a bit of a puzzle: Top of the sail: “the head” pulled up (“hoisted”) by the spinnaker halyard. The front bottom of the sail, connected to the front corner of the sail or “tack”, via a tackline to the bow. and the other side of the bottom (“the clew”), connected to the port and starboard sheet, running to two winches aft.

We hoisted the mainsail, which is needed to “shade” the gennaker if we. need to take it down fast, or de-power it.

And then up came the sock, pulled up via a halyard on a hydraulic winch.

It looked like the snufferline was tangled around the sock about 20m up, It was not clear if it was a rigging problem or an oddity in how the sock was made. But that looked weird. As we pulled the sock up, the gennaker inflated, the sheet was pulled in, but clearly the snuffer line did not run smoothly. She got stuck somewhere 20-25 meter up. As we flew the gennaker 2/3rds up, we took a short break to catch our breath, and think. I even smoked a cigarette :-).

And back to the bow we went. It looked like the hoist and drop parts of the snuffer line untangled themselves, but the snuffer line was still kinda wrapped around the sock about 20-25m up. We shaded the spinnaker with the main by changing course broader into the wind, pulled down the sock with 3 people. Gennaker was now in the sock, and we let her down slowly. Only then, with 2/3 of the sail in deck, we saw the snuffer line was indeed wrapped around the sock. We looped the snuffer line and pulled the whole bottom 2/3rds of the sock through the loop. I guessed the snuffer line was now untangled, so we tested it, by pulling the whole sock up again.
And…. problem solved!

Decision time: do we now unsnuff the gennaker again and fly the kite or lower it? Decision was this was enough adventure for the day, and after 2 hours, the crew was getting tired. This is when errors are made and people get hurt or damage is caused.

We decided to call it a day, and in 20 minutes the sail was stowed back in the locker, ready to be hoisted again.
We’ll see if we want to hoist it again… We’ll have a chat about this.

But for now we will call this a success: we debugged and tested it all, and are confident the sail is ready, and working.

And for 15 minutes we were a big red dot in a tiny ocean.

At this moment, at 03:30 in the morning, we are under “white sails”: full main is up, full genoa out, and we are running 5 knots in 10 knots of wind, under a bright moon and clear sky.

Happy sailors we are.

Peter Pan


"The purpose of being", for a passage sailor

Date: Mon Dec 05 2022
Position: 12º 52.2 N  31º 02.5 W

Apart of keeping crew and boat safe and happy, life of a passage sailor, going from point A to point B (e.g. from Cape Verde to Barbados), is dominated by one word. — well “one abbreviation”: "VMG" (Vee-ehm-dgee)

VMG stands for "Velocity Made Good". Which does not say much. But it simply means “the speed in which you approach your destination”.

Interested? Read on, as here we are going deep into the consciousness and subconscious of a sailor, and the “art of sailing” which is such a marvelous combination of science and art, of logical thinking and instinct, of centuries long experiences and pure gut feeling, of hi-tech and “wet finger in the air”, combining sophisticated instruments and getting out of the cockpit to look around and “feel the boat, the sea, the breeze”.

Where was I. Oh … "VMG", right...
Well: a boat can never sail straight into the wind. She can go faster or slower dependent on the angle she sails in the wind. But even if you sail fast, it is possible you don't make progress to your destination: Imagine your destination is directly North, but at that wind angle, your boat is only doing 2 knots. But you decide to sail East at a good wind angle and, say, 9 knots, you ain’t approaching your destination (which is North). Despite sailing at 9 knots. you actually sail away of your destination - or you have a negative VMG…

This example is obvious, but less obvious is what we are doing RIGHT NOW” on Nerio In our shift, at this moment, we are playing with our course, to get a maximum VMG.

Well almost, but it is a bit more complicated: we need to reach Barbados, but also we need to go further south to go around the low wind areas we have for the next week, if we would stay at the current latitude. If we would stay at our current latitude and sail straight to Barbados, we’d suffer from very low winds in the next week. And sure we could motor, but Nerio consumes, at 6 -6.5 knots under engine, about 19 liters of fuel per hour. Yep, Nero's 220HP engine is a powerful 6 cylinder Mercedes engine, but she does consume quite a bit of fuel. So our days of motoring are limited. We have two tanks of 750 liters of fuel, so that is 78 hours of motoring. Or about 3 days and 3 nights of motoring. And that is not taking into account the consumption of the generator which we need to cook, charge batteries etc.

So… right now, we are in a tight rope, balancing our approach speed, the VMG, but also ensuring we do keep enough South to keep wind. And compromising also with “keeping the sails from flapping” (which depends mostly on wave angle, period and height), and efforts to jibe, change sails (it takes about 20 minutes to hoist Nero's main sail.

And above all, we choose a course which does not spill out cocktails, and allows us some shade from the sun at noon.

