Ascension Northwards - Day Ten 01 09.821N 033 22.562W

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 23 Apr 2014 20:28
A slow 24 hours making around 3.5kts for a lot of it. Our noon-to-noon run was only 94 miles. The wind's been up and down the whole time - it comes up a bit and then drops off and we've been about to start the engine several times when it's comes back up again as we reached for the key. Sometimes we think it might be better just to motor for several hours to get further north, but the only problem with that is that we don't know how wide the ITCZ is - it could be 50 miles or 300. So we decided to just sail as much as we can (unless it gets ridiculously slow) - being north of the Equator now every mile is one mile less in the ITCZ, and every mile sailed is one mile less to motor. Having said that, it's been a good morning - the mainsail is up! The first time for a very long time. The wind is still light, but has gone round to the NE, if not a bit north of that (NEbN), and we're close hauled under full main and full working genoa, making around 5kts (racing along!). It would be even better if we didn't have a counter current of a good half a knot! That's really not supposed to happen along this coast. One of the other boats this morning, several hundred miles closer to the coast, reported 2kts of counter current! That's a massive amount when according to the charts and pilots you're suppose to be getting at least one knot of favourable current.

Being close hauled (genoa tight in) it was possible to check the bowlines attaching the sheets to the genoa. One knot was badly chaffed where the knot usually rests against the pole jaws when it's poled out. That's what having poles out for most of the 3,700 miles from Cape Town does. As our genoas are high cut, the knots are normally too high to get to, so by leaning out it was just within reach I was able to undo the bowline and end-to-end the sheet. So hopefully that will last at least the rest of this passage. If the winds stay north of east we probably won't use the poles too much more.

Being close hauled we are no longer rolling, but are on a constant lean. Each has it's good and bad points. As well as the wind being forward of the beam, so is the sea, so we're bashing into it, but with the light winds luckily there's nothing too much to bash into! The seas will get bigger as we get back into the trade winds (the NE Trades this time), but being so far out we should be able to bear away more and get a better angle on the waves. Hope so anyway.

As we're now so far west we've just put the clocks back 2 hours, so boat time is now GMT-2. That puts sunrise and sunset back to approximately where they're supposed to be! (The time on our radios - the VHF and SSB - stays on GMT and ensures we don't lose the plot completely!)

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