Atlantic crossing from Bermuda 12

Wed 13 Jun 2007 17:46
Tuesday 11th June.  On watch this morning at 8am. A smashing morning, fairly clear sky with high broken cloud allowing blue to show through. The sea, gunmetal blue, jumping around a bit in a fresh south westerly, almost dead astern, truly  wonderful tradewind conditions. Its hard to believe that at 14 degrees north, somewhere around  1500 miles to the south of us, (we are now at 38 degrees north)  the wind is blowing the other way. Imagine a big circle, the wind blowing down the Atlantic coast of Europe,  along the bottom of it towards and along the Caribbean, up the side to Bermuda, then sweeping back across the Atlantic towards Europe which is the bit we are enjoying now.  We are making great progress riding this 20 to 25 knot wind and bigish swell with two headsails,  and now have about 730 miles to go. We expect to arrive  at the Azores on Sunday 17th. The forecast just downloaded, promises weather to remain the same which would be great. Still being plagued with problems, the generator has failed and we have yet to figure out why. Also noticed a clunking sound when the propeller is turning, noticed last night when running the engine to charge the batteries. Michel (the Pink Panther) is too chicken to go over the side to have a look see, he is afraid a fish might get him, some action man!( though he did shin up the mizzen mast unaided this morning to free a halyard)  I'd go over myself but don't want to make the skipper look puny. Trying to persuade Sue to go but no dice, so far.  Slowly catching up with you guys, now only three hours gmt behind you having put our clock forward another hour today. Spoke to a big ship on the radio during the night, I think she was called the Don, they were kind enough to give us a weather forecast. Not much else to report, only fish to come on deck was a small squid that came aboard with a wave.    
The language onboard has developed into a kind of Fronglais which can be hilarious when sitting around not doing much, however this little tale for the sailors tells a different story.   The two headsails casually mentioned above were hard won. The plan...... to gybe the main and pole out the Genoa. Easy.  Seeing the state of the state of the mainsail leech forced a change of plan halfway through, we didn't want to risk the main more than we had to with 1700 miles still to go to Falmouth. Decided to reef the main, (inmast), and boom out the stays'l.
On deck, the Pink Panther and myself, the only two onboard with a clear idea of the plan.  Autopilot always goes on the blink at the wrong moment so Richard  at the wheel, Joel in the cockpit as muscle, hasn't got a clue but very willing, also after two weeks at sea reckons  'no matelot now, sailorr buoye'. Sue, the quick brown fox, pouring oil on troubled water, interpreting the gestures and Fronglais instructions.   50ft boat booming downwind, wind indicator showing 20 plus, forward speed 7 to 8 so probably approaching 30 knots blowing up her skirt from behind.  The pole is quite heavy, in fact raising the pole could be part of the Royal Tournament, very entertaining.  Don't want to bore you with a lot of tedious detail, suffice to say a lot of shouting to interpret and a lot of string to unravel, all done without injury to crew or boat. A little aside, Joel told us about an arrogant colleague in the Gendarmerie, he used to swagger up to English cars and breathalyse the passenger.
Wednesday morning, favourable wind so still on a good course, low cloud and pouring rain, the sort of sailing we are used to. Fairly comfortable so had a very good lunch. Saw two killer whales passing by at a rate of knots this morning, ignored us completely unlike the Dolphins, the look at the propeller now postponed indefinitely.  575 miles to the Azores, dry clean clothes and a full English breakfast. Life is sweet.     Manny