Monday, 23 February 2015

San Cristobal, Galapagos

Straddling the equator, 500 miles from mainland Ecuador, lies a remote archipelago. Located on the intersection of three tectonic plates, it sits on a hotspot of volcanic activity at a point where the earths crust is thin, allowing the magma to burst through, creating 18 islands of volcanic lava.  We approach at dawn, rounding the cardinal mark. A sea lion basks on the yellow buoy, looking slightly ridiculous, its head hanging over the side, watching us with bored indifference. We are in the Galapagos Islands, and it is quite extraordinary.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Crossing the Equator

The equator is a huge heat sink where warm air perpetually rises, cools and then subsides over the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, flowing back towards the equator.  As this air moves south it is deflected by the Coriolis Force, pushng the wind to the west and creating the trade winds that carry us around the world.  

Monday, 16 February 2015

Las Perlas

Only forty miles from Panama, yet the archipelago of Las Perlas feels very remote. A small group of pretty islands, famous for their pearls, they are largely uninhabited. Densely forested, with rocky outcrops and hidden beaches of the finest white sand.  With large tidal ranges, the water turns green as the tide ebbs and flows, suddenly clearing at slack water to reveal the sea life beneath.  Poorly charted with isolated rocks lurking just under the surface, we proceed with caution, the Bauhaus pilot book our constant companion.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Compendium, guest written by Andrew

I have been aboard for a month now and it seems time to pen something.

So we have arrived at the Las Perlas Islands, 50 miles from Panama city.  It is a big relief to have finally got sailing again after 10 days in Panama. The canal was fascinating (25,000 dead from disease and accidents in the construction) but it is a long slow route from the Atlantic to the Pacific and once you have seen one lock the next 5 are all the same. I seem to be blasé about locks having experienced the mega locks on the Rhone.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Panama Canal

It is dark when the heavy pilot boat surges up alongside. A big swell is running as the pilot takes a firm grip on my hand and jumps aboard. We are with eight other ARC yachts at the Flats, an anchorage near the commercial shipping terminal in Colon, where cranes work under neon lights like giant insects as they load containers onto a freighter, bound for Europe.  Finally, just after 9pm our pilot receives clearance on the VHF and we raise anchor.  We follow the red channel markers towards a sea of bright lights until we make out the shape of huge lock gates. A tanker in the opposing lock floats fifty feet above us. We are about to transit the Panama Canal.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Panama, guest written by Kez

It feels somehow fitting that on my last morning on Juno I have her to myself just for a little while and so can quietly say good-bye and remember all the special moments on board and how she has magnificently looked after us during some fairly boisterous passages and kept us safe. But that ability to keep us safe is far from automatic and comes with an awful lot of care and attention from Paul. Since being in Panama he has done little else, forgoing the trip to the Embera Village, the city tour and also, before transiting, our trip to the Observatory to see both the construction of the new locks at Gatun and the workings of the existing ones.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

San Blas Islands

After 24 hours of gale force winds and heavy seas, we sail into flat water inside the barrier reef on the eastern approach to the San Blas archipelago. It is a moonless night and pitch black as we ghost through the water, relying solely on our charts to guide us through the channel towards Holandes Cays, a small atoll surrounded by a complex reef system. We have heard that 6 boats have been lost here since Christmas so we check our pilotage carefully, silent in the cockpit, straining our senses to see or hear something in the inky black night.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Santa Marta to San Blas guest written by Sarah Rose

When asked to write a guest blog I wanted to try and find a theme to hang it on – that hasn't really worked, but perhaps this hotchpotch is a fairer representation of a novice sailor thrown into a completely new experience.

