Dante’s Atlantic Crossing

Dante Atlantic CrossingThe first time I ever crossed an ocean was by boat, not by plane! I am sitting here in the beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal marveling at what it took to get here. I am proud of myself for crossing an ocean in a boat and being promoted to deckhand. It all started when we left Cape Cod; we already had 11,000 nautical miles under our belt, and this would add another 3,000. When we left Cape Cod we were in the “washing machine,” which means that there are lumpy seas coming from two or more directions, and that was no fun at all. It was no fun for a couple reasons. First, the engine fumes give you headaches like you can’t imagine! (In these conditions we had to run the engine. We call it the iron jib.) And second, the boat smashes and rolls around crazily; lucky for us we have an auto pilot. If you have an auto pilot, you can set a course so Mom and Dad don’t have to steer the boat by hand. When you are in the washing machine you feel seasick, drowsy, and you don’t want to move at all. You have so little energy that you say to yourself, “I am going to blink now”, and then you blink. The washing machine lasted for two days.

Then the winds and seas started to ease and it became dead calm. When it is calm there is hardly any wind, which means that we have to put up the asymmetrical sail which takes a lot of work to put up. An asymmetrical sail is a large lightweight sail. Our asymmetrical sail is red, purple and white. It is the best looking sail on the boat. One reason that I was promoted to deckhand is because I helped put the asymmetrical sail up. in fact I am listed as a partial crew member on our insurance. Sometimes when it is dead calm, swells from the previous wind are still coming so it is super rolly. When it is windy it is more comfortable because: the seas are trying to roll the boat but with the wind pushing on the sail it steadies the boat. That way it doesn’t roll as much. When there is no wind and no swells it is the most comfortable! The only problem with the no wind no swell concept is that you have to motor and that means the headache gas (AKA engine fumes).

One day when it was dead calm we heard them, at first I thought that they were ghosts then we realized that they were dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins! They stayed swimming along the boat from about three in the morning to about seven in the morning. Then towards noon we saw a flying fish being chased by a dolphin fish. Then later that day we saw more dolphins, but they were the acrobatic, common dolphins. We were dolphined out by the end of the day. Then the wind started to pick up, psyche, it calmed to no wind again then it picked up, then it calmed down and it did this for a few days. When it was calm up went the asymmetrical then when it got windy down came the asymmetrical. Finally after 16 days Dad saw lights, the island of Flores was a tiny dot on the horizon but it kept getting bigger and bigger and even bigger! The windiest it ever was when we crossed the Atlantic was 40 knots when we were coming into the anchorage in Flores. After we got settled in to the anchorage we explored the island. The island has a small sleepy town that maybe consisted of at least 5000 residents on the island. We walked to a restaurant after we cleared into Portugal. On the way back to the boat we explored a small sea cave. It had lots of vivid colors on the celling.

The next day we walked to a small food mart and provisioned up then we walked to a park with a small river running through it and a gazebo in the middle of a small pond. Then we walked back to the boat. The next morning we left to go to the town of Horta on the island of Faial. In Horta they have a sea wall with paintings of people’s boats. It is a tradition to paint a picture of your boat in Horta, so we painted a picture of ours. While we had the paints out, we painted a model boat that I made in Cape Cod. While we were in Horta we also went to the volcano museum. We got to see a bunch of cool gemstones from around the world. Did you know that after the 1952 volcano eruption on Faial many Portuguese fled the island to America and Canada, many didn’t go back because they didn’t have anything to go back to. One Portuguese man who took care of a lighthouse right next to the volcano climbed up the stairs with seven cameras on his back to get photographs of the volcano eruption. The volcano museum is located right next to his lighthouse. The lighthouse is decommissioned now. Ten days after we arrived at Horta we left to cross the rest of the Atlantic. We would never have stayed so long if a storm hadn’t pinned us down in our slip. The first day after we left Horta was sort of rough, I did get seasick but luckily I didn’t throw up. The rest of the crossing flew by. In the first 3 days alone I read 7 books that were at least each 100 pages long. I am now reading a series called the adventures of Jack Blank. Each day mostly went like this; sleep, eat, read, eat, read, eat, sleep. Finally after 9 days we saw land, I was so excited that I couldn’t contain myself. When we were half a mile off shore our engine died, the fuse for our fuel pump came undone. Once Dad fixed it and added more fuel we anchored.

The next day we went up a river to a marina where we are now!!!!!!! On the way up the river we had to watch out for crab pots. We saw an old fort and other cool historic buildings. There is a bridge that crosses the river and it is the twin sister of the Golden Gate in San Francisco! My parents tricked me by saying look at the orcas under the bridge. I need glasses so the trick worked and I thought that they were real orcas until I realized that it was a mural! :-(. Finally we made it to the marina. We had to go through a set of locks to get inside of the marina. We walked to the marina office to check in to the marina. Then we walked around to stretch our legs. The next day we walked around town some more and we tried to find a battery charger but no such luck. My Mom knows a man called Felipe who worked at cisco. We went out to dinner with him and a few of his friends who had kids. One boy was named Frederico. We went to dinner by a plaza, and me and Frederico met a boy who was about my age who was playing soccer by himself. Then we started playing soccer. After a while Frederico’s father joined the game. The two goals were a big flight of stairs at one end of the plaza, and a doorway at the other end of the plaza. Felipe joined for a little while. Then our parents called off the game because it was getting late. By the time that we got back to the boat it was eleven o’ clock.

The Atlantic crossing had its hardships, but it also had its highlights. one of them was the dolphins, we loved the dolphins because of the excellent acrobatic shows that they put on for us. That’s all folks.

2 Responses to Dante’s Atlantic Crossing

  1. Giselle

    Dante, what an amazing description of your voyage! I learned a lot about what it’s like to sail across the Atlantic. I’m going to share your report with Skyler & Ben. I think they’d love to read this.

    Have fun exploring Europe! Just think of all the adventures still ahead of you.
    -Giselle

  2. mathias bonnet

    I enjoyed reading your story. At school everybody talks about you coming back( i think they miss you so do I)

    Your friend,
    Mathias
    P.S. did you watch the world cup?

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