Across the Atlantic on the Triton Pajaro
In the spring of 2008 another young sailor got underway from our adopted homeport of Brunswick, Georgia on his first sailing adventure. Fernando De Oleza, a musician from Spain, had contacted me three years earlier and we corresponded via email while he searched for his first boat. After reading my website and some others he decided a Triton was affordable and practical for him to sail back to his home in the Canary islands off the northwest coast of Africa. He found Triton #399 in New Jersey, renamed her Pajaro, and between gigs working around the world as guitarist on cruise ships he spent several months fitting her out and doing some local sailing.
Pajaro tests the waters off New Jersey with reefed sails.
Fernando cooks on his kerosene stove modeled after the Atom Stove.
Eager for a solo trip across the Atlantic, but lacking the confidence of experience and needing some advice and assistance on a few final projects, he sailed down the east coast to meet me in Brunswick. Because he was low on cash and filled with enthusiasm and boundless energy, I volunteered my time and Fernando in return helped me with some other boat jobs I was doing.
Pajaro was set up nearly as simple as my Triton Atom had been in her early voyages. Pajaro ended up with strong but basic modifications including hank-on sails, some of which Fernando made himself from a Sail-rite kit, new rigging and chain plates, Norvane windvane self-steering, a single solar panel on a SolarTracker mount powering a few lights and a SSB receiver, a single burner kerosene stove he copied from my online plans for the Atom Stove, a 4HP outboard on a transom bracket, a plywood pram dinghy, and a manual anchor windlass. There was little in the way of non-essential gadgets and comfort gear. A dodger and cockpit bimini and all the rest of the gear I now can't sail without were put on a list of future jobs. There was more I wish we had time and budget to do, but at some point you must strike out for adventure and the time was now.
Pajaro arrives in Brunswick to continue fitting out.
I installed one of Atom's two original SolarTrackers on Pajaro.
On a morning in mid-May 2008 my wife Mei and I waved goodbye as we sailed past Pajaro anchored in St. Simon's Sound on our way to deliver a 32-foot sailboat to the Virgin Islands. One day later, out of patience and money and with a healthy bit of apprehension, Fernando gathered his anchors and sailed for Bermuda. This was his first extended passage alone. It was 14 days in typical variable wind conditions to be found in the regions of Bermuda. I'm sure he will soon have details available on his Pajaro website. Meanwhile, here is some of his correspondence from the voyage:
Hey James and Mei: I arrived yesterday to St. Georges. It was an amazing experience to do this passage. (Although it took me 14 days...!) The first 4 days I covered more than half way about 450 miles with SW 15 to 20 .But then calms and when the wind picked up again they were contrary from the NE, so was almost impossible to make headway. The next 5 days I covered just 30 miles with all my light sails trying to tack in the slight breeze. I never used my outboard, it was sleeping in a cockpit locker, I used it yesterday to enter the Town Cut Channel because is very narrow. A cruise ship was leaving just before I entered. Today I have NE winds that are veering to E and S for tomorrow. I may take off tomorrow for the Azores, on the other hand is tempting to stay here because this place is very nice. I feel like going to the Murrays Reef this afternoon. I cleared with customs and was ok (35$) The water is turquoise, the temperature is perfect, and the only drag is that everything is prohibitively expensive.!! Pajaro behaved like a champ. I heaved-to a couple times when fronts were passing by the first two days. Today I've been tightening my rigging since the mast loosened a bit when going to windward. Also now I can check my rudder very good with this clean waters. I'm eager to get out there again onboard the mighty Pajarus.!! Thanks again for all the tips and help received while in GA. Your friend. ,Nando. PD: I use the granola you made everyday a bit in my breakfast. My cup goes with oats, grape nuts, cocoa, powder milk, brown sugar and some granola. Delicious and very energetic.
Looking forward in the main salon of Pajaro reveals a mostly stock Pearson Triton.
Looking aft in the main salon. The original icebox on the starboard side was converted to locker storage.
The slow passage to Bermuda was followed by a fast passage to the Azores which he reached on June 19:
Yesterday, just before an announced big blow approaching the Azores, I made landfall in Port of Lajes, the incredible beautiful island of Flores, Azores under sail, no engine or bullshit, under sail... I didn't encounter calms, but maybe too much wind some days, I made this trip in just 19 days. That's been the longest I've been "out there" and although some moments where scary, specially when Herb Hilgenberg asked some sailors in the same latitude I was to divert south immediately "to save their boats"!! since a "gale system" (meant in the context of one stationary low being merged by a new approaching low) was coming soon, and so it did.
