Day 7, Azores to Ireland

0930Z 07AUG23, Day 7, Azores to Ireland. A week at sea complete! After a slow first half of the day, Zephyros' speeds are (finally) up. It is feeling like the home stretch but there are still a few days to go.

Current Position: 47 37N / 015 59W
24 hour progress: 119nm, 5kts avg SOG. Overall progress for the passage is 836nm, approximately 380nm to Kinsale.

At the start of our day 7, we were in the lead with Saga and Take Five to either side. We were sailing, but the others were motor sailing and quickly gobbled up our small lead, then passed us by.

We then started tinkering to figure out how to get some more speed under sail. The winds were light and not expected to build much over the day, and we decided to deploy our asymmetric spinnaker. As the winds moved around and we couldn't really make the rhumb line course anyway, we decided to try wing-on-wing to get the most out of our sails with a course just east of north

Saga decided to sail as well and set up their kite too. We had hoped to converge a bit for a photo shoot, but it wasn't meant to be and they pulled ahead in the light winds. Take Five seemingly kept motor-sailing and was off the AIS fairly quickly.

It was a very pleasant afternoon that turned quite sunny and warm. Daxton was starting to go stir crazy and making us all crazy as he bounced off of the walls. We baked cookies and played a puzzle / riddle game over the radio with Saga. We could only ask yes or no questions and Daxton ended up especially frustrated (but in good humor) as everyone else slowly figured out the clues. In the end he solved it, everyone had some fun and we passed an hour and a half well entertained. It made the 3.3kt avg over the first 6 hours of the day that much more enjoyable.

In the evening we tried reefing down the main and gybing it across in front of the asymmetric to put us back to a rhumb line course. In higher winds we have been able to use this tactic to go deeper down wind without needing to fully drop our main.

We checked the weather forecasts and decided to keep the kite up past sunset. The winds were supposed to build, but were expected to still be manageable for the kite. As the winds slowly built, this all worked ok, but was a bit slower than Saga's configuration and they continued to pull ahead.

Around 11pm the winds started to build and we decided to bring down the kite. This was easily accomplished. It was Ronan's watch so he helped Jon & Megan with the task. It is really nice to have the extra hands when managing the kite, especially in the dark.

Sailing with the genoa and 4 reefs in the main and just 20kts of true wind, we just couldn't go deep downwind. It tends to work better for us in heavier winds and / or with a poled out headsail. Despite our efforts, it wasn't quite enough wind so we brought our heading up into the wind and settled for a broad reach pointed south of rhumb line. This was all a bit slower than we expected (or wanted) to be, and Saga slipped out beyond AIS range.

At 1am we shook out a couple of reefs to increase our boat speed on the broad reach. The winds were a bit variable but +/- 20kts. We wanted to go closer to rhumb line, but our night time sail setup didn't really facilitate that and slightly south of a direct course was still in-line with the weather routing.

At 8:30am with Jon and Megan turning over watch and the sun up we decided to tinker to see if we could get a better set up and improve our course and speed. We tried a couple of things but settled back into a wing-on-wing configuration. We poled out the genoa to the starboard side and set the main with 1 reef in, out on the port side. This moved our course closer to rhumb line and boosted speeds.

Our morning check-in with Saga showed they had enjoyed a great night and really pulled away at the cost of a little comfort. They were around 14nm to the NNE of us. Well done Saga & crew! So we start day 8 with a mission and a lot of work to do to catch up. They can apparently also move well deep downwind in these building winds.

The weather has gotten chilly and we are all quite happy. The afternoon yesterday was warm in the sun but overnight it really cooled off. We took advantage of being able to close our pilot house door and stayed warm inside on watches. Today is off to a chilly, gray start.

The fishing line is back in with no catches yesterday. There continues to be cargo ship traffic passing us from time to time. This morning 2 energetic dolphins leapt out of the water on their way to play by our bow for a bit.

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