Day 3, St Helena to Ascension Island

0830Z 14MAY22, Day 3, St Helena to Ascension Island. We had a (relatively) faster day for day 3. The sailing is easy and comfortable, the weather warm and sunny, life is pretty good.

Current Position: 11 53S / 009 25W
24 hour progress: 115nm, 4.8kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 331nm, approximately 376nm to Ascension. We continued sailing downwind with the asymmetric and 2 reefs in the main (reduces blocking of the asymmetric) with 10-15kts winds and 1-2 meter seas.

Yesterday, we had a good day overall. The speeds were up a little and the wind remained stronger than forecast which was well received. The forecast suggested we would lose our steady wind. However, so far it has stayed - it occasionally seemed to be lightening, but kept returning after a bit.

We seem to keep having a bit of cloud cover in the morning and then really sunny afternoons. This is less than ideal for our solar panels on this heading, as we have the best positioning of panels in the morning and by mid to late afternoon the panels are blocked by the sails. Today is off to a better start though as we are already being beaten down with sunshine - it's already hot! W&S is working but our speeds have been a bit low for it to be the lone workhorse with a hungry refrigerator. The apparent wind is also a bit light for the wind generator. Still, it all helps.

When it came time for science sampling yesterday the wind and our speeds were still up. We turned deeper downwind again to see if that would slow things. Funny enough our speeds pretty much stayed the same. Wait, didn't we think we were trading speed for course? Maybe we need to rethink that strategy?

We decided to roll up the chute (so as not to do the plankton tow at 4-5kts) which slowed us to 2-3kts for a more appropriate and manageable towing speed. We completed the towing and water sampling and promptly got back to sailing again. The slow down was only for about 20 min or so. Progress! That's a time penalty we are quite happy to accept in order to assist with the science.

Both samples were pretty straightforward this time. The suctioning of the water through the paper worked much better. We dampened the paper with sea water and started the vacuum hand pump before pouring in the water sample (and plankton sample separately). This created an actual vacuum and far less hand pumping was required. Again our plankton was plentiful, with plankton from the sample spilling out of the paper, when folded in half. It also appeared like there was some jelly like substance. Perhaps part of a jellyfish?

The jelly substance all made the sample but we did have a little plankton left on the equipment for us to look at after the sample was stowed. We pulled out our digital usb microscope and took a closer look. They look like little shrimp and have different colored bodies. Mostly purple but some red and orange and clear. We hope the data will be useful and we wonder how many different types of things we are scooping up. The plankton were moving around under our microscope so we also wonder if they will stay alive for the scientist as we are storing them cold next to our cold plate.

We are all still well. We hit a milestone yesterday passing 30,000nm sailed aboard Zephyros! That called for a small celebration. And we expect to hit the half way point to Ascension today so that will also call for a party. Parties are typically some loud music and some kind of treat. Nothing extravagant but something a bit fun to keep things interesting and keep morale up.

No sign of our black noddy hitchhiker last night. Perhaps he has joined the crew of SV Dallandra? No AIS sign of them and they only seem to turn on their iridium for one hit a day. So we will have to wait to find out how we are doing against them. Not much else around; occasionally we see flying fish and a random bird. It's beautiful, peaceful and hot out here—at least for us well chilled penguins escaping the austral winter. Lots of sunscreen is required.

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