Terra Firma?

21APR22, Jamestown, St Helena.

We were cleared in to St Helena today! First lateral flow test yesterday afternoon and second today. The whole process was a bit of a mess with the Easter holiday weekend and 5 boats needing to be cleared in. However, it is now (finally) sorted and we have been ashore for the first time in 37 days.

It was a long 6 days sitting on the mooring, but we survived without throwing anyone overboard. We had one really rolly night, but mostly it has been ok. We have gotten most of the things on our maintenance list completed. We even managed to get permission to dive our prop one day so Daxton and Megan got in the water briefly to perform the mechanical inspection and check the anodes.

We were all excited to step ashore late this afternoon (it definitely seemed like the ground was moving). We got Ronan's phone working and had a meal out - yay, salad greens and food we didn't make. There are no credit cards or ATMs in use here so we have a tab and will need to settle that once we can get to the bank. The bank closes at 3pm and we didn't even get ashore until just after 3 and had to clear through immigration and customs before we could do anything else… so it was a busy 3 hours ashore as the last ferry boat back to the moorings was at 6pm.

Tomorrow we will start exploring and figuring out where we can get the things we need to restock…

Sitting on a mooring, waiting

16APR22, Jamestown, St Helena.

The Harbour Master came by this morning to start our paperwork and explain the new health check process. The process changed this week, but with Easter weekend it really is not significantly different for us, unfortunately.

Instead of doing a PCR test (only given on Thursdays), crew will now do 2 lateral flow tests, given at least 24 hours apart. Oh, and by the way, the process isn't entirely finalized by the Health Minister just yet, so there may be some hiccups along the way. At least we aren't alone, there will be at least 3 other boats that will get to "test" the new process with us next week.

With it being Easter weekend the first chance to take the test is Tuesday and the second test could potentially be on Wednesday. So best case, we can go ashore on Wednesday or Thursday rather than having to wait until Thursday or Friday which would have been the case with the old process. Basically a day sooner than we had originally expected, but not as soon as we had hoped from yesterday's radio call.

It's a bit disappointing - well, the kids, especially Ronan (remember that broken phone that needs to be connected to the internet that he has?), are extremely disappointed. However, those are the rules, so that is what we will all work through.

We still have plenty of food, drink and water. We have plenty of chores to do to keep us busy as well. We are looking forward to being checked in and able to go ashore. We are just a bit unlucky to have arrived during a long holiday weekend (Good Friday and Easter Monday are observed holidays with everything closed). Hopefully things will go smoothly and it won't be too painful to exercise this new process.

Day 31, Arrival in St Helena

1000Z 15APR22, Day 31, Falkland Islands to St Helena. We are secured on a mooring in the visitor mooring field in Jamestown, St Helena. Yesterday was yet another nice weather day. It is something to be back to mid latitudes - so many nice, warm (hot) days.

Current Position: 15 56S / 005 44W
23 hour progress: 128nm, 5.6kts avg SOG, about 1 hour on the engine.

3,949 nautical miles sailed
30 days, 23 hours
5.3 knots average speed over ground
71.1 hours of engine time
1 birthday
2 whales spotted
1 small, skip jack tuna, caught, landed and eaten
Major Casualties: Watt&Sea Hydrogenerator - stopped spinning properly, replacement ordered and on its way to St Helena, propeller issue (likely needs greasing, not feathering / unfeathering properly) [The list of things needed to be fixed/maintained/completed includes more things, but these are the major issues of the passage.]

We made it! It took a 10.5 hour tack to the south, but we sailed it in for a morning arrival. Yesterday's tack south worked out nearly perfectly. We were able to shoot south in the daylight with the slightly less favorable winds (a bit more E than ESE) and current. Then, before sunset, we tacked back towards St Helena needing to make a 040T course over ground. The winds moved to the ESE and we sailed as close hauled as we go and pinched up a little more and made the course. Additionally the tack south ensured we arrived at St Helena in the daylight hours this morning. Pretty much went to plan and all that we were looking for. And we sailed it. No "cheating" with the engine.

The winds did pick up, as forecast, over night. We ended up with winds over 25kts, 3 reefs in the main while reefing the genoa in and out to manage the conditions. That was the first time in about the last week or 10 days or so since we have had that much wind. (At least that's how we remember it, might be a bit off.) It made for a busy last night as we made sail changes and prepped for landfall.

Most of the night was sailed under a bright moon-lit sky. A few short hours after the moon set, the sunrise treated us to a red sky and our first view of the silhouette of St Helena. Jon got to quietly enjoy the view for over an hour before anyone else arose.

As we approached St Helena the winds and waves picked up. We were flying along (7+ kts) and finally riding a favorable current. It is a bit stressful to be sailing fast and hard while watching land approach when you haven't seen any for a month. It made us all a bit cranky and anxious as we entered the shallower water with building waves. The wind sort of wrapped around the south end of the island which had us falling off and adjusting course. Wow, land and not sailing super close hauled!

