Quite a few of us were close together as we cleared the shipping lanes off Uscant on Tuesday morning. The wind remained light and I managed to catch up on some sleep. Others were not so fortunate and spent the night dodging fishing boats. It was then all change later on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday as the seas built and the wind hit 30 knots. I have not sailed in waves as big but with three reefs in the main and the staysail set Fathom took it all in her stride and we managed to creep to windward at a couple of knots. Others with lighter and smaller boats were forced to heave to until conditions improved. It was difficult doing any kind of task in the cabin but I managed to heat some soup at least.
Conditions were not much better through Wednesday morning and I had only managed to take 30 minutes sleep overnight. I received several VHF calls from another Jester boat to say he had electrical problems and had enough and was turning around and heading for Falmouth. I then found out another jester boat had received an unfavourable forecast for a few days ahead and decided to retire also. I have now learnt at least two others have also retired. After receiving the long term weather grib file via satellite phone yesterday I can see that there is an active Atlantic depression forming and heading from the Azores right into Biscay early next week. Not a normal path for this time of year and right through our route. I thought about turning round but have made the decision to plug on south and pull into a Spanish port to let the storm pass. The jester rules say stops are allowed.
As I type this we are flying south hard on the wind 200 miles north of La Courna. Nearly three days hard on the wind in 20 knots of breeze means cooking is suffering and I resorted to a boil in the bag yesterday. There will be some more headwinds tomorrow so hope to arrive in Spain by end of Sunday all being well. Once there I can catch my breath and wait for the weather to settle down before getting back in the game.
I knew with the highs would come the lows. It is a disappointing that I can’t make a crack for the Azores in one go but I have made the safest and most sensible decision and there is no way I want to get caught in that Atlantic depression. Looking forward to some following winds one day soon!!