Getting closer.

Paul Huntley
Sun 14 Dec 2008 06:13
14:52.45N 54:14.46W

Sunday 14th December 2008

Good morning to all of you back home,Welcome to some new blog watcher Richard an Patsy Thomas,They have just become grandparents for the third time, their daughter, Katie giving birth to a baby boy, Finley, congratulations. It is 02:45 Zulu (Ships time) and yet again I am writing this blog during my night watch. We have been making slow progress west due to a trough to the north of Cuba making very slow progress eastward and disturbing the trade winds, this leaves us in a hole of very light airs at only 5 to12 kts,  at best it  will give us a boat speed of 4:5 knots,

We  now have  just a little over 400 nm to run to St Lucia having completed 2527 n.m. since departing Las Palmas. The boat as always, is doing just fine, we have been operating all the systems now for more than three weeks and they are still working well. We have to keep up on maintenance, as soon as anything fails it has to be repaired or replaced with a back up. The boat carries a large stock of spares for the systems on board. The water maker had be producing good potable water twice a day for two hours at a time enabling us to keep our large capacity (1120 litre )tanks topped up. We have been able to take hot showers at will and in this humid climate is essential. We still have a good supply of provisions having bunkered stores for thirty days for five people. The second propane bottle which we use to feed the galley for all our cooking needs went on yesterday so no problems there. We have been baking a loaf daily for the last week, giving us fresh bread for breakfast and lunch. The second tank of diesel is now down to three quarters full but will enable us to either recharge batteries if sailing or to motor as well as recharge if needs be.

It is quite surprising that after three weeks together the crew are in good spirits and still talking to each other, we have had one or two moments when the air needed to be cleared but they are soon forgotten and we focus on the job in hand ,that of sailing the boat.

The selection of crew is of paramount importance, having four experienced  sailors is a great help , all have a good sense of humour which carries them through the tougher moments. The profiles you have been reading about show how fortunate I have been having these guys as companions on this long voyage.

The past twenty four hours have been very quiet with light winds and just an awkward swell to remind us not to take things for granted. We had a visit at sunset from a school of small Dolphins playing in the bow wake, we haven't seen any more of Enid the egret so we wish her safe passage to wherever. Flying fish are now common visitors to our deck, we generally throw them back as they are quite small and Bob is still promising to land that giant Tuna.

James is still navigating celestially trying for a star or planet last night, I am not sure what sort of success he had with Riga!

Some of the boats have now finished, but most of our group are still at sea, the groups are divided by size the largest vessel an 85ft Oyster finishing ahead of the fleet. For the non nautical amongst you, a boat has a maximum design speed based on a calculation of its waterline length and displacement, this will not be exceeded whatever sails you hoist or however large the engine you may install unless you have a different hull shape as on some motor boats. So we are stuck at the back of the fleet because at 42 ft LOA we are amongst the smaller boats competing in this year’s ARC, A handicap system is used for the racing fleet and the use of engine in the cruising fleet is still taken into account.

Ula, our friends we met up with in Falmouth, a Beneteau 47.5 is still sailing and about 200 nm ahead of us so the Champagne should be well chilled by the time we arrive! Thank you John and Jackie.

The wind shift has lifted our speed to just over 5.0 kts which makes the boat feel much better; you can tell when Libertad is happy she sings with the wake on her bow. I had to wait most of my life for a boat such as Libertad and boy, was it worth it. They certainly know how to make good boats up in the Hallberg yard in Ellos, Sweden.

A block just ran down a starboard sheet and needs re attaching so must away on deck, no, the shackle is in the ogin, now where do I keep spare shackles? Will blog again tomorrow Dave has just come on watch so I must go a brief him.

Love and best wishes to you all espcially Katie ,well done! Paul,