South Atlantic - Days 5/6

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 13 Jan 2013 01:03
22:00S 003:23E  1103 miles covered
We are back in the tropics.  We can deduce this from the number of flying fish we have to clean up off the deck each morning (well, that and the GPS coordinates).  You wouldn’t guess it from the air temperature,  although to be fair we did sit outside for lunch today for an hour or so, before it clouded over and started raining.
We had bangers and mash for dinner today.  Nice potatoes and caramelized onion gravy, and the South African sausages weren’t bad, if not quite up to “Tesco finest”.  Andrea still hasn’t adjusted to cooking for three, so Daniel and I couldn’t eat all the potatoes despite our best efforts.
Yesterday the blue Parasailor blew out, which was very disappointing because it was recently back from (ridiculously expensive} repairs at the manufacturer, so it should have been as good as new.  We had resolved to be more conservative this time and take it down as soon as we saw gusts up to 29 knots, but it failed below that, in a gust of 26 knots.  We sail at 10 or 11 knots in those conditions, so the apparent wind was gusting to 16 knots, which should be fine for 1.5 oz spinnaker fabric.  It ripped in a clean arc, following the reinforcing tape around the clew, which is the same place as it ripped the first time.
Anyway, the  wind is currently down to 12 knots so we have deployed the red Parasailor, but now we are paranoid about ripping this one, especially since it is already patched (also in an arc around he clew).  We will be taking it down if we see a 25 knot gust, which means we can’t use it above about a 20 knot average wind speed.
If the wind stays at this level then tomorrow we will probably try something different for a change.  We are about 100 miles due east of the tail enders now, so we can afford to sail due west for a while.  We should get around 8 knots in 12 knots of wind at that angle, with full main and asymmetric spinnaker, and we might still catch up with one or two boats before we get to St Helena.