Firefly, 27 November: Our watches are becoming better established and the only sign of dissent so far is that Duncan is a compulsive whistler
Now, at nearly 21 W we are well clear of the effect of the islands and so have a clear 20-25 knots out of the north east. Not that we are in the Trades yet, indeed it is still cold enough to dress up for night watches, but at the last minute the Azores High re-established itself for the first time in weeks and is now giving us a fast, if uncomfortable ride out into the Atlantic.
Uncomfortable is almost too good a word. Each move has to be planned carefully as Firefly corkscrews her way downwind on a broad reach. Without the first reef we have the option of full main, when she charges away at a huge speed, rounding up in spectacular fashion when a wave catches under the quarter and no-one below has a chance of sleeping, or two reefs when she waddles along in a more sedate fashion but still maintaining over 7 knots.
At this stage of the passage balancing the needs of the crew with those of the boat is critical. All of us were a bit short of sleep before the start after a round of parties and the high adrenalin of those first few hours’ sailing left us pretty drained. Sleep did not come easily during the first 24 hours, neither did eating properly so by Monday night the decision was made to slow the boat down from 8 knots plus to 7 to allow us to get some quality rest and eat a proper meal. This morning, Tuesday, saw a much happier crew.
I have opted for a northerly course on the grounds that for the next few days the forecast wind here is better and because if we can hold the rhumb line all the way we save something like 300 miles over the traditional route of going south till the butter melts. The risk is running out of wind as we move out of the influence of the Azores High and before we pick up the Trades. I suspect that we might be making a little hike south in 3 or 4 days.
The crew are well and falling well into the routine now. Our watches are becoming better established and the only sign of dissent so far is that Duncan is a compulsive whistler. As any God-fearing, superstitious mariner will tell you, to whistle is to whistle up a storm and right now we have plenty of wind, thank you. Meanwhile, in the background, the breadmaker clicks away to itself, wafting delicious smells round the boat in readiness for lunch.