Our first real offshore passage
Pretty much all the sailing we've been doing on The Dream qualifies as an offshore passage but I think the difference between doing a 2-day passage parallel to the coast 50-100 nm in distance is not comparable to do the same towards the middle of the ocean. So here we are, freshly arrived in Madeira, after a 488 nautical miles passage from Rabat. A straight line into the Atlantic Ocean! This was up to now our second hardest passage. Nothing beats rounding Cape Sagres hand steering in building seas and winds as the night falls (John could speak lots about this) for first experience sailing just the two of us alone. It was a great experience to leave the coast behind our backs and progressively forget about the little fishing boats, the fishing nets and pots. Having only to keep an eye on a few cargo and tanker ships passing us at large.
And then get freaked out with some seriously small lights floating just above the waterline were only visible when we're super close to them in a moon filled night, and that we are sure were big depth fishing nets. Managing to do our planned shifts on watch, three hours on three hours off, first night at the helm but the two following ones just hanging around in the cockpit keeping an eye on our iPad that mirrors the chart plotter. During this passage, we identified other points/areas of the yacht that need some improvement to make these trips more comfortable. It's good to get to know our boat better.
And as we were approaching Madeira Archipelago we saw dolphins! Quite a few actually having fun with our yacht swimming from one side to the other as if racing us.
Shortly after we saw some porpoises but very hard to take photos, they were very shy so we could only see them just below the waterline. This was also the passage where we broke our speed record without even wanting to do it or trying. We hit the 12 knots SOG (speed over ground) marker and while we were sailing with 2 reefs on the mainsail and the Genoa! It was a very good sail with the wind pretty much always on our starboard side beam, averaging 24 knots despite the forecasts of 20 knots.
This was also the passage where John made his first catch, a Mahi-Mahi (Dorado)! The passage in numbers: Total hours: 72 h Total nautical miles: 488 nm Maximum speed recorded: 12.3 knots (during a few seconds) 10-11.6 knots a few times Average speed: 7 knots Maximum wind speed recorded: 28 knots Average wind speed: 24 knots Maximum swell: 3 meters Average swell: 2.5 meters Wildlife: 8 dolphins, 3 porpoises, 1 monk seal, a suicidal squid on deck and our Mahi-Mahi catch.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.