Southern Ocean Crossing Update

We left St. Helena on Thursday, 26 of February, with our planned destination of Trinidad 3700 nautical miles away. Leaving with us was the boat s/v Sanctuary with our friends Guy and Christine on board. Guy and I have been talking about racing for some time, but we ended up leaving two days before them from Cape Town, and then had to divert to Luderitz for repairs and were unable to compare our boat’s performances. We had to get out a few miles away from the island, as it was blocking the wind, before we could raise sails. Sanctuary has the same engine as our boat, except they have turbo, so his motors are faster. He blasted past us and raised his furling mainsail without having to turn into the wind. A few moments later we had raised our sail and we were both off for our little race.

We started on a starboard tack, but once we got past the island effects it was clear wing-on-wing (downwind) sailing was required so we set Tahina up that way. Our battened mainsail has better roach, and it was soon clear we had the advantage. We sailed blithely in front of Santuary an hour or so later as we were going on a more southerly course. They were positioning for the possibility of a stop at the island of Ascension.

A couple of hours later, it was clear we were in good spinnaker conditions, so we put ours out. Sanctuary had blown out their spinnaker earlier in the month and as a result we had a 10% or so speed advantage. We have been flying our spinnaker almost continuously – day and night – for the first four days with following winds and seas. Squalls have been scattered and so we have managed to dodge them or they have been too mild to worry about.

After four days, we have made 707 miles and averaged about 177 miles per day. We will probably be entering some lighter winds as we approach the northeast corner of Brazil late this week or early next week.

Sanctuary decided to go ahead and stop at Ascension, so we aren’t traveling with them now. We are doing well, and with the few sail changes we are not working too hard. We are spending a lot of time reading, playing games, and taking care of normal chores while on watch or off. Both Karen and I are well, and we have plenty of food.

We just found out our friends on s/v Solace – who arrived a few days ago in Trinidad – have changed their plans and are leaving their boat there before we arrive. They ave some urgent business in their home country of New Zealand. They were the primary reason we were headed to Trinidad, so we may change our destination since we had no other real reason to stop in Trinidad.

That’s all the “big” news for now. Blog posts will be infrequent while we are in transit. We are in regular communication with other boats and our emergency contacts.

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