As we passed by the southwestern end of the island the winds further accelerated and then suddenly died before later switching direction completely. We turned on the engine, rolled up the sails and made for the mooring field. We quickly scanned the other boats sitting, swaying and bobbing trying to pick a "good" mooring. St Helena is known to be a swelly place so we tried to pick well. There was another sailboat arriving about the same time as us, as well, a few minutes behind.

We scoped out a mooring, did a quick pass and looped back around. We caught the mooring as we came alongside it. It was not the easiest to loop lines through owing to its large diameter. We ended up lassoing it, bringing it to our stern, securing the lines and then walking it back to our bow. All done and dusted before 10am. Sweet.

We followed that up with bacon, eggs and champagne. We have since had a midday radio call from the Harbour Master. He will be by to check us in along with the other boat tomorrow morning. It sounds as though their COVID protocols have changed this week. So perhaps (perhaps!), with verification that we have been at sea for x number of days we will be cleared in. That is unexpected (and not a done deal yet). We were all excited for this happy news. In the meantime we have played spades, tidied up the boat a little and taken naps. Plenty more to do, but we are excited to explore a new place.

For sea life spotting, we were escorted in by boobies - masked and brown, tropic birds and noddies - blacks and browns. They all seemed so small after the albatrosses and giant petrels.

For boats, there seem to be about a dozen of us in the mooring field. We spotted teenagers! Which is exciting. New people for adults and kids. The boys aren't interested for the moment, but we will see how quickly that changes.

Day 30, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 14APR22, Day 30, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was very humid. We all felt hot and sticky. It was largely overcast and just felt uncomfortably warm. It probably didn't help that there was a period of time without wind - so no cooling breeze. We are all looking forward to being able to swim!

Current Position: 16 23S / 006 54W
24 hour progress: 125nm, 5.2kts avg SOG, about 7 hours on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,821nm, approximately 75nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena (but we are currently headed south while St Helena lies to the ENE).

Most of the last 24 hours have been more good progress in mostly the right direction. We were still being set almost 10deg by the current. Our current charts suggest that will finally go away later today.

We pinched up even closer to the wind. This is slower and meant our sails were super tight. It seemed to help a little, but we still couldn't quite make the desired course.

We had a period of hardly any wind yesterday. We took advantage of it and motored east. Even as the winds did come back up we motored for a little extra while - motor sailing allowed us to get a little closer to the wind than we would have been without the engine. It was still shy of the necessary course.

So with all of this "not quite enough" talk, this morning has found as tacking south. The morning search for a wind hole (i.e. an excuse to run the engine!) didn't pan out so southward we have started. We will go south until St Helena lies to the NE (plus a little bit of extra N for good measure) and then tack back to our previous course.

We will see what the day brings. This last part of the trip has been a bit frustrating, but we will get there. Just a few more challenges to go first. At this point, we anticipate an early morning Friday arrival.

Over the last week or so, we have occasionally seen jellyfish sailing on the surface. The creatures look like a clear plastic bubble above the surface with blue and pink highlights. Initially, they looked like discarded plastic packaging material. When they got closer, it became apparent that they were a jellyfish that is inflating part of their body to seemingly sail along the surface. Rather ingenious and quite beautiful.

We did fish yesterday, but didn't catch anything. Guess we will have to try our luck again on the next leg of the journey.

We are now close to St Helena, but still aren't seeing any sea life other than flying fish. Maybe today. Some dolphins or whales would be greatly welcomed.

Day 29, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 13APR22, Day 29, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday and today have both started off cloudy and gray with rain clouds around and the accompanying highly variable winds. Yesterday did turn into a pleasant afternoon with sun, semi-consistent winds and good boat speeds.

Current Position: 17 35S / 008 20W
24 hour progress: 132nm, 5.5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 3,696nm, approximately 180nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena.

The last 24 hours have been good progress in mostly the right direction. But it is a bit too little, too late. We are continuing to look at landfall on Thursday night or Friday morning. We are now hoping for a daylight arrival but that seems a bit unlikely as we have to keep up a rather high average speed in the correct direction to make daylight on Thursday or slow way down for Friday morning. The curse of nearly equal day and night times. We shall see and as always do the best with whatever we get.

The winds are supposed to lighten today so maybe that makes slowing down easy. But the winds are supposed to be fresher on Friday so being done and secured to the mooring before they come up also sounds appealing. The good news is that the moon is nearly full and already up at sunset until about 2:30 or 3:00am so that at least helps with some visibility in the mooring field. Of course, Mr Murphy may coordinate with Poseidon leaving us to arrive in the truly dark hours between 2:30 - 5:30am or with the sky clouded over.

Over the course of the day the winds were up and down so we reefed the main and then shook out the reefs repeatedly which kept us busy. They leveled out in the evening and over night giving a little respite. Then they were back to quite variable this morning continuing the work of reefing and then shaking out the reefs. Back and forth. Rinse and repeat.

We have done ok on course over the last 24 hours. We are just staying as tight to the wind as we can and taking whatever course that happens to be. The early morning saw us making a bit of extra easting which was very welcome. The other complication is that we do have some current working against us. Our heading would be on course and giving us extra easting but our actual COG (course over ground) is 10 degrees or so west leaving us just on course to St Helena, sometimes a bit better and often a bit under. It's just another element that seems to be working a bit against us this passage.

