Change of Tack

Well, slightly. We’ve delayed our departure for twenty-four hours – until Thursday. It’s a calmer weather window, and we still have a bunch of stuff to do. You forgot how long each job takes if you want to add resting in between. Thursday is looking the best day luckily weather-wise, so everything has gone back by a day.

Also, we have been watching the long-range forecast with interest. This has led Jack to do something he hadn’t really planned to do. He swapped the four water containers for fuel cans. He and Lu went and filled them yesterday with diesel, then strapped them to the bungees, onto the wooden plank he’d originally fitted for water containers.

Why? Because of routing. For a while now, we’d been planning to go back home the traditional way. This is when you sail a fairly northerly course from here, up towards Bermuda. From Bermuda, you sail to the edge of the westerly winds – and ride them to the Azores.

Except the Azores High is still quite far south. This means Atlantic depressions are running quite far south as well. The area we had hoped to come up to the look for the best sailing conditions is still unsettled. Band after band of reds rotating past.

It translates into wet and windy weather for us. Of course, we can do it if we have to, but there is another way. The southern route.

This is also known as the Great Circle Route. Traditinally sailed by those heading to more southerly destinations such as Spain and Portugal – and nowadays if you have enough fuel to motor through the quiet spells of the Azores High.

This route is a straight line to the Azores; a rhumb line. Oh, autocorrect just wanted to change rhumb to either thumb or rum. Hehe. Seems appropriate.

If we sail the southern way, we save around 500nm by eschewing the trip towards Bermuda. However, there is more beating against the wind this way. At the same time, there are more consistent conditions. It is more settled – and warmer. Ok the last word got me. We could try this way.

It does mean we have to carry more fuel, since there’ll likely be more times we need to motor. We also have a cruising chute to fly, which has been a very underused sail. It’s designed for light-wind conditions. We bought it before we left Wales, but have had surprisingly few opportunities to fly it here. It’ll be interesting to fly it on Questie for a change, especially in the middle of the Atlantic.

So with this in mind, we got ready today. Rigged up the hydrovane. Put the dive gear away. Stacked and ratcheted the dive bottles together in the back locker. Stowed the emergency grab bags.

Then, we went for a late afternoon swim with SV Dorothy Rose. It was our last Caribbean swim, which reminded us of the first swim of this trip. September 2019 in green-watery Trinidad. I found an octopus this time for Jack to shake hands with.

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