After finally making it to London on the … and closing the chapter on that leg of my No Air To Everywhere journey then the next goal was to get across the pond to the Americas. I had planned to head back to France, swing by my squat to get the remainder of my gear then hitching as quick as could south. The window to find a boat to sail across the Atlantic Ocean was closing and all my research had told me it would harder the longer I left it as less boats leave towards the end of the season.
As luck would have it though, almost like it was fate, I found The Longest Swim project and more importantly their support vessel boat S/V Discoverer (Disco) still in the UK looking to embark towards the United States of America ASAP. Managing to my way onto that boat I sailed out of Lymington Marina on the 26th of July 2017 heading south towards the Canary Islands.
It took 12 days to get to the Canary Islands, we had various conditions and tested pretty much every sail we had on offer. Spending new years eve off the coast of Portugal preparing to sail through a storm, as Discoverer was to be the support vessel for a massive offshore expedition, the skipper Scotty wanted to make sure it was up to scratch. Although we had 10 crew on board it was still bloody hard work during those three days we were smashed by the storm. However both boat and crew survived (I only spewed my guts up once) and we made it to the Canaries.
After a few days there and small change of crew we sailed across the Atlantic which was my first Ocean crossing. Completed in 17 days sailing pretty much the whole way with the spinnaker up, apparently a feat in the sailing community that is pretty impressive. We then spent around 2 weeks on the island of Antigua to replace our prop which had somehow mysteriously lost a blade when motoring around the Canaries.
This time seen a big change of crew with only four of us remaining from the original Lymington crew. We had 9 new hitchhikers and travelers join the boat, sailing from Antigua for 7 days across the Caribbean Sea to Panama. Then after sometime in a marina in the middle of no where we were finally organised and ready for our Panama Canal crossing.
This bought me back into the Pacific ocean for the first time in two years which felt a little closer to home. It was then 11 hot and mostly boring sailing says to Mexico. The exception to the boring sailing was the amount of wildlife we seen, never have I witnessed so much marina wildlife. Dolphins, Whales, birds, turtles, fish and even birds on turtles (birdles). From here a lot of people left the boat and suddenly we went from 12 crew to only 5 (that boring 11 days of motoring/sailing must have been too much for them).
We were back to the original crew from Lymington after that plus one Mexican. Of course the second half of this leg on the way to San Diego, USA turned out to be more intense then the storm we went through off the coast of Portugal. Motor sailing upwind so we could point higher we had a bloody tough time finally getting to the finish line. We were effectively down to 4 crew members at one point when the Mexican got too sea sick to do anything else. With a torn main sail we finally limped into San Diego victorious after another 17 days of sailing (and one drunken stop to refuel in Carbon).
San Diego was discos home for about 6 weeks until the marina ran out of room for us. At this point in time our new home in LA was not ready for us so that meant a cheeky random trip to Hawaii and back to kill time and conduct a few sea trials for the project.
It was another 17 days sail across the Pacific Ocean, around 2 weeks in Hawaii exploring and then it 20 day sail back to California. After a few days rest on Catalina Island where I was almost killed by a buffalo we motored the final 20 or so miles to the old port of LA and finally put Disco to bed in her new home at Altasea on the 13th of July, 2017. Exactly 200 days later since we sailed out of the UK. This was by far my longest sailing voyage covering somewhere around 15,000 nm.
This massive leg of sailing taught me a shit ton in sailing and gave me a bucket load more memories and stories. It also gave me a lot to think about in terms of the expedition itself as the swim is estimated to take around 200 days, that’s like doing all this again but this time without ANY breaks on land. Fuck.
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