My First Voyage on Peregrine Falcon and my first Atlantic Crossing on a sailboat

Ed: Photos will be added to this blog post when Peter returns, enjoy …


Arrived on Saturday 5th about 7 pm and took the team out for dinner at a delightful restaurant (Pier 9) by the marina. A good time was had by all.

Sunday was a ‘day off’ in our preparation as not only appropriate to give the team time off but we had also pushed back our departure by a day as it was the ‘Three Kings Festival’ in the island which meant no fresh provisions until Tuesday. In Spain, this is celebrated almost as much as Christmas.

Monday and Tuesday the crew did some modifications to the boat. The main winches had fast or variable according to the load. Fast is really fast and that has a plus/minus for operation whilst the variable is not always what is needed. We added an extra button for medium and the first button then slow or fast choices. Much better and interesting to see the electrics and drilling to achieve the result. Also added an adjustment to be able to move the car on the rail for the Genoa from the cockpit with an extra line – better for night sailing or just anytime.

Tuesday was a provisioning day – it was amazing to see three weeks of food come on board and then all be put away. Plus we added fuel and water for the boat and of course did a final laundry day. Although we have a washer/ dryer on board it uses too much power for a journey of 3 weeks when we carry approx 1900 liters (470 gallons) of fuel. The same for the dishwasher – both those appliances work great but are for use in the marina on a voyage like this as we need the fuel to run the generator to recharge batteries and use the watermaker plus, of course, the motor when needed. We burn 6 liters (1.5 gallons) of fuel an hour when motoring. The generator uses less but that depends on the load and is much more effective at recharging the batteries. Given the light wind forecast, we have to be conservative. We also made strict rules about the use of power to run all the electrical / nav devices etc so recharging non-essential items is only done when the generator or engine is running.


We departed at 11 am on Wednesday with light winds forecast across the Atlantic. Our strategy was not to go South to Cape Verde which is the traditional route to catch the trade winds but to aim more or less straight to the BVI and keep the angle to take advantage of the light winds with the minimum distance to navigate.

We had 4-hour overlapping watches so with 6 people on board it meant the person on the watch had a backup. My watches were 6-10 am GMT and also 6-10 pm GMT. A food schedule was prepared with everyone taking turns. The menu is creative: for example, fresh moules for lunch on Wednesday with Salmon for dinner. For Breakfast’s people do their own thing because of the watch schedule. We were well provisioned for 3 weeks although the journey should be less.

First, we had to go down the Grand Canaries Coast which meant no wind and then we would catch the wind between the islands before leaving the islands behind. It was motor sailing during the day with the Genoa and then at night were able to sail with Genoa and main averaging 6 knots so approx 144 miles covered in the first 24 hours. It was a very sunny and pretty day.

There was a close encounter with a cargo ship on my shift whilst dark. We were certain the closest approach would be 1nm (which proved right) but even when all the instruments and common sense are said, that was still ‘exciting’ in the dark. That was the only commercial vessel we saw since we left the waters of the Canaries as the shipping lane is closer to Africa


Thursday morning we hoisted the kite with pole and went downwind. Tricky as direction was on the margin so good helming required – the autopilot is not practical in the light shifting winds.

The hard work with the kite continued until late afternoon when even the talents of the best helmsman were thwarted. We decided to motor which will probably be necessary for at least the next day or two. Our forecast showed a patch without wind and we need to just get past it. We could not even motor sail as the 5 knots available was mostly directly on the nose and not worth changing course for that little wind.

A ‘school’ of dolphins came to play with the boat just before sunset – always an amazing sight. They stayed just under the surface so photos were challenging. We also saw a lot of sardines jumping so clearly bigger fish feeding. We had a pleasure yacht pass us  – it was a very large motor yacht over 215’ on its way to St Martin going at 12 knots.

The team is in good spirits and all seem to be getting into the watch pattern which interrupts everyone’s sleep to some extent. I know I feel tiredness coming on at odd moments in the day as the body adjusts.

Learning about the boat. A huge amount to learn as everything is more complicated than ‘Pied Piper’. I keep having to ask questions plus read the manuals as so many systems on board plus lots of electronics that are sophisticated and whilst they are mostly intuitive that is not always the case.

