From February to May 2010, we crossed the Atlantic the long way: diagonally from South Africa to the Caribbean.
The 6000+ nautical mile crossing (broken into 3 segments) began when we left Cape Town on February 27.
We sailed for ten days under gray skies and occasional rain in the variable latitudes. When we reached the trade winds the clouds dissipated, but the wind was still shifty and unsettled. Despite this, we made landfall on St Helena on March 14th, almost 1800 nautical miles in 15 days.
St Helena is the British protectorate where Napoleon was exiled, and even today there’s no way to get there except by ship! We loved the welcoming people, quaint town, and gorgeous landscapes.
The shortest segment of the Atlantic crossing was between St Helena and Ascension, another British rock in mid-ocean. It was also our worst passage with constant rain squalls.
Despite its Martian landscape, we loved Ascension for its impressive quantity of bird and fish life, and the magic of watching green sea turtles nest.
The biggest crossing from Ascension to Barbados took 26 days, one day shorter than our Pacific crossing despite the fact that Heretic sailed at least 200 more miles. We departed Ascension on April 1st; a moderate SE trade wind followed Heretic all the way to the equator. There the wind lightened and the weather grew almost unbearably hot due to our location directly beneath the sun’s GP (geographical position) at around noon each day. We had decided to cross the equator well east of rhumb line in order to avoid the worst of the Doldrums, a plan that worked well despite adding miles. The NE trades filled in strong and very northerly at first so that Heretic was close-hauled to hold course for Barbados, but soon shifted more into the east. We saw many birds on the crossing, some of them quite close to! We made landfall on April 27, 2010, having sailed some 3200 miles.
Bridgetown, Barbados was a bit of a shock after seeing nothing but sky, sea, and each other for a month. On the wharf next to us in the main port area, a new cruise ship docked everyday!
All text and photographs © Ellen Massey Leonard and Seton Leonard, 2015, All Rights Reserved.