Sailing with Sissi ARC 2016

Most of yesterday was spent by telling stories about the handsome tuna we
caught. Among the crew there was a lot of speculation (none of which can
be repeated here) why the tuna took the bait exactly when Ilkka was
washing up in the ocean?!

Anyway, we got nice big tuna fillets from which we got enough sushi to
make everybody full well into the night.

Ilkka, Pete and Sami boiled fantastic sushi rice that was seasoned by
Pete’s magic hands with sauce made of white balsamic vinegar, sugar and
salt. The sauce wash also used to marinade fresh sliced ginger.

After the rice cooled down Pete made ”rice balls” of rice on which our
skipper cut thin slices of tuna. Some were topped with cucumber. When the
dish was ready we enjoyed the most fantastic tuna sushi straight from the
Atlantic ocean accompanied by wasabi and soy sauce.

For some reason Hannu found a nice cool bottle of white wine from the
freezer.

The happy meal wash enjoyed slowly with the dignity it deserve around the
table set at the cockpit. By the way the view from the restaurant was
fantastic and everybody agreed they had the best sushi ever. You may now
start salivating!

Rest of the day was great sailing with moderate winds. The biggest event
sailing-wise was when we lift up the gennager after the winds slowed down.

Just before the night shifts started Pete and Sami baked banana pancakes
with blueberry sauce.

Trusting the weather forecast we decided to keep the gennager up through
the night, but a backup plan was made in case of squalls. During the
evening a couple of ARC boats appeared on AIS. Before the morning we had
passed both of them.

When the sun started to go down two large cargo ships approached us. Their
course was crossing ours. We could see from AIS that they were going to
pass us 100m from starboard side which is far too close with this type of
vessels. Our skipper Hannu picked up the VHF radio contacted the ship and
asked about their plans for a safe passing. The answer was clear, they
were not going to change their course or speed. There was nothing else to
do but the change our course to avoid possible collision. We turned our
boat 20 degrees to the right. So the conclusion seems to be that the
smaller boat loses..

The night was uneventful and the whole crew, except for the night watch of
course, got a good nights sleep.

The morning started with clouds on the sky. After the wind turned a bit
more to ENE. We also changed our course 30 degrees to the right and are
currently almost on a perfect course to our final destination.

Everything is fine on Sissi, but the same cannot be said about all ARC
boats. According to the yesterday’s report from ARC four more boats have
gotten into trouble. The most serious accident was a broken hand. Other
reported boats suffered different kinds of technical problems. Some need
to go to Cape Verde to refuel.

We have only used the propulsion for 3.5 hours. Generator has been used to
recharge the batteries due to the fact that the freezers use a lot of
energy with these temperatures.

Currently we have 2100 miles to go, so we keep on sailing!

Best regards from the Sissi crew


28.11.2016

Second week at sea has begun…

The winds this year are very peculiar. Trade winds are nowhere to be
found. In hope of them we are heading south all the way to 14N latitude.
We still have 24 hours to go. Now we are heading to approx. 200* and are
circling around a calm area on our route. The weather forecast we just
received seems to promise good winds at 14N latitude at least until
the first of December. After we reach the 14N we can finally start heading
straight to St. Lucia. The length of our route will be over 3000 miles.

We had a great gennager sailing yesterday until the winds started to
weaken in the evening. From there we barely moved forward with 2-3 kn. We
tried to avoid using the engine as long as possible and we still have only
4 hours 15 minutes of propulsion time.

The rare sunset to the cloudless ocean was magnificent. Soon after that we
lost the wind completely and we had to start the engine because the swell
moved us unstabely. We only had to listen to the engine roaring for 45
minutes until we found wind and rolled out genoa and the main. Our speed
was steady five knots after that.

03.41 we reached 1000 miles! The direct distance to St. Lucia is 1937 nm.

This morning Sami yelled ”Whale on the left at 10 o’clock”. A group of
whales passed at approx. 100 meters away. They were recognized as Humpback
whales and Sei whales by our captain. They were almost as longs as our
boat.

Every now and then we see other boats on AIS which are heading directly to
the final destination. Presumably they are using engines to go straight
through the calm area we are trying to avoid. It’s fun to see how many
propulsion hours those guys report in their log books.

