First time Jumping the Atlantic
A Massachusetts family and an Alberg 37 are up to the task. A story from our March 1982 issue.
We left St. John at the end of July for Ireland. It was the first Atlantic crossing for all of us: my husband Ev and our son Jef, our friend Ed, and myself. And Arion,our 37-foot Alberg sloop . After a three week shakedown cruise from Manchester,Massachusetts, to Nova Scotia, St. Pierreand St.John's, Newfoundland, Ev kept usall busy for days with his lists. There is areluctance to leave a snug port for an ocean passage and one always can findreasons to delay one more day. But though there was no wind, the weather reports were fair and we were off. It was good to be at sea again.
We continued under powerfor 13 hours. Still no wind. Even with four jerry cans full of diesel we carry only 40 gallons of fuel. We could not power across the Atlantic, so we stopped the engine and put up the sails and wallowed and flapped . There was either no wind or fitful, short-lived breezes. We were visited by a huge pod of whales, 30 or 40 of them, 10 to 15 feet in length. They had gray-black backs, a light underbelly and humpy foreheads, and may have been blackfish. They were playful blowing and sporting on boath sides of the boat and under the bow, but ponderous when compared with dolphins.
That evening, as we sat becalmed in the cockpit, Ev offered a libation of Johnny Walker to Poseidon with an appropriate petition for wi nd. The next day wasflat calm and , as it continued, we made cautious and then incautious remarks belittling the powers of Poseidon and the waste of Scotch. A small low-pressure area passed by, giving us good wind and carrying Jef out of range of Red Sox baseball games. The next low arrived and we were under the influence of the Gulf Stream.The wind increased and by morning we were running under a furled main and storm jib with huge waves astern. As if to celebrate the arrival of wind and seas, porpoises appeared. They were extraordinary, coming from every direction, from asfar as the eye could see, joyfully and swiftly leaping and swimming toward Arion.
The wind continued to rise and the seas to mount. It wasgray but visibility wasgood, and the motion was not bad as we were dead downwind. We had a real gale all night and ran off before it, but it subsided next morning leaving a wild sky and a-tired crew. While the waves were enormous they rolled widely spaced without breaking, and Arion's stern lifted dependably.
We had installed the weatherboards in case of pooping, Ev was on the helm, securely harnessed to the binnacle. Ed was on watch with him, and I was snoozing below in the pilot berth before my turn at the helm. Ed took advantage of a slight lull to come down out of the wet for coffee.
Just then there was a great lurch. I awoke, startled, thinking we had had a knockdown. Water was pouring into the cabin through the gap in the companionway where the top weatherboard should have been. The cockpit was awash and Ev was back on the stern still fastened to the binnacle. We had been royally pooped, but there was no real damage and the cockpit quickly drained. Ev's glasses had been skewed and bent, but were still there. He was unhurt, but in being knocked over one of his feet had kicked open the instrument panel, which had flooded . Two of the cockpit cushions had been washed overboard. The cabin , fortunately, only needed a bit of pumping and mopping to be put right.
To my astonishment, Ev turned the boat to go back to try to recover the cushions. They were white, about 4 feet by 18 inches.
"Think of it as a man overboard drill ,"
I didn't like to. White caps were everywhere and spray was flying through the air. You could only see when you were up on the crests and then not far or with any certainty. We finally did retrieve one with
Ed hanging over the side and Jef and me anchoring his feet.