Confessions From 233 Diesel St. 'Sir' Brio's Final Thoughts...

Preface.

Brio often modestly play's down his own writing skills. As Mark "Choppa" Read once said, he may be 'semi-bloody-illiterate', however this next piece, fresh off the press and written by the owner of 233 Diesel Street himself, will leave you with a tear in your throat and a lump in your eye. He humorously paints a picture, draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Have you got more Brio? The crowd will want more after this... 

Starlight feels a little strange without your presence. The fishing has slipped a little, however you'd be proud of our efforts. The Rasta shack is eerily vacant. Each time we walk through Diesel Street we give a nod and a shucker in the anticipation that there would be a man watching UFC or Rex Hunts fishing world on his laptop surrounded by colourful walls along with 3 wise monkey's chanting "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil"... Your efforts, character and input over the past 6 months and beyond have played a huge part in making the voyage what it was... Immense.

 Anyway, here's some insight into the life of a thoughtful, whispy man who lives in a very, very small cabin. The Rasta shack. 

'Sir' Brio of Starlight keeping a keen eye on going's on and making sure everything is above board. 

'Sir' Brio of Starlight keeping a keen eye on going's on and making sure everything is above board. 

 

Brio's final thoughts. 

Time to reflect on juicy thoughts from the Rasta Confessional.

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams”.

For a while there I could have mistaken Starlight for 'The Jenny Curran', Forrest Gump’s ship from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. If only it was Shrimp we were catching instead of fresh Tuna. For a while meal time solely consisted of fresh tuna with some kind of new seasoning or cooking method to spice things up. In fact nothing could have made me happier as head of fishing. I’m still stoked… thank God for Rapala.

Another Mahi Mahi landed thanks to the lads at Rapala.

Another Mahi Mahi landed thanks to the lads at Rapala.

It's twelve o'clock and it's a wonderful day… in Trinidad that is. However, its getting cold here in London as the sun goes down, four and a half thousand miles away. My mind wanders thinking about Starlight and its crew and together how they have filled my life and chest with riches fit for a pirate.

I guess it first began when my good mate Geggie introduced me to the Dent St Boys, Kew, Mick and Dylan. Geggie was frothing, keen to show me a home video of the guys renovating the house they bought in Merewether, Newcastle. Although I may have Jamie Jurie genes I’m not exactly into home improvements, however I was prepared to be educated.

Instantly I was blown away by the professional quality of the documentary as well as the go-for-broke attitude of the guys, from the initial bidding war, to the final BBQ to celebrate the completion of the project.

10 years later I have found myself included in the boys second impulse purchase and part of another hazy plan, this time known as 'The Wet Way Home'. It is an adventure of epic proportions and an honour to be a part of.

Its been almost 2 years now since Mick threw a boat hook through my computer screen while trying to achieve a Rum fuelled javelin record within the depths of Malta’s dry dock; Five months since the sea took the life of the ships computer, Frankenstein, during our first night at sea; and 4 months since I destroyed Kew’s laptop with a bowl of Two Minute Noodles.

On my final night in Barbados, with a heavy heart, a pickled liver, teary eyes and short armpit hair, I delivered some poorly rehearsed lines from an old Irish poem in order to bid the crew of Starlight farewell.

I was hoping to say something reflective and philosophical, a few words that would convey my love and good wishes to Starlight and her crew however the "Irish-bid" fair well to the Scottish vessel and her salty crew made little more sense than my decision to leave.

After landing each fish, Brio insisted the catch should be cooked on the Magma immediately. He never disappointed. 

After landing each fish, Brio insisted the catch should be cooked on the Magma immediately. He never disappointed. 

"May the sea rise up to meet you.

May the wind always fill your sails.

May the sun shine warm upon your face, until we meet again…"

I felt like a stunned rabbit in the spotlight looking at the confused sun burnt faces of Mick, Mike, Dylan and Toothy… I choked. I opened my mouth, however like Eminem 'the words don’t come out'.

Lucky for me I had some family support. My parents, along with my brother and girlfriend had made the pilgrimage to Barbados, a land of fresh fruit and vegetables to celebrate my 40th birthday with me and the boys of Starlight. A suitably special ceremony for the big four zero.

Dad piped up and said it best. With a youthful gleam in his eye and an open heart, he addressed the crew pointing out the obvious. “There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” Well, words to that effect… Either way, he was clearly stoked and inspired by the guys and I was a proud grasshopper.

Often in a drunken haze I found myself marvelling at everyone’s guts and gumption. Reminding myself how Starlight was saved from a slaty grave and turned into a golden winged ship. There is Dylan’s main mast, Kew’s Booms and the crazy trail of wires and modifications in the engine room tweaked by Mick. Toothies' fine tuning of the Radar offered a placebo-like remedy for the crew’s safety which proved invaluable. It was impressive to watch. The boat came full of problems for which the boys only had solutions.

I guess I’m having a midlife crisis... For some reason I’m now remembering Gylan strumming his  g-tar and shouting at the top of his Scottish lungs “If your gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough. When you get knocked down you gotta get back up. I ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer but I know enough, to know, If your gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough”. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that I’m looking forward to the day the planets align and I can get back on that horse called Starlight.

I’m already missing the sweet nectar from Toothie’s Rum Bar and the crazy party’s in the music room... The late night editing sessions with Mick and UFC fight night screenings in la cinema. Mornings are no longer the same without Dyl's hot scran and hearing about what Mike got up to last night.

Starlight’s the glue that keeps good mates together so it will never be good bye just see ya later!

Atlantic Crossing Days 18 and 19. Land Ahoy.

Rum...  Fact... Barbados was the first country ever to start brewing Rum.  Between the world renowned waves and the deep seeded rum history, Barbados threw down a heavy claim to be the first Caribbean island to harbour Starlight and her weary sailors after 19 days on the high seas.  This, in fact, is the final instalment of Starlights' adventures on the Atlantic Crossing. So cheers to anyone who found it interesting. As this news bulletin goes to press, Starlight is currently enjoying a bit of time in a day spa at Chagaramas, Trinidad. Yep, thats right, a day spa for yachts, more commonly known as a shipyard. Here, she will have here bottom cleaned, her varnish rubbed and polished as well as her engine serviced. A well deserved rest for the ol gal. 

Rum... 

Fact... Barbados was the first country ever to start brewing Rum. 

Between the world renowned waves and the deep seeded rum history, Barbados threw down a heavy claim to be the first Caribbean island to harbour Starlight and her weary sailors after 19 days on the high seas. 

This, in fact, is the final instalment of Starlights' adventures on the Atlantic Crossing. So cheers to anyone who found it interesting. As this news bulletin goes to press, Starlight is currently enjoying a bit of time in a day spa at Chagaramas, Trinidad. Yep, thats right, a day spa for yachts, more commonly known as a shipyard. Here, she will have here bottom cleaned, her varnish rubbed and polished as well as her engine serviced. A well deserved rest for the ol gal. 

Thursday 23 March - Day 18

Last night was a fun night of sailing. The wind started off light and by 2am there was a steady 20 - 25kts. We had the main at full hoist and the big Jib as the head sail. With a rolly swell, this was a fair stress on the new main mast, a good test. ‘Will it hold up across the Atlantic?’ ‘Did we use the right dimensions of timber?’ and most commonly ‘Will the glue joints hold under stress?’ These were the main questions I constantly thought about when I saw the wind picking up and the sails belly out. After all, the 13m main mast was home made… by us. I ran an eye up the mast a few times that night just to check the flex. It was fine. Looks like we did, in fact, do a good job on the mast construction. 

Come first light, the idea was to cheat a bit, and get the engine running to head for Bridgetown, Barbados. We wanted to see if we could find a berth before the end of the day. But Starlights’ sea water pump had other ideas. After Mick opened up the pump, replaced the cup washers and gave the pump a bit of TLC, still the cooling water for Starlights’ engine wouldn't flow. Mildly frustrated and a little dumbfounded, Mick was now resigned to the fact that we’d have to fit the spare electric sea water pump. But where was it? Rummaging through bilges and deeply stowed storage lockers like rats in the grain sack, we managed to locate the spare pump in the Generator spares box. Once located, Mick had an easy task fitting the temporary electric pump. Starlight was now running cooler than a kilted Scotsman on a breezy winters day, but still puffing white smoke like a Rasta on a weekend.  

