Toughest stretch yet....and a dose of sailing jargon just in case

Sea Mist > Sold to New Owners July 2016
John and Cheryl Ellsworth
Wed 17 Dec 2008 13:11

21 1743.36 W

We had a tough time with winds and seas over last 18 hours and it is a bit better recently but still heavy some portion of each hour. Sea Mist is taking it all in stride even when we put her through some difficult tests when huge jumps in wind catches us with too much sail unfurled. The tough part on the crew is moving around and being able to sleep; if you can stay put in a spot that works for you and don’t need sleep….all is well. We are making good time with averages back just over 8 kts per hour after a couple of days under 8.  Ian reports one more flying fish just landed on deck. We have now had to throw several of them overboard once we see their carcasses but this one is still flopping around.


For any Blog followers who are sailors themselves, here is a quick recap of the sailing:

-          We selected a Great Circle route  (with 50 equal distanct waypoints)direct to St Lucia from La Gomera; the GC route began with a bearing of 269 M and very gradually changes/reduces over the 2577 nm to St Lucia finishing up with a bearing of 259 M for the final day.

-          This is not the usual route as most boats go south to Cap Verde or the vicinity of 20 N 30 W before turning west “when the butter melts”. That is a longer route and the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers with 212 boats that left on Nov 23rd) this year had a slow, long passage for 90 % of the boats. A very small number did what we did and came in sooner to St Lucia. We chose the more direct route because the wind was going to there for us and we would have fewer days at sea (say 14 rather than  18-20) which was desired by the crew. What we didn’t count on was these very confused seas persisting for the route.

-          most of first 800 miles was poled out wing-on-wing and no need to even touch trim or Auto Pilot steerage as it was constant and under wind control

-          then 2 days of mixed –switching between pole out and broad reaching which required a lot of deck work …. as the wind tried to decide for us which tack we were going to be able to sustain and still head towards St Lucia.

-          Now, since 1930 UTC on Dec 15th  we have been broad reaching continuously with wind ranging from 100 M – 140 M and the boat at 125 degrees off the wind most of the time.

-          I have not mentioned the constant attention to furling; for both pole out and broad reaching, the hydraulic Reckman furler has made the job relatively easy and our attention to reefing “early” and “more” has kept us “unexposed” from the aspect of the headsail; not quite the same with the in-mast hydraulic furled main as you have to make your bets as to expected winds so that you don’t end up with too much main unfurled when the surprises of heavy winds or squalls/gusts present as they have so persistently on this passage, Anyway no damage yet even though a couple of ugly unplanned gybes and need for turns into the wind to manage a change in main sail reefing.


Enough about this sailing jargon. The bottom line: great food/crew still speaking to each other/enough sleep to get by and the positive pull of the Caribbean environment at the end of the rainbow. 1075 nm DTG