South Atlantic - Days 22/23

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 3 Feb 2013 02:24
12:52S 036:02W  1877 miles covered, 160 miles to go
Today we have been pushing it, trying to get into Salvador before dark tomorrow.  What this has meant is flying the asymmetric spinnaker and gybing downwind.  Gybing is a labour intensive process because it means bringing the spinnaker down, rethreading lines for the other tack and then re-launching.  That plus gybing the mainsail.  It takes over half an hour to complete one gybe and we had to gybe four times during the day, trying to make the most of 10 degree shifts in wind direction.
We are continuing to fly the asymmetric through the night, which is reasonably safe because, although the autohelm allows it to collapse about once an hour, the spinnaker recovers without intervention.  The only problem is that the flailing sheet tends to whip the side of the hull when the collapsed chute re-inflates, which wakes everyone up.  (We have a safety line holding the sheet down to confine the whipping to deck level, ever since it whipped the chart plotter and smashed the casing.)  
The wind has been reasonable today, but not strong enough to achieve our objective.  It would take a good 18 knot wind now to get us there before dark, and the forecast is for a continuation of the 12 to 14 knot breeze.  We will probably arrive around midnight tomorrow.
Andrea baked our “last day at sea” brownies today.  Then we persuaded ourselves it was probably going to be our last day at sea and so it was OK to eat them fresh out of the oven.