Nearing St Lucia

Rich's 2019 ARC Blog
Richard Hurd
Wed 11 Dec 2019 16:12
14:44.958N 057:27.180W

16:00 UTC (Noon LT) Wednesday 11th Dec 2019.

All going well, this should be our penultimate day at sea. I’ve just handed over helming to Dan on our morning watch, which started at 0600 local time (GMT -4). Had a good couple of days since I last posted with no major dramas. Several wet an’ windy squalls have blasted through, mainly at night, but a couple came through during daylight hours yesterday. They come with a major increase in wind speed, which can increase by over 100% in a blink of an eye. You need to monitor their approach and decide if you’re going to be clobbered or not, but as they are so unpredictable you have to be ready to get the foresail furled. We have tended to run dead downwind with the main, which has 1 reef in it constantly. The reef is there as the sail is borrowed of another yacht, which has a different rig set up, so the wear patches to protect the sail from chaffing against the spreaders are in the wrong place. As such, we have lowered the main so we can avoid any damage.

The squalls usually come with torrential rain too, which can be refreshing, but sadly as the wind is so strong and the crew are clinging on, all that nonsense about getting a bar of soap & shampoo out is ....... hang on a squall now approaches, so closing down for a while I help get the yacht battened down and ready to furl the foresail, close hatches, coil ropes etc ........

5 hours later - That one went through without too much trouble, big couple of gusts and a 20 degree wind shift. But getting back to the idea of having a rainwater shower, is really a non-starter. The rain can be torrential but it stops just as far as it comes and as you’re hanging on, there really is no chance to have a wash in fresh water.

It is now 11:42 LT (15:42 GMT) and we’ve decided to put up the black fractional radial kite to try and get some more pace. Our main competitor, Escapado, is too far ahead for us to catch now and they will probably be finishing in the early hours of the morning. Our projected time of finish is around 1900 LT tomorrow, which is sadly after dark. We really want to get in before dark so that our shore fan-club can see us cross the line, hence the reason for trying to pick up the pace. These include Paula, Steph (Dan’s fiancé), Keelan (Gwen’s fiancé) and my fab friends Philip & Caroline Townsley and Mike, Charlie, Bella and Georgie Patteson. Can’t wait to see you all and especially my amazing wife, partner & soulmate, Paula. I know it’s been stressful for you over the past 18 days but your amazing encouragement, guidance and love has helped me overcome some of the toughest times I’ve ever had to endure. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

So as we see the miles ticking off (we have about 210 nautical miles to go, with about 2,650nm travelled so far since Las Palmas), inevitably thoughts turn to seeing our loved ones and having a cold beer and the traditional ARC finish-line Rum Punch. I’m also looking forward to a big old steak and a bed that doesn’t unilaterally decided to evict you violently!

Love and light to all. Rich xxx