This morning’s ARC report again listed 14 more boats heading to Cape Verde
because of several diferent reasons. So far three boats have forfit their
rally and one boat has sunk.

Strange year… 10 percent of the boats have problems.

Again Sissi remains without problems.


29.11.2016

Ninth day at sea…

and we are nowhere near the midpoint of the rally. This year’s rally is
probably one of the most difficult ones in ARC history. Boats that chose
the northern route are moving fast but are facing lots of problems. On the
other hand boats on the southern route have been struggling with light
winds.

We have also been battling nearly nonexistent winds but have been
surprised to see how well Sissi moves in winds below 5 m/s. We are
beginning to wonder if the trade winds are just a myth like Loch Ness
monster.

Gasoline business in Cape Verde must be blooming right now. Again this
morning we found out from the ARC report that four more boats are heading
to Cape Verde to refuel. Also a crew member of one of the boats has
apparently had enough and is being dropped off there.

Yesterday really didn’t provide us much joy what comes to sailing. Luigi
and Mario to the rescue! The Koskimäki bros baked three magnificent
pizzas: ”Pizza di serrano”, ”Pizza di mahi mahi” and ”Pizza di
everything-that’s-about-to-go-bad-very-soon”. The last one was everyone’s
favorite.

We were hoping for even the slightest wind to pick up at sunset, but it
never did. Unfortunately we had to start the engine and listen to that
hideous noise almost all night. At one point we tried to lift up the sails
but it wind was just too light.

This morning Sami spotted huge Humpback whales again. Others thought the
whales were gone when Sakari spotted one of them diving and showing its
tail. Sakari said it was beautiful but who knows…

Soon after that we decided to stop the boat and go for a swim. We threw a
long rope into the sea with a balloon at the end (yes, we did tie the
other end to the boat). It was relatively safe to dive head first because
of the 4km of water underneath.

According to today’s weather forecast a large high pressure is finally
settling over the Canary Islands and the mythical trade winds should be
found 50 nm to the south of us. Two more days and we should have hefty
winds up to 20 kn.

By the way the temperature inside Sissi is reaching that of a sauna.

Sissi and its crew are still doing great!


30.11.2016

Ohoi!

One of the yesterday’s myths has been confirmed, the trade winds do exist!
During Hannu’s and Timo’s night watch between 02:00 and 05:00 the winds
started to pick up as we reached lat 14*,40´N lon 30*,00´W.

We rolled out the sails and were finally able to turn off the engine. Oh
sweet mother of silence! Just as we were lifting up the gennaker something
took the bait. We were hoping for the Loch Ness monster but it turned out
to be just another 8 kg tuna… We’ll take it. Ilkka wheeled it in and
Sakari cut out the fillets. The food in the freezer can wait yet again as
we’ll be eating fresh tuna for the next couple of days.

The most interesting event yesterday must have been when a group of storks
(?? the bird that delivers babies) started to circle around our boat
requesting permission to land on our deck. We cleared the deck and showed
them green light. They attempted to land several times but lost their
nerve every time. The sails and ropes must have been too scary. Between
landing attempts the birds dipped their landing gear in the ocean.
Question for the ornithologists out there: why did they do that?

During the day (yesterday) we lost the wind completely and had to start
the engine, again. Before we took down the gennaker it got caught in the
anchor which teared a metre wide hole in it. The sail was spread on the
saloon table for repair. The tear was first patched with a spinnaker
repair tape on both sides and then sown together by our skipper. Now it’s
as good as new and being used as we write this.

Again a couple of ARC boats appeared on AIS and Hannu had a chat with the
skipper of one of them. It was a Belgian Hallberg Rassy 40.

We are now heading straight towards Saint Lucia using the gennaker and the
main. Our current speed is 7 kn.

Sissi and its crew are doing great!


1.12.2016

First of December!

Yesterday we had an early christmas dinner in the form of Tu… wait
for it… na! For lunch we had Sakari’s mashed sweet potatoes and
thick tuna steaks. Dinner was a tuna burger with onions, lettuce and
aioli. No force feeding was necessary.

