on 1 December
Another day of 15 knot north-easterlies, running on starboard with the spinnaker at speeds between 7 and 10 knots. Clear blue skies and, now, relatively calm seas. The sun was so intense that we reluctantly erected the spray hood over the cockpit for some shade.
The boat is now into a familiar routine, with the high spots being dinner and news of our fleet position, in that order. All systems continue to perform well and the crew are in high spirits, particularly since the email problems appear to have been solved and they are now in daily contact with their families
Now that we are as far south as we are comfortable with we just need more speed. We are seriously considering an attempt to repair the shredded, but larger, 'all purpose' kite. This would give us more speed, and enable us to sail further downwind when the inevitable happens and the trades veer from north-easterly to easterly.
Yesterday afternoon Pete Lanoe and Ron were on watch, when Pete remarked that a dolphin was swimming alongside the yacht, close to the hull. As Ron leant over the guard rail for a better look, a flying fish sprung out of the sea and hit him full force in the chest, disintegrating and leaving him stinking of fish entrails. He never even saw the dolphin; if it existed in the first place.
Pete Howe excelled himself with the evening meal. Fried sausages, Creamy mashed potatoes, Baked Beans and Real Onion Sauce. He'd cooked enough for 10 so we each had 2 servings. Bottle of wine, coffee and after dinner mints as we watched the sun set over the bow of the yacht.
Another exhilirating nights sail in shorts, t-shirts, tethered life jackets and our man overboard wrist bands. This is the weather we had always anticipated, but somehow doubted during the first 3 days. Maximum speed achieved was 10 knots. We had listened in to the fleets noon position reporting to the net on short wave, and had noted that they were experiencing lighter winds to the north of us. Long may this continue.
This morning we put in a call from Uncle Tom to Ground Control. We were delighted to hear from Aden that we had the furthest noon to noon run in our class for the previous day. Today's reports will be very interesting. At 08.00 we sighted a yacht to the north-west at about 5 - 6 miles. Our first sighting for 2 days.
The spinnaker was dropped briefly to check the condition of the halyard. It was very shiny at the mast head but no sign of chaffing. We re-hoisted it to within 6 inches of the sheave as we left the Cape Verde islands behind, passing 130 miles to the north.