Saturday, 17 January 2023, 08.30 GMT

Sat 17 Jun 2023 08:39
We glide on. Slight sea, sunny, Action Penguin maintaining 5 to 6 Kn with little effort on a broad reach a little aft of the beam. Sleeping, keeping watch, reading - a busy life. The wind is pushing Action Penguin home, steering her via the Monitor system, powering the batteries via the wind generator and the sun is powering the solar cells. All quite cool really.

After supper (chick pea curry) the wind died. The temptation to use the engine was resisted, and our progress continued gently as the breeze picked up again. In the early evening we had about 500 miles to go, which at current pace is 4 days away, but it doesn’t really matter if it takes 5.

What’s been interesting over the last two weeks has been following a very old chum, Alec Beer and his friend Brendan, racing in the AZAB, Azores and back race in Brendan’s boat, Storna Hoga. This is a race from Falmouth to Ponta Delgada, Azores, and back. They set off on Saturday, June 3 but had electrical problems and returned to Falmouth. They’re a tough pair. Alec is an ex Para who lost a leg and part of his hand to an IRA booby trap, and is not a youngster. We got to know him and his long term partner, Linz, as they sailed their boat, Gladys May, around the world. We we met up with them on the Spanish coast and as we both made our way across the Pacific. Alec and Linz make a great team. A few years ago we stayed with them to watch Alec play the Duke of Clarence, Richard 111, in Shrewsbury Theatre.

However back to the plot. Alec and Brendan set off again on the Sunday, enjoying fast downwind sailing and began to catch up with and be among the fleet. We followed them each day chatting through Linz and discussing the weather conditions they were in. They were a few hundred miles from Ponta Delgada and their Lady Luck must have thrown a wobbly. Some of the details may be off as we were getting updates through relayed messages but first they started to take in water seriously by water syphoning back through a bilge pump, their batteries were submerged, the winds went contrary and then Alec decided, involuntarily, to add real drama by rolling of the saloon bunk when the boat accidentally gybed. He banged his head badly, bruised his hip painfully and bruised or probably cracked a rib. Brendan tucked him up for the night, gave him first aid in the form of a paracetamol and by the morning our hero was pretending to be feeling good. When they got to Ponta Delgada, close to midnight 2 days later, they were met by a big welcoming group and had soon polished off a bottle of port and whisky, as starters, given and shared by the welcoming group. They had sailed with a dry ship as Linz had confiscated all the booze on board before they left! Apologies to Alec and Linds if there are inaccuracies to the tale but it’s pretty close. Also much easier to write a light recount when you’re not the person at the battle front. What will the boys do next?

Footnote: Linz just sent this update: “ The “water ingress“ that was reported was a serious bucket-bailing job. Ankle-deep in the saloon. Batteries would have been in the water but I don’t know how badly they and the cabling are.”

Excuse the long Blogs. They’re written at stages during the day and the musing helps pass the time. Also in a week’s time the passage will be a blur of ‘Yeh, it was OK and quite straight forward.’ so it’s a useful memory jogger.

After a night of rain, shifting and fluctuating wind, we’re back to humid steady conditions making slow-ish progress to our goal. If Action Penguin is making 4.5 Kn (slow), starting the engine will add 2 Kn but at the cost of 3 l/hour. Better to save our fuel for the final approach or when there’s no wind when we gain the whole 6 - 6.5 Kn for the same fuel consumption. Outside all of that - we are sailors.

We’ve sailed just under 900 miles since Horta, 425 nm to Plymouth Breakwater. Do we tempt fate with an ETA - No.

47:11.01N 013:47.17W