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Time Bandit
The Tombola
06/07/2008, 39° 43.5N 59° 34.2W

After the overnight blow and yesterday morning's big seas we spent a relatively leisurely day "recovering" reaching under part genoa and staysail in bright sunshine in big seas with the odd small breaking crest. If that's what 40 knots produces, what's it like when it's windy? Lunch provided the energy to get the sails up and get going again and we had a good afternoon and evening doing 6+ in calmer seas.
Dougie organised a ship's Tombola this morning and, to increase your chances of winning you paid an extra 50p to get your name in twice. Little did us suckers know the prize was cleaning the heads. Poor Phil; fixes the steering, fits the lee cloths, repairs the engine and is currently cleaning the bogs - then he's going to make lunch!
Plenty wind in the boat today but hee haw outside. . On sailing; we had good winds until about 23:00 when the wind turned east, on the nose and faded to a few knots. The engine has therefore been running for the last 10 hours and we're all going deaf. We should be getting 14 - 20 knots from NE but for the last 6 hours we've had nothing except 2 metre swell and no wind and the boat is again rolling like a pig and, despite our attempts last night to pad everything so we could run quiet, life inside is back to the spanners in a washing machine deal. It seems as if the boat gets into a critical cadence with the waves and the roll gets more and more wild until the rhythm is broken and we roll into an oncoming waves and that stabilises us again - until the next one.
We just started a roll pattern again and our lucky Tombola winner flew out the bog followed by his bucket, cleaning fluids and mop. Poor Phil is now mopping the rest of the cabin. Really not what we expected in Trade Wind sailing. however, there are signs the wind will fill in shortly so that will help.
Last night motoring east. following the stars for navigation, just like Captain Fred, (Letton folk lore has it that "Cap'n Fred" navigated to Perth Australia from the UK without charts following the stars; and got bollocked by his bosses for it)
Dougie and Phil embarrassed me by producing a fresh version of my tinned lunchtime extravaganza of beans and more beans; a hedonistic mix of Heinz UK and Boston beans.
Did a stock count this morning and we're down to our last 28 litres of orange juice and 40 litres of milk. We've so much water we're going to shower once every 5 days whether we need it or not.
Lunch today looking like stew and corn currently defrosting on the worktop, the floor, the nav table....
We've had to motor so much the freezer has kept the ice from the 1st still frozen solid.
We've attempted to do our sun sights but, apart from creating stress fractures in our right arms from holding what seems like a 10lb sextant, the violent motion of the rolling makes it totally impossible.
Undeterred, Dougie is currently rushing to get it out, head on deck and get a sight. Given he could hardly get up the companionway the chances of getting it are pretty much nil.
Midday now passed and opinion is that it's absolutely impossible.
We crossed our first time zone last night so we are making progress. All is swell (get it?).

43 Knots Just as well it was dark

A week ago we were looking at a succession of highs moving across to the Azores finally consolidating as one big high. Back then our biggest concern was no wind. Yesterdays forecast shows a succession of lows marching across and we've been in and around one for 24 hours now. It started with the dull, 0 - 5 knot variable winds, with us sloshing around in swells from 10 directions. This was accompanied by rain for about 8 hours varying from bad day in the hills to monsoon. This of course has searched out the leaky bits and consequently the forward cabin is soaked with drips still coming from the hatch. Anyway, a fresh breeze came in the afternoon and we were able to switch off the engine after about 6 or 8 hours; and that's when the ride started. The wind increased over a few hours into darkness and by midnight we had 30 - 40 knots (42.7 tops) with seas I was quite glad I could only hear. (Having your iPod up loud really helps!)
We ran off ahead of it with just a scrap of staysail out keeping to 4knots for steerage. Pretty wild night but the boat was fine but about as comfortable and noisy as being in a washing machine with a pile of spanners. The blow was preceded by the start of the end our dodger. We once had a tent that after many years use was still giving good camping until one morning when taking it down we put our finger through the fabric as if it was tissue. The whole thing then pretty much fell apart in our hands so we packed it straight into the nearest bin. Well, the dodger tore and we went to sew it up and much the same has happened. We'll try again later but it looks as if it's a template for a new one and it too will find a home in some sail makers bin.
This morning, the front has gone through and we've huge (for us anyway) seas (you look behind and there's just this wall of water; above you!) However, the boat just lifts and skooshes of to the next crash into the wave in front and the pots, pans, cups, everything join in the chorus while the locker doors swing open to applaud.
I guess it's out here you find out whether you have a blue water boat or not. Anyway, the sun is out, the forecast is for winds to ease and we can get re-charged. The wind vane is doing all the steering and after a fraught installation, salvaged by Phil is performing reasonably well. Lastly, we lost our lure to some big monster fish yesterday that took a bite and swam off with hundreds of feet of our line. Fortunately, the line broke as we reeled it in and we've been spared fish for the rest of the trip. All good fun; beards all round and plenty to keep us amused. How I ever thought I'd get time to read a book is beyond me right now.
Off to get breakfast, weather and start sewing.

