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Counter currents and whale watching

OoH Sep 4, 2014, by Oceans of Hope News team in Yacht

Oceans of Hope’s crew are discovering that an Atlantic crossing is definitely not always plain sailing.

The world’s oceans contain a complex system of currents that constantly move around the planet. Remember that scene in the film Finding Nemo when the turtles and other sea creatures are hitching a ride on the current?  

The main current running up the east coast of the USA is the Gulf Stream, which runs northwestwards, roughly parallel to the eastern seaboard and then across the Atlantic, bringing the warmer waters from the Caribbean. The Gulf Stream is the reason the south west of the UK has such a temperate climate, as it sits right in its path.

But these currents can branch unexpectedly, creating back-eddies which reverse the flow of water and which can be anything from a few centimetres across to a few kilometres.

This appears to be what Oceans of Hope is encountering at the moment, as Bertram Christensen reports today, “After two days with great speed and fair winds, we are currently working against 4-5 knots of current going in the wrong direction.”

He adds, “As Mikkel describes it: ‘There is something absolutely wrong. There is no way we should have this much current against us. It's almost too weird and it's very frustrating.’”

“Oh boy it was so hard to get on the discipline of the shifts again!” today’s blogger, Luisa, writes. “Especially because, after the first hours with calm waters, the ocean transformed itself into a chaotic and erratic maze, with waves jumping unpredictably into and inside the boat. We all get wet and we have to laugh with these showers. The wind got better on the second day and yesterday night unfortunately the front sail, genoa, had a tear. Before we were at 9-10 knots of speed, which was very good at 200 miles per day, and then we went down to even 1 knot, almost backwards! The gulf current is so strong now. Why do we have all these forces, wind, currents, making our way more difficult? Makes us wonder...”

The ocean is nothing, if not mysterious!

“Starting this afternoon we are making an average of 3-5 knots, which hopefully will get better,” continues Bertram. “On the upside of things the crew spotted the first two whales of the crossing this afternoon. A great reward for sticking up with a cold watch!”

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