29:30.210N 013:10.322W

Telefonica Black
Lance Shepherd
Thu 16 Jan 2020 03:08
VI - The waves in the lead
Today was a very interesting day. After the game-like maneuvering between the fishing boats throughout the night, we had an awesome sunrise this morning. But then it happened: Those moments we expected wind we were sitting tight looking at flapping sails as the waves had a private dance with the boat. Very frustrating for some of us because today was supposed to be the day with 20+ knots on the beam and we totally planned to show everyone what this boat is capable of.. Luckily none of us can influence the weather, the only thing we can do is adjust our sails (and our expectations).
It wasn't all bad, not at all indeed! Every now and again both watches were treated with 9-11 knots of wind and doing about the same boat speed under a bright sunny sky. It is nice to see how quickly people catch on in their roles, especially as a trimmer. First this might have seem as one of the 'boring' jobs, now people are analyzing the sail setup, adjusting it with care and they are basically looking like real pros.
In the afternoon we were treated with an amazing sunset just before watch 1 hit the bunks. Luckily this time we could do the handover with a little bit of wind rather than with the words 'good luck motoring'.. They almost started hating us for it. 
Around 9pm, 1 hour into the 2nd watch their shift and about 50nm before Lanzarote the wind started dropping to 4-5 knots again and the waves seemed determined to finish the dance they started this morning. At the same time the wind shifted to the left which gave us a great opportunity to come up on a different angle towards the waves and look for pressure on a more close hauled course. This seemed to work but brought about a different challenge. The course change makes us go above Lanzarote rather than the planned course below it. The main advantage however is the fact we will sail windward of the island and it looks like the pressure will stay (10-12 knots).
So the plan now is to continue on this course and right about when you read this blog we will bear away with our bigger headsail (A2) and hopefully fly between the islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, giving the crew a last minute thrill of sailing a racing machine before we will come around Fuerteventura and head towards Las Palmas.
Everybody feels that the end is in sight and are getting nostalgic. Last night at the change of watch I heard some say 'good luck on your last night shift', 'yeah, you sleep well on your last off-watch at this hour'..
'What about the last 2 crewmembers you still have to introduce' I hear you think. Well, please meet Mark (IRL) and Simon (UK).
Mark has been working hard this trip. Together with David (crew) they have been going over some navigational calculations, refreshing their dead reckoning, course to steer etc. Mark has done his day skipper training some years ago and really wanted to get back into sailing. He found out about Telefonica Black and as he says 'how could I pass on such a great opportunity.. And really, it has been a great experience. I really would have liked to cross the Atlantic with you guys but time wise I could not make it work.'
Well Mark, in April we are heading back to Europe, hopefully we will see you then!
When I asked Simon about why he choose this trip his answer was 'serendipity'. 'This is my belated 50th birthday gift and actually today IS my birthday'. Obviously we could not let that slide and we all treated him with a wholehearted 'Happy Birthday' song. Today he celebrates his 52nd birthday. 2 years ago things did not look good for him at all. His newly born daughter was fighting for her life in the hospital and at about the same time Simon himself was diagnosed with cancer.. Now 2 years later he has a healthy toddler at home and he has been declared cancer free last year. 'I have so much respect for my wife' he says, 'she is the strongest of us all'.. Simon is really enjoying his trip and when the opportunity arises he really would like to finish it off and do an Atlantic crossing with us.
Wow, and now I am even starting to feel nostalgic. 24 hours from now (it is 0100 while I am writing this) we are all in hour bunks in the marina of Las Palmas enjoying a full night of (hopefully) uninterrupted sleep. On Friday we will be busy preparing for the Atlantic crossing and maybe, just maybe, I will get around (properly) introducing Lance, Claire, David and Alex during that trip. At the same time Alex has big plans writing a 'guest blog' introducing me Smile emoticon
Just keep following us and find out.