330 Miles to go.
Not a lot has happened since the last few updates. The wind has come round and is now more on the beam making it just as uncomfortable as before but rather than rolling down wind I'm being banged in the sides by the waves. Last night was the windiest so far. For the first time this trip I dropped the genoa and put up my heavy weather jib and had all three reefs in the main. Might have been a bit OTT but it made for a much more comfortable night and I was still doing over 6 knots. It was however the first time I have felt cold for a long time. I went on deck in just shorts and my harness and after a few waves soaked me the wind chill took affect. It didn't last long, its really hot again today but at least the nights are dropping below 30'c now. Sea temperature has also dropped a noticeable few degrees. Most of the way it have been 31 - 33 degrees but I have noticed it drop to 28 now.
Wind looks good for the next 36 hours which means I should be able to close the last 330 miles pretty quickly. Hopefully it wont leave me with to much motoring to do on the last day. I loaded up with as much fuel as I could in Bermuda, full tank and four jerry cans in the hope of being able to keep the pace up if the wind dropped, so I have no shortage.
So I can start to think about arriving in my next port. Its has seemed like a very very long trip getting here but in fact I have made very fast time. I look back at the last two weeks and although each day and each mile drags the total period of time seems ot have gone quickly. I have been out here in the Atlantic for nearly twice as long as the time I spent in Bermuda but I would never have guessed it.
Its time to start reading about the approached to Horta and looking at the charts, followed with were the shower blocks are and this infamous Sports café. After the OSTAR left overs and crap tinned food I have eaten on this trip I think I must have lost quite a lost of weight. Which one will it be; A nice crispy pizza, steak and chips, greasy burger, spag bol or all of them. One thing is for sure (I HOPE!!!!) it wont cost as much as Bermuda.
There is one thing that I have thought about all the way over here and that is about the boat Sly Dog. He left two days before me and quite frankly couldn't have asked for better conditions. But will the crazy Australian who hadn't got a clue how to put a reef in, let alone sail, have made it across the pond single handed and without a wind vane and autopilot! I am pretty sure he wont be there when I arrive but will he turn up in the days I am there? I wonder where he is......
Its dark and I'm lying in my bunk. The wind has been building and with it the whistle of the wind generator getting loader and higher pitch. The waves feel bigger through the motion of the boat and for the first time in eight days it has started to get exciting. This is what has been missing from the trip home. The OSTAR was full of excitement, breaking gear, changes in weather and a couple of gales. So far I haven't had to put as much as a reef in. Here I am in the middle of the night and for the first time I feel alive. The wind has built and I have put a reef in but I am now faced with when do I put the second one in. Its decisions like these that keep the sailing interesting and not boring and searching for another book to read. To most people I guess they would far rather sleep and read and then sleep and read than get up and make a sail change, but I am here to sail. I have been fine tuning the wind vane to steer the best course and I am now wondering weather I need to put a tweaker on the genoa sheet to pull it forward and further outboard. I am racing, I can't help it but the change in weather had totally changed my mood. I'm now lying back in bunk not wondering how long it will be till I get to the Azores but how can I make a career of this.
It s half way day today.Yeah!!
I have sailed 987 miles since leaving Bermuda and the boats total log is 9946, so within the next half a day I will hit the 1000 mile mark and also the 10,000 mile mark since I launch the boat in April 2005. That 10,000 I expect will hit 12,000 before I make it back to the UK at the end of the month. Next year i guess we will hit 20,000!! OMG
Well I feel so much better today. It seem that from today onward every mile I sail will actually make me closer to Azores and further away from the US. Every time I have looked at the chart or chart plotter I have always thought how close the US looked. Now it looks like the Azores are closer and that I am making some real progress.
After all my worry and pains at the beginning of this trip things haven't turned out to bad so far. I am actually bang on my original schedule. I have had a number of days doing 150 miles plus and I have made up some of the lost time.
Now that I have reached half way I am also allowing myself to enjoy some of the nice food onboard. For brunch I had four eggs scrambled followed with a large tin of Heinz Spaghetti and Sausages. Last night I had my first dehydrated meal of the whole trip, one Tamsin bought me in Australia in April. Believe it of not i consider this a luxury! The last two meals have been the best I have had since leaving Bermuda. Follow them with a bucket of hot water and a wash, things are really looking up. I have just finished watching Bourne Supremacy which was a fun way to spend the afternoon.
Its time to catch up on a few e-mails and then back to James Cracknel and Ben Fogal and their row across the atlantic. Apart from that not much else has happened. It not quite as hot today as it is very grey, but its still over 30'.