Moussaka for lunch and soup with chicken and rice for dinner. No lack of inspiration in the food.

Talking to the crew, they have been on all varieties of boats across the Atlantic. Most people pick passage times when the weather is reasonable. In our case winds lighter than we would like. And the wave motion so far is just light swells. They explain the challenge of the Atlantic is mostly preparation – boat and people. Then a well-run schedule which Yves does in a friendly but firm way. Lastly a lot of patience required unless the sailing gets difficult. Just take it day by day.

We stopped motoring about 1.30 on Friday and could keep up 6 knots with main and Genoa in very light winds – we’ll see how long it lasts. But the crew all agree we’ll find wind and that a headwind is a very rare occurrence on the Atlantic run. Yves made a remarkable steak lunch with vegetables – fit for a Sunday lunch in France – quite amazing. Each portion of steak was generous – feeding the army before battle.

We ran out of the wind so went back to motor sailing. The wind was not at the right angle for a Genoa so we just used the main for stability and adjusted the engine to 1400 rpm. That way we can hold about 6 knots with low fuel consumption. We downloaded the latest weather update which showed we had at least another day of motoring ahead before we found wind. An exercise in patience.

We passed through a light rain shower and in the night there was some sheet lighting to port but not close to us.

Saturday was a motor sailing day. The Atlantic swell picked up but not challenging. The Backgammon competition was opened as sunny on the deck and the large cockpit was the championship table. Yves’ rules are a little different with max five markers on one spot and bearing off is forced if a marker matches a dice number. A good system as a strategy has to change and the end game can alter fortunes dramatically when bearing off. Great pasta and salad for lunch and a bowl of interesting beetroot soup with chili for dinner.


We finally found the promised wind just before midnight. The wind was between 15-19 knots and direction enabled us to keep going more or less directly to the BVI. So a good night of sailing between 7-8 knots. The boat could have gone faster but we were conservative on the night shift so had 2 reefs in both the main and the Genoa.

About 6.30am the weather pattern changed quickly with a variable wind right on the nose. We put the motor on, reefed the Genoa and within an hour the weather turned unpleasant with frequent gusts of between 20-30knots, periods of very heavy rain and confused sea patterns. These circumstances took good helmanship, not the autopilot. The sky went completely black which is never good. We changed from the Genoa to a reefed staysail plus reefed main and battled through it until we broke through the last storm clouds afternoon. Yves was the helmsman and did a great job. We had to sail cautiously as things changed every moment. Those on deck were very wet. My comment – nothing unusual in ocean crossings but dramatic. We all had PFDs on and we were secured even in the cockpit as in the heavy rain and large swells the seas were breaking over the boat constantly. Side note – my Musto evolution sailing trousers ( Christmas present from Rob) are great but not waterproof  – fortunately I was wearing my ocean-going foulie jacket so wet but surviving.  From tomorrow all my waterproof gear at hand at all times – was lulled into a false sense of security. We were however rewarded with an exceptional full rainbow with every color just before the last storm cloud passed –  Spectacular.

We had a late breakfast with handheld toasted sandwiches. The seas had high swell with wave motions from two directions which made for a lot of pounding as the boat pushed through the waves but we could keep up a steady 6 plus knots despite waves breaking over the boat frequently.

The Atlantic is reminding us who is boss and it does have a well-deserved reputation! Apparently, the forecasts cannot predict local conditions in low-pressure areas with accuracy and as the systems pass through conditions can change without much warning.

Late afternoon saw a steady 7 to 8 knots sailing in about 12-14 knots – the storm and prevailing winds forced us to head South West vs a direct path to the BVI so now heading to Venezuela. We crossed the 600 nm position.

Dinner was Shepherd’s pie which hit the spot after a tough day and a long night ahead. The sailing continued due South West but a steady 6-8 knots. We ran the generator in the night for the first time this trip plus the watermaker as one water tank was just about empty. It as a busy night so Yves did not get a lot of rest with everything going on.


