Wednesday 4th January
A quick update:
Our position at noon today was 13:14.00N 54:05.30W and we are consistently sailing 150 miles a day, sometimes 160 with, now, about 450 miles to go to Grenada.
The weather is still fresh with typically 20 knots of wind behind us and the sky overcast with (warm) rain showers at intervals which lift the wind strength to 25-30 knots. Brian noted a spell of 12 knots of boat speed in a particularly brisk squall this morning; during this rain the sea appeared smokey.
With the wind dead behind us, we are reaching off the direct course for more speed and easier steering. We are now exercised by how best minimise the number of gybes to arrive at our destination as the wind forecast looks consistent all the way now. Just as a reminder: we are using a poled-out headsail so a gybe means putting the headsail and pole away and then setting up the second pole on the opposite side with halyard, guy, sheet and down-haul before gybing the main, re-setting the boom preventer and unfurling the Genoa for the new course. The gybe would probably takes twenty minutes work in flat water but is nearer an hour in the current sea conditions.
We hove too with sails off in 18 knots and significant waves yesterday so that Brian and Morag could swim. Even heading slightly up from a beam reach I couldn’t get the speed much below one knot so the swim consisted of jumping off the leeward side of the boat and catching the floating line towed astern as quickly as possible. At that stage the swimmer had to pull themselves back on board – no mean feat with the boat moving and pitching.
Living on board is ‘physical’ due to the motion: every now and again a following sea with a foaming crest rolls noisily past and gives the boat a tweak resulting in a corkscrew motion. Nothing can be left loose on a work surface. I may have made it seem arduous but, in fact, the passage is going well; we are eating well and some of sailing is exhilarating.
I dug out my ‘astro’ books yesterday took a morning sun sight (with the sextant given to me by Hilary Hughes after her father passed away) and was pleased (pleasantly surprised) when the resulting position line passed within five miles of the GPS position. A meridian latitude earlier in the week was also within six miles. But since we have mostly overcast conditions, I’m very grateful for GPS; I take my hat off to the voyagers in small boats who relied on ‘astro’ before the days of GPS.
All best, Tony