ARC Day 21 - Neptune must be having a laugh - a last laugh

Position           14:03.99N 59:58.96W

Date                2359 UTC Saturday 11 December 2010

 

I do not know what we have done wrong to upset the gods but they are back up to their old tricks again.  Just when we think that we can run gently downhill to the finish they turn off the wind. Nothing new there then, but the timing; well!

 

From midnight onwards the hourly run steadily decreased until at 0900 local, now 1300 UTC as we took off our last hour last night, we hit 3kts and slowing.  A quick management meeting and we resolved to get to the finish whatever the means, hoist the iron topsail, furl the sails and get on with the serious business of finishing ARC 2010.  If we were not carrying on around the world I think that we would be back for ARC 2011 as we regard the North Atlantic as unfinished business.

 

Just after midday another ARC yacht appeared over the horizon, apparently making headway under a spinnaker.  They came within a half mile and we spoke on the VHF.  It was the Swiss yacht ‘Venice’, skipper Markus Buser, which from the daily position reports we had been catching up over the last few days.  He was actually motor sailing and trying to make his remaining 40litre of diesel go as far as possible.  He was not having a great deal of success as the wind was not enough to fill the sails and he had to stow his spinnaker as he approached us.  We offered him some of our reserve cans of diesel which he gracefully declined.  He gradually fell astern as in increasingly calm sea we managed 6.5 knots with only 1300rpm.  Caduceus may not sail well in light airs but she certainly motors economically, which for this trip has been most useful.  We still have 350 litres of diesel in our main tank.

 

The Mate has been making nesting noises.  It must be something to do with the imminent arrival of our son Andrew.  He will be delighted to know that he is having that effect on his mother.  Both heads and showers were thoroughly cleaned, floors mopped and things generally put order.

 

The Skipper retired to the quarterdeck to contemplate navigation and other such important matters!

 

Fresh from household chores the Mate, who is rapidly taking on the character of a latter day nautical Mrs Beaton, then attacked the galley with the making of lunch.  I never fail to be amazed how such good meals can appear from apparent chaos.  Today’s masterpiece was a pizza made from scratch, base and all, accompanied by fresh coleslaw from one of our remaining cabbages.

 

So midnight UTC saw us with 53.6nm to go to our waypoint and a further 7.5nm from there to the finish; and of course no wind to speak of, i.e. less than 5 knots.  ETA is about 0530 local on Sunday morning, just about first light.  We approach the finish line from the west which should give us the tactical advantage as the line will be illuminated from behind by the dawn whilst we approach out of the darkness.  Hornblower would have been proud of us!