We have had a couple of good talks aboard and we are now all looking forward to landfall. It has been agreed that while we are disappointed that we didn't reach the goal of arrival before the test, we are still all happier that we tried and came up short than not having tried at all. Spirits are rebounding and we are making plans for hanging out together on a mooring for Easter weekend.

We did not fish yesterday. We decided it was a bit sporty with the higher winds, higher speeds and running close hauled. The line is back in the water today.

We saw 2 whales!!! Ronan spotted the fins close to the boat while he was on watch. We don't know what kind they were. Both whales were relatively small and dark colored with hooked dorsal fins. They were staying on or near the surface and not blowing much into the air. Whatever species they were, it was exciting for all of us to get a quick look at them.

Still no birds. The number of flying fishes remains low but occasionally we are seeing groupings - which are called a glide when flying above the water (and a school when in the water). Also, we learned that a group of penguins is called a waddle on land and a raft in the water. (We wonder if they are called a pod when porpoising above the water? Or a glide as well? And if they are standing on an iceberg, and the iceberg is floating north, and there are orcas in the water, are they a waddle on an iceberg life raft or a raft that should waddle??? Queue "Fox in Socks".)

Day 28, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 12APR22, Day 28, Falkland Islands to St Helena. 4 weeks at sea! Yesterday was sunny and warm yet again. We sailed hard, and made good progress but not entirely in the right direction. We navigated rain clouds again early this morning.

Current Position: 19 15S / 009 42W
24 hour progress: 133nm, 5.5kts avg SOG, about 1.5 hours on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,564nm, approximately 302nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena. Week 4 stats: 830nm actually sailed in the week which knocked off about 613nm of the great circle course. We ran the engine for almost 20h.

Yesterday we had good winds and good average speeds. However, we did not make the progress to St Helena that we need. We had hoped to get some easting, but in the end we got very little. Most of our progress was due north. So it goes.

Over the course of the day the winds were up and down so we reefed the main and then shook out reefs which kept us busy.

Sunrise showed a very ominous, gray horizon. We found ourselves navigating some rain clouds, yet again. We were able to sail decently with one reef in the main, but then the wind died in the middle of the clouds. We used the engine for about an hour and a half to navigate the local cell, make a little water and try to gain a tiny bit of east.

The mood aboard is a bit subdued as we were really hoping and trying for a Thursday morning arrival so that we would hopefully be able to go ashore over the Easter weekend. Current regulations for St Helena require that we take a COVID test (and pass) before we can be cleared to enter. The tests are only given on Thursdays at 1300.

We have quietly pushed for half the passage trying to make this deadline. It has looked possible to unlikely and back to possible again for the past 2 weeks. We have remained hopeful and sailed hard. But progress this past week was not great and we are looking likely to come up a bit short. It's not like we have been pushing like a race boat or taking added risks, but we haven't been sailing leisurely or quite as comfortably as we might.

Earlier this week, we decided to forgo making more easting when the winds were coming directly from St Helena. The thought was that we could make it with a direct course now - that "cut the corner" comment - but we are finding there is absolutely no corner to cut! The winds are not from the ESE as was forecasted. They are from the E and that just isn't enough for us to make the required course. (And we aren't going to tack now as that course would be due S and not exactly helpful!)

We are as close hauled as we can be and it looks like our current course will leave us west of St Helena. We will have to motor or motor sail to get some more east in all likelihood. We will keep at it and see what we get. We are currently expecting to make landfall late Thursday or early Friday.

There isn't any pressing reason we need to be ashore for Easter, and we wouldn't have changed our departure date from the Falklands as that was guided by the weather. We were never sailing to a schedule, but a goal evolved as the possibility was sighted. With short trips, one can usually time the departure to ensure a daylight arrival. Passages over a few days become increasingly difficult to schedule for the arrival hour as the winds often don't exactly match the forecasts. Once a passage gets long enough, it becomes hard to predict the arrival day from the start as weather forecasts rapidly loose their accuracy after about 3-5 days out. In protected waters and over limited distances, one can choose to motor in order to meet a schedule, but for long, open ocean passages, this just isn't viable for most sailing vessels. We always expected this to be a 30-day passage, give or take a few days, and we always expected that Mr Murphy would prevail and we would probably just miss the Thursday test no matter what day we departed.

In other news, we caught a fish yesterday! Actually 2, but alas, they were just flying fish that jumped aboard over night and have been retuned to the sea. We did have the fishing line in most of the day yesterday. It was reeled back in when we were making 6+ kts with 2 reefs in the main. We deemed that a bit too much to deal with a fish while beating and bashing along close hauled. But it was back out again later. Still no bites. Apparently we have lost our fishing mojo (or the seas have been over fished).

Still no birds. The number of flying fishes has been gradually increasing. However, we still aren't seeing large groups of them just yet. What do you call three or more flying fish that are in flight? A school? A flock? A sortie? A flight? A kamikaze?

