Atlantic crossing, Boxing Day, day 12

Well that is probably the most unusual Christmas Day we will experience and one to remember when we are back to more conventional festivities.  It was hot, hot, hot and all we fancied for lunch was beer and nuts, but in the evening after showering (yes we do do that from time to time!), we opened a bottle of Spanish fizz and sat in the cockpit watching the almost full moon and Jupiter tucked up very close to it.  We then had a cold supper of roast chicken and salads while “Goldcrest” very gently rocked us westwards.  

 

The reason we were travelling so sedately by last night (106nm in the last 24hrs) was that yesterday we lost the use of our spinnaker pole, the thing that holds the foresail (genoa) out sideways and allows us to sail downwind.  Conventionally, tradewind sailing isn’t directly downwind; the wind is supposed to come from the NE allowing you to sail with the wind over your shoulder, where the boat sails fast and is easily controlled.  Since leaving the Cape Verdes the wind has been pretty much due east, forcing us to sail almost exactly downwind with the spinnaker pole all the time.  The pole started making some graunching noises when I hoisted it at the start, and it has gradually been losing ball bearings from the car that runs up and down the track on the mast.  As I was about to swap sides yesterday there was a veritable shower of ball bearings as it parted company from the mast.  The thing must be 4-5m long and is very heavy, so we decided to bring it down and lash it to the deck, putting paid to conventional downwind sailing for the rest of the journey.  In light winds we managed to do 4kts overnight with just the mainsail, but at that rate we won’t arrive until 2nd January.  Today I’m experimenting with using the boom to pole out the big red gennaker, and so far so good.  We’re making 5.5kts in even lighter winds, so lets hope the arrangement keeps working.

 

We had other excitements on Christmas Day – we saw three ships come sailing by (not all in the morning unfortunately).  Having seen nothing at all for 10 days, there were 3 cruise liners all headed for the Caribbean!  Was it significant that it was Christmas Day we wonder?  In the early hours of this morning we had our first close encounter of the journey – a 700ft plus freighter got within half a mile of us and sploshed us around a bit in its wake.

 

Of course the big events of the day were the telephone calls from friends and family, who threw caution to the winds to call our satphone to wish us happy Christmas.  We were suitable touched.