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! 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. 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[…]

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To Azores Day 16

Wednesday August 9 Day 16 under the bluest sky’s you’ve ever seen…incredible! 1112.0nm traveled, 741 to go on this leg. 26.8nnm traveled in 24 hours…738.4nm to go meaning…we went 26nm to go 3nm in the right direction…that’s a new slowest record for us. James’ 6-7 pm watch 6:14 pm: James just made us a can of macnchz doctored up with pesto and bacn bits. We’d usually buff up that kind of meal with a sandwich but we ate the last of the bread a few days back and the last of the eggs before that. Actually, we have 4 more hard-boiled eggs for storm eating or to put in curries, but no regular ones. We definitely need more than 2 loaves of bread next time, but we didn’t realize we wouldn’t be able to get English muffins or pita. More bread products in general, and if something molds, it will feed the fishes. In cool water, we can also start with more than 18 eggs. There’s a lot of space under the stove against the hull, but it’s no good for eggs while in the Gulf Stream. More eggs and more room in the fridge is a big upside to being north! We’ve been out of fresh veggies for over a week and that’s fine. The last of the garlic fell in the sink and got drenched. We drank the last of the expensive apple juice yesterday but still have one each orange and cran-pom. We’re good on chips and trail mix. Lots of rice. Canned goods too. Beans, canned fruit, chili, ravioli, tomato soup, olives, mushrooms… The only trouble is that almost all our meals from here on out have to be assembled. For example, I can make a coconut curry, but that’s a bare minimum of 4 ingredients[…]

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To Azores Day 15

Tuesday August 8 Day 15 to the Azores and I’m (James) sad that I’m so incapacitated that I can’t even cook…the seas are still huge from yesterday’s gales and it seems we have another set bearing down on us from the NW now. I tried to cook and got thrown out of the galley by a wave. I truly hate this galley. This morning’s sunshine did dry some things out but we have a long way to go and not many dry things left. We past 1000nm last night in the storm…there’s no celebrating any of this for me right now. James’ 5-6 pm watch It’s getting nicer still and the waves are mild enough to bring them around towards the bow so we can broad reach. The wind is gentle enough to fly the single-reefed main and full yankee. It’s a terrific relief, but the real peace of mind came from fixing Lovebot’s chafing control line this morning. It had eaten through the cover of the double braid line and I (Dena) was worried it would chafe through the core before the waves got easier to work around. Nope. Fixed with very little effort compared to how hard I worked worrying about it. Dena’s 8-9 pm watch 8:26 pm: We crossed the thousand nautical mile mark, hooray! Yesterday was the halfway point and today is the second time zone change. Just racking up those reasons to celebrate. I (Dena) made clam dip. It was good. The wind came up in the late afternoon and we were reaching under main and yankee. I felt lighter and easier, though it was a more exciting ride. I loved feeling like we were getting somewhere. First time on this trip I’ve felt like that. It probably has something to do with the frustration[…]

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To Azores Day 14

Monday August 7 Day 14 to Horta…a new day a new storm. This one has teeth and seems even angrier than the last ten of them. We took the 3 largest rogue waves of our lives today…they weren’t rogue, we were. We’re experiencing a malfunction in the windward Monitor steering, it keeps popping out of the cam-cleat. It now has to be tied off at the tiller…hmm. Dena’s overnight watch…maybe 9:13 pm: Halfway There Day wasn’t the celebration I’d hoped for. I’d thought about a special snack and a special dinner (it’s all about the food), but we didn’t make any dinner at all. We hit noon under yankee alone, and that pulled out maybe 20%. By 4pm, the waves had grown to match the heavy wind. We sat quietly, listening for trouble and disciplining ourselves to calm. Anxiety can be exhausting. An hour after that, I swapped the hanky-yankee for a napkin of staysail. Lovebot was getting overwhelmed by the way the waves pushed us around, and a particularly nasty one pried open every possible opening to inundate the interior. Yep, we got splashed inside the boat. We took three of those, actually, over several hours. Beluga Greyfinger was on my lap for one of them and I had to hold him tightly in mid-air to keep him from scratching me up. Poor salty kitty! We’re all now salty to the max and hoping for some settled weather after this passes over. Salt attracts moisture, so it’ll feel wet aboard until we can do a general cleaning. Vinegar water for the melamine and Murphy’s for the wood. Laundering the towels we stopped it all up with will have to wait for the Azores. I barely convinced James to go to bed. I’m to wake him in 3 hours and[…]

