Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Atlantic Crossing Part 2 - Day 14

Our noon position on the 28/12/2010 was 14.19 N/ 44.39 W. Our noon to noon run was 204 miles.

Tuesday December 28th

Talk about a mixed bag of conditions, today we had them all.

As the sun rose, the fiery ball turned the sky a similar colour. Now we all know the old saying "red sky in the morning, a sailors warning", well that saying rang true today.
As the sun climbed higher it disappeared into a grey sky and only had a few cameo appearances from then on.
Last night and this morning we had wonderful sailing conditions. With the wind on our quarter we were trucking along nicely with two reefs in the main and a full jib giving us speeds in the 8-9 knot range, allowing us the longest noon to noon run so far of  204 miles and leaving us only 878 miles to our destination. No sooner had we started to enjoy the ride, the weather went pear shaped.

Our radar shows squalls all around us
All around the horizon were squall lines. It looked like a scene from "The March of the Penguins". And they just kept coming all day. Fortunately most passed by us.
A few gave our decks a much needed wash but at the same time took what wind we had  away and usually changed the direction of the swell, turning the sea into a churning washing machine and giving  the waves  no steady path to follow. Luckily we have not had the increased winds accompanying the squalls as has been the case with a couple of the other boats near by. "No Rehearsal" reported a squall with winds of  30kts.

Now we are sailing dead downwind and  we are running only a forward sail and no main. It has been a juggling act all day between having the jib or the screecher out.

Just as another squall came up from behind, we doused the screecher and abandoned play for a few minutes. Under bare poles we were mooching along nicely at 6 kts. Now the bare pole routine would certainly solve the squall problem, just don't think the skipper would buy the concept!

As quick as these squalls approach they are gone, time for the jib to be unfurled again. Everyone out here really has to be on their toes with these nasty squalls about and the radar is invaluable in these situations.

There have been a few more reports of gear failure from a couple of boats. Along with 'Steel Sapphire', 'West by North' have also had their auto pilot fail. They are now hand steering to the Cape Verde's where they hope to have the replacement parts flown in.

"Tehani Li", who we  finally over took last night, reported that a couple of hours ago they  broke their spinnaker pole and "Uuma" has a broken lift pump on their engine and are also diverting to the Cape Verde's.

Touch wood, all the systems on GWTW, as well as her crew, are still in working order.

While everyone cruising usually has a tightish budget, our decision to purchase a back up auto pilot in Gibraltar appears to have been a good one.
Of all the systems on your boat, the last one that you would ever want to loose is your autopilot, as this piece of engineering actually represents an extra crew member.

Hand steering across any ocean just doesn't bear thinking about!

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