Realising that we weren’t on track to make landfall this afternoon, we reefed the main sail and kept the Jib out. This would be enough sail flying to get us home, after all, we’d been at sea for 18 days, what’s another night, right?

Just after we’d set the sails, the fishing rod went berserk again. This time Toothy manned the rod and Brio the gaff hook. To the crew, landing these fish was starting too seem normal. With ease and efficiency, Toothy and Brio landed an 8kg Mahi Mahi. It was a catch 22, Toothy was stoked to catch the fish, however, not too keen on the gutting and filleting part. Toothy is a qualified chef, so he did most of the filleting. However, at this stage of the trip, he was over it. Looking over at him sitting on a wet aft deck, covered in blood and guts and stinking like fish, I asked “All good Toothy?” “I’m too tired for this right now mate” he said. I noticed another pair of his nice Billabong board shorts were plastered in fish gizzards. He didn't look too happy. 

The long awaited sailors cry of “Land Ahoy” seemed just on the horizon. We were 40NM out and each of the crew were keeping a keen seaman’s gaze on the horizon. We all wanted to be the one to make that call… “Land Ahoy”. However, Barbados was teasing us. The island of Barbados was covered in a tropical haze and even at 30NM out, the sailors could see nothing. “You reckon we’re in the right spot?” “Imagine if the computer chart was slightly out”, the watch keepers murmuredas they checked their paper chart plots. “Nah, we’re definitely in the right spot” they nodded and agreed. 

Finally, at less than 20NM from landfall, and just before sunset, land was sighted. And who better to call it than Mike, the sailor who wears contact lenses. The sailor who, as previously mentioned, was unknowingly chatting to another fellow sailor whilst he was going about his morning business due to his impaired vision. Either way, he was right, land had been sighted, we were stoked! To us, at this stage of the trip, this meant we had made it… Almost. We hoisted the Barbados courtesy flag along with the Q flag, the Maltese flag, the Burgee flag, and of course, the Boxing Kangaroo flag…

The unkept, hairy, haggard crew upon arrival. From left to right. Brio, Toothy, Mike, Mick and Dylan. 

Friday 24 March - Arrival.

At just after midnight, the men cleaned out the anchor locker, removed the packing from the spurling pipes and prepped the anchor. Starlight finally came to a standstill, and bobbing calmly in 10m of water, we dropped the hook. There was a clang and a rattle as 40m’s of chain poured out of Starlight’s bow into the Caribbean Sea. Finally, we were set. We had made it. 

We found half a bottle of Jamison’s whisky in the bilge, had a seat on the bow in the warm Caribbean air, and poured up a round for a toast. 

It was a weird feeling, there wasn't any cheering or celebrating (no man hugging or embracing either), we were all too buggered for that. We said cheers, nodded, and sat quietly enjoying the sound of the civilisation in the background. Then we went to sleep.   

We were woken early to the sound of men on the decks. ‘Who is on the boat?’ I wondered. ‘Customs maybe?’ I poked my head out the hatch and saw Brio holding a dirty dunny pipe. “I’m trying to fix the toilet” he said. ‘Wow, he’s keen’ I thought to myself. The toilet was still blocked from day 12 of the trip.

We cooked up a big breakfast feed of bacon, eggs, beans and snags but not before having a swim off the boat in the crystal clear water. 

Mick and I headed into customs in the tender to check the boat in and that’s where the froth began. We were met with smiling Rasta faces, cool accents and welcoming customs officials. We also found out that Sunday was a big cricket match, the West Indies V Pakistan at the famous Kingston oval. We were going to this for sure!

The sailors gather to shave their beards off in order to be accepted back into society. We also went to the cricket and celebrated Brio's 40th.

The sailors gather to shave their beards off in order to be accepted back into society. We also went to the cricket and celebrated Brio's 40th.

Check in complete, now we had to find a berth. With Brio’s 40th coming up, we had to get tied up somewhere otherwise someone would have to stay on board for an anchor watch. Im imagine being that guy, staying on watch after 19 days at sea… We didn't want that. Mick and I headed ashore to find the port office and they showed us the berthing arrangement. To enter the port, they had to raise a drawbridge which stops the traffic. Sounds cool we thought, then we saw the bridge. It was tiny. With barely enough room for Starlight to pass through, we thought we’d give it go. After all, this was the only port in town. So they gave us a time slot to open the bridge and we were there waiting. The bridge opened and hordes people looked on as Mick shot the gap. Without rubbing a fender, we were in. The bridge closed behind us symboling the end of a long chapter. The Atlantic crossing. Starlight was tied up for the first time in 20 days. Time for a cold frothy one.  

Starlight making a run for the finish line. 

Starlight making a run for the finish line. 

To sum it all up…

The trip was nothing short of immense. When we look back on it, there were a few heavy moments, but also a lot of funny ones too. ‘Heavy comedy’ you could say. 

We taught ourselves how to sail. But more importantly, how to sail Starlight. It wasn’t until the last few days that we truly figured out how to configure the sails effectively. I think if Kew had made the trip with us, we probably would’ve arrived a few days earlier having his sailing skills on board. However, we figured it out in entertaining fashion, and I don't think there are many people who can say that they taught themselves how to sail whilst crossing the second biggest ocean in the world in an 85yr old boat. A little crazy maybe, but ambitions nonetheless. 

Teaching ourselves how to sail had a few hairy moments but, for the most part, it was a comedy of errors or a barrel of laughs. 

Teaching ourselves how to sail had a few hairy moments but, for the most part, it was a comedy of errors or a barrel of laughs. 

We had our patience tested by the constant rocking of Starlight. The rocking became bearable for the most part. We learnt how to sleep with it, get around the decks with it and even use the bathroom with it. However, none of us got used to cooking with it. A constant source of frustration and the root of all wig outs. 

We’re now accomplished fisherman. Well, Brio is anyway. A photo of a 48kg Wahoo is one for the pool room I’d have to say. Hopefully a couple of his fishing skills have rubbed off on us as he is off in a few days, back to the real world of work which, I suspect, involves a lot less fishing.  

As a group, the 3 lads who shared the journey with us, Brio, Toothy and Mike along with Mick and myself, worked perfectly together in getting us to our destination. Everyone got on really well, with not a single derogatory comment directed at a fellow sailor the whole trip. Pretty remarkable I reckon. Not only that, everyone bought their own character to contribute to the daily entertainment. For me, that was the best part.  

Then there was Starlight herself. Could you imagine getting your 85 yr old Grandma off the couch, giving her a hip replacement and a couple of new knees, along with a pacemaker, and saying “Right, off you go. You’ve got to run a marathon”… “You can take as long as you want, but you have people’s lives in your hands, so you’d better bloody make it across the line”. I guess thats the only way I could liken what Starlight has done for us. She has run a marathon, and although she’s a little tired now, we’ll give those knees and hips a little love and a bit of lube, and she’ll no doubt be ready to do it all again. Not only a piece of history restored, but a piece of history still telling stories.

 

With Thanks…

A big thank you to Charles Kirkby who was our person ashore, weather man and ships advisory mechanic. I bet you felt like you were on board, we called you from the sat phone that many times. 

Also, a big thanks to the, parents (my mum especially), family and friends, (and of course, Gab-hun), who pretended not to worry too much about us while we were out there. I know the “spot o” location finders’ were a bit sporadic, but hey, it makes it more exciting when we send them. 

To Mon, Chaz and Arabella for the ridiculous amount of frozen cooked meals you made us. We ate them for the back half of the trip once our fresh food ran dry. 

Then there was the help of the following companies who either sponsored us, or hooked us up with free gear. They definitely contributed to making it a much more enjoyable experience. 

Rapala. I think you’ll be pretty happy with the fishing report once Brio sends it your way. Some interesting fish and some amazing eating. I reckon some of the footage will be all time as well. 

Lampoon Group. A big cheers for hooking us up with the GoPro’s. The footage is nothing short of immense. Im sure you’ll find the cameras were put to good use. 

Magma BBQ’s. Some of the fish we cooked up along the way was incredible. We’ll send you some pics and hopefully you’ll be able to use some for your advertising.  

Max Sea. What more can I say, you got us here. The computer charts were spot on for the whole trip. 

Billabong. Thanks for the shirts and shorts!

MIB insurance brokers. We made it across. Does that alter our no claim bonus at all?

Medcomms Malta. Thanks for the “Spot O”. Our loved ones loved seeing the location updates. 

