Crossing thirty eight! A message from the mid-Atlantic…

Crossing thirty-eight…!

Emma and Lucy in the office asked me to email through a little update and any thoughts I have during my Atlantic crossing on SY Adela, so here goes.

Sometimes when you repeat the same trip a number of times it becomes mundane, the destination lacks excitement and the scenery monotonous. The same can not be said of crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Every time the build up to departure unsettles my excited nerves, stomach full of butterflies, the unknown adventure still awaits. Only difference between my first crossing and now is I have my wonderful new wife at home and leaving Lymington for a long trip is so much harder than when I was carefree and single.

This trip I have joined a large Schooner called Adela for the third time. We departed Vilanova in Spain a week ago and are currently a day out of the canaries in the Atlantic on route to Antigua.

This is the thirty eighth time I have sailed Transatlantic. That is over a year of my life out here on the waves. This made me ponder what the differences are in fifteen years of crossing their Atlantic?

Firstly, over time my personal role has changed on the boat from pawn to maybe rook or bishop. I have learned skills as a rigger and a boat builder. Now I can pass on ideas and be a sounding board to the skipper rather than a young sponge trying to soak up the experience.

The Second massively noticeable difference is the environment…! It looks the same. Dark Ocean Blue water, endless uninterrupted skies, waves like the rolling cornfields of the American midwest, fluffy mountainous cumulus clouds drifting with the trades towards our destination, but there are little things that may be more significant differences.

This year’s first observation by our crew is the lack of flying fish. Normally, most night watches would involve a constant rescuing of errant flying fish crash landing, sometimes after a high-speed collision with the helm to the amusement of the watch on deck. I have only seen one flying fish in the ocean so far, when usually by now I would have seen thousands escaping the crashing bow of our yacht.

Meteorologically speaking an ever increasingly dominant Azores High Pressure mid Atlantic causing a decreased and more easterly trade wind. The climate is warming, activity is changing, oceanic weather is a resultant effect of our impact on land

Every crossing there is more litter in the ocean, plastic sheets, polystyrene fish crates, lost container debris (two Fridges so far), oil drums floating covered in weeds and barnacle. When we fish we catch more Mahi than Tuna. Mahi hide under weed patches or other floating objects and pray on passing fish. Last time I caught a large Yellow Fin Tuna in the Atlantic was nearly a decade ago.

Less fish means less birds. It always amazes me what birds you can see out here from the typical Petrels and Gulls to the odd lost Sparrow even once or twice an owl…!

As we travel west, we see more and more Sargasso weed floating on the surface, until ten years ago you would rarely see this anywhere but the Sargasso Sea. Now it plagues the Atlantic, denser the closer you get to the Caribbean.

Thirdly is we are changing. On board we now filter and drink desalinated water when we used to carry hundreds of plastic bottles from the supermarket, every disposable item bar the organic waste is cleaned and stored until we reach shore.

We all need to make an adjustment to our lives at home. Out here huge changes have been made to make sure we have as little impact as possible and every small change towards sustainability helps massively.

I’ll head up on deck now for the morning watch, drinking tea made from leaves, not bags in a bamboo recyclable cup, I’ll hope to see lots of flying fish and plenty of dolphins!

Lots of love to you all from 28*55;106N 19*48;321W.

Gareth Griffiths

Dinghy Park Manager