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Tommy - Log 11 - Fast and Fruity

The winds have been extremely kind the last few days and with our special JJ Simbo rig set-up we are sailing at top speed knocking off those miles. Although, I’ve woken up to Squall City. Just as I get up on deck we’re about to hit a massive squall. Life jackets on. Everyone is called up on deck. The rain starts peltering in. The wind is erratic and changes direction. We reef in the main and twin head sails. Jason is on the helm and all that is left to do is ride it out in true riders of the squall style, hoping we’re near the end of it.

Annnddd… we’ve made it through the squall but there are several others lurching around. I pop the radar on as it picks up the squalls like giant blobs of evil custard floating around on the screen. The one we have escaped is moving round to the South of us and sticking parallel to our port side and there is one dead ahead. This second beast looks as if it’s moving West and much faster than us so it looks like a great escape. 

The day continues to be cloudy, the wind is still great and gusting around 35-40 knots. The swell is gigantic! Jason has had to stay on the helm in order to guide us cautiously over the 12 foot waves while battling with the wind. We all do our best to take turns on the helm, I chicken out after 20 mins as those waves are rather intimidating and our boat loves to ride them. She powers up just as there’s a wave about to hit us side on during a gust, terrifying. You literally feel like the boat is going to topple over. She doesn’t of course because this is what she is made for and boy is she doing a great job! In fact we hit our fastest speeds between 17-18 knots surfing down some of those waves. Meanwhile, we are rolling around things are flying down below, including our lunch : (

Eventually things calm down a bit, the swell is a tad calmer and the boat is behaving a little more elegantly but still reaching about 12 knots. By sunset we think it’ll be best to do double watches just incase the wind picks up again. We are slowly but surely catching up on other fellow ARC boats, during my second watch of the night with Jason another vessel pops up on AIS…. the vessel name doesn’t appear so we look up it’s MMSI number against the ARC team sheet and you’ll never guess who it is….. It’s Dan from Interlude, our neighbour from Las Palmas. During the last week we’ve been having a bit of banter with Dan. After our storm escaping detour he was firmly 250 nm ahead of us. As the weeks and now days have gone on, we’ve slowly but surely raked him in, initially by 20 nm and then all of a sudden we were only 90 miles behind. When we checked the locations at 12 noon, we were 50 miles and now we had him in our sights. The race was on! After all this time, after all our trials and tribulations we are neighbouring with Dan yet again, this time in the middle of the ocean, with only about 190 nm to go to St Lucia.  I just find it incredible, out of all the boats and all the space here we end up finding our buddy about 2nm away!

Jason and I wait patiently in stealth mode as we creep up on Interlude until we are running alongside with about 1.5nm between us.
“Interlude, Interlude, this is Tommy, Tommy, over”
Within seconds Dan responds “Tommy, Tommy this is Interlude, Interlude, over” 
“Interlude, Interlude, this is Tommy, Tommy requesting a chat on channel 6 over”

And so flicking onto channel 6 on our VHF the banter begins at 6am! 

Both crews' spirits are high, we have approx. 24hours until we reach LAND!!!!! 

Land has become this foreign concept, a fantasy world where we can get cold cans of Diet Coke, fresh salad, fruit and go for walks. The only world we have known for 3 weeks is our boat, our little floating island where the Diet Cokes were finished in the first week and the fruit and veg just about lasted 7 days. Turns out they don’t survive well out here in the harsh heat and salty air. I have on the other hand realised / come to the conclusion that fresh salty air is a great healer for a bashed eye. My eye is nearly back to normal, no bruising or blood shot eye ball. There’s just a little bump left which looks as though I’m trying to grow a horn. I’m hoping it’s barely noticeable for our grand arrival in St Lucia, either that or the sailors that have already got there will be more excited to see us and had a little too much rum punch to notice. 

We know nothing about what is happening in the outside world apart from a satellite phone convo with my mum earlier where I briefly learnt some sort of Brexit deal has been signed - I had forgotten all about Brexit! Oh and Prince Harry is engaged from that girl from Suits! I don’t think we’ve missed much!  

This morning we’ve been fantasising about what we are going to do once we get to land, apparently we get met with a basket of fruit and some rum punch!!!
On Jason’s menu, he’d like some jerk chicken and a salad.
I’d like a fresh juicy mango, ice cold Diet Coke and a Caprese Salad. 
Stu keeps talking about an ice cold can of Coke and of course seeing his family who have flown over to St Lucia :)
And last but not least Karla is craving all the fruits and not looking forward to overcoming land sickness ;p

Both Jason and I can’t wait to take Ted for a long well deserved walk, I do wonder if dogs get sea legs too?!? And if so, I shall film it!

So we have approx. 10 hours left to go and counting….

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