At this rate I expect to be into the Azores for late Friday or Saturday. Im lucky as I haven't used up to much of my diesel so I can always do a bt of motoring between now and then to keep the daily miles up shoudl the wind drop.
So I finally got through the reverse eddy of the gulf stream and picked up speed. I had a 160 mile day Tuesday - Wednesday. Yesterday wasn't bad either. It look s like I may still be on track for a 14th August arrival in Horta if the wind doesn't die.
I still am totally over whelmed at how badly I am coping with this trip home. I do feel like I am being punished for something I have done. Every day drags, I try and sleep for as long as I can, I try and read for as long as I can, I leave my meals till as late as I can, I try and e-mail as many people as I can and yet it is still just 10 am. Why cant I cope with this, I won the OSTAR, I managed fine just a few weeks ago.
One of the biggest things on this trip is the heat. It is so hot. 30+ degrees and there is no where to hide. On deck I have no sun cover or bimini and down below its like an oven. I cant get a draft as the conditions don't allow me to have hatch open. I have given up trying to sleep during the day as you just lie down and sweat. The sun shines through the hatches with every roll and tracks all around the cabin until it has found you. The heat has also put me off my appetite. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were a real mile stone in every day of the OSTAR and I had some fantastic food, I loved meal times. On this trip I am trying to use up the left overs and made up the short fall with American tinned food. I haven't enjoyed a meal yet! Tomorrow is half way day - well should be, so I plan to have my one remaining Look What We Found meal to celebrate.
I think that is what it is that's making this trip so painful, the food, the heat and fact it isn't a race with daily updates and position reports.
So last night was also an interesting one. I finally got through the day and I was looking forward to escaping for a few hours to my bunk. It didn't happen, I couldn't sleep. I have been sailing down wind with the main right out and the genoa poled out in 20 knots of breeze tow a few day now and the sea have built up. You just roll from one side to the other side of the bunk totally out of control and getting increasingly wound up. Then you feel your neck and it is dripping with sweat. I tried out all three berth and non of them wanted to work for me, until finally at about 3 am I fell asleep lying on the floor.
Waking a hour later feeling a little better I thought I would just check my heading as I am sailing under windvane. I looked out of the hatch to see the brightest flash of lightening I think I have ever seem, I was seeing stars. It was then followed by a bang that made my ears ring. Christ - get the hell out of here it thought. I put all my hand held GPS, Sat phone, VHF pieces of equipment into tin foil and then put them in the oven or the BBQ. Apparently it is suppose to protect them form a lightening strike.
I then furled the genoa, gybe the main, unfurled the genoa and pointed away from this cloud. Oh what a surprise - NW only the wrong direction. It didn't matter I was more worried about being hit than how long it took to get to Horta. I think sailing around the American coast and to Bermuda has given me a new fear at sea. If Elmarleen was struck by lightening it would kill all my electronics in a flash. The startic would just kill every PCB on the boat. I would have no GPS so couldn't navigate, I would have no Sat Phone or VHF so could not communicate, my autopilot would die and finally and most importantly it would kill my EPIRB! It would leave me in the middle of the Atlantic not knowing where to go to get out of here. Its not a position I want to find myself in. I would have to hope that a passing ship would see a flare and could through me a GPS and VHF to get me home.
So last night when I saw there was a ship 11 miles away I was straight onto them. I told them I was a sailing vessel in the middle of the thunder storm and that if I was hit I would not be able to communicate or navigate. I gave them my position and asked them to keep an eye out for me and that I would fire a flare if I had been hit.
I escaped and so did the ship of having to help me.
I have never felt to helpless, frustrated, angry or down right pee'd off as I do now. I left Bermuda just over four days ago for what I hoped to be a two week trip to the Azores. The distance is 1850 miles if you take the dog leg NE first to stay high of the Bermuda - Azores High. !850 miles in 14 days is pretty good going for a Sigma 33. That would be averaging 13o miles a day. Yeah that's possible I though, That's just over and average of 5 knots boat speed. With the wind predominantly from behind and with the help of the gulf stream I should be able to do that.
Well Its day four and yesterday I cleared 38N, the point at which I should adjust me course to the east. It was slow getting there but its probably the slowest part of the trip. Leaving the light winds of Bermuda and no significant gulf stream.
I got all excited yesterday as I gathered pace towards 38N, I picked up a good knot or more of current and the wind filled in to a good 15 knots just as the gribs had promised. Yesterday I made up a load of time from the lighter days previously and finally last night I un poled the genoa and pointed the bows toward Horta and set of on the beam reach. The wind dropped a little but I often think it does as the sun sets but progress was still good if not a bill roll'y.
