small world sailing

Day 20

N39.22.19 W042.30.77
Wind <5kts Heading 090T
Winds did moderate a bit last night. F6 gusting F7. More importantly, the sea calmed a little and without the fear that a big swell should roll the boat I attempted to make a bearing on my desired heading.
Letting out a tiny bit of foresail not bigger than a beach towel helped with direction and speed and with a fair bit of weather helm (forcing the rudder against the natural flow of the boat) applied to the wheel to help the Hydrovane out, we made way at 5-6kts and on a bit of a wobbly but correct course across the swell.
Occasionally the larger waves would run us to far round into the wind, or a heavy gust would do the same, but on the whole it was managable.
Later still we got back to SW F4, turns out there was a bit of a troff passing that bought some squalls, so says Herb……no-shit!
Listening to Herb last night was encouraging though, I’ve not been able to pick him up over the last couple of days. I’ve been trying to head NNE throughout, Kevin has been urging me to get north but it’s not always been easy as you know, but we’ve got there now. Anyway, Herb recomends a Latitude N39 – N40 over the next 4 days to get any kind of SW wind over the top of the Azores High (thats a fairly static high pressure system that sits west of the Azores (simplisticly put)), well super news, my current Latitue is N39 and whats more, he’s reported a cold eddy current pressing eastbound too! That explains my 8kts the night before last.
It’s amazing how many boats are close to me but on a lower Latitude, they will be struggling now, or they’ll have to head due north of they’re position. It’s quite interesting listening to all the traffic, the transmition lasts almost 2hrs and has up to 50 boats all over the Atlantic checking in. I don’t check in, just take my weather from Net/ email/ Kevin (who’s become like my base camp) and also from Herbs forecasts from boats around me, so it becomes comforting to know that I’m not alone.
By dawn, well, just before dawn, the wind died to less than 10kts…….again! at 0700 I could take it no longer, the mainsail was fitting like an epeleptic and the noise was unbearable, particularly as I’d been trying to sleep. A plan hatched in my mind’, what about the Spinika? Of course, as you all know, I no longer have the pole and further more, I have no lines for it either, but sleep deprevation can force the mind to come up with the most interesting alternatives. And I did, and it was fabulas, a couple of crew safety strops shackled to the toe rail and the kite was flying as good as any kite flying I’ve ever done, better in fact, pleased as punch was I. It sat there unattended for hours and pulled us along at a sedate 3kts but then by that time there was only 6kts of breeze so I was happy with that.
After lunch the Spinika hung near limp over the front of the boat, we were making less than 2kts progress and I think most of that was tide. What ever Herb had seen in the forecast was not happening to me. No wind. But at least the sails weren’t banging and the roll of the boat was being taken care of by the Spinika so some how, this time, it didn’t seem to matter. Besides, it was sunny and I just had some shorts on for the first time in ages, had a hot shower from my solar shower too so it’s been an ok day.
Just now I’m motoring for some power to the batteries and some much needed milage, yesturday only logged 116nm and today will be much worse unless the SW wind comeback in soon. I a day or so I should have NE which will push me back down to the Azores so it all could still work out nicely but at the mo’ we’re just bobin. I may try the Spinika again later, for this evening, if I can make a few miles over night that would be a bonus, we’ll see what the winds doing by then.
May 30, 2008 at 18:45 Comments (0)

Day 19

N38.56.58 W044.25.00
Wind F7 Gusts Gale force Heading 070T
Oh’ Blessed are the Angles of mercy, I bring you deep prolific joy and wonderous tidings.
141 Nautical Miles were logged for yesturday.
MilkyBars are on me!
Not only clearing the 120nm average but smashing my previous best and in the right direction too! Could it have been better I ask you? Well, I’ll tell you, actually yes, I could have easily cleared the 6kt average of 144nm but the wind moderated in the night and as has become habit, I didn’t spill more canvas till dawn. Safer that way. Don’t like deck work in the dark, that and the lazyness I think.
Of course, that was this morning, this afternoon we took a kicking again, near gale force and, as has become custom, raining. Running with two reefs in the main and no foresail. Slows me down this damd heavy weather. Seems to be moderating now though so might get back on track this evening.
Flores is now a mere 603nm away and Horta 24hrs beyond that.
Looks like a bit of calm weather might interupt proceedings between here and there, then again, gale force winds were not predicted today so who knows, who cares, lets just get where we’re going.
May 30, 2008 at 18:01 Comments (0)

