Day 9, St Martin to the Azores

1600Z 05JUN23, Day 9, St Martin to the Azores. It is a sunny day. We are closing in on the halfway point (We are calling halfway 1090nm to go to Horta as when we left SXM it was 2180nm away). We made it through the depression and put up our best mileage day this passage. The winds have set up around 20kts, aft of the beam and the seas are reasonable. Life is good aboard Zephyros.

Current Position: 30 00N / 050 11W
24 hour progress: 152nm, 6.3kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 1,117nm, approximately 1185nm to the Azores.

The first 18 hours of day 9 had us sailing hard in big seas with a 7kt avg SOG. Then we were again disappointingly slowed by yet another morning of hand steering, low winds, confused seas and us chasing the wind around. It was the third morning of this if you weren't already counting along at home.

In the early afternoon we reefed down to the 4th reef and turned deep downwind (150AWA on a starboard tack). We sailed in 30+kts of wind in 2-3 meter seas that were pretty close together and grew to 4 meters. Zephyros was happily sailing away and surfing waves.

As night was approaching we saw some blue sky and even the sun before sunset. We reefed the genoa to slow down just a little and in case any rain clouds that we were watching delivered extra gusts. Just before twilight was wrapping up the winds started to move just a bit north (as expected in the forecast) so we decided we should gybe while there was still a little light left. There was no lull in the 30+kt winds and we executed a well coordinated gybe to a port tack. We were thankful that all went smoothly in the big seas and we were back to screaming along pointed straight to the Azores.

In the early morning hours the winds began to let up and the seas settled to a longer period but remained around 3m. We gradually turned into the wind giving us a reach to remain on rhumb line. After sunrise the winds kept dropping off, we shook out reefs and kept turning towards the wind until we were down to 5kts of wind again, back to chasing the wind and hand steering. This was quite demoralizing as we had been on a great pace to have one of Zephyros' best mileage days ever. As usual, the wind disappeared just as Megan was about to head below to prepare her breakfast.

We studied the weather and wrung our hands. The wind wasn't forecast to be much and could take a few hours to come back, if it did. However, within about 2 hours the winds were back, arriving just as Megan began to dig down into the refrigerator to reorganize in the calm.

The winds have built to 15-20kts and we are sailing a broad reach on rhumb line. Well, that is better than expected from the forecast! We do seem to have a bit of current slowing us down some, but it is easy sailing in the right direction. So we are happily taking it! Plus we did break the 150nm day barrier that is so elusive for us.

We saw another couple of ships on the AIS this morning and a cargo ship passed about 4nm away. He was visible in the morning haze. AIS is a beautiful thing as he seemed to maneuver to ensure he would pass no closer than a 4nm CPA no matter how the wind shifted our course and speed around. All without any discussion on the radio.

We have continued to see random bits of flotsam and jetsam. Yesterday we ran over a fishing buoy that thankfully didn't catch on to us. Today we caught an old plastic bucket between Watt&Sea and the boat. Thankfully it didn't do any damage and is really brittle anyway. It was retrieved from the ocean and is one less piece of plastic in the sea.

The fishing line is back in. Today is a good fishing day. But will we get lucky? A bucket apparently doesn't count as a successful catch. Nor do the couple of random flying fish that we find occasionally on deck.

There have still been a few birds around. They definitely seem to be sea birds gliding around on the winds and riding off the waves. Probably petrels. We also just passed our first Portuguese Man o' War—the water is definitely cooling off now.

No comments:

Post a Comment