To the Azores 37:10.50N 14:59.16W

Thu 3 Jul 2014 08:17
Passing Ships.  Hille Torsten Geoff, Roger and Siscia saw us off and to our amazement, despite wind and tide on her stern, Zoonie made a perfect backwards exit in a straight line. We saw that Waterval would be the last to drop her colours. Thank you all for your kind wishes.
Once clear of the funnelling winds along the Algarve coast our reefs seemed irrelevant as Zoonie moved into lighter winds and the Atlantic swell. But nothing lasts and a few hours later we were reefed in the same high pressure 20 knot winds that funnel across the Marina Lagos and are called the Nortada (north wind).
One gas carrying ship was bearing down on us and drove us to call him and ask his intentions. When he stated he would pass to our stern Rob confirmed that was very reassuring.
Our first days mileage was 102 miles. During the early hours of day 2 the Daniela B was showing no signs of having seen us, but answered us quickly with “I will alter to starboard and cross your bows” We were relieved he had responded and watched as he very slowly carried out his intentions. Many of the ships at night are only doing 11 or so knots.
Shit Happens. The wind settled to the North at a steady Force 5 enabling us to head a little above our track, making up for the lost ground due to the previous night’s frustrating WNW wind. Rob was below studying the grib files and appeared at the companionway with two bits of news. We were in for at least 24hrs of Force 6 and the automatic bilge pump was working. On close inspection the bilge had a plentiful amount of what looked like cream in it. The emulsion turned out to be diesel fuel and water. When the inspection has was screwed down after the tank clean-up in Bayona it was cross threaded and ever since, whenever Zoonie was heeled over, from Cape St Vincent onwards, diesel had been seeping from the lid.
Now for the cure to the problem. In an uncomfortable seaway we wedged the table and floor boards in the galley are so they could not fall on us as we worked. The radar went on so we could keep a lookout from down below. I brought Zoonie into a hove-to position and quickly, while she was virtually motionless, Rob unscrewed the hatch and rescrewed it properly, bedding it back into its usual place. I got her onto a nice heel again to check for further leeks but all was well.
We took it in turns to hand pump the fuel up from around the tank and then the emulsion from the bilge. It took nearly two, hot and smelly hours to clean up.
By evening the Force 6 had arrived and although uncomfortable Zoonie made good progress westwards and we made 94 miles on our second day. There must have been fish about as the start of day 3 brought many dolphin and Cory’s Shearwaters having breakfast. They come from the Med into the Atlantic, swooping along the trough on the hunt for fish, shrimp and jellyfish.
By the afternoon the wind was occasionally 30 knots and we were over a quarter of the way there. So here we are on day 4, the wind has eased to a 4/5 so we can get little jobs done in comfort. But it is a temporary lull. We did 105 miles on day 3 and Rob has let out the sails and is cranking on those winches as I speak to get more out of her.