Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23, 2010 - Enroute to St. Helena

Big news on board today. Wait for it. Wait for it. Ready? Okay, we . . . jibed. After six days underway and five days of not touching the sails, other than to put in in and shake out a reef in the main, we finally had to make a sail change. We furled in the jib, set the pole up on the other side, took the preventer off the main sail, jibed the main across, set the preventer up on the new side, adjusted our heading, and unfurled the jib. With the two of us on deck, it took about half an hour. That's it, the big news from the South Atlantic.

For the past six days, the boat has basically been sailing herself. The weather has been extremely stable. Other than making minor adjustments to our heading on the autopilot, and checking the radar to see if we have any company (and other than one ship two nights ago, we haven't seen anything since the second day), watches have been very chill. After taking a few days to adjust to the motion of sailing downwind in a big swell, we've each been able to sleep for six or seven hours straight during our nightly off watch. We've been eating like kings (roast leg of lamb for dinner last night and shirred eggs with basil pesto and diced tomato this morning). So everything is good on board. Or, at least it should be.

We've both been struggling with the sheer vastness of the distances and time involved with getting the boat back to the Caribbean. Thanks to the consistent breeze we've been having on this leg, it will likely take us a total of 10 days to cover the 1665 miles from South Africa to St. Helena. From there, it may take us up to a week to sail to Ascension Island, 700 miles away, in light breezes. All of which is fine and expected. But what we didn't realize and what we are struggling to wrap our brains around, is the fact that Barbados, our planned landfall in the Caribbean, is a full 3,000 miles from Ascension. And since we expect to have very unstable weather on that leg as we pass through the doldrums around the equator, it could take us a better part of a month to cover those 3,000 miles. Oy. If we'd realized that the third leg of our run up the Atlantic was going to take so long, we might have planned to go to Brazil along with, oh, everyone else we know. But we decided not to go to Brazil because a month long detour there wouldn't leave us enough time to make it back to Newport before hurricane season sets into the Caribbean next summer.

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