Friday, 27 May 2016

Bermuda Outbound - Day 4

Hi everyone,
We are currently in position 35 14N 056 18W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 100M. The wind is NW at 15-18 knots with 1.5m sea and 1m swell.  We are sailing under single-reefed main and single-furled yankee.  Clear sunny sky with a few small cumulus.  Our day's run was 115nm, our DMG was 102nm and we have 1338nm to go.

Yesterday afternoon we continued motoring until the early evening.  For much of the afternoon the sea was "glassed out" with no wind at all.  We motored past Dutch yacht Le Blue's and spoke with them on VHF.  Their autopilot had failed so they had decided to wait for wind which would allow their wind vane to function.

Motoring Yesterday

Velella "by the wind sailor" on a glassed-out sea

In the early evening a new 5 knot breeze arrived and filled in enough for us to sail.  Initially we were sailing NNE at 3 knots but gradually we got a little more pressure and could bear away to 080M.  It was very pleasant sailing along over a calm sea and under a clear starry sky.  Mars is amazingly bright - go out tonight and you'll find it easily!

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday is the amazing radio propagation we've been experiencing.  On Thursday night I noticed we could hear VMC's (Charleville, Queensland) weather broadcasts.  In the early hours of the morning I scanned the ham 40m band (7MHz) and heard Australian hams chatting to US hams.  Both ends were very clear.  I called them and amazingly they could all hear me, including two Australian stations - from literally the other side of the world.  We had a good chat and I think they were impressed with our little radio setup.  Theirs featured 400W power and steerable directional antennas, vice our 50W omnidirectional setup.  Although our radio is capable of over 100W it actually struggles to put out 50W when transmitting voice.

Long distance HF propagation (white line)

We are keeping a close eye on the weather.  We always do but North Atlantic weather is particularly dynamic.  Low pressure systems spin off the E coast of the US and head across towards Europe.  Our aim is to stay south of them to keep following winds.  It's also the start of the hurricane season and a tropical low is forming way off to our SW and may develop into a hurricane.  We don't want to be anywhere near that!  Happily it should head up the east coast, either going ashore or along the gulf stream towards Europe (as an ex-hurricane by then).

Weather is often the main topic of HF/SSB nets at sea.  We're talking with a range of yachts, most of which are heading for the Azores.  There are about a dozen yachts we know of, and probably a similar number we don't, all heading east.  Most of us plan to stay between 33N and 35N over the next week as a low moves past to our north.

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