An last but not least, MYS Supplies, France. Cheers Stephan for the life raft and the other countless safety items that you kindly supplied free of charge. We didn't need to use the life raft, so that means I’ll be able to catch you for coffee next time I’m in the South of France. 

And to everyone for reading… We hope you found the voyage mildly entertaining… Cause we sure did. 

The track Starlight took as she wiggled her way across the Atlantic Ocean.  

The track Starlight took as she wiggled her way across the Atlantic Ocean.  

 

 

Atlantic Crossing Days 16 and 17

Today's story involves an engine that runs hotter than the @thewetwayhome's instagram account, as well as, the hottest topic of the trip... The story of the persistent fisherman and his long awaited giant Wahoo. Day 17 had a bit going on. Have a read and tell us what you think.   

Today's story involves an engine that runs hotter than the @thewetwayhome's instagram account, as well as, the hottest topic of the trip... The story of the persistent fisherman and his long awaited giant Wahoo. Day 17 had a bit going on. Have a read and tell us what you think.   

Tuesday March 21 - Day 16

This morning brought about the lightest winds we’ve had so far. I know I said this earlier, but today was defiantly the stillest of winds, ranging from 5 to 10kts. So, after trying to sail and not managing more than 2 kts, it would’ve been stupid not to turn on the old engine. 

“Oi lads! I think she’s overheating, the sea water temp is over 70’C” the watch keeper said with concern. At around 4pm, Toothy noticed the sea water cooling temperature was soaring above the norm. We immediately shut the old gal down and hoisted the sails. Something had gone wrong with the sea water cooling pump and the old Gardner engine was running hotter than @thewetwayhome’s Instagram account. After a few hours in the hot engine room and numerous calls to Charlie for advice, we were still no better off. We couldn't cool the engine. Every time we kicked it over, it looked like Starlight was exhaling a super toke from a shisha pipe. Between the smoke and the steam, the call was made to let it rest for the night. If we couldn't sort it, we would be relying on sails only to make land fall, which was still over 200NM away.   

With the ever so reliable Gardner engine out of service, and only two sails up, we would have to figure out a way to maximise sail area in the light winds once the sun comes up in the morning. 

Check out sheer immensity of Brio's fish... It's almost as long as him. 

Check out sheer immensity of Brio's fish... It's almost as long as him. 

Wednesday March 22 - Day 17

Upon commencing my watch at 1am, I noticed a strange clunking in the ships steering gear every time the the auto pilot adjusted course. 'What the hell is that?' I thought of the unfamiliar sound. I had to have a look. So, I pulled off the timber cover panel behind the steering wheel and instantly found the problem. The spindle that extends from the ships steering wheel to the rudder cables had come loose. The steering gear was literally hanging by the last thread of a bolt. Coincidentally, around the same time, Mick showed up. He’d been roused by the pain in his once dislocated shoulder and was on the hunt for some pain killers. ‘You beauty’ I thought to myself, and immediately roped him into help out. As you can imagine, he was delighted. We grabbed the socket set, spanners and couple more nuts and bolts to hold the steering gear together. We then managed to cover ourselves in grease and sweat, and finally fixed the steering gear. Another little test presented by our beloved, ageing, Scottish beauty. 

I had the feeling Starlight was going to make us work for the last 200NM of the trip. 

 

I’d only just finished my watch at 3am and bang on sunrise, I woke to, “Hey Dyl, I might need a hand. I got a fish on”, Brio said, as he pulled open the hatch above my bed, with a fishing rod in hand. “Righto” I said, dusting my eyes off. I hopped straight out the hatch and said “what do you need me to do?” “Grab the gaff hook” he said, stating the obvious. “Feels like a big one” Brio said. Ok, ‘time to wake up’ I thought. As the fish inched closer to the boat, we got a good look at it. Wholly shit, it’s a monster! “Have you got a plan here Brio? How should I gaff this big thing?” “Well, it might help if you turn the gaff around the right way”, Brio suggested, pointing out that, in my half conscious state, I had the gaff hook around the wrong way.

Finally the fish was a couple of meters from our reach, but he saw the gaff hook, spooked, and he was off. He ran the line out on the drag for about 20m before settling down again. Once again, Brio wound it closer to the reach of the long man armed with a gaff hook. This time I was going to have a crack. At only meters from the boat, I could hear Brio in the background, saying “hit it, hit it”. Boom! I hit it, and, believe it or not, I hit it perfectly. If it was a human, the gaff went through its shoulder and back out its chest. However, that was just the start of the wrestle. We now had to bring this thing on board. Bewildered, it tried to shake the hook, and initially I lost my footing. On the second attempt, I managed to get him to the capping rail, and then, with Brio’s help, we pulled him in board. 

We celebrated wildly, erupting in cheers and screaming like primates. We high five’d once, and then shared a prolonged stare that bordered on creepy. We fought the urge to embrace and, realising that neither of us was wearing a T shirt, settled for a second high five before humanly putting the beast of a fish out of its misery. 

With the fish now safely landed on deck, only now did we realise the sheer size of it. It was a monster. We hoisted it on a halliard and hooked up the scales. The Wahoo weighed in at a whopping 48kg. Yep, Kilograms, not Pounds. 

Due to all the commotion on deck, the lads from the cabins below came up one by one to see what all the fuss was about. Toothy was first to reach the aft deck and couldn't believe his eyes when he saw the fish. “Wholly Dooley” he said, before nature called. The ships toilet was still blocked from Brio’s morning of mayhem the other day, so Toothy perched himself on his favourite part of the bulwark and quietly went about his business. Next up on deck was Mike. Mike wears contact lenses and this particular morning, he hadn't put them in. However, he could still make out the size of the monstrous fish that lay on the aft deck. “Wow, well done lads” he remarked, squinting to make out the fish. The next bit was the funny part though. Not realising what Toothy was up to due to his impaired vision, he went over to him and started chatting about the size of the fish. Without his contacts in, it just looked like Toothy was sitting down on the capping rail. They chatted for some time before Toothy finally said “Hey Mike, do you mind giving me a sec man? Your kind of putting me off”. Finally, realising what was going on, Mike said “oohh crook Toothy, are you taking a shit? You are aren’t you, you’re shitting”. Toothy just gave him a creepy smile and a nod as Mike backed away, a little scarred.  

Today also saw the re-birth of Starlight’s main sail. Knowing that the wind would be light for much of the day, we decided to remove the lashing at the foot of the sail, effectively detaching it from the boom. With only 12kts of wind, and Starlight sporting only the mainsail and the big Jib, Starlight managed a pleasant 5kts in the light air. Removing the boom allowed the sail to belly out a lot more and catch the light wind which was hitting us on our port quarter from the SE. 

Once the sails were set and we were on course for the day, Mick jumped back into the engine room to see if he could get the sea water pump happening again. He suspected that the pump might be ok and there could possibly be a blockage somewhere. So he traced it back, all the way from the exhaust and the water seemed to pass ok. It must be the pump then, he thought. So with the sun setting, and the Gardner not running as cool as it’s reputation,  the day’s work was done. He’d have another crack at it in the morning. 

“Should I cook pancakes for dessert?” asked Mick. “ooohh yeah”, “do it”, “you won’t”, were some of the replies from the lads. With this potentially being the last night of the Atlantic crossing (this statement is heavily dependent upon wind speed and direction tomorrow), Mick thought he’d go all out and make a dessert for his fellow seaman to top off an amazing feed of Wahoo. The pancakes had all the trimmings, lemon, sucre, Nutella, biscuit crumbs (scotch finger biscuit crumbs) and strawberry jam. Not a bad effort considering we were supposed to be down to just rations by now. 

Sailors and a Wahoo. 

Sailors and a Wahoo. 

Atlantic Crossing Days 13, 14 and 15

The third quarter of the crossing brought about the re-birth of the drone , some personal grooming, a serious medical injury, and a bit of rum soaked sailing. 

The third quarter of the crossing brought about the re-birth of the drone , some personal grooming, a serious medical injury, and a bit of rum soaked sailing. 

Saturday March 18 - Day 13

Today saw the lightest winds of the trip so far. With the wind shifting NE through SE at only 10kts, we were having trouble getting Starlight moving. We hoisted every stitch of sail we had but couldn't manage more than 3kts. And with the light variable winds, sometimes that 3kts wasn't even in the right direction. However, determined to try to sail most of the way, we persevered with it all day. As sunset approached, we calculated that we’d only gained 30NM since day break. At this stage of the trip, that was pretty demoralising. We made the call to motor through the night. 

