Trade Wind Sailing

Fri 7 Dec 2012 12:10
position  18.14.15N; 40.19.31W
Well it has been an eventful couple of days and  we are still searching for the elusive trade winds.  I had thought that all we had to do was go South until the butter melted and then turn right and there were the Trades.  Well the butter melted a couple of days ago and we are now sailing into a Westerly.  I thought that they were meant to blow the other way – or is the magnetic variation really that strong here??
A little backtrack.  A couple of nights ago we were just changing watch and a particularly sudden lurch saw the skipper head butt the mirror in the after head.  Fortunately no damage to my head – it is pretty solid, but the mirror has definitely seen better days.  I am told that, to the superstitious, there is a huge difference between a cracked mirror and a broken one.  Well this one is cracked in a big way – but at least we dont have to pick up shards of broken glass all the time.
Shortly after that we spotted our first sperm whale.  Actually it looked more like a submarine to me initially but it was helpfully identified in Tim’s eye-Spy of fishing as a Sperm Whale calf as it was only 20-30 feet long.  It was happily swimming along some 50 yards from the boat and I am pleased to say that we never saw its mother!  The fishing book therefore does have its uses – albeit hopeless at identifying fish that we might be able to eat.
We then enjoyed a spectacular days sailing – flat seas and 20 knot of wind on a broad reach.  Great fun.  Landed an even bigger Dorade and just about to convene a meeting of the Fish Filleting Board when it jumped off the hook as we had it on the transom.  That was the last success with the rod and since then we have lost three lures.
Yesterday we went through a big debate as to whether we should head S of a big wind hole identified on the GRIB files or to the North.  After much consideration we decided to go South and watched the barometer drop from 1017 down to 1004 in the 36 hours leading to yesterday afternoon.  As the sun was setting the wind really started to blow and we had a pretty constant 40 kn wind over the deck as we were running before the storm at 11 knots.  It wasnt just the wind strength (which at 50knots represents a pretty healthy Atlantic Storm at Force 10), but the violence in it as well.  I wonder if Admiral Beaufort would have approved of the amount of sail we had up...  Eventually the storm abated and we had time to get the mainsail off before dark and then spent an exhausted night sailing slightly N of West under headsail alone.  Slow progress and not quite in the right direction- but progress none the less.  Other than that, a quiet night and only pleased that the celestial firework display stayed a way over to the west and we were able to participate as distant by bystanders – would not have wanted to be part of that.
This morning broke sunny and clear.  Looks like the first day of sunshine we have had since leaving Gibraltar – but perplexed by the SW winds we are getting.  As we come out of the weather hole, the wind is supposed to fill in from the NE – ie the Trades – but at the moment there is no sign of it.  Also no idea as to whether the wind will back or veer in its 180 turn.
Crew morale remains high – seem to have exhausted Graham’s supply of silly stories, so we are now back to prep school for the humour.  Wasnt sure about Tim as at one point in the night he seemed to be pointing the boat East.  I am not sure that means he wants this to go on for ever or thinks turning back and getting off at Cape Verde Islands might be easier.
That’s about the facts so far. No doubt gossip to follow