Rest of the day was spent enjoying glorious gennaker sailing,
napping, reading and simply enjoying the view. The sky was nearly
cloudless and temperature and humidity were tropical. Luckily we
were able to keep all the hatches open all night.

Today the deck was full of naked men as it was time for our first
fresh water shower. After eleven days of salting our skin it felt
really refreshing. Sakke took advantage of the available fresh water
and did some laundry.

After the breakfast it was gennaker time again. At noon we were
cruising along at 8 kn when the wind reached 10 m/s and it was time
to take down the gennaker to make sure we still have a gennaker
tomorrow. We are now heading directly to Saint Lucia with poled-out
genoa and main on the opposite side. Our speed is a nice 6.5 kn.

Sissi and its crew are doing great!


2.12.2016

Day 12 at sea…

Now Sissi is finally flying!

Our gennaker is cut in a way that it can also be used as a
spinnaker. We have taken advantage of that fact alot and have
been able to achieve good speeds in minimal winds. As you know
by now the winds have been really light and unstable but
yesterday that finally changed.

Just before midnight we got the first 10 m/s gusts and started
to haul down the gennaker. We ran into trouble because the gennaker sock
halyard was on the wrong side of the fore stay after a downwind turn
performed earlier. The rope friction in the strong wind was so powerful
that we were not able to haul down the sock even though ”Timo the
powerhouse” was pulling the ropes. We were finally able to get the sock
moving by loosening the gennaker halyard.

Our experienced crew is working well together by now and
everyone knows their job. For example while taking down the
gennaker one man sits in the front cabin ready to receive the
sail. Two men work on the front deck: the first one pulls down
the sock and the other one takes care of the leeches. One man
takes care of the halyard on the mast and two men handle the
winches on the back deck. The whole time one man sits
behind the wheel ready to act if someting unexpected is to
happen.

After hauling down the spinnaker we poled out the genoa and
continued at good speed. However, the wind started to shift
around again and our speed dropped to around three knots. Then
around 01:20 the wind shifted 45 degrees and started strenghten.
We performed a downwind turn and have been cruising directly
towards Saint lucia at 7.5-8.5 knots ever since.

The north equatorial current is helping us move forward at
around 0.5-0.8 knots. After a couple of days it should speed up
to 1-1.3 knots.

We caught our first flying fish as it ”flew” in the cockpit
during Pete’s and Sami’s watch.

According to the daily ARC weather report made by Chris Tibbs
the great winds should continue for at least four days. This is
what we have been waiting for the past 1300 miles.

Now we just sail and enjoy the infinity of the ocean.

Position at 12.00 o’clock

Lat. 13*58,4´N   Lon 35*02,5´W
course 277*, wind 8,5 m/s and speed 7,5 kn
Last 24 h 132,1 nm, LOG 1531,2 nm, 1505 nm To go


4.12.2016

The night of squalls…

A suspicious red blob appeared on the radar screen during Pete’s and
Sami’s watch last night. It passed us at the distance of a few miles but
more was coming. Soon the radar screen was full of them. When it became
clear that we were not going to be able to avoid them we reefed the sails
and remained alert in case something else needed to be done.

This time the wind speed only reached 16 m/s but water was pouring down
all night. Couple of the guys took advantage of the rain and took fresh
water shovers on the back deck.

The squalls had calmed down by breakfast time an we hauled out the sails
again. The wind altered between 11 and 16 m/s and the crew started a
steering competition against each other trying to hit the highest top
speed. Ilkka won with amazing 11.3 knots SOG with a little help from the
north equatorial current.

The crew has been amusing themselves by shooting a commercial video for
the ”Air kätser 6000” air conditioning system. The product itself is a
state-of-the-art cabin window air tunnel thingy cut professionally from a
5 liter water bottle and put together with tape and love (patent pending).
Pete is the director Tommi is the executive producer and the cast consist
of Tommi, Timo and Harri.

Yesterday we also had a TV theme song quiz. There were tvelve songs to be
recognized, and Sami won hands down with 10/12. The prize was an authentic
and relatively unmelted Snickers bar.

