At sea with a long way to go!

Published on 9 March 2024 at 15:18

We're at sea again!


The start of this leg was 1pm local time Wednesday, it's now Friday night, so we're two and a half days in to our big crossing and all is good, although we still have more than 2500 miles to go


We started in a lovely breeze, but winds were forecast to drop for the first couple of days. Sure enough we were having to motor by the time darkness fell on the first day - but we had a busy night as winds picked up. We had sails up soon after midnight and were having to reef in the middle of Amanda's watch at 4am. Changing sails in the dark isn't a trivial job, and we ended up with most of the crew up, and some quite tired people the next day!


The wind has held steady ever since between 15 and 20 knots although not in the direction it was forecast - we're more close hauled than running with the wind and yet again have been sideways on to some quite big waves, so the boat is both heeled well over and rolling a lot, making movement around the boat difficult and even the simplest tasks become quite difficult. Fun sailing but still not the peaceful sail this crossing was billed as!


But it also means progress has been better than expected, averaging just over 175 miles per day under sail alone, aided by a significant favourable current. 


We'd complete the crossing in 17 days at that rate - although that won't happen!


The forecast is still for the wind to swing more behind us which will give us a smoother ride. We may slow down a little when that happens, although we may then be able to use our big orange kite to keep us moving. Waves are also forecast to reduce. But we're learning that forecasts here are even worse than at home! 


But the favourable current will definitely reduce, and that will definitely affect our speed over the ground as we progress.


We all saw a spectacular light in the sky last night - it lasted about 15 seconds, initially a bright white light in the sky, then a big orange streak plummeting downwards, before turning into a green light then extinguishing. None of us had ever seen anything like it before. When we first spotted it we wondered if it was some kind of distress flare but think it must have been space junk re-entering the atmosphere, or possibly a meterorite. Or maybe it was aliens landing!


We're now over 400 miles from the nearest land, but had a couple of birds land on the boat today. Amazing what they're doing so far from land! 


We sometimes have flying fish alongside us, and watched one of the birds catch one of those in mid air - it's possible the flying fish are only flying because of our presence, so maybe the birds are attracted for that reason. Or maybe not!


Other than that we have seen nothing - there were quite a few other boats around on the first afternoon, but by first light the next day the fleet had dispersed, and we just got the odd glimpse of another mast on the horizon yesterday. And by today we can't see anyone else at all either visually or on our instruments. We know there must be boats out there but it's just open sea in every direction as far as we can see!!


And lots of stars. Really lots, amazing views of the milky way. But they're different stars - we're over 3 degrees south of the equator, so can't see the north star, and constellations like the plough are really low on the horizon but looking the other way we can see the Southern Cross (I think!!). I don't know my stars in the northern hemisphere very well, and don't know my stars in the southern hemisphere at all. But they're really good to look at!!




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Mark Kirby
3 months ago

Keep the blogs coming Bill (& Amanda), we are definitely living vicariously through them!