Day 18

N38.37.50 W047.10.30
Wind SW F4-5 Heading 085T
At dawn, 0800, the wind droped off, god what a shock. Less than 10kts. All canvas flying with the little bit of the wind on the beam and the motor at tickover in gear again.
I made 110nm yesturday but have not toped the ‘average’ 120nm in the last 9 days. In the previous 9 days only 2 days made less than 120nm. So if it’s a journey of two halfs, this north Atlantic leg has been a slow one. My desire of arriving in Horta inside 25 days is rapidly become a hopeless fancy.
Last night, sleep was interupted by a ‘vessal’ at first I thought it was a pair trawling, but the lights were wrong. In fact I couldn’t determine what it was, in the end I decided it was a fishing vessal and that it had two bright flood lights on deck. I could work out, I hoped, that it was traveling North/ South. I was obviously traveling West/ East but as you may recall, my Nav light is miss reading after the storm a few days ago. I would have given the impression I was traveling North/ South also.
So I tried to raise them on the radio, took a bearing on them and plotted their approx position, called them up to let them know what they we’re seeing was wrong. 3 times I called but I got no responce. There’s the Rub’, we should all work to the same rules, these guys neither showed the right lights nor were keeping a listening watch on channel 16. It should be an entirely safe place to be if these simple rules are observed, if not, who knows? Eventually it seemed to turn and dropped back over the horizon.
So this morning I decided that something must be done about the Nav light, it being apparently the only source of comunication with local fishing boats. I took out my Top Climber and prepared to assend the mast. Alas I only got as high as the spreaders, with the weak wind only half pressing on the sail, the boat was rolling somewhat and obviously the higher up the mast the greater the movement. In the end I worked out I needed two hands to hang onto the mast and two more to operate the Top Climber, so had I have expended an increadible amount of energy reaching the top, I would have not been able to carry out the repair.
It shall have to wait till Horta. It is the only boat in over two weeks at sea that I have come across at night, in fact I’ve only come across 5 boats in 18 days. So as much as I would like it to be right, it will have to wait.
By 1300 this afternoon I suddenly had an urge to pop the engine in neutral, sure enough the boat continued on it’s speed and heading without aid! Slowly we made progress under sail power alone. By 1600 I was reefed and sailing on a beam reach in the right direction, only the second time in the trip, at 8kts! the swell is light and although it continues to rain on and off, it is not heavy. How long this magic will last I dare’t say but for the time being it’s a fabulas bit of perfect sailing, totally splendid.
Could I make up what I’ve lost? My nerves are shattered, I wont be encouraged, just happy to take the good as it comes and endure the bad as it happens.
May 29, 2008 at 19:01 Comments (0)

Day 17

N37.55.85 W049.25.85

Wind SW F4-5 Heading 070T

I had a little party last night, how’d you know when your drunk on a yacht?
certainly walking is no gauge of the progression of your drunkedness.

Elvis was giving us fever’ and Ertha Kitt just wanted to do it! The Kalik
Beer of the Bahamas’ was flowing into the low single figures. Why? what was
the purpose of this little get together of one? We had broken the 1K
distance barrier to Flores, the western most island of the Azores. Tonight
we’ll be able to have another little nees-up having broken the 1K distance
barrier to Horta on Faial, what excitment! I’m thinking John-Lee Hooker and
Nina Simone might join me but I’ll let you know.

There is of course the big doo’, when we get to be closer to the Azores than
we are to Bermuda, it’s going to be a busy week.

