The full force of the Trades at last

Rumpelteazer Pacific Crossing
Robert Holbrook
Fri 14 Mar 2008 21:04




As the wind (and crew morale) continued to drop on Wednesday, and the forecasts showed no increase in wind for another 12 hours, we had a major decision to make – to continue wallowing in 6 knots of wind, or use some of our precious diesel to increase our speed.  We did the latter.


After 12 hours of motor sailing during the evening and night, the wind arrived at 3.30am yesterday, almost exactly as predicted (by the Ugrib weather data service we are accessing by satellite link).  By lunchtime, our 24 hour average speed had risen to 5.9 knots and we had travelled 140 miles. For the rest of the day, we had some great sailing, with winds back up to 16-18 knots, sailing dead downwind  with goose-winged genoa and speeds averaging 7 knots. And then …


Just before it got dark, at around 5.30pm yesterday, a front came through.  With winds of up to 32 knots and our boat speed rising rapidly to a peak of 11.6 knots, the big black cloud behind us passed over and left us with a very consistent 18-25 knot wind. 


All night this wind has continued, and, with it our average speed which rose encouragingly back towards 8 knots, despite reefing the main and genoa.  The downside is that none of us got a lot of sleep – Rumpelteazer is charging through the waves which in these bigger seas can make it quite noisy down below.


At the time of writing, our average speed over the groung is an exhiliarating 9.1 knots.  By lunchtime today, we had recorded 194 miles at an average speed of 8.1 knots during the last 24 hour period.  We are 860 miles from Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, and if this speed keeps up, we will be there in five days, by Wednesday, 19th March, maybe earlier.


Today is Pippa’s birthday, but sadly she was off-watch this morning when the helicopter arrived overhead to deliver her cards and presents. She is celebrating by writing yet another blog, but bubbly will be served at sunset drinks.

 The masterclass in winch servicing has produced incredible results, with the two main sheet winches and the central halyard winch now in tip-top form, and only two large and three small winches yet to be sorted.  Sadly the smoothie-maker is now beyond repair, despite the attentions of master mechanic Captain Bob.


The fresh food situation is getting a little serious with lots of potatoes left (including those strange waxy ones with green tentacles) but not much else.  We have kept our last pineapple, despite being a bit furry, as a sentimental memento of fresh fruit, and will probably find it is past its best when we open it later today.


So menu planning is becoming a masterclass in itself – how to disguise the tuna without using fresh vegetables?  How best to use the last onion?  What can you make with red cabbage, fresh ginger, and mozzarella cheese?  Our dwindling supplies of tinned veg are a bit boring, but increasingly essential.