Maurtius to South Africa Day Five - 26 43.076S 049 07.457E

Mike and Liz Downing
Tue 5 Nov 2013 13:28
Following on from yesterday, there is reason to celebrate today - less than 1,000 miles to go! Actually, as I write there is exactly 900 miles to go, so we are getting there, albeit a bit slowly. The noon-to-noon run was the best so far at 135.8, but again we've had periods of sailing at 4kts and periods at 7kts. Yes 7, but only for a few minutes at a time. The wind is constantly oscillating - very light for a few minutes then it gradually gains in strength to perhaps 14kts, stays there a few minutes and gradually goes light again. So the impression you have of how fast we're going is very dependent on when you check! Having switched yesterday from West to South, the wind has been backing around again and keeping us on our toes with quite a bit of sail changing and lots of sail trimming. The main and working genoa stayed up overnight, the working genoa was replaced with the bigger outer genoa this morning to give more speed. So up until lunchtime we had full main and full outer genoa up - that doesn't happen very often on an ocean passage! With the wind having backed more to the east the main is down, the outer genoa poled out to windward and the working genoa sheeted normally to leeward. With this she's been staying over 6kts for longer periods. Listening to others on the SSB, everyone is having to make lots of sail changes - the conditions are changing so quickly (oh for the constant tradewinds - we're missing them already!).
It's been a beautiful sunny day today and apart from all the sail changes, a lovely sailing day with lots of sail trimming to keep the speed up. With not a cloud in the sky the sunrise was magnificent and the early morning bright and crisp. Having said that, the night was decidedly cold with the southerly winds and we had to wrap up well to keep warm. Talking of the night, we've had some magical nights on this passage, and last night was another. There's no moon and with no clouds, the sky is full of stars all so incredibly bright and it's easy to follow the constellations that we know track across the sky. The sea has been mostly slight the whole time and star gazing is so much easier when the boat doesn't roll much and the sky stays in approximately the same place for more than a second!

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