09/05/2011, North Atlantic
Since leaving the Cape Verde Islands on Saturday morning, we have had a real mixture of wind. For the first twenty four hours we really were hammered by the wind and waves, with spray flying off the boat as we made, firstly, a northwest heading and then north-northwest. Conditions were not conducive for cooking and our first nights meal was a cup of soup and a bread roll. Then the wind started to reduce and of course, when that happens, so did the swell. Our second nights meal was a huge pot of pasta with a tomato, garlic, onion and marrow sauce - the marrow was a large one we bought at the fresh produce market in Mindelo.
Today we had a bit of motor-sailing during the early hours of the morning until a breeze set in once again and we were able to roll out the genoa and sail for the remainder of the day. Dinner has been consumed with great gusto - crumbed sailfish fillets served with coleslaw. Well done to Josh and Dave for the preparation and cooking.
It is now after 9pm local time and we have a quarter moon in the western sky with lots of stars and a few puffs of cloud hanging about. The temperature is definitely getting less as we head further north towards the Azores Islands and night watches now include a jacket. Soon they will also include long pants! As I type this the breeze is slowly dropping and we will most likely have to utilise the "iron sail" to take us through the remainder of the night. Earlier this evening I downloaded the latest weather files from the US weather service and it looks like very light airs up ahead for a few days. To keep up with the changing weather patterns, I am currently doing weather downloads both each morning and evening, thereafter I overlay it on a digital chart on the laptop and we all have a good study of the latest update to try and determine which watches will have wind and who will be using the motor. The weather files have been quite accurate since leaving Cape Town.
As mentioned above, we have a moon in the western sky as I type this. It is busy waxing and thus we should have good visibility on our night watches for the next two weeks. This makes for pleasant night watches as there is nothing worse than not being able to tell where the horizon is. However, on the other hand, it makes it slightly more difficult to spot the lights of ships. Our "ship spotting" competition was halted 50 nautical miles before we reached the Cape Verde Islands and was re-started when 50 miles out again. Dave is leading the scoreboard with myself second and Mathys third. Josh has yet to spot his first ship!
Well, it had to happen - I just started the starboard engine to give us a bit of speed as we had dropped from just over 6 knots to 3 in the last hour. We need to keep moving as we are a bit behind our schedule and need to make up some of the lost time.
In about four days we should be able to start turning more to the east and slowly start curving towards the Straits of Gibraltar. Exactly where we stop next is still debatable - it will depend on our fuel and water situation. I had planned to stop in Cadiz, Spain, but if our fuel and water is fine, we most likely will continue towards Turkey. The weather in the Med also needs to be studied as we get closer as there can, and often is, opposing winds in the Straits which can be quite difficult to get through if the winds are too strong and heading us. More about that as we get closer.
Well, that should update you all as to what is happening aboard the good ship Moorings A5003. Regards from Josh, Mathys, Dave and myself, John.
07/05/2011, North Atlantic
We actually departed Mindelo on Wednesday at noon but experienced gale-force winds, right on the nose for the first four hours at sea. We did not get very far in those four hours and eventually, I decided it was crazy to continue in the conditions. Thus, we turned around and it took us half an hour to get back to the marina and tie up again.
So, our second departure took place at 07:00 local time today, Saturday 7 May. As I write this blog report, we have about 20 knot winds out of the northeast with quite a lumpy sea. However, although we are bouncing about a bit, conditions are not as bad as I thought they would be. As we progress north-northwest towards the Azores, we will slowly loose the wind and the sea should calm a bit. We do have quite a bit of motor-sailing to do before we get close to Gibraltar in a couple of weeks time.
So, to try and not destroy my laptop with the continual pounding into the oncoming seas, I am going to keep this post short and wish you all well until things settle a bit and I can write a decent post.
Regards from all aboard - John.
03/05/2011, North Atlantic
Well, I decided that it was best to make for Mindelo and take on fuel as we had been doing a lot of motor-sailing. So, at 10:30 local time, we arrived at the Mindelo Marina and tied stern-too. There are not many boats in the marina at the moment and the rate charged is half that of the "in season" fee. We are staying two nights, giving the crew time to relax a bit and also do some maintenance on board.
