48 42N 23 56W - 18 July

Tue 18 Jul 2006 17:07
We thought the previous night was bad! Three reefs in the main, a tiny jib and we were still doing between 8 and 12 knots with a gusty force 7 northerly howling through the rigging.  A big, unpredictable sea came at us, usually from abeam.  The word "horrid" was the description of the conditions in the log. We can only conclude that all the emails we are receiving about a heatwave in Blighty are a conspiracy to get us to come home, as it just seems to be getting colder and colder and greyer and greyer, the closer we get.
Being less than 100 miles south of UK latitude I suppose we should expect to say goodbye to the perfect blue seas and warm clear nights, but what a rude awakening. Thermal clothes abounded as the waves crashed over the sides of the cockpit drenching us all. Our wet weather gear had its first proper test of the trip and we really appreciated our full face waterproofs.  The cabin soon resembled the aftermath of a kiddies bathtime water fight with clothes and other debris scattered everywhere.
This is the first time that we have had three reefs in the mainsail.  The cold air is denser and heavier than warmer winds of the same force. Nevertheless, Keoma has done well, with the autohelm easily coping with each spinning wave and blast of wind.  The birds don't seem to mind, though.  We have been surrounded by shearwaters despite that we are over 500 miles from the nearest land.  They are very interested in our lure (more so than the fish!) 
The great rectangle route that we have taken is now paying dividends. If we had not proceeded 500 miles due north before turning the corner we would be fine reaching in to this wind. It is now just aft of the beam so life below is feasible; although Alice's chuckometer is scoring highly.  Over the last 24 hours we travelled 180 miles.
The Isles of Scilly are now 660 miles but the forecast is for the wind to die on Wednesday before filling in with a light NW'ly. We are now heading directly for them and should be there in four days.  Last night we felt a long way from home.