Our route across the Atlantic was predetermined by Hurricane Matthew and later Hurricane Nicole. My first intention was to take the northern or Great Circle route from Gibraltar to Azores and Fort Lauderdale. But it soon became clear that to avoid the troubled weather, the best option would be to take a more southerly course, stopping in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and St Maarten before proceeding to Florida.
The first leg: Gibraltar to Tenerife
• Duration: 2 days
• Winds: 15–25kn, Mainly on Port Quarter and Stern
• Seas: slight to moderate
• Speed: 14–17kn
The only reason why we had to reduce speed was because I wanted to arrive in Santa Cruz de Tenerife during daylight hours. In these sea conditions, there are no restrictions on how fast the yacht can travel and 30 knots would have been possible.
The second leg: Tenerife to St Maarten
• Duration: 8 days
• Winds: 5–25kn, variable
• Seas: slight to moderate. Hurricane Matthew produced 3m swells on the starboard beam, period 10-12 seconds.
• Speed: 13–15kn
A few days out from St Maarten I couldn’t resist the temptation to test the yacht’s handling in the big swell. We turned north into the waves around at 14.5 knots and expected some pounding. Nothing! I then slowly started to increase RPM.
This was clearly boys’ stuff and after reaching 21 knots with still no pounding, the chief engineer walked onto the bridge. I expected him to complain about something, but all he said was “Captain, I think we should clean the pipes and get rid of some soot.”
This was the clear green light I was waiting for. At a comfortable 10-degree rudder angle, Galactica Super Nova turned gracefully in the swell onto the reciprocal southerly course. "Oh my," said the chief, or words to that effect, as I started pushing the Roll Royce levers further forward.
At this point I am no longer looking at any instruments, only the massive waves we are surfing and occasionally the speed. With only the two outboard main engines the yacht made 29.1 knots and I’m certain that with the central booster jet we would have surpassed 35 knots. I even tried out a little kite surfing in mid-Atlantic!
The third leg: St Maarten to Ft Lauderdale
• Duration: 2 days, 8 hours
• Winds: 10–24kn, mainly aft and on the nose.
• Seas: Slight to moderate
• Speed: 14–22kn
Most of the trip was run at around 20 knots. Our last night out was with shorter set of waves of 1–1.5m from dead ahead and we had to reduce down to 14.5 knots. I decided to alter course toward the lee of Bahamian islands.
The whole crew was slightly irritated with this reduction in speed and complained about her performance against the short set. I had to remind them that we are still running at 14.5 knots against 1-1.5m seas with no discomfort, something most superyachts in her class would not be able to do.
We were all spoiled with the speed and handling of Galactica Super Nova and have fallen under her spell. I cannot praise the performance of the yacht enough. This is once special girl! How could I ever work on a regular 16-knot displacement yacht again?