At sea - Week 2
Week 2 was considerably easier than week 1. During the first week we had reduced sail as the winds increased, removing the top sails, taking down the outer jib which was putting an immense strain on the masts and rigging and reefing the main and fore sails. Even so we were sometimes making 8-9 knots and in the first 4 days we covered 650 nautical miles. Had the winds continued and had they been pushing us in the right direction we could have made the crossing in 12 days instead of the 18 days that it eventually took.
After our first week of sailing the winds dropped significantly over the course of one night and with the diminished winds the seas flattened and the swells reduced to a metre or two, infinitely easier to live with. To put that in perspective, when sitting in the saloon for meals and looking through the saloon’s windows, the horizon sinks as the boat rolls so that you see nothing but sky at the bottom of the roll and then the horizon line rushes up past the tops of the windows and you are looking at nothing but sea on the peak of the roll. This happens rhythmically and predictably, the only difference between this and more violent weather is the speed, violence and irregularity of the motion that we experienced in the first week.
With smoother seas life was once again fun and we had enough wind to keep the ship traveling at around 6 knots. One of the things that we had practiced while moored in Bermuda was climbing out to the end of the bowsprit and I was very keen to do this while under sail as well as climbing a mast to get some shots down to the deck from above.
Climbing out on the bowsprit was a fairly easy activity as long as the ship was sailing smoothly without significant seas to deal with. Once the sailing got rougher however life out on the bowsprit got very wet as the ship would rise on a swell, the end of the bowsprit rising to point at the sky and then swooping rapidly down at the bottom of the swell to raise cascades of water from the bow wave. We had periodically been escorted by troupes of dolphins swimming easily along the sides of the ship and then racing ahead to leap out the water and pace the ship in the bow wave. My hope was to try and catch dolphins at play from the end of the bowsprit and get what I knew would be some very good shots with the camera. Tried a couple of times sitting on the netting under the bowsprit and waiting for dolphins to appear. Alas, never happened. Their appearance was unpredictable and the amount of time they spent was short, 3 or 4 minutes at most, which did not allow enough time to harness up and get to the end of bowsprit to shoot them so unfortunately will have to wait until another time. Best solution would be to mount a camera in a semi-permanent spot on the bowsprit and have it video the bow in a continuous 15 minute loop so that only the last 15 minutes of time is available for download which would leave enough time to shoot the dolphins and then retrieve the camera before the footage was overwritten. Future project!
Climbing the mast was also on my agenda. I waited for a reasonably calm evening, wanted to get the sunset, and then clipped on the lifeline and climbed the ratlines of the foremast.
As we drew towards the end of our second week, the intensity of the speculation grew with respect to our arrival date. I’m fortunate in that V is flying in to meet the ship and then we have booked a couple of hotels and a car as we intend to spend 8 or 9 days exploring the island of San Miguel, the largest of the Azores and our arrival port. If we’re a day or two late, it will be dull for V to spend time on her own but she at least will be able to get around and enjoy the area. The others who are leaving the ship in the Azores, a couple of crew as well as a couple of Voyage Crew as we are known, have flights booked that assumed that we would arrive late on May 1 or early on the 2nd. After our 13th day at sea, our projected arrival date, obviously dependent on wind and weather, was likely to be somewhere between the 3rd and the 5th of May. At this point, sat phones came into play as those affected by the late arrival date began trying to make flight and itinerary changes.
Stay tuned for the next chapter….!