Santa Maria to Madeira Day 4

Thursday 5/2

Dena’s 1300-1400 watch

A sudden increase from F3 to F4 needed another reef in the main and about 50% of the staysail rolled in. Feels good and balanced again, but the increased winds are starting to show in increased wind waves. 

Out of Praia da Vitoria... finally!

A directional change accompanied the increase, though, nicely southwest and now we’re not on a hard beat but a beam reach. I do prefer this, or a close reach, to a beat. In this amount of wind, a broad reach (with the wind abaft the beam) would be even more comfortable but weather can’t be begged or bribed.

I’m eying a spot to the south where I can see it’s raining. I wouldn’t mind skipping that lashing.

Dena’s 1900-2000 watch

Since that last front passed, we are back to southerly winds, one reef in the mainsail and a full staysail. It seems to be the only way to power through and over the waves. We rarely drive the boat this hard and rarely allow it to do so much heeling, but we also rarely sail on a beat.

The wind is supposed to turn further west and I hope that we will be able to broaden out then. It would be nice to get into a broad reach with the main sheeted out and the yankee rather than the staysail. It’s a strong point of sail and enough downwind that we’re not fighting the world. With the waves slightly abaft it can be a little bit wetter in the cockpit. 

Speaking of wet, it did not rain on us. The weather passed by very near but we barely got any sprinkles.

Friday 5/3

Whew! What a night. James broadened us out a bit to keep us on course, which put us a little bit more beam to the waves. The occasional monster now hits us amidship and breaks into the cockpit. It’s not more than about once an hour, but it takes longer than an hour to dry out in the dark chill.

The temperature isn’t terribly cold, maybe 14-15° C overnight. That’s fine when dry…less so when wet. It’s totally different from riding my bike in freezing conditions because the exercise helped me stay warm. On the boat, I tuck into a safe and comfy spot so the most work I’m doing is bracing a leg or two against the heaving of the boat.

Speaking of which, I think this experience is helping me calibrate the wave heights in meters. The range for this area was forecasted to be 1.5-1.8m at 8-10 seconds. I think we’re getting the high end of the wave heights at the low end of the period. 

I’m trying to stop converting measurements and just understand “a meter” as the distance from my fingertips, pinched as though holding something, to the very end of the opposite shoulder. In the Azores, I calibrated temperatures between 22° and 9° C, especially that 15° to 18° that was so common. In India, I got a good feeling for 22° to 32° C. Following cooking instructions in liters and ml isn’t totally new and some US consumer goods are already metric (1l bottled beverages, for example), so that’s relatively easy.

Dressed for the weather

Noon position: N 34° 50.713’ W 020° 31.240’
Distance noon to noon: 91.4 NM
Average speed: 3.81 kn
Trip distance covered: 273.5 NM
Distance to destination: 232 NM


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