Normally, we manage about 130-150 miles a day (24h). But it’s not distributed evenly over that time, we go faster in the daylight and slower at night: we slow for squalls.
During the day, the sun heats up the equatorial Atlantic very efficiently, being almost directly overhead. Right now the sea temperature is about 23C, not bad for the open ocean. All of that heat causes the water to evaporate during the day, causing huge thunders clouds to form. At night the air cools and all that water comes back down again as very small tropical rain storms, or squalls as they are called.
Under a squall you get wet and the wind speed picks up considerably, we’ll go from 15 mph of wind to 30 in less than a minute, and potentially stronger winds we’ve not experienced yet.
To prepare for this we reduce the size of the mainsail at night, making it much smaller than during the day. The head sail, the one at the front, we leave full sized knowing that it can be quickly and easily reduced by one person without leaving the safety of the cockpit when a squall hits.
Thankfully, squalls are fairly easy to spot if you are paying attention. On very dark nights, without the moon, then we also track them on radar. Also, we also call up other members of the fleet if we notice one approaching, a night time squall network on VHF.
So given that we only get squalls once or twice a night and they last only 30 minutes or so, we spend much of the night going more slowly than we would like, without much sail up. The good news is that everyone in the fleet has the same tactic so, one the whole it has been fairly easy to stay together.
In other news, we did 130 miles yesterday (we slowed down to let the others catch up) and we are hoping for an arrival in Barbados on Sunday morning. Also, the sea was a little calmer today, still rolling around but less so. Still no dolphin sights, I pray for some soon, lest there be mutiny.