Santa Maria to Madeira Day 1

Monday 4/29

Dena’s 1600-1700 watch

James was hauling chain at noon and we were underway 20 minutes later. The mainsail hung slack until we got a little ways out of our protected anchorage, and the electric motor whirred at a calm 650ish rpm…10 amps of power giving us 2 easy knots.

James on the bow leaving Santa Maria

There wasn’t any wave action until we got south of Ponta do Castelo, and the little bit we have now sends the sails fluttering in lulls. The wind varies from F1 to F2 and we have all plain sail flying to catch what we can. It’s frustrating to reef because the wind is too light to keep the sails full, but we will if we have to.

Dena’s 2000-2100 watch

The wind backed to westerly on my last watch and I rolled in the staysail. It went that little bit farther on James’ watch and now we’re bowling along under full main alone. It’s the kind of wind that a big genoa would be great for, but there’s too much roll to fly the asymmetrical spinnaker.

We’re 20 NM from our anchorage, making pretty good time! I’m peacefully happy about being out here starting another passage. The rhythm of it is already feeling natural.

I’ll get the sunset and the sunrise tonight. Three 200m cargo ships passed us south of Santa Maria, and all of the Mediterranean is on a path that crosses ours. I think we’ll do full-night shifts eventually, but there’s too much activity to start that tonight.

Sea at last

Tuesday 4/30

Dena’s 0600-0900 watch

The wind died badly at the end of my last watch and James ran the motor throughout his. We’re just under 78% now on the propulsion pack and we have two days of very calm weather before the other side of this system overtakes us with (here’s hoping) solid southwesterlies.

The mainsail does lose lifespan on these flogging days but it’s hard, emotionally, to get rid of all the sail area completely. I’m pondering a second reef (James pulled one) to decrease the strain.

Atlantic Flow at the end of a second day.

Dena’s 1000-1100 watch

I did end up pulling the second reef around 0800, convinced that the sunrise wasn’t going to usher in a new wind era. The wind died out even more and I centered the boom, which had been way out to starboard with the preventer keeping it from pumping. Last thing that happened, after I made coffee and woke James? A breeze.

So after 6 hours of motoring with very little to no sail assist, we got back to sailing. The propulsion pack got down to 62% over that time, a good reminder that we can’t expect to motor for days on end without good sun to charge after the overnight portions.

Now we’re on a starboard tack, the mirror image of what we had last night. On a breeze this light, it’s wonderful that we’re making 2.5 knots, more or less. Well, more and less.

Noon position: N 36° 28.581’ W 024° 03.593’
Distance between 1221 and noon: 60.1 NM
Average speed: 2.55 kn
Trip distance covered: 60.1 NM
Distance to destination: 431 NM


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