The Alba Chronicles
Neville Howarth
Sat 10 Feb 2018 07:36



23:53S 09:35E


So far we've done 346 miles with 987 miles to go to St Helena. We did 140 miles in the last 25 hours.  We have 90% cloud cover and 15-22 knot SSE winds.  We’re sailing at wing-on-wing doing 6.5 knots with a 1.5 metre swell.  Here's what we did yesterday and overnight.


9 February 2018   Namibia to St Helena (Day 3)

What a difference a day makes.  After yesterday’s cold fog, this morning we had blue-skies, light winds and a calm sea.  Even better is that the sea has turned into a nice blue colour instead of the chilly green that we’ve had for the past few weeks.  It’s definitely feeling warmer with the sea temperature up by 7°C to 16°C .  There’s no need for jackets or woolly hats, although a thin fleece and socks were still required for breakfast.


Unfortunately, the wind remained very light and Glenys had to start the engine again at 07:00.  We’ve made fairly good progress in these fickle winds, doing 205 miles since we left Luderitz, which is an average of 4.6 knots.  However, we’ve had to run the engine for 30% of the time, which has helped our average speed.  We’ve been running the engine at 1,600 rpm, which only uses 2 litres of diesel per hour, so I reckon that we have 457 litres left – 225 hours more motoring if we have to.


This morning’s 3-day weather forecast showed light winds today, but picking up to South 10 knots at sunset and increasing to South 20-25 knots by tomorrow morning.  The wind should gradually decrease to South-west 15 knots by the 12th.  It looks like we’ll be motoring/bobbing along today and then have good sailing conditions for the next 3 days.


It’s been getting dark at 20:00 and dawn is not until 07:00, so we decided to put the clocks back an hour – if the sun comes up at 06:00, it makes Glenys’s 4-7 watch a bit more pleasant. We’ll be crossing the Greenwich Meridian in a few days, which will put us directly south of the UK and we’ll be on UK time – perhaps a little celebration will be called for?


It was such a lovely morning that I felt motivated enough to do a couple of jobs.  I ran the watermaker for 1½ hours to top up our water tanks – we’ve not run it for a couple of weeks, so I was glad that it worked without a hitch. 


I wandered around the deck to check for chafe.  Everything looks okay, but all the sails are dirty with Namibian grime and we’re getting black marks on the mainsail where it’s rubbed against the filthy spreaders and shrouds.  I’m hoping that the water in the anchorage in St Helena is clean, so that we can make plenty of water to scrub the sails, wash the ropes and clean everything on deck.


I changed the lures on our fishing lines and put them out with our birds splashing behind the stern.  We didn’t have any strikes.  There’s been lots of bird activity over the previous two days (meaning lots of fish), so we should have been fishing, but as usual at the start of a passage, I couldn’t be bothered.  Hopefully when we are sailing faster tomorrow, we’ll start catching something.


It remained nice and sunny all day and the wind was a little stronger than forecast, so we sailed more than expected, especially during the afternoon. At 15:00, we were ripping along at 7 knots on a beam reach with a lovely 12 knot breeze.  I thought that the forecast stronger winds had arrived so, just before dinner, I put a reef in the main, only to have the wind die again an hour later - I shook the reef out and eventually started the engine.  And then the wind came back; and then it went away; and then it came back - very frustrating.


It wasn’t until after midnight that we settled down to 15 knots from the south-west.  On my 1-4 watch the wind backed to SSE and increased to 15-22 knots, so I put two reefs in the main and poled the genoa out to port.  We rolled downwind for the remainder of the night doing 6 – 6.5 knots.