totally tropical 29:45.60N 13:05.40W
Another exciting 24 hour run and a few hours ago we crossed latitude 30 degrees North and are officially now in the tropics!
Despite our hopes that the wind would start to die off a little last night it did; in fact, increase and with it so did the sea state. Last night was a pretty wild one with the wind staying well over 30kts for most of the night and regularly over 34kts (gale force 8). Warrior was surfing along on huge breaking waves and moving around on board was a rather graceless affair as we lurched about like drunks to do even very simple tasks.
Early in the evening we managed to get the mainsail down which was a case of wrestling it down using a boat hook as we didn’t feel we could turn into the wind to drop it with such a steep sea state. We then rolled away all but a scrap of headsail and still raced along at 7 or 8kts over the ground making a decent days run of circa 150nm. Despite being rather uncomfortable onboard; Hamble Warrior was absolutely loving it and reminding us that this is exactly what she was built for… so after a pretty grim few hours on watch together we decided to let her get on with it and nested down below in our bunks while she rocked and rolled her way onwards. Not as reckless as it might sound; we hadn’t seen a single vessel for hours and everything we have seen so far has been on AIS and passed several miles from us. Today we have not seen any shipping at all.
This morning we awoke to another steep and foreboding sea and the wind remained in the high 20s regularly in the 30s. Somehow in daylight though it is more awe-inspiring and less terrifying! As we sat watching the huge towering waves race towards our stern and pick us up we spotted a pod of dolphins surfing along with us. Although we have seen these amazing creatures regularly on our travels it is the first time we have ever watched them in such rough conditions. There was something incredibly soothing about watching them surging up one side and surfing back down the other seemingly coaxing us along.... “its ok see… you just do it like this”!!! They stayed with us showing off for about 10 minutes before deciding we were too slow for them and heading off on their way. It was nice to enjoy watching them again as following our experiences on the approach to Gibraltar and our concerns about the apparently rogue pod of Orcas that have been so problematic in that area we have tended to spot dorsal fins with a rather sickening sense in our stomachs; so it was a joy to have them come and brighten up our morning in such spectacular fashion.
By lunchtime the wind had dropped to the low 20s and the sea had flattened off considerably. Things were much more comfortable and we spent a very lazy afternoon snoozing in the cockpit; reading and hanging out with Meep. We decided to leave the mainsail down but rolled out the full headsail and have been making a respectable speed of approx. 6.5kts for most of the afternoon. The sea has started to get a bit lively again in the last hour or so but we are now about 30nm from the Canaries and hoping to make landfall by the early hours of the morning; maybe even late tonight. We have been trying to see if we can spot land yet before it gets dark but the low-lying cloud and steep sea is making that rather tricky… not far now though. I wonder what tomorrow will bring…