Tue 1 Dec 2009 14:08
Hello from beyond the middle of the Atlantic!
The great news is that yesterday we passed the half way point.
The last 24 hours has been a great change from our downwind sleigh ride that we have had since we started. It started with a rude awakening at around 5 in the morning yesterday, when, with full main up and running dead down wind, the wind shifted suddenly by 30 degrees and we had an accidental gybe. In a normal boat, this would not be too much of a problem, however on Trippwire we have running backstays. These in effect support the mast and get wound up on the opposite side of the boat to the boom. The problem with them is that you have to detach them when you tack or gybe, and if not, you run a high chance of losing your mast. In our case, we were lucky, and as I shot on deck to meet a rather shocked Caroline who was on watch, we had to clamber across the boat that was heeling at around 45 degrees, with the main pinned against the runner.
Now, to digress a little, this was officially a '4 boxer short event'. Ever since I have started sailing with Charlie, if there was ever a problem that needed sorting, you could guarantee that it is always in the middle of the night and usually in Charlie's offwatch. Even if no help was asked for, you could be assured that the first person up will be Charlie and that he will be on the foredeck in his boxer shorts helping out, whether in the middle of the Atlantic or off the Fastnet rock in the Irish sea! This trip is no different, and always just as you are struggling away, you will find Charlie on the foredeck with you. So, with all that in mind, events have now been classified into a number of boxer short seriousness. Taking a reef would usually require one pair of boxer shorts - i.e. one person out of bed, usually in their boxer shorts (unless it is Jen and Caroline, when they will come on deck rather better dressed!) in addition to the on watch person. In this case, it was a 4 boxer short event, well, technically, 3 boxer shorts and Jen - i.e. we all got a bit of a shock! The great thing about this trip is that there are no bunk loiterers, and everyone is amazingly proactive about helping out, which makes life on board really easy, but I suspect that we now have a rather tired crew who have pulled reefs out and in several times in the last 24 hours, and I for one am a little knackered! 
Once sorted, it became clear that this was the rude announcement of the infamous tropical squalls. Since then, we have had anything from calm, through to 30 knots of wind, from the SE, and in particular, since around 6pm last night we have had it up at 23 knots and above most of the time, with some large tropical showers and frequent gusts to 30 knots. We are now beam reaching fast in a direction to the south of St Lucia (we are expecting North Easterlies in 24 hours or so time and so are trying to get as much southing in as possible).
Depending on your tastes, our gourmet extravaganza has continued. You may remember from the Madeira trip, that Charlies one term of coming was that we stocked the boat with Fraybentos, his favourite 'night in' entertainment. Given that it was half way, and we had yet to have a fraybentos, last night was the night to put that right! Other gourmet news is that we have started on Pedro. Pedro is a very tasty leg of Spanish Jamon, which is hanging on the mast in the heads (the loo). Not perhaps the most edifying of places to live, but space is short!
Nearly very exciting news on the fishing front! Just as we were sitting down to our delicious fraybentos, the reel went singing out for the first time.  Technically it was the second time - just as we started to gybe 3 days ago, Dom claimed to have seen a tuna jumping out of the water and grabbing the lure.  Sadly though, it did not take, and perhaps for the best because we were in the middle of our spinnaker gybe. However, this time it did take, and as I grabbed the rod, there was a definite great weight. Our issue though was that at the time we were surfing down waves at 10 knots....disaster, before we had managed to furl away the Genoa, the line loaded up and then went ping....all very disappointing; interestingly though, despite all that I have said above and for the first time ever we did not see Charlie on deck and when I came back down, he was busily guarding the Fraybentos!The positive news though is that I have five more 'pink octopus' in those tuna had better watch out!
Anyway, all else is well on board. The watermaker repair has taken a back seat given that we have 3-4 metre seas and are on a 25 degree angle of heel, but we certainly have enough water to get us there. Jen and I are still undergoing 'house training' by Dom and Caroline, who I think are determined to put right our untidy ways. We are still on 'basic training', and suspect that we are very slow pupils, but the great thing is that whenever you go to bed, you wake up and the boat has been tidied! We are doing our best not to look ahead and predict arrival times, but suffice to say that the weather is looking at the moment really rather good for the second half of the trip, and that, with luck, the last few days our 21 day provisioning will not be required!