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?

1 comment:

  1. I am rooting for you to make the cutoff and spend Easter on land. Can't wait to see photos of this place!