That night to make way under winds gusting more than 45 knots, on my starboard side (since I could not heave-to, if I wanted to escape the worst weather) trying to reach from latitude 34 down to 32,when morning arrived (was no real sun) at 4:00 and I looked to the cockpit as usually but this time, being horrorized how my tiller was hanging there broken at the base (5mm bronze legs, broken as butter, the wood was ok) I made a jury with some aluminum plates I happened to have onboard and using my drill connected to my inverter, all this under a gale and underway ( I couldn't heave to without a tiller, right?) !!!! Pajaro was fairly balanced with the sails so he kept his course with 3 reefs on the main and storm jib. What happened is that the ropes from the vane had the tendency to bring the tiller up and so, unable to turn properly, allowing enormous forces to fall into the bronze bracket, that unable to move, parted. Better this than my rudder. That was the worst day. That was a moment that although exciting (and good for self discoveries and to discover weak point on the boat set up) I wouldn't like to relive, but for the rest, that was a trip of a lifetime.
For the most of the days I enjoyed winds of 15 to 20 knots and that only in 34 latitude. Then about 50 longitude, after this infamous system passed I retracked NE to Flores. Herb kept announcing there was no need to go north where strong winds were expected. Yesterday another of this system was approaching announced on 12.359 MHz by Herb Hilgenberg, Southbound II, in my receiver using the dipole antenna we installed in GA. Now I don't always heave-to when in a blow since I lost my fear of 35 knots winds if I'm able to balance the boat. Pajaro is comfortable with 3 reefs and a small jib. If time comes when I need the storm jib, the the tracking is poorer and is better to let the front pass me, while heaving to, and drinking some tea and sleep, when not smoking like mad and remembering all that I left on land!! But this days I made 143 miles or more.
Some days I found some flying fishes in the cockpit that became "fried fishes". Most of the job was balancing the boat, changing sails, and then let the Norvane do the job, so I didn't have to steer more that 2 hours for my landfall yesterday. The mighty Norvane worked to perfection. That screw that used to get loose didn't move after I tighten it in GA with a good wrench. Only the little leading blocks (in the arms of the vane that are secured with allen screws needed tightening a few times. They allowed some chafe on the rope). Other than that I could not be happier with this extraordinary piece of machinery called windvane. Seriously, I couldn't sail without this invention.
Pajaro at anchor in Bermuda.
Pajaro running downwind across the Atlantic. Note the rudimentary companionway dodger that provides some protection from spray and breaking waves.
I plan to do some little jobs onboard and explore this island so I may stay here a week. Yesterday I went to St. Cruz with the port captain, Victor, to eat lots of sardines and drink wine at the San Joao street parties. Also we ate barnacles, they call "cracas" and they taste like the sea. Very delicious stuff. OK, let me go back and cover some technicalities: In Brunswick I departed the next morning after you, BUT, I turned around after beating into the SE wind in the channel. And I discovered that gallons of water were pouring through the chainpipe! Was a very squally morning, so I just went back a waited for the next morning. (May 16th). A front was expected, and yes I got caught in some nasty swell 70 miles off the coast in the Gulf Stream, but I just heaved to and admired Pajaro's bravery. I had some tea and lots of cigarettes that night. Later on I learned to sleep in those conditions. It takes some self sugestion as you know. (Like "Everything works perfect! James probably had it worse in Cape of Good Hope on Atom, Everybody here can see me on their radars!!) Cargo ships exist only in the movies, and so on....haha, Carl Alberg was a very smart "Swedish cat"...etc)
... As incredible it may sound, I'm still enjoying Flores (Let's see I've been here already for 19 days!). The main reason was waiting for Teresa to come here and so show her this island and explore the others. However, plans had to be canceled Meanwhile I made lots of friends here and already had offers for work around the island. I must have become a lazy bastard for decided to leave and decline those jobs. (construction sites and the pay is pretty low).
The stove is a precise piece of machinery that worked in any weather. I used only my frying pan and then the small pot always with the little pot holder legs you welded. I always think of your meticulosity in craftsmanship and enjoy it very much. I can't wait to show it to Teresa and teach her how to use it. And for the solar tracker, because the wind was constant on the passage I left it in horizontal position for the whole trip. When a front was coming I tied two ropes to the base and then to the cleat. But probably that wasn't necessary. When I heave-to I always try to do it on starboard tack so the panel doesn't dive in the water.
Hey looks like strong E wind are coming to the anchorage soon and for a while. That may mean I'm a bit trapped for now in Flores - as you know it is open to the east. I know already what only 10 knots from the E can do in this anchorage.
