05/Dec/2011, 348M to Grenada: 1,853M from Cape Verdes
Still motoring with less than 5 knots of wind. A large hole in the wind indeed. There is the promise of wind from tomorrow onwards,although not the 18-20 knots that pushed us most of the way across the Atlantic. If the weather gurus prove correct there should be an Easterly 14 knots pick up in the morning reducing to 11 knots for Thursday and then back up to 13 for Friday. Not fast sailing but hopefully a chance to dispense with the engine and still reach Grenada before the customs and immigration offices close at 4pm. The last of our fuel was decanted into the main tank this morning and careful reading of the tank gauge should help us determine how many litres per hour we are consuming in this sort of swell. Probably we have insufficient to motor the rest of the way so our faith is in the forecasters/weather-models being correct.
Sue was off in slumber land last night when a Stormy Petrel managed to find its way below and landed on her head. The shouts from below were raucous to say the least. The small chap was non the worse for his frightening experience and was rapidly assisted to be airborne once more.
The fishing line was streamed this morning and just before lunch time a loud twang signaled the lure had been taken. Sue's gleeful shouting was a rude awakening for Andy, this time. Only a 2 feet long Mahi-Mahi but what a fight to pull her in. This was the one that didn't get away and with smooth seas we will be Barbequing tonight.
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05/Dec/2011, 468M to Grenada: 1,735M from Cape Verdes
Lots of engine time as we press on to make progress with very light easterlies. If we want to arrive during office hours for clearing in at Prickly bay, Grenada, on Friday we need to average 5 knots speed. Next useful wind looks like being during daylight hours on Wednesday, but that is largely due to a low pressure area scheduled to pass over us. Probably will involve fickle strength and direction of wind coupled with inordinate amounts of rain. While the motor is running we ran the water maker for a couple of hours and topped the tanks off. If still motoring tomorrow we'll make more water and get the washing done and dried in the morning; less chores upon arrival.
Clear and sunny today so great for a bronzy tan if we weren't hiding from the harsh tropical sun. The lack of air moving is working our fans overtime and making the humidity all the more uncomfortable. Fishing line is being trailed astern but no willing takers yet. Our fresh meat is now finished. A Mahi-Mahi just like the one that got away would nicely feed us for the rest of the passage. Fingers crossed!
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04/Dec/2011, 576M to Grenada: 1,624M from Cape Verdes
A fantastic night's progress with a fair current and 6.5 to 7.0 knots of boat speed. It all added up to good miles under the keel until about midnight. Then the convection caught up with us; hot moist air rising rapidly from the sea. Forty degree wind-shifts and winds between 8 knots and 30 knots. At first light the poles came down and we went to course close reaching on port tack in light airs, not too bad with speeds of up to 5 knots. During the morning the main convection mass arrived and we were reduced to motoring in gusty and fickle conditions, sometimes the wind from dead ahead, others from astern and wind strength from nothing to 20 knots. Quite tiring doing frequent changes in sail plan hence the motor until things settled down. And settled down they did to winds back in the east but only 5-8 knots and a foul current to boot. We now continue to motor at economical engine revs waiting for better conditions to prevail while we avoid slopping around aimlessly in the residual swell and waves from a variety of directions.
The positive aspects, and yes there are some. A chance for a thoroughly good shower for the Sprucettes. Tropical downpours come fast and furious, sit out with soap and shampoo and enjoy a short period without constant perspiration. When the rain came the scuppers ran coloured with the dust from the Cape Verdes. The rigging, the sails, ropes, everything covered in a red dust blown from the dry islands during the windy month spent in those waters; until this morning.
As we continue plodding slowly on our way another brooding grey air mass lies to the south. We'll probably be making its acquaintance later this evening for another good soaking.
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03/Dec/2011, 698M to Grenada: 1,500M from Cape Verdes
Yesterday evening and overnight the wind was up and down with a dreaded counter current delaying our progress. However, this morning the wind increased and during the afternoon the seas have smoothed out and a wonderful current of 0.8 knots has come to our assistance. Will it last is the unanswered question. So far we should have enjoyed an overall 130M of positive help from the Equatorial Current, as of noon today we measured a total push towards our destination of only 3M. Maybe this will now change for the remainder of our passage.