The sunrise shift was welcomed with cloudy skies followed by dark clouds and rains with variable winds. We sailed through it to a more pleasant day and the good news was a wind shift which enabled us to sail towards the BVI. The boat was powering along at 7-8 knots in only about 11-12 knots of wind with a full main and Genoa. But we have still yet to find a following wind. The crew are all doing extremely well but very surprised as headwinds across the Atlantic to the Caribbean at this time of year are unheard of…

We have traveled 25% of the way in the first five days and hope to gain time from here with faster sailing if the winds co-operate. Bill also briefed Yves and me on the ‘undiscovered’ spots in the BVI. He was a skipper for four years on charters there so got to know the best parts and when to visit them. There is also good surfing off the North end of Tortola but not possible to anchor there as the swell prevents this so requires a taxi from Soper’s Hole which takes a few minutes.

We also agreed the right strategy was to clear immigration and customs in Virgin Gorda as that is the first island we come to in the BVI from the Atlantic and the customs there is lightly used so quiet and quick vs Soper’s Hole or Road Town both of which can be busy at times and if a cruise ship arrives it is bad news for a fast turnaround at those locations.

An afternoon of sailing at about 5-6 knots as the wind weakened. Course still fine although we did head SW a little to hold the speed. The evening we had light winds from 8 to 10 knots but with calm seas, the boat was sailing at 7 to 8 knots and this continued throughout the night. The calmer conditions enabled everyone to catch up on sleep after the last few days.

Food continued to be great with pita bread, fried chicken and salad for lunch and a very tasty curry in the evening.

Tuesday morning brought cloudy skies and the same lights winds. We flew the kite for 5 hours both with and without the pole. The winds softened to 6-7 knots and we held 5 plus knots but the kite pushed us more southwest at 220 and we still believe 265 is the right strategy. We switched back to the Genoa and main on our preferred course. The wind died from a rain shower close by and we motor-sailed briefly and after the shower, the wind was variable but went back to the Genoa and main. We are conserving fuel as the forecast says 15 plus knots winds by tomorrow evening. We saw a freighter in the distance going in the opposite direction – about 15nm so just visible to the sharp eye and confirmed by the binoculars. We also saw a freighter early morning whilst still very dark. Interesting as no AIS signal from this ship – it was about 2 miles away according to the radar and motoring in the opposite direction to us.

Food continued to be very good – lunch was roast pork loin, salad, asparagus and potatoes. Dinner was tomato and mozzarella, courgettes, rice, and ham. The only thing missing was a glass of something as we are dry until we dock in the BVI.

Learning about the power consumption on this bigger boat. Even with conservative use of power the fridge, freezer and navigation electronics means running the generator each day as no motor-sailing with better winds.

As we move across the Atlantic time is shifting so dawn now after 8 GMT. The Canaries are on GMT and our smartphones/watches still set to that time. The BVI is 4 hours ahead so we shall change our boat time tomorrow by an hour.


The night and morning saw steady progress in light winds. We were able to maintain 6-7 knots in 8-10 knots of wind. Impressive.

We passed the 1000nm mark at approx 11 am GMT Wednesday which was the time when we left Grand Canaries 7 days ago. That means we averaged 6 knots which given the preponderance of low winds was a good achievement. There are 1800+ miles to go which at the same average speed would be 13 more days but we are hopeful we can raise the average to 7 knots for much of the next leg. We shall see!

The wind is finally behind but variable so we are flying wing on wing with a pole for the Genoa and preventer for the main. The winds are too variable to fly the kite without everyone helping and today is boat cleaning day after a week at sea. The Genoa and pole are giving us a speed of 6 knots in light winds.


Yves is skipper and an MCA Yacht Master Ocean on vessels 200gt unlimited.  He is French and is fluent in Spanish plus English and lives in Mallorca with an English wife and two children. I have known Yves since 2015 when we sailed Pied Piper together and had a great record in the Oyster Palma Regatta’s

Maite is Spanish and lives in Mallorca but her native dialect is much closer to Portuguese as there is a province of Spain that still uses this dialect today. So she can understand Portuguese, Spanish and English all well. She is also a Yacht Master Ocean vessels 500ft (IMO) and skippers mostly power boats in the summer as that pays better than sailboats. When not sailing she does serious running – marathons and running up and down mountains.

Natalie is English and qualified as STCW95. She also lives in Mallorca and has an Australian husband who is a ship’s engineer so at sea regularly. She is a certified Chief Steward who manages a team and has held that position on many boats. She is also very competent around the boat.

