Position Update @ 12.00 (local) on Saturday 19th December 12 06.48N 066 27.96W

Mike and Liz Downing
Sat 19 Dec 2009 19:24
The winds came up yesterday afternoon and having swapped over the headsails (outer one is now to windward) Aurora B has been going like a train! The daily run from noon yesterday to noon today was 176 miles, the best we've done, and this was with little sail up most of the time. With the 2 headsails out we touched over 10kts as we surfed down the waves. So when the sun went down the outer genoa was rolled away and the inner was reefed well down, but we were still making 7 to 8kts. The sea came up with the wind and it's been a bit lumpy, hence the surfing down the waves which we're still doing. There's a lot of white horses as the tops of the waves become unstable and break, but the sea is a beautiful deep azure that you just don't get in the Solent. We currently have both sails poled out again, but both well reefed. The two together steady the boat and reduces the 'cork screw' rolling that you get with bigger and confused seas. The wind has shifted to south of east (very uncommon at this time of year) and we have two conflicting wave trains, one from the north east and the other from the south east and that's what's causing the lumpy seas.

We're making 6.5 to 7.5 kts and we'll have to slow the boat down so we don't arrive in darkness. At noon we had 110 miles to go and we want to arrive in the morning in day light. We haven't seen another boat for the last 36 hours. The one we saw then was a cargo ship heading for the States. We had a CPA (closest point of approach) of just over a mile as he came up behind us, so we called on the VHF to check he had seen us. They had and the guy we spoke to was quite chatty, which was good. The last yachts we saw was on Thursday evening - two were heading up to Grenada.

A small pod of dolphins joined us this morning for a while - bow riding and playing about along the side of the boat. It's only the 4th time we've seen dolphins since we arrived in the Caribbean. We saw loads in European waters, but they are few and far between over here. A couple of Brown Boobies have circled us a few times and a Tropic Bird came once and then disappeared. We've seen lots of flying fish, but none have so far leapt aboard, so no fish for tea!

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