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Leg 7, 2017, Update 1

November 9, 2017, 1530 hrs, 26.18 N, 021.46 W, Log: 205,416 miles
Baro: 1015.1, Cabin Temp: 80 F, Cockpit: 79 F, Sea Water: 75.4 F
Broad reaching at 7.5 kts in 20-24 kt NE winds with one reef in main and genoa and whisker pole

Atlantic Crossing - The BIG one!

The day after we completed Leg 6 in mid-September we had Mahina Tiare hauled out for seven weeks of dry storage at Marina Lanzarote while we flew home to San Juan Island, Washington State to prepare for a seminar series with Nigel Calder at the Annapolis Boat Show. The seminars sold out and at the show we were able to check out several cool new products and go aboard some revolutionary new cruising sailboats. One of my personal favorite products at the show was, a line of sturdy inflatable SUP's including a double, all of which had optional kayak seats. Somehow I managed to stuff the SUP and paddle into a wheelie bag and Amanda and I managed to hand carry the pump and kayak paddle onto each of our four flights without a word from the airlines. Expedition member Mike bought the seats and now I can't wait for our crew to try it out - who knows - maybe mid-ocean if we get becalmed!

Just before we'd arrived back at the boatyard the excellent worker of Marina Lanzarote thoroughly sanded and applied two coats of Micron 66/77, our all-time favorite antifouling. The yard charged only three hours for entirely sanding the bottom, one hour for cleaning and prepping, and one hour for two coats of bottom paint, all at €25 (US$30) per hour, the most reasonable rate we're ever heard of for quality work!

We love the Canary Island and Marina Lanzarote, but our Leg 7 Crew has arrived, and it's time to set sail for Antigua!

With just under one week from the time we landed in Lanzarote until our Leg 7 Atlantic Crossing crew joined us Amanda and I managed to just about get all our chores completed, plus squeeze in time for runs along waterfront and to and explore Arrecife's old town (next to the marina). We'd hired a car to speed up the provisioning and an excellent, nearly-new Mecadona supermarket five minutes from the marina was a bonus: absolutely the highest quality and lowest priced fruit, vegies and baked goods anywhere in Europe so we should be eating well on this passage. For an extra treat we took a morning drive one morning to explore a nearby beach town. This, our third visit to Lanzarote reconfirmed that we how very helpful and friendly we've found the people plus how fascinating this island group is. One of these times, we'll have to make it a goal to sail to and explore each of these islands!

Our passage plan had been to swing by Gran Canaria Island to say hello/goodbye to several friends and previous expedition members who were moored in Las Palmas, readying to cross the Atlantic with the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers). But, Commanders Weather suggested the quicker we got west of the Canary Islands, the longer we would carry the trade winds before they died out over a fairly large area. After crew briefing Sunday afternoon, we asked them to join at 11am on Monday ready for putting to sea at noon. By Monday evening we'd enjoyed sailing the length of Lanzarote, and Tuesday we passed by Gran Canaria. Wednesday held fresh winds gusting to 34 kts and we passed the furthest west Canary Islands with our new crew honing their steering skills and receiving excellent reefing practice, all the way down to three reefs, as Mahina Tiare surged along like a racehorse!

We were surprised to be able to find mobile phone reception as far as 14 miles offshore allowing Amanda to upload a couple of images to our new Instagram and Facebook pages,

After intermittent motoring in 10' confused beam seas and swells, this afternoon the trades returned and we got the whole gang on deck to rig the whisker pole for the first time and practice tucking in reefs.

With three weeks for classes instead of our more normal two, we've been able to spend more time on marine weather yesterday and today, and this crew is a keen lot for gaining knowledge.

November 11, 2017, 1540 hrs, 25.22 N, 027.14 W, Log: 205,693 miles
Baro: 1015.8, Cabin Temp: 83 F, Cockpit: 88 F, Sea Water: 76.3 F
Broad reaching at 5-6 kts in 8-10 kt E winds UNDER CRUISING SPINNAKER!!!

