Pottering Home

Yesterdays wind arrived right on time, at noon , and we have been pottering downwind under kite ever since . The wind was initially WNW which gave us a tight angle and good speed , but it has gradually backed so that we have to sail high of the course to keep the speed up , and even then are barely managing 5 knots. The way home looks complex and a bit like an Ordinance Survey map of the area around Salisbury , with a narrow ridge of high pressure from Brest to Finisterre and a low building to the NW . At present the plan is to sail along the West side of the ridge without going too far down into the valley until we are sure the low is not going to be vicious . Yesterdays gribs suggest it remains shallow , but moves SW towards us , so I will err on the cautious side as I don’t trust these secondary lows.

It would be hard to imagine a nicer start to the trip. The sailing has been gentle and effortless in warm sunny conditions, and if we no longer have the uncanny smoothness of the upwind start ( upwind sailing in light airs is more comfortable and faster than downwind , which tends to be rolly and clattery) we still don’t have to do anything other than keep an eye on the autopilot and adjust a sheet every few hours. This leaves us free to eat , sleep , read , natter and above all marvel at the wild life around us . The best time to spot whales and dolphins appears to be dawn , and above all , dusk. We think that the whole food chain moves to the surface for the night and so the cetaceans don’t have to dive for food but herd them into bait balls at the surface and gorge mightily. The first sign is a group of birds circling and diving , and beneath this you see what looks like a tide race , but is in fact splashes caused by the excited dolphins. Often , they will leap high in to the air and belly flop , presumably to further confuse the fish , although we like to think it might be for our benefit as well! Just for fun we have been keeping a “cetacean log” and it currently stands at 150!
Our destination is still uncertain , but hopefully today’s grib files will help us choose. As I write , the skies are covering and it looks as if rain will not be far behind so perhaps it was all too good to last. Looking on the positive side , wet and windy weather should get us in faster and the decks need a wash ! Meanwhile , from 43 N 23W , which is 600 miles W of Finisterre , the 3 crew of Festina send you our greetings .
All well.

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