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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Through the Atlantic Wall (Part 2)

6860 nautical miles or 12700 kilometers, 57 days for the passage and only 5 days stop. This is what I needed to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran. Difficult but intense, long but inspirating, those are the words to qualify this crazy challenge.
An average of 5,5 knots, so around 10 km/h... We feel weak in front of such immensity, believe me.

Everything started the 2nd of January 2009 in the city of Cape Town in South Africa. As I could tell you in the previsous article, this is on a catamaran that I left the african continent after having spent 9 months travelling on it.

How can I describe a so long trip where the visual distraction are so few. Water on the East, water on the North, water on the south, on the West, under the boat... you just can look up to not see it... and still to watch another blue vastness.

The blue vastness

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Thus, i am going to share with you for the first time an extract of my personal diary, which I fill from the beginning of my trip. You will have it in his brut state, written with the thought that I had while we were sailing
I will add some picture to help the text to be more attractive.
This extract is a description of my daily life on the water, to give you an idea of what can be the life of a boat-hitch-hiker for 2 months.


Personal diary, Atlantic Ocean, the 10/01/2009, Day 9

"The wind finally turned in our direction today, those famous South-East winds which
are pushing us in the direction East-West. Those famous winds, as I said, which were the reason of my long way down Africa up to Cape Town.The reason or one of them, if it is not an excuse!
I adopt a cruising rhythm on the boat, If I can say that. I will in this fact make a description of a day aboard to give you an idea of what can be the life at three in the middle of the Atlantic.

0am-6am
I am sleeping at this time because my nightwatch was from 9pm to 0 am, which was a nice black night in this part of the planet at this season. However, the moon was shining quite a lot because tomorrow will be a full moon, or maybe after tomorrow, I don´t remember... I lose any time notion on the Ocean.
I use this time to take some rest, and I had quite a deep sleep I have to admit.

6am-9am
I wake up to make my first watch of the day

Here i am on the helm

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The day is there at this time. The aim of the watch is to control the direction and the strenght of the wind which is orientating and pushing the sails. The other activity is to take care if there is not boat around coming in our direction to avoid a collision course.

A boat... we prefer to see it from far in this case!

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Generally, i like to read at this time because there is enough light, while Jonathan is fishing because the fishes like to nurrish themselves at sunrise time.

One of the big fish caught by John, a dorada of 15 kg

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My best catch, a tuna of 7 kg... and this is the same basin!

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9am-11am
I finish my night by a little nap, after having taken my breakfast, which is a bowl of cereales.
After my watch, I am often tired, especially at night. I think that the inaction and the need to stay awake is, for me, a task.

11am-12am
I use this time to read. I read a lot during a day, which is good because I brought a lot of book aboard.

12am-1.30pm
Often I prepare the lunch. Most of the time, we open cans, plus something extra if I feel like cooking at this time of the day. Indeed, to keep a maximum of gaz, we are only cooking for diner.
Anyway today, I am using the potatoes of yesterday to make an omelette with some cheese.
As I cook, I am not supposed to wash the dishes normally!

1.30pm-3pm
This is the time of my lesson of spanish. As I am heading to South America, mostly inhabited by spanish-native speakers countries, I will have to be able to communicate as soon as possible... as I chose german in the school...
I choose to sutdy at this time because I feel more aware and concentrated at this time of the day.

3pm-5pm
My second watch of the day, i read often during this one also. Indeed, there is still light at this time of the day.
Often, my watch last only 2 hours because at 5pm, it is time to cook.

5pm-7pm
This is diner time, early enough because the washing of dishes must be done before the sunset. Indeed, we are using the water from the sea to clean the plates.
As I get the nomination of cook of the boat (I don´t think this appelation is coming further than my nationality), this is time to prepare the main dish of the day.
In our little kitchen corner, it take me at least one hour to prepare and cook most of the time.

The kitchen corner of the boat

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Today, we had a bouillon of beef and cabbage. As the skipper and the first mate like it, this is already the third time that this dish is coming on the table.

7pm-8pm
One little hour to read up to the nightfall, which can make a day of 8 hours of reading if i really have nothing else to do!


8pm-0am
This is the rest time before the nightwatch. We can realize that there is a difference of 3 hours for the watch everyday. That give a dynamics and a little variety in the days, which could be easily monotonous, especially if we don´t know how to keep busy ourselves, which is one of the most important things on a boat.

