It has been quite an evolution since we last wrote to you. The very calm weather was actually the calm before the storm, and we are on the highway to it. But other than the wind that our boat can handle really well, the real challenge lies in the sea state for the sea men and the wind angle for the helmsman and navigator.
Early in the night we eventually turned off the engine as the wind picked up and allowed to move our elephant boat under sail only. It was a welcome change as we only have only a limited amount of diesel for the engine and the generator feeding our batteries. Of course we have a backup and a backup backup, but still we aim to keep those for emergency purpose only. The wind increased and shot us right back to Iceland. We managed to sail deep enough (so with the wind quite a lot in your back) to avoid getting too far off the route to home. The swell came later and made it a rather difficult job as waves pushed the boat around and brought you off course or off the wind angle. Watches were difficult as it takes the helmsman full concentration and the watches were split within themselves in 15 to 30 minutes stints on the wheel. Get side tracked and you risk raking the deck with the boom flying across it and making some physical and/or mechanical damage. Accidental gybes are a big no-no and are eliminatory in a Yachtmaster’s exam.
The morning watch got treated with a gust at 0800 AM as the skipper was sending the email to the fellow boats in our vicinity. The wind picked up for medium teens to 30 knots which in landlubber’s language means “starts getting pretty windy”. Within seconds the boat started heeling and we furled the genoa in right away, as we kept trucking downwind. It was a comfortable ride from then on and we stayed under main sail only for a few hours. EH01 reported getting the same spanking in the morn and sailing just with the job. They are lightweight in all perspectives, and this is also one of the many reasons why it is awesome being on Northern Child. We managed for a good part of the day to sail on the straight line home and also putting some money in the bank. On June 1st, right in time for Matt’s birthday, we are expecting 30 established knots at the entrance to the English Channel. Earlier grib files (weather data we download and feed into the computer in order to make our own weather analisis) showed up to 40 knots somewhere around the Scilly Islands and a bit North of where we could have ended up. So the name of the game became “go North enough to get some wind but don’t get cocky and push your luck”. The current strategy is to keep sailing on our current wind angle which sometimes pulls us away and some times brings us back on the route according to the wind shifts. Tomorrow we will gybe (controlled gybe, which means going through the wind on the back and having the boom changing side) when the wind is supposed to be unfavorable for us and put some East into our route. In doing so we will keep heading towards home at high speed. Otherwise, if it is as predicted, we should head north for now and get back on course little by little by 0100 tomorrow and then head not for the route itself but make way East to get away from the upcoming windy patch. By that time we will have a better wind angle towards the English channel and will be South enough to just get kissed by the blow which shouldn’t last more than 24h.
We spotted dolphins today and also a school of black dolphin looking whales escorting us for quite some time. We also spoke about monkey fists (a ball type of knot) and I made one, with which we played around a little during the happy watch with all on deck.
The afternoon was a mix of easy patches and more windy patches. Now we are getting ready for the night which looks like it is going to be another sporty one. Food has become more simple: easier to make and easier to eat.
You will hear more from us tomorrow. Now we are taking the time to get ready for the night and making a safe passage.
Cheers to all,