Friday, 14 February 2014

Temptress Does the Atlantic - Day 1

Wednesday 12 February - the Skipper and Joe made a run ashore to check boat
and crew out, retrieve the boat papers from the port captain, purchase some
provisions, a gas bottle refill and a can of diesel. Meanwhile Paul and I
(the naviguesser) got the boat ready for sea. The fleshpots of Mindelo such
as they are (poor food, pleasant art and craft galleries, beer at European
prices and a taxi tour of the island) did not outweigh the gusting windiness
of the anchorage which at times necessitated leaving at least one crew on
board to mind the boat. We'd all rather be at sea.

Around 11 am the hook came up, a major task as Temptress skitted first one
way then the other round her chain in the strong gusts sweeping down the
anchorage from the hills surrounding Mindelo. It was as if the trade winds
piled up on the other side then rushed over together. By noon we had the
main up with the third reef and were motor sailing out picking our way
between the anchored wrecks and charging the batteries as the sun was
partially obliterated by the large amount of Sahara in the air. Out in the
channel between the islands a strong current heading south and almost gale
force winds as the Trades were funnelled between the two islands mountainous
countryside. We could hardly see Santo Antao opposite. Once clear south of
the land Temptress set a course for Grenada with the watermaker running for
several hours to half replenish tank 2.

The seas were rough and confused with all the streams round the islands
often knocking the wind literally out of the sails. Then below Santo Antao
the western most of the islands Temptress was almost becalmed in the lee of
its mountains despite not being able to see more than a ghostly outline
through the dust of the hamrattan. Lunch (salami and tomato sandwiches) came
and went. The wind gradually increased, it was a wet and bumpy ride with the
north easterly trade on our beam - we are rapidly realising that dodgers
along the guard rails either side of the cockpit could be a good idea in
this sort of sailing. Waves hit the topsides , rose upwards to be blown down
on to hapless crew (mostly Joe).

The skipper preferring to be sailing more downwind queried our course of 277
deg which is slightly north of West; why aren't we heading south? Surely
grenada is south of here? It is but only by some 3 or 4 degrees over 2163 nm
so the angle is shallow about 260 but here in the N Atlantic the magnetic
variation is huge 10 deg about the Cape Verdes increasing to 17 or 18
degrees as we venture west before decreasing a little on the western side.
266 + 10 = 276 degrees ie our compass course will be slightly north of west
but our true course will actually be less. Things will improve as the great
circle route from the Cape Verdes gradually has us turning south as we
approach the half way mark. A yacht was spotted heading in the opposite
direction towards Mindelo, sails down, motoring through the steep seas and
pitied those on board.

We were pleased that we had cooked supper yesterday as conditions in the
galley even simply reheating chicken in a tasty tomato sauce and boiling
some pasta bows was a major effort for the appointed galley slave (me). The
work surfaces pitched and rolled, nothing stayed still for an instance and
using two hands for any task impossible, one was always needed to steady the
chef. However an inspired improvement wrought before we left Mindelo of two
pieces of non-slip matting across the top of the fridge/coolbox surface was
helpful in keeping smaller items in place as the increasing breeze began to
gust F7 at times.

A new night at sea and a new watch rota; the old one was companionable with
two crew on together but the four hour stints difficult to keep awake
through. The new system has one person per two hour watch meaning stretches
of six hours per night in a bunk for the off watch. I took the first watch
7-9 whilst Joe opted not to go to bed for two hours so we sat and chatted
under a full moon. It was an uneventful night, nothing on the VHF, no
shipping and few stars due the brightness of the moon, just one dolphin
moment and one instance of George deciding it was all to much and going
abruptly to standby mode unrequested much to the confusion of the watch who
initially thought the wind had gone forward and sprang to adjust the sails
before realising Temptress was rounding up due to lack of autohelm. AS we
put distance between us and the Cape Verdes the wind moderated a bit to F4-5
gusting 6 and the seas became a little less confused.

1 comment:

  1. love reading the detail on the navigation, very interesting