Trade wind sailing

Atlantic Crossing Day 3

The sun has just come up on day three of our Atlantic crossing. Our greatest challenge so far was getting clear from the Canary Islands because the wind is highly unpredictable due to the large land masses. We found similar conditions in the Med where the wind goes from 25 knots down to 5, then back to 25, all within an hour, forcing us to make constant sail adjustments. But ever since we put a 100 mile gap between us and the islands, we’ve had great trade wind sailing conditions. This means fairly steady 20 knot wins day and night, with only slight changes in direction. With over 180 miles of progress per day, we hope this continues.

With Rupe’s expert advice we’ve put into place a watch program that puts one person on watch at all times, each watch lasting 4 hours (unlike our prior system where we had true watches only at night). This system allows us to stay more rested because we have clearly defined times when we have no responsibilities and can feel comfortable going to sleep – a huge stamina builder over the weeks. The person on watch is responsible for adjusting sail trim, maintaining proper direction, monitoring for approaching ships, and watching out for weather conditions that might require a change in our sail plan.

The Canary Islands are now several hundred miles behind us so we’re starting to feel a sense of real isolation. There are no boats in sight, nor any on our nav equipment, no chatter on the VHF radio, no birds, no mosquitos, no coast guards, no 911 operators standing by – if something were to go wrong, nobody is here to help us. Bobbing along on a 56 foot piece of fiberglass heading into the middle of a great blue abyss may not sound fun or interesting, but for some reason there’s something very special about an experience like this. Maybe it’s the challenge of taking on mother nature in the raw, maybe it’s the extraordinary sense of isolation that few people ever experience – whatever it is, we’ve got a couple weeks to figure it out.

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