Azores to Falmouth - Day Three 42 19.471N 023 27.047W
Mike and Liz Downing
Fri 18 Jul 2014 17:52
An unpleasant night and a very unpleasant day, but otherwise okay! The forecast was for stronger winds from the NW, showing around 20kts. What we got was 25kts, gusting around 30kts, with sustained periods of around 28kts in squalls. So far the max gust has been 36kts. As is generally the case, it's not the wind that's the problem, but the sea it creates. It was rough overnight and today it's increased to very rough. The seas are not huge, but 2 to 4 metres, confused and covered in white horses as they break all around us, and the occasional one against us drenching the boat in water. To start with we maintained our course towards Falmouth, but were crashing into waves more and more as the sea built and we had floods of water constantly running along both side decks (good job we sorted out those leaks in Horta - so far they appear to be holding). But as the seas got bigger we decided that we needed to take evasive action until the rough weather abates and turned to run almost due east, towards Portugal. We're still 600 miles off the coast so plenty of sea room to do that. The well reefed working genoa was swapped for just the storm staysail and we've been making around 4.5 to 5.5kts. That has been a lot more comfortable with a lot less water over the boat, although the occasional breaking wave comes screaming towards us, catching us just aft of amidships, thumping into the side and sending spray over the deck (reminiscent of the Indian Ocean!). Our new sprayhood/bimini has worked wonders at keeping the cockpit mostly dry. We do have to make ground to the east, so we're still making positive mileage towards the UK, but not so effectively as keeping to our original course. The wind is forecast to start reducing this evening and overnight. Talking of which, the moon doesn't appear until the early hours of the morning, and before it does it really is pitch black. Add to that rising wind and sea and it's not nice. Once the moon is up it should be better, but with such thick cloud last night it made very little difference. It would be nice to see some stars tonight, but think we'll be very lucky if we do. Talking of luck, or not, 30 yards or so off the starboard bow, not Klingons, but a huge whale heading across our path. I immediately put the engine on as the noise is supposed to help keep them away, and it disappeared, not to be seen again. The engine was kept on for the next half hour, just running in neutral, and perhaps that did the trick. It was just as the sea was beginning to start breaking and every white horse turned into a possible whale!
Didn't manage to avoid going on deck in the middle of the night. Changing down to the staysail, the working genoa sheets flogged themselves into several incredibly tight knots,so if we wanted to use it again, and we did try later, I needed to go up the bow and untangle it all. How I got up there, do the job and get back with out getting soaked is a miracle. Despite spending most of the last 24 hours under staysail alone, we've made 119 miles, so slowly getting there. The normal lack of wind on leaving the Azores has definitely not been a problem so far!