Ambling along in the Retails
At first the SE Trades were a little flaky and I was beginning to wonder if we were going to record the slowest crossing since Amerigo de Vespucci (67 days). The wind would blow at a perfect 15 knots, then there would be a squall and we would reduce sail, then they would go down to 6 knots. Only just enough for the wind vane self-steering to cope. But they were always there, and always from the south-east. We re-christened them the 'SE Retails'.
However they gradually strengthened and we have had a few days good runs and made up a bit of time.
Day 14, 115NM
Day 15, 121NM
Day 16, 144NM (best 24hr run of the trip so far)
Day 17 135NM
Today is Wednesday 25 March and the start of day 18. The NE corner of Brazil is about a hundred nautical miles to the west but Salvador, our landfall, is still 330NM away. At this point the ocean current will be deflected so that it is running with us rather than trying to sweep us into the Caribbean. The winds should slowly be deflected to the NE so that they are behind us rather than at ninety degrees. Perversely this will actually slow us down as sails work best with the wind at right angles to your course (a beam reach in nautical speak). One advantage of going more downwind is that we can open the hatches making it cooler and more pleasant below.
Amazingly after 17 days Kath is still managing to produce delicious meals and deserts with at least an element of fresh vegetables, so morale is high! However we have run out of fresh fruit.
Morale was raised even higher this morning when we found a packet of delicious Scottish shortbread biscuits. Thank you Jean and Ross!
The strange incident of the black birds in the night
We haven't seen much wildlife apart from red footed boobies (similar to our gannets), Madeiran storm petrels and the beautiful but deadly Portuguese man of war jellyfish. On the night of our fastest run when we were hurtling along at 7 knots, two large dark birds were desperately trying to land on Caramor. They were determined to gain sanctuary and the chance to rest and kept uttering a distressing 'pew-pew-pew' sound. From the shape of their beaks they were definitely a land bird; how they got to be four hundred miles out to sea is a mystery.
Trying to land on a sailing ship with all those wires, ropes and turbulence from the sails must be extremely difficult. Eventually one of them roosted on the guard rail near the bows where it can't have been comfortable as the bow wave kept spraying water at it. The other managed to land on top of the mushroom-shaped satellite antenna but had nothing to grasp with its claws and kept skating around the smooth surface.
They stayed there most of the night but when we reduced sail during a particularly nasty squall and heavy rain they had obviously decided to take their chances elsewhere. Good luck to them, I hope they make it.