Lat: 05 25.110′ S
Lon: 43 14.760′ W

If only we had buckets of fresh water. We could dump our clothes in and some detergent in, put a lid on top, and the motion of the boat in these beam seas would have them clean in no time. Being on a heavy catamaran, we actually don’t have any room to complain. We ended up double-reefing the main not long after finding the NE trades and just finished taking down the main completely (in 25-30 knots after sunset of course) and are still pushing 7 knots in the gusts. The conditions actually aren’t far from what we anticipated. The North Atlantic trades have a reputation for being reliable and strong, unlike their South Atlantic cousins, which are often light. After 3500 miles of South Atlantic trades, however, we’d sort of gotten used to sailing being a comfortable, if slow affair and are still getting used to having the full force of the trades on the beam instead of on the quarter where we usually keep them. Lauren has the better stomach, so she does better than I do, though I haven’t been too bad. I have had to start eating more food, as the constant motion seems to burn more calories and hungry and the onset of seasickness feel the same at sea. There are a couple of boat projects I’d like to get to, but they’re going to have to wait for calmer seas or Barbados.

After leaving South Africa, the trip has felt a little like a delivery to the Caribbean with short, hurried stops and lots of miles at sea. By time we make Barbados, it will be about 5300 miles at sea with only a 3-day stop in St. Helena and a 1-week stop in Recife that we extended in order to get our spinnakers repaired. Luckily we have some longer stops with friends and family planned for the Caribbean. With all that time at sea, a slow start to this passage, and then the new motion to get used to, yesterday was one of those “Are we there yet?” days. Earlier than usual for me, but at least we’re making good speed.

I just had to put down the blog for a minute to toss back a flying fish. Lauren was in the galley cooking when I smelled fresh fish, even though we haven’t had a hook out today. Her guess was that the fresh fish had come to us, and sure enough, there was a flying fish on the grate where you step out from the salon into the cockpit. He was still gasping for air when I tossed him back in, so it looks like he’ll make it, unlike his dried buddies that we’ve been finding on deck in the morning. There have been a lot of healthy-looking flying fish around the last few days. Some of the school sizes are the largest I remember seeing (40-50 breaking the surface at once) and some are nearly as big as in the Pacific.

With the double-reefed main taken down and our speed back under 7 knots, things are a lot more comfortable. The relationship between boat speed and comfort is an interesting one. If you’re too slow or drifting, it can be quite uncomfortable as the waves toss the boat around easily. As you gain speed, the boat has its own forward momentum and the force of the wind in the sails, countered by the leeward hull (or keel in a monohull) gives the boat more stability. As the wind, waves, and boat speed increase, things can start to get uncomfortable again. Large waves send the boat heading off course (imagine the road underneath a speeding car being lifted and then twisted) while the autopilot fights back. The boat’s kinetic energy is proportional to the square of its velocity, so at 8 knots you’re slamming into waves with more than twice the energy as when you were going 5.5 knots, and the bangs and quick jerks let you know it’s time to trade another day on passage for a more comfortable ride and less stress on the boat. I think 6+ knots on just the jib is my favorite way to sail anyway. You’re making good speed and can sleep easy knowing that whoever ever is on watch won’t have to do anything more than ease the sheet in or out or maybe roll in a little bit of the sail if the wind picks up even more.

That’s all for now. Cheers to Lauren for yet another delicious meal. Dinner looks fabulous…