Still changing sails

Alan & Mary Phypers
Sun 28 Nov 2010 13:39

17:13.8N 23:35.8W


Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th November 2010


There’s been no real change to the general situation since we last wrote.  The wind is still light and variable NE to SE with sunny weather.  We’re still changing sails several times a day in a bid to keep the boat moving as fast as we can.


Yesterday, after a morning of motoring a light breeze filled in from the east and we made good progress in the afternoon flying the spinnaker (with no main) with the wind just forward of the beam.  As it got dark we were visited by dozens (literally) of dolphins, many of whom stayed well into the night.  They seemed quite excited to see us – so I guess they don’t get many yachts in this area!  J.  We have also had a flying fish and mysteriously a flying squid land on the decks but have still not caught any fish to eat.


The wind was varying too much for the autopilot and the apparent wind too low for the Hydrovane so we hand steered when the kite was up.  We took the spinnaker down just after dark because as it was such a dark night there were no visual references at all except the compass and the wind instruments, so helming became very difficult.  It was just as well because a nice 15kt breeze filled in overnight which gave us some lovely night sailing with full sail.


Since the kite came down last night we’ve had the yankee up, then swapped to the MPG, then back to the yankee, and now we’re back on the MPG – all in the space of 5 hours.  The brochure said you set your downwind sails, sit back and arrive in the Caribbean 3 weeks later.  So far we’ve taken a week to just reach the Cape Verde Islands and must have changed sails about 20 times! We are now beating into a light SW.


Many boats are stopping in the Cape Verde Islands to refuel.  Fortunately we’ve been able to sail nearly all the way so don’t need fuel and feel it would spoil the experience.  We are also hoping that by being further east than most boats we will avoid the SW head winds that exists to the NW of the Cape Verde Islands.  We listened to the SSB radio net earlier and boats further north reported 20kts of SW wind, so hopefully our strategy is paying off.  This is likely to be the slowest ARC on record.  Probably not what the organisers want for the 25th anniversary!


Our plan is to sail through the middle of the Cape Verde Islands, heading south as much as the wind will allow so we can pick up the trade winds.   The forecast shows we need to be south of 15˚N.