June 1996 - Bermuda to the Azores

1 June 1996   St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
Another really miserable day.  We did school work in the morning – Test Lesson 80 – halfway at last!  It threw it down all day.  The boys went over to “Truant” to watch a video while Glenys and I got on with the Internet Business Plan.

2 June 1996   St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
Raining in the morning, so we went to the Aquarium and Zoo.  It cost us $18, but was well worthwhile.  They had a very good Aquarium – alas no frog fish!  They had a good Museum and an Invertebrate House which was very good too.  We then went to the Crystal Caves which cost $15 for a 7½ minute tour – very pretty but what a rip off!  I was annoyed and sulked for 10 minutes.  

We arrived back at the boat at about five o’clock, but no beer. I popped over to “Truant” and scrounged some ice for our gin and tonics.  At about half past seven, an Italian single hander arrived and had a bit of trouble anchoring, so I went over to give him a hand – I could have stepped onto his boat, he was so close!

3 June 1996   St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
Raining again, but the low is starting to move NW and a high is creeping in from the east.  In a couple of days we should have 10-15 SE winds, so we’ll go then.  Glenys went to the launderette and I tidied up and attempted to get some neoprene seal for our saloon hatches which continue to leak – no chance!  I ended up putting more silicone sealant on the hatches.  Glenys took the boys to the playground while I got on with cleaning the toilet pump and other small jobs that I’ve been putting off.  “Kalida” arrived this afternoon – they’ve had four yucky days of 25+ knot winds.

4 June 1996   St Georges Harbour, Bermuda
SE15 wind this morning and the Azores high looks like it is settling in for the summer – unfortunately it’s stopping halfway between here and the Azores.  We plan to leave tomorrow and head a little bit more north than the Rhumb line.  

I ran around getting our propane tank filled and sorting out a group of boats to go and get diesel tomorrow.  The price of diesel is very high - $3.45/US gallon, but if we get 200 galls as a group, then we can get it duty free at $2.05/US gallon.  It’s worth messing about – we should save over $50.  

I spent the afternoon doing a few jobs ready to leave tomorrow.  It’s just sunk in that we are going to be spending 20 days at sea.  I have a knot of apprehension in my stomach, but I’ll be glad to get started (and get it over with!)  Glenys did her final shop this afternoon.  When she arrived back, she cooked 3 meals for the next few days.  All looks good – I’m pretty sure we’ll go.

5 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 1)
It’s my 40th birthday, but no time for that!  I cleared out at eight o’clock.  The forecast is high, high, high at 35°N 50°W.  If anything it seems to be getting stronger.  I suppose we go north east and then go up to 40°N to get around it – who can tell?  

We went to the fuel dock and filled up with diesel and water.  As soon as we had permission from Bermuda Harbour Radio, we motored straight out to sea.  It was a bit of a bouncy ride with a rather large swell for the amount of wind.  Craig slept most of the afternoon (he suffers from sea sickness the most).  I had a headache and became very lethargic – not a happy bear.  Glenys just got on with it and Brett displayed his normal cast iron stomach!

6 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 2)
Pleasant night with SE 10-20 winds.  It was pretty cold sitting in the cockpit – we wore full oilskins and wellies and I still needed to put my hood up to keep warm.  I listened to the reports from a flotilla, (Americans of course).  They are about a day ahead of us at 35°N 60°W and have S5-10 knots of wind.  That is exactly where we have set out first waypoint.  I’m going to change our first waypoint to 38°N 60°W to try to keep this good wind that we’ve got.  

We had good fortune until four pm, when the wind dropped to S10-12.  I put up the two poles, goose winged the genoa, but left the main and mizzen up.  We had a pleasant day, easily slipping back into a routine.  I listened to the weather forecast at half past seven, which said that the top of the high will be at 37°N 48°W on the 8th with a low moving to the north of us on the 9th.  Herb says to “shoot for” 37°N 47°W, so we’ll change course back to 070°M.  The log stopped working just before I went to bed. I pulled it out to clean it and there was something wrapped around the impellor that looked suspiciously like Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish tentacles. Unfortunately, I only thought about it after I had pulled them off with my fingers.  In a state of mild panic, I doused my fingers with vinegar and went to bed.

7 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 3)
Another pleasant, if boring night.  The flotilla ahead of us is getting less wind than us.  The closest, “Maria” is about 117M, 075°T ahead of us and seems to have a lot less wind – we will continue heading 060°M to try to keep our wind.  The log packed up again last night – probably picked up another jelly fish!  There is a Man-of-War jelly fish going by every 30 seconds – there must be millions of them out here.  

