28 April - on passage to the Azores, Day 16

Escapade of Rame
Richard & Julie Farrington
Sun 28 Apr 2019 15:17
32:14.8N  037:15.5W
The splendid downwind sailing of yesterday morning has not lasted, although we carried the remnants of the breeze through much of the night.
Unfortunately, around 3:30am, the spinnaker gave up the ghost and disintegrated, even though there was only a Force 3 blowing at the time. 
Ed and I took about half an hour to unwrap the remnants from around the forestay and get some semblance of order restored, by which time the wind had died completely.
It was quite an old sail (at least 10 years) and we have used it quite hard since we bought the boat in 2013.  I think that some of the seams eventually surrendered to the UV assault and the constant shock loading of the light airs and rolling that are ‘normal’ for this sort of passage. 
We set the cruising chute and have spent the last 8 hour chasing zephyrs around the north Atlantic.  We are currently heading towards the Azores at a sedate 3 knots, but there are some promising looking clouds approaching from the east.  Some say that light winds sailing ‘sorts the Men from the Boys’.  I was always happy to be a ‘Boy’ until now, but we are learning fast about how to keep a 25 tonne yacht moving in 4 knots of wind...
The problem with the cruising chute is that it is not terribly efficient as a downwind sail – you need the wind on the beam or the quarter, and the current breeze is from right behind.  So we are playing a delicate tactical game to get the boat going as well as possible, whilst trying the close the Azores and not head for the Canaries or Iceland! 
The good thing about the cruising chute is that it’s not sitting in the lay apart store in Gosport where it has been since we left home two years ago – I brought it out to Antigua on the aeroplane last month ‘just in case’... turned out to be a good decision. 
In other news, we enjoyed a belated Easter Sunday Roast dinner last night (pork with roasted vegetables, cabbage and an apple jus) and were treated to a selection of Tom’s music selections – more catholic than I imagined.
So, what now?  We do not have enough fuel to motor from here to the Azores.  Horta is 550 miles away and we need to sail a minimum of 150 of those.  Our challenge is when to use the 400 miles of fuel... The safest thing to do is to put in the hours under sail now, accepting that progress may be very slow and frustrating for a few days.  On the other hand, it might be worth motoring north to find more wind closer to our destination.
Chess at sea!
Despite the slow progress, morale is high onboard.  The only new defect is the spinnaker, which we are unable to repair at sea.
Richard, Ed and Tom