Another horrible squally night

Alan & Mary Phypers
Mon 6 Jun 2011 14:50

37:02N 51:45W

1232 miles to Horta


We made good progress during the day with wind on the beam but as soon as the sun went down the squalls started again.  The first big one was 6 miles away but still increased the wind by 10 knots to 30kts  - just as I started to make dinner so everything went flying! 


The squalls then continued all night.  Some were 6 miles across and moving at 30 knots so we couldn’t out run them and took them all head on.  The worst increased the wind to 30+ knots with lots of lightning directly overhead which was very scary.  Even my iPhone went into the oven for that one.  If I couldn’t play spider solitaire and scrabble for the rest of the trip that would be a disaster!  If we are struck by lightning all electronic equipment would burn out, but some say if they are in the oven – a faraday cage, they will be protected.  We don’t believe for one minute it will do any good at all, but it makes you feel better for having done something in a situation which you otherwise have no control over at all.


With sunrise the wind has died so we are motoring.  The forecast is still showing a nasty storm in our path on Friday so we’re not sure whether we should be wasting our precious diesel to head towards it or not.  We phoned Commanders Weather in the US who were very helpful and they advised to carry on as normal towards the Azores and to phone again on Tuesday.  They said the low shown on the computer model is not a normal one and there is a chance it may never appear or be very different.


Amazingly having seen nothing since Bermuda we saw 3 ships yesterday, 2 within 15 minutes, they are like buses!  We also passed within 2 miles of Indra so called them on the VHF.  They were heading south to avoid the storm but they later emailed to say they had listened to Herb on SSB who also advised the forecast may change and to carry on east, which is reassuring.


We still have about 1.0 - 0.5 knots of current against us at the moment which is better.  Toby managed to find a site, although only had time for a quick look, at which showed that it will last until about 45W and then peter out.  Although it also said we should have current with us above 40N.  This is not what Rainmaker (another ARC boat)  are reporting so I’m not sure it is worth heading north for, particularly with the possible storm.   It gets suddenly very cold up there due to the gulf stream and to quote Rainmaker passes fairly close to ‘where a certain large ship hit a large white object 100 years ago!’  At least we are still in shorts during the day when it’s not raining!


Before we set off I was worried how we would cope double handed in bad weather but actually it’s been a lot easier than I thought.   Alan does do most of the hard work sailing but I do all the cooking.  I’ve also never spent so much time down below before and this is much easier without someone sleeping in the main saloon.  With the radar, AIS and wind graphs you get more data down here than on deck so we only need to go up to change the sails or alter course.  The forepeak is far too bumpy to sleep in in this weather so Alan and I sleep in the aft cabin which is very snug with lots of pillows and a duvet.  There are also less sets of wet clothes to hang up, cooking is easier, and we can be more flexible on the watch system.  Most boats are double handed by now, partly as this is a less attractive leg for crew and partly as they are much more confident and used to their boats than when we all started.  I also haven’t felt sea sick at all which is partly as I am getting used to it but also I suspect lack of alcohol!  Having said that I may change my mind if this storm gets us!


The ARC was very different as we could sleep in the forepeak, it didn’t rain much and poling out and flying the spinnaker needed extra crew.


Ooh the wind is backing so better get sailing again!  Just downloaded the latest GRIBs and the forecast storm is now looking much less scary, the sky is clearing so let’s hope for a better day.  I may even get to wash my hair!


Position at 1430 UTC 5/6/11

37˚ 02N

51˚ 44W

Wind:               230˚T/ 15

COG / SOG    085˚T / 5.7