Day 2, St Helena to Ascension Island

0830Z 13MAY22, Day 2, St Helena to Ascension Island. Well, we aren't breaking any speed records on this passage and we are further proving we are not a boat that can put up big numbers in light air—at least with our heavy loading of the boat. However, the weather has been good overall and we are continuing to make steady progress while enjoying a comfortable sail.

Current Position: 13 17S / 008 07W
24 hour progress: 103nm, 4.3kts avg SOG, approximately 487nm to Ascension. Sailing with the asymmetric and 2 reefs in the main (reduces blocking of the asymmetric) since 2pm yesterday in about 10-15kts of wind and 1 meter seas.

Yesterday morning we began watching a line of rain clouds approaching and opted not to change back over to the asymmetric until after they passed over. The seas built a bit and we saw gusts up over 25kts which would have been a bit much for the asymmetric. We were definitely glad that we were still sailing on the poled out genoa.

The cell line passed over us around midday and then we found dead air. As is often the case, the storm cells had gathered up all the wind and we were left with less than 5kts of shifting breeze. As the sun was shining and things were calm we decided not to turn on the engine and waited to see when the air would fill back in. The breeze and our heading were all over the place. Megan claimed we were going to Africa; Jon that we were going back to Saint Helena; and then Ronan corrected us and stated that we actually weren't going anywhere at all. Another win for the literal child.

After about an hour the winds returned to the SE at around 10-15kts. We gave it a little time to make sure they weren't building further or about to die again, then put the asymmetric back up. With the chute up we added a 2nd reef back to the main to keep it from blocking the sail as we continue deep down wind. We poked along, a bit disappointed with our speed amidst the circling currents, but there isn't much to be done. Maybe we can get creative with the sail configuration?

As we were still within the EEZ of Saint Helena which we think defines the limits of the MPA, we decided not to take any science samples. However, this morning we are out of the 200nm ring around St Helena so we will be sure to get both sample types today.

Yesterday evening we gained an AIS hit for SV Dallandra. They are a sailboat also heading to Ascension. They had checked out when we did and had also planned to leave Wednesday morning. They were still on their mooring when we left, but presumably set off a few hours after us. Throughout the night we more or less maintained the same 10-14nm separation. Sometimes they gained on us, sometimes we gained separation. We tried hailing them on the radio, but they never seemed to hear us. We wonder if they even know we are here.

We have now decided to trade course for speed and are sailing less deep downwind. That has pulled us ahead and we've dropped them off the AIS. It's not a race, but as JC (a racer and our sailing instructor) says "if there are two boats, it's always a race!" It will be interesting to see if we get AIS contact again and who arrives first. (Most of our separation is lateral and not indicative of being significantly closer to Ascension.)

We are all well. We're settling into passage making, taking naps and adjusting to the watch schedule. Both boys stood their watches yesterday so everyone is decently well slept, but the dark morning hours are still difficult. We will adjust and then pretty much be there. Everyone seems to have their sea legs this round, so that's good.

We had a hitchhiker again through most of the night. The black noddy sits on our solar panels, flies off occasionally and then comes back. Are we his ticket to Ascension? He does make a poopy mess which has been cleaned up to ensure we get full solar power. Not much else around; occasionally we see flying fish.

We haven't been fishing. What's better than freshly caught fish off of your own boat? Free freshly caught fish off of someone else's boat that was gifted to you as a nice, cleaned, large chunk of yellowfin tuna - thanks Colin & Andrez! We first enjoyed poke bowls from it, then last night was tuna steaks and tonight will be a curry or maybe some fish cakes. That will be the last of that tuna, but we do have some more that we bought in town plus our fresh meat; so perhaps no fishing until after Ascension. We will see.

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