Another day of grey and overcast skies with some rain. A low pressure area is passing to the south of us and is predicted to dissipate and come north across our route tomorrow and Monday. At some point we'll be down to 5 knots of wind, hopefully this good breeze and 6.8 knots progress will be maintained well into Sunday.
A Brown Booby flew a few circuits this morning, occasionally flopping into the sea to eat something we could not see. The fishing line we towed at lunch time received a big bite an hour later. After much hauling a one-metre long male Mahi-Mahi (Dorade) was pulled alongside. Andy fluffed the bringing aboard, should have used the gaff, and he dropped off to rapidly swim away into the beautiful ultramarine depths. The line is back out but will be retrieved before nightfall; a big fish wrapping itself into the towed water generator line and propeller during the hours of darkness is not a happy thought.
Tentatively we think we might arrive some time on Friday or Saturday. A night time entry to Prickly Bay won't be attempted so we may need to slow down at the end of the passage and delay our arrival if the timing is wrong.
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02/Dec/2011, 845M to Grenada: 1,351M from Cape Verdes
A slower night and day with winds down to 10-12knots, the swells are much larger, probably from a distant weather system, and coupled with less wind is making the motion more rolly and less comfortable. Never the less, today was planned for baking so two loaves and two banana cakes have been produced. The the gimbals on the stove working over-time. The sponges are a little lop-sided but a miracle that we can classify them as cakes under the prevailing conditions.
The external visual sights have remained fairly constant. A brief glimpse of a different type of Shearwater, very much greater amounts of weed floating with an occasional glistening of flying fish skimming the waves. No sightings of whales so far; but that could be because they haven't reached this far south after their summer sojourn in northern latitudes where the days were long and the food bountiful.
The first vessel of our radio-net group, The Magellan Net, has reached the Caribbean. "Adagio II" arrived in Les Iles de Saintes, just to the south of Guadalupe, yesterday evening. They were so distant from the net controller back in the Canary Islands that we relayed their check-in. Boat number two, "Bright Eyes", was 468 miles from Barbados this morning and should be arriving in 3-4 days. Following them are "Ocean Lady" (40 miles ahead of us) and ourselves, both heading for Grenada and likely to arrive in 6-7 days. The morning reports are taking more than half an hour to record with vessels spread all the way from the Canaries to Caribbean, and some in the Cape Verdes. Another 3-4 weeks and everybody should have arrived in the Antilles at one or other of the East Caribbean islands.
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01/Dec/2011, 960M to Grenada: 1,229M from Cape Verdes
December started with an excellent windy night and 20-22 knots of breeze through until breakfast time this morning. Our noon-noon run was 161 Miles in 24 hours, the best yet on this passage. It has been lighter this morning and still looks like the decent strength of winds won't last past Saturday. Probably cased by the trade winds being disrupted by the tropical weather some 500 miles north of here.
Yesterday evening, just before dusk, a pod of Rough Toothed Dolphins swam by, pinkish underbellies, 2-3 metres long and under jaw colouring that looked liked Batman's Joker's grin... or maybe they were just chuckling at our sluggish seven-knots as they powered ahead with the flick of a tail. Still seeing Shearwaters soaring in the troughs and our first visit by a pure white Tropic Bird this morning, its long tail feather trailing astern like an afterthought.
A bright sunny day today, much more cheerful after yesterday's grey skies masking the deep blue of the ocean. The wind is now more east, even with a touch of south sometimes. This is bringing more equatorial weather our way and the humidity has increased tremendously. Whole squadrons of flying fish are heading skywards as our bow crashes into their world, the shoals parting either side of us and skimming off across the waves for a hundred metres or more each side. Lots of Sargasso like weed is floating around, light brown and rather like the wrack found on the UK coastal margins but much lighter coloured. These patches of weed endlessly circulate on the ocean currents orbiting the Azores High Pressure zone, with a larger density allegedly conglomerating in the centre. That's where the winds don't blow so we won't be checking it out any time soon:-)
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