Day 23 - Bermuda to Guernsey

Stravaig'n the Blue
Thu 16 Jun 2022 17:39
Position: 48:47.4 N 007:51.8 W
Position timestamp: Thursday 16 June 2022 14:00 (UTC)
Distance travelled in last 24 hours: 125 NM (average speed 5.2 knots)
Reduction in distance to destination: 121 NM
Shortest distance to destination: 213 NM

The head wind increased throughout the night and was 15-18 knots by daybreak. This, in combination with the resulting lumpy seas, slowed us considerably and made for very uncomfortable sleeping conditions. Slamming into the waves made it impossible to sleep in the forward cabin and the aft cabin is right beside the engine - but at least the drone is constant and eventually you drop off into a fitful sleep. Our ETA into Guernsey is currently during the wee hours of Saturday morning.

The wind veered at around 8am. With it no longer coming directly towards us, we got the sails up. For a few hours the wind was sufficient for us not to need the engine but that didn’t last and we have been motor-sailing since noon.

Just before daybreak tomorrow we should reach the Off Ushant (Ouessant) Traffic Separation Scheme. This separates shipping entering the English Channel from the south-west from shipping leaving it, heading south-west. The shipping lanes within the scheme are 5 miles wide as is the central reservation that separates the lanes. The rules of the road that apply within a TSS, in particular the rules applying to vessels crossing a TSS, are clearly defined and adherence to the rules is rigorously monitored by the relevant maritime authority.

Our direct route takes us just north of the TSS so we have no need to navigate across it. However, once we are past it, we will need to cross, first, the west-bound shipping heading towards the TSS from the Channel and then the east-bound shipping leaving the TSS heading up the Channel. There’s another TSS 120 miles further up the channel, Off Casquets, and the majority of the shipping will remain in its lane between the two. This means that at any point while we are crossing the lanes, we will only be dealing with shipping going in one direction. Nonetheless it will be a tense few hours and we’ve been trying to catch up on missed kip so that we are up to the challenge.

Our chartplotter maintains a list of vessels that are in VHF range and transmitting their identity, course and speed. Only yesterday, it wasn’t unusual for that list to be empty. Now, as we approach the TSS, there’s just shy of 300 in it! Of these, about 50 are mini transat yachts (mostly with names ending SOLO SAILOR) which look to be competing in a race from southern Ireland to somewhere on the French Atlantic coast. At one point I thought we might see some of the back markers but the entire fleet has altered course to the south-east and we will miss them by about 10 miles.

All is well.