Day 11 ARC Blog

Rich's 2019 ARC Blog
Richard Hurd
Wed 4 Dec 2019 17:37
18:52.57N 037:52.05W

Hello from the middle of the Atlantic - literally. At about 1900 UTC yesterday, 3rd December we crossed our midway point on our voyage which is on the 035•32.0’ longitude line. It’s taken over 9 days to get here but with the light winds in the 1st few days and all the trouble with the engine, this can be expected. We have now hit the ENE trade winds and our pace has started to pick up, with some exhilarating sailing. The winds are now about 18 to 22 knots and we’ve been flying a large ginger radial spinnaker and we’ve been surfing down the large Atlantic waves. Averaging over 9 knots of boat speed, on Monday we sailed 220nm in a 24 hour period. I was helming and we peaked at 14.5 knots on one surf.

The sea state has been very uncomfortable sadly with a very confused wave form on top of the Atlantic rollers, which has made helming very tricky at times. During daylight, you can see the waves coming and anticipate the effect it will have on the yacht, but during the night, you lose your sight sense, especially as the moon is not bright at the moment. The waves just hit and all you can do is react as best you can. However as you are sailing as close to downwind as possible, there is always the risk of a nasty jibe or broach. We always have a preventer rigged to stop the boom from crashing across but as helmsman, it is never far from your mind.

The two watches are working well, so 4 people on deck at any time. We need this as we are not permitted to use the auto-helm (irrespective that we only have enough battery power to charge th iPads from the solar panel), so someone is on the wheel at all times. During the day it is fairly casual, as most of the crew are up and about to lend a hand or steer for a while. At night we do 4 hrs on and 4 hrs off starting at 1800 when darkness sets in and ending at 1000 the following morning. With really nasty conditions last night, I ended up doing nearly 4 hrs solid on the helm from 1800 to 2200, with only Rachel doing a short 15 min stint after the first 2.5 hours. Dan’s given his elbow a knock, so is struggling at times, Nigel doesn’t helm and the conditions were too heavy for Rachel to be on for too long.

Food has been great and Rachel & Gwen are doing amazing things, however apart from a few tomatoes, most of our fresh food has now gone. So it’s tinned fare from now on - not even fresh fish on the menu as both our lines have been stolen by monsters from the deep. We’ve tried using the 15m of line tied to an old halyard but that has not worked, probably due to the fact that we need about 80 to 100m of line to stand a chance. I’ll try again, in case there is a short-sighted fish nearby who hasn’t noticed Fireballs hull crashing around just ahead of Paula’s lure.

We’ve had a sweepstake on our arrival time in Rodney Bay, St Lucia with skipper Chris the most optimistic at 1800 on 11th Dec and Dan the least at 1000 on the 13th. I’ve gone midway at 1800 on 12 Dec, which of course is Paula’s birthday and she’ll be there to see us arrive. As we speak we’re doing good speed in the right direction. Sea is still uncomfortable so sleep is difficult to get and there is a bit of tension on board. Hopefully we all can get to catch up on some sleep and get going.

Time to get back onto the helm!