28/May/2010, 191 Miles to Bermuda - 974 miles already logged.
Lots of Portuguese Man of War jellyfish seen during the day and, this evening, at last, some decent sailing wind! "Spruce" is carving a furrow through the waves, illuminated by a shimmering path of light beaming from the horizon beneath a bright lunar orb. The seas are down to a couple of feet, a damp, cool south-westerly breeze is billowing our full set of sails as we are pushed towards our turning point just north of latitude 30N. Wonderful to be sailing at 5-6 knots in pleasant conditions rather than motoring or fighting the elements. We are still on target to reach Bermuda sometime Saturday afternoon. The latest weather forecast confirms the slow moving frontal boundary, linked to the remnants of the troublesome depression, will pass over "Spruce" at about noon tomorrow. The wind will then move to north-east and should give another decent sailing wind once through the boundary containing winds for a short period. That's the plan anyway. Once through the critical frontal boundary we'll know for sure.
Other vessels out and about. "Heimkehr" arrived in Florida yesterday some 800 miles to our West. "Navigo" & "Amigos" have reachded the Azores. "Talulah" is some 900 miles to the East of Spruce and making excellent progress toweards the Azores, "Aleria" and "Per Mare" are still some way behind but doing their best to catch up. Roy in "Guiding Light" is playing tail-end-Charlie on the Azores trip, with no engine and communications equipment problems. "Elmarleen" is waiting for some wind so they can depart BVIs for Bermuda. "Catacaos" is in Bermuda, "Island Drifter" should arrive in Bermuda today and finally "Festina Lente" left Bermuda for the Azores a couple of days ago but are now beating a windward return to sort out steering gear problems. Many of these are still in SSB Radio contact via the Northbound Net each day and we've all had less than ideal weather. There are links to some of their Blogs from the pick list at the right-hand-side of this Blog. A pivotal time of year indeed, many vessels moving to different cruising grounds, or homeward bound, at the end of the Caribbean cruising season.
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27/May/2010, 299 Miles to Bermuda - 865 miles already logged.
Motoring in lazy swell, sailing in squalls, dodging convection cells, scary lightening. In all, another day of mixed experiences. As we prepared for tuning-in to Herb's (weather guru) Net the skies ahead were darkening, an ominous rumble of thunder rolling across the water from ahead gave the signal to prepare for squally conditions. Reception on the SSB is often affected by lightening storms found beneath large convection cells and yesterday was no exception. The conversation at rtime went something like... Herb: "There is convection activity building ahead at 27 degrees North!". Sprucettes: "We can't hear you. There's a lot of convection activity nearby." With perseverance we got most of the information needed and we are still hurry, hurry, hurrying to get past 30 degrees north by Friday midnight. That is when a band of NE winds will sweep down across the area south of Bermuda and we ate positioning ourselves to not have these on the nose.
No pictures of the tremendous spectacle flaming sunset and lightening strikes at dusk yesterday evening, unfortunately. We had other things on our minds at the time... but here is a piccie of one of the waterspouts seen nearby earlier.
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25/May/2010, 450 Miles to Bermuda - 696 miles already logged.
A busy old day for sail changes. We started with Main and poled out genoa, changed before breakfast to twin-running head-sails, after lunch up went the pretty sail (cruising chute) and mainsail and now we are motoring to get to 27 degrees North latitude for tomorrow evening, where hopefully we'll find some much needed wind. Although we started with 100 hours of range at the last refueling we are down to 74 hours remaining and that isn't enough to motor the whole way to Bermuda.
Visitors today included: Yellow Billed Tropic Birds, one Skua (mobbing the Tropic Birds) and a tired swallow took a rest on the pulpit before flying off again, hope he makes it. Notable sights included major convection activity some 5 miles ahead today, with two impressive water-spouts formed. Thankfully that all dissipated before we got too close.
The tropical depression is predicted to come back south of Bermuda but hopefully much diminished. We therefore expect NE winds of 15-20 knots as we head between 30 Degrees latitude and Bermuda at about 32 Degrees North over Friday night and Saturday. Rapau and ourselves are still in close proximity and are making for 30N63W to give us a better angle on the wind for that last push into port, after almost two weeks at sea. We initially set off expecting a six-day passage!
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24/May/2010, 541 Miles to Bermuda - 614 miles already logged.
At last! We are going North towards Bermuda again, albeit rather slowly with only a 10 knot wind from the South. Spruce has a full mainsail out one side and a poled out genoa (front sail) on the other. The swell is large and lazily rolling in from the NE from the gales up near Bermuda for the past few days. To make our way-points as we sail towards Bermuda we really need to travel 110 Miles per day, if we don't get more wind through the night we may need to motor to make up some ground tomorrow. Therein lies the quandary, if we don't catch up time we may continue with only light or no wind, if we start burning fuel we may not have enough left if we meet calms nearer Bermuda.
The day has been fine and sunny, too hot on deck. It has been wonderful to open the boat up while under-way and to dispel the damp from sailing in strong winds and the torrential downpours of a couple days ago.
Highlights today: Bread baked on board, a hot oven at these latitudes is not pleasant but the bread smelt divine; crossing the Tropic of Cancer for the third time in less than a week... lets hope we can keep pressing on Northwards. The Tropical Depression is scheduled to turn East later in the week, the weather experts can't predict if it will go North or South of Bermuda. We hope North otherwise we may have to heave to again and let it pass on by.
Photo is sunset tonight. Spectacular!
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23/May/2010, 591 Miles to Bermuda - Hopefully decreasing again today .
517 miles sailed, only 10 (drifted) in last 24-hours! Still waiting for the nasty tropical depression located some 200 Miles north of us to show a definitive track instead of just hanging there without a clear destination in mind. Good weather info from weather-guru, Herb, again yesterday. Next update at 20:00 utc today. We'll probably make our way tentatively northwards by 30 Miles during the day and then, hopefully, the weather system will have commenced moving North and we can start making for Bermuda. The worry now is the wind might die away at our location and we only have fuel enough to motor about 450 Miles.
Yesterday's convection activity was truly awesome. We have never seen rain at that scale. a torrential downpour that just wnet on, and on, for hours. We managed to scoop up about 20 gallons of fresh water, running along the scuppers, directly into the water tanks in approximately 10-15 minutes. The bad news is we haven't been this damp since NW Spain last July.
The photo shows "Island Drifter", also waiting around, to head North, in this vicinity, with Mike and Helen Norris aboard.
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22/May/2010, 579 Miles to Bermuda - and still increasing .
So far we have sailed 507 miles but some of it in the wrong direction! The tropical depression is near fully formed and predicted to start moving to the North and slightly West tomorrow. Heading back south has kept the Sprucettes and Rapaulettes away from the worst of the weather on the NE side of the depression. There has been a series of convection cells passing by, and over. The latest humdinger gave winds of between 38 and 44 knots for 10-15 minutes with torrential downpour conditions.
The feedback from weather-guru, Herb, yesterday afternoon indicated we should be able to tentatively commence heading North again either later today or tomorrow morning. That should enable us to tuck in astern of the depression as it begins tracking northwards and stay in South-East to South then South-West winds. We'll stop sailing south inn then next hour or so and heave to to wait it out for the rest of the day... sucking in weather information while we drift.
On the bright side ... we should get to Bermuda by Thursday:-) The photo reminds us of the sunrise we haven't seen for 3-days.
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