To Azores Day 17

Thursday August 10

Still becalmed in the great Atlantic flow, 15,404 feet of the bluest water one could imagine directly under us.

Marathon, FL. 2061nm

Lake Sylvia, Fk. Lauderdale, FL. 1970nm

Convicts Bay, Bermuda.1069nm

We broke all of our previous offshore sailing records…San Francisco to The Big Island of Hawaii was 2040nm. Today we are 21nm farther out to sea from our starting point than we’ve ever been before.

James’ 1-4 pm watch

1:31 pm: I (Dena) did it! I went swimming underway in the ocean! It was colder than I expected and so salty. I enjoyed being all the way immersed and rubbed myself down with a washcloth. Ahhh, my skin is so happy!

14,707 ft of water!

We were still moving, and I won’t do that again. It’s not that easy to hold onto the ladder and scrub myself clean while the water is really flowing. I’ve done plenty of swimming in currents as strong while at anchor but, without the dinghy behind and in the middle of nowhere, the consequences of something going wrong seem more dire.

James watched over me, boat pole in hand in case any largish fish decided to check me out. We have a few little ones that have adopted our shade, but they didn’t get within a foot of me.

Starboard tack cockpit nest

James’ 5-6 pm watch

Dena went for a swim but the wind kicked up so we sailing shortly thereafter…it died again so we tucked the second reef down and watched the verse breath…in and out…up and down…over and over again.

The wind came up around 4pm and the sailing got good!

Dena’s 6-7 pm watch

6:14 pm: We have been sailing east-northeast with double-reefed main and 100% yankee since the wind came up. We’re doing a lot of 3 knot moments and it feels comfortable…too comfortable to go shake a reef. First it was because we weren’t trusting the wind to stick around. Then it was time to cook. Now it’s getting close to the dusk period when the wind often dies out a bit before it comes back for the night. Then it’ll be night.

Really, it’s just not a priority to push for every fraction of a knot we can get. If we average 3 knots, we’re looking at arriving about 11 days from now. That would put us right on the 28 days I was thinking likely.

The unlikely 4 knot average would get us there in 8 days, so only 3 days earlier. I’m not really stressed about those extra 3 days.

If we keep slowing down (or going backwards like yesterday) and average something closer to 2 knots, Horta is still 15 days away. That’s not the most exciting thought, but it’s not terrifying either. The problem is that we’d be almost done with August without having made it north to Ireland and the UK. It’s a real possibility that we won’t be able to go there unless we decide to stay there for the winter.

If we have to find somewhere else to be for winter, we’re looking at Lisbon and North Africa for options. We need cruising guides for those areas, and to do some research on visa time limits and entry/exit fees.

Well, clearly we don’t have to have that decided right away. We won’t be able to even do a web search for at least 8 days!

Those waves!

Friday August 11

Tonight’s my (James’) long overnight. It’s funny I’m really looking forward to it this time!

The darkness is punctuated by the light of the galaxy around us…we move away from our old lives at the natural rate of universal expansion…about 4 knots.

The wind was strong and steady all night with two reefs and a blankey-yankee we rolled through the verse on a growling fallowing sea. The moon rose in that photogenic way that only a late waning creset can. Stabbing upward through an orange nimbus slicing the sky from the ocean…

Dena’s 11-noon watch

11:32 am: I’m sitting in the cockpit because why not? It’s a bright sunny day but with fluffy clouds strewn about. Between the cloudy moments and the strong breeze, it’s very comfortable.

I stood over the tiller all the way at the back of the cockpit again, just to give my butt a rest. Holding on to the backstay and tower was laborious for my arms though (and I was also working my back and abs and hips and legs, but all of those are stronger than my arms), so I didn’t last all that long.

We’re sailing east, finally. We’re just south of the point I had originally identified as a good place to turn east given where the Azorean High was forecasted to be. We’re cutting the corner a little (about 20 miles) but we’re certain not seeing the dead air we’d expect if the high had moved north,.at least not at this end.

I’m thinking a lot about how we got caught by that countercurrent and lost a whole day to backtracking and getting north of it. Next time I’m seeing a drop in speed over the ground via the GPS while our speed through the water feels like it hasn’t changed, I’m going to angle north and hope to miss the strongest part of the foul current. Any northing we do now will mean making south later, though. We are on the latitude of Horta.

I cycle through being so very here, now to thinking about what we’ll do on Faial, Pico, and São Jorge (the three Azorean islands we’re most likely to visit) to worrying about what comes after that. Bagging the plan to head north would mean not meeting my newly discovered cousin, and Dad has been planning to fly over for that. I sure would love to see him!

The decadent and most exciting possibility is heading to Portugal and then into the Mediterranean for winter. We could head north in the spring and have copious amounts of time for visiting Ireland, England, Scotland, and even Denmark and the Netherlands…France and Spain?

Then back to the Mediterranean for the Size canal and we get to India in about the same amount of time as going around South Africa.

It’s all just throat-clearing for now, though. Lots of details to work out.


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