Day 16, St Martin to the Azores

1600Z 12JUN23, Day 16, St Martin to the Azores. We are back to sunny skies. Our winds are now less than expected and our course and speed are suffering. But the sailing is easy and the temperatures are pleasant.

Current Position: 37 27N / 034 10W
24 hour progress: 139nm, 5.8kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 2,058nm, approximately 270nm to Horta or 180nm to Flores.

Yesterday remained dreary, overcast and gray. We played with the radar as we had such limited visibility and good amounts of power.

Our AIS transmitter display started blinking which gave us a good bit of concern. This is how we see other boats and they see us from distances beyond visual range. We have a secondary receiver, but that doesn't let others see us. A reboot was tried. A rest period was tried. Neither of those worked. Then the line to the GPS antenna and the antenna connections were checked. A loose connection was found and tightened. So far, so good.

We continued sailing yesterday with strong winds. To stay on rhumb line we turned deeper down wind, which meant putting a 4th reef in the main for clear air in the headsail. That worked well with the 25+kt winds.

By midnight the winds were dropping (earlier than expected) and our course was moving south of direct. We gybed the boat and sailed a deep broad reach as a course north of rhumb line was preferable. Our course was no longer a nice direct line unfortunately.

By the early morning (3am) watch turnover we were ready to shake out two reefs from the main. Things were slow and a bit rolly. Things were more comfortable with more sail up and more speed on the broad reach.

In the dark, early morning hours a small vessel passed just over 1nm away. They were not broadcasting on AIS and seemed to be going south / southwest. Their radar return was quite weak, but they were lit. We passed quietly in the night. Seemed a bit strange to see someone sailing that direction at this time of year.

After sunrise we slowly shook out the last two reefs as the winds settled at around 17kts. This is too light for us to go deep downwind with a heavily reefed main. So it became time to tinker to see what configuration we could do to make a better course for the Azores.

We settled on a wing on wing setup. The genoa is poled out to the port side and the full main is set with a preventer on the starboard side. The centerboard is up and both dagger boards are down. This is giving us a good course to Flores and we are now debating if we want to make landfall in Flores rather than Horta.

The fishing line is back in. The weather is beautiful and we are dreaming of shore things - walks, fresh salads, food at a restaurant and a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

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