All pictures by the author.

*and occasional qualitative answers.

In 2010, Ben Keys crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, most recently delivering an 18-year-old superyacht to Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua in time for the owner’s Christmas vacation. Here are some stats from that trip:


Distance traveled from Palma de Mallorca – Gibraltar – Gran Canaria – Cape Verdes -Antigua:
4266 nautical miles. (Note: One nautical mile = 1.85 kilometers = 1.15 miles.)

Time taken: 20 days sailing plus 5 days of stopovers for fuel and provisions

Cups of tea consumed: 200-250

Total days ‘proper’ sailing with engine off
: 9.

Fuel consumed: 6500L of diesel

Fuel saved per hour when engine is off: 23L

Morning coffee and a glassy sea.

Fuel consumed per hour by a motor yacht of same size averaging 10 knots: 300-400L

Fastest speed attained under sail in our 97 ton yacht: 14.2 knots (26kph)

Mainsail volume: 225 square meters

Strongest wind gust: 42 knots

Electrical fires on board
: 2

Crew response time to fires: Very, very fast. And improving.

Fish hooked: 14

Fish kept: 4 (Viewing The End of the Line has led to new, extreme criteria for ‘keepers’.)

Meals from a good size mahi mahi:
4 meals for 7 people plus various raw appetizers.

Lures lost to unseen monsters
: 4

The crew’s Halfway Party.

Best meal: Char-grilled mahi mahi with gremolata, chilli-infused poisson cru, and coleslaw with fresh-baked beer bread.

Most popular snack: The chef’s secret custom-trail mix and/or Mie Goreng noodles.

Number of times leaky deck hatches poured water down upon me:
3

Total different sleeping locations to avoid leaky hatches
: 4

Number of flying fish which flew in through open hatches:
3

Number of flying fish which landed in bed beside me: 1

Proportion of books and magazines making up my luggage: Approximately 60%

Titles read by me en route: 5 (Lush Life by Richard Price, South by Ernest Shackleton, Genghis Khan: Lords of the Bow and Bones of the Hills by Conn Iggulden and Underworld of the East by James Lee).

Books I read on the same yacht three years ago which are still on board:
More than 15

Watch system: 3 hours on and 6 hours off, in teams of 2.

Major world problems theoretically solved by crew during late-night watch
: 3-4 nightly

Major world problems actually solved by crew during late-night watch:
0

Getting perspective at 20 feet above sea level.

Crew who thought it might be fun to jump from the first spreader up the mast: 1

Most popular late-night musical choices: Into The Wild soundtrack – Eddie Vedder, Blue Sky Mining – Midnight Oil, Rated R – QOTSA, Music Monks – Seeed, Home – Spearhead and American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash.

Vagabond sailing yachts involved in near-misses due to their refusal to display lights at night: 2

Approximate depth at the location we took a swim:
4900 meters

Speed at which it was possible to keep pace with the yacht while swimming: 1 knot or less

Positions/nationalities of crew:
Captain (South African), Chef (British), Mate (Irish), Engineer (New Zealander), Stewardess (New Zealander), Delivery-monkey/consultant (Australian – me) and Captain’s mother/baker-extraordinaire (South African)

Total Atlantic crossings between all crew: 26

Twenty-five days later, the arrival in Antigua.

Languages spoken between crew: 5 (English, Afrikaans, Spanish, Gaelic and Kiwi)

Personal Atlantic crossings this year: 3

Miles sailed this year across giant oceans: 11,500nm

Temperature on flying out of St John’s, Antigua: 34C

Temperature upon arrival in Bristol, UK:
Negative 2C

Community

Matador has published a solid guide for all those interested in how to become a boat captain.