Day 27, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 11APR22, Day 27, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was sunny and warm yet again. It was another relaxing, slower day. We navigated rain clouds in the late afternoon yesterday and early this morning.

Current Position: 21 16S / 010 15W
24 hour progress: 107nm, 4.5kts avg SOG, about 1 hour on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,431nm, approximately 411nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena.

Yesterday we made slow progress throughout the day. Our course was decent, but the winds were light keeping our speeds a bit low. In the afternoon the winds dropped below 5kts again and our boat speed below 2kts. Additionally, there were rain clouds on the horizon. So we turned on the engine to navigate the light winds that we expected to become shifty and variable around the storm cells. After we were largely through the rain clouds the winds were back to around 10kts, so we secured the engine again and returned to the peaceful slow sailing, making around 4kts.

The night time hours saw the winds come up for a short while and we put a reef in the main which we then shook back out a couple of hours later. We sailed as close hauled as we could and took what course we got, which was often pretty good.

In the daylight hours this morning the winds had built to around 10-15kts. We found ourselves navigating some more rain clouds. Because the winds had built a little, we didn't encounter the no wind holes we had been experiencing. Rather the winds were variable and shifted around near the storm cells so this saw us sailing at variable speeds on a bit of a winding course as well.

We will see how the day shapes up, but we expect today to have higher winds (15-20kts) and thus higher boat speeds, hopefully with a good course to St Helena. Reality may differ.

Yesterday we made our last clock change before St Helena. We are now on St Helena time (UTC) with the sun setting a little after 6pm and rising just before 6am.

We enjoyed pizza in the calmer weather yesterday afternoon. Megan is finding sourdough in the heat a bit of a new challenge. She will figure out a rhythm; in the meantime the experiment continues and the loaves are very edible. We also broke out the cribbage board and have started playing different pairings.

We have had a few ships pass by. Mostly cargo ships headed for Singapore. In the morning yesterday, a ship passed about 9nm astern of us. We were impressed that we could clearly see his white superstructure and bow in the sunlight. We also watched to see if he disappeared over the horizon at around 12nm. He did. The world is still round. Whew. We also had a ship pass about 5nm behind us over night. And a couple more that we could see on the AIS but were too far away to see with our eyes.

We had the fishing line in all day again yesterday without a bite. No luck with the cedar plug. We are back to the squid again today.

Still no birds and still only occasional flying fishes. Speaking of flying fish, we had one hit our windshield last night at a watch turnover. We both heard a strange thud and couldn't locate a cause. We figured it was probably a flying fish. This morning in the sunlight there was a distinctive smear and fish scales on the pilot house window. Seems the poor guy took a hit before flipping back into the sea.

Day 26, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 10APR22, Day 26, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was sunny and warm. We had a relaxing and uneventful day.

Current Position: 22 55S / 010 51W
24 hour progress: 106nm, 4.4kts avg SOG, about 10 hours on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,324nm, approximately 508nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena.

Yesterday we ended up using the engine a bit. First, in the morning, we took advantage of the light winds and slower boat speeds to motor sail for a few hours and recharge the batteries. As we can sail in 8-10 knots of wind and the engine is noisy we secured the engine after a while to return to sailing - full sails, close hauled, heading N.

By late afternoon our wind speeds dropped to 5kts and our boat speed was less than 2kts. This isn't very comfortable as one bobs around, the sails flap, and potentially the boat loses steerage. So, the engine came back on for another, longer period and we motored straight towards St Helena. Before midnight the winds seemed to be steadily back in the 8-10 knot range so we secured the engine. We sailed along, slowly sometimes, with about 6 or 7 kts of wind. But we kept at it, as it is so much more peaceful and easier to sleep without the noise. Plus our batteries were back to 100%.

We seem to now have the wind direction to point to and stay pointed to St Helena. Yay! This means we are on the home stretch and most of our miles should now be direct. We are hoping the winds fill in a bit and give us a steady 10-15kts of wind speed. It seems like we might get to such a point this morning or by later today. Time will tell. This morning the winds are still variable, but mostly in the 8-10kts range. We're close hauled again/still and have been under full sails except for when we furled the genoa to motor direct.

For sunset last night, we were treated to a painted sky with a fantastic range of colors. It started out with brilliant oranges and developed everything in the rainbow reds to yellows to purples. Not something that seemed to photograph well, but something to experience and watch as it slowly evolved over time.

We had the fishing line in all day again yesterday without a bite. No luck with the pink squid. There has been no pressure to put the line in this morning. Maybe we will try or maybe we will give it a rest day as our speeds are a bit slow still.

Still no birds and still only occasional flying fishes. Wondering if we will start to see more sea life as we are nearly within 500nm of St Helena now.

Day 25, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 09APR22, Day 25, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Well, yesterday sure went a bit differently than expected! It was a bit of a busy day and our course is a strange squiggle reflecting our efforts. We had sun for the morning and then we found ourselves negotiating rain clouds when things got interesting. Then it all returned back to normal / as expected.