Firstly an update on our progress.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Santa Marta, Colombia

‘Juno, this is the coast guard, come in please’.  We are stowing the spinnaker pole on the foredeck as I hear the VHF crackle. ‘Juno, this is the Colombian navy, come in please', the voice slightly more insistent this time, not used to being ignored. To my relief the shoot bolt on the end of the big spinnaker pole springs shut, securing it on the mast. I reach for the hand-held VHF attached to my belt. ‘Coastguard, this is Juno’, I reply, slightly out of breath. ‘Juno, this is the Colombian coast guard, welcome to Santa Marta, we will escort you to the port’.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Chafed sheets

It is our third night at sea and we have made very good progress. This part of the Caribbean is notoriously windy and we have had strong trade winds since we left St Lucia; rarely less than 20 knots, gusting up to 30 around the squalls. We spent Saturday and Sunday on starboard gybe, sailing west to keep within the band of stronger wind, then on Monday morning we gybed onto port, heading south towards the headland at Punta Gallinas on the northern Columbian coast.  As I write at 0500 local time on Tuesday morning we have covered 580 miles in 60 hours, averaging almost 10 knots through the water - and that is fast.

Monday, 12 January 2015

World ARC start

Well this is it. Today is the start of the World ARC 2015: a circumnavigation of the globe, twenty yachts sailing from East to West along the trade wind route, around 26,000 miles in all. Crewed mostly by couples of our age and their friends, from every nationality, sailing in company. A life-long ambition for most. Years of planning for everyone just to get to the start line and today at midday we depart St Lucia on the first leg, heading for Santa Marta in Columbia.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Happy Christmas from Juno

We finish the ARC at around 11pm on Tuesday the 9th December, 15 days after we left Las Palmas. Our final gybe as we round Pigeon Island is now well-practiced and for the first time for two weeks we are sailing up-wind into 20 knots with a reefed mainsail. Just as we approach the finish, a large motor yacht drops anchor ahead of us, completely obscuring the line so we duck behind it and come up hard into the wind, shooting the line and barely missing the committee boat – now that would have been a bad way to finish.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


We crossed the finish line at 11pm last night. All well on Juno.

Thanks to everyone for your emails and comments. We finished 4th in Cruising B and 17th overall in the cruising division.

More details to follow after we have had some sleep!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day 15. Almost there

On the ARC in 2012 Kim brought with him a gift from Dr James Ashby, a close friend of his from Cornwall. If you have ever fished for crabs as a child you would recognise it immediately: a wooden frame wound with heavy monofilament fishing line, a large brass swivel impregnably attached to the end. When Mitchel, our grumpy fishing reel, gave up and cast all my best lures to the deep on our last Atlantic crossing, it was this hand line that came in to its own; we wound it onto Mitchel, despite his sulky protests, and hooked a big Dorado that we were able to winch in with no fear of the line breaking.

Monday, 8 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day 14 written by Fatty

Well get this! I have been invited from below decks to sit in the authors’ chair of the eloquently written Juno blog. This is surprising, given that my vocabulary stretches to that of an average ten year old, but perhaps the intention is to attract a younger readership.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Thirteen

We have been sailing on a broad reach all day, making reasonable progress and hitting our target of 200 miles in the past 24 hours, despite one hour of the day when we were almost stationary, all eyes focussed on the action at the stern of the boat.

Friday, 5 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Eleven

Today was an eventful day with disaster narrowly averted and I am pleased to report that everyone is safe and well but with Fatty nursing an injured hand. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Eleven

Yesterday started badly when I took over from Paul at 3am and he said ‘you might need your foulies’. This was an understatement. Rain was lashing the cockpit as he bade me goodnight and scuttled off to his dry cabin, leaving me sitting in puddles of water in the cockpit. Then things got worse: the wind dropped away leaving us rolling drunkenly in the swell, and still the rain fell. 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

ARC Day Ten guest written by Kez

With all this talk of the difference of having two girls as part of this crossing compared to two years ago (clean heads, delicacies for supper etc), I thought I might correct any impression that Fatty and I spend our time cleaning and cooking. In truth there is a very fair division of labour, with Paul a more than dab hand in the galley and Frewie was even caught yesterday baking bread. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

ARC Day Eight and Half Way

We have now covered almost 1,500 miles since we left Las Palmas a week ago, around half way to St Lucia. We celebrated this milestone last night with Dark and Stormies at happy hour, followed by chicken curry served with accompaniments created by Thermo, our high tech galley slave. This tropical mood has been brought on by a marked rise in temperature as we work our way south towards to the equator.