Bill is English and a Yacht Master Ocean with a lot of experience as a skipper on charters in the Solent, the BVI and has crewed on many boats across the Atlantic, Pacific, Baltics and elsewhere. He is a man of the sea and is buying a 42’ classic Ketch to renovate, live on and go sailing

Gerry is Scottish, more precisely Glaswegian, and is a Yacht Master. He lives in Mallorca and skippers charter boats in the Summer – mostly power boats. He has crewed on many boats across the oceans. This April he is helping bring an Oyster 72 back from the BVI to the Mediterranean before his Summer Season of charters.

What do they have in common apart from a good knowledge of seamanship and a love of the sea? Certainly, good humor and are all easy going. Both are a necessity for getting along in a confined space. Whatever the size of the boat, six people living together for 3 weeks need to get on with each other. They also share a love of food and are good cooks – not only a virtue but a necessity when at sea. And a number are good musicians. Lots of guitar playing to serenade the seas.


To celebrate our 1,000nm we had an amazing lunch on deck in the cockpit. Very tasty full leg of ham with excellent salad – have photos to prove it. Hard to reserve a fine table for six in the middle of the Atlantic with calm seas, a sunny warm day and excellent food! One for the record books.

We are continuing with Genoa plus pole and main so sailing easily at approx 7 knots in 10-11 knots of wind. There is a light swell. Hope it holds and stronger winds also forecast.


Overnight the wind strengthened to 11-15 plus knots so we reefed the main in case of gusts and maintained knots 6-7 knots. However with the winds at a beam reach or astern, the swells create a rolling motion. This continued into the morning but in the daylight, we can see the swell and the helmsman can point the boat to reduce the motion and also surf down the waves. We improved boat speed to approx 8 plus knots. With Yves at the helm, we also hit 10 knots for the first time this voyage. There was a lot of cloud cover throughout the day.

Steady progress at 8 knots during the day but the early evening saw heavy rain showers one after the other with gusts. Once the rain showers finally stopped after 3 hours the seas and winds were variable and confused. This slowed us down until the wind stabilized at about 15 knots jumping to 20 at times. The heavy swells made a challenge as the waves were coming from behind so pushed the stern around.

Pasta for lunch and calamari, fried potatoes and salad for dinner. We are sailing fast and lots of swells so not ideal for fishing.

No one got much sleep the last two nights with the heavy swell and rolling boat motion. But just par for the course…


The morning saw a less cloudy day with similar winds and heavy swell. We made good time regardless and will be at approx 170nm for the day. That means we shall have completed 1,400nm about midday our time. That is the technical halfway mark as the distance to the BVI is 2,800nm – with additional nm for the exact route sailed as winds shift.

The strategy continues to be 265 degrees course to the BVI.


A very pleasant sunny day with steady winds that kept our speed up to 8 knots despite the swells and no rain which made a delightful change. Everyone can begin to think about the last stretch and work out our arrival time. If the trail winds hold, 10 days could see us in the BVI which would be a 19-day passage.

The evening and night continued the same except for a wind shift forcing us to go more South than we wanted but we had good speed at all times.

The early morning shift was met with a starry night but it was a false dawn as without warning a squall hit us with 27-29 knot winds and complete darkness. Could not even see a person at the other helm from my helm position. Foulies and PFDs put on – we stayed secured for 45 minutes whilst it passed – needed to reef the Genoa some more, the main was already reefed. Hit 11 knots speed. The fastest so far has been 12.2 knots with Bill at the helm yesterday – hull speed is about 12 so that is fast…

The benefit of the squall was another wind shift – back on our 265 bearing.

The big news is we have the VSAT back up – we lost it three days ago whilst uploading weather. We exceeded our 50MB and the provider had a block. Our back up support system worked – we used a YB text message to Affinity our management company who got hold of the service provider and sorted it out. Annoying but did not impede our progress.

The latest weather forecast shows we have approx 15-knot winds for the next 2 days. The weather varies during the day depending on local conditions such as a rain shower.

