30 knot thrash
06 November 2008
Welcome to Day 9. Cold wet and windy and finally storming along to the sunny Azores.
After the long windy night yesterday we woke to bright sunshine and big seas. This was the start of what looks like up to 4 days of favourable winds. We were joined by dolphins surfing down the faces of the waves; we reckon around 4 metres, then diving under and around the boat. They just seem to love playing. Dougie achieved an ambition and saw his first flying fish. Just the one but it's a start. Later, we stared passing what looked like plastic bags on the surface, Phil was first to identify them as Portuguese Men-of-War jellyfish. These nasty little buggers are dome shaped like your normal jelly and have a sail they lift out their "backs" and we swear they were tacking up wind.
All day yesterday the wind held steady in strength around 20 knots backing all day until we finally had the wind on the beam and could finally start making some good mileages. Typically, the wind built as it got dark and Phil took the first 3 hour shift from 18:00. This is Phil's second week of sailing and seems a natural hitting the trips top speed at 10.1 knots. Ian took over as it got dark and just confidently sits out in the wild night blasting along, iPod in place.
By the time it got to midnight it was pitch black and we were bowling along at 9 knots, over canvassed with a scrap of genoa and two reefs in the main (must get a third). Winds were 20/25 gusting to 30. In the 30's we'd bear off to ease the pressure resulting in this very weird sensation, or perhaps it was reality that, in the black, with no horizon, the boat seemed to be just charging downhill on a slope of 10 degrees. Really quite weird sensation.
At 03:00 the "Ah this is nuthin" ever reassuring Dougie took over and had his turn at surfing a 45foot, 13 ton boat I'd never thought would perform like it's doing. We just lack better sail management and options. It's a real shame we lost the staysail as this is what it's for.
Today should be the strongest winds. Dougie's analysis from the weather we download every day (AppliedWeather.com) is for NW 25kn which we're getting just now, maybe had as it's easing a touch. (Having just typed that, we catch a 22kn gust and fly off a wave with another crash - just like the Open 60's - gotta get us one of them) Tomorrow should see wind easing farther to 18 knots and on 13th back to WNW at 15knots. Additionally, we exit a negative current today and pick up a favourable 1/2 to 1 knot current in our favour. It's really surprising how localised these current can be; and how strong.
Fresh food is just about done but nonetheless Dougie and Phil can still conjour up mince and tatties a la Milano.
Unfortunately, it looks as if the Hydrovane (don't buy one of these folks) is coming adrift again. We'll monitor over next few hours and if it gets worse we'll have to stop the boat and remove the vane's rudder.
We really need some sunshine. The boat is quite damp; leaks in the forward cabin mean my bunk is getting positively wet. Rheumatism settling in soon. I'll maybe see if we can rig a cover over the hatch. It's just a couple of drops every minute but over a day it makes an impact.
The washing Dougie did two days ago is still lying damp in a bag and bucket unable to get dry. Desperately need a dehumidifier.