Life couldn't be better! From the looks of the clouds and wind direction, we're in the NE trade winds and making great miles, even though the wind has gone lighter.

Yesterday our observant crew noticed that the foot seam on the genoa had opened up probably due to the rolling and banging caused by the sea conditions. With calmer conditions this morning we all pitched in, cautiously lowering the genoa, feeding it through the overhead saloon hatch, then helping guide the sail as Amanda re-stitched the Top Gun UV cover where it had come adrift along the foot.

We've been carrying a new replacement genoa for a year, thinking that after 50,000 miles and five seasons this sail would wear out, but the fabric (Contender Dacron sailcloth) is still in great condition and the phenomenal original Top Gun UV cover has never needed to be re-stitched until now. Consider this a true, unsolicited and grateful shout-out to Carol Hasse and her crew at Port Townsend Sails. We're now hoping we can sail another 9,000 miles through Panama and across to Hawaii before retiring it.

The minute we had the repair completed and the genoa furled back on the foil we hoisted the cruising spinnaker and instantly enjoyed the new surge of speed upon raising the snuffer.

With weather class under control Amanda taught Lifesling and liferaft deployment this morning and I followed with explaining the inventory in our two Abandon Ship containers.

Afternoon sea and fresh water showers on the aft deck are always welcome and so far we've seen the lights of two ships on the horizon and yesterday watched first on AIS, then visually on the horizon, as a sailboat called ACA Solo Racer literally race across our bow at 12-15 kts in only 8 knots of wind. 

Even though we've not had super consistent trade winds and the sailing has been intermittent, we've managed noon-to-noon runs of 152, 151, 137, 156, 160 and 149 miles today.

Several years ago we started having a storyteller of the day. Tonight Ronan, our Irishman, was storyteller and he told the riveting and true story of Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen. In the late 1400's she ruled Ireland's rugged and wild west coast with her fierce fleet and stood up to and impressed Queen Elizabeth over land and sea matters.

November 13, 2017, 1100 hrs, 24.19 N, 031.54 W, Log: 205,931 miles
Baro: 1016.8, Cabin Temp: 80 F, Cockpit: 83 F, Sea Water: 77.9 F
Motorsailing at 6.4 kts (plus 0.8 kt favorable current boost) in 1.9 kts of wind

For the first time ever, we carried our cruising spinnaker all night and with a sky of stars, smooth seas and a trail of bioluminescence, it won't be an experience we'll forget. Sadly, the wind dropped to almost nothing so we totally topped up our main fuel tank with the jerry jugs carried in the lazarette and enjoyed our first mid-ocean swim stop in nearly two years. The seawater felt like a bath tub, but there wasn't anything needing scrubbing or sponging since MT's only been back in the water for two weeks.

We've seen a steady stream of ships, and at the moment we have three visible on AIS; a dredge headed to Madeira, a containership headed to Brazil and a tanker on her way to Gibraltar.

Here are Gil's insights on seamanship:
Seamanship included doing things the right way every time. We're learning not only the specifics of bluewater cruising, but the “whys” behind those specifics. That leads to both and extremely efficient and safe voyage gut also to the ability to handle the unexpected with confidence.

Weather Forecast


To: John and Amanda Neal and the crew on s/y "Mahina Tiare III"
From: Commanders' Weather Corp, tel 603-882-6789
Route: Lanzarote to Antigua
Mon morning, Nov 6 - I used 0900utc
1130utc Sunday, November 5, 2017

