top of page

The Challenges and Triumphs: A Yachtie's Tale of Crossing the Atlantic 

"Living the dream" is the quote of the Atlantic crossing that floats from one crew member's gentle words in the early hours of the morning, handing over the navigational watch. 1,800 Nautical miles of deep blue ocean, countless stars filling the night sky, capturing the watchkeeper's gaze as they look to the pitch black horizon.

No Atlantic crossing is the same as the next, each experience is unique due to weather, the yacht you are on, whether you are sailing or motor sailing, and the crew you are at sea with. This was my sixth Atlantic crossing and third going from west to east, probably some of the most challenging conditions of all six. Rolling from the leeboard to the cupboard and back again, was how the first few nights of rest went, our weather was exactly as forecast, the breeze from the west following us all the way across ranging in the mid-'30s to mid-'40s, occasionally gusting into high fifties. A following sea state which grew as the low-pressure system developed, Kept the rolling from Leeboard to cupboard going for seven days at Sea.

Our trusty friend "Stacey" the staysail did us a strong service in keeping us stable in the swell, as we rolled down the trough of one wave and into the next. Keeping us fast as well as stable, she's a real team player, a tough girl, sticking it out through the gusting in the forthy- forthy five range.

The rhythm became, Eat, sleep, Sight, Watch and repeat, with a very pleasant watch rota of three hours on and nine hours off, there was plenty of time to rest, eat, catch up on paperwork and do some studying. I used this passage to again practice the art of celestial navigation, I use the word art as it is a real skill to perfect taking a sight and can often be difficult to get accuracy, due to the nature of the beast, being subject to the elements of Neptune. It proved challenging at times to take regular sights accurately due to the increasing sea state and cloud coverage, but with a little persistence and resilience, I got them done. Calculating my sights and plotting them became a part of my everyday routine, a ritual of sorts, relaxing until you're diving across the navigation desk to catch my dividers before they damaged you or another with their pointy sharp end.

Food is the soul of every trip at sea and this was no exception, despite challenging sea conditions our wonderful chef still managed to feed a bunch of happy sailors with what she calls "soul food" from heart-warming soups to nutritious salads and the best midnight snacks, a slice of homemade chocolate cake followed by a mouth-watering mandarin orange. Delicious. Our midnight snacks consist of three options, a sandwich, a baked good and fruit.

The aroma of Italian cuisine flows through the yacht, teasing the taste buds of those on watch as the smell of simmering ragu escapes out of the galley ducting. There's nothing better than getting off watch, opening the hatch to a whiff of what's on the stove in the galley, in the hope it's what you had guessed it was from the smells on deck.

On watch, we always have two people on deck, a watch leader and a watch keeper. The watch often goes like this, no traffic, top-up day tank, check Stacey, top-up day tank, fix all of the world problems and then check Stacey again. It can be a monotonous cycle but actually, something is calming about the routine. When you spend a lengthy period of time at sea with a group of people you begin to learn weird and wonderful things about each other. You pass the time by playing silly games like naming all 52 states in the USA in alphabetical order, this was a real team effort. We as a crew are a determined bunch, it developed into naming all of the countries of the world in Alphabetical order, then cities in Europe and so on.

A girl at Sea
Orange is the Colour of the Crossing

A Typical Day of our Atlantic Crossing

08:00 Awake

08:15 Coffee

08:30 Take first sight of the day

08:50 On Deck for watch handover

09:00 Watch Starts

09:00- 12:00 Sight taking, watchkeeping, singing Beyoncé's new album.

Noon- Hand over to the next watch leader completed, and fill in the Log book.

12:15- FOOD!

13:00- calculations of sights

15:00- Afternoon sight

15;30- More calculations.

16:00- adding to and developing sight portfolio

17:00- A Wee pre-dinner laydown

18:00 -Feeding time at the Zoo, see the crewmember you aren't on watch with.

19:00-20:30 After dinner, cuppa tea and chill-out time.

20:30- Get layered up for my watch, and have a look at the weather for my watch.

20:50- On deck for Handover.

21:00- 00:00- righting the wrongs in the world, watching and watching. Topping up the day tank, singing Beyoncé's new album.

People often ask

Do you not get scared at sea?

No, to me it's one of the safest and most peaceful places on this earth, as long as you respect the water. Fear is different for every person, what one person finds fearful another may find excilorating. For me being at sea in a six meter swell with fifty knots form the stern is another day at the office, to another its their worst nightmare.

Isn't it lonely?

Sometimes yes, but it's good to be at one with one's thoughts, you're never really alone with 9 other crew around. Sometimes it can be hard to find a space onboard to have some headspace and quiet. Working full time on a yacht means you often spend more time with your crew than your family. It's the nature of the job, its really important to find a crew where you fit in with likeminded individuals. I've been lucky over the years to find great boats with more of a family vibe and my current yacht is the same. We support eachother at work, build each other up, learn from eachother, laugh together and are shoulders to cry on when needed. When you go to sea with the people who truely know you and support you its the opposite of lonely.

"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever." Jacques Cousteau

Thanks for reading this week's edition of Shaped by the Sea for regular updates on my life at sea follow us on Instagram @shapedbythesea_ and check out our facebook Page, ShapedbytheSea. I can only say I'm overwhelmed by the readership and feedback I've received over the last 10 months. I will keep writing and telling stories of beautiful adventures on the Sea.

As always keep smiling, laughing and loving the sea Xo


bottom of page