Ascension Northwards - Day Twenty One 11 57.990N 056 50.971W

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 4 May 2014 20:45
The stronger winds continued overnight and we continued to make 6 to 7kts under triple reefed main and staysail. It eased a little this morning and moved more east, so well behind the beam now. So much so that the main started to blanket the genoa, so this morning the main came down and the windward genoa is back up - so back to our downwind rig. Tried getting the main down still going downwind (it's always good to practice it for when you really need to do it that way) - we pull the boom amidships, get the wind dead behind and try to get it down very quickly before the wind has a chance to pin it against the shrouds. It worked okay - it already being triple reefed made it easier, but the flaking/stacking leaves a lot to be desired! But it is a lot quicker doing it that way and we'll have to raise it again before we arrive, so will do a better job at putting it away when the sea's a lot calmer. It's still quite big and rolly after the stronger winds. With the stronger winds the noon-to-noon run was a good 151 miles. The wind has dropped to around 15kts, the sun has come out and it's a lovely sailing day.

Saw our second ship last night. Picked it up on AIS in the early hours. It was heading in the opposite direction and it had a CPA of less than 2 miles, so changed course a little to open it up to about 3 miles. Felt more comfortable with that, nevertheless I still called it up to check they had seen us on AIS and they had. So that was good and they confirmed they would keep their current course and speed. We had a brief chat, as you do sometimes if their English is good, and they were on their way to China via South Africa. They passed by just over 3 miles away, but being over a 1,000ft long (one of the very big ones), it seemed much closer in the dark. So 2 ships seen now in 21 days.

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