Atlantic crossing day 12
39:59.3N 46:35.6W @1200 GMT 714 miles to go.
Our gulf stream ride continued into Wednesday afternoon but slowed gradually as the wind and current diminished. Eventually we tried the gennaker for an hour or so but soon had to resort to engine once again. Some dolphins joined us later for a brief play in the bow waves and we sat in hot sunshine in the cockpit until after supper looking out over a completely flat Atlantic. Just after Lindsay went to bed, David called her back to watch one or two very large whales in the middle distance. They appeared as a distinctive, low curved black line at least 50ft long and we think they were finbacks. It is always seems to be easier to spot wildlife when conditions are so calm.
Late in the evening the wind reappeared just strong enough for us to sail gently over the flat seas at a steady 4-5kts (in only 7-8kts of wind!). It was a blissfully peaceful night which allowed us both to catch up on some sleep and Goldcrest’s movement was so smooth I could have kissed her! By breakfast time the wind was dying once more and after a brief spell trying the gennaker we were back to engine power.
We had a very slow day on Thursday and marvelled at this mood of the Atlantic as we drifted along in hot sun and still airs. First mate quite fancied jumping in for a swim if she hadn’t imagined sharks and jelly fish waiting for her in those deep blue waters. The “sail by the wind” jelly fish continued to float by all day with their iridescent purple/blue little air sacs and their frilly “sail” which they seem to be able to raise and lower to help with direction. In the afternoon we were hailed on the radio by a freighter passing by and it was cheering to hear another voice for a moment. It was a first for us to be called by boat name now that we have a transmitting AIS system.
Today, Friday 29th, the seas are still flat and the little 8-10kt breeze is now directly from behind us, making progress under sail even slower. In the last 24 hrs we’ve made 88nm progress and used the engine for nearly half the time. Although we’ve only got 714nm to go, at this rate it could take over a week. We are adopting the strategy of drifting under sail as long as the boat will steer itself (which seems to be down to about 2kts). The engine goes on after that, at reduced revs to eke the fuel out. We have less that 3 days diesel left and a forecast that gives us little hope of much sailable wind in the next 5 days. We thought we were prepared for anything on this trip, but hadn’t imagined this. Now we can understand why ocean crossers head off with dozens of jerry cans strapped to their decks! We are running low on sat-phone airtime but have plenty of water and supplies left; but I wonder how long will it be before we are eyeing each other longingly but thinking “fresh meat” not “beloved”?