The ARC 2012 Blog

27th November 2012 - Day 1
I will never lose my beginners mind again. Not on this trip. Not ever. I just got on deck, and it is the brightest, moonlit sky, the whitest teeth on the waves and the clearest view of Orion I've ever seen. It could be pushing ones luck to go for rediscovering such a night. But I will definitely have a go! Taking pictures would be waste of memorycard: instead think of an old movie, probably with Kirk Douglas in it. In a turtleneck sweater at the helm. That is where we are.

The ARC 2012 Crew

- Blog entry by Malene

28th November 2012 - Day 2
As the only Anglo-American on the boat, I am slowly coming to grips with the language barrier between my European shipmates and myself. Our delightful Danish girls are easy to understand, but it's tough understanding Lancastrian and southern English dialects - why can't they learn to speak American?!!! Everyone on board has a great sense of humor (or is that "humour"), well I hope they have after my comments above!! We continue to make solid progress towards St. Lucia with less than 2500 miles to go with good winds and mild temperatures. I am still waiting for those balmy sunny days that were mentioned in the cruise brochure! TTFN!

- Blog entry by Dr. Dave

29th November 2012 - Day 3
We are settling well into the watch system. Two on watch, with one person joining and one leaving each hour, working 2 hours on, 4 off, then 2 hours on and 6 off. Little sleep, then big sleep!

We are so glad the start was delayed. The few that set off (and several turned back) had 48 hours to windward. We were able to set off downwind, with 30kts+ of wind and they are only half a day ahead of us. We alternate between broad reach and poled out headsail with the wind further aft. At least 1 reef in the main and No3 jib since we started, although thankfully the wind has eased to 20-25kts. Blue sky and fair weather clouds, after the first day of squalls and rain, this is more like the picture in the brochure.

It has been interesting to have GRIB files via satcomms. We are juggling boat speed with VMG (ie speed towards destination St Lucia). What with watermaker for showers, a freezer, and a marinised PC with large screen display this is getting into technical yachting. But for the traditionalists we have already had the sextant out, with the plot suggesting the GPS has a little way to go before it gives an accurate position!

Skyelark is a delight to helm, with her long keel giving good directional stability. Although we have had the headsail twitch, and of course have a preventer on the main, no accidental gybes on this boat.

Must stop, chocolate topped banana cake calls. Wishing you all were here, love Gerard and all crew.

- Blog entry by Gerard

30th November 2012 - Day 4
We had an amazing night sail last night, for the first time it was actually dark since the full moon was hiding behind the squall clouds - we literally couldn't see the sails in front of us, helming was by instruments alone which is a very different experience.

Fishing on Day 4Morning broke with clearing skies and another beautiful day; with the sun shining and trade winds blowing at a steady 25-30 knots we are cruising along nicely with poled out headsail and a deep reefed main at a respectable 8-9 knots, the miles keep ticking by and we should pass 1/4 of the way in the next 24hrs - a bottle of Dr Dave's Cava is on ice! There is a general feeling that we are going too fast, it's not the exciting sailing that worries us, but the realisation that our adventure could be over too soon.

Life on-board is progressing well, we have mastered the watch system - no one is sea sick, and we are still gybe virgins. (which is an indication of our excellent helming abilities). Happy in our role as crew we are starting to look for ways to fill the day, and whilst some of us are watching the sea go by, sunbathing or reading, others are becoming more industrious.

Charlotte is head of Catering, and currently running the Skyelark cookery school, churning out 1 banana cake per day.

Stephen is our star pupil who has now added Banana Toblerone and Smartie cake to his repertoire.

Bula, a stow away 'sea teddy bear' is head of marine procurement having landed 2 dorados today, the first one is for dinner, and the second we sent back to the ocean to fight another day, and fatten up for next year. The standard of the meals onboard has been outstanding.

To say I'm enjoying this trip would be a big understatement! All the best from Skyelark!

- Blog entry by Phil

1st December 2012 - Day 5
A delicious evening meal was served on the 'poop' deck, the freshly caught dorado (Thanks Buller Bear!!! J) baked in lemon, garlic and onions served with new potatoes and the season's vegetables, and a glass of white wine.

