Wind shifts and salvage on the high seas

We are still engaged in our private battle of wits with Neptune. We decided the wind would veer ,so headed off on a long port tack , went on to starboard well short of the layline – classic upwind tactics even if the layline in question was 100 miles long. I have to admit to a small smirk as the shift gradually came through , lifting us up to our course for Horta over night , but of course Neptune has got his own back – literally – as the wind has backed again and we are 25 degrees low. On the positive side there is more wind than forecast and we are whooshing along at maximum upwind speed with 55.5 miles to go (( there’s one for Bryony!).

Life got even busier out here yesterday afternoon. As Lynda handed over to me she pointed out two yachts on the horizon. At that moment the VHF crackled into life calling “the yacht at such and such position” , which turned out to be us! It appeared that one yacht was towing the other , having come out from Horta to effect a salvage on a 56 footer with a broken forestay , no rudder and no clutch. Ouch ! The salvage vessel only had VHF for communication and wished us to report them to the Coastguard authorities and give an expected ETA. And no they didn’t want any other help ( they were EXTREMELY firm about this!) from which I gathered that this would be a case for the salvage court. It turned out that the towed vessel was the Spaniard we had heard earlier that nobody could understand. He was bound from Cuba to Barcelona so must have tangled with the same system that poor old Roy Boughton in Guiding Light had run into. It makes our almost universally light wind passage seem very fortunate.

When sailing upwind with a good heel , the sight of water racing past the gunwhale seen through the lee cabin windows is an impressive one. This morning I was sat inside trying to wake up when the whole window was filled by the extraordinary vision of an airborne dolphin flashing by , just inches away , to muscle in on the crowd riding the bow wave. The effect was spine tingling and plays in my head even now , although with each repetition it gets less distinct . If I need consolation , I just have to watch the surrounding seas for 15 minutes and can guarantee to see more of his kin , albeit not in such unexpected proximity. Our ambition is to see a Cachelot or Sperm whale. The books say they are around at this time of year so I better get back on deck and practise my “Thar she blows” !

Noon today ( 1300 UT ) sees us at 38 41N 29 51W and hoping to be in Horta some time in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning. All well!

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