We are now blazing through the waves and according to the weather forecast
will continue to do so at least for the next four days.

Sissi and its crew are doing great!

Position at 12.00 o’clock

Lat. 14*34,6´N    Lon. 40*19,2´W
course 260*, wind 11,5 m/s and speed 8.2 kn
Last 24 h 156.8 nm, LOG 1688 nm, 1354 nm To go


5.12.2016

Day 15 at sea…

Watching out for squalls all night must have worn out the crew and not
much happened yesterday.

Well something happened: Pete went nuts with a razor and now we have a
genuine Gynther on board. Hanna must be bursting with joy in Tampere!

Yesterday was rainy and windy. Wind speed alternated between 11 and 16
m/s. According to yesterday’s ARC report we have risen in the ranking
list. In a single day we gained 7 places in our class and are now in ninth
place. Our overall place is 144 compared to 170 the day before. These
rankings don’t include penalties from propulsion hours (which we have only
19 h 45 min) or TCF multipliers (Sissi’s multiplier is pretty small).

Now we are in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and truly far away from
everything. Closest point on land is in French Guiana 800 nautical miles
away. Barbados is 950 miles away and Cape Verde is already 1000 miles
behind us.

Tomorrow we’ll celebrate the Finnish independence day. Our freshly
promoted staff seargeant (?? ylikersantti) Tommi Liimatainen will be in
charge of the formalities. Congratulations to Tommi for the promotion! We
start the day by raising the Finnish flag at 8:00 am.

ARC report informed us about yet another boat in trouble. The skipper of
the boat was transferred to a french military ship for medical reasons and
is heading to Martinique. Another boat has retired because of technical
reasons. The boat that lost its mast couple of days ago has received fuel
from other ARC boats and the next refuel is scheduled with a cargo ship
crossing by. People take care of each other in the ocean.

Sissi and its crew are doing great!

Position at 12.00 o’clock

Lat. 15*02,1´N    Lon. 43*02,5´W
course 290*, wind 8.0 m/s and speed 6.5 kn
Last 24 h 156.0 nm, LOG 1996 nm, 1039 nm to go


7.12.2016

Yesterday we celebrated the Finnish independence day. We started the day
by raising the Finnish flag. Tommi as a DJ we listened the Finlandia Hymn
by Sibelius.

The rest of the day we focused on our favourite activity – eating. Sami
and Pete made the breakfast and a glorious tapas selection for lunch. We
enjoyed the lunch with a bottle of red wine. As delicious as it was, it
was the dinner that stole the show! Tommi made us huge steaks with creamy
coca-cola sauce, sweet potato fries and some asparracus and green beans.
The dish was truly a piece of art and we wish you could see it! We had a
bottle of sparkling wine in the freezer for this occation as well! As the
sun started to disappear behind the horizon, we had some ”joulutorttu” as
a dessert. It’s a traditional finnish christmas pastry that Pete had made
earlier by his own little hands..

How about that you little canned tuna eating sailors out there?? This is
how it’s done, Bo-jaaah!

By the way, after the lunch We had planned to watch a classic finnish war
movie ”Tuntematon Sotilas”, but none of our four laptops on board would
co-operate. So, we didn’t. We took a nap instead.

The trade winds have remained strong, and we’ve been able to keep up a
good 7-8 kn speed. We ended up making an all time 24h record of 173,1 nm.

Early this morning the swell had grown significantly, and our skipper got
up to check the conditions. The wind was still good for gennaker sailing,
altough some gusts reached 9m/s. Sissi was sailing well, so we decided to
kee going with the gennaker and evaluate the conditions again in couple of
hours when the sun would rise.

Unfortunately we didn’t need to check again, because just a little later
we heard a loud noise from the bow, and soon after that Hannu yelling ”All
hands on the deck!” The Gennaker had torn apart. Lukily we had prepared
for this and everyone knew exactly what to do. We were able to get the
gennaker down before it even touched the ocean. well done, crew!

Now we sail with poled-out genoa and the main. The speed is still very
good, and the heading straight to St Lucia.

Later our skipper checked the broken sail, and looks like it can be
repaired.

Besides the gennaker Sissi and its crew are doing great!

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