Brisk winds overnight with the odd squall and gusts in the late 30 knots saw helmsman Steve touch 12.4 knots. Good helming today, Phil saw 12.8 knots so we are really flying.

The Crew on Day 5

Just after dawn there was a fabulous double rainbow (where there is one rainbow inside a second - there is a particular name for this phenomenon which we cant remember so someone Google it and let us know please?!). The rainbow was only just short of a full circle with the two ends just close to the bow. Unbelievable and unforgettable image. By the time we got the camera up to the bows if had diminished so sorry we can't share that moment.

The first day of Christmas was started today with our Danish advent calendar (Thanks Charlotte and Malene). It's not true that Phil and Steve ate all the decent chocolates out of the calendar overnight and filled the holes with sweets from the drawer!

Around lunch time we passed the 1/4 distance mark with only 2025 nm to go now! This was celebrated this evening with some 'bubbly' and the most delicious nibbles of fried rye bread, chorizo, olives and pesto - a true treat!

The 4.00 o'clock dolphin show was cancelled today due to lack of dolphins, we are going to give them a call to rearrange.

All the best from Skyelark.

- Blog entry by Bob

2nd December 2012 - Day 6
Drawing the parallels! Life at sea.

Well, for me and five of my fellow crew this is our first crossing of an ocean and by far the longest passage, ever. I thought it was time to draw some parallels with life ashore, now that I'm moderately qualified to make some comparison, here goes:

Food: After the fine restaurants of Las Palmas we now only eat from bowls in our laps, sometimes in the rain! Quality is good and tasty, everyone is actively encouraged to participate which I thought was nice until they started photographing everything I made, apparently to aid diagnosis!! Cooking is scarily dangerous and should be avoided at all costs when ashore, I think that's why they invented restaurants.

Sleeping: Ashore this is a very routine occurrence, conducted on an expansive comfortable surface, at sea, things are different. I have taken to sleeping on a shelf - when I have performed a very elaborate gymnastic mount, I am wedged in with a number of clothes, strings and cushions to prevent chaffing! (we have all learnt, chaffing is the enemy). Once in bed, hold on tight as you are subjected to a ride in a automatic washing machine! After a completely insufficient amount of time you are gently woken by a crew mate shining a torch in your face, shouting your name and generally encouraging you to replace them on deck as it's raining! At this point having dismantled your restraint a gymnastic dismount from the shelf is required, this is still being refined as I often fall when landing on a moving floor. To aid rehabilitation I am considering adding a shelf to my Christmas list so I can continue my sailing experiences through the dark January days back in the UK.

Entertainment: Ashore this is varied and expensive pastime, I have sought to replace this afloat by selling tickets to my daily dolphin shows, these have had mixed feedback, with anything from zero to many dolphins performing on a daily basis at 4pm. I think this is a sustainable business opportunity which I will continue to develop, sorry didn't mean to use that word, business. Wash my mouth out!

Leadership & management: In the interests of self preservation and staving off a mutiny I am going to save this one for a later blog!...

Skyelark's position vs. the rest of her class on Day 6

- Blog entry by Stephen

3rd December 2012 - Day 7
Just recovering from my third dousing in the last 24 hours when Bob is driving this cruise ship!! We have now spent the last few days in an interesting swell, it's not that it's rough but every so often a wave breaks just off our beam and 'plops' over the boat - it's a lottery where it goes but so far its mostly 'pooped' (technical term) the cockpit and once managed to create a waterfall cascade down the companionway stairs. This has created a no hatch open policy, which suits our Scandinavian crew. 30 mins in the sauna below, followed by a cold(ish) dousing on deck. Good job I don't have an aversion to salt.

We are now almost half way across the Atlantic and the good news is that the wine, cava and beer are holding out - we do need to finish it before we arrive in St Lucia because of customs restrictions and I will do my best to help out. Steve continues to amuse us with his dolphin demonstrations but they didn't turn up again today (by the way you should see his beard!!)

