Day 128, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 25-In Like a Lamb
Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 (1730 UTC)
Weather: Cloudy Early Turning Sunny; Winds NE 10-15 knots
Air Temperature: 80 degrees F
Latitude: 08 30.106 N
Longitude: 052 38.801 W
Miles Traveled: 3334 + 1878 S Africa to St. Helena
Miles to Go: 580
Location: Passage from St. Helena to Caribbean (Grenada)

February sure went out like a lion, but today March came in like a lamb for us. In response to my rodeo ride log yesterday our son-in-law Jed wrote, “This is why de Balboa called the Pacific Ocean what he did: “Tepre Pacificum” (peaceful sea) by comparison.” This Atlantic on this passage has been anything but a peaceful sea for us. So Jed’s email prompted me to take a look at a Captain’s Rambling that Mark wrote during our long passage in the Pacific from the Galapagos to the Marqueses, and sure enough, he talked about that peacefulness. “There is a calming peacefulness to this kind of sailing. There is the soft swishing sound of the boat cutting through the water, and a gentle cooling breeze that makes the warmth of the sun feels welcome.” That passage was exactly half the distance of this one, at 3000 miles instead of 6000, and we had fifteen other boats within 200 miles of us that we kept regular contact with via HF radio. On this passage we know of seven other boats who left South Africa with a week or two of our departure, but we are hundreds of miles ahead of all of them. Traversay is the closest, but they are still at least 500 miles behind us. It has not been a passage of “calming peacefulness” but all in all it has been a good passage. We have not had to run the engine much at all compared to the Pacific passage and that is a comforting fact financially. With the cost of diesel these days, not having to do a major refill in Grenada is a real plus for this passage. And today we have had a bit of that peacefulness, so maybe the passage will end on a calmer note.

Just after sending the log yesterday, we had another of our early evening fire drills. This time it was the inner forestay AGAIN. We have not been using the staysail but the temporary fix we did a few days ago was evidently not strong enough as it broke loose again. So Mark had to put on his life vest and braved the raging seas to try and secure the stay with the staysail roller furler attached. I finally had to go up and help, so in the end we were both soaked with salt water but successful in getting the stay secured. On the way back down the deck, I was looking up to inspect the inner forestay on the port side that has been frayed since before St. Helena. While doing this I noticed the wires on the outside of the aft lower stay on the starboard side are now frayed as well. Mark stayed on deck to attach a 5-to-1 pulley around the stay coming down to the chain plate as extra support in case the stay should actually break. We are just hoping that everything is going to hold together until we reach Grenada. You can never be sure, but we feel like we have things fairly well secured. After that little affair, it was time to eat and time for first watch. Just as Mark came on for the 7:30 to 10:30 pm watch, those sloppy, sloshing, swashbuckling seas abated a bit and by the time I came on watch at 10:45 pm we were sailing nicely-no more wild ride. This morning dawned with an early morning sky full of “mackeral” clouds indicating an approaching front, but the skies cleared early and it turned out to be a gorgeous day with a bright blue sky and a few puffy whites. The “mackeral” clouds are cirroculumulus clouds and look a bit as if someone took hundreds of cotton balls and arranged them in rows with just a little space between rows for the blue to peak through. But the sky cleared early and was clear all day. As I am writing this log, however, there are clouds gathering high above and in front of us. But for now, we are sailing along peacefully with 10 to 15 knots of wind a little behind the beam. The wild swell has reformed itself into a gentle swell, but we still have that negative current with us. We are now making about 125 to 130 miles a day and expect to arrive in Grenada on Saturday or Sunday. So the countdown is down to four or five days to go.

We heard from our friend Zbyszek in Australia this morning that another yacht has been taken by Somali pirates. Here’s what Zbyszek wrote, “This time it is a Danish boat with eight onboard, including three children (12-16 years old). I do not know the name of the yacht as the information is very fresh although the yacht was taken on February 24. I just can’t express what I feel right now.” As Zbyszek, it is hard to express how deeply we feel for the people on that boat. We will be anxiously awaiting further word on what is happening with this situation. We can only hope that it will not end tragically as did the Quest hijacking, especially with the children onboard.

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Day 129, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 26-Under 500 Miles to Go
Day 127, Year 6 Atlantic Passage, Day 23-Rodeo Ride