Here is the idea of a day on a catamaran. Of course, there is some variations. I took a shower yesterday for example. Indeed, with a bucket, I took the fresh water from the ocean before to throw everything on myselg. Great experience!"

The transatlantic shower

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As you have seen in this extract of my personal diary, a normal day aboard our boat could be very monotonous and very boring if it wouldn´t have been all this little disctraction that I was trying to not miss. 

The distractions of the daily life

My favorite distractions were the apparitions, time to time, of the fauna of the ocean. What a pleasure, indeed, to watch a dozen of dolphins playing on the bow of the boat.
That happened to us 6 times during the crossing, and the half of it on the Carribean sea.

The dolphins, a divine ballet from the ocean

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While we still were close to the area of the Cape in South Africa, i could match this Picture of an otary swimming with our catamaran.

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Much bigger but still unidentified, in the middle of the Atlantic close the island of Saint Helenam here is a kind of Whales. This one come close to our boat with 4 of her friends, even if staying quite shy because a little bit far from us.

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While the crossing, this is unbelievable the number of flying fishes that i have been able to see. In some words, every minute I could watch at least a minimum of a dozen of flying fishes going just on the surface thanks to their huge fins. Either, I don´t count how many of them end up on our boat if it wasn´t straight on me!

A flying fish, victim of a bad wave

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At the day 29 of our crossing, we had a storm. During this one, a little bird unfortunately end up on our catamaran. He couldn´t go again.
We decided to keep him as a pet et we put him on a paperboard (the advertisement of the paperboard was at the name of "concorde"... true!!!). Two days after, having been feeded with muesli and water, our little bird flew again and went back to his friends. Mission completed!

Our little bird baptized "concorde"

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 The variations of the weather

Our only landscapes on the Ocean were in function of the time of the day thanks to the colours of the sun, and also the weather, which can modify the calm of the sea to waves reaching 5 to 6 meters in our case.
I have to admit that the smile can disappear quite quickly when we see huge black clouds coming so fast straight to our little boat of plastic and aluminium.

The arrival of the bad weather and his shivers

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On another hand, the colours of the sky can be extremely surprising. Many times, I could watch the distortions of colours challenging the most beautiful artistic creations. I have never watch so many sunrise and sunset in a so short period of time.

The colours of the sky... time to think

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 The stopovers

To break the quotidian and especially for the needs of the boat, we had to make three stopovers: one in Fortaleza in Brazil, in Chagaramas in Trinidad and Tobago and the last in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbeans.
Those stopovers, when they come are very welcome but they still remain too short of course!
The feeling to be back on the ground is a little bit weird: a mix of confusion and a strange feeling of freedom, coming from the ability of move in the space, a space a way more important on the ground than the one on a boat of 40 feet.

The arrival in Fortaleza in Brazil

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Unfortunately, after one month of nice weather and sun, the arrival in Fortaleza was under a long tropical rain, which will follow us up to Trinidad. A rain which will become storm by times, and where the swales were reaching 5 to 6 meters high and which will shake the starboard side of our boat for the 10 days between the two places.
And finally, we arrived in Trinidad, the beginning of the Caribbean and his greenish islands.

The arrival in the port of Chagaramas in Trinidad and Tobago

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Time to stamp my passport Entry/Exit and hop! Here we go again!
We follow the islands of the Caribbean for a day, passing by Grenada and we arrive in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The island is much more small than Trinidad and, more paradisiac with his beautiful blue waters.

The beautiful waters of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean

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A little bit of boat-hitch-hiking in the marina

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And one day, we finally made it to Panama, where I am currently. Unbelievable, this timeless journey had finally an end? My quotidian was controlled, so well, I will have to make a new one, that will be with great pleasure!
Here we speak Spanish, I left Africa, I am even far from it.
Even if I didn´t fly, there is a cultural shock. What was the transition between Africa and Latin America? I have seen any civilization, me, on the water! Only my Macedonian skipper and my South African first mate. The life at three has been very well organized and I even found a very good friend with John the south African. I will not forget either the travel chat that I had with Valentin.

Now?

A new continent is opening to me, a langage to learn, a civilization to discover. No time to get bored. Next goal? I have to reach Colombia but...ah no... already the first trouble: the Darien Jungle on the border between Panama and Colombia.
How will I do? I still don´t know and, in any case, this is the subject of the next article!
See you soon everyone and thanks again to follow me as you do from the beginning, thanks for all the nice message that I receive everyday, I am very sensitive to it, you know.

Jeremy



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