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To Azores Day 13

Sunday August 6 Day 13 in our neighborhood started with that aforementioned brew…warm and black with a kick of consciousness at the end. The world’s ocean rolls and lulls us along at the pace of 2.4 knots. The speed of the verse today. I just love the colors of everything. A little yellow and red fish quickly inspects a man-o-war then ducks back under the boat for shade. We are a part of this world moving and living within this living and constantly moving system of careless intensity. Over the last 24 hours we traveled 58.4 nautical miles…not so great but hey we live here what else are we going to do? We seem to have come in to some settled weather…the clouds are the white fluffy variety and the winds are directly behind us and constant.I would prefer having more sail out but this is nice, we’ll take it. The hours off watch have become almost the same as the hours on watch. Lovebot drives Cetacea…we glide along within her protection away from another sunset. Dena’s 4-5 pm watch 4:08 pm: I worked on Shriving for three hours and that meant reading what I’d already written so I have a running start at what is left to cover. It felt like a lot so I checked the project stats and remembered suddenly that this is part of what withered my energy for the manuscript last time. I’m maybe a third of the way through the story and I have almost a hundred thousand words. Wow. This time, I’m going to just keep on going and not get stymied by the idea that there are a shit ton of darlings I’m going to have to kill. (Kill your darlings is one of those creepy sayings in the writing world, meaning[…]

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To Azores Day 12

Saturday August 5 830.1 NM in and 997.1 to go at 12 Days out of Bermuda! Down to them trip-figs and our Cetacea’s path through the verse has proven profound once again…all through the morning Dena and I traded off the long (mostly guesswork) process of navigating the prime wind line of a storm. We nailed it with nary a raindrop in the cockpit.I went south, Dena went east, I went a smidge to the south again and Dena squared us up on the following seas and now we’re heading back on course to Horta in a fair and kindly sea. There’s the Writing Tack. Port tack run with a double reefed mainsail only allowing the writer to be cradled on the down wind side while indulging in those creative endeavors. Then there’s the Sleeping Tack: Starboard run, same-same sail plan as above allowing that much needed rest for those intrepid overnight watchers. Sunday August 6 Dena’s overnight watch Midnight: When the sun set, the stars came out stronger than we’ve seen them since the moon approached full. The sweep of the galaxy hazed its arc and constellations were muddled by the dimmer stars we don’t always get to see. Behind us, agitated creatures phosphoresced like stars boiling in our wake. The moon rose small and orange at 11pm. It’s already bright enough to simplify the star field. 6:03 am: A longtail Bermudan swung by and left without acrobatics. As I watched it leave, I heard breathing and turned in time to see dolphin! A small group of the small ones dove across our bow again and again. When they took breaks, they came back and swam easily near the cockpit. There was no sign that they knew I was there, but I felt accompanied by neighbors. Dena’s 10-11 am[…]

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To Azores Day 11

Friday August 4 Dena’s noon shift Day 11…just as another storm creeps over the western horizon, gray curls of claws out with a banshee moan. Yeah, yeah I know this one. The rain on deck is a washing we desperately need…so that’s what we get. We did 73.8nm in the last 24 hours and it’s weird that that seems fast. We’ve come 773.2nm and we have 1048nm to got to Horta. 12:06 pm: A storm is reaching us just now and it was led by a wind increase. Not too bad, but James rolled in about 20% of the yankee and adjusted our course perpendicular to the storm line. That’ll give us the least possible amount of time inside. We’re both dressed for weather just in case, but we’re sitting it out belowdecks, doing the work of managing the tension. James’ overnight watch: My home is a massive living thing… !!!Slap!!! We just took a crazy rogue. My body hurts all over like it’s reacting to a major barometric change…our weems and plath says no…we think it’s a broken piece of shit. Pissy rain and flukey winds rule the day. What appeared to be a clear beautiful sunset just turned into another storm cell. Tonight is my first 12 hour overnight watch. Saturday August 5 2am: the moon was brilliant next to the lightning from abaft…the rains never came and I’m okay with that. Then, of course, the sun rose and the Ocean was brand new. James’ 10-11 am watch 10:27 am: The storm we prepped for did come, but not with a fury. We had rain all afternoon and then a brief clearing around sunset. It’s been on and off since then. We read a lot. I (Dena) worked on Shriving for a few hours. It felt like any[…]

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