Terceira toBaltimore 44 41N 20 15W
05 July 2015
This is such a nice short passage with our first 24 hour run taking us under the 1,000 mile mark which always feels good. We left with no wind at 09:45 yesterday morning and motored for long hours in gloomy conditions until the sun broke out during the late morning and warmed us for the rest of the day as the wind came up. A large waning moon lit the seas last night and we kept up a reasonable speed so that despite the wind not giving us the direction we need we cracked a first days run of 119 miles. It will do.
Now a cool, grey and moist morning and still we can't make the course we really need but the wind continues to increase and by manipulating the reefing plan of the main and jib we are getting near to what we want. It's quite swelly so not the most comfortable sailing.
There are several other yachts on this passage, at least one with young children on board, Selkie returning home to Ireland after an extended 3 year Atlantic circuit. Ojala is also bound for Baltimore, they have had rigging problems and will need extra care as the wind is forecast to increase considerably in four days or so. The other yachts are for Falmouth and one for Brest, France. A morning radio schedule keeps the communication and weather information sharing going; good to have contact particularly when the boats are miles apart, our nearest neighbours are over 15 miles away.
During the very early hours the skipper heard a whoosh and a whale appeared alongside just a boat length away. It was longer than G2 by some measure so must have been over 50 feet, the longest ever seen. Luckily its spume didn't drift our way, it's smelly and full of bacteria, we have been unwell as a result of being caught in the past.
Other than that there are a few birds, no dolphins, the Portuguese-Man-O-War have fizzled out and apart from a few ships there has been little to see. We continue abortively to pull our fishing lure. What is lovely at night is the phosphorescence which lights things up, we create a massive trail of sparkle from the towed generator and with no moon at the moment this is very welcome.
We have on board the diary for when we did this same passage 33 years ago in Jobiska, our 27' Vega. The weather then was very rough, cold with lots of rain. There was much more traffic then including a ship taking scrap metal from the Great Lakes to El Ferro, the skipper called us up to have a friendly chat and gave us a detailed weather forecast, can't imagine that happening these days. There were also lots of Spanish fishing boats, some of which came over to see us and gave a friendly wave. We may be further out than we were then, we don't have the log books with us, but we haven't seen a single fishing boat on this run. Of course, we have a boat considerably larger this time but conditions have been much better as this old diary quote will show:
'01/07/1982.........One week at sea today, sailing fast, not very comfortable. A foul night giving way to a dull and cloudy morning. Cold and dull, the boat is most uncomfortable with unpleasant motion and slamming.
02/07/1982 Slept little, the boat is pounding and rocking fiercely in this NW wind so that today we are both exhausted and disenchanted. The boat is pretty claustrophobic having to be kept shut up because of the rain, it is cold and miserable.'
These remind us of our crossing of the Indian Ocean in G2 last year and make us glad to be on a calm sea for a change.
We have passed 700+ miles west of the Portuguese coast and 550+ miles from the north west tip of Spain, they are now behind us and we are crossing the West European Basin 600 miles west of Bay of Biscay. Today is a landmark day for us as we have passed the halfway to Baltimore point; we have less than 600 miles to go so hope to arrive Monday 13th or possibly Sunday 12th in the strong winds that are forecast.