Antigua to the Acores, part 2

We have come halfway and have just entered the low pressure belt north of the Azores high pressure. Soon there will be a low pressure that will take us the rest of the way to Horta in the Azores. Join the fast-paced continuation of our Atlantic sailing to Europe. If you missed the first part, you can read about it in the previous blog.

The time indication on the map and in the article is in UTC, on board the boat we have local time, which means that we adjust the time on board when we enter a new time zone. The position of each diary entry is based on WGS-84 and written with decimal degrees. You can read more about position and time in a previous article, Position and time at sea, here on the blog.

Day 10, hard night yesterday

Jonas: Yesterday we celebrated halfway to Horta with a glass of champagne and then we started watching a movie. When we checked the radar at 22, we saw a large squall that caught up with us from the southwest. Goodbye cosy time, we hurried out to lower the sail and waited for the squall to pass. But this was not a normal squall, it was part of a cold front from the low pressure we are to follow. In just 5 minutes, the wind increased and shifted from a mild southerly wind of 12 knots, to an icy whistling 30 knots wind from the northwest. During that time we gybed and reduced the sail area (thanks Hallberg-Rassy for push button sailing). The wind continued to shift in strength and direction for just over an hour. It ended with 8 knots of wind from the west that barely filled the sails anymore. 3 m swell from the west caused a lot of rolling and sail flutter. Now it was around 23:30, we were wet and cold.
Today the sailing has been nice and I have been able to sleep a little during the day. Since yesterday we have seen jellyfish, Portuguese Man o’war, in the water. They are everywhere around the boat and sometimes it is less than 50 m between them. They have several meters long threads down in the water that act as fishing lines. It is only to be hoped that they are not flushed up on the boat so that we burn ourselves on the threads. They burn a lot and the poison can be deadly, so we have to be careful.

Day 11, partly sunken concrete jetty!

Jonas: Today’s weather forecast shows that the low pressure north of us takes a more southerly track than what was forecast yesterday, stronger winds ahead. Chris’ last advice was to continue a little further north before we head straight for Horta. With today’s forecast, I move that point a little south to avoid too strong wind.

In the afternoon, it was close to a real disaster. We passed 30 from a half-sunken concrete platform or similar, just a corner of the concrete pier was visible.

Day 12, dolphins and a broken watermaker

Jonas: Today we were visited by a group of dolphins, maybe a family, two of them were a little smaller. They played around the boat for 10-15 minutes before disappearing. I love watching them surf the waves by the boat, watching them jump, and everything seems to be without any effort at all. What beautiful animals.

The watermaker decided that it was a good day to stop making water. I think it’s the same problem as when it stopped working when we were on Frigate Island in January (I posted a blog post on svsally.com about it). I have the spare parts, but I will wait until Horta to fix it.
We have a strategy to fill the water tank every day. If the watermaker breaks, we have as much water left as possible.

It is 2-3 m swell from the west and some waves are probably twice as high. They look like mountain hills rolling across the sea, impressive to look at..

Day 13, first day of a windy period

Jonas: We’ve sailed 170 nautical miles since yesterday, and I think we’ll keep the same speed until Saturday. During the day the wind increased to 25 knots and turned slightly to the south, so we have a quick trip east.
The disadvantage of sailing in winds over 20 knots on the high seas, is the waves and the sound from the boat. It is harder to sleep when the boat moves so much. There is also a high noise level from the bow wave and the breaking waves around the boat. The best sleeping place is in the middle of the boat, as close to the movement center as possible (above the keel), in addition, the noise level is lower there.

Carina: Today was the first time we saw other sailboats. Both appeared on AIS, but we could only see one of them with our own eyes, a French boat. We had contact via VHF, and they were heading south after having 40 knots of wind last night. We are also slowly heading towards southern latitudes for the same reason, even though we have only had around 30 knots. Even though it’s blowing a little more now than before, it feels good on the boat.
Some dolphins came by and greeted us, always fun to see them.

Day 14, new time zone

Carina: Now we have passed another time zone, and it differs 3 hours to you in Sweden. The Viking blood in us has also returned, and 20-22 degrees feels ok nowadays. I no longer need the down jacket to cope with the cold shock.

It has been windy for the last few days, and we are breaking our own records during the race all the time. The last 24 hours we have had over 7 knots speed on average, and the last 3 hours over 8 knots. But Sally sails so nicely despite the wind and waves, I’m so happy with her, and the daily life on board goes on as usual. Also have to give a thought to our eminent autopilot, I do not want to be without it.

I’m looking forward to walk on a solid ground and to meet the friends at Sandvita which is just before us, and Amaran, which is just behind. We should all arrive to Horta within a few days.

Day 15, almost there

Jonas: We have only a few days more to sail and then we are there, The Acores, the green islands far out in the Atlantic Ocean. Hope we still are allowed to visit the islands? When we left Antigua, it was allowed. We will soon know.

Yesterday was rather windy with 26 knots from the southwest. The last night we had 3 m waves and some were up to 5 m high. Sally is really handling the waves and the wind in a good way, and the autopilot does a fantastic job.

The dolphins pay us a visit each day now and yesterday we met a big whale swimming westward. It was magnificent to see it. It seemed unaffected by the 3 m waves that break on its back.
All is good, even if we are a bit tired after a couple of windy days, wind and waves make it harder to sleep.

Day 16, the last day of the Atlantic crossing

Carina: Throughout the crossing, we have seen occasional birds flying around the boat. A little smaller, like a tern, and a big one like a herring gull, but slimmer. Yesterday, however, about twenty of the larger ones followed us and fished in our wake. They are beautiful to watch and incredibly fast.

During my night shift, when I am standing in the cockpit, I suddenly hear something land at my feet and jump around. I jumped too, faster than lightning, on the stairs to the salon. Everything is really black out there, no moon and no stars right now, so I could not even see what landed next to me.

I quickly found the flashlight and saw one of the larger birds sitting on the floor behind the wheel. Poor thing, it probably did not know where it ended up. It was too narrow to stretch out the wings and fly away, so it had to try to jump up to the bench. It took a while, but in the end it worked. The jump up to the edge of the cockpit also went well. There I thought it would fly away, but no. It took charge and flew in between spray hood and bimini. A gap of 20 cm and landed on the deck where it rested for 30 minutes before flying away.

A small squid, a vomit and some poop bombs were left behind. Nice visit, less pleasant cleaning afterwards, but Jonas fixed that :slight_smile:

Jonas: We want to arrive in daylight tomorrow, so today we started planning the last 20 hours at sea. With the current speed, we will arrive around 3 tonight and we do not want to approach land when it is dark. We need to slow down the speed to around 6 knots and reef both sails.

Carina: Now we have sailed 2345 nm, have 70 left, and we are preparing to meet humanity again. Jonas shaves and I wash my hair :grinning:

Then one last sundowner. After a few cloudy evenings, the sun shines from an almost cloudless sky as well. Perfect ending.

Day 17, arrived!

Jonas: Now we have arrived in Horta after a rainy and windy final, over 20 knots wind all night, with gusts up to 32 knots, so it was difficult to keep the speed below 6 knots. We arrived before daylight was here and needed to make a small detour a couple of nautical miles from Faial. Now anchored in the harbour bay at Horta, waiting for the marina office to open so we can notify them about our arrival. Then wait for the PCR testing team that will come to the boat and test us. If we have negative test result, we are allowed to go ashore.

Up next

We stay a couple of weeks in the Azores, we want to experience the islands, fixing the watermaker and we want to paint the boat name on the pier in Horta before we