150 miles to go

Graham Deegan
Sun 6 Dec 2009 17:33
Hi Folks,
Firstly apologies, apparently none of the three bloggers laid a blog.  Blog bound.  Sorry.
The story from last night.  Our friend who does the psuedo results still put us in the top slot last night and the challenge from the little catamaran appears to have subsided.  We are however very closely pursued by a boat called Amoress 2.  She gives us time but at the last time of reporting was about 60 miles in front.  We still apparently held her by a few hours on handicap.  Ominously our friend, the results reporter said, "I hope neither of you have been using your engines". 
In this division it is legal to use your engine but you will be penalised probably by adding the number of hours that you have used the engine to your time.  In certain circumstances it definitely pays to take the penalty and we have used the engine for a total of two and half hours when we were hopelessly trapped under a rain cloud which had killed the wind. Obviously we don't know if Amoress 2 has used her engine and she does not know if we have used ours.
We had wind all night and although it was reasonably strong 12 - 18 knots it was all over the place which made life really difficult.  We think it slow to run dead down wind and have therefore been gybing through about 50 degrees.  The waypoint is dead down wind and it has been a nightmare to keep the boat on track in these unbelievably shifty winds.  So shifty in fact that it is like sailing down the Medina river.  Sometimes you can attribute a reason for these shifts, clouds etc. but at other times they come out of an apparently clear sky.  Interestingly, last night was seriously dark for the first part until the moon  came up.  For some reason we have not had a really dark sky, even when the moon was not up, since we left Las Palmas.
All in all, I would say that last night was frustrating and very difficult to pick the right tack.  However we did only take the kite down once for a squall in that time although we had numerous gybes and sail changes.  We have been trying to run with the half ounce spinnaker for most of the time.  This is brand new, huge and real weapon however it could and probably would explode at around 25 knots and we have seen a couple of 22 knots, so running on the edge.  Not that we are being over competitive you understand, but just to keep the interest up.
This morning we got a call from our Irish mates on A Lady, an Oyster 56 which is actually 61 foot long, so much bigger than us and therefore faster.  We have been hanging around with them for days and when we actually get really close  we appear to sail away from them.  We were therefore gutted to get a call from them this morning when they reported that they had 20 to 25 knot winds all night and they were ahead of us.  No by much but enough to make us realise we could have done better.  We had a frustrating night and they had a fantastic night.  They went further south than us. Let's hope Amoress didn't and she has a stack of engine hours.  A Lady has about 14 engine hours.
That has left us feeling a little flat.  However a fantastic lunch, a bit of a fry up, has cheered us somewhat and we thrash on.
We all had a beard trim yesterday and I certainly felt better for it.  Sparks alias DB also went for the trendy 3 day growth look, however nothing seriously lost as he won't be home for a few weeks.  Not unsurprisingly he looked like a (slightly) older Joe which was strangely reassuring as we would not want anything to come out of the wood work at this late stage.
Talking about Sparks - the guy is still a weapon on the foredeck.  Sharp as a blade and as reliable as always and over the years the odd bit of friendly fire (slashing) has always been forgiven.  Nothing has changed - a national treasure and in fact when the sad day comes we are going to have him stuffed and put on display.  As yet it has not been decided between the RORC museum or the Cowes Library.
I must say his conversion to enviromentalism, coming so late in life has rather take me by surprise.  However one can only feel deep admiration for his cries of protest when the crew throw beer cans over the side.  I have tried to console him by telling him that the cans make lovely homes for little fish.  Fortunately this does appear to comfort him and when I see the look of joy in his face I realise how much pleasure I derive from having him in my pastoral care.
The other great joy is to see the pleasure he now takes in washing up.  He has been talking about taking quality assurance lessons from James Martin the well known six sigma guru.  Sparks, because it would not now be right to refer to him as DB hopes to the first to really scope out a quality regime for washing up, maybe a book, certainly a few papers on the subject are a distinct possibility.  Although you can never recover from being a dirt box there is no doubt that he is surely in remission.
Lastly, it would not be right to end without saying that I received a compliment about my blogging from the finest bike mechanic in Gurnard.  I was seriously moved by this and felt it important to share this with my fellow bloggers.  They were of course very pleased for me however this could have been the course of the blog binding.  If so, I do apologise.