Nice little story of J/109 Joker cruising 9,600 nm in 86days!
“Between Christmas and winter holidays with the family and then the period of lockdown, Joker’s tour of the Atlantic was organized in several major stages which will structure both my voyage and my account of it.
From Marseille to Santa Cruz de Tenerife
On November 4, 2019, Joker left her home port in Marseille for Santa Cruz de Tenerife. For this first stage, I left with my crew Alain, a seafaring friend, passionate about sailing and attracted by my transatlantic project. 1500 miles link Marseille to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, but coast-hopping round all the bays for shelter, we covered 1622 miles. After 25 days sailing, we reached our destination on November 28.
For the entire passage along the Mediterranean to Gibraltar we had headwinds and very rough seas. Once at the strait, we had to wait five days for a change in the weather to pass it. Once through the strait, we descended towards the Canaries in optimal conditions, with a northerly wind and sunshine. The spinnaker was set for some unforgettable sleighriding to Santa Cruz de Tenerife where Joker stayed a month under the supervision of the yacht club and Jean-Claude, a friend who lives on the island, so that I could come back to spend the New Year holidays with the family.
From Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Pointe à Pitre in Guadeloupe
On January 9, 2020, I rejoined Joker in Santa Cruz de Tenerife for the second stage of the trip, undoubtedly the one whichmakes you dream the most. This is the journey to the beautiful and warm: the Caribbean dream.
2,600 miles connect Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Pointe à Pitre, but by extending the route southwards in search of wind we covered 2923 miles. In order not to get lost in this watery desert, I gave myself waypoints (A, B, C) to motivate myself in stages.
Despite this detour, we took full advantage of the beauties of nature: the extraordinary sunsets, starry skies, the tropical softness that sets in, the exceptional moments of surfing down waves, the flying fish… not to mention the catch of the first dolphinfish, a feast of fresh flesh!
After 21 days of sailing, we arrived in Bas du Fort marina in Pointe à Pitre on January 30 under spinnaker, on an ocean covered in sargassum with golden reflections and with lots of flying fish and birds to accompany the reverie.
From Marin in Martinique to Funchal in Madeira
After a month and a half of Caribbean holidays spent welcoming the family, the so-called return crossing began in the haste of the lockdown period: March 18, 2020.
During this transatlantic crossing, I had planned to leave with a crew member who was not able to join me due to the lockdown being put in place. However, I was fortunate enough to meet Thierry, on the quay, who was supposed to crew on another boat that was no longer leaving.
This crossing is the most interesting in terms of navigation. The weather conditions forced us to go towards the cold and the bad weather but in increasingly impressive landscapes.
This trip would have been very different without Hubert, an oceanography researcher and sailing enthusiast, very qualified to be a router, and we are in regular contact by email thanks to the iridium satellite phone installed for the occasion.
At this point in the trip, Hubert informed me that a depression was expected over the Azores and that we were strongly advised against taking this route. He advised us to go further south and east, a safer and more comfortable route. By following his routing, we took advantage of the good life – bucket showers on the stern deck, reading, music – and decide to stopover in Madeira to take on diesel, fresh food and to rest before the last stage.
From Funchal to Marseille
After two days spent in Funchal, we resumed our journey on April 12 for an arrival in Marseille scheduled for April 27. During the last 15 days, we felt the atmosphere of confinement, even at sea: few merchant ships, no aircraft in the sky … With the fear of being immobilized at any time, we looked for remote anchorages every evening rather than continuing under engine.
On Sunday April 26, the boat glides over calm seas as far as Planier, marking the entrance to Marseille harbor, where we arrived as if in a dream. At noon, Joker is back in her place after a six month voyage – 86 days of sailing and 9,600 miles covered.
Formerly a commercial sailor, I am used to being at sea in heavy weather. While this trip represents my eighth crossing of the Atlantic by sail, I am still fascinated by the beauty of nature. Each encounter – a sunrise and sunset, a fish, a bird – takes on an inestimable value in my eyes which gives me profound joy.
As for Joker, she is my sixth sailboat. I am particularly delighted with her sailing qualities which have given me a fantastic experience. I may have been happy to change boats before, but Joker will continue to sail the seas and oceans with me for a while longer. “
Hervé, owner of the J / 109 Joker