Outrunning the Sun

Sun 2 May 2021 08:09

Position 17:44.98N 32:57.94W


Chasing the sun

As we three Musketeer yachts, Jori ahead and Anna Caroline behind, came through The ITCZ I wondered if we had gone through a time warp, no ships, no planes, no vapour trails, no news, just almost daily chats with the other two yachts; us Three Musketeers, would we arrive in Horta, Faial to see people on horse back and donkeys carrying burdens?

Later there was a ship bound Eastwards for Gibraltar and another Westwards for Papau New Guinea, so that answers that question.

Wietze on AC alerted us to the fact we were chasing the sun as it appears to move north for the northern hemisphere summer, in fact the earth is tilting south which gives the same effect, the rate at which it does so is about 19.2 miles per day, from my astro tables, ie 0.8 miles per hour, one sixth of our speed so we would at some point pass it, and that happened two nights ago at 20.02 hrs and it was noticeable yesterday as we sat in the cockpit with the sun now clearly transiting behind us. It will be good for the solar panels, all mounted at the stern.

Milestones and Celebrations

As if that excitement was not enough, at 01.33 this morning 2nd May we crossed our outward track from Cape Verdes to Guadeloupe on the 4th January 2016 at a Longitude of 32.55.03W and thus by covering 35,584 miles we have completed our oceanic circumnavigation in 391 days at sea. Of course, there will be another circum. completed when we get back to English shores and then Guinness Book of Records purists would say we are not done until we reach Plymouth, our port of departure, but a pint of Doombar in the Chain Locker at Falmouth will do us fine.

Since emerging from the ITCZ at around 3 degrees north the sailing has been all thanks to the NE Trade winds that are blowing at 11 – 20 knots constantly from the same trustworthy direction, which is in fact bending our course favourably towards the Azores. That’s what Henry the Hydrovane does, he keeps us at a constant angle to the wind so as the wind veers clockwise so can we.

The auto pilot has had a rest since the Equator so the electricity produced by the Watt&Sea wave generator at up to 5 Amps is sufficient to charge the batteries to 100% if we are doing more than five knots speed through the water, the fridge and the computer and with the wind generator, and solar panels in the day we only run the engine if we need to while rig changing or to make water. In fact, apart from a one-and-a-half-hour water top up we haven’t used the engine for 8 days. Good old Watt&Sea plus Ruby the windcharger and the solar panels!

The orange Sargasso weed we have encountered has had Rob hanging over Zoonie’s transom plucking it off the Watt&Sea blade on frequent occasions but it’s well worth the effort, said she from the safe confines of the cockpit watching Rob’s progress.

Zoonie is promoting the off the shoulder look at the moment on a comfortable course 60 to 80 degrees from the wind. We haven’t sailed this close to the wind for a long time, maybe years and at the times we have used her full main and genoa it has felt like quite a novelty.

We are over half way between St Helena and the Azores now and should be two thirds the way in around five days’ time. I read in my notes of the gentle sailing and the warm winds, well things are a little livelier and cooler at night now and Zoonie is well reefed bringing her more upright and, in fact, faster than when she is burdened with too much canvas and healing on her ears, a state of affairs that is always short-lived.

I emerged into the cockpit pre-dawn the other morning looking astern to a coral grey twilight sky on our left and a world lit by the banana yellow full moon on the right. Also, in the night sky we can see both the Plough ahead and the Southern Cross low in the sky behind, confirming that we are not all that far from the Equator yet. 17 degrees as I type and the Azores latitude is 38 and the south coast of merry England around 51 degrees if my ageing memory serves me correctly.

Milo helps me get ready to write in the mornings; there’s nothing like a nice mug of hot chocolate at that time of day.

I start by going aft to collect the laptop from its safe home tucked down beside all the ‘goods’ on the aft berth. Then I lock it to the saloon table with two clamps so it doesn’t take off when Zoonie does one of her long drops off a swell. I have finished, with Rob’s help, the definitions for the glossary to go in the book (bow – front or pointy end of vessel, crew hair decoration) and now I’m back on compiling and editing the blogs for my Wordpress site so I can upload them, hopefully in Horta.

Then there’s writing and replying to emails and downloading three weather files and by the time all that is done lunchtime looms. Rob sees to that meal and sometimes breakfast too if my nose is to the grindstone.

I have just put in the fridge the night-time yog of vanilla yogurt. I didn’t know if it would work with all this motion but I sat it on the gimballed stove and that did the trick.

So, we have already had cause to celebrate halfway with some nice mango, orange and lychee juice with a little addition and tomorrow being Rob’s birthday there will be more inventive ideas to ‘throw the boat out’. Then a few days on we will hopefully meet our two third point, after which all attention will be on our destination.

Rob has requested a cream tea followed by ‘veggie beef stroganoff’ for his birthday fayre so I am on to baking bread and pizzas again today plus scones.

We have finished all the salad veg and fresh fruit now, leaving just 5 bags of carrots!, not quite sure what happened there, white cabbage, sweet and white potatoes, onions and spring onions and a butternut squash. So, lunch is now bread for Rob and Ryvita for me topped with either grated cheese and Marmite or peanut butter and jam followed by tinned fruit salad and half a can of beer each.

A delightful small black whale came alongside the cockpit the other evening, either a Pigmy Right or Northern Minke, so close I think he touched us as they sometimes do and the odd tern and petrel come to see us; luminescence at night sparkles in Zoonie’s wash and we cherish each lovely sailing day as they move seamlessly into our past.