Navigating

Azores to Portugal: Day 9

High latitude Cruising is famous for bringing you sights few see. Why don’t many see these sights? Because it’s cold and rains all the time!

When we sailed to the Azores in 2018, it was warm and sunny. By day we would wear short sleeves and on night watch, a simple jacket was plenty to keep warm. We were sailing below latitude 40N. 

In 2019 when we left the Azores, we headed straight north to go around the eastern limit of the Azores High. This has taken us as far north as Latitude 46N. By day, it will be 61F, by night 50F. 

To make it even worse, you never see the sun because of all the cloud cover. All this cloud cover leads to perpetual rain!

Cold and rainy. That pretty much sums up our experience with higher latitude cruising in June.

Azores to Portugal: Day 8

We are making progress! The winds are out of the ESE once again and we are rocketing north on a beam reach! We are about a hundred miles from our first waypoint and that is making Maddie feel better about progress. 

I view the journey as 1/3 complete because we have 3 turns to make. Maddie views the journey as 1/2 complete because of the number of miles covered and miles remaining. 

It’s interesting how both of these perspectives are correct and yet paint very different pictures about the situation.

Azores to Portugal: Day 7

The winds have shifted once again and are now blowing out of the South East. We set our sails for a beam reach and make our way North East. Maddie feels that we are making miles towards our destination and I am pleased that we are making miles along our planned track.

We have been sailing for a week now and our route is very simple. There are two waypoints and a destination. In the past week, we have been sailing towards our first waypoint and are still so far from it. The ocean feels like it could extend for an eternity without ever showing us land again. Sailing on endlessly over this visible disk of water with no other signs of human life on the horizon. 

It’s a big ocean out here!

Azores to Portugal: Day 6

A low pressure is passing by us and giving us some wonderful South winds. These are a welcome change as they mean we can make some East miles! 

We could use these South winds to run due North and make that distance needed, but why not try and get as far East as we can?

Our goal is not to hit a particular latitude, our goal is to hit Porto, Portugal. 

Traditionally, the winds in this area require you to sail North to around 47N, but that is not a hard and fast rule. The winds lately have been really weird, so the choice is to sail to an arbitrary point or try to sail to our destination.

For the sake of morale on board, we choose to sail towards Portugal and shave our distance to destination down a bit.

Azores to Portugal: Day 4

We are heading North for two reasons. First, we need to travel higher than the Azores High which extends next to us to our East so that we can sail with good winds (following winds) all the way to Portugal. The second reason we are sailing North is the winds will not allow anything else.

The winds have been blowing out of the East for the past week and show no signs of letting up. While we have ultimate freedom and can point our bow in any direction and reach any land we desire, the wind holds us captive and set in reality. We can point our bow any direction we would like, but the wind will only propel us in a few directions. The only direction that suits us at the moment is the Northern option.

The winds are starting to shift and move from the East to the North East, which is forcing us to choose to sail North West or South East. 

We need the Northern component of the NW course, so we are technically backtracking while still working towards our destination. 

I am able to view a NW course while we are trying to sail to an Eastern destination as progress while Maddie just feels us getting farther and farther from our destination.