São Miguel to A Coruña - Still Motoring

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Fri 23 Jun 2017 15:14
Date: Friday 23rd June 2017
Time: 13:00 UT+1
Position: 43:02.54N 11:35.84W
Distance from A Coruña: 141NM

We've had another full day of constant motoring with winds less than 5 knots most of the time. We're right under a big high pressure system that is suppressing any wind but providing warm and brilliant conditions with flat seas.

Last night was calm and spectacular with a profusion of stars, no moon and the Milky Way splattered across the heavens as if it had been left by an alien vandal with a can of spray paint. The sunrise was similarly wonderful. But no sailing though.

For the last few days we'd been trying to fit into a weather window as the weather forecasts had been predicting NE winds of up to 30 knots for the area around A Coruña between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning (since leaving São Miguel our direct line route to A Coruña has been towards the NE). This time frame coincided with our approximate ETA so we'd been trying to move fast enough to arrive before the strong winds yet at the same time ensure that we did not run the engine so hard that we would run out of fuel before arrival. Regular periods of unpredictable adverse ocean current had made precise calculations difficult.

We had been planning a longer route to our destination by heading further north than the direct line route required to give us some leeway in case we were caught out by strong headwinds. But by yesterday afternoon we calculated that we had enough fuel left to just up the speed a little, head directly to A Coruña and if all goes well get there by Saturday midday. So we took a chance and did just that.

Only a couple of hours after making this decision I had an email from our weather router to tell us the GOOD news that the expected arrival of strong winds would not now happen till Sunday midday, tempered by the BAD news that the period of calm windless weather would continue right through till Sunday morning. Oh the joys of sailing (or motoring)!

As it happens our judicial use of the engine has used far less fuel than I would have expected from previous experience. Normally I would expect to be able to motor for around 120 hours (5 days) on full tanks. Since leaving São Miguel we have run the engine for 76 hours and used just over half of our reserves. I put this down to efficient use of the sails in the light winds, using minimum possible revs to achieve our required speed and the very calm seas we've experienced in the almost windless conditions during the last few days.