Who says sailing is easy?!


Peter Pan

Open relationships

Date: Mon Dec 05 2022
Position: 12º 52.2 N  31º 02.5 W

We now all agree that we need to go out and meet other people.
I think it will be good for our relationship to see other people.

I mean I love Jan and I am sure he loves me, but in the end, our relationship will benefit to see other people.

I mean I love Bego too. She is cute and funny, and all, but it can not be that she is always the first face I see when I wake up (and go on deck). We really need to go out more, and get from between these four walls. Or from between bow and stern, in our case.

Our relationships need a breath of fresh air.

“Open relationships” will be our thing.

So we really need to meet other people, on other boats. We will call them on VHF and see if they are seeing anyone lately, and if they feel the same way: "the need to see other people"…

Next step is to also have an open relationship with Nerio: it will also be good for us if we see other boats.

These relationships need to grow, evolve, expand. We need to find new ways to do old things.

PS: has anyone seen Xabi’s black leather outfit with his whip thingies? He lost it last night somewhere when he went out for drinks to the sail locker last night

Peter Pan

Going from A to B via C

Date: Tue Dec 06 2022
Position: 11º 05.7 N  32º 16.2 W

A bit frustrating to realize we are no longer sailing towards Barbados, or hardly… We need to move south to circumvent the low winds, but at times the progress towards Barbados (in a direct line) is slow. Really slow.
Last 24 hours, we sailed really well, but made only around 100 Nm progress towards Barbados.

“sailing well” means “despite the low winds”: As predicted, the winds were 9-11-12 knots from ENE. we trimmed the sails to be able to move at least 5 knots going south, but also as west as possible: The main sail is out quite far, but not too much otherwise she would shade the genoa. The genoa’s car is wayyyy back, giving it plenty of sheet, almost running it like a gennaker.

And then we try to run a course as broad to the wind as possible while keeping the sails happy and avoid flapping.

Luckily the sea is very flat, which allows us some extra margins to go through wind shifts and small lulls without flapping.

Nerio sails really well. We did 5-6 knots in 9-10 knots of breeze at 100 dgs apparent wind angle. Nice!

This morning at 09:00, we will jibe, and go West. We’ll have to find a sail configuration that allows a real broad course. Probably we will have to hoist the gennaker again.

Wind predictions for the next days are 9-11 knots from ENE, Wind will pick up , up to 14 knots after that, but Thursday/Friday we will struggle with low winds. After that, we will have a home run to “POINT B”: “B” for Barbados

Good night all!

Peter Pan.

We jybed!

Date: Tue Dec 06 2022
Position: 10º 36.930 N  32º 37.390 W

At 08:00 AM we jybed! (Well, Sushi and Peter 1 jybed at the end of their shift).

We are now more or less heading straight to Barbados. Finally!

Still running under mainsail and genoa… 6-7 knots in 12-13 knots at 110 degrees apparent wind angle.

After the gybe, we celebrated with a full warm breakfast: Spanish omelet, beans in tomatoes sauce and sausages!

The only problem is that in the morning, the sun is on our back and there is only 1 m2 of shade in the cockpit. Right now, Bego, Peter 1, Sushi and Xabi are sitting on top of each other on this 1 m2…
Just kidding. But if someone goes below to get something, someone else takes his/her space in the shade!
"Qui va a la chasse, pert ca place
(et qui revient, y trouve un chien)"

PS: also good news: we called the marina in Port St Charles in Barbados and since this week, we can clear customs there. No hassle anymore to clear in, in Bridgetown… #Yay

Peter Pan

Wind, no wind, wind, no wind

Date: Wed Dec 07 2022
Position: 10º 52.7 N  33º 43.9 W

Well this morning we jibed westerly, but we just could not find our groove. We went too Northerly, so we gybed, then went too Southernly, then took the main in and gybed, end then lost wind in the late afternoon, then motored.

We only found a good wind, and the right angle, and a good heading at 11PM.

Wind forecast are for moderate NE, up to Friday when they are lighter but as of Saturday afternoon, we should have solid wind again…

Had risotto with vegetables and marinated turkey and a mushroom sauce for dinner.

We’re also ready for a vegetable-chicken soup tomorrow.
After that we have some more beef left, and that will be the end of our fresh food supplies.
Will be canned/dried food after that. Of which we have plenty…


Back in the good winds!

Date: Wed Dec 07 2022
Position: 11º 02.2 N  34º 40.5 W

We’re now in the good wind areas. Seems all the efforts to go south are working out and seem to bear their fruits.

We now going at 7kts straight to Barbados…

And the weather gets warmer. At night, we don’t need sweaters anymore on watch!


Touch wood… but we’re really flying now

Date: Wed Dec 07 2022
Position: 11º 02.2 N  34º 40.5 W

This is the 7th day of our passage to Barbados. And these first 7 days have been struggles to find wind, continuously change sail configurations, trim the sails, etc.