Malene and I were kept on out toes on our 2am watch by a large freighter passing about 2 miles in front of us, sightings of vessels are now becoming few and far between and it's hard to believe that there are over 250 other yachts in this part of the ocean. Skipper Dan is having fun trying to unblock the girls "heads" (for you non nautical types that's a nautical term for a loo, bathroom, bog etc), he claims it's going well but was last seen delving in the fridge for a cold beer - did I mention it's warm down below?

No fishing today until we get over our grief - my "money back guarantee" tuna lure that I bought in Las Palmas is now inside some huge fish together with all the fishing line! This truly was the one that got away!

- Blog entry by Dr. Dave

4th December 2012 - Day 8
The weather has calmed a little, particularly last night which for the first time was quiet and dry! So, with moral running high, the skipper decided we should go shopping.

Phil was dispatched to launch the appropriate lucky lure, Princess. They all have names and are dispatched with a lucky kiss from a crew member, not really my thing, although heartily embraced by Charlotte. After only a short while we caught a good sized king mackerel, quite impressive we thought and the victim was soon dispatched to the galley, suitably dealt with. Don't ask!

Skipper decided we should go again as the day was still young. Within minutes the rod was whirring again and Phil leapt to take control. It quickly became apparent that this was to be a slightly larger proposition. Eventually the beast was drawn closer to the boat, to say it was impressive was perhaps an understatement, the thing was bloody huge!

Dorado catch on Day 8

Dan became excited and decided the fish was perhaps more interesting than the race, what was going on? With the boat halted the decision was taken to try and land the beast. As was illustrated on our earlier landing the Vikings (Danish girls) ably assisted Dan and Phil with the landing. Us more squeamish members of the crew watched in admiration, (I think that's the right word) as the huge white marlin, over 7 feet from top to tail, was dealt with on deck. The girls processed the fish with alarming efficiency; I will be sleeping with one eye open tonight.

The amount of meat this thing produced was incredible, Dan has turned the galley into a fish processing facility working flat out for nearly two hours! Rather than a sleek pleasure yacht we have taken on the appearance of a fishing trawler! I was surprised to see Dan with a bar coding machine and pricing gun, apparently getting ready for our arrival in Saint Lucia.

All this activity has slightly shadowed lunch for which Phil had made the most incredible fresh bread rolls, served as hot dogs they were delicious. Menu has been revised for the remainder of the week to fish. The balance has been frozen pending Dan's fish stall Saint Lucia.

- Blog entry by Stephen

5th December 2012 - Day 9
In the early hours we passed the halfway mark on the great circle route. In terms of the 1330 nautical mile midway point to destination St Lucia, just over 7 knots achieved on average. Given actual miles sailed of 1587, speed through the water has averaged 8.3kts. We are second in class, and in the top third of the fleet including the race boys.

We have just set full main and cutter rig, all plain sail for the first time since we set off, and the first time we have seen true wind under 20kts - still a respectable force 5. The first week saw average F6-7, 25-30kts wind and we had several spells of 30-35kts, F8. 2 reefs in the main by day, and 3 at night. Whilst not uncomfortable, we all welcome the smoother seas and the ability to move about with just a steadying hand instead of having to lurch around with a vice-like grip on something solid.

We hear on the SSB net of steering gear failures, broken goosenecks and ripped sails. Skyelark has done us proud and we have come unscathed through a week of heavy weather. A credit to her designer, and of course the careful ownership of Dan (and Em - who is some way behind in Great Escape)

Quote of the trip to date goes to one who shall remain nameless... "I have been watching my finger nails grow and they seem to be growing faster at sea than on land": clearly one underwhelmed by the power of the ocean and the majesty of the star filled heavens above that leave the rest of us in awe.

Our top recorded surf was 12.8knots. The helm goes light, the wash roars and 20T of boat surges forward... down the path of the moon light, or into the pitch black with no horizon and the bow hardly visible. With the wind far more southerly than usual for the time of year, and hence more of a broad reach than run, we have had more than our fair share of drenchings from spray and waves into the cockpit.

