Day 10, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 01JUN22, Day 10, Ascension Island to Grenada. Back in the Northern Realm! We crossed the equator, uneventfully at 0714Z which was 0 dark 14 in the morning, local time. Megan was on watch and quietly requested entry to the realm. Poseidon granted return to his trusty shellbacks and we will pay him some additional thanks this afternoon.

Current Position: 00 28N(!) / 031 27W
24 hour progress: 124nm, 5.2kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 1209nm, approximately 1935nm to Grenada. We continue sailing a reach with 1-2 reefs in the main and genoa from full to 2 reefs, and back to full.

We have made steady progress. Not exactly direct, but as we stated yesterday, we are going more northerly in order to cross the doldrums before the no wind area expands. We made good progress to that end and have had more winds than forecast. So maybe we can sail across or at least limit our engine time. It appears that it will be a lot more beneficial to turn on the engine and scoot across if / when the winds die then to sail too slowly as the gap just widens and we will have to wait longer or motor longer. We remain hopeful that our plan will work out as intended.

We have had good solar, good wind and good hydro power so have been topping up water tanks and even doing a little laundry. The watermaker has definitely been a passage game changer. Especially for these long passages, but also while we stopped in St Helena and Ascension. We didn't have to worry about how to top up water or carry water jugs. So it has definitely been a worthwhile upgrade!

We tried our hand at fishing again yesterday with a new silver lure. It sits on the surface and acts like a struggling fish and even gives flashes like a fish does. It looks convincing to our people eyes and we had been hopeful that it would work. We were sitting in the shade and breeze in the cockpit when we heard the line go. Then we looked to see if there was a fish. Interestingly no fish and no sign of our lure either. We pulled the line in to discover that our swivel attaching the leader had broken off—the steel wire clasp was gone. Bummer. Our new shiny lure is now a badge of honor in Poseidon's Southern realm. Clearly it was a very BIG fish and it gets bigger every time Jon tells the tale. We are at something like 800lbs now. We replaced our swivel and switched to a silver squid lure. It wasn't quick, but we got a line back in the water. Daxton had high hopes of us catching the same fish with the lure in its mouth. But no such luck. We will have to hope that Kelper catches it when they pass through!

In the evening we put a second reef into the main to ease dinner preparations and for more comfortable overnight sailing. It turned out to be the right call as the winds soon started to build. We finessed the course and speed. We dealt with gusts by adding and removing reefs in the genoa as needed.

In the early morning our autopilot had a strange hiccup. There seems to be a loose wire or sporadic input. Megan was on watch and heard an unfamiliar beeping that she went to investigate. Then the boat gently turned 180 degrees. When Megan went to correct Nike (autopilot), she was unresponsive; so she was rebooted. Jon came up and we worked together to release the back winded genoa, regain speed and steerage and tack back to course. After that a keen eye was kept on Nike. We did get a couple of "missing sensor" errors, but it didn't say which sensor was "missing" and when we cleared the error all inputs were seemingly there. We are now babysitting Nike closely as she has tested our trust a bit; but we are also saying nice, encouraging words as we have a long way to go and don't want to hand steer the rest of the way. So far it all seems to be back to normal. Maybe she was hot and bothered too, or maybe she just wanted to stay in the Southern Realm.

Shortly after the fun with Nike, Megan was back to solo, early morning watch standing as we crossed over the equator. It was uneventful and we sailed easily across the great line.

We have seen a decent amount of shipping. Lots of ships with interesting names - Baby Cassiopeia, Premio de Brasil, Ultra Cougar, Bow Chain. Clearly we are running across the Brazil to Europe shipping lanes, as expected. AIS makes this easy and the closest ship was Premio de Brasil last night. She passed about 3nm astern and we had good visibility to her in the dark.

Nothing else too exciting aboard. A small party and toast to Poseidon is planned for midday activities as there were no wogs this passage. Maybe drinking some Navy strength gin with Poseidon (the Greek god, not our cat!) will turn our fishing luck around?

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