Passage from St Helena to Ascension

Day 1

Back at sea after a very enjoyable stop at St Helena and time for a rest after a week of non stop activity on land.

Light winds are forecast for the 700nm leg to Ascension Island , especially from Wednesday, so the spinnaker has been extracted from the forward sail locker and tied down on the back deck ready for action if needed!  We are expecting a four or five day passage depending on how light it gets. It seems the wind between Cape Town and St Helena is light also. We had an email this morning from some friends on that passage who reckon it will take them 18 days – twice our time!

We've had the genoa poled out from the start with winds improving to around 15knots once we cleared the island.  Seas flat but a bit of rolly swell. Grey day most of the day but a bit clearer in the night with a few stars making an appearance.  Easy first day – long may it last (and the wind so we don't have to move the spinnaker from the back deck!)

Date and time:  7th Feb 2016; 0700 GMT;     24 hours distance: 175nm:     Position: S13:54:9 W07:53:2

Day 2

A steady day with winds of around 15 – 20 knots.  Sea still relatively flat but a bit more of a swell later in the day.  The sun did make an appearance during the day – it's now getting very warm as we get that bit closer to the equator!  It's getting darker earlier now as well – sun going down around 7.15pm.

Stayed with the genoa poled out all day until just after midnight when we changed to a 2 sail reach but then back again to poled out genoa at 6am.  Not much traffic around – just 1 ship in the distance.  At 7pm we were about half way between 2 lots of friends – the ones in front had set off a day before us and the ones behind an hour later.

Nothing in the way of wildlife apart from quite a number of flying fish but surprisingly not a lot on deck.

Date and time:  8th Feb 2016; 0700 GMT;     24 hours distance: 191nm;     Position: S11:48:79 W010:19:233

Day 3

Sun and pretty steady winds of 18-20k from the SE all day so bobbing along quite nicely goose winged on starboard gybe. No dramas, so spent the day dozing and reading. The gribs suggested we needed to gybe just before dark to keep west of a light patch coming up ahead. After gybing, the wind went light and swung east under a rain shower which forced us to sail due west for a couple of hours with much frustration. Anyway, back on course now though we are in a dying breeze. We have less that 170nm to go, so only need to average 5k to get there before dark Wednesday – should manage that!

It's getting very hot now, both day and night. When we thought about it, we realised that we are between the southern hemisphere summer solstice and equinox, and that the sun is almost directly overhead at midday. In fact we will be moving north at similar speed to the sun right through to the northern summer solstice in June – it's going to be a long hot summer (at least until we get back to the UK !)

Date and time:  9th Feb 2016; 0700 GMT;     24 hours distance: 170nm;     Position:  S09:57:039 W012:27:673

Well we really are in the middle of the south Atlantic ! Right on the mid Atlantic ridge – a big chunk of volcanic rock and sand with (surprisingly) white sand beaches, bristling with radio masts and communication equipment.  On approach the profile was such that we reckoned we had discovered the location of the secret “Thunderbirds” island! The last day of our passage was fairly calm with the winds dying down as the evening wore on but we managed to keep a speed of around 5+ knots for the last 12 hours.  Going to have our full English before we go ashore to check in with the authorities.

Date and time:  10th Feb. 2016 10.15 GMT;     Position:  S07:55:184 W014:24:7355

Total distance: 711nm;    Total time: 99.25 hours;    Avg speed: 7.16kts