Dawn brought very light winds about 10kts in the SW. With the engine in gear
at tickover we we’re able to make 4-5kts and have made pretty good progress.
The motor seems happy to run like this indefinatly and it’s not too noisey
to live with. I’m still heading north of east hoping to find better wind but
I think tomorrow I should be able to turn due east for Horta.

It’s still very overcast and has rained on and off all day. Everything is
wet, my feet are like sponges, I can’t seem to get them dry, this is not a
good thing I think and may need to have some thought given to it. The
moisture in the atmosphere gets everywhere. I hung some trousers up to dry a
few days ago and they’ve actually gotton wetter!

But spirits are good. Just sort of settled into a kind of endurance type of
mood, pressing on with the last push. Reading and listening to music, not
really able to spend to long outside with it raining and all. I think I can
say that it’s going to be wet and misserable in the UK over the next week
judging by what I’ve put up with.

At least theres wind, even if it’s only a little bit.


May 28, 2008 at 19:06 Comments (0)

Day 16

N37.04.23 W051.00.91
Must be a supreamly soul destroying job being a North Atlantic weather forecaster. Knowing that each morning as you arrive for work, that the days labours will be entirly fruitless, neither good to man nor beast, because everyting you produce that day will be wrong. On the odd occasion when you get a hit, celebration will be muted in the knowledge that it was a complete fluke, that that days chaos of multilayered weather patterns conspired to chance upon the same conclusion you did. How could you, a mere human being, despite the multi million dollar computer system at your disposal, ever hope to compete with the intracasies of the natural world.
I’ve taken to looking at the weather forecasts as at best, a bit of something to do, at worst, an accurate prediction of where the wind – isnt – going to be, it pretty good at that.
It started to rain again yesturday evening, which was nice. The wind remained a rather progressive F5-6 and stubornly in the NE. We lost some northing but made better easting than we lost so I’m loath to complain after the last few days, progress of a sort has been made.
Mood on board has improved as a result, I’m not overjoyed, not even thrilled and I wouldn’t contemplate in any way the chance that I might be tickled, the situation being somewhere south of ideal, but I would give countanence I suppose, to the posibility at least, that I was?…………….teppid.
Visited by Dolphins at dusk, transpires they like dance music. The first pod I came accross had something funky on the hifi and last night a compilation of my own making, of what I like to think of as ‘floor-fillers’, was clearly sending a sonic invitation to any like minded creature of the deep that it was time for a boogie!  The Doliphins were there, having it large in the bow wave, getting a groove on ;o)
It continued to rain into the night, big sorrowful buckets of rain. I don’t know why but I’d not considered rain to be such a major factor in the journey, I knew it would rain, but not for days. At 0430, becalmed………….again! can you believe the luck?
I motored at dawn unable to consider another day just bobbing about and noticed that a grub screw that holds the drive pin in the Hydrovane had worked loose and the pin dangled dangerously at the edge, just looking to plop overboard. That was VERY lucky to have noticed, life could have become that much more difficult without it.
Where the hell is my wind! I made a full 45nm toward Horta in the last 24hrs.
There was a bit of sun today, I was able to sit in shorts and T-shirt for a time but it continues to be overcast in the main, drizzley and what little wind there is is not quite enough to push a 10Ton boat along at any sort of speed.
Tomorrow…..always tomorrow.
May 27, 2008 at 20:29 Comments (0)

Day 15


N36.56.40 W052.44.16



WInd F5-6 NE Heading SSE



It appears to have rained continuously sinse the dawn of time itself. First, there was the brutally opressive rain of my two storm bound days.
Then, for the last 24hrs at least, it has rained a rain clearly bound for the UK, a low, dank, drizzle that drowns the soul in sorrow.



Becalmed again by 1600, by 0100 I set the sails on deck and retired. Gave myself 2hrs sleep by way of relief for the persecution I’d suffered since tea time when the very super wind I’d had for the first time in 3 days, stopped.



0400 saw me on deck, 12hrs later, setting the main. I instantly regreted it, the breeze that had finally picked up barely able to teese my esign flag from it’s pole. The flogging was much less in earnest though, enough I suspected to keep me awake, but as it must the wind should surely blow more firmly and I was sure I could make out the line of the front in cloud not 12 miles off that would bring fair weather and wind, not long now.