As we continue to astronavigate, we note the manufacturers have been fine tuning the satellite signal and the satellites' estimate of our position daily improves. On the technology side, the GRIB files have been fascinating. Not so good on actuals, but good for trends... we are sailing south to avoid frontal rain and a low with perhaps no wind. We hope to keep the wind on the bottom edge, whilst the boat ahead in class is going for the straight through the middle option. She is the beautiful classic yacht Peter von Seestermuhe.

The duty fishing and catering team have excelled, despite the weather. Lightly seared dorado served in an orange jus on a bed of fridge-chilled crisp salad. A glass of Chablis from the cellar (bilge), we fancy the '06 vintage today. Fresh baked rolls and butter. We have enough flour for alternate day baking. Pity about having to sit lashed to the mast, dining with a spoon from a plastic dogbowl!

The second stage is likely to see reduced winds, more heat and the prospect of flying the coloured sails to match the daily more dramatic sunsets. Sailing does not get much better than this. Best wishes to all from today's author Gerard and the rest of the Skyelark crew.

- Blog entry by Gerard

6th December 2012 - Day 10
Last night was particularly dark! Might sound silly back home but you have to be here to experience the difference between complete and utter darkness and a moonlit sky, the contrast is incredible. As we continue our push west the phosphorescence in the sea is growing, it looks like someone is sprinkling fairy dust behind the boat, incredible!

As dawn approached, we entered an area of squalls! Whilst we have seen some on the way, these were different and much more aggressive. Winds gusting to 40 knots and torrential rain, generally from the wrong direction (this wasn't in the brochure) all to a back drop of prolonged lightning. Bob was in his element!

By mid morning the entire crew were completely drenched, I mean completely. Dan's shorts and shirt became transparent, cheered the girls up, guys weren't too impressed when we realised that after his 3rd consecutive soaking he had left his pants off! Worse was to come, the wind died! For the first time we had to put the motor on! Not only were we being showered, albeit in fresh water which made a change, but we had to put up with the noise!

A very damp crew!

This was just like UK boating, no visibility, grey skies, grey seas and miserable! Phil cheered us all up with a delightful vegetable soup for lunch, just like you would enjoy on the north sea, in December! Gerard likened conditions to his new mariners meteorology read, Fifty shades of grey! That raised a few eyebrows amongst the crew.

The fisherboys, as they have become known, (Dan & Phil) decided it was time to deploy the fishing gear. Gerard and I tutted our disapproval, honestly guys, you cannot shut the freezer for bl**dy fish! Well within 10 minutes they hooked another dorado! Now the fruit supplies are depleting, they have commandeered the fruit storage box as a murder chamber cum killing box! At least we don't have to watch! All agreed that was enough and would make a great lunch tomorrow!

The boys, so impressed with their new chamber decided to have another go with the rod. 10 minutes later another bl**dy dorado! Biggest yet! We have confiscated the rod!

Charlotte the shy member of the crew has become increasingly indifferent about her washing up duties! As the sun came out at last I seized my opportunity and managed to trade my cooking duties with her washing up, a great trade I think. So all you back home can rest assured, I am not coming home the next Gordon Ramsey!

We plod on, crawling towards the 1000 miles to go point and await the return of favourable winds.

- Blog entry by Stephen

7th December 2012 - Day 11
After being completely 'splooshed' yesterday we are slowly drying out. Drying out is really over selling it - clothes hung in the sun and breeze all day are still really only 'less damp' and are a little bit sticky to be honest. Apparently it's the salt but it does make for uncomfortable pants!

We passed the '1000 miles to go' mark during the early hours of this morning so we raided the fridge for bacon and had club sandwiches for breakfast soon after sunrise.

Drying out!

Some of the crew are struggling with yesterday's time zone change and getting up for their watch (a nautical shift) an hour early??? This is a really stupid thing to do in the early hours of the morning when you could still be sleeping - Dave!

