39:22.04N 23:00.36W Star Dancer at 1200UTC Saturday 9th June

Rob Packham
Sat 9 Jun 2007 15:04
At sea one week! No diary yesterday because we had a bit of a blow. By 0730 we had gusts over 30kts and then an hour later up to 40/50kts which were pretty much sustained for the whole day through to early evening. By afternoon the seas were very big and confused (big as houses an apt description) . Star Dancer was fantastic and felt well in control. We sailed on with 3 reefed main and tiny genoa out. Realised how difficult storm sails are to set in these conditions but luckily we were able to keep our course with the waves on our stern quarter. The autohelm coped well but we found we could be just a little quicker when a big wave arrives! The main thing was not to gybe the main. We had some good surfing - max speed 11.4kts!
With no land to worry about and the fetch of the Atlantic storm waves so long it was a different situation to that faced in the English Channel. Certainly the biggest seas I have sailed in and a real test for Star Dancer - we both agree she was simply great. The rudders always dug in - lots of stern weight and the 4 tons of grounding plate and keel made her feel really stable - she never hesitated in coming back from a wave strike.
Well we are not too far away now. At 0700 this morning we altered course investigate as we approached another yacht which was wallowing and had no sails set - it was Merlin another AZAB that had suffered damage and was only able to use a headsail. We offered some deisel but would had been a difficult transfer in a lumpy seastate blowing 27kts and it was declined by the single hander on board - he is 'limping' into Ponta Delgada.
Right now Robert is making lunch - freshly baked rolls with tuna while outside it is blowing 25/30kts as we close reach towards the finish line - another bumpy day but our speed is good (7.5kts speed over ground)
Robert Hughes a friend from Northshore (doing the return leg on Sea Spine) sneeked a bottle of Champagne on board in Falmouth for when we get to the finish in Ponta Delgada - perhaps sometime in the next 48hrs - all being well!
Rob and Robert