Day 17: Confusion in the Atlantic

The Atlantic crossing from the Canaries to the Caribbean is known as a ‘downhill’ route. Downhill in this context signifies that it is somewhat ‘easy’ with the wind and the waves coming from behind the vast majority of the time.

But when is the right time to go? The smart money is either late November or early January, take a look at the table below…

June – October : Too early, hurricanes in the Caribbean.
November – December : Light winds and longer crossing but longer in the Caribbean. January – February : Good trade winds for crossing, but less time in Caribbean. March – May : you have to leave shortly after arriving to avoid hurricanes.

In November and December you have a higher chance of too little wind, as the trade winds are not fully established yet, and this is why so many of the boats in the Odyssey suffered from low or no winds while we were in the Cape Verdes. The last few days in the Cape Verdes we were just waiting for the winds to improve before leaving.

And the good news is we have great wind for sailing, the bad news is that we have really CONFUSED SEAS. A confused sea is one where the waves come from more than one direction and often have a short wave length, distance between waves.

The sea we would hope for on this sort of crossing is a nice, long, slow ocean swell.

What we’re suffering from on this crossing is short, pointy, choppy sea from behind us and every few minutes a set of three rollers which come from the side. Boats really don’t like taking waves on the side and these rollers have the effect of sending us swaying and also push our nose off up wind causing the head sail to back and flap.

If you are sitting up on deck, or safely laying in bed then these waves aren’t too much of a bother, (except when they are very extreme and launch everything and everyone into a corner). And worst case if you have short legs and can’t brace yourself then you’ll constantly holding on, which gets very tiring. However, if you are trying to make dinner or even just move around down below decks the side waves can send you spinning. Leading to dropped food, spilled drinks, bumps, bruises and the opportunity for Teo to learn a few more ‘Adult Words’.

So far, touch wood, no major bangs and Teo seems to be handling it well. But it’s rather like being in a two week long continuous pilates class. And where are all the dolphins?! A few little visits would be a good reward for the workouts.

In other news 150 miles in the last 24h and someone said something about an ETA of the 18th but I couldn’t possibly comment on that.

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