Saturday 3rd December 2011
The Skipper – St Lucia on Tuesday, under 450 miles to go
Squalls – now we’ve felt rather than seen one! Last night at about midnight, with Conor on watch and Bill turning in to be replaced by Antonia, they heard the rain on the water as the wind speed rose to the mid twenties. As the blinding rain struck, the wind increased further to more than 30 knots, but still from astern. Conor furled the genoa. The noise of torrential rain on the cabin roof and on the decks woke the rest of us, rushing to close the hatches. Within seconds, Conor and Bill were totally soaked. Twenty minutes later everything was back to normal with the genoa once more unfurled and flying. Risks? Tearing a sail in a sudden gust of wind and gibing unintentionally are what we fear. But neither happened on this occasion. We had another threatened squall this morning. In the event it was minor. The wind increased and it rained, but nothing like last night’s squall.
Just after lunch we were sailing at a good 9 knots when the line of the fishing rod started to run out – A Fish! But we had to reduce speed. Genoa furled, pull the main in tight to reduce the area exposed to the wind and we are down to 7 knots. Miranda and James took it in turns to fight the unknown monster for all of half an hour, finally reeling it in. They had successfully played and landed a very large Dorado, all handsome with its green scales. Roll on dinner tonight.
In the 24 hours to midday today, we did not quite make the 200 miles, but were just short at 197.5, still an average of 8.2 knots. The wind so far today is stronger than we had expected and our speed has fluctuated between 7½ and 9 knots, as good as Friday. The US Grib weather charts show this wind continuing through Sunday, but gradually declining. For the last 100 – 150 miles to St Lucia on Monday – Tuesday, the forecast is for very light winds, 6 – 10 knots. Without our Cruising Chute, we will crawl, maybe at only 4 knots. We must then decide whether to motor-sail the last 12 - 18 hours. That would be good for our finishing time, but not so good for our pride. We will decide at the time. But in any event we will be in St Lucia on Tuesday; if we motor, by early morning, and if we sail, 12 hours later.
We picked up the ARC fleet position report email for 12h00 GMT. There is little change. Eleanda is still 7th in our division, but one up at 32nd overall, now just two paces behind Geronimo. Uxurious and the Hallberg 62 are a long way behind. Five boats had already arrived at St Lucia. We expect to be the 38th boat to finish.
At 17h00 this afternoon we have covered 2,342 miles, with 444 miles to go. Our average speed since leaving Las Palmas has ticked up to 7.3 knots. But for the last 2 days or 48 hours, it has been an impressive 8.48 knots. The usual summary shows –
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
Tuesday 29th 180.5
Wednesday 30th 177.6
Thursday 1st December 200.0
Friday 2nd 203.2
Saturday 3rd 197.5
Eleanda is happy sailing in these conditions. She hardly needs her crew. The Autopilot has worked without fault for the entire trip, saving us assigning crew to the helm. Instead we can now sit together in the cockpit and pass the time of day discussing Eleanda, the other boats and of course food and tonight’s dinner – always a major topic for us and our companions on the Radio Net. Talking of which, it will be Nigel’s farewell performance as the involuntary Net Controller tomorrow.
It is slowly sinking in that our adventure is nearly over, and that St Lucia is now so near. Will we celebrate our arrival? Of course. But we will suffer a twinge of nostalgia for the bonds forged over the last 14 days and the ending of a wonderful experience. Memories of our life together across the Atlantic will last forever.
Blistering barnacles to all our friends and followers
Nigel and all the crew.
From the Crew
James – His snapshot of the day
It felt like we had lost our 7th crew member, the sinking feeling of an electronic death began to flood the mind. The ON button pressed and pressed again but no gentle red glow to say, I am on and ready. A quick call to the master of information Nigel and a little while later we concluded that it had packed up its high pressure pump and retired. A quick memorial service was held with a sentence or two. Then thoughts moved to its replacement for Eleanda’s Nespresso machine was no more.
Had it not been for a family friend many years ago who taught me always to check for a general reset button when electronic devices fail for no reason whatsoever, it could well have been packed up and put away. With only four buttons it could only be a matter of minutes to find the lucky combination of buttons to depress simultaneously to achieve this. For luck was with me today; just like the wind has been on this trip. Down went the buttons power and steam and then a few gentle red flashes glowed 1, 2, 3 then its internal mechanics roared back into life again. Our little Nespresso machine was back to its old self making us all great coffee – no withdrawal symptoms after all!
STOP PRESS!!! STOP PRESS!!!
Just received from the ARC office -
36 Uxorious IV has damaged her rig and is unable to sail. Currently motoring to St Lucia. No assistance required.
So no competition any more. Very sad for them.