Current Position: 24 27S / 011 32W
24 hour progress: 116nm, 4.8kts avg SOG, about 1 hour on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,218nm, approximately 605nm left to go via a direct line to St Helena.

Yesterday morning saw us sailing with a bit more wind than expected. We put a reef in the main and were making a NW course (St Helena lies to the NE). Then around midday a second reef went in. Then we saw we would be heading into some large rain clouds and reefed the genoa. In the middle of the rain clouds, the winds shifted and we tacked to get a better course and put the full genoa back out. For a short while, we were even on course directly for St Helena, and we weren't even close hauled! There was absolutely nothing in the forecast suggesting that this would happen. We shook out the 2nd reef as the winds came down. Then the winds died out nearly completely and we put on the engine to negotiate the confused seas and shifting winds. After about an hour on the engine, we were back to sunny skies and everything filled back in as it was. We secured the engine and tried our luck on a port tack heading east.

As we prefer the port tack to cook, we stayed heading east through dinner. At this point the wind was back to coming from where we want to go and neither tack was a good choice. Sailboats cannot sail directly into the wind. After dinner, we decided to tack back to starboard. We trimmed the sails as tight to the wind as possible and shook out the last reef in the main. The winds were light over night and our course was slow and largely NW.

Another problem with less winds is that this really ensures that we can't go to windward. There is quite a large swath of unavailable headings. We found ourselves about 85deg off of the true wind direction which at higher wind speeds would be a reach; however, we were sailing as close hauled to the wind as we could go (50 deg apparent wind).

We would, very much, like the winds to move more to the E and then ESE and to fill in to 15kts or so rather than the 8-10kts that we are getting - as they are forecast to do. For now, we wait. We wait for the winds to move and our course to improve. This will be gradual and take at least half a day, probably longer. Then we wait to get a bit more wind which may not be until tomorrow.

As yesterday was rather busy with all the sail and course changes, we are actually enjoying the slower start to today. We will probably have to turn on the engine at least for a bit to recharge batteries again. We also have some random work to do around the boat that is easier at slower speeds and in calm seas.

If this post seems to be complaining, it definitely isn't all bad, just a little frustrating. We are all anticipating the home stretch but have to wait a bit longer still for it to arrive. The sunsets, sunrises, moon rises, moon sets, rainbows, moon bows, sunny warm days and incredibly starry night skies are all beautiful reminders of the wonders all around us that are there to be enjoyed when we slow down and take a look around.

We had the fishing line in all day again yesterday without a bite. No luck with the pink squid, but trying him again today anyway.

Almost no birds (we saw 1 for a short minute) and still only occasional flying fishes. A little more trash spotted yesterday including some plastic thing that looked a bit like a turtle shell, but clearly was not.

Day 24, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 08APR22, Day 24, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Ground hog day. Still sunny, still warm / hot, still nice sailing, still close hauled, still not quite headed directly towards our destination.

Current Position: 25 48S / 011 08W
24 hour progress: 127nm, 5.3kts avg SOG, about 3 hours on the engine. Overall progress for the passage is 3,102nm, approximately 664nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

The daylight hours saw us sailing with the full main and a full genoa as tight to the wind as we could get (again). We reefed down a bit at sunset, then shook out a reef and then the winds died and we motored sailed / motored for a few hours. Our couple of days with better progress than expected probably ended at the point. We were back to sailing before midnight, but mostly east.

We are now facing a couple of days with the wind likely coming directly from where we want to go with no great choice for a heading. Since we can't sail directly into the wind, we continued east for a while. Sunrise saw us tack and shift everything back to the left as we made the decision to turn north. This (hopefully) will allow us some ability to go direct to St Helena to "cut the corner" when the winds move to the east in a couple of days, rather than heading so far east that all we have left is north to go. It's a plan. Might be the right one, might not be. It could have been our final tack of the passage. Or we may have to tack back and forth a bit. Time will tell.

We had the fishing line in all day yesterday without a bite. The cedar plug was not any more (or less) effective than the pink squid. Daxton has decided to try our luck with our pink squid lure again. Hopefully we will get back to our successful fishing average soon.

We are starting to see flying fish regularly. The boys have had random sightings, but then we have gone long periods without seeing any more. Still no birds and still seeing trash. Yesterday, it was a basket, another bottle and a couple of groups of lines with weeds around them.

Day 23, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 07APR22, Day 23, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday the weather was mostly sunny with high, puffy clouds. It is warm (hot really as we have been in cold climes for so long). We are outside a lot and have been keeping the door open all day and night.

Current Position: 26 23S / 012 39W
24 hour progress: 120nm, 5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,975nm, approximately 729nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

Yesterday, we enjoyed another pleasant sailing day. Progress was closer to our desired course than expected giving us good distance made good to St Helena for the day. This makes us happy as we all calculate potential days left to landfall on a regular basis—Ronan is obsessed.

