Day 9 Position 15:54.0N 34:31.5W Our routine on board...
Tue 3 Dec 2019 18:34
The five crew on board Gwenhyfar, Peter, Simon, David, Jan, and Tim, like to keep to a routine. We have a watch system of 4 hours on and 4 hours off in staggered teams of 2 and the 5th person becomes Mother for the day. Breakfast is normally around 8 am and the crew sort themselves out with wheetabix or muesli or occasionally we have scrambled eggs. The social pattern begins at 11 am when real cafeteria coffee is served and very often this is accompanied by chocolate brownies or millionaires cake. We aim for a 12.30 hrs lunch which is light and often a sandwich or simple pasta. Another highlight is afternoon tea and cake - again we tend to all gather in the cockpit, maybe we do a team crossword, but we always discuss progress and possible sail change plans for the coming period.
We try to implement the chosen night sail plan before 17.00 hrs. It normally takes us around 30 minutes to change spinnakers or stow the mizzen or staysail. Gwenhyfar has a great deal of choice when it comes to her sail plan because she is a Yawl. Her two keel stepped masts allow for us to rig up to 4 sails at the same time - gradually reducing the plan as the wind strength increases. We have a light (red) spinnaker for winds up to 18 knots and a heavy spinnaker (lime green) for winds up to 30 knots. In addition we carry a code 0 sail which is like a furling gennaker. Then there are our white sails, the mainsail and furling jib. At the back is a mizzen sail (white) and our ever popular mizzen staysail which is yellow. The "funny sail" is popular because she often will provide an extra half a knot of power. As a by product she provides cockpit shade, and a prerequisite for every Suffolk Spirit built yacht, she looks pretty.
After 17.30 hrs mother prepares a few light nibbles - typically nuts and olives to accompany our sundowner. Most of us drink a tonic water or lemonade or occasionally a single beer. Again this is a very social occasion and if the weather is fine we often would sit on the foredeck. Dinner is served directly after and sometimes is followed by a simple dessert. Food is eaten together around the cockpit table. The helmsman eats last as he passes control of the ship to his watch colleague. Then coffee, and the night watch prepare the boat, they walk around the deck check rigging for chafe, and remove any errant flying fish. Then switch navigation lights on and compass lights and generally steady the ship into a more conservative, but still fast sailing plan mode. We are now mostly hand steering, especially as we now have bigger seas and heavier winds.
Last night our sail plan was full main and heavy spinnaker - wind forecast was 15-18 knots NE. At 03.00 hrs we went under a squall - it was very dark so we didn't see it...
Bang! and the spinnaker halyard flew free in the 30 knot squall. Simon and Peter were on deck and an " All hands !" call was shouted down the companionway. 3 bleary eyed crew in boxer shorts and life vests complete with AIS beacons, emerge into the blackness. We switch on the deck down floodlights and gather the green spinnaker out from the ocean. On deck now, and the folds of green spinnaker are billowing up like Marilyn Monroe's skirt, so David lies across it as we pack it away into its bag. Very fortunately the piece that gave way was the little spectra strop connecting the halyard to the snuffer bag, so everything was safely retrieved (and fully repaired by dawn.)
Squalls continued through the morning and the seas built up to the size of little bungalows. Our helming challenge was accentuated by the haphazard direction and random stacking of the wave train.
We are now sailing fast. We are participating in a race, but not at any expense. We have a careful eye on safety. Most boats that you see on the ARC website tracker are cruising . Which means they are using their engine - we haven't used our engine since leaving Las Palmas Marina. We have had to sail nearly 1500 miles in light winds to now reach the sleigh ride of the Trades. We are now sailing fast and directly towards St Lucia.
All good on Gwenhyfar
Days run 204 miles