The marina is quite modern with very clean ablution facilities, diesel at Euro 0.85c per litre and water, which works on a pre-paid meter. Security is pretty good with both the port police hanging around as well as a security company doing patrols. There is a floating bar, where we have all tried the local brew, which has quite a high alcohol content of 6.7 percent.
I plan to leave on Wednesday morning and start the leg up to Gibraltar - we will decide where we may stop next as we get closer to the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.
Regards from Dave, Josh, Mathys and myself, John
26/04/2011, South Atlantic
Since crossing the equator, we first experienced the thundershowers and lightning storms associated with the ITCZ. The only good thing about the ITCZ is that we were able to catch a lot of fresh water to do washing in - both ourselves and our clothes We have now broken out of the "zone" and are once again in favourable weather, but not the winds we need. So, we are doing some sailing when the wind angle allows it, but mostly either straight motoring or motor-sailing.
So, what do we do when motoring - simple, try and catch supper! As can be seen in the above photo, Josh and Mathys had some fun landing last nights dinner. I must admit, I have caught quite a few sailfish before on deliveries, but this one took the cake for size. And what a lovely dinner we had! Now we have our freezer near full and should not have to do any further fishing for some time.
Our next port of call should be Cadiz, Spain. However, we are consuming a lot more diesel at the moment than I had planned for, for this section of the delivery and if our wind angle does not improve in the next day or two, we will most likely have to stop briefly in the port of Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. Not something I really want to have to do. I will fire off another blog report in a few days to let you know what progress we are having and what our decision is regarding a Mindelo stop.
So, whilst you savour the above photograph, we will continue savouring the actual fish. Regards from all aboard, John.
23/04/2011, South Atlantic
On Saturday 23 April, at 05:01 local time (06:01 UTC or 08:01 SAST), we crossed that invisible line called the equator, whilst at 16 deg. 42.48 minutes west. There was no celebration as the only person awake at the time was Dave - it was his watch. However, I did have a bottle of South African "bubbly" in my cabin that we chilled for the day and at 5pm celebrated the event and gave a little to Neptune te ensure good winds and safe sailing in the Northern Hemisphere. Nothing like a bit of old sailors superstition to add to the event!
The last few days have involved a lot of motoring and not too much sailing as we are in what is known as the ITCZ or, using the old fashion term, the doldrums. There has been not enough wind to sail by but just enough of a breeze to keep us all from cooking. Today the thermometer only showed 30 degrees C, but coupled with the humidity, conditions are very uncomfortable. But, this is what I expected and we just have to acclimatise ourselves to it for a while.
The Cape Verde Islands are north-northwest of us (about 900 nautical miles) and we should pass them, leaving them to starboard, in about six days. I would only stop there if it was absolutely necessary as my previous experience there was not a pleasant one - lots of crime and drug addicts! So, at the moment our plans are to continue all the way to Cadiz, Spain, where we will re-fuel and take on some fresh water and provisions. A few weeks hard sailing lies ahead of us!
On board life is actually quite boring. Sleep, stand watch, sleep, play cards, eat, stand watch etc. Each morning at 06:00 we put out our fishing lines and hope for a nice fat Dorado. Nah, not today, only skipjack, which is not the tastiest of fish. Josh did manage to hook a nice big Dorado yesterday, but as he was struggling to land it on the boat, the fish gave one final leap out of the water, straight into Josh, knocking him back onto the deck and at the same time the hook came out and we now have the story of "the one that got away". Oh well, we just hope for some more to take the lure in the days to come.
After departing Ascension I started our "Ship Spotting Competition", which runs until we are about 100 nautical miles from Cadiz. The score card is still blank - we actually have not seen another ship since about half way to St Helena. The prize for the person spotting the most ships on this leg is still to be decided. However, it will most likely be a good bottle of some fine Turkish plonk!
Our email has been down for the past 48 hours and thus our latest positions did not show on ShipTrak. However, this has now been rectified by the Winlink team and all appears to be back up and working.
Hope you all are having a fine Easter weekend with lots of bunnies bringing chocolate eggs - we had a packet of mini Bar One chocolates to celebrate, which Mathys promptly depleted during his watch.
Until the next blog report, regards from Josh, Dave, "Bar One" Mathys and myself, John