The daylight hours saw us sailing with the full main and a full genoa as tight to the wind as we could get (yet again). The seas are quite calm and the ride is fairly comfortable, though heeled over. The port tack is easier to cook in the galley so that also improves morale. Additionally our port tack sails better, we get a little closer to the wind and sail a little faster. It is a funny phenomenon that gives us something to ponder as to why it is that way.

Yesterday saw us take on the project of doing a deep dive into our fruit and produce bins. We tossed overboard any bad food and found what needed to be quickly eaten. We had an onion mold and make quite a mess, but didn't loose a whole lot else. We are doing pretty well and have a bit of fruit left plus some vegetables; however, we are getting excited for some greens and a nice big salad!

Of course, while we were working through this project we went through a cloud with a bunch of rain. Not exactly the best way to clean and dry fruit and vegetables outside! After some inside / outside shuffling we got it all sorted out and started dinner preparations. The plan was to put a reef in the main to level out a bit for dinner, but then (as is typical) the wind picked up and we ended up putting in 2 reefs.

After a yummy chicken curry dinner, the higher winds had subsided and we shook one reef back out. We were even making a direct course to St Helena for a short while.

The winds were quite low over night and our batteries were also quite low as our refrigerator has needed to work a lot harder in the warmer water (the refrigerant is water cooled after circulating through the cold plate). So after a couple of nice, quiet, smooth sailing night watches, we finally turned on the engine to recharge a bit. This augmented the lighter winds and we motor sailed for about 3 hours boosting our speeds a knot or so over what they would have been. Then we secured the engine to enjoy the sunrise in quiet again.

We had the fishing line in all day yesterday with no bites. Daxton finds this incredibly disappointing. We will try again today. There is talk of changing out lures from our squid to a cedar plug. On average, we only catch one fish for every 2 days of fishing on passage.

No more birds! We saw one petrel come by for a very short while yesterday and that was it. Just vast expanses of sea, sky and clouds to observe and let one's mind wander. We are, unfortunately, starting to see some trash in the water. Yesterday, it was a bucket, a tray and a bottle.

Day 22, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 06APR22, Day 22, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday the weather was mostly cloudy with only occasional sun. We did get a bit of rain but not enough to remove the layer of salt on the boat.

Current Position: 27 20S / 014 35W
24 hour progress: 121nm, 5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,855nm, approximately 836nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

Yesterday we had a pleasant sail for the day. Progress was ok, not exactly the direction we would like, but boat speeds were good and the ride was comfortable enough. The daylight hours saw us sailing with 1 reef in the main and a full genoa as tight to the wind as we could get. Truth be told, we were all getting a bit sick of being heeled over so much! 4 days on a starboard tack, more than a day close hauled, and everything moving to the left side of the boat was all taking a toll.

In the late afternoon, we were in the midst of pulling everything out of the refrigerator in search of a wayward pork tenderloin, when the winds began to build a bit. We are convinced that there is some cosmic entity that sits at a wind/sea switch waiting to turn it up whenever we want to prepare a meal. It doesn't really matter what time of day, just that we are committed to more complex food preparation. In any case, we added a 2nd reef to the main to level things out a little and got on with the messy search. The tenderloin was eventually located hiding exactly where it was supposed to be in the meat box near the cold plate at the top of the refrigerator.

Then after dinner, the excitement continued. Did we dare to say that the forecasts suggested winds less than 20kts for the rest of the trip? What were we thinking?!? You should never tempt Poseidon (or Neptune) like that! After dinner was mostly consumed (Daxton kept eating for quite a while as he nearly devoured an entire tenderloin on his own) the wind speeds came up to around 30kts and became very gusty. We ended up back to 3 reefs in the main and switched to the stay sail. It was slow, but more comfortable close hauled in the stronger winds as the seas also began to build. Then, as if this wasn't all interesting enough on its own, the winds shifted more towards the north meaning that our northern course now had quite a bit of west and not so much north. Time to tack! At least it is easy on the stay sail. We were also happy to change the heel (lean) of Zephyros to the other side - even if that meant a bit of time spent re-securing numerous things as we now shifted everything back from left to right (again).

Over the course of the night we rolled the stay sail back in and switched back to the genoa and gradually shook out reefs from the main. We closed out day 22, back at 1 reef in the main and a full genoa with a course that is east with a nice touch of north. It's actually a bit better course than we had expected. We shall see how long it holds.

We had the fishing line in for a few minutes yesterday, but Daxton deemed it the wrong point of sail and a bit too rough so the line was quickly retrieved without a fish. We shall try our luck today as the fishing line is already deployed this morning.

We continued to watch our petrel friends. There were about 5 of them that continued to follow us. We don't think they are the giant petrel or at least not the southern (Chilean) version. They have a white facial mark. Sometimes they land in the path of our boat, wait for us to pass and then start soaring around again. Yesterday two were in the water and we passed close by as one was eating what appeared to be a squid.

Day 21, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 05APR22, Day 21, Falkland Islands to St Helena. 3 weeks at sea! Yesterday the weather was sunny for a while in the morning and then was mostly gray with high clouds for the rest of the day. Air and sea temperatures are very pleasant - 77F/25C and 72F/22C respectively - making us all quite warm.

