And then the wind blew, just as the forecast said it would with the ‘squeeze zone’ between weather systems over North Africa and the central Atlantic forcing the isobars together creating a fast and furious downwind dash for the ARC+ fleet. With the wind has come the swell, but as crews settle into life at sea, they are learning to cope with life in the fast lane.
Today’s weather report from ARC meteorologists WRI Weather, describes tradewinds blowing at full force from the NNE, around 18-25 knots gusting into the high thirties.
“This morning we have a steady 20 - 25kts with gusts into the 30's and one even over 40 knots during the night! Had some more light rain showers and it's been pretty cloudy with a lumpy ol' sea!” said skipper Nick Whitehouse of Beneteau 57, Risque Business. Describing the sail plan he continued “We've a boat speed of 7 - 8 kts with just the genoa flying. We lost the use of our spinnaker pole last night - the damaged pole fitting finally sheared off. The genoa isn't happy without it, but we're still making good progress with a 24 hour run of 175 NM in the 24 hours to midnight Monday.”
Aboard Northern Light II, a Hanse 505, they also reported on life in the fast lane.
"What a day and night…… Strong winds, big waves meant it was a very tough night for those on watch and also for those trying to sleep” said skipper Michael Loftus. “Sarah and I tried to sleep in our cabin, but we were either thrown in the air or against the lee clothes - very tired today” he commented.
However, as crews adjust to life at sea, normal life is resuming on board the boats. Back on Northern Light II, Michael described their life: “Thankfully it has calmed down this morning allowing Geertje to do some washing, showers all around and hopefully a peaceful lunch with some time to sleep this afternoon, we hope!”
Chatting with other boats is another important element to enjoying life at sea. “We ran our first SSB HF Radio Net at 10:00 this morning” sail Nick from Risque Business. “With 11 other yachts logging into the Net this morning providing their position, wind speed/direction and engine hours. Pleased to report that nobody reported any issues and it was good to know that there is other human life out there, even if we can't see them!”
Moon Bird, after a quick turnaround and repairs from the Varadero boatyard in Las Palmas have been able to solve their electrical problem and have restarted. White Night remain in Las Palmas.
At the head of the fleet, the ‘carbon cats’ are leading the charge towards the finish in Mindelo, with Mongoose, XIII TREIZE, Maracuja and Manta Jo all topping 225NM in their most recent 24 hour runs. Leading the monohulls is Nessun Dorma, with a 200NM daily run. As winds are expected to stay strong for the next few days, the fleet will have a quick passage into Mindelo; first arrivals are expected on Thursday 9 November, just 4 days after the start.