Sat 21 May 2011 14:27
Hurray! Overnight we reached our first way point and turned right towards the Azores. Only a small turn, 17°, and not directly towards the Azores, but progress is being made. We crossed the 800 mile mark at the same time. We immediately got a better sailing angle, and our speed increased to 7+ knots, which we have maintained ever since.
Ever since leaving St Martin, in addition to posting these blogs, we have rather more importantly been downloading weather information which has been informing our routing decisions. The overall plan has been to go North until roughly latitude 31 before starting to turn towards the Azores. The early GRIB files confirmed this as a sound decision, as roughly 250 miles to the East of us, on the direct line to the Azores, was a high pressure area, with no, or very light winds in the centre of it.
The latest GRIB file, which gives wind direction and strength information for up to 72 hours, predicts a low pressure area centred on 40°N 58°W by Sunday midday, which will bring S to SW winds if we are in the right place, which would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it also predicts that within 24 hours we would be trapped in a zero wind zone and possibly cold air coming in from the North which would obviously be a bad thing. The situation seems to be changing quite rapidly, so we have decided to carry on for another 24 hours on 040° , download another GRIB file and reassess tomorrow morning.
On the subject of jelly fish, I have with me a book written in 1838 about a trip to the Azores. I turned to the chapter on Horta, which is where we will be making our landfall and came upon the following passage.
"Numbers of the bladder Medusae (physalia) floated about in the calm blue ocean; and their transparent oval bladders, tinged like the blue waters, sparkled in the sun with much brilliancy." A later passage reads "Here and there the Portuguese man-of-war glittered on the waves like a bubble of blue glass." I think we may have identified our jelly fish, but Chris and John are not certain, believing that Portuguese men-of-war are much larger. Maybe they are babies?
Thank you for the text messages - being received ok..