Current Position: 28 30S / 015 19W
24 hour progress: 129nm, 5.4kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,734nm, approximately 915nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena. Week 3 stats: 923nm actually sailed in the week which knocked off about 847nm of the great circle course. We ran the engine for 16h.

We made good progress again yesterday. Our course stayed pretty close to rhumb line for more of the day than expected. We are now heading north which is the best we can do with easterly winds. It looks like the next few days have the wind coming more or less from where we want to go. So we will have to figure out how to try to keep making forward progress with whatever we get. The forecasts also show that we are likely to have 20kts of wind or less for the rest of the trip. So at least the headwinds aren't too strong.

We sailed the whole 24 hours about as tight to the wind as we could go (again). We started the day with 3 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa. As the day went on the winds lightened and we shook out reefs gradually. We now have only 1 reef left in the main and a full genoa. The winds lightening meant that we didn't sail quite as hard, and we are all feeling a little less worn out this morning.

After sailing for 3 weeks with the wind and waves often forward of the beam, the boat is now encrusted with a layer of salt. This has been amplified by the decreasing rain and increasing temperatures. The outside of the boat is now a salt lick, and your hands are covered in salt whenever you go out to work on deck. Anyone interested in forming the Roaring Forties Salt Company? Instead of selling sea salt by vintage year, we could sell it by the latitude at which it was collected. Probably not the most profitable way to use a tanker ship. Oh well, it works for our pasta.

We are all starting to think about landfall even though it is still more than a week away. Just another thing to ponder with one's time at sea.

Bird numbers are still low, mostly just the petrels again yesterday.

Day 20, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 04APR22, Day 20, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday the weather was mostly cloudy with only short portions of sun. The boat is getting quite warm and we've continued to sail hard.

Current Position: 30 28S / 016 06W
24 hour progress: 162nm, 6.75kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,605nm, approximately 1,034nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena. 2/3 of the way done, 1/3 to go!

We had another great mileage day, straight to St Helena. However, we are all a bit worn out from the bouncing and heeling. It is a lot of work trying to get anything done on the boat like make food. We have been sailing with 3 reefs in the main and 1 or 2 in the genoa, and have moved closer to the wind from a beam reach to a close reach. The winds have largely been 25kts +/- 5kts.

The cats are now seeking out cooler places to lay despite the moving boat that inherently makes them want to park themselves deep in the blankets and cupboards of the aft cabins. They need to shed their manes and winter coats, but that will take a little time. Until then, we are finding them splayed out on the cabin floors in inconvenient spots as we move around.

The batteries are back to 100% charge so we should remain in good shape for awhile. Nike keeps working hard while the rest of us pretty much just hold on as we continue to plow along.

We are very happy with the amazingly straight line, fast progress towards St Helena. However, we expect that this kind of progress will change today as the winds move more towards the east. We will then be close hauled (again) and going as close to the rhumb line course as we can manage (again). Eventually the winds will die off as well, but this may be another day or two away.

Bird numbers are still low, mostly just petrels yesterday.

Day 19, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 03APR22, Day 19, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday the weather was a mix of sun and high clouds. It is definitely warmer and we've been sailing hard.

Current Position: 32 40S / 017 53W
24 hour progress: 151nm, 6.3kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,443nm, approximately 1,195nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

We had a great mileage day and just about all the miles sailed were progress along the rhumb line. Zephyros is in her best element plowing along on a reach with 20-30kts of wind and moderate seas. The winds built up over the course of the day giving us our top speeds over the last half of the day. However, the seas have not really followed suit and remain moderate (at least so far). This allows us to continue to hold on as the freight train plows ahead.

The batteries have remained at higher charge for the past day and a half so we haven't had to worry about them or think about supplementing with the engine. Nike is still in charge of steering and doing an excellent job. At these speeds Watt&Sea is producing, we have good wind through the wind generator and we got some sun for a good part of the day yesterday. We expect things will remain in good shape for at least the next day or two.

We have seen more ships. A very large cargo ship (probably carrying ore) passed about 2nm in front of us yesterday morning and a couple more ships could be seen on the AIS, though they remained too far away to be seen by our eyes. It seems we crossed over some shipping lanes that lead around Cape Hope, probably to/from Northern Argentina, Uruguay and maybe Brazil. Curiously, all the traffic has been east bound.

Bird numbers are still low. We saw just a couple of giant petrels and a prion or two yesterday.

Day 18, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 02APR22, Day 18, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was a mixed bag of weather. We sailed out of the cloudless, sun-filled skies and found ourselves under cloud cover. Then came rain and some more wind. It did clear up again by the end of the day and we enjoyed another clear, starry night. We even saw the elusive green flash at sunset.

Current Position: 34 40S / 019 39W
24 hour progress: 138nm, 5.8kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,292nm, approximately 1,344nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

We had a good mileage day and made nice progress along the rhumb line as well. Days where we have good progress towards the end point always lift spirits aboard. We expect to stay on a starboard tack for a couple of days. This tack has been voted better for sleeping and keeping things behind the seat backs secure. But it is less favorable for cooking. At least it should be a reach of some sort and we all like reaching as Zephyros moves well.

