To Azores Day 3

Thursday, July 27

At midday’s 8 bells we had 1666nm before us to Horta…

We’ve switched up the watch schedule to include a 3 hour private time for each of us every other day…I’m thrilled but so far it’s been during the hottest hours of the day 1-4pm.

Man is it hot today!

The Windy forecast we recorded before taking off from Bermuda was spot on for the previous days on this leg…once again, we’re only three days out…it’s hard nailing it ten days out…we’ll soon see how accurate they’ve gotten over the years.

Dena’s 4-5 pm watch

4:18 pm: My first long day watch wasn’t a spectacular success in the writing realm. The best writing I’m doing lately is right here!

I spent about an hour going over the synopsis and some of the notes for my partial manuscript, Shriving, and then reading the first two scenes. Without going into exhaustive detail, it needs work.

Then I bedded down for a long nap! We’ve only completed two days underway, so it’s not strange that my body wants to use any opportunity to sleep. The broken sleep pattern of a watch system takes a little while to get used to. Plus, it’s not that easy to keep track of how much sleep I’m even getting when so much of it is in snatches.

Now I feel really refreshed.

Sitting here, it just struck me. The waves are made up quite a few colors and qualities of light. This mid-afternoon angle, looking south, one of the common colors, under the little wavelet peaks, is the blue of James’s eyes. Just a hint of green and with a glow that is from depth rather than surface sheen.


He really fits in out here.

James’ 5-6 pm watch: Dressing the boat down to double reefed main and a hankey yankee. Not a breath of wind but a huge 45 second ocean roller on the beam…sloppy as it gets. Set the tiller pilot to 90°(m), the propulsion at 10 amps and tossed off below decks to sit in front of a fan.

James’ 3-6 am watch: At night the moon expands another sliver and wind rises only as much as needed to keep the sails full. The kitty sleeps on the butterfly hatch while the sky above churns magnificent ancient celestial light. As dawn broke a pod of tiny spinners wove bioluminescent patterns off the bow…they stayed just long enough to entertain us both.

Dena’s 6-9 am watch

6:39 am: And…dolphin. It feels like a birthday present in July! James woke me for my shift with the news that we had dolphins playing nearby. By the time I got up and got out there, they had shifted their fun towards the bow.

There’s never a promise that they’ll stay long, but I was tickled to watch for a while. Conversely, there’s always a possibility that they’ll stick around all day or come back, and my shift was just beginning so I had a little light business to take care of. It wasn’t long until I’d checked and marked our position, looked at AIS for any other vessels heading our way, and checked radar for anything without AIS. I’d snapshoted the electrical data before going up.

They continued to roll around us that whole time, and the last one gave me a look about 5 minutes later.

These were spinner dolphin, small tight muscular bodies, tightly arched when they came up. We could see them underwater though it was just predawn and they darted in tight groups with iconoclasts heading other directions for their own mysterious reasons. When they surfaced, the golden light gleamed on their clean bodies, unscarred by propeller marks and parasites from compromised water quality. As much as their very presence brought a happy fullness to me, that insight of James’ about their scar-free bodies gave me something to truly glory in.

After they left, we had a short visit from the new Ubiquitous…the long-tail Bermudian tropicbirds. For years, that title has belonged to the lovely cormorant but there’s a new ruler here and it’s a seabird, unsurprisingly.

Oh! And I forgot to mention that I saw a Portuguese man-of-war! Something small, about the size of a fishing float, headed towards the starboard bow. Worried that it might be something we could hurt by hitting it or, conversely, something like fishing net that we could get entangled in, I went to the bow. As soon as I recognized the inflated sail, I yelled for James to come see. A brief experience as it sailed on down about 10 feet off the starboard side and it was over.

Every time living beings present themselves out here, it’s cause for celebrating.

James’ 9-10 am watch: We just gybed for the first time since we left Bermuda…well Dena did. She also gifted me with the most wonderful Guacamole Omelet sandwich ever made…then she cleaned the galley…amazing!


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