Rich Carey
Sat 25 Nov 2017 12:10
Refueling at Mindelo is a serious option (being used by several others that kept west). That's why we have been pointing at there for two days, to keep the option open.
If we'd have kept on 180 degrees from a few days ago (in prep for the return of the trades from the west), we'd have ended way west of the Islands and even with the trades, it would have taken 1-2 days to get back level with the westernmost Islands - hence the afore mentioned slow 'curve' of 180, 200, 220, 230 over the last 48 hours). As long as you're motoring, you need/can make progress towards a target - sea state permitting.

While a brief stop might seem nice (there's no ARC penalty), it would just be a pain of a couple of hours navigating in and maneuvering. No getting off the boat - to do so would mean checking into the country - time consuming for us, and nearly impossible for Bosun as he's not doc prepped for that location. Enter the fuel dock, then leave immediately. My preferred option is to scrape down to close to the Islands with the fuel we have in the tanks. Then wait for the trades to sweep us up later Monday. While waiting, we'd fill the tanks from the spare fuel (1/2 a tank, for each tank, from jerry cans [each tank holds 160 liters - we left with 480]). That would give us all the required hours of engine time for battery charging and water making, but not a lot for motoring. The hope would then be that there are no 'holes' in the trade winds on the main crossing.

While this whole slow epic was far from the plan, you always need to look on the bright side. We kept west of the bulk of the fleet and that will pay back. At 08:00 this morning I was chatting on the VHF with 'Quiset' who was off our Starboard bow. He executed a tack and was then heading to Africa! WTF! Turns out he has no engine due to cooling issues, so he's ruled by the headwind, and headed west to try and catch the trades when they come - he's thus mostly in a holding pattern for the next two days. At least we are moving forward. He was resigned to his ARC being a long slow one, and quite chirpy on the radio. We will be the same when these tanks are empty and we also go into a bit of a holding pattern.

As far as the ARC 'race' is concerned, no-one is focused on that anymore - just on getting there at any time! In the little group of 5 boats that we've been joking with for the last few weeks, we seemed to fall behind after our blistering start, but now we are slowly becoming better positioned.

'Alamak' is the exception as they have gone from back to front. They are a Lagoon 52F with no sail options (only one GIB, no code sails or spinnaker). Light trades would have killed them off early, but these freaky conditions means that they've not been disadvantaged at all.
'Pelican' (50ft Prout) built and owned by a guy I met in Gibraltar, spent the first 4 days going from way west of us to way east ... he would be doing well if he didn't keep changing his plan!
'Lazy way' 40ft Fontaine- Pajot, has a limited sail plan . They just acquired a Para-sailor in the days before departure. They are not experienced with it, and will not have been able to use it at all so far. When everyone is in the trades, then that sail will come into it's own, but they are some way behind.
'Victory Cat' has been dogging us 150nm North west for days now. If the trades come quickly, he will not be far behind, but we are better positioned to gain a separation if they come slowly and we get the march.

The other 'race' is with Karen! She's due in St Lucia on the 12th, I would guess on current form/plan, that we can be there by the 11th if the trades are kind and we cross in 14 days.

Caught two birds yesterday :-( Daft buggers go for the Lure when it skips to the surface. We saw one get caught and while reeling it in, another got wrapped. Fortunately three of us were able to get each bird aboard, cut the lines, and send them on their way - lucky birds.

Last night the crew reported seeing a fairly large lightening storm for an hour off our starboard beam. Nowhere near us. They also reported seeing the first flying fish.

All's well on x86, but getting a bit sweaty, as we progress slowly south and west.

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