No log entry. Aquila caught up with us very quickly and were just behind us by lunchtime.
Trina got the weather and emails off the troublesome sat phone today. It’s been playing up. An ARC boat way way west of us has hit a whale and damaged their rudder, and has been taking on water! They put a pan pan out. They’re not in any danger by the sound of it, but it’s not a great place to be.
The winds have eased so today we raised the cruising chute which we have practically no experience in using. The light weight sail upped our speed from 3 knots to 5-6 knots for a while. Anything we can do to ensure we do 120 miles a day we have to try. If we average 120 miles a day we should get in for the closing party. Aquila finally disappeared before sunset. We took down the chute before nightfall as the sky was full of dark angry clouds. We got a few showers, but none of the blustery winds I was expecting.
Earlier in the day I opened a cushion in the cockpit to find a massive dead flying fish. They seem to be much bigger than the ones I saw on my last crossing. We even have a small squid on board. I introduced Trina to Black Hawk Down this evening. What a film!
5am, night shift. The star of Bethlehem (as I call it) is behind us, it’s the brightest star in the sky. Another windless day. We spent an hour in the hot sun untangling the cruising chute. We don’t know how to pack it away properly, so we made a mess of things last night and now we have to untangle it before being able to raise it. For those who don’t know what a cruising chute is, it’s a lightweight sail. It’s like a sail is in a sock with a dogs vet collar on the end of it, when you pull a rope the dog collar disappears up towards the mast along with the sock to reveal the sail, and when you pull it back down it snuffs out the sail. When we finally got it up, we only did 3 knots. We’re 25 miles off our daily target today, and tomorrow there’s even less wind. Our display for the autopilot stopped working 3 days ago, but Trina got Arthur the autopilot to work from the chartplotter, so we don’t have to hand steer whilst motoring.
Another challenge, there seems to be oil in the bilges and I think we’re drinking more fuel than usual. We’ll run the engine until 40 ltrs of fuel runs out and then wait for the wind to return on Sunday. We’ll have 80 litres left, which equates to 48 hours of motoring (or less if the engine is running rich). Normally 40 ltrs = 24 hours of motoring and I want to keep the other 40 litres for charging batteries over the next 12 days, plus a motor into St Lucia if necessary. This means that if we encounter another wind hole of more than 24 hours we’re going to miss the closing party. We figured there’s nothing we can do about that, and may as well motor now and pray for wind for the rest of the trip.
This evening we spotted dolphins, about 20 of them came to join us just after sunset while we had a bottle of wine on the bow. The horizon had a strip of tangerine orange and merged into blue. Aquila has appeared on the chart plotter again. They’re only 6nm in front of us!
Here’s some shaky video footage of the dolphins underwater.
Still no wind. We had sundowners again on the bow, with a deep orange sunset and smooth hypnotic rolling waves, like gentle hills. I cranked the stereo up and played some Fleetwood Mac, we couldn’t help but feel smug with ourselves, sat there enjoying being a small boat in a big ocean with no real cares in the world, and a beautiful vista to boot.
We’ve been motoring all day, and overtook Aquila, taking the opportunity to take some pictures. It’s 12:30am now and they’re not far behind us. There’s also a boat ahead called Pemver. They radioed up earlier to see if we had the latest weather. They’d been bobbing around, and once they heard there won’t be any wind until midday tomorrow they fired up the engine. All 3 of us are now in a convoy. Aquila, us and a Welsh couple in front. I never expected to see anyone out here, but I guess if you depart from Cape Verde then it’s pretty much a straight line to the Caribbean so you’re more likely to encounter other boats.
Foodwise we’ve been doing pretty well up until now. We ate the last of our ready made vacuum meals yesterday. We discovered our steaks have gone off, so tonight’s meal was double helpings of dauphinoise potatoes. Other casualties have been all our carrots, red peppers, and one pineapple. We have lots of cooked ham, bacon, a Spanish style cumberland sausage (which might be OK), onions, potatoes , lots of oranges and some chorizo left. We have about 13 days to go. I think we’ll have 7 days of noodles, pasta + pesto, toastados + pate, mash + beans so not all bad.
We had a bit of ‘fun’ today when I tried changing our course to intercept Aquila. Arthur the autopilot threw a fit. We had to hand steer for about an hour whilst trying to fix it. Our autopilot display no longer works and our compass course has been way off for sometime, so the boat icon on the plotter points north whilst we’re heading west. In a paddy I threw anything remotely metallic out of the nav table (the electronic compass is under the nav table) and suddenly the icon started pointing the right way. I reckon my tablet was too close to the compass. The compass should have 1m clearance from metal objects, but you try achieving that on a 30ft boat!
The wind was supposed to have arrived at 12pm but it didn’t materialise. Instead we pottered along very slowly with the cruising chute up. Aquila took off and went north, but in reality by 6pm they’d made less than a mile of westing over us. We drank €1.50 cheap fizz at sundown to more blues. The heat today has been energy sapping. The wind finally returned at 10pm. It’s 3:15am and we’re flying along. 1522 miles to go, 12.5 days left if we can start doing 120 miles a day, which equates to 5 knot average over 24 hours. As long as we have 10kts + of wind this is doable, but we can’t afford to end up in another windless hole like the one we’ve been in for the last 2 1/2 days. There was no way of avoiding the one we’ve been in though, it stretched too far and wide for us to avoid it.
Not a lot happens in the day. The most amusing thing that happened today was Trina passing up a tea bag on a spoon to throw out. I grabbed the teabag and the spoon by mistake and threw them both overboard like an idiot. It was a nice spoon too. John Lewis cream handled spoon. Basic range, but aesthetically pleasing for the price. It’ll be at least 7 months before I can restore some order to the cutlery drawer. We have just 1 John Lewis spoon left. Sad times! 🙁
A few days before that the string hammock holding 20 oranges in the cabin fell down in the middle of the night. We scrambled back and forth in the dark trying to catch the feckers as they rolled from one side of the boat to the other. I had orange rage as Trina dropped a few. Right then, at 3am those oranges were the most important thing in my life. If there’s one thing I can’t bear to see right now, it’s fruit and veg being badly mistreated.