Welcome to the Maunie of Ardwall blog

This is the blog of Maunie of Ardwall. After a six-year adventure sailing from Dartmouth to Australia, we are now back in Britain.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Atlantic Highs and Lows

This is our first 'proper' ocean passage and, whilst we've sailed thousands of miles together, this has been the longest we've been out of sight of land. Such a trip does present you with a few challenges and they aren't all physical – your mental approach is important and we have found that you have to work hard not to become demotivated when normally trivial things become an issue.
Take yesterday, for example. All began well, in spite of the absence of wind, and we enjoyed showers and the chance to catch up on sleep. However things began to go downhill from lunchtime, starting with a pizza. We thought a fresh chilled pizza would be a easy passage snack and the ones in the Dia supermarket looked fine. Now Graham used to run a factory in Nottingham making pizzas for a major supermarket beginning with T and ending with o and he thought that the anglicised, down-to-a-price products were pretty uninspiring. Compared to the Oh Dia pizza we cooked, though, they were culinary masterpieces;  it was chucked overboard and we cobbled together an alternative meal. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but food becomes an important highlight of the day at sea.
The afternoon took a definite turn for the worse when the wind arrived. Unfortunately it was dead on our nose and kicked up a really confused wave pattern with the wind waves from the southwest and the 2m sea swell from the northwest. The short, sharp waves just stopped us every time we began to build forward momentum so sailing proved fruitless and we resorted to motor-sailing (keeping the mainsail hoisted to give some drive and stability to supplement engine power). Progress was slow and uncomfortable, with waves crashing over the foredeck, the spray lit red and green from our navigation lights. We just had to hunker down and get through it, not knowing, of course, how long it would be before a more benign sea state would be found and the conditions made cooking supper a challenge too. There was some solace from VHF conversations with Peter on Stormvogel; they were suffering too and Peter summed it up when he said, with feeling, "These waves are shit!"
So onto this morning and the mood in both boats has lifted and all is well, we are glad to report. We finally switched engines off at 10.00 (after an unbelievable 43 hours non stop) having found wind and, after a couple of rain squalls, sunshine. We both slept well now that we have got used to the routine of 4 hour watches at night so this helps significantly with the positive mental approach. We are currently less than 90 miles from our destination, making good speed and on a good course so should be in the marina at Porto Santo in the early morning. We will have a cheeky beer or two to celebrate as soon as is decent and we'll swap tales of the voyage with Heidi and Peter. Hopefully their engine will start again when we arrive!

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