Monday 28th November 2011
The Skipper – from somewhere in mid Atlantic
The light winds continued through Sunday afternoon into the evening. With white sails only, goose winged, we made slow progress at 5 – 6 knots, as the crew dozed and recovered from the previous night’s work. We had made the decision to keep with this sail plan until Monday morning. Fortunately the wind picked up after darkness fell and by 20h00 was back up to 15 – 18 knots and continued throughout the night. In the following 12 hours we averaged 6.9 miles per hour. At 09h15 we began the change from the genoa to the cruising chute. An hour later, after great teamwork by Conor, Bill, Miranda and James, we were rewarded with an easy unfurl. The great big sail has pushed our speed up to 7.8 knots with bursts to over 9.
This time I absolutely knew that, over the past 24 hours, we were likely to have slipped a place in our Division. Most of the competition had been using spinnakers and it was no surprise to find we had been overtaken by White Knight of NY, an English owned Swan 651, 66’ long, to end 7th in our division and down a few places to 45th overall. If we can keep the cruising chute up overnight, I would be hopeful that we can regain our previous 6th place.
This morning Miranda landed her 2nd Dorado and later hooked a huge fish while the cruising chute was flying. This makes landing a fish of any size near impossible due to the speed of the boat and inevitably the line broke before we could furl the sail. We have now lost three of our six lures. But our lunch was enlivened with sashimi and Carpaccio of Dorado.
There is much excitement at the prospect of passing the half way mark (by distance) tonight, currently expected to be at 20h45 ship’s time, GMT -2, so 22h45 UK time. At 15h00 we have 36.6 miles to go. Champagne is in the fridge and Miranda and Antonia are planning a rum cocktail and several surprises. They tell us the theme is a visit by Neptune and we must dress accordingly. Today I was the Radio Net controller and, other than the perennial problem of chafe, the main subject was how to celebrate the half way mark, with most boats opening Champagne and enjoying special dinners. Yes, after the sailing conditions, food is the most discussed topic!
I feel I must revert to this whole Atlantic thing. It is easy to move from elation to near despair as we enjoy great sailing followed by serious equipment failure. But each upset has been put right. We are learning to improvise and maintain our sailing gear, while Eleanda’s electronics and mechanics are working faultlessly. I could not have believed what a thrill the whole passage has become. It requires a strong and experienced crew who can bond well together. Everyone must contribute something important. Eleanda has such a team. I still can hardly believe that we are in the middle of the Atlantic, more than 1,000 from any land, totally confidant in Eleanda and enjoying glorious down-wind sailing conditions. Yes, we are only just reaching half way, but already the end is in sight and a great achievement within reach.
For the record our daily distances are set out below. At 15h00 this afternoon we have covered a total of 1,356 miles and have about 1,442 miles to go.
Monday 21st, 23 hours from the rally start 142.7 nautical miles
Tuesday 22nd 162.0
Wednesday 23rd 194.3
Thursday 24th 185.2
Friday 25th 187.4
Saturday 26th 155.3
Sunday 27th 140.4
Monday 28th 166.2
When will we get to St Lucia? Our latest forecast takes us to Sunday, 4th December. So the vital last three or four days are still too far away to call. Two days ago a storm in the central Caribbean was leaving a windless hole for the 300 miles just east of St Lucia. This now appears to have moved away. I am now hopeful that we will have reasonable wind for the rest of the way, although we need to move further south. If this comes about we should reach St Lucia on 7th December. Let’s hope I am not being optimistic!
Pray for our wind while we sing to Miranda and Antonia for our supper.
With all good wishes from
Our friend Neptune, Nigel and the Crew.
No Crew today – they are all too tired