keskiviikko 11. heinäkuuta 2012

July 4th 2012

Wrestling With The Azores High

When we left the Caribbean on the 16th of June, there were three major high pressure areas on the northern Atlantic, beginning from the coast of Florida and extending across the ocean all the way to the coast of Africa. So, it seemed that right from the start, we were doomed to fall victim to the infamous Azores High.

For the first week, the sailing was good but after that it was more or less motoring or, if we were lucky, motor-sailing. As our speed eventually began to drop, and our daily mileages were reduced accordingly from 130 to 98 to 73 to 62 to 57 nautical miles, it was two weeks to Horta, day after day after day after day.

For the whole of the second week, except for Sargasso weed, we had nothing: no birds, no fish, no wind, NADA!, and we were bored stiff. During our third week though, although the winds were still mostly absent, we caught a good size mahi-mahi, had numerous sightings of whales, and several groups of dolphins came to entertain us. One day, there was something swimming alongside our boat that I first thought was a small dolphin. But as it didn't surface at all, I soon realized it had to be a fish. After a while, this something made a drastic U-turn and jumped out of the water in pursuit of a flying fish, and I saw that it was a huge tuna! After catching the flying fish, it resumed its place along the side of our boat. Why it did this, I have no idea, but I found it extremely fascinating. The tuna remained there for the rest of the day, and I lost sight of it only after the sun was setting and there was no more enough light to penetrate the water.

For the past fortnight or so, we have also been mesmerized by two super-bright lights that rise from behind the north-eastern horizon at dawn when all the other lights in the sky are already fading. We think they are the planets Jupiter and Venus but of this, we are not absolutely certain.

Our current position is 39° 30,678' N, 40° 09,338' W, we have about four knots of headwind, and the barometer reading is 1033 mb, which means that we are practically in the centre of the high pressure area that has hindered our progress for the better part of our ongoing voyage. We still have about 540 nautical miles to go but as we are gradually running out of fuel, we'll need decent winds for at least two days in order to reach Horta. I must admit that I'm a bit concerned about our situation at the moment.

The other night, a Norwegian sailing boat contacted us by the VHF. They told us that they had about 20 litres of fuel left for emergency purposes and that they had been drifting for the past ten days with four people on board. We gave them the latest weather forecast which had nothing positive in store for them. I do hope they'll hail the next cargo ship and ask for fuel!

Since we've had ample time on our hands lately, we have taken up 'fender spotting and collecting'. The jewel of our collection is now a gigantic fender probably conveyed by the Golf Stream from the US coast. We've also been surveying the state of the ocean, and have come to the sad conclusion that most creatures of the sea have but two options, either to learn to eat and digest plastic, or to perish.

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