Day 3, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 25MAY22, Day 3, Ascension Island to Grenada. It's been a bit cloudy and rainy. We have had ok winds, but it is not exactly consistent yet. The storm clouds certainly don't help.

Current Position: 06 40S / 019 19W
24 hour progress: 115nm, 4.7kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 317nm, approximately 2771nm to Grenada. We have gybed from port to starboard and back to the port tack, sailing deep downwind with the asymmetric and main at the 4th reef.

We seem to have mostly made decent speeds over the last 24 hours. We often get some extra wind before a rain cell passes and then some lighter air after it passes. Additionally the wind tends to shift directions a lot and we find our course to be changing quite a bit around the cells. It tends to settle back out as the cells pass and the wind returns. None of these rain cells have been significant or dangerous, just an extra 5kts of wind, a rain shower and inconsistent wind direction and speed.

The excitement of extra wind, a need to gybe or a fleet of fishing boats always seems to arrive at somewhat inconvenient times. Then the rain comes and windows have to be closed up making everything even hotter. Last night we had some decent wind while making dinner, as often seems to be the case. Once the wind died back a bit, our course was not especially good and we decided to gybe just before sunset (and at log entry time).

We have been doing very controlled gybes and they take some time and work to complete. We roll in the asymmetric, remove the preventer on the main, crank the main sheet in, gybe the boat, put the main back out, secure the main with the preventer for the other tack, walk the asymmetric sheet across to the other side, relaunch the chute. We have settled on this process because it keeps things controlled and keeps us from having a long lazy sheet that could get pulled loose and go under the boat. The flip side is that it takes awhile and having the asymmetric furled and up on the bow can be problematic if it doesn't roll well. If there is a bubble the wind can start to pull it loose from the middle which makes a bit of a mess of the sail and takes a bit of time to work back to furled or sailing. Thankfully we have 4 crew and we have enough hands to get it all figured out pretty quickly.

This morning there have been dark clouds and the AIS showed a vessel right on our course. As we got closer it broke out into more and more vessels, eventually showing at least 8 of them in an E-W line. All class B AISs and moving at around 2kts, clearly a fleet of fishing boats all spaced about 2-3nm apart. Amazing that they all seem to be class B with limited data (no boat size or call signs) and no class A "mothership" present. (Class A is for commercial use and large vessels, class B is for smaller boats and private use.) It isn't clear whether some of the vessels only turn their AIS broadcasts on when we get close or if the signals from many of the units are just very weak, but we seem to most often see a vessel at normal range somewhere in the middle first, and we only see the whole fleet on one of our receivers unless we get really close.

Of course, we were sailing directly toward the middle of this fishing fleet, and there was a large gray cloud between them and us. Usually the rain clouds move pretty quickly, generally with the direction of the wind. This cloud seemed to be stationary and it seemed unlikely that we wanted to sail right into the middle of the cloud or the fishing fleet. So we decided to gybe. This would allow us to keep them to the north and give us wind to maneuver. And all this just before the daily 24 hour log entry. We gybed, but it wasn't an especially clean one and the rain started coming down in sheets while we were still out on deck. On the plus side, we have all had nice showers. Once everything was sorted, we stripped off the soaked clothes, soaped up and rinsed off with the outside shower head. Easy, refreshing and not much water used!

We are adjusting to passage making and it's random bursts of activity. We continue to feel a bit tired with the heat. Megan and Daxton are in a health challenge with Skylark so that will hopefully set up a bit of a routine and burn some Daxton energy.

Last night we had 4 noddy (pronounced naughty we believe and if not, that's what we are going with as they definitely are) stowaways again. This time there seemed to be less than the previous night. They noisily fought for their resting spots, and then once that was sorted slept 2 on the solar panels and 2 on the bimini. All the while pooping and making a general mess. The good news is that we had lots of rain showers to clean up the mess in the morning when they headed out for the day. Hopefully they'll go hang out with this fishing fleet now that we've brought them this close.

Our fishing line has been in, but no bites. We are really on a fishing dry spell here! Hoping our luck will change. Maybe we just need some better boat speeds for our trolling line.

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