A rather gentler Atlantic tonight...
26 November 2018
We've had a rather challenging couple of days and night; fairly big seas and lots of squalls at night necessitating numerous sail changes (which also normally means getting the whole crew out of bed) which, together with the constant noise in the cabins and movement as waves hit the boat, has resulted in disrupted sleep for most of us.
For the first time in over 2 years with Offbeat we even had to eat dinner inside on Saturday night as waves crashing into the side of the boat were drenching the cockpit table and seats with sea water. Fortunately yesterday the weather started to ease and the wind dropped below 25 kts for the first time since Thursday.
We tried reverting to our downwind sail, which had been so effective on the leg to Mindelo, unfortunately just before sunset we realised that yet again the chafe problem had recurred despite our supposedly robust repair. The answer was to use the sail folded in half which minimised the rolling motion. Unfortunately this means zigzagging downwind which means sailing a longer distance and also sometimes sailing the "wrong" direction as the wind shifts direction and it takes a lot of effort to gybe when the crew is asleep. The lashings on the sail survived the night, just, but this morning we took the sail down again and after 4 hours had effected another repair by drilling holes in the thimbles to which we could attach shackles to which we could lash the sail. As I write this at sunset we seem to have cracked the problem. The sailmakers have also been communicating with us on the issue and offered to ship a new cable out to St Lucia to address the problem. We appreciate the support after a frustrating time dealing with the problem.
The good news is that we are now sailing quickly and will do our best to catch up with some of the other boats we've been sailing with. Last night we reconnected with some of the fleet, although because we were zigzagging this meant we were a bit of a pain for some of them. The first boat we came across was Porto Salgado, this is a Portuguese registered yacht but is in fact crewed by a happy group of Irishmen whom Mike and I had closed the bar with in Mindelo.
As our courses converged around midnight we could see that we were on collision course. Each boat carries an “AIS” transponder which broadcasts its position, speed and course; this means nearby boats and ships appear as icons on our chart-plotters. There are "Collision Regulations" or ColRegs determining which boat should change course to avoid the other, they were the "give way vessel". In this case it was their obligation to alter course to miss us. We called Conor's crew on the radio, VHF channel 72 ( all ARC boats are listening to this, as well as the normal channel 16). They agreed that they'd alter course and we'd keep going. 15 minutes later they passed astern and after a further call we agreed we owed them a drink in St Lucia. 3 hours later we'd gybed back and came across them again. This time is was our turn to avoid them, which we did. So now we've got 2 rounds of drinks scheduled for the arrival!
We also emailed our friends Patrik and Birgitta on their Lagoon 50, Mango, we'd noticed that after a quick start they'd appeared to drop back. It turned out that their tracker hadn't been updating, they were fine and in fact were dining on a 20kg Mahi-Mahi they'd caught that day. After a further round of emails the fish had shrunk to 10kg but still an enviable result. We haven't caught anything yet so our fresh protein stocks are getting limited!
The gentler last 24 hours means that we've also had time and the energy to sort lots of other little issues. We've fixed a problem with a sump pump for the showers on the guest hull (clogged float switch), we've done three loads of washing (yes, we have a washing machine on board), we have full tanks of fresh water so we've all had at least one shower today (it was very warm earlier) and were also able to hose down the cockpit seats, table, deck and sailbags with fresh water.
We've also been eating well on board and the baking has continued. The latest delicacy being Sarah's banana bread, complementing Lucy's regular bread and the slices of Napoleon's leg (as our large Iberico ham has been named) carved carefully by Mike, demonstrating the dexterity that befits a long career as a dentist. As the winds were light tonight we also treated ourselves to a glass of Crianza Riserva.
I'll leave you with a photo taken just as we sat down to eat tonight. It's just got dark, we are romping along 7.6kts speed in 14knots of wind and with only 1250 miles to go we should pass the halfway point across the Atlantic tomorrow. Goodnight all!