Ascension Northwards - Day Twenty Three - Arrived!! 14 04.443N 060 57.024W

Mike and Liz Downing
Wed 7 May 2014 02:38
Another lovely star-lit night as we headed for the 23 mile gap between St Vincent and St Lucia. The wind was very kind to us - not only did it keep up a nice breeze that kept us going around 6.5kts, but it also moved a little south of east (not bad for the NE trades!), so it was right behind us on our course between the two islands. With both headsails poled out, that's just where we wanted it. And with the light breeze there was very little sea, so a lovely sail. What's more, our timing was perfect for arriving at the southern end of St Lucia and into the Caribbean just as the sun was starting to rise. So we passed the Pitons in the light, and passed them making 7.5kts! The current between the islands was a relatively strong 2.5kts and we popped into the Caribbean like a cork out of a bottle. Prior to the channel between the islands, the current had been northerly and our heading was sometimes as much as 30 degrees further south than our course, so crab-like, to stop us getting whooshed past the gap and up the east coast of St Lucia. Always something to keep you on your toes when sailing! Our noon-to-noon run was another 151.2 miles (a bit uncanny how we can have exactly the same mileage 3 days on the trot). So the last 7 days have all been over 140 miles a day, so can't complain about that.

We had forgotten how flat the Caribbean Sea is behind the islands - the west, leeward side, was completely protected from any swell. With the anchorages at St Helena and Ascension Island both being open roadsteads (along the coast with hardly any protection) we hadn't experienced such flat water since leaving the marina in Cape Town back on 13th March! While we kept the wind, it was like sailing on a mill pond. And we did keep the wind most of the way up the west coast, but had to motor the last hour or so into Rodney Bay, and arrived at the marina at 15.00 this afternoon. So safely tied alongside. The passage took exactly 23 days for a total distance of 3,142 miles - marginally the longest we have done, just beating the passage from the Galapagos to Marquesas. (But that only took 17 days 22 hours - we flew and had good current, unlike this passage where we had the doldrums to contend with, a lot of counter current and wind ahead of the beam some of the way.) At 23 days it also equals the longest passage duration (the Atlantic back in 2008 - that was really slow!)

We were operating GMT-2 hours on the boat, as were the other boats on the net (all but one of which have now reached their destinations), but St Lucia is GMT-4. So we've gained time by putting the clocks back another 2 hours. So we're operating GMT-4, which is BST-5 - confused?! It means we're now 5 hours behind the UK. That feels a little strange after having been 10-12 hours ahead of the UK for so long up until the summer of last year.

Oh, and just one other small detail - at 08.33 this morning (10.33 GMT), just after passing the Pitons, we crossed our outward track. And that, of course, means we have sailed around the World - two new circumnavigators! After some of the hiccups we've had that sounds good, it sounds very good!!

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: