Atlantic crossing by the numbers*
*and occasional qualitative answers.
In 2010, Ben Keys crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, most recently delivering an 18-year-old superyacht to Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua in time for the owner’s Christmas vacation. Here are some stats from that trip:
Distance traveled from Palma de Mallorca – Gibraltar – Gran Canaria – Cape Verdes -Antigua: 4266 nautical miles. (Note: One nautical mile = 1.85 kilometers = 1.15 miles.)
Time taken: 20 days sailing plus 5 days of stopovers for fuel and provisions
Cups of tea consumed: 200-250
Total days ‘proper’ sailing with engine off: 9.
Fuel consumed: 6500L of diesel
Fuel saved per hour when engine is off: 23L
Morning coffee and a glassy sea.
Fuel consumed per hour by a motor yacht of same size averaging 10 knots: 300-400L
Fastest speed attained under sail in our 97 ton yacht: 14.2 knots (26kph)
Mainsail volume: 225 square meters
Strongest wind gust: 42 knots
Electrical fires on board: 2
Crew response time to fires: Very, very fast. And improving.
Fish hooked: 14
Fish kept: 4 (Viewing The End of the Line has led to new, extreme criteria for ‘keepers’.)
Meals from a good size mahi mahi: 4 meals for 7 people plus various raw appetizers.
Lures lost to unseen monsters: 4
The crew’s Halfway Party.
Best meal: Char-grilled mahi mahi with gremolata, chilli-infused poisson cru, and coleslaw with fresh-baked beer bread.
Most popular snack: The chef’s secret custom-trail mix and/or Mie Goreng noodles.
Number of times leaky deck hatches poured water down upon me: 3
Total different sleeping locations to avoid leaky hatches: 4
Number of flying fish which flew in through open hatches: 3
Number of flying fish which landed in bed beside me: 1
Proportion of books and magazines making up my luggage: Approximately 60%
Titles read by me en route: 5 (Lush Life by Richard Price, South by Ernest Shackleton, Genghis Khan: Lords of the Bow and Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden and Underworld of the East by James Lee).
Books I read on the same yacht three years ago which are still on board: More than 15
Watch system: 3 hours on and 6 hours off, in teams of 2.
Major world problems theoretically solved by crew during late-night watch: 3-4 nightly
Major world problems actually solved by crew during late-night watch: 0
Getting perspective at 20 feet above sea level.
Crew who thought it might be fun to jump from the first spreader up the mast: 1
Most popular late-night musical choices: Into The Wild soundtrack – Eddie Vedder, Blue Sky Mining – Midnight Oil, Rated R – QOTSA, Music Monks – Seeed, Home – Spearhead and American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash.
Vagabond sailing yachts involved in near-misses due to their refusal to display lights at night: 2
Approximate depth at the location we took a swim: 4900 meters
Speed at which it was possible to keep pace with the yacht while swimming: 1 knot or less
Positions/nationalities of crew: Captain (South African), Chef (British), Mate (Irish), Engineer (New Zealander), Stewardess (New Zealander), Delivery-monkey/consultant (Australian – me) and Captain’s mother/baker-extraordinaire (South African)
Total Atlantic crossings between all crew: 26
Twenty-five days later, the arrival in Antigua.
Languages spoken between crew: 5 (English, Afrikaans, Spanish, Gaelic and Kiwi)
Personal Atlantic crossings this year: 3
Miles sailed this year across giant oceans: 11,500nm
Temperature on flying out of St John’s, Antigua: 34C
Temperature upon arrival in Bristol, UK: Negative 2C
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