Namibia to St. Helena……Day 8

Namibia to St. Helena……Day 8

June 1st, written the morning of June 2nd, 2013 (Western Hemisphere) Time: On GMT/UTC

What a different sail we\’ve had the last 24 hours. It started fairly light wind-ish again yesterday and steadily picked up during the day. We had one reef and the genoa out to weather on the spinnaker pole. Then, right around dark, I re-evaluated the prediction for a 10-20 knot night and saw we were going to get a lot more wind.

The GRIB files (grided imbedded binary files) are computer generated weather files which are graphically shown as to wind direction, strength, swell size and direction and a host of other very valuable information. These are generated by NOAA in the USA and freely available to anyone. They are updated every 6 hours. No person views or evaluates them at NOAA, they are raw output. This is so complex, it takes a \”super computer\” to crunch all the numbers. They are really quite accurate \”at sea\” (useless on land). However, you need to learn how to get a feel for them and read them. First, they are surprisingly accurate as to wind direction and the timing of when the wind will do what. They are also very accurate as to sea state and barometric pressure. They usually UNDERstate the wind speed by approximately 5 knots.

Part of the nuance of reading them is too look a a large area. If that area is showing a very consistent wind flow, it\’s likely to be much stronger than predicted.
This has been my experience sailing around the world. The area we viewed was from the African coast out to St. Helena, about 1000 miles. It showed the same \”15-20 knot\” wind feathers everywhere. Hence, look out, here comes a lot more breeze!

Last night, just before dark, we put the second reef in the main and changed the genoa out for the staysail. This was a smart thing!
Within a half an hour, the first squall came by at 42 knots for 10 minutes. Then it dropped off into the high mid 30 knot range. For several hours we had sustained 27-8 knots followed by gusts for 5-10 minutes in the 30 knot range. It has settled down since. Mostly in the mid 20\’s, Occasional 30\’s still come by.
Right now, it feels like the wind quit; it\’s only 24!

The sea state came way up too and an hour ago we started seeing consistent 4 meter swells. (Around 13-14 feet). The good news is that it\’s right in our wheelhouse as to how we like to sail.. Surfing down the waves, wing and wing (gull winging for our UK friends), we\’ve hit 14 knots several times and are rarely under 8.5 knots.

This increased our daily run to 177 which is just about low average for us, but the first half of yesterday was light. I suspect we\’d do a 200 plus mile day if we weren\’t going to be at St. Helena this evening! \”Beach House\” is smelling the barn!…ride em\’ pony!

Next blog will hopefully be from the mooring at St. Helena where we expect to arrive just after dark. We\’ve good recent information from Dave & Kathie on \”Sunflower\” as to where to moor and what to look out for.
Scott and Nikki