Selene - Keep on sailing . . . . !
It is hard to imagine how far removed we feel from the Christmas preparations, both geographically and mentally. However I do feel a bit like Scrooge writing his journal by candle light as I try to eek out the last remaining amps from our batteries to keep the instruments burning and the computer charged so I can continue to write my blogs.
Like Scrooge we try to have dinner before sunset so we can see what we are eating - usually this is an advantage, and the fare is much better than I anticipate Scrooge allowed himself to enjoy.
So there we were yesterday afternoon anticipating Chicken Tikka Masala with rice - courtesy Kevin and a can opener - actually surprisingly good. We had been sailing all day under a very stable asymmetric kite and were debating the merits of leaving it up for the night against the risks of a cock up in dropping it in the dark under pressure. Bob was alone on deck as the rest of us were preparing for the night, or cooking. Well actually Rob & Lily were clearly fast asleep, but I am sure they were preparing in their own minds. It is very important to know where everything thing is before it gets dark so you can respond instantly should the need arise. Well, just as the rice was coming to the perfect consistency, Bob calls down "Adrian, I just want you to look at this cloud". I am sure you know what's comming, but there was a moderately nasty squall cloud that was going to pass ahead and a very nasty ominous cloud behind it that clearly had our name all over it. Bob was optimistic we could shoot the gap between the two. I was not so sure so I made the call to drop the kite. It was marvellous to see the two nippers spruing into action like the tightly coiled springs I know them to be - the benefit of prior planing and preparation obviously. Another faultless letterbox drop, the sail bagged and packed and the main reefed with the genoa rolled to the first mark all within 15 mins from horizontal, eyes closed. Impressive. Then the rain hit again and a squall of 26Kts. I stayed on deck with Bob in case his specs steamed up again whilst the rest of the crew ate below and once the squall had passed Bob and I enjoyed our supper as well. We have seen more vicious squalls, but this one would have been a challenge had the A sail still been up. In fact we did almost make the gap and the majority of the rain and weather passed astern of us, but the new wind was fresh and carried on all night at 15-20kts from the NE again and we had a great night of white sail reaching at 8-10kts.
We seem to have become almost accustomed to these exceptional sailing conditions. We would be delighted to see more than 8 kts on Selene's log in normal sailing, but here it seems slow when the log drops below that figure and we have been charging along at 8kts plus for what seems like days now, almost effortlessly at times. Sparkman and Stephens certainly knew how to draw a decent hull and Selene revels in these conditions.
If yesterday was the best day we have seen so far, last night was also the perfect night. It is a pity it has taken us nearly 2 weeks before seeing these conditions. The sky was as clear as can be and we could almost pick all the individual stars in the milky way and the millions of stars beyond those we normally see in the light polluted skies of England. Kevin and I had had an interesting philosophical discussion on the unlikely circumstance that other intelligent life did not exist somewhere out there in the infinite expanse of space. I would be surprised if there were any intelligent life enjoying the evening as much as he and I, and all the while Selene continued to canter along with the characteristic roar of the water and spray as she surges along, a wonderful soundtrack to our watch, and then my happiness was complete when Lily took over from Kevin and was bright and chatty as a result of her earlier "preparation".
This morning I awoke to another cloudless sky and the wind had dropped to 12Kts so we rehoisted the A sail.
After a breakfast of jamon y huevas (MNX) we peeled to Big Blue as the wind continued to free and we are now running deeper and faster with the larger (more stable) kite. We are sailing just a little high on course and if the wind continues to veer we will need to gybe. The important news is that we seem to have a little more pressure here than the boats which made the move to the south. They also have further to run, and we hear that we have moved into second place this morning, so if the gribs are to be believed it seems Bob has made another great call and we shall continue to try to keep up our pace to the extent that we can with our depleted crew.
We have just over 700 miles to run so if the breeze holds we hope to be in St Lucia sometime Tuesday morning.
All is well currently on Selene - out!