Day 18, Ascension Island to Grenada

1300Z 09JUN22, Day 18, Ascension Island to Grenada. It was a day of slow progress, due to point of sail and lower winds than expected. However, things have been a bit more exciting on board. We caught 3 fish in the last 24 hours.

Current Position: 09 22N / 044 16W
24 hour progress: 108nm, 4.5kts avg SOG, almost 2 hours motor sailing. Overall progress for the passage is 2192nm, approximately 1046nm to Grenada. We sailed a broad reach yesterday with 1 and then 2 reefs in the main. We poled out the genoa for overnight downwind sailing and are back to a broad reach, recently shaking out a reef to now have 1 reef in the main.

Yesterday we had a lot of cloud cover and some significant rain showers. This meant the winds were less consistent again. The forecast suggested the winds would be building up, so we sailed conservatively staying on the genoa rather than putting up the asymmetric.

Soon after our log entry, we had a fish strike our cedar plug lure. We reeled in the line to check the lure. Part way in, we could see the lure was there and the fish was swimming next to it so the lure went back out with the fish following along. At this same time, we saw 2 dorados swimming near the boat, providing some entertainment. We checked the line / lure again after awhile, the fish was still with the lure, but this time the fish swam up under Zephyros. This fish was larger than the dorado and looked different. He parked himself under Zephyros' stern. He would show his tail and half his body at times. Jon found him entertaining while Megan and Daxton felt they were being mocked. Could we just gaffe him? Could we just grab him by the tail? What was he anyway? We were going quite slow, around 3.5kts, so he could swim wherever he wanted and effortlessly keep up with us all day long.

Our bird friends continued to fly around. If all of us gather at the back of the boat watching the water, they become very interested in what we are doing. Yesterday they were especially entertaining. They would fly up to the back of Zephyros, land in the water and stick their heads under water seemingly to try to figure out what was going on. Multiple birds did this over and over. They would sometimes start to lunge for the lure, but then quickly realize it was a lure and leave it alone. Fascinatingly entertaining.

We still had the fishing line in and continued to clear it of weed regularly. On one such occasion the line seemed like maybe there had been a strike and we pulled in the lure to find that our hook had broken off. Bummer. We still have our cedar plug, but it can no longer catch any fish! We will need to find a replacement hook, as we don't currently have the right type of hook on board. We switched back to our pink squid lure. He's a trusty favorite anyway.

After about 4 hours of the fish swimming at our stern and him still showing his tail occasionally, Megan and Daxton decided we should try to catch him. They decided to bring the squid lure to that side of the boat. Megan warned Daxton to hold on to the reel well in case he struck - not that she thought it would happen, but if it did, it would be a bit of sudden force and we didn't want our hand reel dropped into the water or to loose Daxton overboard. Daxton plopped the lure in beside the boat and let it out so that it started to drift back. Within seconds our fish darted out and was hooked on the line! We pulled out the gaffe and Jon quickly got him aboard. We had no idea what kind of fish he was and sent our texts and pictures to ask for help. His fins were a bit tuna like but his mouth was different and much larger than other tuna that we have caught. His flesh was white. (Kelper is guessing he was a black fin tuna from our very poor descriptions. Skylark reviewed our low quality picture and thought it was an albacore. Megan thought it might be a jack due to the mouth and white flesh. It tasted like a nice white fish and not like tuna, not even albacore. What do you think it was?)

Once the fish was aboard, killed and bled. Daxton set to filleting it with Jon's supervision. Megan looked out and saw storm clouds on the horizon. It definitely looked like we would get some serious rain. Megan wondered how Daxton would react and thought "this will be interesting." The first bit of gusty winds came over and we turned Zephyros further downwind and let out some sheet. Daxton kept filleting. Megan saw there was more rain cloud to come and went up to reef. (Normally Jon does the reefing, but we do try to switch jobs occasionally to keep us fresh and knowledgeable. When Megan does reef it is usually to shake out reefs not to put them in.) With Megan at the mast, a whole bunch of wind and rain arrived! Megan had mistakenly let out the first reefing line (as you would do to shake out a reef but not a great idea when adding a reef!) which meant even more sail went up and the water was just pouring from the sky. The main sail acts as a large rain catch so water was pouring out of the sail bag at the mast. Between the drenching rain and outpouring from the sail, Megan looked like she was enjoying one of the wettest amusement park rides ever envisioned. Megan got the reef in with some verbal help from Jon who helped flake the sail. It really was quite tame (minus the water) as we were well downwind and after the initial gusts the wind settled right down. It was a good learning / teaching experience. There was much laughter at the situation and pure volume of water - thankfully warm. It was a good appreciation / reminder for Megan to imagine how miserable it often was for Jon when it was cold water and cold rain in the southern high latitudes.

Jon and Megan came back to the cockpit completely drenched to find Daxton drenched and still filleting. He really is dedicated when he sets his mind to something! We got Ronan (who just hid in his room the whole time) to close up the last windows (a little late) and bring out some shower suds. Everyone but Ronan had nice outside showers with all the free water. Zephyros got a much needed wash down, clearing off lots of salt and mud.

Our power was quite low due to the lack of sun, speed and wind. Our boat speeds were low as well so we decided to turn on the engine for a couple of hours to recharge batteries and motor sail, bumping up boat speed a bit. By now it was dinner time, so we cooked up the fish with some quinoa and all enjoyed a large fish dinner with quite a bit left over for lunch today.

After dinner we decided to put out the pole for the genoa. The forecasts suggested the wind would build and we were sailing deep downwind to make a good course as it was. We got this all set up before dark and started into our nighttime watch routines.

Overnight the winds remained variable, but never really built. Occasionally there were some small storm cells with a few gusts and then low winds. Our speeds were low, but it was safe and comfortable sailing.

From early morning into daylight hours the point of sail has moved back up to a broad reach and our speeds are slightly improved. Today's challenge will be deciding how to finesse the sail configuration and point of sail. 15 min before log time, we shook out one reef from the main. We shall see what the day brings and if the winds build or not.

Jon put in the fishing line for his sunrise watch. Daxton came up soon thereafter and took over clearing the line of weed. He quickly got a bite. It was a smaller version of the fish we caught last night. He released that fish and put the line back in. At 0730 he had another fish strike and he landed a nice sized dorado. This one was a female; the other two previous catches were males. Daxton filleted this fish too, and now we have another fish meal next to the cold plate in the refrigerator. It seems our fishing mojo has (finally!) returned.

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