To be honest, last night at 3 AM I had a bit of a dip. I caught myself continuously looking at the wind indicators, and the sails, trimming the sh*t out of them… But I could not find a combination of wind angle; wave angle, sails, trim… and I caught myself not looking at the sky and the stars.
My watch mate Jan saw it, and said “go to bed, I got this”. And I did. And fell sleep like a block.

Today, at 8 AM we struggled to get the gennaker up, again, but we did not succeed. So we put Nerio on a good track. Xabi and Bego trimmed the sails, and I went on the foredeck to look at the sea.

Right now, we are doing 7-8 knots on a 110 degrees wind angle and 16-17 knots of wind.
Nerio is happy again. And so are we.
Winds look good for the next days. I feel this will be the day with the most progress to Barbados, thus far.

We’re having chicken vegetable soup tonight.

Now I am going to do my watch, and look at the sea. And… enjoy this!

Love you all!

PP. (Peter Pan)

Cruising along

Date: Wed Dec 07 2022
Position: 11º 12.2 N  35º 37.4 W

Telegram from Nerio

Nice sunset again today, with a full moon rising.

A big part of the sky is clear of clouds. Strange though as during the day, the sky was well covered. Probably more “local” humidity than weather clouds… which clear during the night.

As the wind picked up a bit in the past day, also the waves picked up a bit, but still not bigger than 1-2 meters.

Nerio is sailing right on course, at 6-7 knots in a steady 13-15 kts from ENE-E.

All is well. Last 24 hours we progressed 120 Nm towards Barbados. Probably as of now, we will average those numbers.

Bego and Xabi created an hors-d’oeuvre of foie gras and Spanish ham, with the chicken vegetable soup as main course.



Rolling, rolling, rolling ohaaaa

Date: Thu Dec 08 2022
Position: 11º 17.2 N  36º 05.3 W

Nerio loves a good wind, and currently she is in her element: 15 kts of wind, under genoa and mainsail, and we’re cruising like a train on a track, regularly having stretches of 7-8 kts speed.

Tomorrow and the day after will be our last struggle (we hope) with another patch of low winds. but after that, we should have constant good winds all the way up to Barbados.

“We’re going to Barbados ohohooh”

I baked fresh bread. This will become a daily routine, it seems, on Nerio, from now on, as we can use the bread to make sandwiches with the cold cuts (salami, ham, cheese) which we can somewhat keep cooled in our freezer- cum fridge - cum cooling device.
Only disadvantange is that Nerio only has a small electric oven, which needs to heat up for a long time. It takes over an hour to "bake a loaf of bread". And by that time, the small galley is like a sauna, and stays that way for at least four hours...
"fresh bread" (show of balancing hands) "hot galley"... Which do you prefer?


Talking about food

Date: Thu Dec 08 2022
Position: 11º 17.2 N  36º 05.3 W

We have a fridge and a small freezer aboard Nerio.
But the fridge died in Las Palmas. We tried to revive it in Gran Canarias and in Mindelo, but in vein: seems the compressor died.

The freezer is now used as fridge. There is a minor issue, which was resolved in Mindelo.

But that also limited our capacity to provision in fresh foods, or to pre-cook meals and freeze them.

We have a bit of chicken and beef left, as fresh food, oh and some tomatoes. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and one banana. Oh and onions+garlic too.

But “ à la guerre comme à la guerre”: we row with the reams we have: Beyond fresh food, we have plenty of dry food rations (cans, dried stuff,…)…
Our bilge is pretty full with a variety of stuff: canned fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, soups and sauces, pasta/rice/grains. cereals, dried toast, tortilla, choco paste, marmalade, stock… Tea, coffee, milk, oh and some trays of eggs.

And we have to backup rations of these varieties in the back garage too.

We won’t starve, that is for sure.

Oh our “grab box” in the saloon of “quick bites” proved to be popular amongst the crew: in that box, we have a variety of snacks: from dried noodles, up-a-soups, chocolate, sweet and salty biscuits, sweets, chips. All :comfort food and quick snacks while on watch.

We have plenty of flour, sugar, salt, mustard, mayo, ketchup, spices and stock cubes.

It seems like the sweet drinks (coke, Fanta, tonic) have been popular. We’ll be running out of them soon. But we have lemon concentrate to flavor the water from our water maker.

And we have a reserve of beers too, rationed to one sunset beer per person per day.

Mmm. I just realize I am getting hungry!
I prepared fresh pizza dough for this evening!


The tough life of a flying fish near Nerio

Date: Thu Dec 08 2022
Position: 11º 38.350 N  37º 03.070 W

We’ve seen a lot of fish lately… There are always shoals of flying fish around, often scared up by the boat, or being chased by predators. Two mornings ago, we had a group of mackerel around the boat hunting smaller fish and flying fish too. The mackerel stayed near the boat for hours.

