I chatted with Mia and my Dad today on Skype, and they were just minutes from leaving the dock. It was just before noon here, so sometime mid-Afternoon in Las Palmas. Tim had bought the crew a membership at the little marina club there that had a swimming pool and good Internet, so I'd talked to Mia from there a few times sine they arrived on Thursday.
Their plan is to sail SSW to about 25ºN, 020ºW, angling a bit further south towards the Cape Verde islands before turning west. It's basically the traditional Trade Wind route ("sail south until the butter melts and turn right"), and it looks like they have a good forecast to start. Hopefully it will hold.
Their trip from the USA didn't get off to a particularly good start for them (or me). We drove to Newark airport on Wednesday afternoon (for a 7pm flight). They were bound for Dublin, where they'd go through customs and then hop a Ryanair flight to Las Palmas, the quickest and most economical way we could come up with to get them there.
The international terminal was jammed at Newark with everyone traveling home after the holidays (it was January 2), and we waited about an hour in the check-in line before they got their baggage through. It left just a few minutes to have a goodbye drink downstairs, and they were off (I got a call two hours later, when I walked in the door back home, that they'd turned back to the terminal after having taxied onto the runway. 'United: Unbelieveable!' was all Mia texted. We'd had an even worse experience trying to get from Sweden once on United, when they canceled our flight after we'd been waiting at the gate, only to have us fly out 30 hours later. They still owe us money for that. At any rate, they fixed whatever was wrong on the plane and were in the air only an hour and a half delayed. They had a five-hour layover in Dublin, so all was well in the end).
Not for me. I spent the two-hour ride home burping up that drink (and it was just juice!), which got worse as the evening wore on. I was in a real bad way in the middle of the night, literally sitting on the toilet with the trash can in front of me at about 3am, breakfast coming out both ends. It wasn't the drink. I think it was the red beet salad that Mia had made for Christmas, and which I had consumed as a snack over a week later (that morning). Apparently sour cream doesn't last that long. Or it might have been bad lettuce. Either way it was not pleasant.
I got a call the next afternoon from Mia's dad, telling me they'd gotten to Las Palmas okay (Mia's Swedish cell phone worked in Spanish Las Palmas, so she'd texted her family and they called me). I don't think they did much that evening besides acclimate ("It's cool at night, but nice in the daytime," Mia said of the climate there) and go out for dinner.
This is the same GRIB file that Kinship will receive onboard, via Iridium sat phone email. The little 'ticks' on each wind arrow indicate 10 knots of windspeed. For example, 2 'ticks' is 20 knots. 1 ½ 'ticks' is 15 knots. The wind arrow points in the direction that the wind is blowing towards. For most of their route to St. Martin, the wind is coming from the ENE (i.e. the arrow is facing the WSW - this is ideal). Kinship's position as of Jan 6 (today, when they left) is marked, as is their destination. In short, the forecast is perfect, and it looks like this for the next week.
Then they spent Friday and Saturday getting the boat ready and meeting the crew. Andrew (oddly enough), the 4th crew member is Irish, and "very mellow," according to Mia. "He has a yoga mat with him and is out on the beach right now doing some yoga," Mia told me on Skype yesterday. "And he has a guitar too. He's really mellow," she said again.
My Dad hoisted him up the rig for a look around and they fixed a few last-minute niggles on the boat (which Tim had done an extraordinary amount of work on since abandoning the ARC in November) and were ready to go by last night. One last morning checking emails and getting a full breakfast and lunch and they'd be off.
The plan, according to Mia, is to run 3 hour watches, with Andrew overlapping at first to get the hang of things (he's done some offshore sailing, I'm told, but less than Mia and my Dad). I'm sure after a night or two they'll be doing solo watches, which will give them a full 9 hours off, a rather luxurious schedule.
I never understood doing two-handed watches unless you're hand-steering and/or seriously racing. I love that time alone by myself - the only time you get on a small boat with strangers - and I like doing the work alone. Mia and I always stand watches alone, but always wake the other person when we have to go forward for something. But we still do that solo as well (for example, changing jibs on Arcturus, which still has hank-on headsails), with someone after (usually in their pajamas) to keep and eye out, unless it's really nasty, when we get fully geared up. It's just unnecessary energy wasted otherwise I think.
Anyway, they're off. I'll be posting regular updates (at the least their position when I get it via email, hopefully daily). And I'll try and post the weather, some words from them if I talk to them, and some words from me about what it's like here at home alone with the dogs (and the goat and the pigeon - so far, so good, though admittedly lonely - I'm sleeping with a t-shirt that Mia wore the last day she was here, that still smells like her. She, likewise, has one of mine).
I said before I wasn't jealous that I'm not along. Now that they're at sea, I realize I was fooling myself.