out of the trade winds

Susie and Adam (both think they are skipper)
Wed 23 May 2012 03:30
2205:12, 26:07.75N 58:27.31W
We were pretty happy to have covered 500 miles in our first 3 days!  In the last 24 hours we have crossed the Tropic of Cancer so does that mean we are no longer in the Tropics? – we have noticed that it has started to get slightly cooler at night which is not a bad thing as the first couple of days out it was incredibly hot in the boat, I now even have trousers and jacket on at night which is a first.
We have now left the trade wind belt, this has been good for us since the seas have calmed down – first couple of days we had reasonable wind but quite big seas, I suppose due to the distance that the wind is blowing over in one direction. We’re now entering the variable latitudes and the seas are far flatter which has been quite a nice change – we now don’t spend our entire time peeling ourselves off the walls and furniture, past few days even putting shoes on etc has been an effort that requires bracing and lots of concentration and we both have sore patches on bony bits where we have fallen against cookers, tables and the like.   After 3 full days at sea we have also started to get our sea-legs as salty sea dogs put it – the first 3 days of a passage are very hard, tiring and you don’t sleep properly as you haven’t got used to shift patterns, the constant motion is also difficult to get used to after a break from it – today has been better, calmer sea, we’re both now into our sleeping patterns and getting good sleep and we’re settling into it.  Spicy potato and chickpea pasties were even made this morning on each of our watches and I have the task of making banana bread on my ‘graveyard shift’ which I am doing right now (10pm to 2am) – in fairness I am not actually constructing it from scratch – I have to put some eggs and things into a packet mix.
On the first day out we saw the Catamaran ‘Atika’ as I mentioned – but no a single other yacht since.  We’ve seen a couple of ships but that has been it.  On our first night we actually were on a collision course with a container ship and the direction and their speed made it difficult for us to turn either way to get good room between us – called them up on the radio (had to say ‘ship at position x’ as we didn’t know the name) – anyway – the chap on watch answered and we had a quick chat about how fast we were going, distance between us etc (we could see them on our radar and AIS but they couldn’t see us on radar – although they could see our lights, not sure why they couldn’t see us on radar I can only assume that the sea was quite rough so we were disappearing in the swell). Anyway , after a quick discussion he agreed to alter his course away from us and we volunteered to turn downwind to enable us to clear their stern more quickly and to give us more room between.  That was done and within about 15 mins we were happy to see them passing ahead of us and out of the way!  I called them up again to thank them for their help and they thanked us too – I suppose if they cannot see us on radar it is difficult for them to know what the crazy amateurs in yachts are doing . . .  and if they are actually awake.  Anyway – that was really good – it’s quite nice when a 400ft container ship moves for you, sometimes you just have to ask and that is all.
Had some birds following us today, 3 white birds with long tails that you see around the islands in the caribbean – they just stayed 20 mins or so trying to decide if we were a fishing boat I thinka .  They made a bit of a feeble effort to land on top of our mast but that was it.  Then all afternoon today we have had 3 petrel-like birds accompanying us.  They are much better – watching them fly in and out of the waves is like watching fighter planes in mountains.  They fly inches from the waves and soar around them.  They have been flying close to the water along the flat, wake that we leave behind us – they don’t appear to have actually caught any thing though all afternoon.
Anyway – may as well do a long update whist the seas are calm, we’re hoping by next week to be north of the azores high where allegedly we can turn east and ride the low pressures to the east.  That is the theory anyway, we probably will have a bit of motoring to do between then and now but (touch wood) no motoring as yet.