Below is a blog that seems to have got lost in the ether of Atlantic satellite comms.
Monday 30th November
The suntan lotion is back out, the crew are in T-shirts and shorts and have smiles on their faces. The sea temperatures is up to 25C, the air is 28C in the shade. Our lat/long is 22N/35W and the flying fish have started to land on our decks, we have reached the tropics.
Today with much excitement we successfully flew our big coloured cruising chute. Ricks relief was obvious as it launched without a hitch and sped us along in the now light winds, justifying all that effort to drag it out with us to Las Palmas. Unbelievably we are still leading our class and the cruising chute will help keep us competitive, we need all the help we can get Raya doesn’t really perform well in light winds.
We get a position update at midday each day from ARC Control, so we know more or less where everybody else is but we haven’t actually seen any other ARC boats for a couple of days now, there have been a few targets on the AIS but we haven’t even glimpsed their lights at night, the radio is silent.
We have been sailing for a week now but I still struggle to grasp the enormity of the body of water around us. There have been plenty of times in the last six months when we have been out of sight of land and there is nothing now to show there is not an island, or continent for that matter, just over the horizon here too. I try to visualise us as that tiny speck on the ocean you see way below on a flight to NewYork but in reality our world is the twenty or so miles to the horizon all around us. We have plenty of sea below us too, as we committed a broken plate to the depths, Eric reflected on what it would past on its 2 mile trip to the seabed.
We have had moments of wonder, such as the stars last night. With no light pollution the sky was full to bursting and the cloud of the milky way was as clear as day. To add to the scene there was phosphorescence twinkling in our wake – stars above and below us. Within an hour the moon had risen and the stars faded as the moonlight shone so bright you could almost read by it. There have been lots of magnificent rainbows, their colours bright against the dark grey of the squall clouds, one particularly impressive one was a complete half circle that ended seemingly metres from our feet. On their watch the boys even saw a rainbow created by the moonlight, a very obvious bow of dull colours, I didn’t even know such a thing existed. And yesterday we were joined by our first pod of Atlantic dolphins.
There have been moments of calm when we can relax and enjoy being in this unique spot. Times of high activity as we change sails or battle the swell to prepare lunch and moments of suspense as we check out the latest position update or await a bite on the fishing line we are trailing.
However there is one thing you can be certain of when sailing and that is that no particular moment or situation lasts long. One minute the boat is sailing along nicely and then a slight wind shift will mean we can no longer point to where we want to go and everything is different.
It is five in the morning my watch doesn’t start until six but the roll of the boat is making it impossible to sleep, the wind has shifted and not wanting to change our downwind twin sail rig in the dark we have had to turn slightly north bringing the swell onto the side of the boat. There is not much wind and the sails flog noisily, our speed has dropped and St Lucia feels a long way away. At least I am warm and dry, a few nights ago on my 3-6am watch, I had the rolling, the flogging and rain!
We crawl slowly towards the half way mark that with the high winds seemed we would reach yesterday but at this speed we won’t make it for another eight hours. Sunrise will lift our spirits, the forecast is for the light winds to continue, so it’s all hands on deck to raise the cruising chute back up and try and to push on as fast as possible.