Friday, 19 December 2008

The Passage West. "The Middle Bit"

The Passage West. "The Middle Bit"

So this is what a trade wind passage is all about!

For the last 4 days we've had glorious weather.

Steady winds from the East at 20-25 Kts, double headsails no main. Really well balanced so that there is little pressure on the rig, auto helm and crew. Ok so there are always squall clouds at dusk, and the early evening is pretty dark, but after a few hours the moon is out and all seems well.

This is the sort of sailing you dream about. Enough wind to surf at 12-14kts on occasion 16 to keep the excitement, but plenty of hours of steady 8-10 kts in glorious sunshine and not too much swell banging the boat around.

When the swell breaks under her, Pegasus is really quite noisy and the whole boat shakes and moves as the power of the waves traverse through her. It always amazes me that big structures…..bridges , skyscrapers etc have so much movement when made from principally rigid materials. Pegasus is the same and she moves, shudders and creaks as she is pushed around by the breaking swell. This can be quite unnerving at times, but I think were now getting used to it, although it always makes me jump and think the worst for an instant. I think sometimes it scares poor Louis, although JJ seem not to notice

The steady sailing has allowed us more of a family time….the first we've had really since arriving in the UK back in July.

Amanda and the boys have been busy preparing Christmas. The play bunk looks like Santa's grotto, and we have fairy lights and a starry ceiling in the pilot house…now I understand what all those Ikea essentials were!

We have all been making decorations for the tree, and today we moved the tree from the dinghy and set it up in the port side saloon. We all had a fun afternoon decorating the tree, and the boys have started stripping the sweets and decorations from it already. I wonder how long it will last inside. The tree is the top of a small pine tree from the temperate zone in La Palma, so may not like the heat.

So we have the tree, the decorations are up the icing is on the cake and the "Santa Stop Here" sign is up in the window…were all set.

Bananas, yes we have Bananas. The huge stem we picked up in La Palma has, oh so suddenly, ripened off so we have quite a few that are ready to eat. Louis must have eaten a dozen today alone, and it hasn't dented the supply. I'm sure we will have some on our arrival…coals to Newcastle?….. definitely.

The fishing has also improved and we have now landed 2 Mahi Mahi, although I seem to be keeping up my form by loosing them. I must have lost 4 good fish since I last wrote. Oh well, I'm sure my fortune will change and look forward to a good size Tuna, although with the water temp now at 80 degrees it may well be too warm…not fussy, will accept a Wahoooooo!

Its great to be back in warm water. There's nothing more refreshing than a bucket of water over someone's head to raise the spirits. I joke with JJ and he and I throw water around in the afternoons, and Louis usually gets a side swipe which makes him squeal.

Standing on the nets in the sunshine pouring buckets of water over yourself is totally refreshing, and in a funny way there's something very liberating about it…I'm not sure what!.

The boys have settled down well. They play together, JJ winds Louis up, Louis winds JJ up and they both make a lot of noise and mess. Amanda, and to a lesser extent myself spend a lot of time cleaning up after them and servicing their needs…. juice, milk, food, nappies, DVD on, games, more clearing up…etc. Were lucky if in a day we have 10 minutes together away from the demands of the Boys.

In the evening its different, but the domestic machine can only operate if we both have enough sleep and time for reflection,. I have total peace, just Pegasus and myself, from 8pm through 1am, and Amanda has peace from 1am to 5am. Saying that, during the rough weather Louis has been sleeping anywhere Amanda is, so she hasn't been getting the solitude at night, which is an important part of being offshore.

As we head west we are loosing one hour every 15 degrees, so the boys are getting up earlier…but don't seem to be going to bed any earlier!!.

Louis usually appears at about 5am to do his night watch, followed by JJ half an hour later.

A night watch for the boys consists of getting under the blanket on the Banquette in the pilot house and kicking each other. After half an hour or so I can usually break this up with the offer of Breakfast …wheatabix or croissants.

It is now less that a thousand miles to Grenada, and I'm working out our approach.

It looks like the wind will go light and slightly north over the next two days then increase to 20+ kts for a day or two as we approach land. Yesterday I decided to head more south and reached SW at 10 + kts in 15Kts breeze. This means I can now reach north of west in the lighter airs maintaining a good speed, putting us upwind and wave for our approach to the southern end of Grenada.

I have a small concern that the wind and Waves from the NW will be opposed to the North flowing current which could increase the wave action as we approach land and the shelf where the Atlantic seabed rises to form the plate on which Grenada sits. This is potentially a bad sea situation but it shouldn't last more than a few miles and I'm sure if I pick the point where we transit the shelf it shouldn't be too bad…. ETA Prickly bay 24/12….I hope.

A few Stats for the interested.

Our daily mileage from day 7 to day 10.
178nm, 183nm, 177nm, 186nm.

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