Day 5, Azores to Ireland

0930Z 05AUG23, Day 5, Azores to Ireland. We are just about halfway there! It was a slow progress day, under cloudy but sometimes sunny skies with drizzling rain overnight.

Current Position: 44 56N / 019 21W
24 hour progress: 113nm, 4.7kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 600nm, approximately 590nm to Kinsale.

We sailed wing-on-wing for a good bit of the day. Saga appeared on the AIS shortly after the log entry around 11nm behind. The winds were mostly 15kts and we did ok with the wing-on-wing setup. They only gained a few miles on us.

Just before dinner we gybed the genoa across and were sailing a broad reach on a port tack. At this point Saga was about 8nm back. They were still too far back for a radio game so we tried over text on the iridium after dinner. It mostly worked but the radio was definitely easier and more fun.

The winds kept shifting north and we found ourselves tightening the sails up and on a beam reach. Saga was starting to gain ground in lighter winds.

Then around 9:30 the winds picked up to about 20kts and Jon woke up to put in a reef. The sky was pretty dark and we suspected some rain clouds were moving in, potentially with gusty winds so we decided a night reef was a good plan. A couple hours later the winds were back to a steady 10kts but we kept the reef in. The fog and rain did show up, and the light winds became rather shifty and variable.

Our reduced sail was an opening that Saga deftly exploited. They started clicking away on the gap. By 03:30 they were passing us about 1.6nm to starboard. We then decided to shake out the night reef on our watch turnover. This allowed us to keep up when the winds picked up, but when they were lighter Saga kept expanding their lead. They are now 5.5nm ahead of us. Well done Lianne & Bernhard and well done Saga!

After a night of shifting winds and sail adjustments, the wind has continued to move around and we are working towards being close hauled. We expect the wind to die off again some time today and to be back on the engine again. This should allow us to catch back up to Saga. It's quite amazing that we have stayed so close over the first half of the passage!

We are all doing well. It was taco night last night which is always a hit. Poseidon continues to be out and about with us often stealing the watch seat in the pilot house, but failing to actually stand watch over anything other than attempted incursions onto his seat. It's an ongoing battle as he doesn't really like to share the space.

We will celebrate half way today! There will be a little party with music and treats. We are hoping for an arrival late on the 9th but if not we should (hopefully) arrive sometime on the 10th. The forecasts look like some better sailing, but only time will tell how we get on for the second half.

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