Gerard and Bob have been playing with the sextant which is a device a bit like a protractor fitted with some little mirrors and a telescope. You use this to measure the angle of the sun above the horizon. Used in conjunction with a highly accurate watch or clock (pendulums don't work very well on rocking boats) and with some truly mind boggling small font mathematical tables you can work exactly where you are on the earth's surface. Of course it is not as accurate as the GPS but good enough not to bump into America by mistake and we should be able to find the pub in St Lucia by it!

The guys prepare the most delicious food (Phil - fresh bread, Charlotte - stewed apple pastries, Dan - lamb tagine, Maline - exquisite dorado in balsamic glaze and orange sauce) from the modest kitchen (galley) of the yacht. Quite unbelievable in the conditions. The cooker swings on a 'gimbal' (a pivot) so that it stays level when the yacht leans over in the wind. However, cooking and washing up at 30 degrees with everything bouncing up and down does lead to some interesting moments as you can imagine!

All good here - hope you all doing great in the big wide world out there. We are just starting to talk about 'getting there'!

8th December 2012 - Day 12
"Dear Father and Mother. I write You to tell You I am doing well. My duties on this fine fishing vessel have shown to be in the filleting compartments on the port side. The working conditions are excellent as I have not yet cut myself. The boat often rolls back and forth - not too much of course - which makes it necessary for me to hold the fish with one foot as I fillet and skin the fish. I did cut my finger though, but given the fact that that must have been my own fault and not caused by any helming not being carried out correctly, I found no reason to raise this to the Skipper. The helmsmen, Bob, Dave, Gerard and Phil do all a very fine job, so I just need to accustom myself to the new conditions. I do now realize how spoiled I have been, working at an office desk.

I am being given a wonderful, soft bed in the engine room. It does some nights occur to me that this was not the privilege it initially occurred to be, as I do need to stem my feet to the corners of the bed to avoid falling on the floor. But since we changed tack a few days ago, it is much easier to stay in bed.

As an employee benefit we are all called on deck at 4 p.m. every day for the Dolphin Show. We have a very talented event manager, Mr. Stephen, onboard, and he has shown to be a one of a kind talent spotter. I am still amazed how he got hold of the Fabulous Invisible Dolphins. A school of 8 dolphins, doing tricks which no man has ever seen before! And possibly ever will, as Mr. Stephen is not done doing the negotiations with the Fabulous Invisible Dolphins. They are far too demanding, he says, to make a break in the dolphin show business. And he knows, Mr. Stephen does!

I am, however, somewhat worried, dear Father and Mother. My concern is about my employment here on this fine, fine fishing vessel. We have not had any luck in fishing for two days now. We are, of course, still trying. Today we put on a new lure. It was blue and sparkly. Skipper will be satisfied with us only when we get a tuna, he says. He is strict, but very fair. There are plenty of tuna in the sea, so the missing tuna must be due to our incompetence, I realize. If we do not have any luck, I may be necessitated to apply for a new position on the boat. The position as the galley-wench is taken though, by the very talented Miss Charlotte. Her merits are indisputable. Could I only have half of the compliments for my filleting skills as she gets for her cooking skills, I would be more than happy. Fortunately Mr Stephen is also my language coach, so I may be able to get a real job within a few months.

I do need to adjust my behavior in order not to be taken off helm duty, which I do enjoy much. Last night I called Skipper on deck for no reason whatsoever, other than me being a scared helm. We were broad-reaching in 25 knots of wind when suddenly the rudder seemed to be stuck. As I am seemingly accustomed with the boat I normally sail to be actually broken, I forgot to take into consideration that I was now on the Skyelark of London. The rudder was not broken. It was just on autopilot. Not my doing though, which may have caused my confusion. Therefore, when the headsail tore the halyard and started coming down by itself later that night - also on my watch - I therefore decided to check the conditions before I woke up Skipper. This time I did not shout, but whispered gently, whether it by any, though remotely likely, chance could be that the halyard had come loose by itself? Fortunately for me it had, and the boys were quickly on deck to secure the sail before it fell overboard. Afterwards we had the rest of Phils excellent chocolate cake and tea.