I guess the dolphins also like flying fish as hors d’oeuvre…

And then there are the seabirds that hover around the boat sometimes for hours, looking for fish, preferably flying fish, flying off, scared up by the boat. The birds often float -ieieiewaaaaaaaaah- centimeters above the water trying to catch the flying fish.

And as if that is not enough, every night some flying fish fly onto the boat.

Imagine the life of a flying fish in these areas: you work the whole day escaping the tuna, mackerel, birds chasing you and then in the night you go for a flight in the moonlight and BOOOM- there is Nerio. Too late to avoid a collision. Bam. Onto the deck. Boum. Onto the cockpit edges. Crash. Into the rigging. If you are lucky, as a flying fish, you can splatter around and fall back overboard. Chances are meager, though.
If not: life as you knew it as a flying fish is over. Done.

Your body is then picked up by one of the crew, once you are cold, stiff and stinky, and tossed overboard.

Life ain’t easy if you are a flying fish.
Even worse around Barbados where "fried flying fish" is a traditional dish. Or is it "flied frying fish"?


The time and space equilibrium

Date: Thu Dec 08 2022
Position: 11º 38.350 N  37º 03.070 W

Out of the hundreds of comments we get via email, it seems many of you wonder how we “keep time” on Nerio, as we move westwards.

Good question! Time is important as all our watches need to by sync-ed so everyone knows when to come on deck for their watch, when dinner is served and when we have cocktail hour…

On Nerio, we have established a taskforce to get together a broad stakeholders group, gathered into a working group, governed by a steering group and an oversight team.
This working group will decide where the meetings will be held (most seem to agree on Xabi’s bunk) for the team of highly paid consultants to deliberate on “what time are we on”, and “do we move our clock back as we go West”, and how do we inform all stakeholders that time has changed.
The Terms of Reference of the team of experts has also been broadened to analyse the wider time & space equilibrium, based in Einstein’s work.

Initial findings of the working group will be presented to the standing committee of the steering group, in New York in January 2026.

In the mean time, on Nerio, we keep our watches on Mindelo time, and will only change our
watches when we are in Barbados drinking our first rum punch.

Peter Pan

Pizza, bread and wind

Date: Thu Dec 08 2022
Position: 11º 43.2 N  37º 30.320 W

Today, as predicted, winds were lighter, but we continued to sail, up to sunset when the wind completely died.
We took all sails down and are now motoring at 6-6.5 rpm on our 220 hp engine.
Winds are only predicted to pick up tomorrow evening. We might have some sailable wind during the day, but they will be light.
The real wind will only pick up tomorrow night. But as of then they will gradually increase, hopefully up to Barbados.
In honor of the wind increasing to 20 knots in a few days, I changed into my red sailing shorts. These are my speed shorts. ***I received many compliments from the other crew members on how handsome I looked.

As we ran out of the bread we bought in Mindelo, I baked a bread with whole-wheat flower. In preparation for this trip, I practiced baking bread at home in Italy. And it worked out great. *** I received many compliments from the other crew members how good the bread tasted.
(a pretty expensive bread, though, as it had to bake for an hour in the oven, and as Nerio has no gas cooker, we had to run the generator)…

BUT I also made fresh pizza (with freshly dough, tomatoe paste, olives, chorizo and cheese topping. Actually I made 3 pizzas!
*** I received many compliments from the other crewmembers how good the pizza tasted.

So obviously, I felt very complimented and loved.
And… as this is day 8 of our passage, we changed crew watch hours: Jan and I now run the 08:00-12:00 and 20:00-00:00 shifts.
This meant that the crew had to change their sleeping routine, so there were a lot of complaints filed on our customer service and complaints telephone number. They will be taken care off by our ombudsperson.

PS: tonight it is really warm and humid on deck tonight. There are heavy clouds around the boat tonight. Some slight rain is in the air.

I hope they %## will not £&&& disturb ££££ the Iridium %%#^^^^**** phone €€€$$~~<>###}}{][]{~<> transmissions $$$€€%%##]]{{}}}}%%.

This broadcast is now temporarily interrupted due to technical problems.
Do not worry, the crew is fine. The autopilot is on and nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. krak. nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. krak nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. nothing can go wrong. iepwieet. nothing can go wrong. iepwieet.

Sunrise shift

Date: Fri Dec 09 2022
Position: 11º 25.7 N  38º 50.4 W

Jan and I started this trip having the sunrise and sunset shifts. We are now in our third week-watch schedule. And we thought this shift (08:00-12:00 - 20:00-24:00) would be after sunset/sunrise, BUT as we sail West without changing our clock/watches, we just came on watch at sun rise.

All of this to say I can not write to you, as we have to watch the sun rise


An ocean passage: the most boring time or the most exciting time of our lives?

