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La Cigale - Day 23 - 11 December - Catch of the Day

I took over from the Skipper on the dawn watch this morning. The rest of the crew fast asleep, it isn't often we have time to ourselves so he stayed out a little longer I keep me company. He also wanted to keep an eye on an approaching vessel he had just flagged. The stars were shining, and with my Night Sky app, I could give him a guided tour. No, that wasn't Mars, that was Betelgeuse, also of a reddish hue, I corrected him, continuing: that bright star, over there, is actually the planet Jupiter and look, just above, *that's* Mars. After a few minutes he declared "Actually, Lucy, I'm not really interested at all, I just want to find the North Star that I remember as a teenager." I cast around quickly and caught sight of a bright light on the horizon. "There you go, Polaris!" I said triumphantly, pointing. The Skipper let out an exasperated sigh. "No Lucy, that's the boat I was telling you about earlier..."

As we watched the most spectacular sunrise of the trip, the boat grew ever closer, a scarlet sail billowing out from the bow. The Skipper took the helm, and we let them pass ahead. Given the wind had pretty much dropped, and we were going at the same speed, we found it hard to believe they didn't have a motor on as well, but they were clearly going on a very different tack and did have the gennaker out, so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. Moments later they radioed in Spanish, so the Skipper handed over to me. The crew had been following the Arc with interest but are actually on their way to Martinique and then heading north, eventually to Cuba. I was delighted to hear they were from Valencia, where I had studied for a year at university some twenty years ago. They said I had obviously learned my lesson! Anyway, Valencia has been my home from home ever since. I remember the Americas Cup being hosted there, on behalf of Switzerland, and saw first-hand the transformation
it effected on the port. Little did I know then...

As if to apologise for the lack of wind, the ocean had a couple of gifts to deliver up to us today. Twice we put out our fishing line (a cheapo from a Chinese supermarket in Las Palmas), and each time, we caught a fish. Helen reeled in a pretty silver fish first. "Your turn now, Lucy!" She said, and by some miracle, following her example, I reeled in my first ever fish, also silver but with two yellow iridescent stripes and a golden tail. As I held my catch of the day, I got the fright of my life as the dead fish began to squirm in my hands, flapping its gills, and opening and closing its mouth. "Just reflexes!" Harley assured me, laughing. We have no idea what either fish was called (other than recognising they are not mahi-mahi!), but drizzled with olive oil, lime juice and slivers of garlic, baked in foil in the oven and served with sweet potato wedges, they made the finest feast of the trip - what a send off!

We have company today, with ARC vessels Amuse, Nada and Lykke on our radar. We knew from the ARC email that Lykke had been de-masted, and was being escorted by Nada, and we radioed them to see if we could offer any further assistance. We were reassured to hear they absolutely fine and motoring on as well.

Writing as the sun sets, less than 100 miles to go, it's pretty certain now that, by keeping a leisurely pace and eeking out our last reserves of fuel, we'll arrive some time tomorrow...

St Lucia, here we come!

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