That’s it, we’re approaching the end of our Atlantic journey and with it a fine chapter draws to a close. Feeling somewhat nostalgic, I think back to the intense encounters we’ve been lucky enough to make at every stopover, all the great memories of the moments we’ve shared along the way and our efforts to raise awareness about the problems of plastic pollution around this ocean. To sum things up, we’ve had a fantastic year in the Atlantic.
Ambiance at sea between Guadeloupe and the Panama Canal
Whilst we’ve spent the past 10 days sailing with just the vast ocean on the horizon, by later today we’re going to be able to make out land once more. Thus far, we’ve been pretty much on our own on the water, barely crossing tacks with any other vessels. Since yesterday though, the close proximity of the Panama Canal has really been making its presence felt. The shipping has intensified and right now, on the AIS (a radar that enables us to see which ships are navigating this zone), seven boats have appeared. To the naked eye, they’re so far away that we still can’t make them out yet, but we’re no longer alone and we need to remain vigilant when crossing tacks with them.
As far as our sailing is concerned, conditions have been very favourable! We’ve had stable, downwind conditions pushing us along from Guadeloupe and the sea hasn’t been too heavy. The perfect weather for Martin and Annabelle to learn how to pilot the kite in fact. The good news is that, together with Basile, we’ll soon be able to take care of the manœuvring completely on our own, from take-off through to landing. Indeed, that too is what the Race for Water Odyssey is all about, constantly learning, understanding new things and helping to make advances in clean, sustainable technologies.
A N N A B E L L E
Yesterday evening was our last Atlantic sunset!
Panama and the Pacific lay ahead. 85 days to cross the Atlantic, whilst another will circumnavigate the globe in 42 days… But it’s a rather different mission after all! Our crossing is far from direct and as far as our delivery trips are concerned, our motto is that “slow and steady wins the race.” In addition, like the tortoise, we’re not only carrying with us our home, but also our exhibition space and visitor centre!
A few days behind us now is Guadeloupe. The evening of our departure emotions were running high: “we’re going to miss you!”, “we’d grown accustomed to you”, “thanks for everything, you’ve started something here!”, “I’m going right now, otherwise the tears will flow…” Our presence has made an impression and the enthusiasm we’ve drummed up is touching.
And, when it comes to knowledge and ideas, the sense of enrichment goes both ways. It’s been fascinating for us to discover an association like “Mon école ma baleine” (My school my whale) and their marine protected areas. Companies like Ecodec and the desire to recover waste on a local level without resorting to the mainland and maritime shipping or local waste collection centres. It’s also interesting to see the desire of certain politicians to apply the principles of a circular economy to the autonomous port of Pointe à Pitre. We dream that all these initiatives will see the light of day and trigger an ecological transition.
As far as the crew and the boat are concerned, they’re making for the setting sun like Lucky Luke, bound for adventures new. Fortunately, the team onshore will be able to follow up on the initiatives started in Guadeloupe, as it is doing for the previous stages.
At sea, the sailors are constantly making improvements to the vessel: review of the kite sails for Annabelle.
M A R T I N
A journey like the one we’re about to complete is something you’d sign up for every day! 10 days with the wind right on our tail, good wind, sun and perfect conditions for the kite, which has really helped tow the boat along. The upshot of this is batteries that are nice and full at the end of the day so they fire up without issue at night.
After a gale and short 3 to 4-metre waves for around twelve hours, conditions are gradually calming down as we approach the coast, and it’ll soon be time to book our slot for going down the canal. We mustn’t waste any time getting in the waiting line if we want to gain access to the Pacific any time soon. We’ll have a short 10-day stopover in Panama City then we’ll head due south to Lima in March.
There are always some improvements to be made aboard and engineer, Martin, is busying himself with the electronics!