Week 32 6 – 12 August 2018 Greenland aiming for the Faroes, but we made landfall on the Hebrides 1234 nm
6 August Monday Fourth day at sea
Third 24h 166 nm, mostly under sail. A very tiresome day with lots of strong wind and much water across the boat.
We were still aming for the Faroes. We sail with only the cutter and a bottom reefed main, still doing eight knots. The waves are still too much from the north making us steer a more southerly course than the wind calls for.
7 August Tuesday Fifth day at sea
Fourth 24h 163 nm, sailing in gale all 24 hours. During the afternoon it was obvious that the Faroes was not going to be reached under these conditions. We are now planning for Stornoway on the Hebrides. We have forty knots of wind and huge swells. It became much more comfortable when we decided to leave the Faroes for another year and sail almost thirty degrees further south, giving us 100 degrees to the wind.
Had sunshine most of the day but ended in clouds with no rain. We are happy for our clear “back wall” giving us two dry seats in the cockpit even when the waves decide to enter the cockpit from across. Having the waves 100 -110 degrees from behind makes life so much dryer and easier.
The wind vane does a very good job, but today when the wind strength varies a lot around 40 knots from 100-110 degrees we choose to use the autopilot.
We have to use the engine to charge the batteries at least once a day which is not a problem unless we are heeling too much.
8 August Wednesday Sixth day at sea
Fifth 24h 166 nm, gale and later a very fast reach. This was the day when things started to go wrong. The gearbox screamed and didn’t want to play anymore. Luckily we can still run the engine with the gearbox in neutral. We have met a cruiser who had a broken gearbox that had jammed the engine!
Ok we have no propulsion, nor forward or reverse. But we are a sailboat so no problem, unless there is no wind close to shore in tidal condition and deep water.
We decided to inform UK Coast Guard of our situation and asked for an eventual tow if becalmed close to the northern tip of the Hebrides and its tidal shores.
9 August Thursday Seventh day at sea
Sixth 24h 166 nm
To keep Moon going we have followed the stronger wind in the forecast and sailed south of rumbline. The forecast was now quite ok after the gale, but there was still very little wind closer to the Hebrides. No problem chargeing the batteries in the morning but we have absolutely no connection between the engine and the propeller! We had to try again to make sure! We have made a temporary break on the shaft to prevent the feathering propeller from starting to move.
Today we have a nice sun shining from an almost clear sky. The temperatures, both in water and air are much warmer so the need of the heater is only at nighttime.
Both our insurer and Coast Guard had answered when we checked our email using the HF radio in the afternoon.
Our NZ friends S/V Larissa are anchored in Stornoway and helped us with various local contacts, quite relaxing to have ears and eyes on site!
10 August Friday Eight day at sea
Seventh 24h 99 nm due to slow sailing all night in almost no wind.
Got an email from Coast Guard confirming that they had noted our request in the central archive!
Later we got information that they had forwarded our alert to Stornoway and we were supposed to call them when we came closer. When we got Stornoway CG email address we informed them that a tow was probably only needed in the actual harbour, avoiding all risks involved with a tow offshore.
The biggest problem in the very light wind was the noise and damages to the sails when they are slamming back in forth in the swell. Finally we took the main down and poled out the cutter together with the already out poled Yankee. Not faster but less noisy and less damage. Our lifting boom for the dinghy made a perfect sized whisker pole for the cutter.
The late weather forecast shows an easterly strong wind building late Saturday, and that will keep us safe tacking around the north cape of the Butt of Lewis, the lighthouse 25 nm north of Stornoway. Having that report we finally canceled towing offshore and informed Coast Guard of our intension to sail all the way into the outer harbour of Stornoway.
11 August Saturday ninth day at sea
Eight 24h 99 nm in almost no wind
The night has been very calm with Moon more or less drifting eastward. Very lucky that the swell and the little current run towards east!
Moon is rolling in the swell enough to make the sails not fill in the weak breeze. Early morning we furled the cutter and hoisted the main to take advantage of the light breeze shifting to more southerly and the declining swell. We sometimes reach three knots! Around ten the light breeze was completely gone and we were becalmed, drifting at zero speed through water. The current took us on a northeasterly course at 1,2 knots. This was the situation we had been afraid of close to shore. The Hebrides have strong tidal current around its shores and in no wind conditions that can be extremely dangerous for a sailboat without propulsion.
About 30 nm north of St Kilda, it was only a matter of waiting until the new easterly wind start to blow. When the wind came back, very weak, we got another experience. How to turn Moon in the direction to have any use of the new wind? The solution was to bring the main boom by hand as far out as possible to gibe instead of tacking through the wind, the latter impossible as we didn’t gain any speed. As soon as we got the wind into our sails from ahead we started to produce our own wind due to raising speed. Soon we did five knots in the almost not existing headwind. Very nice to be on the move again.
Coast Guard Stornoway called us to check that all was well aboard, except for the gearbox and we confirmed that and confirmed the tow only in Stornoway harbour. We kept on sailing towards the Butt of Lewis, now thirty miles east of Moon.
Late afternoon we got the new wind, twenty knots easterly, that gave us a time consuming tacking north east in counter current around the Butt.
12 August Sunday tenth day at sea
The ninth 24h became less than 22 hours and 123 nm in spite we were adrift before noon and a lot of counter current tacking around the Butt of Lewis.
The tacking around the north of Lewis became a very time consuming story. South easterly current and easterly wind with rough sea state made the tacking angles extremely bad. But we made it and it was a relief to be able to ease the sheets in a close reach the twenty-five miles along the east coast of Lewis to Stornoway.
Five in the morning we called Coast Guard and confirmed the towing in the harbour a few hours later when we had passed point Arnish, the lighthouse marking the boarder for the outer harbour in Stornoway. Passing Arnish point we furled the Yankee and took down the main, unfurled the cutter to be able to maneuver Moon until the Lifeboat came.
Half way across the outer harbour we met the Lifeboat and we were soon rafted alongside and towed into the marina. More or less only a ten minutes tow and we were alongside an outer T-berth pontoon in the new marina. Everything very professional and safely manoeuvred.
Settling down with internet and everything we got an e-mail from one of our readers making a pointy that it was exactly thirteen years since we last time visited Stornoway on our way out from Europe! We knew it was August but hadn’t checked the actual date. But this was really a remarkable coincident. Coming back to Europe, crossing our route at exactly 13 years on the day!! And remember it was not planned at all as we were originally headed for the Faroes.
We slept for a few hours before we washed down Moon from all salt water and then the crew got a shower as well.
Mark and Heather from Larissa came in the afternoon bringing wine and food for a reunion meal in Moon. Lots of talking about the last days and also their passage through the North West Passage last year.
Early evening as we had some urgent need of sleep in a not moving bed and to prepare for the work tomorrow dismantling the gearbox.
Annika & Björn