The final leg 12:48.9N 58:58.7W

Mon 7 Dec 2009 13:55
Several days ago we passed our 2,000nm since leaving Tenerife and I thought then would be a good time to produce voyage update but somehow the time slipped by and we are now barely a days sail from our destination. Its an update now or a retrospective tomorrow. The chart plotter is now telling us we have 170 miles to go and we have covered 2,532nm since leaving Tenerife
So far we have been at sea for 20 days or rather 20 nights as its the nights that are the real milestones that stick most vividly in the memory. I have done the first shift from 10pm- 1am and 7am-until everyone gets up. Long hours are spent just watching starlit waves stroll past or, towards the end of the trip, moonlit waves. Things which would not seem at all bothersome during daylight become more ominous and threatening at night when events are more difficult to anticipate and there is nobody around to share ones thoughts with. This has been particularly true of the last few nights when we have been overtaken by rain squalls coming up astern on my watch. These have been relatively small - pnly 2 or 3 miles across, but two which came through last night caught us fair and square. First the wind gets gustier then tropical rain arrives usualy at the same time as the wind. The first time this happened I was not prepared for the sudden build of the wind to about double the speed we had been used to (from 15 to 30kts). As we are traveling dead down wind this results in a big surge of boat speed but not much heeling thankfully. We then go as if rocket powered for 5, 10 or 15 mins with the sea fizzing past the hull before the wind dies back again to where it was. If one hasn't anticipated the effect (like the first time) then there is a white knuckle period watching the wind indicator build through the 20kt range not knowing where it is going to top out. Once it hits there is no chance of reefing-in the sails with that much pressure on them. It feels like charging down hill with no brakes and only a very tiny steering wheel - or perhaps more accuarately (for those who have tried it) like planing dead downwind in force 5 in a Laser. One squall last night saw the wind guage touch 34kts before it steadied back.
I am sure the memories which will last longest will be those associated with the social life on board. There has of course been much cockpit banter, lots of highbrow pholosophy discussed and many of the worlds problems solved with really simple obvious solutions such as 'change the government'. Some have even lead to very positive answers. For instance 'How many angels can stand on the head of a needle?' has a very positive answer - 42 of course. We know that's right because one of us had read it in a book. With 3 very old, wise and highly educated men on board each with a rich experience of life there has been a lot of very deep and meaningful discussions. For instance here is a snippet of conversation between John and Ted overheard in the cockpit while I was brewing some tea...
John: I spy with my little eye something begining with 'W'.
Ted: Water!
John: Hey that's cheating. You are supposed to have at least 2 or 3 guesses before you get it right.
Ted: Oh. Alright then. Its my turn now. I spy with my little eye something beging with 'W'.
John: Waves!
Ted: Now who's calling me a cheat! You did it yourself. I think I should have another go...
John: Yeah. I suppose there's no point in doing this if we both keep cheating.
and so it goes on.
Not long now before we can all have a nice wash, tuck ourselves into a stationary bed and wait to be transported to the local lunatic asylum.
Ray aboard Sonar
7 December 2009
 Lat:12d 48.9'N Lon:58d 58.6'W