16/06/2016 – Progress?

For the first five and a half hours after leaving the marina in Ponta Delgado we had a lovely smooth relatively fast sail along the south coast of the island though we only made about three miles towards the first waypoint we had put in the GPS! If you look at our track on either SPOT or the Yellowbrick (now that we have recharged it) you might well wonder where we plan to make landfall. Iceland perhaps? No we are going to Camaret, close to Brest, in the northwest corner of France. Our bizarre heading is an attempt to keep the wind for as long as possible as there is a large, untidy looking Low between us and mainland Europe. This is ‘déjà vu’ because our previous return with ARC Europe in 2010 was similarly challenged by the Azores High. That year the High went all the way to Scotland so we motored for 900 nM of the 1200 in a straight line to Camaret, arriving with just 30L of diesel! Starblazer has a bigger engine and we have less fuel in cans. We believe we have a range of about 650-700 nM so we have to sail as far as possible! ..... ..... When we left Ponta Delgado we expected to have to motor for up to three days before we would find suitable wind though GRIB files 3-5 days out are not that reliable. In the event we sailed for 36 hours, motored for 12 then sailed until now 18 hours later. ‘Sailed’ might be overstating our progress at times, ‘Drifting’ with just a little help from the wind might be a better description! We averaged about 5 knots for the first 48 hours, the next 24 will be nowhere near as productive. We are expecting to get more wind later today which will enable us to head northeast for up to 24 hours, if the Low does what it is supposed to do, then it will die out completely and we will motor in the right direction. We then hope to sail a little south of the line to Brest before finally heading there. Bermuda to the Azores was characterised by us staying further south than the direct line would suggest, to avoid gale force winds closer to the Lows which regularly whipped past. This time we are trying to keep closer to the Lows to get some favourable winds! ..... ..... Enough of the weather, it is what it is. We should still reach Camaret before Richard, our son. He is crewing on a boat, helping the owner get it from Portsmouth to Camaret, then hitch hiking back with us. We are hoping to arrive back at Hardway Sailing Club on Sunday 2nd July, about 16:00. That is probably the earliest we can get alongside the pontoon on a rising tide, it would be embarrassing to get stuck in the mud 10 metres from tying up! Yes, we have done that before, so we have learnt from that experience. However that is just over two weeks away and the winds might yet spoil our party. The High pressure is forecast to cause strong winds from between east and northeast straight down the English Channel, we cannot or will not battle against them. Hopefully the High will get pressed further south by a Low before then, allowing a flow of southwest winds to waft us home. We are hopeful! ..... ..... Life on board is pretty relaxed. In 48 hours we have seen only two ships both over 5 miles away. The AIS tells me there are no ships within 24 nM of us and it isn’t receiving information for anything up to 48+ nM. Of course we keep a lookout because there might be another yacht in our vicinity, but we have seen none. Closing the French coast we will have to far more vigilant because there are many fishing boats which either don’t have or don’t turn on their AIS transmitters. I believe they are allowed to stop transmitting so that their fishing area remains unknown to their competitors! ..... ..... Tuesday evening’s dinner was Moussaka which I’d cooked and frozen ages ago. Wednesday’s dinner was a lamb and frankfurter casserole which I’d cooked last Friday, before we found out we couldn’t leave, so froze down. Yesterday evening I actually cooked from scratch! I made a Thai Green Vegetable Curry with seven different vegetables to accompany the last of our Wahoo fillets and rice. The curry mix was some I’d made earlier and frozen. It was very tasty and we have a generous double helping left. ..... ..... Joyce

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