And you can imagine how much money is in my pockets by now (45 euro cents.!!) I still have food and for what this forecast shows I'd do good in saying yes to those jobs after all and staying here for one more week or so. Every afternoon I take long walks on the north of Lajes which I found very poetic atmosphere. This morning I finished building a plywood extension for the windvane rudder. I cut it a little different than the one you made for the Monitor gear because my plywood wasn't too long. But is finished and looks like it would steer pretty good. And is strong. I used all the materials you gave me. I may sleep even sounder now in bad weather.
The other day a sailor rented a car and offered me to be the driver. I said YES and four of us took off and visited all the crater lakes and most of the villages (Faja Grande, Ponta Delgada, etc) and had a ball.
James, Im always the smallest boat in the anchorage except in Bermuda where at least was a Folkboat (25 foot) going to England. And people often ask me about my outboard. They seem well impressed I have no inboard. Lots of French boats. Only 3 of us in this anchorage are singlehanding. When I arrived my outboard didn't start. A sailor came the next day and we opened the carburetor which was flooded. Now works very good. Nothing in Pajaro says "I need an upgrade" except the dinghy that needs some paint and maybe some varnish job on the cockpit. The repair on the tiller head still looks strong so I'll wait for the Canaries.
Pajaro running downwind under Norvane self-steering.
The Triton Pajaro at rest in her new homeport in Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
Sent: Sun 8/03/08 8:54 PM James!!!! Today I made landfall in Lanzarote, my final destination for now. I had some tough winds between Madeira and the eastern Canaries, lots of heaving to! I was reminded of your jokes about "you may get blown down to the Cape Verdes!! You where right since is not as easy as I thought with 25 knots on the beam for 2 days from the NE. Youll be proud to know that I made my entry in Puerto Naos with sail only. No bullshit. No VAT to pay here neither !!! When in Terceira, Azores the port captain suggested me to get the hell out the next morning before the "alfandenga" realized I was a European with an American boat!! Perfect VAT situation and a Polish catamaran was confiscated that day. SO.....like Tristan Jones used to say, when in doubt sail the hell out!!! So I did, I didnt even clear out! I left at 5.30 a.m. with the moon.
So after Terceira I didnt plan to stop in Porto Santo for the same reason. I saw it from 5 miles away on my starboard side. Then I had a whole day of total calm where I tightened the main sheet to reduce the mainsail slamming as you showed me to do and go to nap and cook.
When in Lajes the wind on the anchorage from the east at 20 knots stayed for 4 days. Was impossible to stay onboard so I slept ashore on my sleeping bag!!
The dipole antenna you designed was a blessing. I tuned everyday to Herb and took notes. The nearer boats were Lalice and Jennifer and I related their position to my weather conditions.
My starboard jumper wire "jumped" away and bent the port side jumper rod. I just repaired it. But I agree that my rig is like a big spagetti, and not too strong. I keep tighten it since has stretched a big deal since GA. (The deck support looks fine). The "seahood" I installed worked so fine that the only water I got was through the companionway boards and not much. I got leaks on the big windows bolts and some of the small ports. I sealed them all. I cannot open my small ports after i sealed them with caulk but I prefer this than water. The hatch didn't leak after all the foam gasket I placed there. I had not more than a half glass of water on my bilge for the whole trip.( Good since I don't have a bilge pump). No leaks on deck fitting at all. (I thought they would leak massively)
By the way Im making a list of things that gave me slight headaches on equipment issues on the crossing, but not major troubles after all your advise was followed: 1. Chainpipe lid: Id better do a nice one. The sock and plastic bag doesn't work as good sometimes.
2. Hatch forward: No leaks, but the original lexan has to be thicker to support ones weight fully. I had to be careful not to step on it and is not easy.
3. Chafe on windvane lines: I still used the lines you provided, but had to adjust the little block allen bolts to keep them "in line" to avoid jamming the whole vane steering very dangerously. They tend to get loose. Maybe is best to through bolt them.
4.The tiller head got broken and I believe it needs to be more sturdy for un-experience amateur sailors like I am (or I was?) if you are not able to balance your boat properly. Thats it, every other thing worked to perfection and will work on my next circumnavigation of the Mars planet when humans reach its atmosphere. (I want to do something different. come on.) AND NOW SOME PARANOIA THAT ACTUALLY never happened; Losing the solar panel. (No way, it stood over 45 knots gusts without extra guy roping)
Rudder gudgeons: I had the paranoia they would come loose (In a way it made me to be very conservative on boat balance). There is some funny play anyway and I need to inspect it. (It made me make an emergency rudder for the vane in any case)
Regular chafe on halyards (i still have my running rigging intact)
Loose my outboard engine. From Azores to Canarias I left it on the bracket but secured it with rope. It worked even on gale conditions and I believe it will start anytime. Let me know which design idea you have on the outboard well you're building on the Alberg 35 I may go for it because although the port here is well protected from swell, is not protected from wind, so is going to be very hard to fight the strong NE wind to get out of the breakwater and sail out with my outboard pitching in the swell.
