Windless Winslet

Phil Pascoe
Sun 24 May 2009 20:59
36:05.3N 56:06.5W
Azores High - out of wind.  23 May 2009
Dave (Blogger) Basford writes again:
Day 3. The 20 May was much the same as the first two days. Frustrating. We desparately wanted to head north east to pick up favourable winds and currents but the winds were not playing ball. We were also very aware that we did not want to be lured into going too far east and get caught in areas where we could so easily become becalmed. The wind just kept on blowing from the north east. The weather charts kept on promising us easterly winds the further east we travelled but like the proverbial donkey (no comment) and the carrot we could never reach the point at which they started. The weather charts provide a computer generated prediction of weather for the coming three days but the reallity of the weather we encountered never truly matched the prediction. No change there then, Mr Fish. We couldn't really grumble though, despite our best attempts to do so, as it was very gentle sailing in glorious weather. We were heading roughly in the direction of the Azores but if we attempted to sail north at this juncture we would be sailing away from them.
During these calm days, Pete and I, described in detail to Phil what we had seen on Friday 15 May during our tour of Bermuda when Phil had left us to visit the Bermuda Biological Station for Research Inc. Pete and I, had made a quick tour of the Bermuda Maritme Museum and Dolphin Quest in the Dockyard, which was very intersting. We then caught the bus back to Hamilton, stopping off on the way to see Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. This lighthouse, has the lower section built of stone but the top section is constructed of metal steel plates. It is about twice the height of Smeaton's Tower. We decided to climb the spiral staircase to the top, some 180 steps. The lower stone section is as solid as the proverbial rock but the upper steel section can be seen to sway gently in the wind as you look out of the window. Pete would have made a good friend of ours - 'Vertigo' Bob Smith - proud, that we tackled these dizzy heights.
We also wetted Phil's taste buds by describing the four ball ice cream puchased in his absence at the dockyard but when he heard the price his appetite left him.
May 21 came to life with some strong winds and equally lively waves. I got a thorough drenching whilst rescueing a spare diesel can tied to the side rails, but this was a good excuse to have a fresh water shower to rinse off the salt. The best thing about this change in the weather was that we were able to head north for a few hours. By the end of the day though we were all tired from the effort we had to make just moving around the constantly pitching yacht. The noise of the yacht constantly slamming down on waves was worrying but no damage was apparent. Why had I ever thought I might need to exercise. 
May 22 was the day we had been waiting for. At last we headed north.  Just occasionally a few degrees west of north but no complaints. A lovely days sail, despite Phil losing his favourite cap over the side. Never mind, this would join his shirt and a pair of pants that had also gone overboard whilst hanging out to dry.
May 23. The wind had dropped considerably overnight and we spent several hours motor sailing but still heading north. At 5 am the wind shifted and we tacked to head east once more but more worrying was the fact that the electronic instruments threw a wobbly. The electronic compass gave the wrong bearing and the display on the screens showed the yacht traveling at 90 degrees to its true course. An hour or so was spent trying to sort out the problem reminding me of my days in the Registry with computer problems. Then magically all was resolved when purely by chance Phil flicked a switch to resolve another problem. We spent a few hours going east, then when the wind died, spent the rest of the day motoring north east. At long last we were able to make our way onto our intended course.  It was an extremely hot wind-less day, with  a glassy sea.  Was this the Atlantic?  I dare not say too much, as I would not want to incur it's wrath.  Pete and Phil managed to catch a jellyfish aptly name 'by the wind sailor'  (Velella sp.) which Phil wanted to examine more closely.  To spot the jellyfish for Phil to catch, involved Pete standing on the bow of the boat hanging onto the forestay, pretending to be Kate Winslet, I believe.
As the evening progressed the sea became increasingly glassy, even the stars were reflected in the mirrored surface.  Venus was shining particularly brightly, which stimulated continued discussion on Mars v. Venus issues!  Any contributions from you Venutians out there will be welcomed.
Pics:  It's tough crossing Oceans!  Mr. Pastry cooks Fudge cake + improvised baking tray.
By-the-wind-sailor poses for photo - there were hundreds of them.
Sunset on a peaceful Atlantic.