We gave the old Gardner a kick in the guts, set a course and stowed the sails. Just as we were coiling down, we noticed a really strong burning smell. There was a bit of white smoke coming out of the engine exhaust. Heavy. The sea water cooling pump had not been running and the engine was starting to overheat. We switched it off immediately and let the engine cool down for 20mins.

“Faaaark… Help Help”, heard the lads in the wheelhouse. We ran down to the engine room to see what Mick was up to. “I popped my shoulder out, quick, help”. He grimaced as Toothy grabbed his left arm to try and help him relocate his dislocated shoulder. After a few painful attempts, his shoulder was back in place with a “crunch”. We got most of the action on film too, cringe worthy viewing though… Righto, back to starting this engine…

We bled the sea water pump of air and got it working again. I then engaged the engine and increased the revs to head off on our course, but here was the worrying part, the increase in revs didn't stop. Soon the engine was screaming at over 1000 rpm. “Shut it down” I yelled from the wheelhouse to the engine room and Mick hit the kill switch. “What are you doin up there?” He shouted once the engine died, thinking it was me on the throttle who’d rev’d it out. “Wasn’t me man”, I replied, “the engine had a mind of its own”. Really weird. So we tried it again, same thing happened… Mick called Charlie for a bit of insight, but he said the same thing that we were thinking. We’d have to rig something up to control the revs. A few trial and errors later, and a couple of zip ties, and Starlight was chugging away again at a steady 700rpm. 

The old Gardner engine has had a long trip by this stage. Mick reckons it'll be fine though...

The old Gardner engine has had a long trip by this stage. Mick reckons it'll be fine though...

The sailor’s beards. We’re all running beards at the moment. Apparently thats what you do on an Atlantic crossing, you grow a beard. The lads all look really old I reckon with bearded faces. I personally cant wait to shave the itchy thing off. 

Sunday March 19 - Day 14

Today marks 2 weeks at sea for Starlight and her crew. It’s good going, I reckon, that after all the rocking, nobody has had a proper wig out. Don't get me wrong, everyone has had their moments. Cooking seems to produce the most testing moments. I had a mini wig today, come to think of it, while I was cooking lunch. After boiling the jug, Starlight took a good roll and the kettle tipped out all over the bench and down the front of my Billabong boardies, so I lobbed it out the window to give it some time out. But other than a few moments like that, the crew have managed to stay relatively sane. 

“Should we crack a bottle of rum?” a thirsty sailor enquired. With a nod and a grunt from his fellow seaman, the approval was unanimous. It was a nice day, so we thought we should have a couple of scoops. With an easy day of sailing, the lads made short work of a bottle of Captain Morgans while we kept an eye on the sails from the bow. 

“See that sunset” explained Brio, “thats a Caribbean sunset. Look how close we are”. He had a point, we were now only 340nm from our destination. Starlight’s arrival to the land of reggae and rum seemed to be just over the horizon.  

Sailors and rum. 

Sailors and rum. 

Monday March 20 - Day 15

Today started way to early for me. With the start up of the engine, I knew this could mean only one thing, another ripped sail. But I didn't get up, I just lay there and waited until I was requested by a fellow sailor. Realising I was sporting a mild hangover, I was roused by Mick who confirmed the ripped sail. So we got out on deck, strapped our action man harnesses on, changed out the torn sail for another ageing sail and shut down the engine just in time for my night shift to begin. Looks like another day of practicing our sewing once the sun comes up. 

“Can I borrow your beard trimming clippers?” Brio asked Toothy. “Sure” he said. “They’re in my room”. “Cheers man, I need to neaten this beard up a bit, its itchy as…” After sorting out his rogue whispy beard hairs, Brio decided his arm pits needed a bit of a trim as well. Perched at the door of the wheelhouse, wind blowing inward, Brio trimmed up his armpit hair. “What are you up to?” I asked, noticing the armpit hair trimming taking place next to the galley. “Just giving them bit of a trim” he said proudly. “This is how Paula likes it”…

Around midday saw the re-incarnation of the DJI Phantom Drone. I must say, I had my doubts after the last episode, however, like the biblical Jesus, who miraculously rose from his tomb to be reborn again, so too was the fate of Starlights’ Drone. Mick had performed a week long surgery in bursts of excitement infused frustration and today was to be the big day. Flight day. I was bloody nervous. Could this thing even fly? Will it fall straight out of the sky and into the piss?Who knows? However, with the confidence of Tom Brady before a Super Bowl, Mick was about to try it. I was in charge of the catch and release. To the astonishment of the onlooking seamen, the Drone took flight, no worries. As it circled Starlight, “ooo’s” and “aaahhh’s” escaped the mouths of the sailors trying to find words to describe what they were seeing on the control monitor. The perspective of Starlight from the air with 4 sails up, was nothing short of amazing. All was going well. With a few passes of the ship and a near collision with an inquisitive Albatros, it was time to land. The pressure was on. If we ditched it, not only would we loose the expensive toy, but we’d also loose that incredible footage that we all just witnessed. As it approached the stern, I made myself as long as possible (thats pretty long) and readied myself for the catch. Resembling a youthful, and slightly more handsome, Larry Bird, I reached up and plucked the Drone out of the sky only to loose my footing. But all was good, I fell in board and the Drone was landed safely. Good job by the pilot, I’ll say.   

By the afternoon, the pilot was ready for another flight. “Let’s get the Drone up for golden hour” ‘Spielberg’ suggested. So once again, I held the Drone ready for take off. But for some reason, the controller wouldn't connect to it. So I thought I’d put it down for a bit. As I did, the Drone sprung to life, all 4 propellors started spinning at full pace, one of which chopped straight through my finger nail and into the flesh. Still holding on, I pointed it skyward once more as the pilot shouted “let go, let it fly”. Righto, I thought, “Fly, get outta here”. As it awkwardly took flight, we all thought it was going in the drink for sure. Wait til you see the comedy of footage from this session… Its good for a laugh. 

Some of the footage the drone captured during the last few days of the trip was unreal. 

Some of the footage the drone captured during the last few days of the trip was unreal. 

Atlantic Crossing, Days 10, 11 and 12

After passing the halfway mark, Starlight cruises off into the sunset with an air of confidence about her. But how where the crew to know what was over the horizon? Torn sails, record speeds and a serious plumbing issue made the Starlight news bulletin this time round...  

After passing the halfway mark, Starlight cruises off into the sunset with an air of confidence about her. But how where the crew to know what was over the horizon? Torn sails, record speeds and a serious plumbing issue made the Starlight news bulletin this time round...  

Wednesday March 15 - Day 10

As the sun dawned, I woke to a bewildered and somewhat frustrated man trying to rouse me. “Oi, wake up, I need a hand. We’ve ripped a sail again”… “Fark me, another one” was all I could mumble under my breath as I jumped out of bed to give him a hand. The sheet of the Jib sail had snapped, so we harnessed up and jumped out into the bow sprit netting to pull the sail down. Fortunately, the 2 tear’s on this sail were tiny, so an easy fix, even for an unskilled Taylor like myself. However, the other headsail was still under repair, so once again, we’d have to crank over the old Gardner for a few hours until we repaired the Jib.

I got my sew on and managed to bodge up the 2 small repairs on the Jib, so we got it flying again and decided to get started fixing the Genoa right away. I think all the lads had a hand in this repair.

Today was the first day that I really noticed we were low on fresh food. With a couple of soggy banana’s, a rogue looking cabbage and a canister of protein powder, the once overflowing fruit hammock was now looking pretty grim… Not to worry though. We still had a freezer full of pre-made meals that Charlie, Monica and Arabella had so generously prepared for us before we left Malta. We’re all pretty happy that we didn't tap into this stock before now. Once again, cheers guys. 

Just before sunset, the wind picked up to a solid 30kts and was still climbing. With Toothy on watch as the helmsman, Starlight hit her top speed for the trip under sail - 6.4kts. Toothy’s claiming it was his nifty helming skills, but everyone else reckons he just got lucky, nonetheless, the Starlight speed record currently has his name on it. 

With the wind still pushing higher still, the decision was made to lower the sails for the night. The last thing we needed was another ripped sail, especially in the middle of the night.

