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It finally happened. After approximately 1,250 nautical miles at sea, we saw our first sailboat! I saw sails on the horizon, but nothing was showing up on AIS so it was a bit of a surprise when someone hailed us on the VHF. Unfortunately, he spoke English about as well as I speak French, so other than exchanging a few pleasantries and a “Good Journey” there wasn’t a whole lot of other communication that took place. He was on a pretty wide tack towards Africa, so we zoomed past him pretty quickly since we’re broad reaching/sailing downwind pretty much on a rhumb line towards the Canaries.
Amy mentioned yesterday that I rigged up a barber hauler to help us get better performance out of our genoa when we’re going downwind and so far I’m very pleased with the results. I think we’ve gained a knot to a knot and a half in speed which is helping keep us on track for a Friday afternoon arrival in the Canaries on this passage and should help out immensely during our Atlantic crossing. For those of you who are interested, I took the spare block that would have been used for our screecher/spinnaker and used a spare webbing strap to strap the block to the midship cleat. I then tied the spare sheet line to the clew of the genoa, led it outside the shroud, through the block at midships, back to the block at the stern and then led the line back up to the winches at the helm or the port aft winch. This set up works great with full deployment of the genoa as the barber hauler line stays outside the shroud, but when reefing the genoa, I’ve been re-running the barber hauler line inside the shroud as this seems to have less rubbing.
With only the two additional blocks on board at the moment, I’ve been needing to re-rig everything every time we gybe, but the extra speed has been well worth it and we’ve been on a port tack for the last 12 hours and should be able to stay on the same heading well into tomorrow morning. To simplify the system for the future, I think I’d like to add a pad eye in front of the shroud to help keep the barber hauler clear and prevent having to re-run the line when we need to reef. This seems like something that could be well worth it for when winds are too strong for our screecher, but we still want to broad reach/run downwind with the genoa.
Okay, enough boat talk, life on board is pretty good though the tragedy of the day is that I ran out of Pringles. 🙁 Fortunately, we’re now about 265nm from the Canaries so I’ll be able to survive for the next few days. Winds and seas picked up quite a bit this morning through early afternoon and even though they were forecasted to stay strong all the way through the evening, they’ve calmed down a bit as the sun is setting. Tomorrow and Friday are forecasted to be quite light, so we’ll probably be motor sailing a bit, which will give us a good opportunity to run our generator and make some more water. Pretty amazing that we can do that out in the middle of the ocean.
The 6 hour watch schedule at night worked out pretty well for both of us. It felt quite good to get a longer stretch of sleep but we both agreed that starting a passage using 3 hour shifts at night until we’re acclimated to being back at sea will be a good strategy for us. So life is pretty good at sea, but we are quite excited about our upcoming landfall in the Canaries!