PINBALL WIZARD DAY 12-13 5-6 Feb 2012

Nigel North
Mon 6 Feb 2012 17:00

Position   18:29.86N 33:22.75W


Sunday, 5 February 2012

DAY 12

Saturday night was pretty uncomfortable completely becalmed but still with a sea running sufficient to roll us around all night - at times quite enthusiastically. With no sails set to stabilise the boat there is nothing to damp down any rocking, and it only needs a ripple to start it. If more than a ripple, then the movement becomes relentless, unpredictable and quite debilitating. HANG ON! This is supposed to be the tradewind belt! After a rocky rolly night just drifting in the westerly current, we woke to a peaceful sea, blue skies and warm sun.

Being becalmed is an experience too, and we wanted to experience it. It was amazing, and lovely, and just a bit scary too (in case it went on and on) as we had a long way to go. I got the fishing rod out (thanks Rich) and we made that up with a hook and weight, bait was a sweetcorn. Caught nothing, even though Alfie spotted some fish under the stern - about a foot long he said. But later on in early afternoon the gentlest of breezes sprang up, I set the genoa and main, and we slipped along at 1.5kt on an almost calm sea apart from a long lazy swell. Slowly over the rest of the day the wind picked up to a F3 by evening, and we were escaping the windhole. I had had trouble connecting with the satphone, but succeeded when I disconnected it from the cradle and ext aerial and used its own one. This gave us the weather, and showed we had sailed into a windhole but it looked good for the rest of the trip and as we were now coming out of it, it was no longer quite such a problem.

Sitting chatting, we remarked on how this trip had distinct stages - the bit down from the Canaries - unremarkable, the turn onto west with confused seas and steep waves, and this bit like a calm lane across the Atlantic with its gently rolling swell and no cross swell to deal with or steep waves. The sky here is distinctive too - a circle of blue with the horizon pock marked with fluffy Cu. There is an air of leisureliness about this area of sea that is unlike any other Ive seen so far, there is no hurrying, clouds hang around for hours just being clouds. The sea temp jumped up 2 degrees to 27deg today and it was 30 degrees in the cabin. I wore for the first time ghastly Bermudan shorts all day, and the deck was too hot to walk on by midday. Now we were in the Tropics!

DAY 13 Monday, 6 February 2012

Its difficult to believe I was only talking about being becalmed yesterday. Since departing the windhole we’ve gradually picked up stronger and stronger winds, with a series of rainstorms coming through last night. You could see them coming by the darkening of the horizon astern. We are now careering along in a strong Easterly with just two headsails poled out and heavily reefed, with seas of 3 - 4m driving us westwards. Its like being in the exit queue at a football match - you wouldn’t want to be going the other way. But the windvane self steering is coping very well, and we are still hands off all the time. The sea is getting warmer - now 26deg - and last night was the first night I stayed in shorts. We’ve just had soup and bread for lunch in the cockpit, after which Alfie treated me to his vocal rendition of ‘Misery…misery’ whilst he contemplated whether to grow a beard or not. Doing anything other than sitting staring at waves coming at you is hard with all the movement, so apart from meals and this blog we don’t bother. But excitingly, we had our second flying fish this morning brain himself on PW’s hull - this one a full 4 inches. He’ll be bait for the big one!

Signal strength for the satphone has been not so good lately, so if you don’t hear then that’s the reason. Cheers !