Day 15, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 06JUN22, Day 15, Ascension Island to Grenada. The NE trades seem to be well established this morning after some strange overnight conditions. We are now moving steadily along in the right direction and hoping the trend continues.

Current Position: 06 55N / 038 22W
24 hour progress: 130nm, 5.4kts avg SOG (24 hour progress significantly boosted by last 6 hours: 41nm, 6.8kts SOG), around 1 hour of engine time. Overall progress for the passage is 1809nm, approximately 1418nm to Grenada.

Yesterday we switched to the asymmetric right after log entry. The process always seems to take a bit of time. Our chute is pinching up on the torsion line so we have to work together as a team to get the whole sail out. It is a bit frustrating. We suspect we need some further adjustments to the torsion line (this is the non-twisting line that the sail is furled around that connects the sail to the bow of the boat while the other end is raised via a halyard). These adjustments won't likely be made at sea as they are probably too major to complete underway. We are brainstorming solutions and trying to figure out why it isn't quite working right. In the meantime, we seem to have a system that works, it's just a bit slow.

We sailed decently on the chute for the afternoon and creeped up to a beam reach for our course. This is fine in light air and relatively calm seas. It can require an active hand on the autopilot controls and concentration if the winds build, but it works very well as long as the winds stay light. By evening the winds were maybe, potentially, sort of, starting to build and an engaged brain and more active hand on Nike was required.

After our delicious fish dinner we decided that we should probably just secure the chute for the night. We are all anxious to start moving faster and it was difficult to put away a sail that was manageable and fine for the current conditions. However, we also knew that the NE trades should have already filled in so we expected the night would feature more wind and stronger conditions than we would like for that point of sail on the chute.

So the four of us set out to roll up and douse the asymmetric. It was another time consuming and tiring effort. (The sail is furled in with a continuous line system. Jon works hard on the reel to furl in the sail and it becomes exhausting work when we are trying to remove pinches in the sail). We had a bubble when we rolled up the sail so we wanted to re-furl it. That turned into an effort to clear another couple of pinches before we could properly roll it. So, again, the sun had set and we were working in dusk light with our deck light. Not ideal.

Things were sorted out soon enough and we were back on the full genoa and full main sailing a beam reach. Our speeds were slow and the wind dropped down again which continued to feel a bit frustrating. Safe for overnight sailing but frustrating nonetheless.

The winds gradually filled in and picked up in the late evening / early morning hours and we were moving ok again. Then things got interesting. It wasn't a good or bad interesting, it was just different. The winds were swinging between SE(!) and E, our course would go from direct to Grenada to almost N and back. The wind speeds went up to 20kts and fell to 10kts and moved around in between. It rained. It was dark. Megan was on watch and felt like she was playing a strange video game moving the course around based on the conditions and inputs. About an hour or so into this game, it was Jon's turn to stand watch. Megan left Jon's play on the edge of a hole, and in he fell with the winds dropping to less than 7kts before Megan even made it into bed. We bobbed and banged around for a little while and then Jon conceded the game and started the engine. An hour on the engine was enough to get us back into good winds and we were back to sailing a reach with full sails.

The morning saw the winds continue to build and fill in. A reef was added to the genoa and then to the main. Our speeds have really kicked up and we are moving well in the right direction. Yay! We are still taking a little extra north to try to make sure we stay in the trade winds for the rest of the sail.

Today's weather has been a bit hazy and quite humid. The sun is out, but visibility is rather low. A Taiwanese fishing vessel with a class B AIS and no size information passed about 4nm away and we could not get a visual contact on him. He had appeared on the AIS just 7nm ahead along our track. He carefully moved to be 4 nm wide of our track, then moved straight back toward his original position after we had passed. We assume he was small, but still we couldn't see him at a 4nm range when we knew where to look.

The fishing line is in, even though the conditions are a bit sporty for filleting, but so far no fish are interested anyway. As it is catching a lot of weed, it will soon come in.

Last night's rains cleared off some of the salt and dust on our deck, but our lines remain quite dirty with the Saharan dust.
The sargassum weed continues to keep us busy clearing W&S, the daggerboard and the fishing line as we continuously sail across it.

Our halfway party was pretty mellow. We opened a bag of dried cranberries. Which is Daxton's favorite treat (or one of his favorite treats). He dreams of Costco 5lb bags of Craisins (or whatever crazy large size those bags are). He wants industrial-sized caches of them on board so he can endlessly snack on them. So this small bag from the Falklands was saved for our halfway treat. A handful or so was proportioned out to each of us and has been devoured.

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