Starblazer - 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
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
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
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.