Date: Fri Dec 09 2022
Position: 11º 25.7 N  38º 50.4 W

A typical/average passage from Cape Verde to the Caribbean takes 16 days (based on historical data).

Many people find those days, as for any long passage, boring: get up, eat, do your watch, cook, eat, sleep and start again. Once all downloaded movies are watched and time can not be “killed” by reading, often people complain about boredom.

For many others, including me, these are some of our most exciting times of our lives. And “there is always something to do”: beyond cooking or experiment with new recipes, overall boat maintenance and minor repairs, there is cleaning, vacuuming, rinsing the heads and sinks with vinegar, rinse the deck, wipe cockpit windows, playing around with weather data and routing, prepare landfall (checking with the marina, approach/pilotage). There is refilling the fridge and bilge supplies, planning and preparing the next meals. Even just scavenging through the food supplies and finding two pots of pesto you forgot about.

And if there is more leisure time, I write, log our progress, check mail, and think about the future. And then sometimes sailing boats appear on our AIS. I love talking to other sailboats, and keep in contact with them for as long as we can, over VHF.

And then take pictures and short videos to snapshot the experience, these unique moments.

And beyond that, there is this massive amount of nature around us, which never ceases to surprise me. What does the sea tell me? What do the shape if the waves tell me? What story do the clouds tell? What wildlife do we have around us? What does the temperature and air pressure tell me?

An additional challenge is the feeling of fatigue which often goes in a vicious circle with boredom and “becoming lazy”, with a feeling of annoyance, being hot, being tired, and starting to be annoyed.

Me? I am having the time of my life. I am soo excited to be here, to suffer from the lack of sleeping, a painful back, sore hands. This is my place. I feel I belong here.

I love wind in my hair and salt on my skin.

Hold on: wind is picking up. Decision time: do we unfurl the genoa? Will we be able to keep the sails inflated? Will we do the right course?

Wooohoooo! #exciting!

Peter Pan.

And yeah we’re going a bit further south again

Date: Fri Dec 09 2022
Position: 11º 25.7 N  38º 50.4 W

Thank you for your hundreds of questions…
Many of you seem concerned about the fact that we have slightly turned south again.

This is not due to a short circuit when spilling a dry martini cocktail over the autopilot. Nor was it because someone was doing naughty things on top of the auto pilot control buttons… Not was it because the helms(wo)man being drunk.

Nono, it simply because the wind comes mostly from the East, so we need a bit of angle to the wind (a sailboat can not sail into the wind and has problems sailing straight downwind). So we slightly zigzag until we have Barbados within our right angle. That angle we don’t call rhumba/line but rum(punch)-line.

PS: I am sitting in the foredeck in the shade of the boom looking over the ocean. Really enjoying this. I have now only my shorts on.
Ok: let’s vote: should I take those off too and get my bottom some tan?


Peter Bottoms Pan.

The Great Gybe

Date: Sat Dec 10 2022
Position: 11º 01.580 N  41º 00.630 W

It happened last night.
It happened at 22:30.
The moment we had anticipated.
The instance we had longed for.
The maneuver, which looked as if it would never come.
That moment finally happened…

We did The Great gybe.
The gybe towards Barbados.
The gybe West.

Since we left Mindelo 10 days ago, we have been dodging those damned North Atlantic depressions which sucked up “our wind”. We had to go much further south than anticipated.

But last night at sunset we clearly saw the very high wind clouds in the higher altitude pointing towards behind us. There were no traces of those clouds in front of us. So that was a sign that the last big depression‘s winds were past.

At sunset we motored for 2-3 hours and then raised the genoa again on a port tack. For a while we were pointing SW, but then…. the final good sign: gradually the wind did not only pick up, but started to go more northerly: 90 degrees, 80 degrees, 70 degrees and it stayed there:

Our trade winds were back. We calculated that with a gybe we could point straight to Barbados.

So at 22.30, we did The Great Gybe.
The Gybe to Barbados.

Since then, we have been pointing nothing else but Barbados. And, as predicted, the wind remained stable in direction and is steadily increasing.
Today we expect gusts of > 20 kts. And good winds seem in the making until we arrive in Barbados.

Barbados, the land of Plenty, theland of Rum, the land of hula-hula, where we get a lei on arrival.

Barrabaadossa, here we come. See us flying now!

Peter Pan.

To prove or not to prove, that is the question

Date: Sat Dec 10 2022
Position: 11º 04.250 N  41º 20.9 W

I learned a new word (from Sushi, imagine that): “to prove”: it is the thing which describes the yeast doing its thing in bread, making the bread raise.

Well last night I prepared the dough for today’s bread, but I covered the bowl with plastic foil, so this morning the proving was not ready as the dough got too warm and was still too wet.
Too little proving - so we put the dough on deck, which had it proving in 5 minutes.
Dough saved. Bread ready!

