The most beautiful timing is when you need to change sails at night… and so this is what happened. The only good alternative was the A2, we hoisted it … 585 sq. metres … once we massively lied down in a 26 kts gust, but apart from that we’ve been all right. … lots of small boats are on the prowl around us, our display is full of them.
Ship’s log: [chronological order of days from bottom to top]
25. 06. 10:00 UTC, in the morning.
The A2 is still up, we are progressing beautifully with it. A few serious gusts made us jump out of bed, once we massively lied down in a 26 kts gust, but apart from that we’ve been all right.
It’s always stressful when we approach a fleet of fishing boats, like we just did an hour ago. There’s no way to know which way they’re going, the arrow on the AIS is non-stop bouncing back and forth. We can only see what’s really happening when we get close to them. Sometimes they change direction even when we are next to them. They are merely focusing on the fish and that they wouldn’t slip out of the net. Nothing’s for granted until we leave them behind. Here, close to the islands there is increased fishing activity, lots of small boats are on the prowl around us, the display is full of them.
It looked like we were going to have a nice day, but it got clouded and it happens only very rarely that a little ‘hole’ comes above us. The last island, Flores is 50 miles from us. After that the closest land will be the ‘new world’.
In the evening.
We’ve had a perfect genaker ride the whole day, only in the morning were we caught in sudden actions due to a few gusts. In the afternoon Karcsi and Patrick came up with a race for themselves, who can do more miles steering the boat manually. Karcsi won with one tenth knots. I let myself relax a bit and went to sleep. Nobody alarmed me or woke me, so I didn’t bother to get up.
At 15:40 GMT we passed the western coast of Flores, thus left the whole group of islands, now we’re free to go.
Even though the sky was covered the whole day, it was quite warm. I mean compared to the local conditions and the past week. I’m still wearing long underpants and warm socks. Yesterday I showered a little bit from the bucket, but only to the necessary extent. The water temperature is not pleasant enough. We would need +6 degrees.
19:40 GMT, 38° 50,6′ N, 032° 11,6′ W, everything is all right.
24. 06. 09:00 UTC
The good news is that we finally got the wind, the forecasted Northerly. Yesterday night we took down the A2 when it calmed and with the same momentum hoisted the C0 just in case, then started the engine. It was going for less than half an hour when slowly our Northerly came back, engine off. Since then the average wind speed is 10 kts, though we had 15 too, and the boat speed is between 8 and 13 kts in the right direction. Having been sailing in the right direction is a huge deal, because last week we managed to sail positively only 10% of the time, the rest was either upwind or just looking for wind.
The following days are all about downwind so I prepared the A3 genaker, which is a good universal sail. It works optimally from 10 knots to a lot more until 30. Back at the C0 we discovered that the hole at the top of the cable is smaller than the shift of the brand new halyard lock. So we took out the narrow inner part and put it together with the sail. Now we are having the same problem, but I can’t beat it out. All kinds of things happened, I even received a well-directed hit on my hand on the ever-moving boat but the insertion piece did not come out. I put the sail back to its bag, this is something that we’ll need to solve in Newport. Until then we’re using the A7, which is slightly smaller than the A3.
At 09:00 UTC we passed Ponta Delgada, which means we have reached the islands. The East-West length of the islands is approximately 280 sm, it’s going to take more than a day for us to leave them. The weather is basically overcast. From time to time the clouds come together in bigger formations, which can be felt in the changing of the wind, unfortunately more like in a harmful way. It calms and turns behind us, which makes us slow down.
Patrick found the written description of our instruments in the computer and got captured by them immediately. He managed to do a few calibrations which were necessary after the replacement of beacons at the top of the mast but there was no time or attention to do them on land.
By the afternoon we were left with only higher atmospheric clouds, the sky became clear. As a consequence, our ride became more stable and even faster.
16:40 GMT, 39° 19′ N, 026° 38,2′ W, everything’s OK.
24. 06. 19:00 UTC, in the evening.
Another group of whales went across behind us, 6-8 whales, they were heading south. We only saw their air blows 300 metres behind the boat.
We could be seeing the island about now but in spite of the clear weather, that side of the horizon is covered in damp. Patrick was really looking forward to seeing the summits but it’s going to be dark by the time we get close enough.
There are 1200 miles behind us and 1900 more to go.
We might as well subtract 3 days of performance from last week, since we were sailing athwart and progressed almost nothing in the right direction.
The most beautiful timing is when you need to change sails at night… and so this is what happened. The wind had turned behind us and we couldn’t sail with the C0 anymore. The only good alternative was the A2, which careful sailors usually take down in such conditions. We hoisted its 585 sq. metres, it looks beautiful and pulls us powerfully. Everything would be perfect, except the wind swung back 20 degrees, and now were are sailing deeper than we should.
If we had to bear away in a possible gust now, Graciosa is right there above us – one little island of the Azores -, that’s standing in our way. Right here, right now. So far the wind seems stable, I hope it doesn’t reserve any surprises for us. If anything were to happen, we will take this sail down and hoist something that works closer to wind. We are training.
By midnight GMT we passed the island without any trouble, it’s a clear way. There was nothing unexpected, though sometimes the wind span strongly, but only for short periods. At the moment we can keep the optimal 250 – 260° direction, still diving deeper than our actual destination, not to run out of wind in the next couple of days. The night is wonderful. The moon is not up yet, the stars are twinkling and we can see the Milky-way so clearly I’m actually looking for the jug it had been spilled out of.