Toothy celebrating his new sailing speed record. A crushing 6.4kts. The record has been invigilated and recorded in the ships' log book.

Toothy celebrating his new sailing speed record. A crushing 6.4kts. The record has been invigilated and recorded in the ships' log book.

Thursday March 16 - Day 11

I arrived for my morning shift this morning to a coffee and a cooked breakfast of rice and eggs. What a treat… Mick had cooked his first meal of the trip. “You will make a great house wife one day” I commented. “Shut up and eat your scran” was his advice. 

After a couple of coffees, we prepared to get the sails up again. This time, “Spielberg” (Mick) wanted to attach a GoPro to the Mizzen gaff before we hoisted the sail. Would be a pretty rad angle we thought, so we gave it a go. Stay tuned for the footage. 

With a buzz from the drag of the fishing line and a cheer from Brio, it sounded like dinner was potentially hooked. We spotted the Mahi Mahi, sporting its psychedelic rainbow attire, well before it was even close to the boat. It was a smaller one, but enough to feed 5 hungry men with a shortage of fresh food. Good job Brio.

With an uncharacteristic South East wind today, we set the sails on a port tack. We had a big following swell, so the downwind run would be too rocky. With the sails set in such a way that following the desired course (the red line on the computer screen) of 265 degrees was impractical, the motor-yacht-trained helmsman on each shift grew increasingly frustrated as Starlight sailed further and further off course. Its funny, because, once you’ve been at sea on a rocky boat for almost 2 weeks, such trivial things as being 20NM’s off course on a 2000NM journey can be enough to frustrate the hell out of an already twitchy sailor. “We’ll make it up tomorrow on a starboard tack” we decided… First world problems…

"Spielbergs' idea for a GoPro mount on the Mizzen gaff sail was a winner. 

"Spielbergs' idea for a GoPro mount on the Mizzen gaff sail was a winner. 

Friday March 17 - Day 12

After setting the sails on a starboard tack to counter yesterdays’ track, I was under the impression that today was going to be relatively relaxed. And for the most part, it was. The weather was balmy, the sun was out and the trade winds were still pointing us toward our destination. 

“Whoever blocks it fixes it”…Where the words that echoed through Brio’s mind as he hit the flush button for the second… third… fourth time, to no avail. “Man, I did numerous courtesy flushes and I only used 3 squares. This cant be happening…” he said in disbelief. “I probably shouldn’t have had that perculated coffee this morning, it sent me over the edge”. Armed with a bucket, a plunger and an empty milk carton, Brio went into battle. With these tools falling short for the task at hand, dismantling the head was the next option. The good news is, the macerator is fine, the bad news, there is a blockage the size of a subway train and as stubborn as a rum drunk sailor that still needs to be cleared. Stay tuned to see how this one unfolds… 

With the dunny out of action, I told the lads that they could use mine. But I guess the old “you block it, you unblock it” courtesy scared them off, they didn't want to risk it. So the lads started hanging over the bulwark the old fashioned way. “Its quite liberating” one sailor said. “This way, I can use as many squares as I desire” another remarked. With the fresh breeze and no chance of splash back, everyone seems delighted with the new arrangement.  

The afternoon saw the first whale sighting of the trip for the crew of Starlight. But this whale sighting wasn't like any other whale sightings I’d been around for. This whale was trying to stealth us out. He was coming in for a close look but trying to remain under the radar, not showing off at all. He flanked us for about 5 mins the first time, without taking a breath and keeping his distance. Toothy alerted us of his presence - “What the hell is that! A shark? Its a shark! Its massive! Its a big whitey!” It wasn't a shark, but he was close, and big it was. It then appeared for a second pass and swam right across our bow, much to the disgust of ‘Spielberg’ because he was still trying to ready the GoPro for action and missed the shot. 

To finish the day off, we had a couple of sundowners on top of the wheelhouse roof and let Starlight steer herself. With 4 sails up, she was balanced perfectly, so we enjoyed the rooftop sunset beers and happily talked rubbish until the sun went down. One of the more memorable moments of the trip. 

Starlight steers herself... Sundowners on the roof. 

Starlight steers herself... Sundowners on the roof. 

Atlantic Crossing Days 8 and 9

A seaman gazes into the sunset wondering what days 8 and 9 of the trip will bring. 

A seaman gazes into the sunset wondering what days 8 and 9 of the trip will bring. 

Monday March 13 - Day 8 

This morning, the wind was straight up the chuffer. We poled out the two head sails and ran with it. Easy going, but again, we were rocking like we were at a Grinspoon concert (Grinspoon have just reunited for a 20th anniversary tour, in case y'all haven't heard). With the weather and the wacked out watch roster, the crew were starting to show signs of fatigue. So we had a meeting in the wheelhouse and suggested a few different options. We figured if we do three night hours each, part solo and part with company, we’d get a lot more rest. Only thing was, when you were on solo, you had to be onto it, especially if the sails were up. Hold your course and keep a keen eye on the wind speed and direction.  

Not long after we had the sails set, I was enjoying a coffee on the aft deck and noticed that the lure on the end of the fishing rod looked like a whopper. Interested, I asked Brio “What lure have you got on today mate?” “The big dog” he replied. “Im going for a Marlin today”. “Cool” I said as Brio came aft to have a closer look. “Ah, fucker” he said, “there’s a big chunk of seaweed on the lure again”. He’d been having issues with an abundance of weed that was floating by and getting tangled in his line and lures. But as the clump of seaweed got closer, it started glinting in the sun. Brio was on! Without too much of a fight, all of a sudden, we had a 7kg Mahi Mahi on the aft deck. The poor fella must’ve been on the hook for some time. Looks like Mahi Mahi steaks for dinner.

The Mahi Mahi with a Rapala lure hooked firmly in its gob. This shot is taken from underwater with the GoPro. Notice the wild psychedelic colours it sports before the colours fade in the next shot.  

The Mahi Mahi with a Rapala lure hooked firmly in its gob. This shot is taken from underwater with the GoPro. Notice the wild psychedelic colours it sports before the colours fade in the next shot.  

“Lads!!! We’ve got a bit of a ‘situation’ here!!!” Mick yells with panic in his voice. The lads quickly ran down to the engine room to see what all the commotion was about. “The bilges are filling with water” he said. Wow, they really were. And fast too. Heavy. ‘Where’s it coming from?’ I wondered… I had a look up forward wondering if we’d hit something, while Toothy and Brio rigged up the portable electric bilge pump to assist the 24V pumps. I couldn't see any water ingress up forward apart from the usual dank moisture in the anchor locker. By the time I got back to the engine room, Mick had found the source of the water. A valve had been left open on the fire pump which we’d used earlier to wash the fish guts off the aft deck. The open valve had created a syphon effect, and water was pouring into the ship from the sea cock (through hull fitting) faster than the bilge pumps could pump it out. We closed the sea cock and let the bilge pumps pump the unwanted water overboard where it belonged. Crisis averted. But hey, what an eye opener. Such a small oversight that could've been a catastrophe. To add a bit more concern to the situation, we were approaching the halfway point of the voyage, we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the middle of nowhere and hadn't spotted another ship for days. 

So, the bilges are all good. They had an unwanted rinse of salt water, but all timber boats leak a bit. Its the nature of timber. Anyway, a bit of salt water in the bilge is a good thing apparently… so the salty old sea dogs like Charlie and Goldsmith say anyway. “Seaman’s gravy its called lads” they would tell us. The salt water stops the growth of bacteria and parasites that live in dank fresh water, helping to preserve the timber.

We finally cleared up the tools and bilge pumps thinking that we were in for a relaxed afternoon only to return to the wheelhouse to see our Genoa sail flogging like a seaman who’d been at sea for a little too long. The sail was torn right up near the head so we got it down quick smart. Another one for the in house seamstress. Wow, what a day. With the sun setting and the sails unbalanced in the absence of the Genoa sail, we had no choice but to stow the remaining sails and run the Gardner engine for the night.   

Brio and the Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) that had been on the line for most of the morning without any of us realising. 

Brio and the Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) that had been on the line for most of the morning without any of us realising. 

Tuesday March 14 - Day 9

With the flap of wings that sounded distinctly like a humming bird, Brio’s night watch had been rudely interrupted by a slightly disorientated Flying fish. The silly little bugger had ended up taking flight straight into the ships wheelhouse and onto the lap of the ships ‘head of fishing’. “Easiest piece of bait I’ve ever come across” Brio reckons.  

