Transatlantic thoughts

Screen Shot 2021 05 26 At 43334 PmBelow is a recent email from Max Fletcher and Lynnie Bruce, CCA voyagers who sail aboard Juanona, a Nordic 40. Together they have sailed from Maine to the Azores, the UK and northern Europe. For the past two years they have been exploring Scandinavia aboard Juanona. This message is an insight into their thought process as a they prepared to cross the Atlantic. Their blog is at juanona.blogspot.com.

Sailing is an activity that has always required flexibility and adaptability, and that is especially true during a global pandemic. Juanona was stuck in Galicia, Spain, and it wasn’t until late March that Lynnie and I got vaccinated and saw an opening to ask permission to enter Spain (one of the most restrictive countries in Europe with regard to Covid travel). Our Dutch residency proved instrumental in allowing us to return to the boat May 1 and within a week or so we had her back in good shape.

Our nephew Rudy, who had been planning to make the crossing with us in May 2020, has patiently bided the intervening months while keeping the voyage a priority if and when it materialized. Lynnie recently wrote a blog about the efforts put in by many folks to get permission for a vaccinated Rudy to be allowed into Spain. He never did receive formal prior approval, but his USCG Seafarers credential helped him get through immigration screenings in Boston, JFK and Madrid airports (Seafarers is one of the few exceptions to the travel restrictions). Talk about the need to be flexible and adaptable – not knowing until the final clearance in Madrid how he would be spending the next month of his life!

Our final note about being flexible entails our intended route itself. Having followed the May-June weather pattern for the North Atlantic for the past three years, we have been assuming we would sail southwest down to the Trade Winds, which typically gravitate north as spring turns to summer, and cross the Atlantic at something like 26-28 degrees North latitude before curving north to Maine. Possible bail out stops could be the Canary Islands, Antigua, or Bermuda.

We received a preliminary weather outlook from our professional weather router based in Camden, Maine, yesterday (Monday), and reiterated today, that we may have an unusual opportunity to start our crossing by sailing first towards the Azores – far further north than anticipated, and consequently far fewer miles to sail than the southerly route (where the earth is much “fatter”). We will hopefully have moderate northerly winds much of the first week. The potential downside is running into the middle of High pressure and much lighter winds, but we could then head south to the Trades or else wait in the Azores for a better pattern to emerge. This new plan also helps avoid some potentially rougher weather further south.

In any event, we have adapted our plans and plan to head out first thing Thursday morning on a more westerly (not southwesterly) route. We will attempt to send occasional updates on our progress and thank you for your interest.

Categories: Ocean Voyaging