As the evening turned into morning and I struggled to sleep I have been watching the wind speed increase and Elmarleen pick up and fly. Surfing down waves in excess of 7 knots. Just the sort of speeds I need to be doing to get into Horta on or before the 14th August. However with a closer look at the chartplotter and looking at my SOG I am struggling to make 5 knots. Cruising between 3.7 - 4.7 and occasionally breaking the 5 knot mark on a big surf. How can this be!!!
I have done exactly what the grib files, gulf stream charts and passage planning books say. I have headed for a corridor between 38-40N however I am stuck in a adverse current of 2 knots. Its been like this for 12 hours now and I can not explain my frustration. The trip home is supposed to be the easy bit! There was never one point in the OSTAR where I had two knots of current against. Which way do i turn, north or south to get out of it? I feel so cheated.
I am so angry and furious. I don't want to be here, I don't want to be at sea for any longer than I have to be, I don't want to be here on my own. The challenge of the OSTAR is over and this is just a pain in the arse getter the boat home. I am still 1450 miles form Horta which is still 1350 miles from Southampton.
I don't enjoy these long passages when cruising; they are just a chore and a pain. The time is dragging so much anyway and I am already through two of my books. There is no focus or challenge to pick you up and motivate you to the finish. Mentally this is far worse than the OSTAR.
The trip so far has been pretty dull. I have been sailing between 3 - 5 knots and motoring when the speed drops below that. I am still heading about 30-40 degree to try and get some height on the Bermuda - Azores high before I turn right. I am now less than a hundred mile to go to 38N where I plan to make this move.
Yesterday so me watch a DVD for the first time on the boat, Enemy of the State. Apart from it costing a load of battery power it was good fun and great to escape the light winds for an few hours. I initially though that this trip would take me about 14 day but with the light winds I think it is more likely to be 15-16. having looked at the gribs for the next few days things are going to improve and I may end up with winds to about 25 knots from the SW. That should mean I can make up some lost time.
I spent most of last night bunk hopping. I just couldn't get used to the motion of rolling. I started in the berth behind the chart table but its to wide and I can roll about. I then tried one f the saloon bunks without the lee cloth to let me get some breeze but I was paranoid about falling off. Then I decided on a bean bag on the floor where I finally got to sleep only to be woken by a torrential down pour straight through the hatch in the saloon.
Life is getting a little bit more bearable as I get into my routine. A bad nights sleep actually pays as it mean you spend more time sleeping during the day and have less time to kill. I have definitely started to see the impact of the gulf stream as I get further north. It came I first off all against for a few hours but has now gut underneath me and is carry me west. Its almost totally knocked off the 15 degree difference of the Heading and COG - they now match.
I think I might treat myself to scrambled egg for lunch and one of those very expensive tins of Heinz backed beans I bought in Bermuda.
Will and Elmarleen
Elmarleen heads for Horta
So after an amazing weeks holiday in Bermuda I have sadly had to leave. Its been very difficult to go and now I am sitting on the boat with at least two weeks of solo sailing ahead of me. It was hard as I actually have no reason to leave Bermuda. There was no start line, no race, no dream to follow. The OSTAR was easy to get fired up for and there was an aim, but for this trip its just a chore, something that needs to be completed to get home. I try not to remind myself that the length of this trip is actually only one week less than the race. Not only that, once I get to the Azores I plan to leave after a hot shower, a steak and a few days rest, unlike the month and more I have been holidaying around Newport and Bermuda. So solo off to sea I go, one more time, but with no one to race, no extreme challenge to fulfil. I also expect that I will not get the daily e-mails and messages of support I got several times a day during the race. You've probably guessed, I really didn't want to leave Bermuda.
So Bermuda, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I didn't know what to expect when I got there but it exceeded all my expectation. I went to a boat yard and started asking questions and it seems with my knowledge of boatbuilding I could have landed a job straight away on a 4 week trial. The place was actually like the photos you see of holiday destinations. You didn't have to hunt around to find that beach with the crystal clear water, they all were crystal clear. You didn't have to snorkel in misty water, you could see the fish swim around you feet as you walked up the beach. It also wasn't busy!!! It seems to me that the cruise ships take all the passengers to just a few of the beaches. I went around the island on a bike and found loads of beaches that were pretty much deserted. I liked Bermuda and I believe I will be back before too long.
