Hokey-Cokey 15:32:48N 45:38:10W
Yesterday evening we enjoyed a pretty consistent 17kts of wind making about 6.5kts of speed and allowing us a civilised evening enjoying some music and dinner.
The sky overhead was mostly clear after sunset with just some scattered fluffy clouds and the moon which is now nearly full shone so brightly that any deckwork could be done without needing a torch.
At 10pm we passed another milestone; we reached the point where we have less than a thousand miles left to reach our destination; 999nm and counting..!
Jamie hit his bunk at about 11pm and had nearly 2 hours of rest before the sky darkened with thick heavy clouds which formed quickly and accompanied a sudden; steady increase in wind rising from 21 to 25kts in just a few moments. I called Jamie on deck and he put a second reef in the mainsail. This was the beginning of what was going to be another long and frustrating night. The wind dropped to a steady low of 12kts - Jamie shook the 2nd reef out of the mainsail - the wind increased steeply - Jamie put the second reef back in the main (in out in out shake it all about; we do the 2am hokey f'ing cokey..!) We could see the rain squalls gathering around us and the wind veered northerly in that ominous way we now recognised so, once again; we pulled on our wet weather gear. The sea looked oily-black under the laden skies and slithered under our hull, occasionally breaking and frequently fizzing in foamy white puddles around us. We passed directly through one squall (heavy rain, winds in the high 20's) and then caught the edges of couple more (enough wind and rain!) The night dragged on much in this fashion for the next few hours. Shortly before 5am having not had any squalls for some time and with the wind settled in the low 20s from the East I was able to go and get a couple of hours rest.
Today has been a boisterous day of sailing but we are making excellent progress with wind speeds between 18 and 25kts, occasionally up to 27kts yielding speeds consistently over 6kts and frequently 7-7.5kts. The clouds hung around late into the morning making us fear for our solar intake but fortunately by midday the skies had cleared and we had amps pumping into our batteries again for our fridge. The sea state has developed with the wind; the waves and swell growing in both length and height to create an impressive undulating landscape of brilliant blue peaks and valleys but not the uncomfortable "confused" crossed swell that we had experienced earlier in our trip. This feels like a true "ocean" sea - neither overbearing nor towering but rather dynamic; alive and utterly mesmerising. We have had the main and headsail double reefed and little has needed adjusting all day. We have both been frequently transfixed just watching the Atlantic dance around us in the sunshine.
The motion below decks is back to being that uncomfortable rolling and jerking back and forth which makes even simple tasks quite challenging but we seem to have adjusted to the motion quite well now and it no longer stops us from getting on with whatever needs to be done. We were talking last night about when we arrive in Martinique and things we are looking forward to. We both said how nice it will be to go for a walk but I am already concerned what we will look like stepping ashore after so long - I can see us swaying along on bandy legs as our bodies try and work out what is going on. Not to mention how overwhelmed our brains will be with all the visual overload of people; plants and
buildings after 3 weeks of playing "what does that cloud look like to you"?! I am more than a little jealous that Jamie saw not one but TWO ships when I went off watch this morning. Which has pretty much doubled the number of ships we have seen for the entire trip - talk about hogging all the excitement!
Our other favourite entertainment is petting Meep; talking to Meep, taking photos of Meep sleeping, talking about how adorable Meep is whilst he is sleeping, and fishing Meep's daily offerings out of his sandbox and flinging them overboard. I think he has grown quite dismissive of our constant presence on "his vessel" and will quite enjoy some peace and quiet when we finally drop anchor and are able to venture ashore at last. Although I am already planning our expeditions to mangroves and secluded beaches in our little dinghy "Fleur" with Meep joining us as chief navigator in his deck vest.
As we have now crossed longitude 45 West we can move our clocks back another hour on-board. This may result in later posting of updates but also means our daily run today is calculated on a 25 hour day once again.
Drum roll please... our daily run today at 2pm HWT (Hamble Warrior Time) is a whopping 156nm. It looks like the sprint finish we anticipated is ON!