Ascension Northwards - Day Twenty Two 12 47.453N 059 17.238W

Mike and Liz Downing
Mon 5 May 2014 20:04
Continued throughout the night with both headsails up, the windward one poled out and on it's limit wind-wise. That maximizes the apparent wind and allows both sails to pull, especially the leeward sail that has no support. That kept us going at around 6 to 6.5kts the whole night, but it did mean having to watch the wind instrument like a hawk and make frequent minor adjustments to the steering to keep the wind just on the safe side of the line. Go over the line and there's a good chance the sail will back - not what you want, especially in the black of night. Talking of which, the moon is back and doing a reasonably good job up until midnight, and with clear skies, the stars haven't been doing too bad either at keeping our path lit. Venus is still the favourite (albeit a planet of course) as it reflects most light and when it rises it means the dawn is fast approaching, which is always nice. Talking of which, even with these clear skies, we haven't had a decent sunrise or sunset for a very long time. There's always a band of cloud just on the horizon that gets in the way.

The wind has eased further during the day, the sea has gone right down and we've been ghosting along very nicely at between 5 and 6kts, which is all we need for a landfall during the day sometime tomorrow. With the steady wind the noon-to-noon passage was a good one at 151.2 miles. It's another beautiful sailing day, with the sea that lovely deep blue that you only get out in the deep ocean.

Saw our 3rd ship today - becoming quite a common event now! This one could not be ignored as it was a huge 1,000ft plus tanker on a dead reciprocal course to us. So had to call it up and decide which way to turn and it was agreed port to port so we both turned a bit to starboard. All this was done while it was over 15 miles away, so well over the horizon and it was nice to see it appear where we hoped it would when it came our side of the horizon. It passed just over 2 miles on our port side and did look huge, even though it was well laden down in the water. It was heading for Singapore.

Saw what we thought must have been a relatively small fishing boat during the night. Just one white light and it was too small to be distinguishable on radar with all the sea/wave clutter that you get. Reckon we passed it by a couple of miles. To us it was just a small white light that we couldn't make out using the binoculars. What it actually was we will never know.

Had one of those conversations today that only cruisers can have. Is that land? No, looks like hazy cloud to me. No, I'm sure it's land. No, look, there's more of that cloud over there and there's definitely not land over there - there's thousands of miles of sea in that direction. No, I'm sure it's land. Oh, let's get the binoculars out. It's land!! Yes, we saw Barbados for the first time at lunch time, about 9 miles away - the first land for 22 days. It's now disappeared back into the haze as we pull away towards St Lucia. We have 120 miles to go.

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