DAY 16 - Rollercoaster

Sat 6 Dec 2008 11:41
15:19.40N  44:17.80W
Early morning Day 16.
Finally, it seems that we have made it through this massive low pressure area with the unstable conditions, regards to both wind strength and its direction. We have been working the squalls for two days and nights and heavens sluices have allowed for the rain to just pour down. However, this last night we again saw the stars on the sky and the moon also reappeared (in fact it was 4-5 days ago but covered by a carpet of dark clouds). We took during the previous 24 hours 200-250 mm of rain. Fortunately, last night we could only enjoy the light orchestra of the intensive thunder and lightening in the far distance (flashing every 2-3 seconds like we were enveloped in 2 nights back) but now we sail away and put a distance to it. A relief.   
It's warm, it has been impossible to get anything dry - everyone is constantly damp, and everything you sit or lie on is damp too. Cooking turns the place underdeck into a steam room - sleeping is difficult, also because of the bumpy waves and sideways rolling, but we catch up sleep when there is a chance to (the writer had a nap last afternoon at the helm - on duty. Thanks, autopilot). The genova was down and we had to accept the wind from straight behind unless we would be too much out of target course. It turned the yacht into a rollercoaster. The previous night we gathered all on deck from 4 am to help with sail trimming, reefing and soforth. Couldn't sleep anyway. Extended coffee break. 
Despite our enclosed environment, the team members are pretty happy although the last 5-6 days have been frustrating working hard with the squalls in between the lazy hours. Many thoughts have been through our minds, - will we miss our flight return date and rejoining families before Xmas, why did we volunteer for this mission, and when will it end...? 
We have now received positive weather reports from this weekend onwards. Light breeze in a favorable direction, assumed to pick up strength from Sunday/Monday and we look forward to the last week, should hopefully be a rally to the final line in French Martinique. We have all accepted that we have to spend another week and a day or two at sea. By falling south, as we have been doing lately, we prepare for a tactically better angle to the (anticipated) wind direction the last 1000 miles. We passed this psychologically important milestone last night 3 am while the new moon, looking like a lazy hammock, went to rest in the sea, west ahead of us.
At this moment the sun is arising up from the horizon. Today is the day to put all clothes out for sun drying; bed clothes, T-shirts, sweaters, underwear, you name it.
Our log last two days is slightly improving (considering no fuel compensation) though we are far away from the original scheduled daily rate (optimistically 150 nm):
Day 15    expected 116 nm 
Day 14    112 nm
Current actual:  1822 nm 
Day 13   103 nm
Day 12   118 nm
Day 11   103 nm
Day 10   118 nm
Day 9    113 nm
Day 8    117 nm
Day 7    127 nm
Day 6    118 nm
Day 5    150 nm
Day 4    137 nm
Day 3    100 nm
Day 2    120 nm
Day 1    170 nm