The Pacific Atlantic

Summer 2022
John Andrews
Fri 13 Jun 2014 15:09

57:51.841N 009:14.365W

Oban to Iceland

Day 1

John, Linda, and Max on board

We are now 24 hours out of Oban and beginning to settle into some kind of routine.  Four of us were due to be on board for this leg of the trip, but sadly Andrew has had to pull out for family reasons. We have decided to go for it anyway with just three. We have rounded Mingulay and have left the Outer Hebrides well behind us. Having prepared ourselves mentally and physically for the rigours of the North Atlantic, we have had the gentlest weather imaginable. We started by motoring South down the Sound of Mull in virtually no wind, and rounded the South Eastern corner to absolutely no wind at all, mill pond calm and glassy but with an unfortunate lolloping swell. Not good for stomachs that have not yet got their sea legs.  A breeze finally filled in, and on the grounds that we couldn’t motor all the way to Iceland we switched the engine off, and saw our speed bleed away to 3 or so knots for an hour or two. In the evening the wind came up and we had a good broad reach through the night, but with winds back down to Force 1 we have again resorted to using some of the huge quantities of diesel we have on board. The forecast for the next 24 hours is for much of the same.

Leaving Oban, we gradually lost our access to broadband, roaming data, mobile phone. The odd email would come in during brief moments of connectivity and then nothing. Not that we’re addicted to the internet you understand, and are really looking forward to being on our own, but I definitely felt the urge to get the bottom of why we couldn’t send text messages on our satellite phone.  After the obligatory two hours that is required to solve any problem to do with computers/communications, I finally discovered that when we first got the phone about 5 years ago, we had put in an incorrect number for the service provider. Number changed, a few texts sent to family members and bingo! The phone then spent the whole evening chirruping like a budgerigar as texts flew in. Great fun apart from what now seems like an incredibly laborious process of entering text from a numeric keypad.  The initial excitement over, I think we will be relying on daily sending and receiving of emails and posting of blogs from time to time for normal contact. Also, we now have a tracker blinking away on the steering pedestal, so everyone will know at all times exactly where we are. Unless that is it decides to disconnect itself, which it has several times already. We will try to solve this one, as I know how disconcerting it will be for folks at home if we keep vanishing into thin air. The next excitement will be trying to use our SSB radio to have a conversation with Jimmy Cornell on Aventura, who is leading the Blue Planet Odyssey, and is currently en route to Greenland. This will be a first, despite having had the radio on board for five years or so. So, all in all, we’re not really disconnected from the world at all!

Not much else to report, but it’s early days. Bird life was  eerily absent around Mull, but we were delighted this morning to be surrounded by gannets, flying in tight formation, the odd fulmar and shearwater, and our first pod of dolphins – bottle -nosed I think, then a seal lounging around and checking us out briefly. Also a little bird that I thought at first must be some kind of petrel because of its fluttering flight. Not sure now, as it had a long forked tail and completely black head. Could be a tern, but not like any I’ve seen before. I can’t find it in any of my books, so suggestions are welcome.