I have learned that the answer to all trouble and distress is a cup of tea.

Kind regards, Malene"

Malene at the helm

9th December 2012 - Day 13
After having achieved several runs in the high 190s and many a near miss, we celebrating having just done 200 miles noon to noon, a cold beer on deck was just the reward we needed, and if we continue like this we will set a new transatlantic record for Skyelark.

Sunrise on Skyelark

As we approach 500 miles to go, it amazingly feels like we are nearly there! Despite it being just under a Fastnet/ Sydney Hobart race, or circumnavigation of Ireland! In Atlantic terms were getting close to Rodney Bay, we have all started to think of our reasoned or reflex actions when we get there. I interviewed my crewmates to get their opinions:

Charlotte - Go for a run, shower and put on my red trousers (a Danish nautical tradition to signify that you have sailed the Atlantic)

Malene - Beyond a slow run and a shower, hasn't decided yet

Bob - Drink some Rum Punch, shave and sleep

Phil - Phone kids, drink rum and a pint of Guinness, find a beach hut to spend next week in.

Gerard - Thank Dan for his outstanding seamanship and leadership (sentiments I am sure we all endorse), have a large salad and some pineapple. If I know Gerard he will probably also take a sextant reading to ensure that we really are in Rodney Bay!

Steve - Phone home to check on the family after having first done a cartwheel on the pontoon. Find a nice hostelry.

Dan - Has worked us hard on the pretence of strong class performance - perhaps the truth is a desire to gain a lead on his good lady wife. This is partly manly pride (Em beat him last year), but mostly so he can have a day in the bar before he is dragged out and set to work!

As for myself, I will phone home if my SIM card that allegedly works in 240 countries, functions in St Lucia. Hope to get a good WiFi connection and might even Skype somebody just for the heck of it.

Actually I think all of the above is poppycock and we will all run to the nearest bar and get wasted!!!

Collectively we want to get Dan some gas lighters for the Galley and a score of tea towels (we currently run 2 at new ones a day)! Also after having all enlarged out arm muscles through pumping the Heads for the last 3 weeks, we are going to find a loo and flush it just for the hell of it.

- Blog entry by Dr. Dave

10th December 2012 - Day 14
After a two weeks visit on the good ship Skyelark of London, I have found some interesting differences between the Danish and the English. One should think that Malene and I would be using the most water in order to keep ourselves clean and ladylike, however it seems that the Englishman has much higher standards than a simple girl from Copenhagen. I find it more than enough to let myself in to a little room where the chances of my collection of bruises extents massively (as the boat throws me around), but these gentlemen seem to go the extra mile in order to look good at any time - always fresh of face, oiled, moisturised and pampered. But the gentleman conveniently disappears whenever the ever so eager fishermen trawl in one fish after another, because apparently they don't do dirty stuff such as killing a fish.

Tea time is something else I have come to learn. I have discovered that you can get many points just by serving the good Englishman a cup of tea with milk in it. They have teatime every time something needs to be decided or to celebrate when something has been achieved, I really haven't quite grasped what the criteria for teatime is, it seems like all moments are teatime moments. What I don't understand is how people can keep drinking tea when it is more than 30 degrees. It's like the world stops and nothing can be done before the tea is gone.

Malene and I have tried to ensure some Danish culture on board the ship, today we introduced the Christmas star, a little star you have to fold out of shiny paper. It seems that this was the end of the English gentleman. It started promising and everybody was politely trying to get a long with the little star, but after five minutes it was enough. I have also tried getting half an hour of Christmas music everyday but for some reason we suddenly need silence aboard whenever I try to put on my (really good) Christmas carols. It seems like the famous gentleman doesn't like Christmas.

And then the bacon. what is it with the English and their bacon?? Sure I like bacon (we invented the bacon) and every once in while bacon can be on my menu at home. But during the last two weeks I have eaten more bacon and eggs than I do in three months at home, it seems if it not cooked, its not breakfast.