Another meal prepared at 1 AM was a curry soup, based on Sushi’s curry meal prepared with veggies, chickpeas and beans. Which was awesome.
So last night I turned it into a soup with bacon in it. Unfortunately, it was too hot in the kitchen, during the night.
So when I opened the soup pot this morning, the soup was happily bubbling. Proving, fermenting, whatever. But no good to eat. Maybe we should have let it stay and invent a new form of alcoholic drink…

Soup could not be saved. Overboard it went.

To one, it proved too much, and the other too little…

“There is always something”

Peter Pan.


Date: Sat Dec 10 2022
Position: 11º 04.250 N  41º 20.9 W

Progress made towards Barbados:
24h ending at 15:00 local time on:
7/12: 130 Nm
8/12: 131 Nm
9/12: 128 Nm
10/12: 129 Nm

It is a nice sunny day. Swell picked up considerable. We’re cruuuuiiising…

Bego made a smashing tortilla de patatas with fresh tomatoes on the side.

I am asked to report to Maria Angeles that Xabi has eaten all his vegetables. Today he has been a good boy and is behaving! He even dived into the garage to get extra food supplies! (picture)
Sushi is a different case. Sam: we will need to have a serious talk.


We’re half way

Date: Sun Dec 11 2022
Position: 11º 34.110 N  43º 10.4 W

Good morning people!

We agreed that in rhumbline (the shortest distance between Barbados and Mindelo), was 2000 Nmiles (roughly 3600 km).

Last night we went past the mid point: in a straight line, we have less than 1000 Nm to go.

“Timewise” we are well over half way….
I hope…

We’ve been at sea for 10 days and now have 6-7 days left.
I hope…

We “lost” a lot of time in the first 10 days by going south and gybing our way westwards. Needed to be done, though. But now, we are sailing straight to Barbados.
I hope.

ETA looks like Sunday. Not today-Sunday, but next week Sunday.
We want to be in time for the 10 AM mass.
I hope.

At this moment, we are doing 6-7 knots in 15 knots wind, at 170 degrees.
Wind is E - ESE (90-100° TWD). It ell turn to a more favorable 60-70 by Tuesday, though.

Still amazing how stable Nerio is, on 2-3 m swell with a 170° wind angle.
Genoa is flying wide and high.

I hope


Trading in the trade winds

Date: Sun Dec 11 2022
Position: 11º 34.110 N  43º 10.4 W

This morning, Jan visually spotted another sailing vessel about 8 miles off our starboard.
They had no IAS signal, so we gave a generic call on channel 16 (the international VHF calling channel): “This is sailing vessel Nerio on channel one-six. We are at position xxx North xxx West. We currently have a sailing vessel 90 degrees off our starboard. Kindly identify yourself and state if your intensions are friendly” (the last bit was meant as a joke to break the ice)

After a second call, they came back to us so we started chatting. They were “Safe Landing” a 40xx foot Catamaran on delivery from La Rochelle (France) via Madeira to Antigua and final destination the British Virgin Islands.
Skipper was Anthony with 3 crew on board.

We started chatting about fresh food supplies as we reckoned they were running out of that, having been at sea since Madeira.

So we stated as our fresh food supply:
1x potato (normal)
1x potato (sweet)
1.5 tomatoes (well more like 1.75 tomatoes)
14 eggs.

They gave their inventory which included fresh pine apple, apples, oranges, papaya, cabbage, potatoes, lime. And it just went on and on.

So, as they were a male-only crew, we agreed to trade…


From: S/V Nerio, 950 Nm West off Barbados
To: Sam

Dear Sam

Have decided to trade Saoirse for two papayas with S/V Perfect Landing

Other party threw in one ( 1 ) free bottle of rum



Operational announcement

Date: Sun Dec 11 2022
Position: 11º 34.110 N  43º 10.4 W

All ships, all ships, all ships.

Let it be known that for operational reasons, the performance of our Spanish crew on the foredeck of Nerio will be postponed until 16:30.

The performance will include a pole dancing session by Xabi, a flamenco impression by Her Bego-ness, and a recital of the first paragraphs from Isabelle Allende’s book “I gave it all up for the sea”. (Or was it “for the sex” — I can not remember.)

All ships, all ships, all ships - end of message.

Eenie meenie mouse

Date: Mon Dec 12 2022
Position: 11º 41.0 N  45º 08.5 W

Without telling anyone, we did two mini gybes last night, as we missed some action.

Seriously, last night’s watch was a bit intense with shifting winds, shifting waves, and a boat not finding her groove.

But we’re well on track!

That first rum punch on arrival will be sooo nice!

Peter Pan

Like a train on a track, finally

Date: Mon Dec 12 2022
Position: 11º 42.4 N  45º 25.9 W


Date: Mon Dec 12 2022
Position: 11º 42.4 N  45º 25.9 W

In the last 24 hours, we made 121 Nm progress towards Barbados. we have about 800 Nm to go.