Brio with his morning collection of free flying fish bait. 

Brio with his morning collection of free flying fish bait. 

Tuesday morning saw calm winds and a small but confused swell. We thought today would be a good day to try out the big main sail. With a massive sail area and a heavy boom, the main sail on Starlight must be set with caution. But setting the sail is the easy part… Once hoisted, the main is quiet a sight. A big tan coloured sail hovering overhead with a shinny timber boom. But sure enough, no sooner had the sail reached full hoist, the wind started blowing like a sailor full up on baked beans. The main mast was heeling over in its deck mounted bracket and had a healthy flex in it from boom to gaff. With the engine off and the main as the only sail up, 2.7kts was all Starlights could manage. I think Mick and I both said at the same time, “Get it down”. It wasn't worth the stress. Stowing this sail in a rocky sea is pretty hairy. You need a man aloft on the wheelhouse roof (harnessed on of course) and at least 2 men on the halliards. You then turn up into the wind to take the power out of the sail, then simply drop the sail, easy… Yeah right. Maybe on a modern boat… So with Mick aloft, down came the sail. With the sheet (the rope that secures the boom) winched in tight, the 250kg boom was still swinging in the wind like a wrecking ball ready to take out the wheelhouse. “Just catch it Mick” Brio and I suggested helpfully. We watched on as Mick tried to guide the boom into its seat with all his strength, but without success. “I think I might’ve busted a hernia” he later confessed after the struggle he had aloft. Finally, the boom was seated. Next job, was to control the ascending sail. As it spilled its wind and fell to the wheelhouse roof, Mick jumped on it like Steve Irwin used to do when wrestling wild reptiles, limbs flying everywhere. We chucked the sail ties on and decided to forget about that sail for now. 

We cooked up a mean, Popeye style, brunch of eggs and spinach and talked about the next sail configuration. We were determined to have it dialled in by the end of the day, and we did.

We got up 4 sails that balanced the boat perfectly. I wont even try to explain it, just check the pic. But lets just say, we were going the fastest we had all trip, breaking the Starlight speed record at a crushing 6kts. This sail configuration was aptly named the “Halfway Configuration”. Could we keep this up? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we had a party to arrange. 

Starlight and her crew had just hit the halfway mark of the Atlantic crossing. To celebrate, we were going to have a BBQ and maybe 2 beers each. With steaks and snags on the Magma BBQ, we enjoyed a couple of cold ones and acknowledged the milestone of now being over the hump. It was all down hill from here, so to speak. Or maybe we were just trying to ignore the fact that we were now at the furthest point from rescue that you could possibly be in the Atlantic Ocean. Either way, the beer tasted good. The beers aptly had pirates on the tin and once we had our 2 each, Toothy surprised us all with one of the best tasting Pina Colada’s anyone’s ever had in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Needless to say, we were all pretty stoked to reach this point. 

The sail config that balanced Starlight perfectly. 2 head sails, a fisherman's and a reefed mizzen. 

The sail config that balanced Starlight perfectly. 2 head sails, a fisherman's and a reefed mizzen. 

Atlantic Crossing. Days 4,5,6 and 7

Have a read below of what we got up to on days 4,5,6 and 7. 

Have a read below of what we got up to on days 4,5,6 and 7. 

Thursday March 9 - Day 4

I woke this morning to the now unfamiliar sound the the Gardner engine a got up immediately to see why it had been switched on. Mick said that he did an oil check on the gear box transmission to find it bone dry, a bit worrying to say the least. Where had all the oil drained to? Any why??. He called Charlie and he suggested it might have something to do with keeping the engine in neutral while we sail (keeping the engine in neutral allows the propeller to spin under sail, sometimes erratically, however, creating less drag. To the contrary, if you were to leave engine in gear, the propeller would simply act as a massive handbrake as it would not spin). Anyway, we filled it back up with oil and ran the engine again to spread the oil throughout the transmission. All seemed ok for now, touch wood. 

Mick on the job adding some more oil to the 1940's Gardner engine. 

Mick on the job adding some more oil to the 1940's Gardner engine. 

Friday March 10 - Day 5

I started my watch this morning at 4am. With a rising swell and the wind picking up, we were sailing along nicely at around 5.5kts. Come 7am, the wind had reached 25kts and was gusting 35kts. I made the call to drop the Jib sail and to do so, had to rouse everyone from their slumber. We took down the staysail first with ease and the Jib followed suit. We then chucked a reef in the mizzen before raising the staysail again, this is where it went a bit pair shaped. We hadn't sheeted in enough (the rope that anchor’s the clue of the sail to the ship) and the sail luffed (flogged) violently. Profanities flew from all the lads mouths as the staysail ripped before reaching full hoist. “Get it down, get the thing down!” We got it down before any major damage occurred and got away with only a small tear in the foot. It should be an easy fix for the in house seamstress. It was at this moment that we all looked at each other and realised no one knew how to sew… Classic. How hard could it be? 

So we got the spare staysail out on deck only to realise that the hanks were too small to fit the shroud (for you non sailors going “what the hell is he on about?” it just means that we weren't able to hoist the sail), amateurs…  We should’ve checked this before the trip. Looks like we’ll have to run the engine for a few hours while we sort out the issues with the staysails. Mick got his sew on, meanwhile, I lashed on some larger hanks so we could render our spare staysail useful. 

With the wind now gusting 35-40kts, “the head of weather” checked his 6 day old weather forecast and said, “Hmm, this isn't on the forecast”, we all laughed. Toothy made a really funny joke.  

Well into the afternoon, Starlight rolled, twisted and jerked in the increasing swell. We would sink into the troughs of the waves and the following crests would be well over Starlights’ roof height. Only mildly rough weather, but lets hope it doesn't get any worse. 

Removing the spare staysail hanks before fitting ones that actually fit the shroud.

Removing the spare staysail hanks before fitting ones that actually fit the shroud.

Saturday March 11 - Day 6

When the sun broke this morning, nothing much had changed. The wind was still blowing its tits off and the swell was still around 4m. I got stuck into a bit of carpentry which is always fun when there is a bit of swell pushing through. The piece of hardwood that supports the belay pins had come loose on the port side of the main mast. Lucky we saw this, cause if it had’ve broke free with a sail sheet attached to it, it would’ve been like letting loose some medieval weapon which would’ve been flogging like crazy on the clue of the sail. Mike and I re-enforced it with a few longer coach bolts and as a precaution and did the same to the other 4 around the deck. After a quick feed, we were now ready for the sails to be hoisted again. We poled out the staysail (the spare one, the seamstress was still working on the rips in the original) and the big Jib for a downwind run. We were easily making a good 4-5kts, but the big following swell was rocky as hell and made it hard to steer on course. We’d surf down the faces of the waves, broach a little, then do it all again. Sounds fun hey, but trust me, it gets old pretty quickly.

Fixing the belay pins on the port side of the main mast. 

Fixing the belay pins on the port side of the main mast. 

Sunday March 12 - Day 7

What a terrible night of sleep! The first night without a wink of shut eye. Last night we sailed with 30kts of wind and Starlight was groaning and creaking under the pressure of the sails and the junky swell. We were on a reach due to a strong ENE wind and having trouble keeping on course. At one point I looked at Starlight’s track and wondered if the watch keepers had decided to head to New York instead. With this sail configuration clearly not working, we decided to gybe. And wow, what a storm in a tea cup that turned out to be. With halliards, stays, and sails getting tangled in a comedy of errors, the gybe took no less than an hour and a half in the shitty weather. However, once we had made the gybe, we were running with the swell a little more and Starlight settled down a bit. Toothy even set the hammock up and had himself a little siesta. When Mike saw this he said, “hammock, where’d you get that? Where’s mine??” So he went downstairs, pulled his mattress from his lounge room/bedroom, and set it up in front of the wheelhouse and enjoyed an afternoon sundowner.  

With the swell on the decline, Mike's looking pretty happy with a beer on the foredeck.

With the swell on the decline, Mike's looking pretty happy with a beer on the foredeck.

The Atlantic Crossing

Over the next couple of weeks, the story of Starlight's Atlantic Crossing will be uploaded. We'll do it a few days at a time to make sure we don't clog your feed with the epic content. In true @thewetwayhome fashion, expect the uploads to be sporadic, so keep checking the page to make sure you don't miss anything.   

Monday March 6 - Cape Verde, Departure. 