1) Weak low pressure will form along the western African coast near 25-27n Tue/Wed
a) this low will not organize into a tropical low. Its' main purpose is to just screw up the NE/ENE trade winds
b) the low will be near 26-27n/16-18w Wed morning, 26-28n/18-20w Thu morning and then move to the NW
c) if you are fast enough and depart early enough, you can stay ahead of/west of this low in some fairly strong NE/ENE winds. Essentially we sail along or N of Great Circle route until about 35-40w and then we start to work our way to the S and SW
d) unfortunately, you will get caught in the light winds regardless of the route you take
e) to add to this quandary, the US model has been forecasting this low to occur for the last 3 days and today it is not forecasting the low to occur. The European model on the other hand is still forecasting the low to occur and I am using that model output for the forecast below
2) Now for the routing - I hate to head away from the trade winds and then get caught in light winds and larger seas by heading W
a) I am not certain about the low, but I know there will be some trade winds near 15-20n, so I opted to route you to the S, towards some trade winds/any trade winds. If we left today instead of tomorrow, we would be sailing GC route and N of GC route, but since we are departing tomorrow, we will be heading for 22n/22 30w
3) Good NE trade winds for departure tomorrow morning and heading Porto Mogan
a) I have you reaching the Tenerrife Channel late Mon night - winds will be lighter NE along the shoreline, but not far offshore, winds will be much stronger and further left
b) the lefty and gusty winds will come into Porto Mogan during Tue afternoon
4) I have you departing at 1800utc Tue from Porto Mogan
a) winds will be NNE and quite strong coming out of the Tenerife Channel - I have you on starboard and 145 degrees off the wind. We will not be able to lay the waypoint, but we just do the best we can SAILING on starboard
5) As the low forms Tue/Wed and moves W, our winds will diminish and back
a) we will be headed and forced to sail more to the SW. As the actual wind speeds diminish, we can increase the apparent wind speed by sailing closer to the wind
b) finally Wed night and Thu, winds will be so light we will motoring, motor sailing direct for 22n/22 30w
6) The trade winds, when they reform, they will reform from east to west or actually east-southeast towards the west-northwest
7) Our winds will be very light on Fri, but Fri night/Sat, the NE trade winds will start to return
a) always more wind speed to the S over the weekend
b) once we reach the waypoint 22n/22 30w, I have us sailing direct for Antigua on starboard, but we could continue further S on port to get more wind speed, if you want

Wind forecasts
Wind directions are true, wind speed in kts, and time is UTC

Mon, Nov 6
0600: 010-040/12-22, lighter and left along the shoreline. Breeze increases and becomes NE not far offshore
0900: 020-050/16-22, on route to Porto Mogan
1200: 030-060/12-18, gusts 20-24
1800: 020-040/15-20, gusts 24
Partly cloudy, Small chance of a gusty shower or 2. N/NE seas up to 6-9 feet

Tue, Nov 7
00: 020-050/12-18, gusts 20-24
06: 010-050/12-22, winds lighter and further right along the western shoreline of Gran Canaria early Tue morning. Much stronger and more NNE not far offshore
12: 350-020/12-18, gusts 20-24, Porto Mogan
18: 330-010/14-20, gusts 22-28, departing Porto Mogan
Partly cloudy. N-NE seas mostly 4-7 feet, but higher down sea of the Tenerife Channel

Wed, Nov 8
00: 020-040/17-24, gusts 30, on starboard, sailing as deep as possible towards the WSW
06: 030-050/16-8
12: 010-330/ 6-12, near 26 35n/17 45w and the weak low will be near 26-27n/26-18w
18: 320-350/ 7-14
Partly cloudy, maybe a shower, but most showers will be N of the low. NNE, N, and NW seas 3-6 feet

Thu, Nov 9
00: 320-360/10-5, motoring towards 22n/22 30w
06: 300-340/ 4-8
12: 330-270/ 4-7, estimating you near 25 20n/20w
18: 270-330/ 4-8
Partly cloudy to fair with NW-N seas of 3-5 feet, mainly very long period swell

Fri, Nov 10
00: light/variable
06: light/variable
12: 130-090/ 4-8, near 23 25n/21 40w
18: 070-030/ 6-10
Partly cloudy with small NW, N, and NE seas

Sat, Nov 11
00: 040-060/ 8-14
12: 050-070/10-16, just W of the waypoint and on starboard
Partly cloudy Sat and Sun with slowly increasing NE seas

Sun, Nov 12
00: 040-060/12-17
12: 050-070/13-18, near 22n/26w

Best regards, Ken Campbell

Commanders' Weather Corporation
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Leg 7 Itinerary

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