Atlantic crossing. Bermuda 5

Thu 31 May 2007 22:18
The best laid plans have come unravelled yet again !  The go slow to time our arrival went seriously wrong. A 35 knot gale blew up about 4 am Wednesday morning, right on the nose from the north. The not very experienced French, on watch from 12 to 6am, didn't notice the slowly rising wind was actually stopping the boat. No experience not intended as a criticism, its not their fault,  just telling it like it is. Most, if not all their watch, spent virtually stationery but using up precious fuel. We stopped the engine after trying to motor against the howl at two knots for half an hour at first light, and tacked off to the west, making extremely slow progress to windward, (15 miles in 14 hours).  The situation lasted till shift change this morning (Thursday) when we re-assessed the fuel situation. Sailing as close to the wind as we could had reached a point when the distance to a very important  waypoint off the island was not reducing. In theory we should just have had just enough fuel to make landfall under engine, but butting into big seas and a still very fresh breeze made nonsense of our smooth water figures, sucking up our small margin. We have spent today sailing, crawling along in a 4 to 6ft swell hard on the wind not making much progress.  The situation now at 5pm Thursday, forecast wind from the east not materialised, fresh 20 knts from the north continuing. Dipped the tank again and with borderline fuel, motoring the last 57 miles. We plan to dip again after 6 hours and tack around if necessary to make up any shortfall. Could be worse. Big panic just a second ago,  we hooked a huge marlin, it jumped up clear of the water,  ripped all the line off the reel and went on its way, poor thing! All feeling a bit tired but ok, all things being equal, and with a bit of luck fuelwise, this should be our last night. Our forepeak berth is like sleeping inside a drum rolling down steps so not much rest being achieved. The French are cheerful and uncomplaining. The sun is more comfortable at this latitude but the nights are already quite cool. Cooking is a bit of a trial as usual and needs some determination. Looking forward to arriving now,  all is well.