Celebration Swim

Phil Pascoe
Mon 8 Dec 2008 22:45

14:45.4N 45:07.7W
Atlantic Swim and under 1000 miles to go (Sun 7 Dec)

Tony's report on the Sunday swim, Dec 7th. Sunday was a day of milestones. I turned out at 0730 to find the wind gone and Phil motoring to keep us moving westward. As it was calm Phil suggested that we stop the boat and swim before breakfast. We had intended to do this at the half-way stage a couple days earlier but conditions then were too windy to contemplate swimming - unless, that is, you were prepared to swim all the way to Barbados. So, with a mooring line attached to a fender streamed astern, we all took the plunge, in turn, with one person remaining on board in case the wind filled-in and the yacht started to move. Actually, it never completely stopped moving, it was certainly too fast for any of us to try to swim ahead of the boat. First impressions on entering the water? After a quick 360 with the snorkelling mask to see if there were any large animals around, my first impression was that the water was warmer than the average swimming pool. Secondly, that the iridescent blueness of the sea was apparently percolating upwards from depth. A marine optics scientist could probably tell us how the incident solar light is reflected upwards from the millions of microscopic particles in the sea. Thirdly, the bottom of the boat seemed pretty clean. Lastly, it didn't do to dwell on the 4000m of water below or what might be looking upwards from depth at us silhouetted against the surface. All in all, an incredibly refreshing ten minutes topped off by a quick freshwater shower - itself quite a luxury in our water-rationed ocean existence. Just as we were getting showered, I looked over the stern to see a large fish about six feet down. The briefest impression was of something like a Dorado - biggish head, silver sided body, green on top.

After breakfast we motored for a while longer and then the wind filled-in so we got under sail - close hauled but fetching the course. At lunch time the second major event was that the navigation plotter ticked down to the magical 1000 miles left to go. We had sailed 1700 miles and the end is now in sight (metaphorically). The skipper decided that being Sunday and having reached such an auspicious milestone, we could have a beer with lunch as well as at sun-downers. We also had our first attempt at baking bread rolls which worked well, certainly no problem finding somewhere warm for the dough to prove. Warm rolls for lunch, more left over for Monday. The only blot on the day was being beaten for the fourth time in a row at Cribbage by young Peter, I think he's played before. Before dinner Peter and I tried our hand at moon and planet sights which, when calculated and plotted, put us within 2-3 miles of the GPS position. Since neither of us had ever tried evening sights before, we were very pleased by the results. Dinner in the evening was rounded off with a glass of wine in the cockpit.

This light weather sailing is very easy but our speed is down to about 115 miles per day (Monday) and 12 of those are due to the favourable, North Equatorial Current. However, I've already learned not to wish for more wind. The weather charts show us sitting in favourable E to NE winds. Where is this NW coming from? It's not supposed to happen. We'll just have to be patient, at least we are going in the right direction; ideally we need to be doing it a little bit faster.

Now only 850 miles to go (Mon eve)