Lanzarote to Grenada, day 4

Stravaig'n the Blue
Wed 13 Jan 2021 23:05
End of day 4 position: 24:38.4 N 020:52.9 W
Position timestamp: Wednesday 13 Jan 2021 12:00 UTC-1
Distance travelled last 24 hours: 128 NM
Reduction in distance to destination last 24 hours: 106 NM
Distance travelled total: 588 NM
Average speed since departure: 6.1 knots
Shortest distance to destination: 2406 NM
ETA based on shortest distance and average speed so far: late evening on 29 January (20.4 days in total)

Disappointing progress in the last 24 hours. Only 128 miles sailed against a planning estimate of 156 and we are only 106 miles closer to Grenada. There were two reasons for this.

First, throughout the day yesterday the wind was much lower than expected. The forecast until Saturday is for winds in the high teens all along the route to 20 N 30 W. Yesterday, for some unknown reason, the wind was in the low teens so we were well off the pace.

Second and more significantly, we’d seen line squalls during the day and, not wishing to be caught in one in the dark with too much sail out, we were overly cautious with our overnight sail plan.

Line squalls occur under the long lines of low cloud that are a feature of these waters. From several miles away it is easy to see dark patches of heavy rain under these lines of clouds. With the heavy rain comes strong winds and big changes in wind direction.
When a squall approaches the only realistic things to do are shorten sail (reduce sail area) and don foul weather gear. The squall that will hit you is the one that creeps up from behind. Provided you keep careful watch over your shoulder, there should always be plenty of time to prepare during the day. At night, spotting squalls is difficult (they might show up on the radar) and shortening sail can take much longer if only because one of us will need to get out of bed and togged up before venturing out. The sensible thing to do therefore is shorten sail just before sunset and accept that progress overnight will be slower.

So that’s what we did.  We furled away the Blue Water Runner, unfurled the regular head sail and made slower progress. But we were well prepared for the two squalls that did hit us.

There was great excitement yesterday afternoon when Linda spotted a red-billed tropicbird, a spectacular white seabird, tern-like but with very long tail streamers. It circled the boat for about  five minutes, making several approaches where we thought it was going to land.  It didn’t but it was close enough to get some good footage.

All is well