Monday, 1 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Seven

It is 10pm Juno time and I am on watch until midnight. We are on a broad reach and I have rigged a new sheet on our big genoa that reeves around a block on the port quarter, allowing the clew of the sail to rise, opening up the slot between the mainsail and the genoa, improving our downwind speed by a precious fraction of a knot.  I have realised that ocean sailing is a long game, not won by short sprints, but by sustaining above average boat speeds over the length of a passage.\

Saturday, 29 November 2014

ARC day six guest written by Paulus Windsor

It is perhaps the wrong approach but I can’t help drawing comparisons with my previous Atlantic crossing on Juno in 2012. It all comes flooding back – the bruising of various part of the body, sprained wrists from grabbing a rail at the last moment as we twist off the top of a wave and the plates, food and other accompaniments that are one moment securely placed on a table or work surface, are launched into midair on a port or starboard trajectory the next.

ARC 2014 Day Five

We continue our fast passage across the Atlantic today, tracking just south of the greater circle route, with another 24 hour run of over 200 miles.  All is well on board with everyone settled into the watch system and the routines of offshore sailing; and then we had a minor drama.

Friday, 28 November 2014

ARC 2014 Day Three

After a night of rolling downwind, the wind has backed to the North today, allowing us to stow the spinnaker pole and broad reach across the Atlantic in 20 knots of wind at 9 knots of boatspeed, reaching 11 knots in the gusts.   Our decision to head south yesterday was a good one as we avoided the wind hole that others endured.  Broad reaching is one of the great points of sail as we lean on the mainsail for stability while the genoa gives us drive, making for fast progress. 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

ARC 2014 Day One

We are underway at last. Our mainsail is set on our port side, our big genoa poled out on starboard and our smaller jib sheeted in to give us that extra half a knot, a new innovation suggested by Eddie at Oyster that we like a lot.  Half a knot over two weeks could get us to the rum punches in St Lucia almost a day earlier.

Sunday, 23 November 2014


This is my third ARC and the second time that the race has been postponed on my watch.  Last night the wind howled through the marina, shrieking in our rigging.  Yachts in the bay outside the marina dragged their anchors and one boat was on the rocks by the morning. In the nearby Santa Catalina hotel a car was crushed by a falling tree. Angry black squalls charge down off the hills and as they hit, they unleash wind and rain that bounces off the sea, whipping up the surface.  Despite our initial disappointment it’s a great decision to postpone until tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

We leave tomorrow!

Its the night before the start of the ARC and a gale is blowing through the marina making every one feel slightly jumpy. In fact the forecast for the start is very good with 20 - 25 knots from the NW, slowly veering and decreasing over the next few days.  The elusive Azores high is becoming well established over the mid Atlantic which should bring us those perfect trade winds for the crossing.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Las Palmas preparation for ARC 2014

We have finally made it to the start line of ARC 2014. Phew.

The ride down to Las Palmas from Lanzarote was fast. We left at 4am and covered 100 miles in 12 hours arriving at the reception pontoon in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria at 4pm. We filled up with fuel, spilling smelly diesel all over the decks as usual, trying to squeeze an extra few litres into the tank: this despite the absorbent pad fashioned ingeniously by Fatty from a personal hygiene product. We head for our berth and in the falling light we tie up next to our friends Mervyn and Amanda on El Mundo.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Lanzarote at last

At 0100 local time we round the breakwater in the pouring rain, into the calm and sheltered setting of Puerto Calero marina.  My prediction that we might outrun the weather front was premature and we have spent the last 8 hours dodging squalls in a wild ride down to Lanzarote.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

100 Miles to Lanzarote

One hundred miles to run to Lanzarote and we are sailing fast, consistently over 9 knots in 11 knots of wind. It is impressive that a fat cruising boat (sorry Juno) weighing 32 tons can convert wind into boat speed so efficiently.