s/y Mateńka’s Logbook from ARC’87

In preparation for our Atlantic trip in 2017, we’ve spent some time reviewing our dad’s logbook in more detail. Based on the books, Mateńka’s trip in 1987 looked like this…

Mateńka’s first Atlantic crossing started on November 28th, 1987. On board captain: Marek Juchniewicz, 1st Officer: Marek Tuński, 2nd Officer: Stanisław Wilczyński, and crew: Nikodem Jasiński and Ryszard Męczarski.

They left Las Palmas on the Canary Islands on November 28th 1987, at 1 PM and arrived in Bridgetown, Barbados 21 days and 11h later, on Saturday December 19th 1987, at 7 PM .

Leaving Poland for the First Time

Before the start of ARC’87 in the Canary Islands, they had to sail Mateńka there from Poland. On the way they also explored the Mediterranean in the summer leading up to the Atlantic crossing.

Originally they left Szczecin, Poland on May 17th 1987 to go south; the year after Mateńka was built in 1986. It was her first long voyage. They went past Poland and Germany (stopping in Świnoujście, Brunsbüttel, Hamburg and Cuxhaven). Visited Amsterdam, went to the UK (Calais and Newhaven). Before crossing the Bay of Biscay from Cherbourg to Vigo. They stopped in São Martinho do Porto, Lisbon, Cadiz, Barbate, Ceuta, and arrived on the Mediterranean on July 12th 1987. Much of this Mateńka has seen again on her way back from the Mediterranean in 2015.

They cruised around in the Mediterranean until the ARC crew boarded in Rome, Italy on October 22nd, 1987. They continued from Italy to the Canary Islands, for the start of ARC’87. Along the coast of Morocco, though Gibraltar, Tangier, Casablanca, Agadir, Arrecife to Las Palmas. Mateńka has not seen that part of the world since 1987, nor have I… but we have a plan! Check out our routes for 2017.

The ARC Rally in 1987

After a week of prep and sightseeing in Las Palmas, they left with ARC’87 on Saturday the 28th of November 1987 at 1PM local time, with their crew of 5. With full tanks of fuel, full water (500l) and an additional 75l of water in bottles. The weather forecast reported from the ARC Rally team at that time: 24h / S-SE 5B, 72h / S-SE 7-8B.

They sailed for over 21 days, exactly 515 hours, passing a total of 3006.5 nm. With shifts rotating between two groups of two people, at 6 hours each. Until on Saturday the 19th of December 1987, at 7 PM, they arrived in Bridgetown, Barbados. Winning a trophy at the ARC ceremony, for the hardest effort of getting to the Rally all the way from Poland.

Recorded Positions

Recorded Wind

ARC’87 started out with a quiet night, followed by strong wind in the early hours of the first morning, on top of that right from the direction they wanted to go. The first few days were dominated by S-SW winds, followed by N-NW until they finally hit the E trade winds on December 4th 1987, at 20°10’N / 23°45’W. They continued with a steady 3-4B E-NE from there until the end of the Rally, with a few exceptions: one windy day with 6-7B, some slow patches here and there, and some more wind during the last few days at 5-6B.

Sail Configuration

The mainsail was in use during the entire time, reefed on two occasions during stronger winds. They carried three jibs: a small storm jib and two different sized main jibs. The storm jib only went up once after leaving the Canary Islands. Most of the trip they alternated between the two main jibs, poled out at times. They also carried a spinnaker, although it seems they’ve had problems with it thought the trip. It ripped on multiple occasions, the spinnaker halyard tangled up many times and then the spinnaker pole broke during a gybe just a few days before arrival. On the very last two days (after what seems like finally giving up on the spinnaker) they used both headsails alongside the main, which seems to have brought an increased speed during those days… finally reaching the long awaited goal.

Recorded Speed

Their average speed was 5-6 kt overall, with an average of over 7 kt after they hit the trade winds. The maximum of 8 kt was recorded on the last day (looks like they maximized their sail area towards the end). The slowest 24h-period was recorded on November 30, just after departure, with a distance of 107.9 nm. The fastest 24h-period recorded a distance of 185,3 nm, on Dec 18th, just a day before arrival. In between they averaged 130-150nm per 24h-period, which is something Mateńka comfortably does to this day.

Contacted Boats

  • 2.12.1987 – s/y Joy at 23°34’N 19°45’W
  • 4.12.1987 – s/y Paleamon
  • 7.12.1987 – s/y Hajy
  • 8.12.1987 – s/y Le Leqlen and s/y Blue Heron
  • 17.12.1987 – s/y Sky Diver
  • 18.12.1987 – s/y M’our Bruin at 13°34’N 55°13’W

Now in 2017

In our experience Mateńka behaves pretty similar to this date. We can count on a similar speed at 5-6 kt and distance at about 120-140 nm in a 24h-period, along with being prepared for the the occasional weather change, especially in the first days when trying to find the trade winds down south.

We typically use the mainsail and jib in a similar fashion as they did downwind, with a pole for stabilization. The spinnaker hasn’t been used in a while, but we might want to try that too. However it looks like they achieved better results with two jibs + mainsail, than with the spinnaker, during their last few days of ARC’87 while approaching Bridgetown.

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