We are currently in position 37 14N 038 07W, saillng at 6 knots on a course of 085M. The wind is WNW at 26-30 knots with a 2m sea and 3m+ swell. We are sailing under triple-furled yankee only. Overcast sky with some nasty looking black-based clouds around. Our day's run was 151nm, our DMG was 136nm and we have 456nm to go.
The last 24 hours have been the fastest of the passage, with an average boat speed of 6.3 knots. That's despite our having to "scare the log" after it stopped several times. The wind and sea combination suit the boat. Initially we were beam reaching but it gradually became a broad reach, all with 24-28 knots of wind. The dominant noise below was the rush of water past the hull, with overtones of wind in rig. The boat gets "on the rails" and goes. It felt like "racing" but whenever we furled a little more yankee the boat slowed and was thrown around by the waves much more.
We've been steering alternately with Aires vane gear and the autopilot. Both manage the conditions really well. The Aires shows no sign of diving off to leeward as it did so often in the Indian Ocean, perhaps because there's little cross-swell here. The Pelagic Autopilot actuator is performing well too, driven by our Raymarine course computer. I've also hand-steered for short periods to assure myself the tiller is remaining intimate with the rudder - thankfully it is. The boat steers very precisely at speed. At lower speeds the helm movements become much larger.
Just another passing low pressure system!
(recommended route to Horta shown)
At 1100 this morning the wind increased to 30+ knots and backed around to the WNW. The boat was then overpressed so we handed the main. We can sail lower under headsail alone which countered the backed wind direction. The wind has moderated a little and we're continuing less stressfully under headsail alone.
The latest GRIBs show the current strong wind abating later today. We'll then have about 24 hours of lighter winds before the next system arrives. Where previously the next system looked scary, each new GRIB shows it as being less strong. Long may that trend continue!
We have decided on our destination in the Azores. We are heading towards Horta. Horta is the "traditional" destination for cruisers and yet another iconic place for us to visit. Looking forward to checking out Peter's Cafe Sport, the "most famous bar in the North Atlantic"!