Atlantic Crossing – 16th March 2015

Dear Reader

Position: 05deg50S 029deg24W.

Weather is almost sailing perfect. To get consistently good conditions day after day is almost unheard of in the sailing community. What’s perfect? 15/25knots broad reach I would say, although we’ve been running with the wind for days now on the same winged out configuration, hence it’s ‘almost’ perfect. Haven’t used the spinnaker much as it’s just a little breezy for our spinny. Either way we’re making good progress, some days over 150nm, and maintaining our rhumb line. We are now 3200nm from Cape Town and 2150nm from the windward isles of the Caribbean (our next landfall) and only 3700nm from New York! Expect to reach land by Easter.

No obvious signs of unrest with crew after 11 days at sea, or is it 12 days? Winged out causes boat to roll so tiredness is the most visible ailment, with tempers easily flaring up when trying to prepare/dish out dinner in a rocking galley. But just as quickly the frustration subsides once the galley wench presents delectable delights to the crew’s expectant tummies.

There’s plenty of books to read to keep the crew busy, and enough fresh food to prevent scurvy and starvation (less one cabbage which died a horrible death). Then this happened…

THUD! Friday 13th. Twenty minutes before our evening sked with ‘La Luna’ et al, Blue Heeler hit something floating just under the surface. It was impossible to see the flotsam ahead in the evening sunset. After hitting our hull and our rudder, the huge mass appeared at our starboard quarter with a splash and roll. No fins. No blood. Just a large dark green-grey object left in our wake. We had no idea whether it was a dead whale, a seatainer or perhaps Robert Redford floating on an upturned hull in a seriously bad movie. Whatever it was, it was large enough to sink a boat!

I ran aft with my camera to try and record what it was but still couldn’t identify the object, except it was very large and submerged. A whale is usually much darker than this object, and with no fins, obvious corners, or other identifiable features, I really couldn’t be sure what it was as it floated away from us.

These moments snap you into reality quickly reminding you where you actually are and the risks of sailing in the middle of the ocean with land, and help, many miles away. Straight away Wayne checked the rudder and steering for any obvious problems, then the propeller and engine, and the bilge for any sign of leakage. During this I recorded the location of the object on the plotter while methodically recalling everything in our always-ready-to-grab-bags in case we had to abandon ship in a hurry. Disasters can and do happen…sometimes in minutes. There appeared to be no obvious damage and no cause for alarm. Breathing out…

We relayed this news to our sailing buddies at sked time. It’s good to know there are others out here. We haven’t seen a ship in days though. The following day, still no indication of problems from the impact, but more than likely there is cosmetic damage to the hull, keel or rudder. Wayne attempted a dive on the hull the following day but even with sails furled our speed was too much to do this successfully. Will have to wait until calmer conditions.

When not cooking, sleeping, eating or considering abandoning ship, I managed to finish the enlightening book ‘Europe’s Last Summer’ on the intricacies and atrocities of the Great War. Changing pace to less intense, I’m now reading and chuckling along to Tom Sharpe’s witty ‘Vintage Stuff’. As I finish writing this a cargo ship has appeared on our AIS 25nm away on a direct heading with us; a CPA (closest point of approach) of 0.2nm – figures!

About blueheelerhr39

Sailing the world aboard Blue Heeler
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