I feel like we’ve been at sea for weeks, but this is only Day 3.  Only 17 days to go – that’s 34 night watches (groan!)  the worst thing about night watches is being woken up!  Our midday fix gave us a 148 mile run for 24 hours which means we’ve done 267 miles in 2 days – not bad.  Let’s hope we can keep this pace (touch wood!)  We had a pleasant day with S12 knot winds.  Glenys baked some fairy cakes and made some Cornish pasties.  

At five o’clock, the sky had complete cover of mid-level stratus with lower level cloud on the western horizon.  I took the poles down because there is a chance that the wind might be in front of a beam reach.  The line of cloud arrived at about six o’clock and the wind veered 45° and picked up to 20 knots.  I decided to head more east while we’ve got such good winds.  The wind dropped a little bit but stayed steady until midnight.  The log clogged up again but cleared itself after a few hours.  Two of our spare water containers lashed on deck have developed holes and are now empty.  We’ve only got 10 gallons of spare water now – I hope we don’t run out!

8 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 4) 
Another pleasant night, we made pretty good time.  The wind veered another 10 degrees and it was hard to maintain 100°M without the genoa losing wind.  I was therefore dancing the light fantastic at six am, putting a pole up to starboard and goose winging the jib.  All this time, Glenys was trying to sleep – I wasn’t popular!  

I’ve started to read a book about the TCP/IP network protocol which drives the Internet – guaranteed to make me drowsy on the night shifts!  We had another pleasant day, sleeping, eating and reading.  Glenys gave the boys a bag of toys and books each for being so good.  

I tried to listen to Herb at five pm (2000 UTC) on 12359 kHz.  I sat there for 90 minutes with the headphones on listening to hisses and crackles and voices fading in and out.  Meanwhile Glenys and the boys were trying to keep quiet.  They all got mad at me!  I think that a front will be passing to the north of us on the 10th, but shouldn’t affect us as long as we stay well south of 38°N.  We decided to continue along the 36th parallel.  We will start heading north again on the 11th.

9 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 5)
We had a slow rock and roll night because we were running practically downwind.  The slatting of the sails makes a terrific noise every couple of minutes.  We’ve been doing about 4 knots most of the night.  I listened to the flotilla radio net and the nearest boat “Maria” is now 84 miles in front of us so we are slowly catching them up.  Another day at sea, ho hum!  

I slept until midday, we had lunch, we gybed onto port tack.  Glenys had a 2 hour nap; we had dinner (salmon lasagne) and started night watches.  The highlight of the day was the gybe.  It took about 15 minutes – rig up the port pole, take down the awning, remove hydrovane, remove main and mizzen preventers, gybe, reconnect preventers, put back hydrovane, gybe the genoa, reconstruct awning with windsurf mast as a support – phew!  

The forecast is for a front to pass tomorrow morning, giving us NNE10-15 tomorrow and the next day.  On the 12th we should be getting S-SW 20-25.  We had a pleasant sail up to midnight.  On my first watch we had a group of dolphins playing around the boat – I could not really see them, but I could see the occasional streak of phosphorescence and hear them blowing!

10 June 1996   St Georges Harbour to Horta, Azores (Day 6)
The wind became very blustery with 20-25 knot gusts and the hydrovane was struggling a bit.  At about one o’clock in the morning, the boat veered off downwind and the main gybed.  Scared me to death in the pitch black night!  Fortunately, the preventer stopped a complete, out of control gybe and I was able to sail back onto the correct course.  I decided to drop the mizzen, which improved matters, but we had a wild night with rain showers.  

The skies were very overcast at dawn and we had intermittent rain until about ten o’clock when it cleared up nicely.  The boats ahead of us at 37°N have run out of wind, perhaps we’ll take the wind with us!  Around midday, we had another rain shower and then, within the space of 5 minutes the wind veered from NW15 to NE15.  We went from a broad reach to beating – amazing!  

We had a very good afternoon sailing 100°M into a 10 knot wind with calm seas.  Only one thing of note happened – the bottom hinge of the toilet door broke.  I tried to repair it but couldn’t get two of the screws out.  I’ll have to drill the heads off and the drill has lost its charge.  I repaired it with the ubiquitous duct tape …..   I never thought that I would be hanging a door in the middle of the North Atlantic.  By dark, the wind had dropped to 5 knots and so we ended up sailing slowly all over the place.