4th June 2008 - Somewhere near Wales

Bali Hai
Neal Stow
Wed 4 Jun 2008 16:30
The highlight of the day was spotting a whale which surfaced only about 6 feet from the boat.  Using the handy whale spotter's guide provided by the organisers (no-one should be without one) we think that it was probably a minke whale.  John estimated it to be about 10 metres long, but then he is a fisherman and his judgement of the length of fish is a bit suspect.  My main concern was that we were going to hit the whale as it dived under the boat.
After the sight of John rising in the morning earlier in the trip, yesterday was the day for beautiful creature spotting as there were numerous dolphins that swam alongside us.  There must be something about Andy that frightens them off though as he is never around when they appear and I suspect that he thinks that we are making up stories while he is off watch. 
Apart from doing our bit for Nature Watch, the last twenty four hours have been rather dull.  Early yesterday afternoon we were having a pleasant sunny sail close to Sea Lion doing about 6 knots in a fairly light breeze.  The wind began to die and Sea Lion opted to motor leaving us in their wake. Trying to avoid resorting to the motor we put up the cruising chute (the large colourful sail).  This was the first time any of the crew had used this sail and it turned out to be a good idea that we tried it first in very light winds! Eventually we managed to get it up but unfortunately by then the wind had dropped to 5 knots and in the swell the sail just flapped around, so at around 18:45 we turned on the motor.
Given the light winds we have changed our route and now plan to head to Bayona inside of the Traffic Separation Scheme, close to Cape Finistere.  We were warned before the Rally started that this route could get quite exciting with strong local winds but we feel we needed a bit of excitement after a day spent under motor and autopilot.  Our strategy proved successful as the winds picked up and we are now cruising along happily at 6kts in 9kts of wind.
Many thanks to all of you who have sent us e-mails they are much appreciated.