It was not to be and by 0500 the sails where on the deck again. If storms create feats of physical endurance in me then calms push for a more mental torture, a far worse fait I feel. The light gusts taunted me, the mood on board has not been good.



The problem is this, if the sails are in still air, as the boat rolls on the swell the sails back and fill, they act as a break to the rolling of the boat but the noise is intolerable and the strain on the rigging in shock loads must be equal to, if not more than that of a good persistant storm. If one drops the sails for some peace, then the boat rolls increasingly violently until it is impossible to lay in your bunk, let alone stand up. Dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t.



Eventually, by noon, some little breeze was coming and going and we we’re for the most part east bound. But with only 77miles logged in the last 24hrs and most of that the previous afternoon before tea when things had been good, the past 20hrs at least have been a right off and with little or no sleep again.



It’s now 1600, 24hrs has past precisly and now we have wind again NE blowing hard at F5-6, it continues to be overast, though has stopped raining at least. It would be fab if this wind would back a bit as I’m loosing some northing although at least heading vaguely east.



PLEASE let this 24hr period offer something to lift my spirits.




May 26, 2008 at 17:21 Comments (0)

Day 14

N36.51.41 W054.02.52

Winds Less Than 10kts Heading 070T

The wind picked up a bit at dusk last night and we finally broke the 4kt

I celebrated with not 1 but 2 Kalik Beer of the Bahamas’ and some Dylan

All together now!

How does it feel
Oh’ How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction at all
A complete unknown
Like a rolling stone!

How appropriate.

Last night saw some light but good sailing and by dawn full canvas was flown
and for the first time on this trip I have had wind and direction just where
I want them, we made a great 6+ kts heading 070T which was just right and
the winds were firm but fair.

That was until about an hour ago, they buggered off again. This was expected
as a secondary front passes over, brings with it some rain though and it’s
been overcast and cold for most of the day.

The motor is engaged in charging the batteries and giving some much needed
forward momentum but I suspect that it’ll be calm till after dark.

So millage for the past few days has been supprisingly ok 113, 109, 117nm
but could have been a whole lot better if we’d had wind all day.
Interestingly, during the two days of foul weather before 113, 119nm were
clocked despite the heavy wind. This is due to the in-efficient nature of
sailing in this way and the extra distance covered going up and down the

I’m desperate for a day when I break the 120nm average and to have a day
when I don’t have to tollerate the dam sail flapping uselessly and noisily
above me. At least over the last few days though we’ve been traveling in the
right direction so it is milage made good.

We press on.


May 25, 2008 at 19:10 Comments (0)

Day 13

N35.51.07 W055.58.46

Wind NW Less than 10kts. Heading035T

Very calm day, no wind as of just before dawn and that’s how it’s stayed.
Got a load of little chores done and aired the boat a bit, even the Bog papers had an airing, got a bit moist over the last few days so had it in the cockpit with me today catching rays. Theres a good looking swell coming out of the NW so somethings coming. Maybe I’ll get
something tonight.

Not much more to say really. I know I said I would rejoice in the next calm
I got, but tis very very dull.

Hopefully have some better news tomorrow.


May 24, 2008 at 18:52 Comments (0)

Day 12

N35.40.01 W057.50.98

Wind F4 W Heading 075T

Shit Shit SHIT.

And again, sailing pleasently along at 2100 after a day of gusty wind that
had made progress slow and annoying. I retired, having been up the night
before was feeling tierd but happy that the worst had passed and that the
sailing was good.

Or so I thought. 0100 and having left full main up we we’re very much over
pressed again, nothing for it I went forward, tried to pull in a reef and
failed, so just dropped the canvas to the deck (well, on, in, and around the
mast, deck and spreaders) and ran downwind at 7kts! under bare poles.
Totally soaked through again, the novelty had worn off, I wasn’t scared or in awe of the situation,
just pissed off, cold and wet. At some point during all this the masthead
windex was distroyed and the navigation light lense spun round, it now miss
reads and if I happen upon any ships in the night I’ll have to radio them my
position and heading so they don’t get confused.

