Ascension Northwards - Day Twelve 03 43.296N 036 21.581W

Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 25 Apr 2014 19:38
Started off as a much better evening last night, making good progress, but by midnight the squalls were back again and it was stop/start all night. Making 6 to 8kts when the wind came up and sometimes down to 2kts when it dropped. And it was changing every 15 minutes or so, so a lot of work to try and get the boat to go well. Add to that the torrential rain that we had a lot of the time and it wasn't a brilliant night. One squall lasted over 2 hours, with torrential rain the whole time. So it was a very soggy night! However, we did keep the main up all night, with 2 reefs in, and used the size of the genoa to control the speed. That worked okay. So far today it's been much better with less squall activity and a more consistent wind of around 15kt from the NE. We've been making a steady 6.5kts and feel we're getting somewhere. Talking of which, our noon-to-noon run was 121 miles (24 hours this time!) and we have three reasons to celebrate: we've sailed over 1,500 miles from Ascension Island and have, as I write, just passed half way to St Lucia. Having sailed 1,547.5 miles we have just 1,547.5 to go! The third reason is that we've actually got some favourable current at last. Long may that continue!

Had a different type of problem today. Could see lots of turbulence out the back and checking it, the hydrovane rudder had picked up a huge mat of weed. There's lots of it on the surface and we've not seen it this bad before. The drag factor must have been significant, so went fishing with the boat hook to try and get it off. Didn't work well and we had to take the speed right off to get it free. Looks like that will be a regular job while all this weed is about.

Had quite a few birds around us today. A couple of Shearwaters were looking for the flying fish that took to the air as the boat went through the water. They didn't look very good at it and it was quite comical to watch. Maybe 10 fish would take to the air the birds couldn't make up their minds which one to go for and ended up, as far as we could see, not getting any. On a couple of occasions the Shearwaters flew so close to the boat we thought they would hit it.

After a couple of days going to windward, so life on a lean, we've both decided we much prefer rolling downwind!

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