10 August 2022

The Long Route

If you have been following our tracking page, you probably think we are lost, or are at least wondering why we are going so far north. Heck, I ask myself that question several times a day. The answer is easy: because the fastest path between two points at sea, on a boat that can both motor and sail, is rarely a straight line. In our case, the wind has been blowing from the northeast since we left Ponta Delgada. Yes, we could have sailed directly for Brest, as a fellow OCC member did a week before we left. I've been closely following his tracking page, and he's had a pretty rough time tacking many times into rough seas, marveling at the punishment a sailboat can handle, tackling Mother Nature head on.

Meanwhile, we have been enjoying day after day of perfect weather — though without wind! — motoring through the high, rather than bashing into the adverse wind on its east side. And we are easily keeping up with the sailing boat ahead of us.

A third way would be to sail up the favorable western side of the high, but that would be the longest route by far.

Anyway, it's a long trip however you make it, but we are less than 4 days out now, I hope, and the last leg of the trip, finally swooping down to Brest with a fair wind on our beam, should be a joy. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of joy, we had the most exciting whale encounter of our lives yesterday. We passed within 100 feet of a 60+ foot whale, heading the other way, not sure of the type, but we saw a good portion of its back, from blow hole to small triangular dorsal fin, several times as it cruised past, headed south on some mysterious whale mission. A truly stunning sight.

And we've seen lots of dolphins recently, including two lively pods today alone, one of which came alongside and rode our bow wave for awhile. Fun!

We've also had some periodic bursts of wind, where we have enough wind to sail, sometimes for an hour, and two nights ago, for the whole night. Marvelous. So we are not motoring all the time, even in the middle of this high. It's a good rest for our nerves and the engine.

Speaking of the engine, we had to stop and replace a piece of the raw water exhaust hose yesterday. The old hose had apparently been chafing against a metal corner for a while, and finally developed a leak. Well, I should have caught that, but it was half hidden under the engine… yeah, I still should have caught it!

While I was at it, I bled our oil filled stern tube. Should have done that when I changed the oil in the Azores, but forgot to do it. My bad again! Someday I'm going to be perfect. Yup.

Tomorrow, our routing program says it will finally be time to turn east and to drive out of the high. Well, we can't go much further north, so tomorrow it will be, one way or the other. Hoping the forecast is correct and we will have an easy run down to Brest.

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