Slight change of plan coming… N12:48.9 W44:49 .2

Freeway (of Penpol)
Phil Saltonstall, Bob Fousert & Andrew Beale (NZ)
Fri 28 Jan 2022 12:52
Sadly, we can see now that it will be impossible for us to get to the St Lucia, Rodney Bay, ARC finish line before it closes at midday next Friday. Everyone agrees that the weather has been hugely unhelpful during this transatlantic crossing, with unusually light winds and periods of total glassy calm. (Though I am reminded that when planning this trip, two skippers advised me that they had driven the whole way to the Caribbean due to lack of airflow. Trade winds - Schmade winds…). If we can’t make the finish then there’s really not much point diverting over to St Lucia when our ultimate plan was always to go to Trinidad. So, the developing plan is to stay with the ARC fleet until the right moment for us to swing South slightly and aim for Chaguaramas - where our tub will hopefully live for the next few years.

We’re making reasonable progress now and hopefully the winds will stiffen over the next few days. Despite being the slowest, smallest and (per metre) heaviest boat in the ARC rally, there are still nine larger/newer boats behind us who may miss out on the finish too. We’ve done OK just using our regular white sails, but given the low wind conditions one would imagine that a boat rigged with some lighter downwind sail options ought to have made a better fist of the conditions we’ve encountered. Perhaps we should look out for a second-hand cruising chute that we can hoist for next time the conditions are like this. Happily, I’m told that there is no downwind sailing in the Caribbean.

In fact, we’ve been quite grateful for the heavy solidity of our tub lately. A few days ago we endured a stirring eight-hour storm (not forecast!) that pretty much soaked us. Ironically and annoyingly, it happened between two periods of flat calm. The only casualty was our mast-top anemometer. I’d like to be able to brag about how strong the winds were, but unfortunately they blew our wind meter away! So now we’re doing educated Beaufort-esque guesswork on the wind strength, as nobody wants to go aloft to fit the spare in this following swell.

Anyway, we are now properly Trinidad-bound with less than 1000 miles to go. We’ve come a long way from Hull! Fortunately, we have the best diplomat in the business helping to smooth our unscheduled arrival into T&T - plus the services of visiting yacht expert and agent Jesse James (yes, that really is his name). The forecasters keep telling us that the winds will build soon and so we’re tentatively aiming to arrive in The Land Of The Hummingbird next weekend.