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Transat Diary - Day 6 - Acceptance

Day 6 (2023-01-09)

The day was spent very much changing the Jib to poled and then unpoled on a beam reach while trying to make the most of our predicament. There was also quite a bit of debate regarding hoisting the mainsail or not, the decision was to not do it. There was some concern regarding the forecast in the last couple of days due to some strange warnings of gusts we couldn’t understand and also a huge area marked as thunderstorms and high seas that kept showing and disappearing on the forecast. We decided to continue playing the safe card aka being chickens and continue doing the miserable speeds we have been doing the last few days. The last thing we needed was another breakage.

We did a quick test of the autopilot now that it had cooled off but it seems it’s dead. It was just too much pressure from the accumulated sea weed on the rudder we can only guess.

We talked lots about all the things that have happened since we arrived Mindelo and the beginning of this passage and cleared our minds. The sun shined most of the day making it a pleasant day, one we could enjoy and appreciate.

For most of the morning we were surrounded by fishing boats belonging to the Japanese fleet I mentioned in previous days, although we never saw them in the horizon only on AIS (Automatic Identification System). It felt bizarre knowing their presence here so far away from anything, nearly half way between the Cape Verde and Brazil and between West Africa and Brazil. At the same time it felt a bit reassuring having boats nearby. A strange thought as I’m not sure they would render assistance in detriment of their high prized catch.

We also spent a considerable amount of time becoming experts on interpreting the weird wandering of the Hydrovane and knowing which ones are caused by the Sargassum weed or not. We are now experts on clearing the windpilot rudder with the boat hook, a task that can be needed as often as every 5 minutes or as every hour. What are we going to do to get rid of the sea weed on the keel, rudder and saildrive (?)?

Will one of us have to at some point dive to clear it?? Cannot fathom the thought of one of us going in the water offshore for that purpose. And then it comes to my mind the story of the guy in the latest ARC (Atlantic Rally Crossing) that went to help the family from SV Take Off that got dismasted and dived on their propeller to clear some lines that in the middle of all the stress they were involved had been caught on the blades. I’m not sure I would be so bold and brave or even if my altruism could ever reach that level. I guess the dramatic moments will bring out the best of us.

I continue my investigations regarding the mysterious leak. I have now traced it to the big back lazerette which I dare not open with this sea state. There’s a very small trickle of water running all the way from behind of the engine compartment, behind where the water heater unit and waterlock space, behind the rudder stock which means the culprit is in the back lazerette. That very first day we had quite of lot of waves hitting us on the back or coming higher on the hull than usual.

If it was a bigger leak yeah I would do it but the situation is controlled with a few towels and soaking up the water in a few different places.

My suspicion lies on the stupid sea ladder casing, mounted on the stern of The Dream, I suspect it’s not structurally water tight and relies just on the plastic of the ladder casing which is now nearly 10 years old and has been in contact with salt water most of that time. There’s also the diesel heater exhaust as suspect but my bet is on the ladder…

We have never sailed for such prolonged period of time downwind as now so I can only guess there’s a lot more water entering that casing than usually. Top on my agenda when we anchor is to open that locker and find what the heck is going on.

We seem to be settling ok on the 3h watch scheme, the situation is quite different from when we are just staying on watch. At the moment this is quite an active watch requiring near constant attention to the behaviour of the Hydrovane followed by the task of clearing sea weed, so truly there’s never a moment where you’re not busy. We are already in the edges of the ITCZ (Inter Tropical Conversion Zone) where the Northeast trades start showing a bit more of East in between gusts, this requires occasional adjustments to our course at times.

Despite our miserable speed at times, I managed to shake the loom and gloom feeling and truly enjoy what this unique experience is.

Bloody hell, we are crossing the Atlantic double handed!

We are not simply crossing it East to West but also North to South, this is truly a unique experience and albeit things are not running as we expected, it is still a fantastic thing (at times at least).

During my watches I managed to appreciate the beauty of these haunted carpets of golden flower look alike patches of Sargassum sea weed, the few flying fish (compared to the trip from the Canaries to Cape Verde’s where they were every where including trying to get with me in bed, we have barely seen any) doing their amazing flights just above the waves probably running away from whatever the Japanese fishing boats are catching. I Saw what I think were Bonito tunas jumping (like a back flip) over waves. And I saw the cloud patterns eternally mutating in front of a very shy blue sky.

Have not yet been treated to a single mesmerising sunrise or sunset as it usually happens on passage, but there’s still a few days ahead.

Most of it I remembered myself and John that some of our most cherished memories from this adventure of ours are not the times where all was perfect but the small moments when the perfection of the world showed us a smile in the midst of not so perfect days or passages.

The night shifts were tough, constantly having to clear the Hydrovane rudder from sea weed but at least with that task done the windpilot required little supervision, but speeds were still low.

24h daily run 114 nautical miles.

Miserable performance, but we had calculated it would have been less had we not started to clear the zone of Sargassum in the hours just before the complete 24h run time and picked up some speed.

***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.

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