Spellbinder is currently making good progress on her passage from Bermuda to the Azores. She left St George’s on Monday 27th May and at 1415 UTC on Monday 2nd June was at 38 50N 47 22W. This position is 900 miles out from Bermuda with some 750 miles to run to the Azores. At the moment the nearest land mass is Newfoundland, 500 nautical miles to the north.
All is well on board and the sailing has been good, with only 16 hours of motoring required so far. The wind has been behind the beam throughout, and a combination of goose-winging, broad reaching and in the last 24 hours Parasailor alone have allowed her to maintain her heading without recourse to diesel. The Raymarine autopilot has been playing up, however, which may mean any extended motoring may have to be done by hand; the Hydrovane has, however, come into its own and has steered us most of the way.
The weather has been fairly cloudy until recent days when the arrival of high pressure has brought fairer skies, calmer winds and flatter seas. The passage requires careful monitoring of the developing weather systems, less to avoid gales but more to find wind. The position of the Azores High is critical in this endeavour and we have been getting nightly GRIB (weather) files each night through the SSB long range radio. There has also been a very useful radio net run each morning by the Ocean Cruising Club, where a number of yachts making the passage check in informally. There is also a more formal check in each evening with a net sponsored by the American Seven Seas Cruising Association (the net is called the ‘Doo-Dah’ net) which tracks progress of yachts on passage. There is also a twice daily weather bulletin by a sailing meteorologist called Chris Parker, which is useful.
We have seen porpoises, plenty of storm petrels and thousands of Portuguese Men-of-War floating by with their little blue- or red-fringed sails up. There is a bit of shipping (which stays well clear) and some other yachts in the vicinity.
We are currently heading north to try and get around to the top quadrant of the Azores High, and profit from its westerly winds. Expected arrival in Flores, Azores is around Sunday 9th June; we intend to spend a night or two there before sailing down to the middle islands, visiting Horta and Terciera.