Just Over Half Way. 28.11.9N 66.09.9W

David Batten
Sun 15 Nov 2015 17:27
Sunday 15 November. We have had some fantastic sailing, most of it with one reef in the main and a full Genoa since the squall which hit the Skipper with 30 knots of wind and torrential rain on Friday night. We have also had 12 hours of frustrating motor assist with less than 10 knots of wind from behind in rough sea, which kept emptying the sails and radically reducing our speed without the motor on. We are all agreed that we don't mind what penalties we get for motoring, so long as we keep going at more than 6 knots. Not sure why we are not in the Open Division as we are clearly approaching the foot hills of old age and no longer members of the competitive sailing brigade.

The wind did start to fill in from the North East during the evening and the Ship's Boy switched off the motor at midnight and had great sailing until she was subjected to the up-turned bucket treatment given to the Skipper the night before. With visibility impaired by rain, the wind decided to back from almost North East to almost North West, resulting in an involuntary gybe and several more involuntary manoeuvres. It was pitch black at the time and one of those horrible occasions when it is hard to get ones bearings, all the instruments being obscured by rain and hard to see. The Skipper went on deck to help get the boat back on to course and at some stage, the spare sheet for poling out the genoa decided to go for a swim and got caught around the rudder and we lost the ability to steer **!!-****!!!!! The sheet was still attached at both ends, but refused to pull free.

So with the Skipper's wife joining the deck party, we got the mainsail down and unrolled the genoa enough for the Skipper to detach the sheet from the genoa and bring it back to the cockpit. By some miracle and with the help of the gods of small yachts, the Skipper managed to bend over the lifelines and apply boathook to persuade the sheet to come out of its snug position between the rudder and the stern of the boat. 3 very happy people unrolled the genoa and got the boat sailing again in the right direction, the wind having decided to go back to the North. Since then, the wind has gradually become more north easterly, the mainsail is up with 2 reefs and we are making excellent progress again, with 100nm to our arbitrary waypoint on "highway 65". Once we hit longitude 65west we should be in a good position for sailing south to the BVIs, another 500 nm or so to the finish line.

There has been constant discussions about how far east to go before turning south, as this adds to the miles, but if we cut the corner too much and the wind goes round to the east earlier than predicted, we could end up by beating to the finish line. All very tricky!