Friday 5th June - quick sailing at 8-9kt average

Fri 5 Jun 2020 11:17
29:03N 45:55W at 05:30 local= 0830 UTC, sog8-9kts cog0degrees, wind now down to 11-12 kts ENE swell under 2m.

Speedy sailing northwards throughout yesterday and overnight, with several hours at over 10kts and instantaneous max over 15knots. This is quite quick for cruising boats, although the round the world racers average over 12knots and sometimes hit 30knots. The crew were quite fine about playing Nurdle Drurdle in the saloon yesterday evening with apparent wind around 22kts and sog 11-12knots, because I'm the only one been on RYA sailing courses where they teach you that 7 or 8 kts is very fast and better take in some sail and 12kts is OMG territory. It all seemed ok though. Oh look it said 13knots. Oh and then it said 14knots, then 15knots. Anyway it's you to deal the cards Matthew.

I needed to sleep from early evening to catch my 1am-4am watch, leaving Sam on first Watch overnight 7pm-11pm. Sam asked - When should he decide to get me up? I said that I was expecting This to be About Maximum windwise, so if it got a Bit Much he could keep the boat on autopilot and turn downwind say 10, 20 or even 30 degrees to slow it down and wake me up to shorten sails. Sam replied yeah all fine, he knew about playing with the wind angle and in fact he'd just turned upwind 5 degrees to get it back on song at 10+knots. Jeez! Sam's a snowboard nutter and girls are even more mad - Ampi cheerfully handed over to me at similar loon 10kt speeds as the previous night, no need for much discussion or debrief obviously, yawn, g'night!

Just over 19hours ago Simon Said we really oughta turn north, and try aim to be at 31N and between say 45W and 50W by Monday morning. I had a quick chat with the crew who readily agreed that if some bloke called Simon in the UK (whom I have not actually ever met but sounds like he knows what he's on about) says we oughta Turn North ASAP, well then Yes that's a perfectly good reason to go north, so that's what we did.

Instead of tacking (simply turning the front of the boat across the wind, perhaps 90-100 degrees to go from ESE to N), I looped downwind to "wear around" the boat in a 270ish degree turn to keep better control of the foresail and keep the apparent wind speed as low as possible.

"Wearing round" a sailing boat in the middle of the Atlantic is very Patrick O'Brien-ish, definitely. In fact I can't think of anything more Patrick O'Brien-ish than wearing round the ship, unless we get cannons on the boat. O'Brien wrote a whole series of nautical novels, the guts of which are condensed into the film "Master and Commander" in which Russell Crowe does a reasonable impression of playing the violin, but doesn't, not really. There's another nautical novelist whose name escapes me, not him, whatever his name is, he does more of the tropical moonlight glistening off her bronzed thigh kinda stuff, plus the sailing. Not him. Oh I can't remember.

Anyway, Simon Said we might have to drift or even paddle north to reach 31N, but Mojo had other ideas and now there's 165nautical miles between us and that point where we turned yesterday(168nm now since starting writing this) so that makes erm 8.7knots average vmg, or more as an average speed including all the wiggles. Except of course we don't really want to go to Nova Scotia just 1150nm ahead so it's not really VMG (Velocity Made Good), is it? No. More like VMB Velocity Made Bad since we're another 20nautical miles further away from Lanzarote, dang. But still pretty good stuff, and fabulous sailing.

Some of the crew asked about the "nautical miles" thing. It's just that it's easier to use these at sea, or at least, it's gottta be like that since everyone else uses nautical miles (nm): each degree of latitude from the Equator to each Pole North and South is obviously 90 degrees, right? Each degree is divided into 60 "minutes" and a minute of latitude= 1/60th of a degree = 1 nautical mile. So that makes it 90 x 60 miles = 5,400 nautical miles from the Equator up (or down for Aussie readers) to each Pole, and 4 times that all round the world = er 21,200nautical miles = 21,200nm.
The French ( I think it was) had a go with a different system, and defined a metre as one-ten-billionth of the distance from the equator to either Pole, which is nearly accurate (but actually, not quite). 10 billion metres = 10,000,000,000 metres = Ten thousand kilometres from Pole to Equator. So it's (about) 10,000km (ish) or 5,400nm (exactly) from Pole to Equator, and a kilometre is just over half a nautical mile. So when we sailed at 15kts = 15nautical miles an hour, that's about 28km/hour. Wooh, big deal So What? say Ampi and Anna, they have bicycles that go way faster than that.

Anyway the metres never caught on at sea, possibly due to Napoleon losing at Waterloo or maybe the British system prevailing with them working out the clocks and Greenwich Mean Time first. Either way kilometres are just for motorways (outside UK and North America, not sure about Canada, Australia definitely km) and to make Maths exams quite a bit easier than if they used feet and inches. Ordinary miles (aka Statute Miles) are Different Entirely, something to do with how far Roman soldiers marched between crucifying yet another of the locals, maybe.

Anyway that's enough sums for one day. I am waiting to hear what Simon Says about ideas for what to do after we get to 31N late this evening. Maybe we can have the weekend off? Or bring in some toys from home to play with, instead of sailing and arithmetic? Probably tell us to turn east, not sure when though. Actually he's gotta say we turn at some point hasn't he? Course he has. I don't want to mess up his Gran Plan though, whatever that is. Oh look, he's messaged the satphone just now and says he's sent an email, and also that the weather is manky in the UK so may as well out here...

From Anna below (yes, in Dutch)

Een kleine toevoeging in het Nederlands voor iedereen die deze blogs leest en volgt waar wij op dit moment zijn. Wij vroegen ons al af wat mensen zullen denken die zagen dat wij eerst naar het Zuiden vaarden en nu de andere kant op richting het Noorden. Allebei redelijk uit de richting waar wij uiteindelijk heen gaan, Lanzerote.

Vandaag alweer dag 9 van onze tocht over de Atlantische oceaan. De eerste week was, kort samengevat, een heerlijke vakantie op zee. Er was weinig wind, weinig golven, geen borden of glazen die kapot zijn gevallen op de grond en heel veel zon wat resulteerde in wat uren op het dek werken aan onze tan en fantastische zonsonder- en opgangen. Is het zo makkelijk de Atlantische oceaan over zeilen? Eerlijk gezegd konden wij zo nog wel weken volhouden.

Echter, sinds gisteren is het echte zeilen begonnen. Wat, zoals ik al verwachtte, nog beter is dan de eerste week. Avontuur, yes! Met een enorme snelheid, heen-en-weer-gewieg en harde klappen wanneer de boot op de golven klapt en je regelmatig word wakker geschud uit een diepe slaap. Matt en Sam leren Ampi en mij alle ins-and-outs van het zeilen en met de zeeziekte gaat het gelukkig nog goed op dit moment.

Het gaat goed met mij. Nog altijd even blij met mijn beslissing om dit avontuur aan te gaan. Nog redelijk wat dagen zeilen te gaan en daar kijk ik gelukkig nog heel erg naar uit. Verrassend genoeg weinig momenten gehad waar het wat moeilijker werd. Wellicht komt dat nog, en zo niet, top! Ik heb zin om mijn lieve familie en vrienden na de afgelopen 4.5 maanden weer te zien. Tot snel iedereen.