July 30, 2018 and we are nearing the Azores. The goal was to make it there in around 18 days, and at this point we are 5 days over that mark. This might seem like an issue to someone who is adhering to a strict schedule, but that is not us!
The winds got a little light so we turned North a bit until they got stronger, then we continued sailing East towards the Azores.
According to our friends who have now made it to Flores and our friends who are in the United States with weather routing programs on their computers, they have been telling us that the ideal turning waypoint is coming up. I plotted it on our screen with a sign post because I thought it was cute and it gave me something to do. I also added another lighthouse down on Ponta Delgada of Sao Miguel. Why? Because it is a harbor that I have studied and if we miss Horta, we can try for Angra, and if we miss Angra, we can try for Ponta Delgada. Why have so many backups? Because having backups means we don’t stress out if we miss our goal.
Imagine you are in a race and someone holds out a cup of water. It is a long race and this is the only cup of water that you will be offered to you. You are probably going to be really focused on that single cup of water. Everything else is unimportant and all your attention goes into reaching and obtaining that water.
That’s a lot of pressure to grab that single cup of water!
How about this situation for perspective: same race, but a long line of people holding out cups of water. If you miss one, simply re-aim for the next cup and grab that one. Easy!
That’s what I did here. I marked all the cups and created a long line of them for us to grab. We still have our ideal cup, but we can grab any of the other cups if we miss.
The clouds start talking today too. Up ahead on our starboard side, the sky is completely clear (high pressure).
To our Port side, you can see clouds rolling in (approaching low pressure).
Way out in the distance, directly to our Starboard beam, you can see reddish skies. This is very visible with polarized lenses, and tells you that you are looking at a high pressure system in the distance. The higher air pressure refracts light differently and shifts it towards the red side of the spectrum. Just by looking at it, you can see that there is a High to Starboard and you know that means no wind over there.
As the day continues on, the low from the Port side begins to roll in further and is now visible on the starboard side. This is how we make sure to stay in the wind. A low pressure system will have winds rotating in a counter clockwise manner, so being on the lower right side of the system means we will be having winds blowing from behind us! Basically, we can expect to be on a Broad Reach on Port Tack tomorrow (when the system comes in all the way), just by looking at the clouds!
As the day drags on, the low pressure continues to roll in. Low pressure systems are great because the winds come on gradually. This means that you don’t have to reef right away when you see them because you aren’t going to get smashed by a wall of wind in two days. Instead, the winds will simply continue to build gradually and you can go reefing accordingly.