Fri/Sat 23/24 Oct 09 Days 14 & 15 Change of course - heading South to the Equator!

What a difference in these two days!!
Overnight, Thursday into Friday, I was expecting squalls and was thinking of taking in a reef,just to be prepared but, in the event, with stars overhead and no lurking squall clouds to windward, and since we were only making 3.5-4 knots in E-ESE3 (7kn), I didn't reef - and we had a lovely gentle sail all night, with occasional lightning flickering well off to the north. We did get one rain cloud passing over - at 5am - but it brought no strong wind with it, although the wind did back into ENE for a time after it.

By midday, we had almost reached longitude 025W & we changed course to head due S towards the Equator and beyond.... for the coming fortnight, winds permitting! Around that time, the wind increased a touch - we now had a true wind of E3-4 on the beam - to quote Slocum: "She picked up her skirts and ran!" We were sailing at around 7.3 knots in E-ESE4 all afternoon and on into the evening, when the (true) wind increased to ~14 knots - I took in a reef - we were still making 7.1 knots or more! Absolutely fabulous sailing under a clear sky.... until gone midnight.

At 2am, a small raincloud with veered wind headed us off to the WNW but eventually we were able to make SSW closehauled & then S again as the wind backed to its previous ESE, but now down in strength - and continued so, into daybreak & on through Saturday.

We were clearly seeing the effect of the Tropical Wave passing through. All Saturday, I was continually making course adjustments & trimming the sails, as the wind shifted with the clouds..... frequent long lines of dark grey rain clouds ... line squalls, I believe they're called... with big wind shifts on the approach, under them (often in heavy rain!) and afterwards. It was getting a bit bumpy now with upwind sailing into a SSE swell. At midday, a squall came through with really heavy rain that completely killed the wind - I took the helm to keep us sailing in the flukey wind but could only, for ages after, at best make a W course, closehauled in the strongly veered S wind, at all of 2.5 knots! It wasn't until sunset that we were finally able to get back onto a S course with the wind back into the ESE from the SE of the afternoon. (At which point, writing this, I noticed we were on a COG of 220T, not 180T ... Oops!....Yes, we were under a dark cloud.. & about to get wet! .....And shortly after, yet another, with heavy rain and wind shifts.... )

Oh well.... As the sun was setting, I'd seen a nasty-looking line of big grey clouds dead ahead .... and the night is yet young...!

DMG:

To Friday noon: 107 M (light wind all night) (700 M due W of Sierra Leone, near border with Liberia)
To Saturday " : 135 M (reflecting good sailing Fri pm - I'd hoped it would keep up overnight to give a really superb DMG!)
(900 M NE of Natal (Brazil), 920 M due W of Liberia, but closest land is Guinea-Bissau: 620 M!)

Written by : Mike

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