Wednesday 6th December

Wed 7 Dec 2005 13:39
Title: Message
In position 15.02N 59.54W
As dawn broke we were sailing with a poled out genny and full main - we'd realised the "wine glass" wrap that we'd encountered in the previously night had been a blessing in disguise. It had helped us discover what seemed to be the perfect trade wind rig for Now3. We were hardly dropping below 9.5 knots VMG. This was make up time. We felt we were drawing in on Charliz and hopefully leaving La Royere behind.
During the day the sea built up and we soon found all 25 tons of Now3 surfing down the ocean rollers like a highly tuned racing boat. The maximum speed built up as the time to go went down. We peaked at an amazing 15.1 knots and averaged 9.5 knots throughout the day.
Flying fish were jumping on to the deck regularly and every time someone took a walk around the deck they'd have to throw the unfortunate ones that had jumped straight into our path and onto the boat overboard. These amazing fish have wings, they fly out of the water for up to a hundred yards and can even steer themselves mid flight. Here's a one just about to jump into the jaws of Mr Bailey
Down below Andy filled a mountain of paperwork in preparation for our finish. One of which was the Yachting World "Great Atlantic Crossing Survey". We all voted on our top 5 most valued pieces of equipment: 1. The auto pilot, without it we'd have had to hand steer, which would have been a nightmare. 2. The Onan generator, keeping the batteries charged is an essential part of the boat's management. Without power we wouldn't have had any pilot or navigational equipment. 3. The watermaker, it's been great to be able to shower without worry. 4. The navigational equipment: Maxsea and The Raymarine system who guided us so well through the weather and seas. 5. The iridium phone (and we so nearly set sail with a defunct one) it had kept us in emails, weather reports, position reports and phone calls to our loved ones. (mind you we'd spent nearly £1200 in call time! Gulp!
Lunch was spag' bol' ala M&S - followed by a few Magdalenas (little Spanish sweet buns).
The afternoon was spent watching all the electronics, we were pushing the boat to the limits trying to make up for lost time, any mistake now would be costly. The wind was gusting  in excess of 30 knots yet we still had a full main and genny out. Now3 slipped effortlessly through the waves the crew cheering at every surge. The boat was certainly looking after us.
At sundowner time there was a de-mob happiness in the air. We drank a bottle of very powerful vodka kindly supplied by Pete Wilde (thanks "Wildey" shame you couldn't make it).Then we broke out into song - we went through the whole repertoire. Ron and Tom even performed their world famous "Allouette"on the back deck, which was quite a sight with 20 foot rollers behind them. It also involved a few "never seen before on TV verses.
As evening closed in Simon produced the last of our fresh meat and veg meals - pork in Guiness with boiled potatoes. We toasted the chef with a glass or two of Rioja. We'd eaten like kings on this trip, Simon had been an absolute star.
We broke 200 miles just after dinner and it looked highly possible that we could finish the race by sundown the following evening. There were a few conversations about it being an anti-climax, we'd all gotten on so well and had such a brilliant time none of us wanted it to end. On the other hand there were bars in St Lucia with cold beers waiting just for us!
We received our positions from World Cruising we were now 4th in class, we'd overhauled La Royere pulling 16 miles ahead of them in 24 hours. We'd caught up 18 miles on Charliz. Northern winds finished sometime mid afternoon after a couple of phenomenal days sailing. Belle was in at 3rd but already gave us 75 hours on handicap.
It looks like we'll end up doing reasonably well in the race, however only handicap and motoring hours will tell.
As Now3 powered on into the night the wind didn't show any signs of relenting. We had an "all hands" at about 11pm when it was time to jibe. The jibe went perfectly and everyone scurried off to bed to catch some well earned zzzs.
Andy and Dave stayed on watch, just before midnight there was a massive gust and surge the boat jibed uncontrollably creating so much force it broke a dynema preventer, however the boom-brake we'd bought in Las Palmas prevented the boom coming over too quick and the possibility of rig damage.
This had been one of the most exhilarating days sailing any of us had ever had.
Nowcrew out.