Saturday 1 December, Passage Bermuda to Antigua, day 2: Light winds, motoring and pottering on the decks.
It’s the first day of winter! This is actually ironic for us, because just today we finally feel like we have left winter firmly astern of us, and sailed into the summer again 🙂
After midnight the wind shifts more astern but still on our starboard quarter. To keep on the rhum line and to also keep the genoa pulling, we gybe it and pole it out on the starboard side, sailing it slightly by the lee. Meaning the air is reversed across the sail, leech to luff. Cloudy Bay sails very well like this at 140-160 deg off the true wind: main one side, genoa by-the-lee poled out the windward side.
But as we sail into the high pressure zone, this sailing doesn’t last long. At 3am we have to switch on the engine because the wind has died to 5kts and our speed is down to 3kts. We motor with genoa furled away and the main slightly furled and pulled in hard to the centerline. The main, like this, helps reduce the rocking in the large swell, which has remained at 4m, even without the wind.
Not much action on AIS, we saw only two tankers during the night. And all the other south bound yachts have now all disappeared. This must be what rally sailing is like. 18 hours out of port and you are alone in the ocean.
I had the early morning shift and was readying myself to record a nice sunrise. But it didn’t happen. Only a gray haze over the horizon, which the sun only popped out from behind when it was already high off the horizon. A very bright sky and clear day comes after as we motor further into the high pressure zone. It feels like we are finally getting the warmth we have strived for.
Although we are motoring and the swell still large, the rolling feels much reduced. And I am slowly recovering from the seasickness (fingers crossed). When Glen wakes up, we have a semi-civilized and successful breakfast in the cockpit: nothing spilled or slid off the table. That’s more like it! We even manage to use the coffee machine to treat ourselves with a nice Nespresso.
On the happy note that coffee induced us, we venture for showers. Which didn’t require too much acrobatics, and we are grateful again for that seat we have in our aft shower. Clean and refreshed, we feel like civilized human beings again. And I don’t seem to be seasick at all now. What a great feeling. Tell you what: recovering from seasickness is probably the best feeling in the world! Well, at least that’s how it feels today.
Then…hm, what do we do now? There’s nothing much to do when we are not focusing on constantly trimming the sails. Knowing Glen, we’ll manage to find something to do!
And sure enough, a few minutes later he goes on the bow and sets about lowering the pole and partially stowing it away. “Partially” because he simply secured its outboard end to the cutter stay, ready for redeployment. Not fully stowed against the mast. We may need it again on the port side.
Then he notices the third vertical batten on the mainsail has slid down and out of its batten pocket. Not sure if it’s the same one that slipped out when we were sailing away from Block Island. We must look back at the video to remember. Anyhow, looks like we need to do something about these batten pockets. Renew or clean the velcro maybe? Poking the batten back in with the batten prodder was a bit of an adventure in this rolly sea. But it gets done after adequate cursing by the captain 🙂
Then it’s fenders time. We were annoyed with how much grit was being blown off the dock onto the fenders and deck. But we got even more annoyed with the big holes that are now decorating some of the fender socks. They each got damaged to some degree, from rubbing against that rough concrete for so many days. Nothing we can do about the holes, but certainly there’s something to be done about cleaning them. Our trusty Dyson vacuum comes out, and Glen launches himself into a frenzy of hoovering the fenders and the aft deck, which is also covered in fine grit. All we need now is a good rain shower to rinse the salt off, then some sun to dry them, so we can put them back below in the fore cabin. Cloudy Bay only likes happy, clean, well rested fenders – especially so after her recent hull polish. She’s like any girl: “don’t touch me, I’ve just had my makeup done!” Or that’s how Glen imagines she is!
The sunshine is really warm in the middle of the day. So very nice. The cockpit tent, so cozy at night, is like a greenhouse in the bright sunshine. But with the back removed and the front window opened, we can sit in the shade with a lovely cooling draft passing through. It’s the first horizon to horizon blue sky we’ve had for several weeks now. The only thing missing is dolphins. Where have they all gone to? Normally they are right with us when we motor. As our path takes us safely just outside the eastern boundary of the Bermuda Triangle, we muse that the dolphins may all be inside the triangle, waiting to watch the next human drama there!
Meanwhile, the sun is sparkling off the relatively flat water between each of the huge swells. Glen says he has never seen swell with such long period between each one. It feels like we are sailing through countryside with low rolling hills! When we are in the trough we can’t see out of the valley; and when on the peak we get to see the full countryside like from the top of a hill. This cycle goes on every 12-15 seconds. And Cloudy loves it. You can actually feel her accelerate as each hill lifts her stern giving a nice downward ride. We are hitting 10kts at that point, under motor on low revs. Brill!
Like breakfast, lunch is also civilized in the cockpit. I had pre-prepared food for the first 2 days, knowing I may not be well in the galley till day 3. So Glen brings it up and also cleans the dishes after. He says he doesn’t mind … but I think a couple of days may be his limit. In any case, I don’t really like him messing in my galley!
As the sun dips low, the warmth rapidly drops too. It’s been such a glorious day. The naked sun (zero clouds) finally disappears into the sea at 5:18pm. With the low humidity there isn’t much color in the sky after setting, but the glow on the horizon 30 minutes later is very pleasant.
Our cockpit tent is then re-sealed and after a welcome cuppa tea I bring the laptop into the cockpit and risk trying to edit videos without getting sick. I’m determined to get up to date and this dead time under passage would be ideal if I can only do it without getting nauseous.
Bang on forecast time the wind starts to swing east and pipes up to 10kts. So we change course to 15deg port, towards it, and get mainsail and genoa fully out. With the true wind now at 150deg off our port stern the motoring speed brings 8kts of apparent wind in front of our beam. This adds sail power to the motor, reducing fuel consumption; increases our speed to 9kts and, the biggest benefit, the wind flow in the sails pins the yacht down and totally stops the rolling motion. All perfect, except for the continued engine noise. We find motor-sailing like this very beneficial. As the wind continues to swing further east and increase, we will stop the engine and be back in the business of fast sailing in the easterly trades, all the way to Antigua. Bliss 🙂
Meanwhile, with this reduced rolling motion, the video editing is going well in the cockpit editing studio! I’m now doing the USA to Bermuda crossing. Oh, that was just a few days ago. Great. I’ve almost caught up this never ending game.
Sure enough, by 11pm just as I am in bed, the engine goes off and Glen is heard working the winches, trimming the sails. We are sailing peacefully in 10kts breeze just aft of the beam. Wonderful. Only the noise of water gently passing the hull at 7kts – a perfect match for the starry night and then end of a great day.