At Sea

Escape from the Doldrums!

Day 11 at sea. Perhaps another 7 to go.

We finally made it out of the doldrums five days ago after a frustrating time trying to escape. Every day we worked hard to make it far enough North to find the wind, and every day that wind eluded us. We used up as much diesel as I dare without running the tank dry. The days were slow, grey, rainy and depressing and our daily runs were likewise: we made just 60 miles for two days in a row, then 42 the day after that.

Finally our luck changed and we picked up a nice force 3 breeze, North Easterly, which built and has stayed between 4 and 6 ever since (about 25 knots at times, which is fairly breezy). The mainsail is double-reefed, reducing it’s size to about 40% of it’s full compliment, and with just a sliver of headsail set as well we have averaged 150 miles per day over the last four days, which might be a record for this old lady.

There’s not much out here. We’ve stayed about 350 miles offshore to avoid the wicked currents that are often produced by the outflow of the Amazon river. Millions of gallons of fresh water dumping into the Atlantic can make things difficult closer in, generating rough seas, strong currents and turning the surface of the sea a muddy brown colour even 200 miles out. Or so I’ve heard.

We’re not completely alone. We’ve passed a few tankers carrying oil or gas, one of which we had to call on the radio and politely ask to change course in order to avoid a possible collision. Then there’s our friend the bird. We’re not actually sure what kind of bird it is. Perhaps a large Shearwater or a small Albatross. At any rate it has been following us on and off for about a week. It never lands on Bob, but flies astern and lands in our wake where our passage has smoothed the waves. Then it swims madly towards us as we sail away until it becomes a bobbing speck, at which point it takes off again and repeats the process. Not the brightest of creatures, but it makes for some entertainment.

At noon today we had 925 miles to go. ETA in Martinique is now May 11th. First stop will be somewhere selling cold beer and a large salad. Second stop will be a laundrette. I hate to think what it would smell like down here to anyone but ourselves.

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