Day 6 of 25 to 30 sun filled days at sea
02 March 2012 | Atlantic Ocean
It is day 6 of one of the longest ocean passages on the planet that we will probably ever attempt as a family. There is currently bugger all wind and a raging storm 2 miles away bearing down on us at 0300. All in a night watch for the crew of Chaotic Harmony.
The trip across the Southern Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town in South Africa to Grenada in the West Indies is a tad long at over 5300 nautical miles but we have broken it down with a stop at St Helena Island to soak in its olde worlde charm, friendly atmosphere and history after the first 1800 nm. There is still 3500 nn to go from there to Grenada.
We were going to break it down with a stop at Ascension Island but there is nothing there for any of us except hull cleaning fish so we altered course for the West Indies. We do not have visas for Brazil, (Australia is demanding visas so the world is increasingly visa needy of Australians) so we cannot stop there or if we did we would be looking at stiff fines so we continue on our way to the West Indies.
How long does it take to sail 3500 nm ? Depends upon your boat, the way you sail it, the wind speed and direction and the sea conditions and of course the safety aspect. The wind is light, or has been most of the time and is below 15 knots and is right along our couse line. That is we want to go north west and the wind is coming from the south east. Great if you are a square rigged vessel but pathetic if a fractional rig catamaran and do not want to tack down wind for 3500 nm so it is up spinnaker to use as a square sail. OK thats everything except the safety aspect. It is a waxing moon and light night winds with thunderstorms as we enter the areas of storms south of the doldrums. Do we keep flying the kite or do we motor or what do we do if we want to keep moving at night? We go against our instincts to provide safety and fly it at night and keep a double watch on the weather.
We become expert at gybing the spinnaker at night, feeling the cooler winds before the shower and storm to douse the sail and prepare the genoa and even main if needed. Believe me these are big, tiring and stressful jobs at night.
So how long will it take if speed equals distance divided by time. We go along at 7 to 8 knots on a spinnaker run but fall down to 2 at night for a few hours so we average 5.3 knots at present. (Down a lot from our 8.5 average in the Indoan Ocean) So 3500 divided by 5.3 equals 27 and a half days. However we know we will get moderate north east trade winds when we cross the equator this time of year so we make allowance for that as CH loves it on the nose and we give her an amended average of 6 knots giving lets say 24 days. We need tio take it easy though as "Momo" was dismasted there 2 days ago so give in 24 hours for reefing and the trip will be a possible 25 days so we are now officially 1/5 of the way to the rum soaked, bikini strewn beaches of Grenada.