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Dolphin Delight
12/20/2011, Atlantic Ocean

Day 12

12deg 57N 51deg 55W

Todays hightlight... morning coffee with Scottish shortbread courtesy of Morrison's Supermarket, Gibraltar, purveyors of all provisions from the UK. Accompanied by a display of dolphin speed and sense of fun. A pod of dolphins surfed down the swells, leaping out into the sunshine. They swam close to Tuatara,then at midships they looped around and did it all again giving us an entertaining ten minute display . Apparently sensing the finish of smoko the dolphins disappeared as the last buttery crumbs blew off the plate.

At 1am this morning the wind and sea changed so it was all hands on deck to take down our big coloured MPS which we had been flying most of the last 4 days. We had arrived in the squally windy zone yachts in front of us had been experiencing a day or so earlier. . White caps glinted in the dark where only an hour or so earlier the swells were small and all blue. Tuatara became a rolly platform again as the swell came at us from midships. By day light the sky was grey, we had one shower of rain and from then the patches of blue have increased and the thunder clouds have moved to the south. We still have too much wind for the big colour to go back up and the swell has developed some big holes but we are still heading west to Barbados and thats all we ask. The weather and sea changes so quickly and often during a day so maybe by this evening the sea may be smooth again.

We have less than 500 miles to go so we have passed another couple of milestones. We have completed three quarters of our journey and have passed the 50 deg West mark,Barbados is about 59/60 deg W. Sliding down these swells today feels like we are literally and figuratively on the downhill slide to Bridgetown.

The fish have been leaving our lures alone so no fish meals for days now.

It seems a little strange we are out here, no other sign of human life and yet Christmas is only days away, thousands of people are rushing through shops buying gifts, loading trolleys with festive food while listening to canned carols. That's a part I am missing about the Christmas buildup ...not the shopping but listening to the Christmas Carols. I had a little taste at Mindelo with English carols floating out of the produce Mercado. I am off now to put up my Christmas Fairy, and I am sure there are some Christmas songs somewhere amongst the CD,s.......

Merry Christmas to all and have a Christmas mince pie or two for me.

Half Way fuel drop
12/18/2011, Atlantic

Day 7

Speciality of the house Chocolate cake

Disappointment of the day, 2 good fishing lures lost and no fish.

At last we are half way to Barbados and after several days of tracking Egret the rudderless English yacht we finally spotted them on the horizon. They popped up on our AIS but we couldnt see them. We had been in radio contact all day. By 3pm we thought we should be able to see them. I called them to see if they could see us. Amanda could see us on the horizon going straight for them. Another careful look from our fore deck and there they were.

The diesel was ready to go, Alan and Juan had transferred it into cans we didnt need back, we sacrificed some of our half way chocolate cake and a couple of other bits as a present and we were ready. Once we came along side, careful not to get too close to their steering drogue, the whole process took about an hour.

It was a bit of a mission and we couldnt have done it with out a 3rd person on board, The old muscle..Alan... rowed the dinghy over to Egret, we had a line attached..We took three goes to get it right I was steering and Juan the young muscle operated the line to the dinghy. We were a little surprised as to how the dinghy behaved because the wind was from behind we thought the dinghy would blow across easily but no it seemed to shoot out astern of both yachts. Juan had to haul Alan in again, the rope acting as a break made it difficult rowing. Then on the third try I got Tuatara quite a bit ahead of Egret so that got the dinghy closer and easier for Alan to row then between the old and young muscle they pulled the dinghy back to Tuatara. The sea state meant getting the dinghy in the water from off the bow was a little dicey as Tuatara rolled with the side on swells, the couple of minutes to get Alan and diesel into the dinghy was a little tense. Getting back on board was also a bit of an act. Alan can move quite fast when he wants to! Once we left Patrick and Amanda we sorted our selves out, tied down the dinghy, and eventually got the sails up again. By that time we were about mile or so on from Egret the sea was a lot flatter, the wind died some more and at last we seem to be having nice trade wind sailing. A little slower but more comfortable, no more bruises.

A cold beer and then wine with dinner was well deserved, Between watches we all slept soundly.

Day 8 On the down hill slide.

12 deg 46 N 44 deg 26W The wind is still eased about 15 knots, the MPS is up with the big drifter poled out the other side. The African haze is now behind us. The sun is out and we are hot. Alan is making a lure so may be fish for dinner.

African dust
12/15/2011, Atlantic

Day 5 lunch...

Marinaded fish with fresh warm bread.

I cant remember the name we call this dish at home but the one recipe I have it is called Kokoda which is an American name I think. Anyway it is lovely, I am not sure if we have enough lemons and coconut milk on board to have it too often. A couple of the lemons from Cape Verde have not lasted and have met a watery end. The fruit and vege there was not great but we have enough cans on board to delve into when the fresh stuff runs out. No problem with meat as the freezer is still full thanks to all the fish we have caught.

The African sand is chasing us across the Atlantic. Yesterday (officially yesterday but still seems like today as I write this at 2.30am) was the first day of really clear sky over head and enough sun to give the batteries a boost. Tuatara is covered in dust, a fine film of reddish brown covers everything, with a following wind our head sails are getting browner by the day. Tomorrow/today maybe the haze will have retreated some more. The dust deprives us of the lovely passage sunrises and sunsets as the watery sun appears and disappears long before it touches the horizon. One of the pleasures,of the sunrise watch is watching the colours light up sea and sky as a golden orb slowly ascends into the day. Everyone else aboard is asleep, the only thing disturbing the peace is occasionally there is a twang on the fishing reel as a fish comes in for an early morning nibble.

Good news from the disabled yacht Egret today, they have discovered there is still about a quarter of their rudder left so with that and their drogue they are starting to move nicely at about 4 knots and virtually in a westerly direction. We are about 36 hours away from them and still looking to drop some fuel if the sea state allows. At the moment we are sailing well in about 20knots with a bit of a swell, making good progress.

14deg 30N 36 deg 49W

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Who: Alan and Jean Ward
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