 

After final provisions arrived on board, the tanks topped up with diesel and our passports stamped, we were ready for departure. Or were we.. for some reason, we weren't in a hurry to get off the dock. There was a sense of complacency in the air, we weren't worried or anything like that, but I guess the enormity of what we were about to do had just landed on everyone’s shoulders, because finally, it was time to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

We took one last pic for the Instagram page and finally cast off the lines. We had just embarked on the longest ocean crossing any of the crew had ever been apart of. 

 

Toothy saved a week of “passage weather” forecasts to his iPhone, so hopefully this stays true as the forecast is looking good as far ahead as the forecast could see. He just earned the title of ‘head of weather’.   

 

“We’re on!” screamed Brio. Less than an hour into the trip, the trawling line went off its nuts and the ‘head of fishing’ (Brio) sprung into action. This fish seemed like one of the larger ones that we’d hooked as even Brio started to tire from the action. However it was not to be, this fish (it looked like a Mackerel) shook the hook just before we could reach him with the gaff hook. Brio was a little deflated, yet still positive… The fish were biting. 

 

The first meal of the trip was immense. Brio bought some fish at the local market that morning, so we cooked that up with a side sautéed chicken legs and a potato salad which had all the trimmings.   

 

Shortly after the meal, Starlight popped her head out into the Atlantic Ocean from the protection of the Cape Verde islands. The swell was up and directly on the beam. Within a few minutes, Mikes’ dinner came back up and Brio followed suit shortly after. 

The first Wahoo. A very happy "head of fishing"

The first Wahoo. A very happy "head of fishing"

Tuesday March 7 - Day 2

 

‘What are you up to there fella?” I enquired. “Practicing my standing up” Mike replied. I joined Mike in the early hours of the morning to find him struggling to stand up with the heavy swell. At least he had graduated from loosing his lunch and being stuck in the horizontal position.   

 

After a rocky first night, we all met on deck the following morning to set the sails in the hope that, with the sails up, it might steady the rocking. We set up the two head sails along with the mizzen. Shortly after they were set, Mike lost his lunch again, guess the sails didn't help much with the rocking…

 

That afternoon, Mick thought it’d be a good idea to send the Drone up for its first flight at sea. The Drone was a brand new DJI Phantom that Mike had bought with him from Australia after Mick had had numerous issues with the 3DR Drone. The take off went off without a hitch. After circling Starlight a couple of times, the controller said the SD card was full, time for the Drone to land… Land the Drone on this rocky boat… Mick tried to hover the Drone close enough to the boat for one of us to grab it yet had to stay clear of the sails and rigging. A tough task. After what seemed like 5 mins, and a few close calls with the deep blue, the Drone had not yet landed, so Brio grabbed the boat hook and hooked the leg of the Drone. He pulled it back on board, only to get it tangled in the boat hook. Pieces of Drone shot off in all directions. Mick went in for the grab only to be attacked by the out of control propellers. Finally, it seemed Mick had a grasp on it as I came in to lend a hand with the aggressive little flying camera. Once it was finally shut off, we realised, the Drone was done. A broken leg, wires hanging out of it, broken propellers… Expletives flew from the lads lips… This meant no footage from the air for the whole Atlantic Crossing. Heavy. The mood in the wheelhouse was as if someone had just died…

 

With the crew’s spirit’s at an immense low point, we needed to break the funk. Thankfully, this came in the way of a 7kg Wahoo. Putting up the biggest fight of the trip so far, Brio, with the help ofToothy on the gaff, landed dinner. The head of fishing was wrapped. “Here we go lads, I knew it wouldn’t take long” Brio said. A fish like this would feed 5 men for 2 days or more. 

After carefully filleting the wahoo, Toothy served up wahoo sashimi and, my lord, was it tasty. A bit of soy, wasabi and garlic, and Bob’s your uncle. But that was just a starter. We grilled 10 wahoo steaks on the Magma and ate it with Toothy’s special rice until we were wahoo drunk.   

The Wahoo on the Magma

The Wahoo on the Magma

Wednesday March 8 - Day 3

 

The sea’s had finally calmed and the crew woke well rested today. The wind was still steady on the Starboard quarter and we were sailing around 4.5kts. Easy. Peaceful. 

With no need to alter the sail arrangement today, I did my washing… By hand. Who cares you say? Well, its little things like this that keep you busy throughout the day. I even washed my sheets with a little fabric softener. A real treat.

 

Following the washing, it was time for something a little more active. Toothy suggested we get out the boxing gloves and pads. So we punched the shit out of the pads for a while, smashed out a few push ups, dips and chin ups, and had a good old fashion sweat out. Boxing is a real challenge on Starlight, its really easy to loose your footing, but I guess that makes it even more interesting. We followed up the workout with a protein shake and, as you do, told each other how ripped we were going to be when we finally arrived to Barbados. 

 

Mick tried his hand at fixing the Drone, however, you know this was always going to lead to frustration. With no manual, no internet and certainly lacking the fine electrical tools for the job, not even “Spielberg” could pull this one off, surely. 

 

Lunch was something else, we ate Toothy’s wahoo Ceviche. The ingredients are a secret, so lets just say it was unreal. 

 

With dinner coming out shortly after, I bet you can’t guess what we had… Wahoo. 

 

With the crew enjoying the calm weather, I hit Toothy up for his not so relevant weather forecast… “How’s the weather looking Toothy?” I asked. “Sweet” he said “it swings a bit North on the 10th for a day or two, but nothing too heavy”. “Mmm, interesting”, I said, “sounds delightful”. 

The Aggressive Drone lashes out at "Spielberg" drawing blood on his left hand.

The Aggressive Drone lashes out at "Spielberg" drawing blood on his left hand.

The Wet Way Update - Canary Islands to Cape Verde

Starlight on departure from the Canary Islands

Starlight on departure from the Canary Islands

The trip south to Cape Verde took just over 5 days. We had a good sail down with 30kts of wind straight up the chuffer and a following sea of 2-3m. During the day we set the sails and tried out a different configuration each day, however, the most effective was the old “goose wing” set up, (the staysail and the jib both poled out either side of the ship) along with the mizzen. At night we stowed the sails as the wind tended to be gusting quiet strong so we gave the engine a run instead of risking damaging our equipment. 

Turns out, the new Scottish crew member was quiet the chef! Gylan joined us for the trip south to Cape Verde and having an unlimited engineers’ ticket, we knew he’d be a handy man to have around. However, nothing needed to be fixed on that trip, so instead of his usual engineering tasks, Gyl fed us up like kings! The kid can cook, let me tell ya… from special sauces to BBQ’s to baking, I reckon we all put on a few kilo’s on that trip. Cheers Gyl, the food was spot on mate (or IMMENSE as they say in Shetland).  

We landed at a port called Palmeira, on the island of Sal, the most NE of the island chain. A sleepy little town that bore a resounding resemblance to Brio’s cabin, commonly referred to as “the rasta shack”. The locals were friendly and there was even four days of fun waves right next to where Starlight was anchored. The island was in no hurry to do anything, even the local passport authorities took three days to issue a stamp on our passports. The favourite phrase of the locals was “No Stress Man”, and believe me, we weren’t stressed at all. 

We met a local rasta fella named Omar who hooked us up with a bunch of sweet threads so we’d be looking our best for the up coming Carnival.   

 

Brio and Gyl searching for their Carnival outfits in Palmeira. 

Brio and Gyl searching for their Carnival outfits in Palmeira. 

Relaxing in Sal was cool, we had a few days off after the trip down and thought we’d best get over to Mindelo and get tied up before Carnival. This will also be the last stop before we cross the Atlantic Ocean. As soon as we got there, Gylan had to jump on a flight back to he’s work in the south of France. I must say Gyl, it was an absolute pleasure having you on board mate. You’re welcome back on board Starlight whenever you wish. A good cook, great company and a top bloke.

Carnival in Mindelo. The outfits where pretty wild!

Carnival in Mindelo. The outfits where pretty wild!

With Carnival coming up, we had a fair idea of what was in store… A bloody big party. So before it kicked off, we got stuck into a bit of maintenance to give ourselves a head start for the fast approaching Atlantic crossing. With the arrival of the newest crew member, Canadian Mike, and this being the last few days on dry land, we knew it was going to be a fun few days.

