Downwind sailing at last aboard Saga Insurance

Yacht Saga Insurance
0900 GMT Tuesday 24th April 2007
Latitude 40 58 North Longitude 057 10 West
Miles To Bilbao: 2,346 nm
Distance In 24 Hours: 177.7 nm
Average Speed In 24 Hours: 7.4 knots

‘Well after a long and tiring night the night before last, flat becalmed for a while and insufficient wind to provide steerage way, the wind eventually came up from the south west yesterday morning. So the weather people got it right. We should have this for the next 3-4 days so can try and make up a bit of lost time on SAGA, but we are in an area where favourable winds are more likely from here through to Europe. It was a gamble, but if I had carried on to the east where I was I would still be in north-easterly winds and being pushed further south, so the gamble was on
the accuracy of the forecast not the plan. There does not look like anything nasty coming up in the south where Unai has gone except for a small high, but the danger is that it is between the Bermudan and Azores Highs, the region of the Horse Latitudes, and is best avoided if possible. If I am to catch up on Unai who is some 200 miles closer to the finish but 5 degrees south of me, then this is when it is going to happen. Bernard will not have been so badly affected, as he is further north and will pick up better winds and Kojiro is still closer enough to Bernard to derive the same benefit. I won’t catch them now, the long beat out from Norfolk gave
them a lead to big to close.

‘Still nice to be running downwind for a change, with blue seas and skies all day and a clear sky with a lovely moon path at night. This is what one comes sailing for. But it could not last as the wind eased and just before midnight I gybed NNE to get where the stronger winds are which will bring us close to the Grand Banks where icebergs have been reported however I’ll gybe back before I get to that area.

‘Yesterday afternoon we were getting up to 17 knots of boat speed but it was down to 10 by midnight my time which is 5 hours behind the UK. Still, I had a nice easy day, did not get as much sleep as I wanted but it allowed aching muscles to have a break. My legs ache from crawling around carting buckets of water in the forward compartments and my arms ache from working the bilge pump. I suppose it is good for one! Good stew last night, the remnants of a chilli con carne plus potatoes and onions – filled a gap and had a nice bite.

‘We appear to have left the Gulf Stream as in 2 hours yesterday afternoon the seawater temperature dropped from 24 degrees to 12 degrees Celsius; it hurts me to think of all that untapped energy.

‘After the midnight gybe Active Echo picked up a signal, but there was nothing in sight. However since the radar horizon is 17% more than the visual one, I stayed up whilst the alarm was on. Eventually a light came in sight, moving from right to left, not that far away in fact, looked like a stern light, most be heading well north as I was on 035 at the time. Then a dolphin appeared, strangely on its own, one could see its path from the phosphorescence. As always it soon got bored and left me.’ RKJ