Day 18, Atlantic Crossing

1230Z 04JAN19, Day 18, Atlantic Crossing. The wind has continued to be a bit flaky. We have not been getting the consistent ENE trade winds that many others have seen already this year. Just unlucky it seems, but some years they set up earlier than others. We sailed with the main reefed up and the asymmetric for a good bit of the day, yesterday. We were watching for rain and did a good job avoiding the cells, until we got unexpectedly slammed - this time no rain, just cloud cover and very gusty winds. The cells are quite small and only last for 3-5 minutes. Afterwards we talked about putting the asymmetric back up; however, there were some more cells around and sunset was approaching. The forecast suggested that the winds would be up a bit more overnight and bringing the asymmetric in at night has its challenges so we crawled along with a single reef in the main and a full jib in 15kts of wind waiting for it to fill in. After dark, it definitely filled in and we were glad to be on the jib. We put a second reef in the main at watch change over and sailed along nicely with 2 reefs in the main, full jib, 25+kts TWS on a broad reach, making 275T COG. We got hit with another squall in the predawn hours, and saw gusts close to 40kts which is significantly higher than we had been seeing in the earlier cells. That cell and it's surrounding wind pushed us a bit north and the seas have gotten a bit bigger and more rolly. Today looks to be more scattered rain cells and lots of sun.

Current Position: 16 04.4N 052 58.5W
24 hour progress: 140nm, 5.8kts avg SOG, 2507nm total progress, approximately 475nm to go. Finally putting up decent miles again, hoping it holds.

We are fine and trying to take our progress in stride. Everyone is ready to make landfall, and just trying to make the best of the situation we are in. We have simply been unlucky with the wind. We had to go really far south at the start to try to keep the wind, but ended up in a dead zone anyway. The forecast then looked good for the rest of the trip until slowly a big dead zone just grew and grew, and again we found ourselves in it, despite our efforts to get around it. Of course, wishing for more wind is tricky business as we don't want a storm or big seas either. We want "just right" trade winds. We'll keep looking and hoping, and deal with whatever we get dealt in the end.

We have been seeing a lot of seaweed since around the middle of the Atlantic. It is small clusters of weed and in places there is quite a bit of it on the surface of the water. It gets caught on our hydro-generator and Jon clears it multiple times a day so that we keep making power. Since we started sailing again, the other day, we had noticed that our speeds seemed to be slow for the conditions that were seeing. We had started to think that we must be collecting the weed on our centerboard, rudder and dagger boards. This morning in the squall we ended up with the boat nearly stopped in the water for a few minutes (we briefly heaved to) and now our speeds are more as expected for conditions. So perhaps we did shake loose a bunch of weed that was creating significant drag!!! With speeds back up we have a third reef in the main again and are making similar speeds to what we saw with 2 reefs in before.

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