Day 4: 15 October 2016
You may have noted that a theme of the passage updates for this trip have been the continual forecast for diminishing winds. We expected to have the wind diminish towards the end of Day 3 and we were sure that we would need to motor all of Day 4 and Day 5. However, we continued to have great sailing conditions through the night of Day 3 and into the morning of Day 4. We were pleased with each hour of consistent 12-15 knots of wind pushing us gently towards Cape Verde.
Shortly after sunrise, we were able to pick up a few close boats (Sameera & Jiyu) on the VHF radio. We were not able to see the boats on the horizon or AIS, but we knew that they were nearby (10-20 miles away) from our intended course and speed. The VHF conversation was focused on the numerous flying fish that we had all seen the previous night and the occasional crash-landing of a fish on the deck. Jiyu was hit by two flying fish; one landed on the deck and one entered the window and landed below! Since there wasn’t enough meat to feed the family, the crew of Jiyu tossed the fish back overboard. This discussion immediately encouraged Dorian and Anneka to scan the decks of Laridae, and sure enough, they found one fish on the port deck. Unfortunately for the fish (and for our breakfast plans), the poor choice of flight path was too long ago, and the fish was well dead (and partially dehydrated).
As you do with young kids on board, and plenty of time on your hands, we immediately started to dissect the fish and examine its stomach contents. After that short biology lesson, the obvious next step was to use the fish as a lure. After inserting a hook through its mouth, we connected it to our fishing line and tossed it overboard – thereby starting the next science lesson about the food chain. Dorian went into the common endless loop thoughts of an inquisitive nine year old and asked “what if a bigger fish bit the lure and then a bigger fish ate it, and a bigger fish ate it, and a bigger . . .?” Eliana was just happy that we had tossed the “lawyer” over the side to try to catch a big fish, and she asked us several times if we were still towing the “lawyer” behind the boat?!?!
While we are documenting cute Eliana phrases, it is worth noting that she has told us:
1. She does not like taking bus tours of volcanic islands because she is concerned that the volcano could “interrupt” her.
2. She is asking if we can find a “dock” halfway across the ocean so that she can rest and take a break from the rocking & rolling action onboard.
The next part of the morning was characterized by the deep, philosophical discussions that are possible when time is not counted the same as on shore. Anneka opened the discussion by asking “If you had the choice to live with small wings that would allow you to fly, would you want them?” We all decided that we would want to have the wings, but finding custom clothing to allow the wings to stick out from under our shirts would be a real challenge. Eric said he would need to find a different job because custom-fit suits (with wing holes) would be very expensive!
As forecast, the very steady wind of 12-15 knots slowly decreased to about 10-12 knots during the course of the morning. We took advantage of the diminishing wind and the stable weather to hoist the spinnaker again and keep the speed going towards Cape Verde. We enjoyed several hours of perfect spinnaker sailing — maintaining a wind angle of about 140-150 degrees with about 10 knots of apparent wind, and keeping up a speed of about 7 knots. The wind would slightly back, veer, gust, and lull over a period of 10-20 minutes, but a close attention to the autopilot allowed us to keep the boat moving safely and efficiently. Finally, after several hours of minding the helm in these nice conditions, Eric decided that the wind was plenty stable enough to go below for a short toilet break. Having not been down below for more than two minutes, the wind suddenly picked up to 20+ knots and Laridae was doing 10 knots surfing down the waves! With the crew rushing on deck, we doused the sail while the boat was roaring through the ocean with whitewater spraying up on both sides of the bow! Of course, as soon as the spinnaker was safely recovered (in fine fashion, I might add!), the wind resumed its previous 10-12 knot speed. . . for the next several hours! It is funny to note that those few minutes of 20+ knot winds were the ONLY occasion that we have encountered that much wind on this ENTIRE passage (so far)!
We continued to run before 12-15 knot winds for the rest of the afternoon and through dinner. Finally, at about 9 PM, the forecasted lull came quickly and within the span of about ten minutes we were left with light and variable winds. We started the motor to charge the batteries and begin our putt-putt-putt through this (hopefully) small high pressure zone to find more winds on the other side. We expect to be motoring through the night of Day 4 and much of Day 5.