Conditions very similar the following day. The night had an almost full moon lighting up the sea and the surf in the moonlight was awe inspiring. It was overtaking us from the stern and many waves bigger than the boat which gives an impressive sight but they slid gracefully underneath the stern with a firm push. Would have been different from the opposite direction breaking over the boat! The wind and surf combination continued our rocking motion. But we had a great Boeuf Bourguignon for dinner.


Later in the afternoon the winds became lighter, the strong swell from behind the boat subsiding and a swell slowly building from the NE. Not spinnaker weather with the swell but used full main and Genoa and then full main and staysail and could get back on a 260 course but at 5 knots. We caught our first fish – a Dorado and will change the menu plan to have poached fish for dinner. We have two days of light winds with stronger sailing forecast after that. Putting our ETA back to Monday to allow for the ‘zig-zag’ to stay on course plus the lighter winds. That would be 19 days at sea so well within our original game plan. We put our boat clock back another hour at midday so now two hours time difference to the BVI.

The day was noticeably hotter – the heavy weather gear is being stowed for lighter gear and even at night a couple of layers is sufficient to keep out the chill.

The dinner was exceptional – poached dorado with rice and leeks cooked by Yves. Not often you get gourmet food in the middle of the Atlantic 11 days into a sailing voyage. Marvelous! The winds are slowly dying but we can still sail and hold the course with full main and preventer, Genoa with pole wing on wing plus even the staysail. The good news is the swell from behind the boat is diminishing so everyone should get some much-deserved rest after the last few days of heavy swells rolling the boat.

The night saw a full moon eclipse. The full moon with no cloud cover is very bright and does not set until after dawn so we had good visibility all night apart from the eclipse.

Dawn welcomed us with light winds pushing us north but after a couple of hours, the winds strengthened enabling us to hold a better course between 5-6 knots. Avoided the temptation to motor sail – we are a sailboat!


The in-mast furling has a broken gear close to the bottom of the fast. We cannot furl completely in and need to protect it so have compromised with the main in a half out position so have some main for power and stability and the broken section in the furling gear is protected by about 5 wraps of sail. We shall leave that as it is with no furling in or out to protect the gear and the sail. We can sort this out in the BVI and at the moment sailing with Genoa plus pole and staysail wing to wing at 5.5 to 6 knots in 10 knots wind. Obviously lots of options including motor-sailing. We’ll adapt as we go. Other than that and a rain shower to clean the boat a beautiful day.


We cleared the last 1,000nm mark so now measuring distance in 100’s, not 1,000’s. Another week of sailing to go: 7 days at an average of 6 knots will get us to BVI or possibility of faster with improved winds

We caught a Wahu – an Atlantic fish. So more fish for dinner to compliment the Chicken Pie we had for lunch.

After dinner, we had a first for a number of us – a rainbow from the light of the moon, as opposed the sun. It is difficult to see but clearly there and some of the crew had seen one before and said it is called a ‘moonbow’.

A quiet night apart from a rain shower with good speed between 6-7 knots for much of the time with the same sail configuration. The tailwinds were forecast to strengthen this evening but that did not happen. There was an increase in the swell from the stern but not enough to affect our sail plan. No marine traffic again – the Atlantic on our course is not on any major trade routes. That will change as we get closer to the Carribean.

The day saw steady winds until about 1 pm and then they weakened so we decided to motor-sail. That returned us to 6 knots. We have been conservative with fuel so have plenty for the balance of the voyage – over 1,200 liters ( 200 gallons).

Excellent lunch of the fish from yesterday, ham, fried peppers, and salad. A calm and enjoyable day.

The big news of the day was an Orca decided to stay alongside our boat for a couple of hours. Multiple sightings, many quite close to the boat and very exciting. It was about 5 to 6 meters long (over 15’).


We continued to motor sail during the night. No sign yet of winds picking up despite cloud cover and a rain shower at dawn. So quiet and relaxing for the last few watches. The wind finally picked up at 9 am so engine off and sailing about 5.5 knots with the reduced main. We flew the kite as soon as winds were stable and doing 7-9 knots with spinnaker and the half main. The wind is about 10-11 knots from a beam reach. This is the first time we have been able to fly the kite without a strong swell hitting the stern and reducing the pressure on the kite. Great sailing!

