East to Azores

Phil Pascoe
Wed 10 Jun 2009 13:02

38:36.9N 33:52.6W
1 June 2009, 250 miles to the Azores.
After the storm described in the last blog we had a brief respite from the windy weather to recover slightly.  Then the next one hit – the wind rose during the early morning of 29 June, rather later than we expected.  By 06.00h it was blowing SSW 35+ knots and we were reefed down to No. 3 and a small genoa, but still making 7.6 knots SOG.  We noticed a small tear in the leech of the main – not too worrying, but not good to have in these conditions.  By mid-morning we stowed the main completely and continued with about a fifth of the genoa area – still doing 7 knots in 35 to 40 knot winds.  The log reads:  George set at 45 degrees to swell – Stable, All wet but comfortable (ish).
The wind soon decreased slightly and veered to NW, then George (the Autohelm) started complaining, the message was ‘Drive – Stop’, and it wouldn’t steer.  We fortunately had Maggie as backup, and she coped pretty well.  Well we now had a torn main that we couldn’t use, a broken autohelm, and were sailing with a scrap of genoa, being steered by the hydrovane.  Hey ho, only another 540 miles to go!

The longer range weather looked brisk but OK. We just needed to keep our speed up to stay with a low pressure system, and if we could it would mean favourable NW winds at 15 to 25 knots – perfect in an imperfect situation.  Some of the Log entries and comments:
Still plodding on; Good progress, hope it lasts; Maggie doing OK; Sun’s out, drying out; Two tweaks to Maggie;  Boat has had a good wash;  Lumpy, bumpy night;  Just had e-mails from home, possibly good news on George.  Occasional rolly phases and water over the decks and sploshes into the cockpit.  You just get used to it – bang, crash, splosh!  Boat is pretty wet throughout through us taking wet gear below and condensation around hatches dripping, but no time or opportunity to clear up – and no point!  This will be a memorable passage, but not for its pleasure.
Dave: Magical 3 hours (4-7 pm) in cockpit.  Enjoyed warmth from the sun after another bouncy day.  Sat and had beer and a gin and tonic as Whitemeadow cavorted and twisted over the rollers running parallel to the boat. (Skipper:  sounds like he was on holiday).  

Pics:  The lull before another storm.  Diesel getting low.  Bread running out.