Ascension Island to the Azores Day 26 – Just when you think it has got better

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Fri 17 Mar 2017 04:13
Position                34:30.73 N 026:13.94 W
Date                     2359 (UTC) Thursday 16 March 2017
Distance run          in 24hrs 131nm over the ground, 133nm through the water
Passage total         3,459nm over the ground, 3,374nm through the water
Distance to go       195nm    This is our direct routing.  The actual distance will be more as we are forced west of our destination
Planned distance    Ascension to the Azores west around the high 3,666nm
It all started to go downhill about midday when the log records "three reefs in again".  By 1800 we were seeing 25-28 knots across the deck and two swell directions, the primary from the north east and a secondary from the north west producing a confused sea with lots of banging and water; a series of rain squall added to the interest.  Midnight and we were getting the wind gusting into the 30's.  We are making progress towards Punta Delgada but still have the issue of getting upwind and up swell to our destination.  The GRIB files (wind strength and direction forecast download files), show the wind going light and variable on Saturday afternoon.  This should allow us to use diesel to make up this last bit of ground and we may well end up approaching the island where our destination of Punta Delgada is, from the north west.
Generation of electrical power has been going very well.  The Watt and Sea Hydro Generator failed a few days out from Ascension; this is a great piece of kit when it is working but it always seems to have problems, in this instance it appears to be the generator itself rather than the rigging.  However, we have had great output from the solar panels, regularly seeing over 100Ah (at 24volts) per day.  The twin wind generators have actually contributed useable amounts, over 5 amps each being regularly seen.  Our Air Breeze generators really do nothing with under 15 knots of wind; over 20 knots and they are very happy.  All of this means that in the absence of a diesel generator that works for more than 10 minutes at a time we have only had to run the main engine to top up the batteries for one hour or at most two hours per day.  The oil pressure sensor on the generator failed after leaving Ascension, a replacement is on its way to Punta Delgada.  Taking it out of circuit allows the generator to run for nine minutes maximum.  This is enough to boil a kettle, make toast or reheat things in the microwave oven but not long enough to charge the batteries.
For those long serving members of the Randonneurs (Our Coggeshall cycling group) who remember such things, for lunch we used the fresh bread made yesterday to produce a Sean's, of Stisted Tea Rooms fame, Half Tandem Sandwich.  For the uninitiated this is bacon, sliced tomato and egg mayonnaise; the full tandem would require three slices of bread but we had to make do with the light weight version with two.  A delicious blast from the past.