Chili con carne for lunch and we almost caught two fish – tale of the ones that got away…

As dusk was approaching we took down the kite and switched to the Genoa and the half main – still doing 7 plus knots on a reach in 11-12 knots of wind. A great day of sailing – eating the miles

Duck, potatoes au gratin, peas and string beans for dinner – amazing.


After a quiet night, the dawn watch changed dramatically. After a series of rain showers, there were 25 to 30-knot winds with gusts at 35knots and several periods of heavy rain. The seas were challenging with short wave cycles on the beam forcing us to go North at times. The waves were about 15’ and were very close together. We fought through it with the whole crew helping out as helmanship was tiring in these conditions. Everyone was wearing PFDs secured to the cockpit as the boat’s heeling motion, waves and winds were not to be trifled with. We had the half mainsail out as preferred not to change it and had the staysail to balance it. Our speed was 8-10 occasionally hitting 11 knots. It was hard to notice at the time but the winds and rain were not cold.

By noon the winds were more stable but still at 25knots with strong seas. The Sun was now out from behind the clouds. The day is certainly a contrast from yesterday. And we are seeing a huge variety of sailing conditions on this voyage.

I learned a new rhyme today:
Rain before wind get the sails in
Wind before the rain set the sails again’

It was certainly a “rain before wind” day!

We are making good time and crossed the 500nm mark by 5 pm local time.

The evening continued with 20knot winds. We switched to the Genoa plus half main and were able to maintain 7-8 knots. The seas remained challenging on our course so difficult to use the autopilot. Helming at night not so easy as cannot see the waves but necessary.

Great curry for dinner – needed after a tough day.


The night saw continued 20-knot winds but calmer seas. We had a reefed Genoa out wing to wing with the half main plus the staysail and doing a steady 8 knots. Some occasional light showers but a good night for sailing.

We saw 4 ships in the night 2 cargo ships which passed quickly at 20 knots, a tug which was behind us at our speed and a private motor yacht in a hurry.

We passed the 400nm mark by about 6.30am. Our strategy for today is keeping the speed up and see if we can improve on our ETA by a day and arrive Sunday afternoon.

During the morning and afternoon the winds gradually decreased to 12 knots but with the sail configuration, we maintained 7-8 knots. We are seeing more birds today. Yesterday we saw a Frigate Bird which has a distance of 300 to 500 miles from their nest. Definitely a sign of land not far away…


English sausages, baked beans, potatoes for dinner.

There was steady progress overnight sailing at 7 plus knots. No traffic which surprised us as getting close to the Carribean. A beautiful sunrise to welcome the day and slowly declining winds. We crossed the 200nm point about 9.30am local time and we changed to motor sailing to keep the average speed at seven knots. Some more birds doing a fly by as we get closer to land.

Our ETA at 7 knots is approx 2 pm Sunday. The plan is to clear customs and still have time to motor sail to Nanny Cay Marina that afternoon.

Continued motor sailing throughout the day. About 2 pm caught a fish – looked st the book of fish and hard to identify but tasted great. Something new for the dinner table this evening. Also, a brief Orca sighting to add to the fun. Then two Dolphins came to play with the boat – clearly, all happening!

The evening saw strengthening winds. At 9.30 pm we took down the spinnaker pole and just ran a reefed Genoa and half main. About 110nm to the BVI so our ETA between 2 to 3 pm Sunday.


The night had a lot of rolling from the swell but we maintained good time motor sailing with half main plus Genoa then staysail. Only a few miles to go by dawn and at 7 knots our ETA improved to between 11 am to 12 on boat time but we gain another hour when we arrive. A little more traffic – cargo ships going to Florida and pleasure craft going to BVI or Florida.

We are excited to complete the journey and went to Road Town to clear customs and immigration. Road Town had no immigration customers other than us but still a 90-minute exercise in patience – welcome to the Caribbean. The short hop to Nanny Cay was easy.

Our journey took just over 18 days. Great performance in very variable conditions. The boat and crew all doing a fantastic job.

My personal comment – the first time I can remember when I switched off – i.e. no texts, emails – just an occasional call to Deb to check on her. The best – just everything. The toughest – lack of sleep as all sailors will tell you – it is not the waves but sleep that is the challenge.

My thanks to Yves and all the team – just exceptional.

More adventures to come!

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