All in all living with the Englishmen is interesting and enjoyable, and one thing I have particularly come to enjoy is the famous five o'clocker, now here is something a girl can understand, get dressed up and have a glass of chilled Cava! And I have understood that this cannot be substituted with tea (so much for trying to understand teatime).

We are heading towards 300 miles to go and my case study of the English Gentleman is sadly drawing towards the end but it has been very interesting to get reacquainted with the English culture. (oh and sail the Atlantic)!

Sextant Practise

- Blog entry by Charlotte

11th December 2012 - Day 15
We learn about 30 boats have finished and another 30 or so, us amongst them, are within 200 miles. With 2700nm behind us, we have just 180 or so to run. Our thoughts of spinnakers were dashed by continuing strong winds, 20-28 knots (F6) but the compensation has been some wonderfully fast sailing. Averaging 8kts, we have several times made the 200nm per day run. The night time squalls to 35kts+ bring torrential rain, but at other times we have had stunningly clear skies - although the moon has now left us.

Those behind us, even just 40 miles away, have had heavy daytime rain, but we have generally missed that weather, although 12 hours beating to windward into driving rain was an unexpected "pleasure". Overall, however, all credit to skipper Dan for his skilled reading of the GRIB files and subsequent weather routing.

Standfast the skipper, we have all load tested the main preventer (accidental gybes) but so well is the boat behaved that it has been only a really very infrequent event. Having said that, the ship lets us know who is really in charge by arranging not infrequent cockpits full of water from breaking seas on the quarter, or even abeam. Getting wet is gradually ceasing to amuse, certainly at 03:00 in the morning. We remain mainly under 2 reefs in the main, 3 at night, and part furled no2 jib, although this morning finally got down to just a single reef in the main.

Some may recall pi x radius squared as the area of a circle. Based on a visual horizon of say 6nm, our own little world has been about 100 square miles. How rude of another vessel to intrude! - the first sail we have seen for several days. We start taking bearings, are they constant or clearing? Soon we will have to thinking again of close proximity coastal sailing.

There is a queue at the charging bay to charge mobile phones - who will be first to get a signal? Maybe the new definition of coastal sailing should be "within mobile phone range". Should we start to prepare fenders and warps, maybe at 50nm or should we risk leaving it to 25!

Quote of the day concerns Phil's hand made on board oven hot fresh rolls. Q: will this bread keep until tomorrow. A: Stupid boy. (As if anyone would leave it to see.) Fresh food is dwindling, but we have enough, and plenty of oranges - not least because the large number of huge yellow grapefruits hand picked by your correspondent have embarrassingly changed colour and proved to be yet more oranges. After a whole week without bananas withdrawal symptoms are setting in, and somehow even oranges have their limit of appeal but it is amongst your duty on the helm to eat yet another!

We should arrive tomorrow, Wednesday, forenoon or thereabouts, with land being sighted during the morning watch, DV (Deo Volente, God willing). This will have been a fast passage at just over 15 noon to noon runs. Start pouring those rum punches.

- Blog entry by Stephen

12th December 2012 - Day 16
Anticipation! The casual glance to see if land is in sight is building towards some who have definitely seen it (or seen something!) to staring longingly into the mist where St Lucia ought to be.

Since the 1000 miles to go milestone we have started to talk about 'getting there'. At 750 miles, still further to go than any single leg passage I have made, we thought we were getting there. And with 27 miles to go, 1% of the journey we still have about 4 hours sailing still to do.

On one the days before we left Gran Canaria we took a drive the rugged and stunningly beautiful mountains of Gran Canaria. I cant tell you now if that was a few days ago or many months. Although our lives are strictly governed here by the hourly shift pattern, 2 hours on, 4 off, 2 on, 6 off, 'time' has been replaced by 'space' and is a wonderful contrast to the 'always on' technology enabled lives that most of us lead. Space to watch the clouds form and go, to watch the flying fish dart from path of the yacht a glide across the wave faces, space to wonder about the early mariners who made this passage in little a primitive ships not really knowing where they were and where they were going, and to gaze into the night sky at innumerable brilliant stars. You get the idea right?!!!

