To Azores Day 24

Thursday August 17

Day 24 starts at 244.9nm from Horta

1673.2nm from Bermuda.

The sky is the clearest blues only the seas won’t give us a break…giant

I’m IJames) finding it harder and harder to focus on anything…it almost seems as if my balance is shutting down…it isn’t of course but I am feeling the fatigue of this leg of the adventure.

Lovebot has become almost useless on a port tack. We’ve been managing that tack by over balancing on everything…sails, control lines and cheating to lee at the tiller. It doesn’t work really, it just points the boat in a line. Really looking forward to rebuilding that machine with the utmost care. Well deserved after the beating we’ve given it the last year and some change. I still believe that’s testament to its design.

Dena’s 1-4 pm watch

1:37 pm: We going downwind with just about half the staysail out. With the yankee, it was still holding too much air. When the northern swell…some big mean almost-breakers…would rise from nearly on our port beam, she’d trip on her keel and heave to starboard. The yankee would keep us heeled over too long, long enough to dunk the starboard rail in the upwind side of the wave, or for the next wave in the set to hit us on our exposed port side.

Now we’re bobbing over them more upright. If it weren’t for the fact that those are the odd waves, coming only every few minutes or less, we could steer differently. We’re set up well for the real average waves, which are more west-southwesterly.

James didn’t sleep well last night, but it’s probably for the best he’d rather nap than write. I didn’t risk my computer yesterday either, so these rough days have more than one negative effect. On the upside, we’re really moving along!

I’m determined that we should eat something substantial at every mealtime (whatever we decide that means) because the last thing I want is to be hangry and fuzz-brained if it gets worse and we really can’t cook. Today has been a shared package of peanut butter cracker/cookies and a shared can of chili. Really, it’s better than nothing and if all we get for dinner is cold baked beans from the can and more crackers, so be it.

2:30 pm: If the wind were coming the same direction as these big rollers, I do believe they’d be breaking. They’re already tipping rather steeply, but the wind is blowing the tips lengthwise down the roller instead of over the leading edge. We’re still doing okay and not looking at closing up and just hoping it all works out…yet. Gale force winds now and then are keeping me attentive.

The weird part is that the splashing I’ve gotten hasn’t been part of the biggest waves. It’s some smaller peak bursting against the topsides and being blown into the cockpit. Very strange.

James’ 6-7 pm watch

6:28 pm: We just gybed and monitored Lovebot a while on the new heading. Racing clouds give us hope that this weather will pass us by. I mean, of course it will eventually. Sooner would be better.

It’s not taking a toll on the boat that I can tell, but Beluga has been in the forepeak since just after he used the litter box this morning, James is getting doomsday loops in his mind, and he and I are both getting physically fatigued from moving around in the upheaval.

So don’t move, right? Even then we have to brace ourselves periodically when the general heel reverses on the back side of a wave. It’s a certain kind of labor and we’re about 15 months out from having gym memberships. I’m not sorry the last year’s been coastal cruising…we wouldn’t have done the electric motor conversion if we hadn’t been…but we were more in shape for this trip back when we first attempted it.

Dena’s overnight watch

9:07 pm: Conditions are improving but not enough to swap the staysail out for the yankee. I do believe it’s going to be a fairly mellow watch after all!

5:36 am: A little after midnight, I realized that something had changed. We were going south, and yet we weren’t broad reaching. It wasn’t a Lovebot failure.

Wind change!

The wind had come far enough north that I had to gybe to a port tack in order to sail with any reasonable east to the course. It had also died out a lot, so I went back to the yankee (at 100%) and furled the staysail.

More drizzle drove me below and I napped with the alarm on. When I woke next, I checked the AIS, etc and went back to sleep.

About quarter to 3 am, I realized we were floundering. Oh shit. I was really hoping to put off raising the main until some light had reached me but…

Slowly, slowly, I got the sail readied and then raised. I left both reefs in because there were bursts of strong wind among the light ones. I adjusted further upwind (barely achieving the southeasterly angle on the other tack from before the wind change) and again ducked below.

So now we’re up to this awakening, when both sails were being noisy as hell and my phone was under me, hot from playing the alarm ditty for a half hour unheard.

The wind had died enough that the main couldn’t provide weather helm. I brought the tiller way over to help the monitor out, but what I really need to do is shake a reef. I’m belowdecks again, vaguely hoping it’ll wait for more light, as I’d hoped earlier, but it just did that same flutter.

But hey. At least we’re not running in a gale with 20 foot peaking waves from two directions. And a swath of stars opened up through the dark cloud cover, though I continued to be freckled with light rain.


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