Day 4: 12 November 2016
Day 4 dawned to find a substantially more organized sea state, smaller waves, and about 15-20 knot winds from the ENE. This was the perfect combination for ideal trade wind sailing. The motion on the boat was much more comfortable, yet we were able to continue to sail quickly in our intended direction.
We used the more comfortable motion as an opportunity to catch up on school work and cook lots of great food. In an effort to get ahead of the mold race, we cooked a large batch of french toast for breakfast. For lunch, we enjoyed a chilled pasta salad with loads of fresh tomatoes. Dinner was highlighted with a large serving of “Bryan’s Famous Burritos” (named after Eric’s grad school roommate’s simple, but awesome recipe), with toppings of freshly chopped tomatoes and spicy salsa.
Dorian’s drifter with his message in the bottle was deployed 2.5 degrees (about 242 km) WSW of the previous drifter at a position of 14N, 32.5W. We plan to deploy Eliana’s drifter tomorrow at a location 2.5 degrees away from Dorian’s drifter in an experiment to see how differently the three drifters move when deployed closely, but equally spaced away from each other.
Another passage milestone was crossed and celebrated today as we reached the 25% completed mark (525 miles sailed, 1575 miles to go).
We did something else unusual today – we turned! From the onset, we decided to not take a direct sailing route (along the rhumbline) from Cape Verde to Barbados. Rather, we first sailed a little south of the direct route. We made this decision for several reasons. First, the winds and seas at the beginning of the passage were such that it was a safer and more comfortable ride to sail an angle a little south of the direct route. Second, we anticipated the strong NE winds would veer to the more traditional ENE and then East trade winds as we worked our way further south and west. Third, the trade winds are typically a little more consistent south of the direct route. Finally, being a little closer to the equator can be a good plan if there was to be any hint of a late-season tropical depression. The circulation around a low (strong winds) are weaker towards the equator.
Because of these reasons, we picked an arbitrary waypoint at a location 13N, 35W. This waypoint is approximately 1/3 of the distance westward from Cape Verde to Barbados, and at the same latitude as Barbados. As we were approaching within about 50 miles of this waypoint, the winds, seas, and weather forecast (a good forecast) indicated that we were sufficiently south enough and we could turn to the right about 20 degrees and sail a direct route Westward to Barbados. We are happy to corroborate our (numerous) GPS system and sail directly towards the setting sun!
So, if you look at our PredictWind or Spot Tracker maps, you should notice that we turned today. A very exciting activity, indeed. Please note, however, that we didn’t have to adjust the sails much — these are the trade winds, of course – where adjusting the sails is a rare occurrence. We have been sailing with the same set (genoa polled to starboard, staysail polled to port) since the morning of Day 2.
On a less sarcastic note, the astute observer may notice that the battery voltage on our Spot Tracker map may show a low voltage warning, and eventually die out. We only have a few spare batteries for this tracker (AAA Lithium batteries are difficult to find around here). However, not to worry, we are well and the PredictWind tracking map will continue to work as the Iridium GO is connected directly to the boat batteries which are in good condition and can be recharged with the sun, wind, water, and engine!
The daily run total was 150 miles. The weather forecast is favourable with continued 15 knot winds from the East for several more days.