Cockpit flooding. It got dumped on by waves many times but no change in the stability, just a slight slow down. Hey James, use any of this on your web, it may push some other people to sea after all. It was worth every job I did onboard in the last 3 years. (remember I asked you?). Yes, it was worth it. That's a personal experience of a lifetime and recommended to boys and girls alike. Im glad I made it buddy and I'm very grateful to think of the many things I learned at your side. If you dont know it, you made my life much better by now and the self worthiness I feel about myself by now is un-payable. I must say that today after so many days at sea I had some kind of allergic reaction to the "rat race world" of cars, shopping and so on. You know exactly what I mean.
Talk to you soon, with Pajaro resting in the port of Naos and myself on my family cottage reviewing life from another state of mind. Hugs to Mei and hugs to you my friend. Nando and Pajaro.
Triton outboard well project update:
It took me a while to write you with some news since I really wanted to have something about the outboard well that I already did and still finishing. The performance is not only superior, but truly outstanding. I motored in really choppy not to say high short and rough foamy seas on the coast of Tenerife and the little Tohatsu didn't cavitate even once!!. It is like having an inboard. Better. So, I'm very happy. No more headaches! I wish I had done this before.
As you can see I positioned the engine as low and forward as possible. I had to make a cut very close to the bulkhead since the outboard leg didn't clear until 1/2 " away. I'll see now how to make a flush cover for the hole.
Perhaps the only drag is that this engine does not fit inside the lazarette locker horizontally as in Saga (Alberg 35). This is the reason I made the top lid cut out much smaller. Just enough to use it as a regular storage hatch. Now the deck is much stronger and does not flex. The first job was to close the lazarette bulkhead with mat and resin to make it separate from the cockpit lockers.
Now I'll keep going doing the inner box and so on. Not sure if I'll use a slide door as in Saga. The sides of the bulkhead are not perfectly straight, but curved!!
The outboard stores good in either cockpit lockers (as it did on the crossing last year). I'm now thinking of fiberglassing a small "bulkheads-mold" so the engine sits securely inside the port cockpit locker. But yes, at the same time, using hank on sails, I need this precious locker space for sails, ropes, anchor, etc. Perhaps when I upgrade to roller furling things will change.
The actual engine right now has not space enough to tilt forward (for a possible tilt-up well design we discussed) because of the rudder post 2 inches apart. Unless you bring the engine aft (and so higher on the waterline). But even so, I doubt it since neither is there much space aft because of the stern inner wall. So that's basically the best I could do. .
But for the performance, is really unbelievable. I can move the engine head 180 degrees so, still works as a "STERN THRUSTER" on either side. One of the best features when docking.
Now it works in ANY waters. No matter how short and high seas are. It's magical. Water does find her way in through the cut out when going hard on both tacks. But so far no water came in the cockpit. I'll work next all the rest of the bulkheads and lids you conceived so to avoid the water "breaking my speed". However I sailed close hauled heavy with the shaft on the water, with little significant drag. But for lighter winds, sure it would possibly slow the boat.
I'll send you pictures of the outboard well as it progresses.
Outboard on stern rail with cover
boards to close off lazarette
Update May 2012:
Fernando and Pajaro set sail from Canary Islands for Brazil, arriving in Mindelo, Cape Verde this January and then in Salvador, Brazil in April. Brief note from Fernando in reply to my questions:
James, no flooding at all in the outboard well while underway. Has watertight hatch with wing nuts almost like the Alberg 35, Saga. I have two quater inch drain holes in each side of the lazarette but the water that may pour in on a very sharp heel is really unsignificant. I have to send you pics of my well finished. But as I said was a flawless trip without serious bad weather. Crossed equator at 27 long and got some line squalls. Most of them just rain. Just one that was evil and knock me and took some reptile moves to get to the mainsheet and jib sheet. Maybe 45 kts in a sudden blow that lasted few minutes. Being in Rio now I'd say Salvador bay is far better cruising groung with much clearer water that Guanabara darkish waters. N-
Fernando enroute to Cape Verde
More on Pajaro can be found at the Pajaro Website.