Atlantic Crossing Day 15

Mark & Sue Owen
Sun 5 Feb 2012 12:59
14:18.46N 44:42.17W
Miles travelled in the last 24 hours: 140
Miles logged since leaving the Canaries: 2,089
Miles to go to Barbados: 854

All is well on board and we continue to head steadily west.

The mornings are starting to get darker as we approach the next time zone
demarcation line of 45 degrees W, so we'll be putting the clocks back
another hour today. We operate in 2 time zones - Universal Time
(UT)/Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and Local time and have different clocks set
accordingly - can be confusing to sleep-deprived crew! Most HF radio
schedules and weather broadcasts are quoted in UT as communication is often
across different times zones, so it's essential that we monitor this.

One of our daily tasks is to obtain up-to-date weather files via our
satellite phone using an email Auto-Response service. We identify the area
we want by providing the relevant latitude and longitude co-ordinates and
specify the required information i.e. wind speed & direction, wave height &
direction and barometric pressure. We have the facility to request GRIB
files, synoptic charts and text forecasts. Once we have this data we can
plan our sailing strategy for the coming days, along with an appropriate
menu. Presently, we are steering north of the rhumb line to Barbados, as
we've identified a nasty-looking, slightly aft of beam, 4 metre swell which
is due with us by Tuesday. This additional 'northing' should give us the
facility to revert to steering a more southerly course and so have the swell
closer to astern and therefore much more comfortable. That's the plan

Our observations are enhanced by our radio schedule with Southbound II each
evening, where Herb is also able to identify areas of potential squall
activity. Herb has been providing this facility to sailors for several
decades, but is now scaling down his activity and will only acknowledge
vessels which pre-register with him. At the end of the day a forecast is
only a prediction and we have to deal with what we get.

The days are just about sunny enough to warm our solar shower bags, so we've
been able to enjoy refreshing, open-air showers in the cockpit, safe in the
knowledge that our nearest peeking neighbours are over 800 miles away...