By 0230 I was able to see the sea again as the blackness had lifted and felt
confident enough to run up the motor and turn into the swell to reset the
main, with a single reef again we resumed course and setting the hydrovane
on the wind I went to bed. During the night I got up to check things were ok
but I didn’t change my course, just left it. By dawn this morning we were
two points east of north and a new sun was rising, the first sunshine I’ve
seen in 3 days. With in half an hour I had all canvas flying and for an hour
or so we had great sailing in an easterly direction. All was forgiven, it
was fabulas even though it only lasted a short time, it’s what I’m out here

Now, the winds have built again and verred to WSW. Full mainsail only and
trucking along just north of east. The Azores is only a day sail due north
it’s Latitude so now I’m above N35 I’m happy to sail due east as long as the
winds let me. Although Ideally I should be a degree or two higher, for the
time being, after the last few days, I’m happy to take it a bit easier. If I
run out of wind I wont lament the fact I’ve been becalmed, I’ll rejoice in

Saw a Turtle today, very cool, very green, and a pod of 12 Dolphin, very
cool, very grey.


May 23, 2008 at 19:59 Comments (0)

Day 11

N34.45.40 W059.41.85
Wind F5-6 SSW Heading 050T
The wind calmed yesturday evening and I was able to have a nice chat with mother and father on the sat phone, all was well. But as I was preparing to retire around midnight, something didn’t feel right, I was reluctant to take my first nap of the night. Then I realised, it was Black. Now read that again, I don’t mean it was dark, that goes without saying, it was nightime. It was Black, I honestly couldn’t see the back of the boat 6ft away, like the night had become something tangible that you could grab with your hands and move out of the way to get to see what you where looking at, eerie.
Then, without warning, all hell broke loose, Belzebub doesn’t live with fire and fury in the depths of the earth, he stalks the North Atlantic looking for single handed sailors to scare the shit out of!
A wind came and blew the boat from it’s SW heading to N and then to E and the rain came down like you cannot know, no really, you cannot know, you have never experienced anything like this in your lives. Like a 1000 fireman turned their hoses on me at once. Sat under the biminey in the cockpit someone may just as well been pouring a bucket of water over my head. Within minutes I was soaked through, even though I was wearing all the proper gear. Visability was absolute zero and how the mast didn’t get struck by lightning I’ll never know. The lightning was so intense throwing everything into crystal sharp focus and the thunder was simultanious, I’m sure I’ve had permanent damage done to my hearing. I’ve never felt so?……………inadequate.
At 0137 we had a slight reprieve as the centre of the cell moved over head before it all started up again and contiued though till 0205. At which point I happened to notice the log on my GPS which I’d reset when I bought the boat last year, it read 1975nm the year I was born. Spooky.
For a further hour or so various cells moved over head and it rained and thundered and lightninged and was generally unpleasent, then around 0330 the skys cleared, the wind died and I could make out the horrizon again.
Within 20mins the wind of the previous day was back but this time accompanied by a monsterous sea, for much of the night I have been in the cockpit fighting the helm and helping the hydrovane keep a steady course. At one point a large breaker broke over the cockpit combing into the cockpit and through the hatch, fortunatly I had the lower washbord in and was at the time standing in the companion way so between us we blocked the worst of it.
I managed a total of 15mins sleep last night which I just had to have, it was desperate, and a further 20mins after dawn when things improved somewhat. It’s still madly rough and I’m still sailing under reefed down main alone but I am still making good progress toward my next waypoint and despite being supreamly uncomfortable, we are getting there.
I cheered myself up with a shave and a shower this afternoon and felt much better for it.
I new I was expecting this trip to be hard in places, but without doubt the last 36hrs have been the hardest thing I have ever done. Don’t ask me if I’d do this again just yet, I might well say no.
May 22, 2008 at 19:17 Comments (0)

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