So I'm sailing along with the spinnaker up sailing at about 5.5 knots. There isn't a huge amount of breeze but as long as I keep above 5knots I will be happy. The wind is looking much the same for the next 3-4 days so I am heady north east to a waypoint I have placed at 38N 55W which should get me above the most of this high. Once up there I hopully can pick up some easterly gulf stream and tern the bow around to head for Horta.
There is still one good thing I have - I can just about pick up the 2nd day of the Cup Match on the HF receiver! Come on St Georges, you can beat Summerset.
Elmarleen is in Bermuda.
We arrived here on Friday afternoon after a very slow and long slog to get here. It blew a SW for the majority of the trip and we sailed in excess of 800 miles in order to get here. Wow, but hasn't it been worth it. It didn't take more than about 15 minutes for Matt and I to realize how special a place we had arrived at. A little island in the middle of the Atlantic that really is paradise. I would recommend to anyone who does the OSTAR to pop in here on the way home. It really is an opportunity to get away and have a holiday.
I have been very lucky and I am moored in St Georges alongside the wharf for free. Due to the time of year any of the boat have already moved on. Its still very hot but I think I am getting used to it.
Matt flew out this evening, but not after we hired a couple of scooters and blasted around the island trying to swim on as many beaches as we could. This place really is beautiful and It does not compare with anywhere I have ever been before. The water everywhere is just amazing and there isn't any where I have seen that I would have thought twice about just whipping my 'T' shirt of and just jumping in the sea. The beaches are a lovely sand and the water colours are just mind blowing.
I will try and put some photos on the blog next time I am online.
P.S I will soon stop blogging on BLOGSTAR and start blogging on my own website www.willymakeit.co.uk
Only 60 miles to Bermuda.
It has been a long trip to Bermuda. A trip that we expect to take five days is going to have taken us over six. The winds were not as initially forecast and have been onteh nose the whole way. I joke but the island of Bermuda could not have been laid as a better windward mark by any race committee. The has been no bias or favoured side, it just been a hard slog and a number of time Matt and I have just given in and motored directly into it. So its looking like the total distance sailed to Bermuda will be more like 800 miles rather than the 625 it actually is.
A number of times I have wondered whether it has actually been worth the effort and if it wasn't for Matt having to make an onward flight I may well have just cracked off and gone for the Azores. We will see over the next week if it has been worth it. The closer I get the mores excited I feel and the more I understand about the island. I had no idea it was this secluded, this far in the middle of know where and so close to sea level. I am intrigued as to what will be there. Do people holiday ion Bermuda, are the holiday resorts or is it just a tax free haven and a stop of for yachts making the journey back to Europe? Will there be any British boats there I know from the south coast and do you think I could sail back in convoy with any? Who knows let wait and see.
We are currently running the engine and have about 60 miles to go to the start of the reefs. Miraculously we have been able to pick up Bermuda Harbour radio on the VHF for the last 24 hrs. the sea temp is still in the 30's along with the air temp and the humidity is still 70+. Yesterday Matt and I managed to shower from a bucket in the cockpit which made us feel a lot better for all of 10 minutes before sweating again. The water colour here is amazing and so clear. You can see the bottom or the rudder so clearly. I am really looking for a nice warm swim around the boat when we arrive.
All the best
Will, Matt and Elmarleen
So here we are again. Its two o'clock in the Western Atlantic ocean. With great anticipation I download the grib files twice a day a eight o'clock (12UT) in hope of a slight shift to give us a favourably tack to Bermuda. Oh no, it seems that the weather is very settled with giving us a steady 15knot south easterly. Well we are trying a different technique today, its called motoring. Its not fast directly into a head wind but atleast we are making some VMG to Bermuda. We cant keep it up for the remaining 185 miles as we don't have enough fuel, but we are enjoying a good few hours of positive progress.
As we motor I am constantly checking the engine lights and buzzers after my overheating incident the other week, fingers crossed. But I am also watching the true wind angle which says 165' and guess what Bermuda is 156' from us. I wish it would just swing round enough to give us a half decent angle. Having sailed at angles around 45 -50 degrees from Bermuda we are a bit tired of sailing around her.
In this heat of 31' we both have lost our appetite and have substituted it for excessive sleep. We have a cool box disaster this morning. I went in to find a complete mess. We bought a block of butter to make our ham sandwiches with, but as the ice melted and became water it took the paper wrapper off. I opened the lid to find a very greasy watery pulp and large chunks of butter stuck to the side of the box, the milk cartons, our cheese and ham. It was disgusting and not the sort of mess you want to clean up on a boat. Anyway I don't think much of what is lest if edible as it has been so hot.
So that's about it from Elmarleen today. Cheers