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Date: 04 Dec 2009 13:00:00
Title: Halfway and downhill from here

18 30.5N 37 49.0W
1200 hrs UTC Friday 4 Dec 2009
Yipee! Halfway there at 0830 hrs today with the sun shining and only 1315 Great Circle miles to go.
Depite our best efforts to escape the dead zone between 2 highs we got caught in a large patch of 5 to 10 knot NE winds.so had a frutrating day trying to get further south.It is 3am now, I'm wedged in the cockpit and dont have to move a muscle while Diatonic is turning and tossing on port tack in 15 to 18 knot winds.and shouldering her way through a lumpy sea. We are on a reach and still going more south than west. The bad news is when we have to go down below to fetch something we come back puffing and panting and rolling about like drunks needing 10 minutes R & R to recover. The good news is that at 2am the wind veered to the East which suggests that we have definately entered the trade winds again which tends to be confirmed by the latest Grib wind charts.
There is a full moon, we are doing 6.5 knots and I can see a jumble of ropes forward of the mast. We hesitate to do any winching for fear of pulling out some critical fittings and so decide tp stay on port tack till the morning. The 2 spinaker poles are out.  The port pole has a 1) spinaker halyard uphaul, 2) a down haul to the mast, 3) a down haul to the fordeck cleat 4) a downhaul to spring cleat, 5) port genoa sheet, 6) barber hauler and 7) lazy sheet. There is 8) a removeable staysail inner forstay with 9) staysail halyard shackled down to the foredeck and 10) a coninuous main boom preventer from each quarter via a foredeck block. The starboard pole has 11) the mast car uphaul and 12) downhaul, 13) the pole uphaul and 14) downhaul, 15) the spinnaker sheet with 16) barberhauler lines and 17) the lazy sheet attached. The cockpit is a veritable mess of ropes of all colours and give up trying to count.  I think we may have a carboot in Barbados.
The seas are rushinhg by and occasionally I can hear the swishing of a rogue wave 1 second before it strikes the hull forward of the beam, causing the boat to roll disastrously. This probably happens every 70th wave but seems to know just when to pitch our G & T's across the saloon or upset the cook by throwing his proud servings from the plate into the bilges, usually just before we taste it.
The main steering wheel has been stowed on the coachroof and a 14" wheel is on which allows us to stroll around the cockpit, albiet only 2 paces. The only worry is that if we broach it will be very difficult to get her back on course with a small wheel.
It feels as we are the only people on earth since we haven't seen a single vessel of any type for the last few days, There are no AIS targets no radar targets, no lights at night and the VHF is dead. Its amazing to know that we are sailing through a group of at least 20 ARC sailing boats all within a 30 mile radius of us.
A pod of dolphins visited us last evening with 4 or 5 adults about 8ft long swimming under the bow and a couple of youngsters 10ft ahead. I lie on the foredeck and watch them watching me. Wave my arms and they will turn over on their side or upside down to acknowledge. Except when they dive off to the side and surface for air they dont move a muscle. Its as if the water is pushing them along. Always a pleasure to watch.
Lots of flying fish but none landed on deck yet. Bobs fishing for lunch again today otherwise it will be bacon and egg again. Tony's cook so ideally will be a big fry up.
John is washing his smalls before they run away and Tonys shoes have been locked up in the foredeck with the garbage.
Bob's just written a few comments of his own, so at the risk of repeating here we go, dolphins, clever little blighters, they seem to swim on their sides for a while, eyes up to have a good look at us. Nice to see the little friends. Last night was a bit lumpy, not rough by Atlantic standards but a mix of wrong wind and wave direction, only the second night like that so we're not complaining, too much!!!! Lots of sleeping today me thinks. I need to make comment about Tonys' boat inventory. The good part is that the minor maintainance we've had to do has been easy because Tony just disappears into a locker then reappears about half an hour later with the appropriate part, just like an old fasioned hardware store, I'm sure I've got one of those in the back somewhere. The bad part of carrying the equivilent of B&Q Croydon is the weight must be playing hell with our average speed and when we reach Barbados we'll have to slow 5 miles and an hour prior to anchoring. We all seem to be getting along fine and dandy, a major concern about 3 'Grownups' living for 3 weeks in 38feet by 11 feet is the occasional spat!!! Nothing yet and all is working out well with the cooking, clearing up and cleaning. Infact looking around the boat as I write It's as clean as an almost new pin!!!! Looks like we have some ARC boats in our sights, only 60/90 miles ahead. John's like a man possessed when he thinks he can overtake another boat. It's the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers John, not Atlantic Race for Cruisers. That will fall on deaf ears me thinks, I hear a revised sail plan being discussed already. Next landmark, probably Sunday afternoon, less than 1000 miles to go, yep down to 3 figures. The sea gets a clearer shade of blue everyday.
Will be back with update in a couple of days

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