So far, all is well! The first two days our progress was steady making 160 and 158 nautical miles (nm) respectively. But again the GRIB shows a band of light wind filling in behind us, with wind dropping to 7 – 15 knots over the last 48 hours. It now feels we’re aboard the slow boat to China making a pitiful 3.5 knots on occasion; averaging 4 – 6 knots. We’re making forward headway, just much slower than hoped.
In the third 24 hours we made only 125 nm and have just clocked a woeful 112 nm for the fourth (due to the time we departed Tenerife on Wed 28th, our trip’s 24 hour clock re-starts daily at 12:30 pm UTC). In the light downwind we’ve been swapping between ‘big blue’ (Code 0 reaching sail) and the Parasailor. Like the mainsail, the Parasailor is getting on in age and has unfortunately suffered some broken webbing strings on the wing when the sail collapsed then snapped back full, keeping Dad busy with a needle and twine. With the Parasailor in for repairs, the first time ever a gull-winged rig including poled-out big blue and the foresail has been pushing finally my darling along gently.
There are five of us on board, myself (Brooke), Dad (Captain Col), Mike and we’ve been joined by friends and experienced UK sailors Doug Gardiner and his 13-year-old son William. We’re running 4 x 3 hour watches between 9 pm and 9 am. With plenty of siestas throughout the day everyone is well rested so far. Mike usually takes care of majority of cooking but with a backwards-facing galley he quickly suffers from motion sickness when underway, so I’ve happily taken on responsibility of keeping the crew well fed. Thanks to a sweet deep freezer and two fridges, the only canned meal planned to serve on board is baked beans on toast for breakfast. That is unless of course, we are still out here three weeks later, which at this rate…
I was concerned for Mike and William who both declared they were bored on day two. Oh dear! The sail and autopilot generally look after themselves, so to pass the time there’s reading, watching movies, card games, cooking, eating, snoozing, boat maintenance, writing, video editing and snoozing some more. I for one am a bit of an Internet addict, so it’s been incredibly refreshing to be completely disconnected.
On watch just before midnight yesterday, Dad and William were kept on their toes after a close encounter with a commercial fishing boat that was travelling at speed, unlit, with no AIS and was undetected on an earlier 24-mile radar sweep. The vessel was only spotted when it flicked on a rotating orange strobe and back-deck working lights to warn of its presence. The ship did not respond to Dad’s call on the VHF and once we’d change course 20° to port, it steamed past only a nautical mile distance down our starboard side. Proof that we are not alone out here on this vast ocean and keeping a vigilant watch at night is imperative!
We’ve been visited by two pods of dolphins; a confused, low flying sea bird; one small squid has beached itself on deck; but no flying fish as yet and more disappointingly no fish caught! So far all is pretty low-key. Following sea conditions are comfortable, a full moon is on its way in and we’ll continue to slowly sail SSW to avoid the extensive area of high-pressure that would otherwise becalm us like a bobbing bathtub toy. Anticipate excitement will kick up a notch (and hopefully the boat speed along with it) when we turn west for Martinique in a day or twos time. That’s all for now, thanks for checking in!