PEGASUS completes her circumnavigation
At 1700 local time July 29 2011 Pegasus (A46 Nee Barncat, launched 1997) entered Bayona harbor N Spain having covered some 35000 miles since leaving the same on September 29th 2008, tying the knot and completing a 3 year circumnavigation.
She has sailed the Atlantic twice, the Pacific, the Southern Ocean around the South of Australia, Up through Indonesia and Thailand, through the Bay of Bengal to Sri Lanka, across the Arabian Sea, North up the Red Sea and through the Mediterranean back into the North Atlantic.
We are a family of 4 with 2 young children, and when we set out it was important that we selected the right “Tool for the Job”.
The Atlantic Catamaran design was attractive to us for many reasons, and if you read Chris’s website you will pick out all the key advantages as we did. With the children being just 2 and 4 on departure it was evident that I was going to be doing the bulk of sail handling and boat work, and so we developed key areas of responsibility, with mine being “Boat and Safety” and Amanda’s being “House and Children” with “As much cross over as we can manage without detracting from our key roles”
The Atlantic design proved that she was absolutely capable of everything promised with many additional, unanticipated advantages. It was essential that I could sail the boat single handed, and even with the rotating mast, that proved extremely easy. It was important to Amanda that Pegasus could function as a home for the family, and with the great galley and bunk layout she has proved herself in that regard time and again, with many guests staying, dinner parties and kids sleepovers.
I think that the two key benefits of the Atlantic design that really opened our circumnavigation into more of an exploration of the world’s oceans were “Safety” and “Sustainability”
It’s easy to talk about safety at sea, but reality can be very different. Deep Ocean can be a scary place. Waves are large, frequency can be long or short, ocean currents can run against seas that fetch over 1000’s of miles, winds can be strong or light, sustained or short lived. After a week or two at sea, (our longest ocean passage Bahamas to Azores 21 days, our shortest ocean 16 days La Palma to Grenada) fatigue can creep in, especially if you maintain a 100% watch system between two. As a habit, if off watch in trying conditions, I sleep in the pilothouse on the banquette. I have often been woken to reef or slow down in howling winds and huge seas. I can be on deck in 5 seconds, and have a reef in without delay. There’s no reason for a life jacket, as I’m 10 ft from the sea at any time. I don’t need oilskins, as skin is waterproof. After a few minutes I can return to the comfort of the pilothouse having taken a couple of knots off the surge speed and made us all feel more comfortable. As a rule, I never leave the cockpit at night, and rarely during the day if rough.
80 percent of the miles covered were with the wind aft abeam, so we always sailed with the “front door” open. The children were free to wander inside or outside without a worry, and again without bulky life jackets. The rule was simple if outside and Pegasus under sail. “Feet on the cockpit sole or seats at all times”. With the deep, safe cockpit there was no way they could fall over the side, but could see the action whatever that may have been. The practical advantages of the inherent safety in design made for an easy, comfortable and inclusive sailing life with the family. As a note, we had many days of school or craft on the pilothouse table while making 200mile days in strong conditions. The directional stability when being pushed along by a large ocean sea is just a testament to design and the children didn’t even notice we were in the high teens in speed terms!
We had worries….”will the cross member pierce that wave ahead?” as we pile down huge waves at 18kts, but the safety is in the detail, and the maths is perfect, with the flair in the hull pulling us up every time. Confidence grows with experience and mileage, and over the 39000 miles we have sailed in Pegasus, we have never had water over the front cross beam.
Sustainability is a frequently used word these days, but in its essence it means the ability to push on or continue without detriment to the assets in play. This is a key and undervalued element to any circumnavigation.
Constant exposure to the elements, hull noise, emotional fatigue, physical fatigue through hull movement, all can combine in a heady cocktail attacking morale and forcing bad or even dangerous decisions. On arrival in the Marquesas, after some 18 days from the Galapagos, I was appalled at the condition of some of the monohull sailors. Often husband and wife teams, they had been exposed to the elements, some for 30 plus days, and the fatigue and strain was clearly evident in their faces. Even some Multihull sailors looked haggard as they had surfed waves with the full integrity of their vessel protected by a set of patio doors, yet exposed to the building elements astern. I just wonder how you slow a boat like that down without getting pooped?.
All the family on Pegasus felt fine, and as a family we welcomed a day on the beach, but could easily have pushed on if required. (Marquesas are just fantastic cruising, you got to get there!). There was no fatigue through exposure or noise, with all meals eaten as a family at the pilothouse table, and often, family afternoon jigsaw sessions.
Yes there were occasions when it was extremely rough, usually with sea and wind forward of the beam, such as our entry into Cartagena, Columbia, and in such instances the weather would stop play and the boys would watch a DVD or two in the play bunk. It doesn’t happen often, but Pegasus always felt sure and in control
I think that the design features that make Pegasus such a great boat to sail have added to the tremendous experience we have all had as a family, and the security we all feel when offshore. There will be things in the design that I have not noticed, but would have noticed if not designed into Pegasus, such as the hull shape to combat pounding or slapping, but then I’m not a designer.
With that in mind I’m really glad that I spent a year with Chris looking at options, and finally managed to purchase a truly fantastic boat which has seen us through some of the rawest and most beautiful displays of dynamic energy AND tranquility imaginable.
Pegasus is now in the UK and we are seeing family and friends, but will head South to the Canaries and across to the Caribbean for Christmas 2011. Having been on board for 3 years now, Pegasus is our home….that’s pretty sustainable.
We have, however, achieved our objectives and now must consider our future,…….
But I think we have time for just one more trade wind passage!!