on 3 December
The wind continued to blow from the east throughout the day. Never less than 20 knots, usually 25 and occasionally gusting to 30. The boat rattled along under white sails at an average speed of 9 knots, with not uncommon spurts to 11, and the odd exhilirating 15. In fact we are getting so used to these wind speeds that the skipper quipped 'I wonder what it's like to do 5 knots'. The seas are huge, which makes every little task that much harder (particularly typing).
Last night it was Pete Norey's turn to cook dinner, Chili con Carne with Rice and freshly baked Pita bread. A heavy load on the gas cooker. The inevitable happened and the gas ran out halfway through the cooking. After a short time Mik connected up a fresh cylinder, and 4 expectant diners tucked into their pre-dinner nibbles. However there was still no gas in the galley. Another fresh cylinder was connected, and another until we had exhausted all of our stock of gas. It is a good thing we are so far west that night doesn't fall until 21.00 GMT, for we are still trying to live our lives by GMT, and had started preparing dinner at 18.00 GMT.
Panic started to spread through the crew as the potential realisation of cold rations for the next 2 weeks sunk in. Cold cans are bad enough but what do we do with the pasta, the rice, and of course that never decreasing mountain of potatoes that Pete Howe bought?
However we are 5 level-headed males who do not fuss for long. After a short discussion of the possible cause, not easy with 4 engineers in the crew, we finally agreed that the regulator was the problem. After a short pressure clean from Mik's pursed lips, the offending minute pieces of grit came out, and dinner was finally served as the sun dipped.
We now have to turn our attention to tactics. The wind has returned to its normal trade winds direction of due easterly, and that is not a helpul state of affairs for Majic. The wind is essentially blowing directly along the line between our present position and St Lucia. As explained in the blog item on the boat, it is rigged and designed to sail fast on almost all points of sail except dead downwind, or for that matter within 30 degrees either side of dead downwind. We are presently sailing on starboard tack on a heading 310 degrees (north west) just outside the no-go area. If we turn left a little and point to St Lucia we slow down. If we continue where we are going we end up in South Carolina in 3 weeks. If we turn left a lot (gybe) to say 245 degrees (south west) we can keep our speed up, again we won't be pointing at St Lucia, alas Venezuela.
What we need is a wind shift to, frankly, anywhere but east. The wind charts we have been downloading from the internet give us very little hope of that happening in the next few days, so we have to continue with a zigzag route to St Lucia, gybing every day or so when we get nervous that we are too far off the the direct line to the finish.
Heard today that a yacht in the race, Mustang, was dismasted last night and is drifting 150 miles to the west of us. All on board are well, and the most important tool they require is an angle grinder, to cut away the rod rigging and to fashion a jury rig with which to get home.