Bermuda to Faial

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Mon 29 May 2017 11:12
Date: Monday 29th May 2017
Time: 12:12
Position: 37:31.40N 33:36.24W
Distance to Faial: 237NM

Since Saturday morning we have been sailing in light winds. We have tried various combinations of sailing and motoring in an effort to make good progress towards Faial. The problem is that we do not enough fuel to motor all of the way and the winds are too light to be able to sail at a reasonable speed. Added to that the wind direction is almost directly towards Faial, meaning that it produces less propulsive sailing force than almost any other wind direction, other than from ahead.

Our cruising chute is intended for use in light winds, but not once the wind angle exceeds much more 130 degrees. So in order to use the chute we would have to sail at an angle to the wind, from time to time changing direction, and in the end sailing a longer distance. We managed to rig the chute unconventionally by passing the working sheet through a snatch block attached to the end of the boom. This allowed us to make progress with the wind almost directly behind us. But there were many periods when there was just too little wind to fill the sails and we had to resort to using the engine.

Over the last few days we've started to see pods of dolphins, sometimes several times each day. However the highlight was when we were followed by a couple of large whales. The first thing that we noticed was what appeared to be patches of sea water that were unusually turquoise about 100 metres behind us. They gradually got closer, to within about 50 metres when the surface was broken by a large, broad back with a small dorsal fin. Every so often they would breath sending a large vertical plume of misted sea water 15 feet into the air. They stayed with us, at the same distance from the boat for about 40 minutes. If we slowed then so did they to maintain their distance. From what we saw I would guess that they were sperm whales.

A few hours later they reappeared at the side of the boat, again about 50 metres away from us, before getting bored and swimming away somewhere else.