Plenty Shades of Grey 49 19N 13 19W
11 July 2015
The change in colours from Caribbean to Azores was limited given the generally good conditions we experienced in those beautiful islands. Since leaving a week ago our world has turned rather grey. Grey skies of various tones, dark grey seas, grey seabirds and any ships we see always look grey in the distance, this is our outlook in these north Atlantic waters. The temperature has dropped dramatically with the higher latitudes. It's going to be very difficult for us to acclimatise to the British Isles even in this so called summer.
During the night we passed Brittany off to the east and today will pass 430+ miles west of the Channel Islands heading for just east of the Fastnet Rock which at the moment lies some 170 miles ahead. We'll be glad to leave that one astern. The wind is increasing and we are doing 7.5 knots just under jib, the mainsail is down to try to cut the rolling. Happily Gryphon II has this minute passed the 200 mile mark and we have just 199 miles left to Baltimore.
The highlights of our days are few. We have the AIS radar on constant watch so we are alerted to any ships and most yachts within about 16 miles. These occasions are seldom but we are currently within 3 miles of the Sti Sapphire steaming westwards at 11 knots. Today is quite windy with a weak cold front giving us about 25 knots and the odd drizzly shower. The night before last when we had a more active cold front the rain was so heavy that the gunwhales were overflowing and the deck drains bubbling. Happily the AIS alarm allows us mostly to stay in the cabin with only the odd lookout in case there are fishing boats or any yachts that, like us, do not have an AIS that sends as well as receives. We have still seen no fishing boats, which seems a bit surprising but the visibility has not been good.
The active cold front two nights ago caused a major wind shift, it became even colder and our nice calm waters are now well behind us. Apart from the cold the main problem we have is that the heavier seas are following us and causing us to roll . Oddly at times it seems even more uncomfortable than the Indian Ocean, partly because the boat lurches around unpredictably, with every now and again a bigger than usual lurch sending cargo skittering about and the crew struggling to stay in one place. Needless to say cooking and sleeping is not easy. We have a good stock of films, books and ebooks which count amongst the treasures we have to help deal with the inactivity below decks when the going is rough.
Another highlight is the morning radio check in with other boats that left the Azores at a similar time. We are now 55 miles ahead of the nearest boat we know of and should arrive in Baltimore harbour on Sunday evening.
The final highlight of the day, which we have managed most days, is the Great North Atlantic Scrabble Tournament in which the skipper is clawing back from a disastrous start to be trailing 11-7.