Day 3: 14 October 2016
Our third day at sea has been similar to the past two days. We are lucky to continue to receive about 10-15 knots of wind from behind (NNE) and have not used the motor since the middle of Day 1.
We set two important ‘halfway’ milestones today. First, we are now halfway to Cape Verde. We crossed the 400 mile mark and now have less than 400 miles to go. More momentous is the halfway to-the-Caribbean milestone that we also have achieved today! We have traveled a total of 2500 miles since leaving Inverness, Scotland, and we have about 2500 miles remaining until we arrive in the Caribbean (400 miles to Cape Verde + 2100 miles from Cape Verde to Barbados). While we are halfway to the Caribbean, we are only about 25% of our time through the one-year trip (July-October). This means that we get to slow down substantially once we arrive in the Caribbean and really enjoy the numerous islands, anchorages, cultures, and people — without a lot of long ocean passages in between.
We decided to celebrate these milestones today with a nice lemon cake. We will celebrate in true fashion tomorrow with . . . showers! 🙂
Today was also a day of flying. We have passed loads of schools of flying fish. As the boat approaches, they get startled and fly, en masse, across the sea. They seem to usually head upwind and can fly above the surface for distances of up to about 100 m! So far, none have landed on the boat, but we will continue to scan the decks for a free protein addition to our meals.
We also flew the spinnaker for about three hours today. The wind and seas were just the right combination to give us the motivation to unleash the Happy Hippie (the 40 foot tall mascot emblazoned on the spinnaker). We were sailing downwind with about 15 knots of true wind (7-9 knots apparent) at an apparent wind angle of about 150 degrees. The 1.5 m swell was directly behind us and we were maintaining speeds of 6-7 knots and occasionally surfing the waves at up to 9.5 knots! It was a fun ride while it lasted, but we ultimately had to take it down and go back to flying the white sails as dinner and the SSB net (managed by Angela) approached. The spinnaker is still on deck and may be flown tomorrow again as the wind is forecast to be lighter.
After sailing 400 miles on a port tack since leaving El Hierro, we decided to do something adventurous – gybe! Based on the weather forecast and the winds, we gybed to starboard tack and started sailing on a direct course for our destination in Cape Verde. The is true ocean sailing where you can sail 800 miles and only need to turn once!
Still no fish today, but we lost another lure. We are hopeful that the more frequent sightings of flying fish, frequent lure losses, and therefore the ever-rising-cost-of-the-first-fish-we-catch (now estimated at £50/kg!) are good signs and we will continue to do our best to land a beast.
Night watch finds us sailing under a full moon and very calm seas with about 10-12 knots of wind behind us. While these conditions do not make for epic sailing stories, we are very happy to continue to glide effortlessly through the water at a speed of about 4.5 knots (aided by a 0.5 knot current!), have a comfortable ride, and enjoy the time together. The calm is occasionally interrupted by the sights and sounds of dolphins splashing about to catch their dinner of fresh flying fish.
The total run today was 126 miles. Tomorrow is forecast to have the wind slowly decrease and we expect to be motoring by tomorrow afternoon and possibly much of the 16th before catching a little wind for the final push to Cape Verde.