The Atlantic

Digiboat's "Product Testing"
Simon Blundell
Fri 27 Sep 2013 17:00
35:21.09N 008:9.86W
1800z 27/9
One of Hercules' Pillars
Quite pre-occupied the last 2 days. After a perfect departure from the Med, passing between the Pillars under full sail with G&T's in hand and the sun setting dead-ahead while calmly dodging ships aiming at us from all directions, the wind died off just on dark so we pulled in the sails and motored for a few hours. Once clear of the land effect, the ocean breeze joined us, so out went the mains and jib as we close-reached - perfectly on course - at 8kn in a building 10-15kn breeze (for ~20-22kn and 48° apparent).
As predicted by the GRIB data, the wind continued to build, so during the night we furled in several wraps on each sail as the wind increased to 20-25kn. As this was the first real breeze I've had with Aphrodite, we did what we could to slow her down and avoid pounding and stress on the rig. She wanted to do 9+kn but with some reefing and feathering we finished the night averaging around 6.5-7kn.
The wind remained steady most of today, building slightly. Just to keep the crew awake, we put a couple more wraps in the mains and swapped the genny for the staysail. Just in time for the predicted 25-30 wind band formed by the ocean trades bending up the African coast. What the GRIBS hadn't shown were the 40kn rain squalls! Anyway, far colder than I'm accustomed to, we powered through these squalls at nearly 8kn and just broke out an hour ago (which I've spent warming up in the engine room) into sunlight and easing breeze.
So our wild and woolly entry into the ocean has seen some terrific sailing, good sail work and combinations and impressive performance, but has drenched half the bunks (now they know what those big locking levers under the hatches are for!) and wiped out half the crew. (The fish have been well fed today, I guess this is why they're not eating our rubber lures.)
Unfortunately this strong wind band has forced us more N than we'd like, but as it continues to we'll soon get to the point where we can tack and start heading due S to the Equator.