I've come to enjoy of the idiosynchrosis of life on board:- Olive oil for the loo to stop it squeaking in the night, utensils and food flying everywhere in the galley as the yacht crashes and rolls through 4 metre waves, the immediate full co-operation of all the crew members to pass a hot drink up the companion way and to guys on deck, bouncing around on the loo as if it was an over inflated (big orange) space hopper, people on the down wind 'naughty step' having a cheeky cigarette, using the little funnel to fill up the small water bottles from the big ones which are then used as bins for the non-degradable waste. These are a few glimpses of life in our 51 ft universe.

Soon to start the preparations for arrival we are all feeling pretty good and looking forward to some local hospitality (that's code for rum btw!)

Arrival in Rodney Bay

Parting Thoughts
Gerard: Firstly, a huge thank you to Skyelark and Dan. The yachting world on line ARC briefing says it it was not just us that found the heavy cross seas difficult on the helm. Finally, at the ARC welcome parties it's everyone talking about their tales of derring do, and not listening to anyone elses! What a great time. ARC world next?


Stephen: Well our journey has come to an end on the beautiful island of St Lucia. To say we have had an experience of a lifetime seems something of understatement! This trip has given me a real sense of achievement, new friends new experiences, absolutely world class. To anyone out there thinking of doing this, you will not find better. Thanks Skyelark, Thanks Dan.


Malene: This has probably been the best Christmas I've ever had! No shopping, little amount of christmassy sweets, not too many carols (well, but a few and especially "do you know its Christmas" following the sight of land.), the bluest of the bluest waters ever seen...

Having spent the last more than two weeks with the best crew: Gerard, sharing his enthusiasm on various topics with us - you have a good life; Phil sharing his high spirits with us - you give a lot of yourself; Dave, sharing his good American mood with us - always keeping up and enjoying the journey; Bob sharing his inspiring views on life lived and life experienced with us - being and doing; Than you all for being here; and my now two favorite skippers: Charlotte, my favorite skipper the coolest and most caring woman I know on now one of the seven seas and back home; and Dan - my new favorite skipper of the ocean, competent, caring and joyful and in addition leading us past squalls and windholes, making the Skyelark the safest haven on the Atlantic. Dan - you are an amazing skipper!

The last two weeks was the adventure of a lifetime - but definitely not the last of it's kind - the arrival in St. Lucia was part of the prize.. I do realize that this is only the beginning of a new era (yeah - that's the word ;-)) of the Atlantic Adventure. Here - in St. Lucia.

The best question was: "What did you learn?" The answer: "You need to do this".


Bob: It has been a fantastic adventure and an experience. Skyelark is a joy to sail, really great food and many great memories, not least, surfing down massive waves in the pitch dark. Would do it all again tomorrow. Many thanks Dan, Marlene, Charlotte, David, Gerard, Phil, Steve.. and of course Buller!


Phil: Had a fantastic time, two weeks went in a flash. Skyelark was truly great boat to sail. Roll on next year, cant wait. The sailing was unbelievable; cooking for eight people in 30 knots of wind was a different experience all together. Lots of memories to take away and treasure.


Charlotte: It has been an absolutely fantastic experience. Although it also was hard work and often too little sleep. Thank you Malene, Bob, Stephen, Gerard, Phil and Dave for putting up with my crazy Danish ideas.... and the Christmas Carols. And thank you Dan for being a fantastic skipper and making sure that we all felt totally safe and at no time doubted your skills as a skipper! (oh and thanks for helping me with figuring out the time;) Leaving the crew, boat and skipper Sunday was dificult, I feel lige something is missing. Buller says HI he has had a great trip, and enjoyed his bed of oranges.



Welcome to Skyelark's ARC 2012 blog, written by the crew as she sailed across the Atlantic. Skyelark finished a very close third in class, and 27th (out of 240) overall, taking 15 days and 4 hours to complete the crossing. Below you can get an idea of the experience of sailing across the Atlantic in Skyelark.

If you are interested in joining Skyelark on the next ARC crossing, click here for more information.