Bermuda to Faial

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Sun 21 May 2017 09:53
Date: Sunday 21st May
Time: 10:35am (GMT-3)
Position: 35:49.21N 55:56.42W
Distance to Faial: 1309NM

Friday evening saw us continuing towards Faial at a good speed, sailing wing and wing under full main and jib. The night was dark with little moon and the waves passing around the boat were bathed in bright phosphorescence.

In the morning we were very close to another rally boat, Allegra, so we had a chat on the VHF. At about 10:00am the wind backed and strengthened so we took down the spinnaker pole and jibed to run on a broad reach, still making our way more or less directly to Faial. The day was sunny, the seas were moderate and the breeze continued to freshen. Later in the day we saw an AIS signal from Diana and spoke to them by VHF. By late afternoon we were bowling along touching 10 knots at times as our speed was boosted by passing waves. This was damn near perfect sailing conditions.

By evening we were still sailing under full sail on a broad reach with wind speeds around 23 knots. This was a tad too much sail for this wind, but good fun nevertheless, and with the promise of deteriorating weather overnight we took in 2 reefs but left the jib full. Interestingly this had only a marginal effect on our speed. Just before midnight we came across Annekin, another rally boat and exchanged a few words by radio. They confirmed that they were expecting a front to pass by very soon and this confirmed what I had picked up from various weather sources.

At the time the wind was blowing from our starboard quarter, but as the front passes it was predicted to veer rapidly and increase in strength. If we stayed on the same point of sail we would have to alter our course to the south significantly. So we chose to gybe and at the same time roll up about half of the jib. Now as the wind veered we could retain our course directly to Faial.

Our forecast from Chris Parker told us the front was due to pass us at 3:00am, but it also warned of a significant wind increase. It actually came through as 2:30, impressive forecasting. The wind angle swung through about 75 degrees in a very short space of time bringing with it rain and surprisingly a moderation in the wind. However it soon picked up to 20-25 knots again, but we were still making good progress.

There is a gale blowing to the north of us which is causing all of this adverse weather and big seas. It's forecast path will take it north and east of us but we can expect strong wind, big seas and rain until Monday evening when it's likely to go the other extreme of calms again. We'll have to see what actually happens.