Atlantic Crossing 4 Let's Rock and Roll

Thu 21 Jan 2016 11:31
There is not enough wind to push Zoonie along at a speed to overcome the confused sea-state. We are now so used to all the different motions I think after a night sleeping in a switched on tumble dryer we’d come out smiling.
As I sit in the cockpit on watch one night the bright day screen on the Chartplotter comes on and illuminates the saloon. I start to scan the horizon when the ship alarm starts sounding, giving us 24 minutes to take any necessary action to avoid a ship that is on a bearing into our safe zone.
There he is, an oil tanker bound for Angola at 15 knots speed. No wonder my last horizon scan didn’t pick him up. Rob is now awake having been woken by the alarm and is getting the ships details up on the plotter. Good old AIS. In the first two of my 24 minutes I turn on the engine, disconnect the auto pilot and take up my steering position, bringing Zoonie to starboard (right) and aiming at his stern as he crosses our bow. For the remaining 22 minutes I monitor his progress by eye from my position at the helm and Rob keeps an eye on the Chartplotter. He passes us within 200 meters, our second ship in an ocean over 3000 miles wide!
The next day marked our fortnight out of Mindelo and we were rolling along nicely with our Tradewind friend pushing us steadily on a broad reach in moderate seas. We mused on our changing response to the wind force. A few days ago we might have reefed the genoa foresail at 18 knots, but now we let her have her head as she is so comfortable. Apart from the odd irregular roll provided by small waves hitting her stern, the motion is a gentle rise and dip with the hiss of passing water all around. Rob sleeps and as you can see, I write.
Before leaving La Gomera in the Canaries we had done a big shop for food and included in the stock were three pre-cooked and vacuum packed spanish tortillas. They keep perfectly and each one provides two evening meals. I cut one in half and return half to the fridge for the next night. Then I gently fry the other half until it is well cooked on both sides and we have it with pots or pasta and whatever veg is hanging around. Well now we came to the last half, that had been in the fridge for over a month. The well tried sniff test said it was ok and indeed it was with fried pots, peas and gravy. One of the best gastronomic discoveries so far from the “Let’s keep the fare varied” point of view.
We had late teenage tradewinds all night (13 – 19knots)and progress was good. Even the squalls that came with the dawn just gave us a little extra wind and another knot in speed for a while. So as the seas were smoothing down Rob set the fishing line astern and within minutes it whizzed out. The pull on the line was strong and we looked at eachother, “What on earth have we got here,” Rob says. A little, but very strong bonito flops onto the deck. As Rob wrestles to get the hook clear it takes a dive into his finger and lodges there. Fortunately the pliers have a cutting edge so he cuts the barb clear of the lure, and then pushes it on through the fold of skin so he can pull it clear. Ugh, makes me cringe just to type the words. There is no blood and savlon cream goes on straight away and Rob now feels he has passed his initiation into the world of ocean fishermen!
Lunch on this penultimate day of our crossing comprised the last avocado with cole slaw and a slice of Mondelo ring cake laced with Jamesons and topped with some of Sandra’s amazing home-made mincemeat and custard. Supper included the fried bonito with Canary potatoes and carrots in Bergensk Sauce.
We did an overnight reef just in case of a strong squall and worked out that on our last day we would need to keep it in as the present conditions would have us arrive in the dark. We also had a good look at the charts, both paper and plotter to note the position of the visible rocks and we are ready, showered and with full water tanks, to meet our landfall.
At Sundowners we ask eachother certain questions:- What was the worst part of the trip?    Rob – Cystitis,                                me – coming to the last orange
                                                                                      What was the best part?                       Rob -  Sailing                                  me -  the way of life
                                                                                      What are you most looking forward to Rob -   A meal in a nice restaurant me – walking
Rain and rain clouds shrouded the land as we sailed up between the butterfly wings that are Grande Terre on the right and Basse Terre on the left, comprising Guadeloupe, the Papillon Island. The clouds  clear eventually and we arrive into the sheltered lagoon under sunny skies with black frigate birds wheeling overhead. A marinero uses his sturdy boat as a tug to help us back into our berth and secure lines after 2124 miles over the ground and 1958 through the water, so we had 66 miles help from Equatorial Current.