Much of the last two days have be spent trying to find the best way to sail with a fairly light wind coming from directly behind us. If the main and jib are the same side, the main blocks the wind to the jib and it collapses and fills, collapses and fills with much snapping and cracking of the jib sheets and sails. (Noise only, no actual jib sheets or sails were harmed in this exercise).
We had the choice of either bearing away either port or starboard so that the wind was coming from the side and would fill both sails. The down side to bearing away is that we'd be gybing down wind in a zigzag pattern to make our destination. This means you're covering more ground.
The other option is to goose-wing the main and the jib. You keep the wind at your stern and have the jib on one side and the main of the other. Neither sail is fouled, but you have to make sure boat is very well balanced. If a wave, and there are lots of then, causes the boat rolls from side to side, the jib collapses, snapping and crackling, and the main jibs from side to side with more bashing and crashing. There is a solution though to this otherwise perfect configuration - using the spinnaker pole to pole out the jib so it can't collapse and you rig a gybe preventer on the boom. The gybe preventer is a line attached to the end of the boom and then lead forward to the bow, where it passes through a pulley and comes back to the cockpit. When you let the main out, at the same time you pull the gybe preventer tight and cleat it off. Easy!
Tim has also worked out a system that allows the gybe preventer to be worked from the cockpit and not go out on deck at all. It really is a clever setup.
We don't pole out the jib at night and take the spinnaker pole down before dark. You have to go onto the foredeck and there are too many lines involved for the night. We have kept the gybe preventer on the main for a quieter night with less banging when the boat rolls.
The nights might have been pretty dull except for the lightning displays, particularly on Saturday night. Using RADAR we can check exactly how far away the thunderclouds are. Lots are created in the Gulf Stream because the water is much warmer - we registered 35C at its highest - and with the heat speeding up evaporation - you can often find a parade of them marching along the stream. The Gulf Stream is over 30 miles wide so there is lots of room for all, but lightning in an empty sky with no land or building in front is very impressive and it's nice to be able to see that the cloud that looks so close is actually over 10 miles away and getting further away all the time.
Now at 1500 on a sunny and cool Sunday afternoon, we are just leaving the Gulf Stream and heading directly north toward Newport. We're both wearing jackets in the cockpit and last night was very cool indeed and were wearing jackets, long trousers, boots and woolly hats. It probably wasn't really that cold but after so long in the tropics, it will take some getting used to.
We are still on course to arrive sometime tomorrow, but with these fluky winds it's hard to say exactly when. We've heard a lot from our friends on 'Sara Lane' and are really looking forward to visiting Newport.
At 18/06/2017 21:19 (utc) our position was 39°33.66'N 071°43.91'W
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