The one that got away
Barry and Margaret Wilmshurst
Sat 18 May 2013 15:25
We never did get ashore on Ascension. The day after the Dutchman’s ducking conditions for landing were worse, we could see spray to the top of the pier, and we wanted to concentrate on some vital jobs on board. Mags spent the whole day valeting the mains’l, work that we thought had been done in Richards Bay; or done properly. The following day there was less swell but with 18 knots of wind and a malfunctioning outboard motor I did not want to find myself struggling with the oars whilst we did a recce. or braved a landing. We spent that day and the following morning preparing for sea and sailed off at mid-day Thursday.
During our time anchored at Ascension we became focused on Europe and home. There are some long passages ahead but suddenly the end of the project is in sight, if only mistily. We are now, Saturday morning, about 230 miles out of Ascension, two days south of the equator and heading for the Cape Verde Islands, and beyond them Horta in the Azores. That’s an awful lot of sailing but our eyes are now focused on the distant horizon. Once we cross the equator we shall have to deal with the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone, or Doldrums. We shall not know until we get there how wide the zone will be and how affected by thunder storms and squalls but we have stopped taking pot shots at albatrosses and have been polishing up our whistling skills. Unlike the great sailing ships of the past we have an engine and plenty of fuel which we hope will speed us across.
Conditions at present are very good – trade wind sailing in 15 – 20 knots, moderate seas and sunshine. The only blot is a persistent adverse current of nearly a knot which results in a reduction in speed of nearly 20%. It appears from the pilot books we might have to put up with that the whole way. Our Dutch friends on Nije-Faam are about 300 miles ahead and we are in radio contact once a day. It’s a comfort.