My favorite shift

Date: Tue Dec 13 2022
Position: 12º 01.2 N  47º 43.6 W

My favorite shift by far, is the sunrise shift.
As we are moving West without changing our clock, that is the 08:00-12:00 Shift:

First of all, as the sun comes up, energy kicks in. Not only in our bodies and minds but also around us: this is typically where the wind kicks in.

Secondly: this is when the boat is quiet: most people are still asleep.

And… I love to wake up to the sound of waves.

This morning I woke up as I hardly felt the boat move. I thought we had fallen out of wind. But as I came on deck, Bego was is full swing. shouting; “20 knots. babyyyyy!”. 20 knots and the boat hardly moved.

ow that is what I call a good start of the day. That and a cup of coffee.

Peter Pan.

Progress today

Date: Tue Dec 13 2022
Position: 12º 16.270 N  49º 07.840 W

Ayayaaay caramba! we had our best progress day in this passage:
in the past 24 hours, we came 161 Nm closer to Barbados.

We’re still some ways off of our total record day in this voyage, which was 186 Nm in 24 hours (the first day we left Las Palmas).

But we’re happy. Even although the waves picked up a lot. I guess we have now 3.5 meter waves.

The boat rocks a lot… A challenge for Nerio’s sail, but also for the crew.

Bego made a cake today. The dough was quite liquid when it went in the oven.
The cake was delicious. Half of it was eaten straight off the sides of the oven.

We had a chickpea, rice and tomatoe combo for dinner. And right now the oven is baking an olive bread.

All is well on Nerio…

Peter Pan

Going strong!

Date: Wed Dec 14 2022
Position: 12º 32.5 N  50º 37.2 W

Quite rolly but good winds through the night, and into this morning.
19-22 knots of wind, right now from NE. Nerio starts surfing on the waves, regularly going at 9 knots for 10-15 seconds as she slides sown a wave.

Sun is about to come up in 30 minutes, and winds will further pick up.

Nice sailing!

My routine

Date: Wed Dec 14 2022
Position: 12º 37.290 N  52º 06.8 W

07:30 - Get up, put coffee on and get dressed
08:00 - 12:00 - Morning watch with Jan and loads of coffee (at this moment, the sun comes up around 09:00 boat time
12:00-13:00 - if we have mother watch: check what we will have for dinner, possibly prepare something already
13:00-17:00 - I mostly hang out on the foredeck, listen to music, write some, doze off (often someone prepares a lunch or I make a sandwich
18:00-19:00: evening meal
19:00-20:00: prepare evening shift, hang out in the cockpit,
20:00-00.00: Evening watch.

And repeat.

Talked to Rebecca, on Artemis, a Dutch sailing vessel which we also saw in Mindelo. They were 21 Nm ahead of us. they are sailing in the same direction, though they are heading to St Lucia.
I think Rebecca likes me.

I miss Sushi. But the papayas were super nice!

We’ve been flying along at 7-9 kts boat speed today. Wind has been pretty consistent, and almost constantly over 20 kts.

We did 170Nm last 24 hours.

If we had winds like this for the whole passage, we could have done it in 12 days.
Then again if my auntie was a man. she would have been my uncle.

Allez, i am going to talk to Rebecca again and see what she had for dinner. And then start my shift.


Peter Pan


Date: Thu Dec 15 2022
Position: 12º 51.2 N  53º 52.9 W

During our evening shift, Jan and I had 20-23 kts of sustained wind. For a while we had 27-28 kts as a heavy cloud passed us. For a couple of hours, the boat speed did bot go below 8kts, with long stretches of 9-10 kts sustained. Our peak boat speed was 13.5 kts.

It seems Peter 1 and Sushi had their share of it too. Jan and just came on watch, and can see in the logbook they had rainsqualls with heavy rain and wind gusts to 32 kts.

This morning, it looks a bit quieter. It still blows 32 kts and the boat still runs at 8 kts.

The sun is coming up in an hour. We’re onto our second pot of coffee. Life is good. Talked to Rebecca again.


Average speed

Date: Thu Dec 15 2022
Position: 12º 51.2 N  53º 52.9 W

Predictwind calculated our average speed over the past 14 hours as 8.2 kts.

That is average, not peaks.

Missed my scheduled call with Rebecca.


A record day

Date: Thu Dec 15 2022
Position: 13º 12.680 N  55º 03.160 W

The past 24 hours, we did 189Nm, an all time record on this trip, and for as far as I know, also for Nerio!

Winds are a bit lower today, so we’re also enjoying smoother seas right now.

ETA Barbados is midday Saturday.



