Sunday 2 December, Passage Bermuda to Antigua day 3: We are in the trade winds, on a beam reach.
We seem to be between two winds fighting each other. One 10-12 kts, which we trimmed the sails for, and one of only 5 kts that slows us to nothing. After the first hour of my shift I am already fed up with the Raymarine wind-shift alarms which seem to go off every 5 minutes. The wind is shifting 50-60 deg at a time, so when we zoom in on our track we look like we have been tacking upwind! We have the autohelm on “wind” set at 50deg. This seems to, on average, put us along the rhum line. The true wind is aft of the beam at 120deg, but as we are speeding along at an easy 7kts, we are really pulling the apparent wind far forward.
We also seem to have a very annoying creak coming from the boom. So Glen eases the main sheet traveler to the end of its track, allowing him to release the hydraulic pressure off the vang. There, that fixed it! And he’s off back to bed. We aren’t exactly fast, SOG is around 6kts most times. But it’s a comfortable sail and we pick up speed in the morning.
Glen comes up on watch at 5am. Oh what an amazing sail, now. This new east wind had not produced any waves yet. So we are gliding along in flat water, with the huge long swells still coming from behind, lifting our stern every 12 seconds and giving our speed a boost. There are some small puffy clouds in a starlit sky and the moon is up. It’s one of those moons with a 1/4 crescent yet you can still see its full outline. A magic sail in a magic night and Glen spends his shift on the aft seats just soaking in the scene. The wind is now a steady 10-12 kts and we are speeding along on a nice shy beam reach.
I wake up by sliding out of bed. That’s it, we are heeling too much! So I pop my head out in the cockpit and Glen reads me immediately: “let’s reef the mainsail”, he suggests. We are doing a nice speed of 8-9 kts, but heeling quite a lot when gusts hit us. Surprisingly, even with the reefed mainsail we maintain the same speed. And it is more comfortable.
Bright day again, and I am basking in the warm cockpit. Today there was no need for thermals when I got out of bed. Long may it last! Mind you, in two days I will probably complain that it is too hot 🙂
When Glen gets up from his nap the wind has come south of east, meaning we are now heading too far west on the current autohelm setting. Damn, it wasn’t supposed to do that. So we correct the autohelm to sail just 48deg off wind (that’s only 10deg off hard-on) to make it back onto the rhum line. Instantly we are bashing into the new waves and the ride quickly goes out of my comfort zone and nausea returns 🙁 I just pray it won’t now be like this for the next 3 days.
We have a visitor, briefly. A gull of some kind is following us. He seems to want a free ride and is trying to find the spot where he can soar on the up draft, like he would be able to over a ship. But not to be. Interestingly, when he gets into the lee of the sails his wing flutter all over the place and he has to flap like made to get out of the vortex and back into stable air again. And it’s clear our ship is not gul-friendly: no soaring and no where to land. So he does a big poop, as if to say “take that” and flys off. I wonder if he knows which direction land is?
During the day the wind increases 12-15 and shifts 20 deg regularly. One minute we are under powered the next over powered and all the time bashing into the building eastern sea. For a while Glen sits behind the wheel ( yes! Actually behind the wheel while sailing ) and said CB like a dinghy, adjusting the autohelm angle to wind and playing the main to keep the power optimum. “There should a be a computer program to do this” he says.
The view towards the bow is quite something, CB ploughing through the waves and water catching in the genoa foot. It’s a nice speed when CB is on the roll, but it’s a very bumpy ride. Like driving fast on rocky terrain in a car with hard suspension.
Glen goes out with the GoPro on the boat hook, into which he jammed a GoPro fitting. He is struggling to stand on the bouncing deck, let alone hold the pole, so I don’t hold much hope of good shots. He soon returns soaking wet with a very salty camera!
Just before sunset we and hungry enough and brave enough to tackle making a late lunch whilst enduring this wild sly ride. We reef the sails for the event, but not sure it really helps the motion much. Glen passes up the ingredients for pawn cocktail and I prepare it in the cockpit. I can’t possibly be down below right now. And even making it in the cockpit, I feel completely off my food once finished.
The sun does its usual – setting into puffy clouds yielding magnificent rays. But I’m not so bothered to look at it tonight. I’m not happy at all. 2 1/2 more days of this? Let’s just run off the wind to Bahamas! I guess the Windward Isles are not called that for no reason! Well, all downhill from Antigua, I hope.
The rest of the evening is more of the same, except the waves to bash into are bigger and the wind rises to 15-17kts towards midnight. Oh, and my lunch ends in the sea 🙁