Azores to Falmouth - Day Five 44 33.730N 019 26.052W

Mike and Liz Downing
Sun 20 Jul 2014 17:13
What a grey day! Thick, low cloud the whole day that comes right down to sea level at times. Visibility has been no better than 3 miles or so and has been down to less than 1/4 mile at times when the clouds come down. With no sun the sea is so grey too. But the wind did come back at around 02.00 this morning. It was one of those situations where there was a hint of wind and worth seeing what the boat would do under sail, having been motoring at 5kts up to that point. So the motor went into neutral and the sails went out. At 2.3kts it looked like it was a waste of time, but then it was 3, then 4.1, then 4.4 and within 20 minutes it was back up to 5. So we've been sailing ever since, sometimes at 7kts this morning and with an apparent wind of only 7.8kts. She never ceases to amaze me how well she goes in light airs with the 2 headsails out (windward one poled out). The sea is slight which helps (and there's so very little motion below you feel as though the boat has stopped). What wind there was has eased this afternoon, but we're still making around 5kts. Our noon-to-noon run was 125.3 miles.

Our AIS proved very useful in this drab weather. A ship suddenly popped up on the screen this morning when 13 miles away, crossing at right angles to us with a small CPA (closest point of approach). It was the give-way vessel (regardless of the sail v power regulation) and at 10 miles changed its course to pass behind us, opening up the CPA to 3.5 miles. Assumptions being dangerous things, I then called him up and he confirmed that he had seen us on AIS and had changed course to starboard to give the 3.5 miles CPA. I thanked him and wished him well. It was nice to know that they were keeping a good watch and took the necessary action without prompting! We saw it approach, but it disappeared into the mist as it passed behind us.

The direction of the wind from the south west has allowed our heading to be further north. The detour when running in the bad weather on Friday had taken us well to the east of our original course line and we wanted to get back to it (and so away from the mainland) to keep all our options open. We crossed back over this morning and are now to the west of it, so that's good.

It was a lovely evening last night and another whale came within sight. Close enough to watch it until it dived, but not too close to cause concern. Visibility is not good enough today to see much at all - hope this is not what we can expect for the rest of the passage!

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