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Mischief - Log Day 17: What a difference a gybe makes, Strange noises spook Neal in the night, Should gravy ever be put on fish & chips, Dolphins!, Finnish Independence Day

6 December 2017 0915 Position 14 degs 48'N 049 degs 49'W

I was awoken at around 0330 by Wendy rushing around below decks shutting all the hatches - it was raining and hard! Alf and Neal were on deck getting soaked and dealing with a rain squall offering both a deluge and 22 knot gusts, which the boat took in its stride. At least the squall had given us a bit more boat speed although we were rolling all over the place as it had been pretty slow up to now, indeed all night the same but on a positive note the boat had had a good wash down.

The trouble was we really needed to gybe onto starboard tack but with the spinnaker up and without lazy sheets fitted it was a case of having to drop the kite which needed all hands on deck and daylight to do it safely. So the decision was made to gybe first thing in the morning but meanwhile we meandered at 4-5 knots at 220-230 degs whereas our destination lies on around 268 degs from that position - accordingly our velocity made good had dropped to 2-3 knots which was a bit depressing knowing we were going to stick going off course for the rest of the night.

During the night Neal stuck his head down the hatchway and woke me up asking if I was alright. "Why?", asks I, as apparently something had been making an unearthly noise somewhere and he thought it may be me either choking or snoring! Actually the noise was coming from the top of the mast somewhere so I must be getting better at throwing my voice in my sleep perhaps. The accusation was very unfair for someone who doesn't knowingly snore...ask my missus (maybe not)!

So come 0830 we dragged the spinnaker down, switched sheets and guys and re-launched (getting good at this now) and headed off on 268 degs at 7-8 knots directly at St Lucia at long, long last! What a difference a gybe makes! Suddenly the positive feelings flood back as we romp along with boat speed equivalent of VMG in sparkling sunshine and 15 knots of wind. The weather suggests that we ought to be on this course with favourable wind of 12-16 knots NE for the rest of the passage but the forecast have suggested this several times before and have mostly been disappointed.

Everyone agreed on cheese and biscuits for lunch yet Neal produced a very nice platter full of ham, chorizo sausage, cheese etc. We ate some of it but he was very disappointed that quite a bit was left and said so. Never mind, as Dave is going to have a go at a curry for tea, the chorizo sausage can go in that, certainly the ham; maybe the cheese? "Cheese in curry!" came the outcry of derision, "No-one ever puts cheese in curry!". I don't think that is strictly true so in passing I asked politely, aimed at our Northerners on board, whether any of them indulge in the practice of putting gravy on their fish and chips - my son in law who comes from Burnley (and now lives in the South and therefore should know better) does; "Of course, gravy (Ed: northern accent please)on chips and mushy peas, Lurvley!". I'm sorry but that is just plain wrong as I have told my son-in-law many a time. It's just wrong, not like cheese in curry though, that is very different.

Due to the slow passage overnight and wrong direction we only did 138 miles noon to noon but we should be well on track today for a daily record, we certainly need one.

1700 a school of dolphins saw us and shot over to play in the bow wave. It's the first time this trip that any have been remotely interested and it was a fine sight to see. My eldest daughter had sent me a YB text asking me to name a dolphin, so I did on her behalf: there is now a dolphin swimming around called 'Jenny' - it is recognisable as the one with a gray dorsal fin and light coloured undersides, you can't miss her if you see her!

Alf arrived at dinner table this evening smartly dressed with a cold bottle of Finnish Wodka (sic), a bottle of liquorice liquor and some liquorice sweets. Today it is the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence from Russia, so here's to Finland, "Kippiss"!

So we are now on a charge towards St Lucia and deciding whether or not to risk the spinnaker overnight again. Certainly the ETA's on the chartplotter are varying between arrival on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning but we have been here before and when the wind drops the ETA extends again. Lets hope this wind is indeed here to stay and the ETA is not too optimistic as we are becoming very, very thirsty thinking of that first drink (and I may just get my flight on Monday by the skin of my teeth).

Hi Ho!!


Post Scrip: Decision to drop the spinnaker and go through the night with poled out genoa in case of squalls. Good job we dropped it as noticed a panel coming unstitched so a rapid application of rip-stop tape and repacked for the morning.

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