South Atlantic - Days 11/12

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Wed 23 Jan 2013 00:21
14:30S 011:05W  2109 miles covered
The stop in St Helena was a welcome break to our journey across the South Atlantic but now we are back on our way to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.
We have the mainsail clew ring attached again.  Hooray. 
Anastasia’s mainsail is a sandwich made of carbon and kevlar fibres between plastic film with a polyester taffeta on the outside for UV resistance.  Add to that a couple of layers of reinforcement at the clew and you are sewing something which is about half a centimetre thick and extremely tough.  Good for strength but not very easy to sew.
In fact it is impossible to push a standard needle through the fabric by hand.  You have to sew through the existing holes that were made by heavy duty sewing machines.  The problem is that the existing holes are covered up by the new tapes you are sewing on.  That means every stitch involves jabbing at the area where you think there is a hole until the needle seems to go in a little deeper, then take a pair of pliers and force the needle through the hole.  Sometimes it takes a minute to do one stitch.  It took over seven hours to sew the three tapes onto the sail.  Real blood and sweat went into the task, but my thumbs and back are recovering now.
Of course, now we have a mainsail there is no need for it.  The light winds that we had going into St Helena have continued and we are travelling at a pedestrian 5 or 6 knots using the Parasailor.  We are covering 120 to 140 miles a day.  There is nothing we can do but be patient and wait for wind.  If this keeps up it will be a couple of weeks before we get to Salvador. 
The boats that set out a couple of days before us have even worse wind.  If you look at the Grib file below you can see the arrows turning blue in the middle, which means much lighter winds.  We are actually making a detour north to try and get around that ridge of dead air, but we will not be able to avoid it completely.  Still, when we get past it, to where the wind turns to come from the north east, then we will have some more fun sailing  The last couple of days into Salvador should be quick.