We started the day sailing close hauled. Eventually we started to fall off of the wind and sailed a beam reach for a while before going about as downwind as we go on a deep broad reach. From there our course arched northward for a while. Then in the middle of the night we gybed to head a bit east of rhumb line. Over night the winds also picked up so we set 2 reefs in the main.

The fishing line went back in the water yesterday. And in the continued spirit of everything happens at once, we entered into the area of cloud cover, it started raining, the winds picked up and shifted direction, the boat speed picked up and the fishing line tripped! It was midday, we were just starting to discuss lunch and Daxton was looking longingly at the fishing line when it pulled tight. Jon was quickly at the reel. It became clear that the fish had not been hooked, but while watching our pink squid lure we could see flashes of the fish. He kept coming for the lure as Jon dragged it just behind the boat. We watched him strike the lure 3 or 4 times before we finally successfully set the hook.

Now, we want to tell a big, extravagant story about it being a marlin and piercing our big fender or something creative as an April Fool's tale; however friends of ours on a similar passage last year spun such a yarn (they had the marlin piercing fuel jugs) only to actually catch a marlin with some drama a week or so later. So, rather than tempt the fates with a tall tale that we might conjure into happening, we will say that we simply caught a nice sized tuna that was the right size for a first fish. We enjoyed some sushi and poke bowls without much left over.

With the past couple days of slow sailing, then the cloud cover and downwind sailing of yesterday, we found ourselves needing to recharge the batteries. We ran the engine for a short while giving us an extra .5kts as we motor sailed. As luck would have it, we decided to do this when the winds also decided to pick up and not during the slower progress portion of the day. Watt&Sea seems to be becoming a little harder to start to turn and downwind sailing means less wind in the wind generator as our boat speed brings down the apparent wind. Not surprisingly, the solar panels produce best on sunny days. At any rate, we are managing, but it looks like we may have to run the engine occasionally to top up power. Fortunately, there's plenty of fuel for that. Nobody likes the noise, but no one complains about having hot water at the tap for dishes or a shower.

Bird numbers are still down. We saw just a couple of giant petrels and a large albatross yesterday. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to have been a lot of sea life for us on our closest point of approach to Tristán da Cunha (which was about 400nm).

Day 17, Falkland Islands to St Helena

1030Z 01APR22, Day 17, Falkland Islands to St Helena. Yesterday was a beautiful, warm day. We made slow progress, hung out outside and even decided that we could deal with a fish…

Current Position: 36 31S / 020 58W
24 hour progress: 100nm, 4.2kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,154nm, approximately 1,472nm left to go via a great circle route to St Helena.

We spent the whole day sailing close hauled. As much as we drone on about this, it should be said that if you have to sail close hauled doing so in flat seas on a sunny day with 10-15kts of wind is the way to go!

We started the day in slightly more wind with 2 reefs in the main. By midday the winds dropped back down to about 10kts and we shook out both reefs. We then spent the rest of the day slowly sailing in light winds. It wasn't a fast day, but we enjoyed outside time and the slow pace making for a comfortable day.

Unfortunately, our course wasn't as good as we would have liked; however, as it was mostly a bit north of east, it was ok. We ended up waiting all day and half of the night for the wind direction to change and our course to improve accordingly. It finally did so very gradually, though the winds remained light. It seems like it must have been forever ago since we sailed for a whole day with full sails (and at a lazy 4kts). We went with it and avoided any temptation to turn on the engine.

We were bullied into putting the fishing line in the water (or is that an April Fool's joke?). We decided that part of what made us not want to deal with a fish was cold weather and large seas, and as the weather is now nicer it doesn't seem quite so daunting. Of course, we have limited windows of time when we are open to dealing with a fish. Any fish that wishes to come aboard has been respectively asked to arrive in advance of either lunch or dinner preparation lest the sushi not be at its peak when served. Once dinner preparation was about to be underway we pulled the line in without catching anything on fishing day one.

With little else happening, we decided it was a good afternoon to make another time zone change to our clocks. This time we have shifted to UTC -1:00 hour. Device clocks were thus set to Cape Verde. One more shift to be made before we arrive in St Helena.

It is feeling like ground hog day aboard Zephyros - but that is nothing to complain about if the day is sunny and warm with good sailing. And the cloudless days continue to provide beautiful sunsets, sunrises and starry nights. All we could ask for is a touch more wind…but just a touch.

We are now about 400nm from Tristán da Cunha. Jon really wanted to stop in there. But alas they are very much closed due to being an isolated island with a small population in a pandemic. We did see a couple of boats on AIS and a trio of Chinese fishing boats passed in formation about a mile behind us early this morning. So that was something new. They seemed to be headed for Tristán da Cunha or maybe South Africa. Maybe Tristán da Cunha sells foreign fishing permits like the Falklands?

Birds are down to just a couple of giant petrels. Hoping to see a fish on a line or at least inspiration for a good April Fool's tall tale…