14 June 2018
My watch started at 06:00 this morning. Coming up to the cockpit to take over from Bernard the scene was not at all what I expected. Thick fog had appeared overnight reducing visibility to about 100 metres. Most of the time out here in the middle of the ocean that would not be a major issue, but we found ourselves in a rather popular fishing grounds. Bernard told me gleefully that there were 13 boats visible on the chart plotter; I knew he had to be joking. A quick glance to see if I had the measure of his SOH soon woke me up. There were indeed 13 fishing boats in range of our AIS (Automatic Information System) which uses VHF to transmit a range of information between ships in VHF range. As a sailing Yacht you have to give way to fishing boats as they are not easily able to manoeuvre to avoid us, and in any case we were using our engine to supplement the light wind so we rank as a motor vessel.
The photo shows the AIS âtargetsâ making this bit of the ocean look more like a dodgem track.
My 3 hour watch mostly involved threading through these vessels and making sure I kept us a safe distance away, at least 1 Nm. I couldnât see them other than on our screen so it was a tense watch with considerable concentration needed by this inexperienced watchkeeper.
Iâm writing this mid afternoon and the scene is now very different with sunshine, beautiful blue ocean and just now a few moments with shearwaters who arrived suddenly and heralded a small pod of dolphins.
Weâve been judiciously using our 350L of diesel as we cannot afford to run out with the prospect of little or no wind from here to Horta. Currently we have a modest 8 knots of wind from NNW so we can combine this with the engine to keep going in the right direction at around 5 knots. The plan is to keep relatively north of the direct route (rumb line) to Horta as any wind later is expected from a more westerly direction so we would then turn towards Horta and hope to have any wind there is on our starboard side.
We are now 370Nm from our destination and might even get there on time which had been looking improbable earlier in the passage.
Crew is all in good shape and extremely well fed. The boat has had some cleaning today as 4 people on board since leaving Gosport in 2nd June had made it grubby. Our inverter enables us to convert the 12V from the batteries into 240V so we could use the Hoover. We look shop shape smart and clean now. ðð