Mid Atlantic update 17:07.6N 38:45.9W

Sat 28 Nov 2009 19:31
At 17:19:50 this afternoon Sonar crossed the halfway point between our last landfall in Tenerife and our destination waypoint in Grenada. That was a point 1376.7 miles from both points. Although this was a spot on this enormous ocean that was no different from any other it was a psychological turning point. It now seems we are heading towards rather than leaving from somewhere. The on board track plotter now shows our destination waypoint getting closer and our departure waypoint has fallen off the right hand edge of the display screen. It feels like the next week or so is now all downhill as we approach our destination rather than putting distance on the clock. We are also about as far from the nearest land as we will get - so it gets closer from now on.
Life on board has settled into a familiar daily routine which involves a lot of sitting around the cockpit swapping yarns and experiences and discussing opinions on just about any subject we can imagine. John has taken the greatest interest in the food so he has been doing the preparation and cooking of the communal main meal of the day we eat soon after it gets dark in the evenings. John and Ted also like a good English type cooked breakfast so John does bacon, eggs, tomato, toast mid morning while I stick to my usual bowl of cereal roughage and join them with a bacon sandwich. Lunch tends to be a snack of bread, cheese, ham or whatever is laying around in the fridge. A regular treat for us all is to frequently have a mid Atlantic ice cream. Such are the joys of having a boat with plenty of power available to keep a fridge and a freezer running non-stop.
The sailing has been a dream. For at least a week now we have had steady force 4-5 (10-20kts) occasionally up to 25kts of E or ENE winds night and day. With just the 2 headsails set wing-on-wing and no mainsail the boat is very easy to handle. The sails are easily furled or unfurled as the wind strength and sea conditions dictate and the art has been to try to get the course set just right so as to take the following big rollers directly astern. This minimises the big cork-screwing rolling motion set up when plunging down the face of an overtaking wave. Of course every wave is different (we had a long discussion about whether that statement is true - and how you prove it) so there are regular periods of a few minutes every now and again when the stern of the boat is thrown off course by an odd wave and we end up going sideways down a wave with the inevitable violent rolling that follows. It seems a small price to pay for perfectly scripted conditions where we can effortlessly make 140 miles per day. We have experimented with Big Bertha - the cruising chute a few times when the wind has been light but although we could then charge along at 7 or 8 kts we have not had the courage (or felt the need) to leave her up overnight and risk dodgy manoeuvres in the dark on the front deck. So Bertha, who relishes these conditions has largely stayed in her snuffing sleeve clipped to the rail.
If these conditions continue (and the weather forecasts say they will for at least another 5 days) then we should be very close to our destination on the southern shore of Grenada in our projected passage time of 21 days. We have a sweepstake running with the prize of a crate of beer for whoever guesses the closest to our arrival date and time. The finishing line has been agreed to be the crossing of longitude 61d 42.34'W (which is the longitude of Ted's house in Grenada). My entry in the sweepstake is for us to arrive there at 12:00 hrs on the 21st day after departure (12:00 local time on 8th December) - so I'm feeling smug and confident at the moment. But this is real sailing - so who knows what we will encounter over the next 10/11 days.