Cruising

Jazz and Catamaran - A winning combination

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Transatlantic: Guadeloupe - Azores

For seven months now, the catamaran Honky Tonk and her crew of jazz musicians have been sailing from island to island in the West Indies. The time has now come to set sail for Europe. The crew consists of Quentin Bardinet (banjo player and sailor, French), Leon Pfannenmüller (a comedian from Munich, German), Coleman Akin (violinist from New Orleans, American) and Bots (trumpet player, tuba player, skipper, Belgian). This trip is a first for the whole crew. Quentin Bardi has crossed from Europe to the West Indies, but never in the opposite direction. Bots sailed from the Azores to Ireland, which is part of the crossing, but is going into the unknown for the rest. On May 3rd, the catamaran weighed anchor and set sail from the beach of La Datcha in Guadeloupe, heading for the continent across the other side of the ocean. We had stocked up on supplies in Pointe à Pitre. A sailor friend who lives in Germany is routing the crossing and relaying the news on board via social networks. Patrick Faurot, also known as «Sextant Sully», receives at least one text message a day from Honky Tonk, having switched the satellite phone back on for the occasion. Exchanges are made in a coded language, developed upstream, which makes it possible to condense the information into a minimum number of characters. In fact, the crew is entitled to 75 messages and 75 minutes of calls over the entire crossing. 

This means that communication with the outside world is very restricted. The first week, on Patrick’s advice, Honky Tonk headed north. The Sargasso Sea is aptly named. Fishing is impossible there, but we were still able to enjoy some culinary delights. Bots had prepared homemade preserves before leaving. Bardi had shared his preservation techniques, such as butter in water. Honky Tonk sailed past Bermuda before changing course. This crossing takes us through a whole range of weather: from dead calm to 40 knots of wind, and everything in between. The autopilot doesn’t get much use. The crew members spend a lot of time at the helm in an attempt to conserve the batteries, as the sky is cloudy most of the time. Coleman is the least experienced of the crew. This is his first long sailing trip. He has to air out his violin several times during the crossing to prevent mold from forming in the case. Throughout the voyage, the crew films life on the boat, and Bots spends some time at sea editing a small video clip. The VHF alarm bracelets do not work. They just go off whenever they feel like it. Bardi - who sleeps closest to the radio - had to get up from his bunk in a panic several times before they decided to stop wearing them. After 17 days at sea, Honky Tonk came across a sailboat that seemed to be plotting a course without taking into account anything around her. A mysterious encounter ... The character of a transatlantic crossing is mirrored in the calm moments. This is no different for Honky Tonk. At rest, with the sails ...

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