Sunday 27th November –
It Ain’t ‘arf ‘ot, Mum
The problem with melted butter is
that it just spills everywhere.
But, there must be a way of saving on the cutlery when you’re spreading
it. Not sure we’ve really perfected
that technique quite yet, but when the new moon is in the evening sky, Venus is
directly below it and the sunset is tropical, who cares? This afternoon we reached that important
decision point in this vast expanse of nothingness and have turned onto a great
circle route to take us from where we are straight to St Lucia. All is
well, spirits are high and we have started our 8th night at sea.
Today we also cracked the 1000 NM
qualifying passage required to permit Jon and Carol to become full members of
the Ocean Cruising Club. The
burgee, so kindly presented by Jon and Lyn Whyte, was hoisted accordingly.
Since we last blogged on Thursday
morning we’ve been hacking SW towards the general area of 20ºN, 30ºW, about 300NM to the NW of Santa Antão (the
most NW island of the Cape
Verde archipelago). We’ve now dived even further south than
that – as our position will indicate.
There is a low pressure system some way north of us and this leaves in
its wake an area of little wind to the south of it. Areas of little wind are not places we
wish to be. The sailing has been
relatively straightforward – mostly with Percy pulling us along. But, he has struggled on occasions
because the wind has been too far forward for him to be the best choice of
sail. So, we’ve had to drop him
twice and replace him with normal foresails for some lengthy periods. Percy is back up again now and pulling
like a carthorse. That’s one of the
issues with him. He’s still a
lovely chap but, as they say in Yorkshire he’s
“Strong in t’arm and thick in t’ead”.
He’s endlessly enthusiastic.
But, a bit like an over-large puppy in a small apartment, needs to be
restrained. And, despite your best
attempts, he’ll still break stuff and not understand your getting cross if he
does so. You wanted a big, hairy,
lively puppy. So; deal with
it. We’ve got quite lively
conditions now – at several hours after sunset - and wouldn’t be surprised if we
have to turn out in the middle of the night to sort out something else he’s
broken. Of course, to be fair, if
we put him in his kennel for the night the issue would not arise. But then, this is a non-race in which we
are all trying to non-race to St Lucia faster than each other - all
in the spirit of friendly non-competition.
So, how do we think it’s going
non-race wise? We’ve talked
previously about handicaps and how they work and where Arnamentia sits within
the scale of handicaps. To recap;
she is something like 2/3rds the way down the list in terms of theoretical
speed. All other things being equal
she should arrive in St
Lucia after around 2/3rds of the fleet. That’s, emphatically, not our plan. But, in addition, we have a local
difficulty. Parked alongside us in
Las Palmas was
an identical Swan 46 MkII called Cochise.
Well, sort of identical in that she was a Swan 46 MkII. In fact; different keel, on-board
equipment, sails, blah, blah but identical enough for the ARC to have allocated
us precisely the same rating.
Before we left Las Palmas, Jon did mention
to her owner, Nick Eaton, that he would much appreciate it if he could arrange
not to arrive in St
Lucia before us. The response was that the only way that
was going to happen was if we crossed the finishing line at the same time. Honestly; I ask you! Such a response to a perfectly
Throughout this event we have
been neck and neck. Cochise has
always been rather further north than we as we have taken the gamble to dive a
bit further south and play a longer game in betting to pick up the stronger
winds we expect to find there.
We’ll sail further and our daily progress directly towards
Lucia won’t look as good as it might until we
find those winds. We’ve no idea how
Cochise is thinking but I guess that the real game for both of us is around
which Swan 46 MkII manages to get to St Lucia first. The mass of boats in the ARC is divided
into classes; each class made up of boats with broadly similar handicaps. Overall results are always a bit of a
lottery because of the vagaries of any handicapping system. So, most racers concern themselves with
class results. Unless, of course,
in addition to winning their class they win overall. Then , briefly, scepticism about the
validity of overall results mysteriously vanishes. Cochise and we are, of course, in the
same class and there are 15 others.
Apart from one yacht, Splendid, Cochise and we appear to be
leading the class. Splendid is very far ahead - oddly far,
even given that she is 56 feet long.
But, this is still a long game.
And, it is still vital that we don’t push the boat too hard. Out here, you’re pretty much on your
own. No friendly Yarmouth lifeboat to tow
you back home.
Having reached the 30º W meridian at 1620 yesterday we put ship’s
time back an hour. We left
Las Palmas on
GMT. Whilst this is Las Palmas ‘local time’, it is an hour ahead of natural
time there because Las Palmas is 15º or so
west of Greenwich. But we’re comfortable with the slightly
later mornings and evenings that that implies. However, obviously, unless you adjust
your watches as you go across the Atlantic
you’ll end up eating breakfast in the middle of the previous night and dinner at
lunchtime. Since there are 360º in a circle and 24 hours in a day, it is
convenient to make an adjustment of an hour at intervals of 15ºof longitude. We weren’t very sure what to do
about this going back in time.
However, we reckoned that if we timed it correctly we could end up with a
usefully extended gin time in the evening - if only the ‘pussers’ hadn’t been so
tight with the tonic provisioning.
It’s a fact. You just can’t get the staff. And, if ever there was a cheap shot,
that’s it. The fact is that we are
eating like kings thanks to the meticulous planning and efforts of Carol and
Penny. Still a bit worried about
skimping on the medicinal benefits of quinine but . . .