The Carnival was wild. We donned our fancy new threads fresh from Omar’s dressmaker and added our newly purchased rasta necklaces and bracelets. So many costumes, so many happy party goers and so much cool music- even though it was on repeat all night.

Mike arrived on the second day of Carnival and this was to be the bigger night of the two. Mike has lived with Mick and I many times since we met him almost 12yrs ago. He has always slept on the lounge wherever we rented and his sleeping arrangement on board Starlight was to be no different. However, this time, Starlight’s lounge was in fact, much to Mike’s delight, decked out with a double bed. Ive never seen a man so happy to be presented with his new lounge room cabin. Just like old times eh Mike!

So as I write this last paragraph, the crew from The Wet Way Home are all but ready to depart for the Atlantic Crossing. We've done all the necessary maintenance, tweaked a few things on the rigging, done all the provisioning, downloaded all the new charts (thanks to Max Sea for the sponsor!), purchased some extra medical supplies and charged the GoPro’s.

I’m super confident in Starlight and her crew and I’m peaking out to get on the high seas and reach our goal of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an 85 yr old ship that we put our heart and soul’s into rebuilding. This could be Starlights’ greatest adventure yet, and I’m stoked to be apart of it.

All that's left to do is to make a few phone calls to tell our mothers we love them and our girlfriends we’ll miss them. We have 17- 22 days at sea depending on the winds, so the next time you’ll hear from us we’ll more than likely be knocking the top off a few frothy one’s on a white sandy beach in Barbados. Until then…

Dylan.

The Wet Way Update - Gibraltar to Canary Islands

We made landfall on the most North Easterly island of the archipelago, La Graciosa, one of the smaller islands of the group. With a ripping SE wind on the blow, we sniffed around for an anchorage like a dog searching for the right place take a dump. Our search stopped however, when we came across a peeling left hander. It was there we dropped the hook in front of perfect waves for the very first time. 

The waves we scored on arrival the La Graciosa, Canary Islands

The waves we scored on arrival the La Graciosa, Canary Islands

I cant explain the feeling, we spent a year restoring this old boat for the primary purpose of finding perfect uncrowded waves, and finally, here we were, anchored 100m from perfect waves with only a handful of us in the line up. The afternoon sundowner that day was probably the most satisfying of my life. We hung around La Graciosa for a week at anchor. The winds being favourable for surfing, however, not so friendly for Starlight. We snapped our anchor clean in half early one morning, that was heavy…

The sundowner after arrival in La Graciosa.

The sundowner after arrival in La Graciosa.

My brother Sam and his girlfriend, Amanda, came to visit the crew from The Wet Way Home for a week or so once we arrived in the Canary’s. Sam filled his boots with good waves at “Sunday Slabs”, we hiked a volcano, drank a bit of wine and sat around shooting the breeze. This was the first bit of time I’d spent time with Amanda and, like his older brother, turns out Sam too, is punching above his weight. Cheers for making the trip guys, it’s certainly was unreal having you two come for a visit.

Sundowners with Sam and Amanda, was rad having you guys come and stay onboard

Sundowners with Sam and Amanda, was rad having you guys come and stay onboard

Around the same time, Kew and Jodi said goodbye to Starlight for now. With the two of them both heading back to work, it sure was tough to see them depart. Not too mention Kew’s sailing skills and Jodi’s amazing cook up’s, it took the crew a while to adjust once they had left. Starlight and crew look forward to their return hopefully sooner rather than later. We hope you guys are doing well!

Bengi cooking up on the new Magma BBQ.

Bengi cooking up on the new Magma BBQ.

With the crew down to four, it was time for Starlight to get on the move again. We set sail for Corralejo on the island of Fuerteventura. Renowned as one of the islands more suited to surfers, we stopped in here for about a week and surfed off the island of Lobos a few times. Check out the clip on our Instagram page of us surfing right off the rocks with some cool footage from the tender. Mick and Brio hiked the local Volcano in search of some landscape footage only to lose the drone over the next mountain range. It was a long shot, but they voted to hike the next mountain in the hope of finding the wayward flying camera. You wouldn't believe it, but the drone landed smack bang in the centre of a lonely hedge, and the camera crew retrieved the drone complete with the GoPro’s red light still flashing, it had recorded everything. With a dying swell forecast and increasing winds, we hit a few of the local watering holes and met some of the locals before our newly purchased anchor snapped (again) in the strong winds. It was time to move on and the port of call was Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria was a bit of a maintenance stop for us. We stayed for five nights, bought a new anchor (a big one this time), got the boat ship shape again and went surfing. A big cheers to Aaron for showing us the local surf spots and sharing a few waves with us!

Our newest anchor, "she's solid mate"

Our newest anchor, "she's solid mate"

Next stop was Santa Cruz, Tenerife. A few nights was all we were going to stay there for… Turned into a few weeks. This was where we met some of the best people we had all trip. Headed up by Nick and Estella who where there with their boat “Skydancer” from Norway. If you ever wanted to meet true explorers that are humble and entertaining, these guys are it. We met them the second night we were there and I reckon we partied with them every other night. Absolute legends! Starlight’s door is always open to you two.

Next up was the arrival of Gylan, yep, thats right, same name as mine, but with a G. Gyl is a mate of Brio’s from a previous boat they worked on and Gyl was joining us to hang on Starlight for his holidays. Funnily enough, Gylan’s oldies, Alan and Diane, have a property out in Tenerife and they invited us for one of the biggest and tastiest BBQ’s we’d ever been apart of. A top notch feed from a top notch family. They even make their own wine fresh from their property, easily the best red I've ever tasted. Alan swear’s it doesn't give you a hangover cause there are no preservatives. We’re not sure if thats entirely true Al, but I reckon you would’ve tested that theory a few times, so we’ll take your word for it!

Apart from the crew we met, the island itself was all time. Surf on every coast, so it didn't matter what the wind was doing, there was always waves. Unfortunately, I cant say the local surfers were overly welcoming. We had a few times where words were exchanged out in the line up, but hey, that seems to be the case anywhere you go these days. Part and parcel with being in a foreign land I guess.

The lads also borrowed Alan’s car for a joyride up the local volcano. When I say local, this volcano took two hours to drive up and that had nothing to do with the car being a Volvo. Check out the Instagram page for a rad bit of drone footage that Mick captured of the volcano named “Teide”, at 3,718m, its Spain’s highest mountain.

We saw a few solid swells hit Tenerife while we were there and all of us managed to surf most of them. One swell was almost triple overhead (ok, maybe not triple over my head, but definitely triple over Toothy’s head) and Toothy and I scored some fun ones between the rogue close out sets. Toothy surfed this day on his 5’9 which wouldn't have been much fun, however, that didn't stop him scratching into a few of the larger sets.

We got invited to sail for a day on the old sailing ship “Irene” which was pretty cool. Cheers to Nick and Estella for ensuring we were all hungover that day and, obviously, a big thank you to Charlie, the young skipper who kindly showed us the ropes and ensured we all went home with blisters on our hands. The experience was immense.

So after almost 3 weeks in Tenerife, it was time to get a move on. We had an epic time there and before we left we had a bit of a party with the friends we’d met. We packed Starlight with over 30 people that evening, the most Starlight has seen since the era of the old Scottish whiskey parties where men in dazzling kilts graced Starlights’ decks and told tall salty tales of fishing the North Sea.

A drone shot from a day of surfing at Las Americas, Tenerife.

A drone shot from a day of surfing at Las Americas, Tenerife.

The view from Gylan's oldies' place, amazing huh!

The view from Gylan's oldies' place, amazing huh!

Meet Nick and Estella, hands down, the best crew we've met all trip. 

Meet Nick and Estella, hands down, the best crew we've met all trip. 

Nick and Toothy trying to figure out whats happening whilst sailing "Irene"

Nick and Toothy trying to figure out whats happening whilst sailing "Irene"

Nick and Estella sailing "Irene"

Nick and Estella sailing "Irene"

After stocking up on provisions in Tenerife, we were going to head south to Cape Verde, but not before stopping in La Gomera. La Gomera is an Island just west of Tenerife and renowned for its green mountains and dramatic landscape. Although only there for a couple of nights, La Gomera didn't disappoint. At an anchorage on the islands east coast, we dropped the hook right beside a small but fun little wave over a shallow reef. The wave itself was nothing to write home about, however, the backdrop was. I’m not even going to try and describe the setting, you can just wait until you see the next @thewetwayhome video clip to get a look at it.