Foggy Days
06/05/2008, 41.45.9'N 64.13.7'W

5th June
(From Anne - Dad wants distance run from your log each day. Are you doing noon sights yet???)
So do we. Log is bust so we can only do dist run retrospectively from GPS coordinates. Probably going to screw our astro work. Haven't seen sun for 2 days. Currently in thick fog, motoring and we've only scratched the surface of the trip. Just had brekky. Dougie eating muesli as we're out of bacon and conserving gas.
Time Bandit 5th June 08:30 local 41.45.9N 64.13.7 W
What a difference a day makes. We've been sailing in the influence of the Gulf Stream which has been pushing us north and that, coupled with head winds meant we were effectively tracking for the UK. Once darkness fell we got a fantastic show of phosphorescence with every breaking wave top lit like neon in pitch blackness. (Total cloud and no moon yet). About 2am we crossed a distinct line, from north easterly Gulf Stream to southerly Arctic currents. In 20 yards the difference in currents shifted our track from UK to Azores. Unfortunately, the cold water from 't north hitting the warm south east air meant in that same 20 yards we sailed into a blanket of fog. We've sailed all night in 15-20 knots in heavy rain that has only just let up. 08:30 local and the fog (and the dolphins) is still here but no useful wind so we're currently motoring at 5kn on 105M direction Azores. Forecast for later is 20 - 25 knots from NE so if that comes we should get a good blast. Unfortunately, the heavy rain is showing up the leaky bits and there's a bit of water, mostly down the mast from a bodged seal by our rigger. Yesterday evening we changed to single watches with one on and one stand-by (we'd been standing watches in pairs so far) so everyone is now getting well rested. Looking forward to some sunshine though. When we plot our wee noon position or look at our position on the chart there seems a long way to go. All is well ha harr!

Whale Dodging
06/04/2008, 41 33.2'N 65 51.1'W

Woke up last night about 2am flying airborne across my bunk, landing in the lee cloth as Ian and Dougie had us steaming eastwards at 9 knots. Pretty busy day yesterday surrounded by and chased by dolphins for hours. Same again this morning. Highlight; the shoal of fish the dolphins were chomping on was also the dinner table for a pod of hump backs - big tails, "thar she blows and everything". Woke up again at 06:00 to thick fog as we left the warm, 250ft Boston shelf waters and entered 3000ft colder Atlantic. This morning, as the fog cleared only slamming the wheel down saved us running down a sleeping humpback. Passed within 50yards. We've passed out first waypoint on en route to "P" at Lat 40N Long 60W where we'll take a left for the Azores. Gas consumption way ahead of plan so microwaving stuff to conserve. Fuel and water still at 4/4 in tanks. Duogen, towing generator is pumping in the amps so we're OK for power. Also out of 12oz steaks! Arteries hardening by the minute.
All OK, bit slow apart from really charging along last night. All getting enough sleep and morale OK. Down a bit because of the gas deal but consumption has been high and left on three times by accident plus we spent 6 days in port and should have refilled. Learning a lot!

First Morning
06/03/2008, 42 12.53'N 68 50.3'W

Good morning. First night at sea and all went pretty much OK. Ellen MacArthur has gone up in all our estimations. Perfect intro to Atlantic sailing (ish). We had to motor for fist 45 miles/ 12 hours and, about 04:20, just as we were getting wind; 10kn from south east, the engine temp alarm sounded. We shut down, put up the rags and have been sailing in calm seas and now sunshine for last 5 hours. Everyone is happy, Phil is about to look at the engine (poor man is now Dan the engineer). Forecast for today is 10kn form SW dropping to 5 tomorrow then 25 on 5th.Bacon and eggs for brekky, Ian in the master suite watching a movie. All going great, boat is running well.

06/02/2008, Boston

So far we made it out of Boston harbour 3 times. Hopefully we won't have to turn back again. Other than pushed for time I suppose all has gone quite smoothly given we've taken an unused boat off the hard after 18 months, tossed it in the water and left 48 hours later. We've been up since 7am and worked all day, had a shower and headed out. Ian and Dougie on watch in ½ hour while Phil and I sleep. (Dougie slept all afternoon while Phil worked).

Pressing On
31/12/1969, Antigua


Antigua. A beach for every day of the year or so they say.

We landed in Guadeloupe about 2 pm yesterday with just enough time for a wander ashore around the village of Deshaise. Not much has changed since we were here last three years ago other than it is now the location for "Murder in Paradise"

We didn't see any stars nor indeed any sign of the set. When they are filming they must really do a hollywood on the town.

Guadeloupe is French so we had another pastry and cafe au lait and then twitched all night from the unaccustomed dose of caffeine.

Up with the dawn at 6 we upped anchor and off'd into the wild for the 40 miles to Jolly Harbour on Antigua. 40 miles back in the Atlantic swell in a steady 27-30 knots. Wild and pretty wet but fast.

Back in our "press on" mode we are here for the night before an 04:00 start to make St Barts in time for pastry. 70 miles probay in the same conditions. Not muck looking forward to the way back after the regatta. Seemed like a good idea at the time! 10 miles upwind. Yuck.

The Trade Winds are really blowing this year and every day is over 20 knots. Usually around the 25+ mark. Great fast long as you're going downhill.

Anne is just finishing the Monty Python inspired customs and immigration process and then were off for a late lunch/early dinner before an early night ahead of tomorrow's dash.

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