Exody - May 10th: halfway to Bermuda- savouring the Trades
The skies are clear, the quiet seas are blue and the trade winds are still gently blowing as Exody reaches directly north at just over six knots. Cabin temperature is 28 degrees - the same as London today. This is sailing as it should be - and as it has been for a fair amount of our twenty two month, 30,000 mile plus trip away from home waters, mostly in trade wind belts. Now we are eking out the last of the trade wind pleasures since, all too soon, we will begin to experience the North Atlantic westerlies and weather systems. But not before an expected windless stretch through the doldrums.
We passed the halfway point to Bermuda this morning with our three day's runs to noon since the start on Saturday 7th being 136, 150 and 151 nautical miles.
The passage has been unusually busy with other ARC boats, given that the rally fleets normally disperse widely. This time,and still after 400 miles, we have rarely been out of sight, and often within five miles, of at least three boats. Last night it was Hejira and Here & Now behind and Halcyon VIII ahead. Since this morning, Halcyon pulled away and we have been trailing a Feeling 1350 called Zython by just two miles. Exody and Zython are well matched on handicap so guess we may be together for a while if both crews keep their sail-trimming focus! We hear many VHF conversations so our part of the fleet is fairly compact.
On Saturday we had slipped the lines at 11.15 ready for the 12 noon gun- a good breeze from the aft port quarter leading to an exciting start. Exody was near the top of the line leaving just enough space for the 23 metre Advanced A80 racing machine 'Apsaras' to come powering through at about ten knots between us and the committee boat. The winds were fickle as we rounded Tortola, then Jost van Dyke leaving Great Tobago to port. As Exody turned north to Bermuda we were about midfleet and the winds settled to south easterly giving a pleasing and comfortable reach. Sunday was overcast with much rain and some motoring, Monday started the same but improved, bar a brief squall at dinner time and today, Tuesday, has been brilliant!
Marian and I last plied this stretch of water in 1982 in our nine metre long-keeled sloop, with sextant, navigation tables, radio and watch in hand. There was a certain fragility to our confidence in our newly acquired navigation skills and equipment, upon which our safe arrival in Bermuda hinged! How things have changed - though we have that same equipment on board now, the skills are rusty and we rely on multiple GPS's.