Leander is at 19 17 N, 37 30 W. We are sailing at 5.7 knots 12 knots of wind. Our course is 271 magnetic. The seas have calmed considerably, and we have set the sails up wing and wing. The wind died to five knots last night, and as it was dead behind us in rolly seas, we turned on the engine for the purpose of moving the boat (rather than charging the batteries) to move the boat for the first time since moving through the wind shadows of the Canaries. We motored from about 4 a.m. until Noon today. The winds came back at Noon with enough punch to get us moving again, and now we are moving along at between 5.5 and 6.5 knots. For the first time since we left, it feels like we’re sailing, and in control, rather than being under siege from the wind and weather. We were able to tinker with sail sets and get the best angle, rather than, as in the earlier part of this trip, putting up a little bit of canvas and being at the mercy of which way the wind wanted to take us. This feels better.
In today’s news, we (read “me,” Paul) inadvertently discharged 17 gallons of fuel over night. We have three fuel tanks, two holding 50 gallons and one holding 25 (plus an additional 75 gallons in gerry cans on the deck). Last night, Paul switched the engine from one of the 50 gallon tanks to draw instead from the 25 gallon tank. But, having done this at 4 a.m., he made a mistake on the setting for the return line, and sent the returned fuel to the second, already filled, 50 gallon tank (when the diesel takes fuel, it uses only about a third of what is fed to it, and the excess is sent back to the tank for future use). With this second 50-gallon tank being filled already, the excess fuel traveled out an overflow line that leads from the tank to the back of the boat and into the water. This morning, after just eight hours of use on the 25 gallon tank, the engine began to sputter. Paul, who had come off watch and had been sleeping, knew what the problem was immediately. Silly mistake. It is not that big of a big loss. We have a cushion of being able to motor for five windless day, in addition to the fuel need to keep the batteries charged. We used one of those days when we left, and one day was lost through this error. Three days of spare fuel is still a good cushion. Not as good as four days, of course, but oh well.
We have had a tropic bird following us for the last three days. He floats high above the mast every once in a while, for quick visit, and then takes off to the horizon like his house is on fire. His visits have been too quick to get a photo. It is a bird that Paul had seen in Hal Roth’s book before he left, had always wanted to see, but hadn’t. Until now.
We traveled 120 miles during the last 24 hours, for a total of 1,400 miles done, and 1,391 to go. (That said, we’re not quite half way! The 1,400 miles traveled includes some zigs and zags to get out of the Canaries and to catch the winds. The distance left is as the crow flies. We’ll pass half way in the next several hours.)