Looking to see land on the horizon after several days at sea always has the same effect... The salty mariner in question is transfixed by a solid object surrounded by the constantly moving sea and thoughts immediately turn to images of lush green, white sand and the comforts of home. If that's the case for me when I spot a desolate island, in this case Porto Santo off Madiera, imagine the revelation that land on the horizon would have been for old sailors who were never quite sure to see the solid stuff again!
The reason I am shaving Madiera is because the fleet has been struggling to get through a ridge of high pressure extending from the Azores islands towards Gibraltar. This weather phenomenon is clearly marked on the weather charts but also on the race tracker, as long parallel lines dissolve into confused spaghetti as boats hunt first right, then left to escape. Yesterday I broke south from my little group of playmates and later today will be my moment of truth as we'll see if the gamble was worth it. Currently I am reaching westwards in good breeze while they appear to be struggling southwards but it could all change again.
Consistently overcast skies mean that my solar panels are under performing but I was able to completely recharge my batteries with the Oceanvolt motor yesterday when sailing fast under the small gennaker. While charging I was diverted by a seismic research vessel that called me on the radio and asked me to change my course lest I run into their 6 miles long cables out the back of their boat. If they were prospecting for oil then it's ironic that my zero emissions yacht be delayed by workers from oil companies.
Aside from cargo ships and research vessels I have few other companions. It's as if I were sailing through a grey salty desert without birds or visible marine life. I look forward to bright blue days, long spinnaker runs and the sprays of flying fish that await just after I make it past Madiera.