Ten days out; one day away from Barbados…
We crossed the equator during the night, so no special celebration at the time. But in the morning the wind went light, so we furled the screecher, reducing our speed to 2 or 3 knots, put a line trailing astern, and took turns jumping in. Very refreshing! And always a fun experience to jump into water that you know is three miles deep. Of course it makes no difference if it is 10 feet deep or 10,000, but somehow the mind conjures up a touch of fear of the deep.
Not much has happened on this passage. Each morning and evening we check in with Tahawus and Maggie, and trade positions. Then we ask if anything exciting has happened, and for the most part there is silence. Boring, we say, and let’s keep it that way!
Without having our attention on problems, we focus mostly on our speed and our miles run from noon to noon each day. We had a brief period of doldrums, crossing from the predominantly SE trade winds of the South to the predominantly NE trade winds north of the equator. We were lucky to have flukey conditions for only one day. When the NE trades kicked in, that brought the wind on our beam (roughly 90 degrees from our course), which makes for fast sailing. Plus there was a favorable current. The 20 knot winds kicked up some uncomfortable cross seas and made for unwelcome spray in the cockpit, but we enjoyed the possibility of recording a 200+ mile day. We did 217. The next day we got caught in some counter-current (we were too far offshore) , yet we still logged 206. And the next day we worked our way back inshore, found the good current again, and set our all time noon to noon record with 228. Three in a row — fantastic! These runs pushed up our lead over Tahawus to 100 miles. Maggie is back about 450 miles.
Then the wind went light and the current diminished, with about 450 miles to go. We normally figure we can do 150 miles per day even in mediocre conditions, so we set our sites on arriving in Barbados in three days. Our arrival has to be in daylight (between 8am and 6pm, though I expect the authorities would head home if they saw us approaching at 5:30…). So we have to keep up the 150 pace or else we will have to heave to and drift for an entire night. We’re not keen on that idea, so we are watching our speed constantly. When the wind blows 10 knots on the beam, or 14 from behind, we’re good. When it is lighter (which is becoming more and more the case) we motorsail. We have enough fuel, so we should be able to arrive in time, but we’d rather be sailing! Unfortunately the forecast is for continued light winds.
All our fresh food is gone, so the cooks now have to get creative. I chopped and roasted some almonds to add to a can of green beans, to provide some crunch. I put dried mango and raisins and some chutney in last night’s leftover curry rice, for some interest and flavor. Our food has been excellent — better than I would normally have at home; but challenging now. We even ran out of onions, which I consider a major error in my provisioning. Never run out of onions! We celebrated Tim’s birthday; Josh cooked whatever Tim requested, and we baked chocolate brownies. Josh’s birthday is in 3 days, but of course we will be in Barbados for that.
Initially we saw many ships, rounding the NE corner of Brazil. But we haven’t seen any for 3 days. No airplanes. No trash in the ocean, either. No whales. Some pelagic birds, and frequently we have one or two roosting on the boat for the night. Once we had dolphins visit in the night under a brilliant full moon. That was magical. The night was so bright that you could see the dolphins swimming under water as they played near our bows.
Yesterday a line got caught under the hatch above my berth, and it ripped the hatch open, breaking the “dogs” that hold it closed. I desperately tried to find replacements, to no avail. Then a wave broke over the deck, and I got to watch the seawater slosh onto my mattress and bedding. To say the least, I was not happy. I came up with a solution before another wave came in — lashing an aluminum bar across the inside hatch frame, and using “Spanish windlasses” (twisting the lash lines) to tighten the hatch down to it. This is keeping the water out until Barbados.
Lots of reading: Ken Follett and Paul Theroux and one about the Qur’an that Jesse had been assigned in college. Lots of fiddling with the radio trying to send/receive email.