Saturday, 19 March 2016

Caribbean Inbound Day 26

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 05 13N 049 41W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 335M. Our ground speed is also 6 knots so very little current. The wind is ENE at 18-22 knots with a 2m sea and 2m N swell. We are sailing under double-reefed main and double-furled yankee. Scattered small cumulus clouds. Our day's run was 130nm, our DMG was 139nm and we have 1006nm to go.

Yesterday afternoon we noticed a lot of weed in the water and also some rubbish. Later we noticed a "rivery" smell. We were in the massive outflow area off the mouth of the Amazon River. That explained why the NW current had stopped. It seems the outflow may be deflected NW by the current since we were well past the mouth by the time we found ourselves out of current. The water wasn't especially discoloured, although it was hard to tell in the overcast conditions. This morning the weed and smell have gone but we haven't found the current yet. We believe the current "dives" under the fresh water and reappears north of it. Hoping to find it soon.

After lunch yesterday the wind increased from 18-22 knots to 25-28. This only lasted for an hour or less but we put the second reef in the main, rolled away the yankee and unrolled the staysail (= storm jib). That quietened things down nicely. After the wind eased we went back to the yankee but kept the second reef in. We've been sailing like that since, furling and unfurling yankee as the wind goes up and down. This works very nicely with the apparent wind on the beam, much as it does broad reaching.

We're now using the autopilot about as often as the Aries vane gear. The cross sea is quite nasty at times and when the wind drops out the Aries definitely struggles and threatens to gybe us. Not as badly as in the Indian Ocean but the 2m N swell and 2m ENE seas are certainly making a messy seaway. Yesterday we were sideswiped by one large sea/swell combo which put enough water on deck to briefly defeat the dorade vents and let water below. I'd have paid good money for a photo of the boat right then! ;) Happily the vent over the TV was sealed.

Last night the boat was very comfortable and moving along nicely at 6 knots despite the confused sea state. We had our best sleep since entering the ITCZ. While on watch the sky was almost completely clear so we had a lovely 3/4 moon and star-lit night. Very nice so long as one stayed behind the dodger so as not to catch the occasional heavy spray from small side-swipers!

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