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Date: 03 May 2014 20:56:00
Title: Ascension Northwards - Day Twenty 11 06.047N 054 25.874W

With stronger winds forecast overnight and today, the third reef went back in the mainsail last night. That together with a well reefed genoa kept us going at a good speed of around 6kts in up to 20kts of wind. Today the wind came up further and the reefed genoa was replaced with the staysail. It never ceases to amaze me how well we go under a triple reefed main and the staysail. The winds are up to 25kts and a little more at times and we're going along at round 6-6.5kts in what are now moderate to rough seas in relative comfort - the boat has very little heel and it's easy to move around. The wind is just behind the beam, as are the swell and wind waves, so they couldn't be better placed. We get rolled by a non-conforming wave that decides to come from a different direction every so often, but it's not a problem. So far we've had no waves trying to come on board and everything is dry. Fingers crossed it stays that way. We don't use our windward pole in these conditions (although the pole itself is still up ready for when we can) so the windward primary winch is not being used. The good thing about that is that we can put up the forward starboard-side curtain in the cockpit. This attaches to the bimini and so encloses the forward part of the cockpit, so if waves or rain come along it keeps the front section of the cockpit dry. We have 4 curtains which all join up and enclose the cockpit, but they're for use when at anchor or in a marina - you can't use the winches or mainsheet when they are up. We've only just realised we can us the front curtains at sea, but only on the windward side (which is where you want it) and only when the primary which is not is use. Wish we had tried this earlier as it would have kept the cockpit a lot drier when sailing through the ITCZ. See, we're learning better ways of doing things all the time!

The noon-to-noon run was 146 miles and we have yet another reason to celebrate - we have less than 500 miles to go to Rodney Bay, St Lucia. That's always a good milestone to reach. As I write we have 425 miles to go. The stronger winds are expected to stay today and tomorrow, but start easing again on Monday.

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