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A Story Of A Trans-Atlantic Crossing


By: Jack Dinsmoor
The following series of articles recounts the 4,200 mile voyage of the 52 foot sailing cutter, “Jay Sea Dee” which set sail for the Transatlantic voyage of a lifetime from Port Canaveral, Florida to Lisbon, Portugal via Bermuda and the Azores on May 25, 2009. Manned by Captain and owner John Dinsmoor, Jack Dinsmoor (Dad and Estes Park Denizen), Craig Rozer, First Mate, a patent attorney from Florida, and Barry Von Everan, John’s long time friend and business partner. The trip would require 31 days at sea with 10 days stopover in Bermuda and the Azores Islands, arriving at the Port of Lisbon on June 27. In the next few weeks, Jack Dinsmoor will recount their exciting trip.

“Your watch Jack. Radar clear. AIS clear. Course 080. 7 Knots. Wind 270 at 20. Waves 15 to 20 at 260 Sails Jenny and Main, Port tack. HF 15.3 Megs. VHF scan 10 primary. Got it?”

And so it goes aboard IP485-15. “Jay Sea Dee” a 54 foot cutter (sailing yacht) bound from Port Canaveral to Lisbon, Portugal via Bermuda and The Azores. We are 300 miles from Point David Light, Bermuda, 600 miles from Florida. I have the watch. It’s 3:00 a.m. Check sails and deck. Radar on 12 mile range. On autopilot 080 degrees. The rest of the four man crew, (my son John, Craig and Barry) are off watch and bunked (sacked out!).
Look astern (back). Next wave is 20 feet, breaking off the top. No big deal…enjoy the elevator ride. Keeps me awake. The language is not some kind of code, its the way sailors communicate with each other. Short and completely devoid of any ‘fluff.’ Between the four of us, we have about 100 years of experience but none of us has ever done an Atlantic crossing.

We haven’t seen land for three days and I’m finally getting used to a very nice pitch and roll. I am alert for sounds different than the normal wind, sail and water sounds. Any kind of subtle or noisy change is cause for immediate interest. Diagnosis is quick and if warranted, I can wake the crew with the ship’s bell or a very loud air horn. Not necessary tonight…yet. If we hit a container which has fallen off a ship, we will hurt a lot. Bumping into whales can result in excitement. Flying fish that are dumb enough to explore our boat hit the sail and slide into the cockpit are a clear nuisance and not good to eat. I have not figured out why they want to fly.

I am daydreaming, (sorry, night dreaming). Amazing how you can find yourself in two worlds at the same time. Alert in one and story-telling and fantasizing in the other. Aha! I have a target on the radar at 12 miles! After a minute of observation, it is clearly a large ship approaching from astern at closure rate of 10 knots. Check the AIS for identification. It is the Celeste, an Exxon tanker running at 17 knots speed. Will close on us in 35 minutes, passing on Starboard (right) about three miles. This is not cause for alarm, just a polite call to let Celeste know I am aware his presence and expect him to hold course and speed. The response is quick and in agreement with our prediction. I have not yet seen Celeste visually. The instruments and electronics have provided all the information we both need. A measure of safety that is akin to flying jet aircraft. Great, as long as we have power! Excitement is over, sun will show up in 30 minutes, then I will be relieved by oncoming watch. And so it goes!

Next…Whales!

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