Days 9&10 Passage from Guernsey to the Canaries

Sun/Mon 13/14 Sept 09 - No complaints... fabulous Tradewind sailing!!

13th Sept sunset:

Broken vang shackle found lying on deck beside the block - clearly a metal defect - a time when a good spares kit comes in useful!

Well, the wind might not be from the NE - but this is definitely very enjoyable, brisk 'Tradewind sailing' to the east of the Azores High. For several days now, we've been mainly under full canvas, but tonight we're reefed down (one reef) because the winds started building just before sunset - as did the seas... We're rolling about quite a lot fairly frequently - and cooking my evening meal got pretty 'interesting' several times with the galley 'bumstrap' proving how useful it could be!

The Hydrovane is coping well, although when the wind got up, it definitely preferred a reef in the mains'l to avoid us rounding up so much in the gusts. The genoa is poled out and we're on a very broad reach, but occasionally a big wave comes along together with a gust, knocking us about, making us round up badly & the wind has got ahead of the genoa. Then I've had to intervene to get us back on course.

Weather has been superb - lots of sunny blue skies and warmth, although just as an enormous tanker (making for Lagos, Nigeria) had finished crossing our stern before midday, it actually rained quite heavily ... but, half an hour later, we were back to blue skies and sunshine again!

Last night and tonight, the stars have been out in their millions - along with hundreds of twinkling diamonds in our wake - lot of lovely phosphorescence in the waters here. I was delighted to see, almost straight up, my favourite little constellation of 'Delphinus' - the dolphin in the sky, which keeps the Swan company. Lovely to see all the familiar figures - with Orion striding majestically the right way up - not on his head, as he is in the Southern hemisphere!!

A real worry tonight was catching sight of red and white strobe lights not that far from our port side - perhaps only a mile away. I'd come up fairly regularly to check whilst preparing my meal and writing up my log and emails because I'd earlier seen a bright light over the horizon which didn't come up on AIS - so presumably a smaller fishing boat or a yacht. I had vivid recollections of stories of bad encounters with over 1 mile-long unmarked tunny-fishing nets off the coast of Morocco - which is exactly where I am now.... What was I supposed to make of the strobe lights?? They were presumably marking nets of some kind or
other.... A happy thought was that they were not dead ahead and seemed to be out of my way... what luck! I think the fishing boat was nearby just over the horizon ... but I have no idea really what system of nets they use - or what exactly the lights (seemingly in just the one spot) were warning of... what a nightmare! Somehow, that scares me! The other happy thought was that I'm sailing and not running my engine & prop - but who knows what might happen if I were to run over a cable holding large nets in my path....

Noon position report today: 33d 53' N, 013d 21' W; COG 180T; SOG 6.5kn; Wind NNW4-5 (14kn); Swell NNW 2m 6s ; Clouds 12% ; Baro 1022; Air temp 25 C ; Sea temp 26 C

309mls to go (ETA: Wed). Plenty of ships around. Wrong (previous day's) latitude given yesterday!!

Written by : Mike

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