We had left Sesimbra around 16:00 on the 22nd and planned on doing a non stop to Lagos, we were motor sailing and as I had to get used to sailing on my own Dave announced he was going to sleep, wake him up in the morning …..
Other than the lobster pots all was plain sailing, the moon was out but covered by clouds. Around 21:00 the wind picked up, then engine was turned off and with just the 150% genoa we were making 5 / 6 knots downwind in a 1 meter swell.
Dave shouted out that he was not comfortable, the swell hitting us from the aft starboard side making the boat roll, so I set the swell directly behind us reefed in the genoa and went to sleep for an hour.
I would like to say it was that easy but I was worried and up and down like a yoyo, there were dolphins outside who kept me amused for a good hour, their chirping was comforting to hear when in the cabin however the sound of a sail flapping due to a wind shift or the lack of wind kept me in the cockpit every almost every hour.
I was woken up to the boat rolling with no wind, so started the motor to at least make the ride a bit more comfortable and had breakfast with the dolphins, Dave woke around 10:00 as the wind picked up.
As most of the crossing to the West across the Atlantic is downwind we rigged the sails up for just such a scenario.
I should point out that so far neither of us had used the tiller, the ST 1000 autopilot had handled everything including downwind sailing in 3 meter swell in 15 knots. Never sailed with an autopilot before, will never sail without one from hence forth, why hold the tiller when you can hold a book?
We even tested the autopilot beating into the wind and swell, again it did so with no problem in 25knots and full sail! The furling genoa broke so we couldn’t reef it
We had Dolphins with us for pretty much the whole journey, lying on the bow I could touch them as they rode the bow wave.
Got to Lagos around 21:00 we were doing a solid 6.5 / 7 knots maxing at 7.4!! We even hove to with full sails out when the liferaft broke free of it’s mounting bracket. … now that was an experience!! Weather helm was next to nothing, this boat is a machine!! No wonder a Contessa 32 was the only yacht to finish in the fastnet of 79.