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We now have 230 nm behind us as we begin our journey across the Atlantic. Only about 3,300 more to go…
The first day at sea was an interesting one as even though the winds were forecasted to be from the southeast, there were very strong south winds as we left Las Palmas. I believe this was due to a big funnel effect between the islands in the Canaries. This meant we actually had to sail Northeast in order to get enough sea room to make a turn to the south and avoid running into Grand Canaria, and bash into some pretty decent waves. Not terribly fun and a bit demoralizing to start your trip sailing in the complete wrong way, but SH handled it great, and we were eventually able to make our turn south, only for the wind to completely die out as we got to the south part of the island. It was quite odd.
Once we got about 30 nm south of Gran Canaria, the wind has filled back in and been giving us a very nice downwind sail. We are heading southwest-ish until we reach about 20 degrees N latitude and then will hopefully begin our turn west toward the Bahamas. This route is known as sailing the trade winds which are fairly consistent this time of year, but we have a low pressure system in the North Atlantic that is suppressing some of the higher latitude trade winds. Thus, we may have to venture a bit further south to find enough wind. The daily download of our weather files is a time of great entertainment on board as we update our route.
Our other entertainment thus far has been our VHF radio. Ships are required to monitor VHF Channel 16, which is the international hailing and distress frequency. When one ship wants to talk to another, they can call them on Ch. 16 and then they are supposed to change channels to continue a conversation. In Clear Lake/Galveston Bay, when two boats talked for too long on Ch. 16, the US Coast Guard would get on the radio and remind everyone to change channels. I heard that speech so many times that I’m sad to admit I am able to recite it by memory.
During our first 1,500 nm of sailing, this rule was adhered to quite well. However, on this passage, it’s been a little bit different. Here’s a small sampling of what we’ve heard:
-What I’m pretty sure was a Philipino rap battle
-Someone telling the monkeys to “Shut Up”, and yes that’s the clean version -More monkey noises as they were quite unperturbed by the previous request
-Someone repeatedly professing their love for Jim Beam, which had me watching the horizon quite closely -One American accent repeatedly hailing a Moroccan warship
-One guy who just wanted to hear how many different sounds he could make; it was quite a few -Two hailings and subsequent requests to switch channels
Not sure what is the cause for the change in standards, but there have been times I wish I again heard that friendly US Coast Guard voice politely telling everyone to be quiet, and yes, that’s something I never thought I’d say.