Date: Fri Dec 16 2022
Position: 13º 34.0 N  56º 57.2 W

Unfortunately, last night one of the seams in our genoa became undone, so we had to furl it in and run on the staysail (jib) only.
We make progress, but quite s bit slower than before.

We expect to arrive in Port St Charles, Barbados tomorrow night.



And there were 70 miles to go

Date: Sat Dec 17 2022
Position: 13º 37.4 N  58º 31.2 W

Just came on watch at 04:00 AM boat time, 1 AM local time.
And Barbados was only 70 Nm off… As we approach the island via the North, which is more uninhabited, we don’t see any glow on the horizon yet. But it is there…!

Despite running on jib only, we made good progress the last 24 hours: 120 Nm… The winds have been good to us, filling the sails.
At his speed, we should reach the land in 10-12 hours. If we are lucky, we can get into the marina during daylight still!!

Fingers crossed. These are the last miles!

Peter Pan.

Land in sight. Or not? Shall we counter-jinx it?

Date: Sat Dec 17 2022
Position: 13º 36.2 N  59º 18.8 W

11:00 AM boat time - 08:00 AM local time.

We’re some 25 Nm from the Northern tip of Barbados. The horizon is very cloudy, so the bets are on if the darker shadows we see in the distant clouds are land or not.

My bet is, they are not. Not yet

Anyways, I don’t want to jinx it but it seems we might arrive in the marina of Port St Charles before sunset.

“Not wanting to jinx it” - is related to the fact that during our last year’s passage and also this year, we seem to jinx things when saying stuff like “Oh, nice breeze today”, and the next minute the wind dies.
Or “we have a nice run, in the right heading”, which is followed by a 40 degree wind shift.

So, nope. We’re now saying: “we will not arrive today, nor anywhere this week or even this year”.

This is called “counter-jinxing”.

That is also why, according to me, we don’t have any land in sight, by far.
I am counter-jinxing it.


The sheer power…

Date: Sat Dec 17 2022
Position: 13º 36.2 N  59º 18.8 W

If you think of it, it is amazing that this boat, all 45 tons of her, was pulled across 2,000Nm - or 3600 km only on “a piece of canvas”: the genoa.

And at wind speeds of 32 knots and up to 13 knots of boat speed. The pressure on the sail, rigging and mast is just awesome.

The more as on Nerio we don’t have a whisker pole, which is “normally” used to keep the genoa stretched outwards and under pressure.
During our passage it has been continuous work to keep the genoa under pressure so it does not deflate and re-inflate.

Sometimes the waves come from a wrong angle or a freak wave pushes the boat sideways, suddenly deflating the foresail. When it re-inflates, it does so with a big bang, which makes the boat shiver. At that point, the sail’s clew (the bottom outer corner), lashes like a whip. Some claim that the speed of this whipping is near the speed of sound, similar to the
clapping of a whip.

A few days ago, we were witness of this raw power:
On the side of the boat we have an aluminum ladder lashed to the side railing. On one of the occasions when the genoa deflated, the lazy sheet, attached to the clew, also deflated and got underneath the outer edge of the ladder’s leg. When the sheet got under pressure again, with a massive flap, in a fraction of a second, it pulled off 20 cm of the ladder’s leg. The piece went flying into the air and ended on deck. The force was so strong that it pulled that piece off, totally straight: no bending. A straight cut, as if someone had used a saw to cut it off.


At this moment we’re approaching Barbados under jib (staysail)’only— at 5-8 knots, under a stiff breeze.
A nice way to end this trip, in style and in speed.

But we are not there yet
Let’s not jinx it. We still have pieces of ladder, which can be pulled off.


The last and final gybe

Date: Sat Dec 17 2022
Position: 13º 33.9 N  59º 30.7 W

We just did the last and final gybe to round the North point of Barbados.

And just as we turned Nerio, land came out of the cloudy horizon.

Barbados! After 600+800+2000 Nm = 3,400 Nm or well over 6,000 km.

Barbados, the destination, the land of plenty, the land of rum punches, of hula-hula girls, of green hills and savory maidens (and slinder men). The island of promise, of flied frying fish, of Bajun spices and tuk-tuks and boga-bogas and surfers and white beaches. And fresh fruit. And fresh meat. And fresh vegetables. And spring water. And non-moving showers. And beds without lee-cloths. And shops. And “other people”. And cars and bicycles. And utter happiness.

Honey, daddy’s a-coming!

Peter Pan

We arrived

Date: Sat Dec 17 2022
Position: 13º 15.8 N  59º 38.7 W

… We safely arrived in Port St.Charles, Barbados! (picture)

Had way too many rum-sours that evening, I confess... (picture)

But with Jan, I was still sober enough to re-run Nerio's mooring lines when we hit the dock hard with a shifting swell in the marina, at 3:00 AM! The rest of the crew slept through that!!

With a big thanks to Peter 1, our skipper (picture), for a safe passage!!! May we meet again soon!


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