David Batten
Fri 6 Dec 2013 19:32
Quite forgot to mention yesterday that sometime in the merry go round of gybing, the top plate with the self tailing feeder of the big winch on the starboard side went AWOL. Discovered on the midnight watch to be missing, with no clue as to when it went but presumably it got flipped off by a rope, not something any of us have ever experienced before. Plenty of "first times" on this trip.

Had very good alcoholic oranges for pudding last night, delicious. We are not quite so inventive as Skara Brae with the alcoholic mixes, but oranges and Ron Miel Indias is particularly good.

Thursday night was another first for sailing, with both genoas boomed out and the engine on low revs just to keep the boat speed up to 5 knots plus so that Jane has a chance of catching her flight back to Argentina. Flights to South America are very expensive at this time of year and much more per person than the diesel we are burning to get to St Lucia in time. We have had plenty of time to work out the relative costs!

Friday am and the wind drops to between 3 and 10 knots, with enough swell to ensure what wind there is can never keep the sails full for more than a few minutes at best. The genoas are rolled up together, very easy to do in the light airs, heaven knows if it will work with a force 5/6. Staysail is set as a steadying sail and we motor for real. We are tantalisingly close to the 1000 miles from St Lucia milestone which we should reach during the social half hour tonight.

The crew are bearing up pretty well under the strain of a crossing without winds. All are in agreement that the smaller boats without enough diesel to make an impression on the mileage must have very resilient and patient crews. No doubt they are better prepared for the long haul and maybe they are better at dealing with the ever changing wind direction and speed which is driving us nuts. It is as if the wind is taunting us to set the sails for its current direction and speed, allowing us half an hour of good progress, then veering or backing by 90 degrees or just dropping so we are slap, bang, slow down and all change again. The Grib files show no let up until the beginning of next week when the winds are set to increase substantially and we will no doubt be rewarded by unnecessarily strong winds and a battle to get the twin running sails down. Sailors are like farmers, the weather is never exactly what we want!

Time to enjoy the sunshine and off watch periods. Venetia has become obsessed with an iPad game called "Trains", Greggie and Jane alternate with keeping up communications and kindles while Sally wants to keep trying different strategies for keeping up boat speed and David B studies Grib files and fuel levels. We are all showing signs of OCD with our strategies for keeping cool.

Lovely pod of dolphins cheer us up this afternoon, with synchronised jumping, so beautiful, but we are going too slow for them and they don't stay for long.

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