05 December 2009 | At Sea - but getting closer
It is 3:00am on Saturday morning. Helen and I are currently on watch with everyone else sleeping. We have 15 - 18 knot ENE with a small swell and we're sailing at around 6.5 - 7 knots with full mainsail and poled-out No. 3 jib. There is a full moon lighting the way with mostly clear skies. A couple of hours ago on our previous watch, we had a 10 minute rain shower with 25 knot winds but nothing to worry about. We're only wearing shorts and T-shirts and the water temperature is 27 degrees - nice and easy sailing conditions.
We're now 80% of the way across the Atlantic with only 543 nm to go to St Lucia which we hope to reach on Monday night. An hour ago a large catamaran rteached across our bows on Port gybe (we're currently on Starboard gybe) by only 400m. She seems to have gybed and is now lying a couple of miles abeam to leeward of us. Hopefully we'll be able to identify her when it's light in the morning.
We've had a frustrating couple of days of lighter 10-15 knot Easterlies "tradewinds" which mean we must run very square downwind. Unfortunately this is not a good angle for our powerful gennaker so we've had to resort to just the poled-out No. 3 jib so we've only been doing 5 - 6 knots. When we've tried the gennaker, we have to heat up 20 - 30 degrees above our direct rhumbline course so although we can achieve 8 knots speed quite easily, we have to cover a lot of extra distance. Yachts with spinnakers and Parasails are probably catching us a bit at this stage but we're enjoying the relaxing sailing conditions.
Yesterday we damaged the upper swivel on the jib roller reefing so now we cannot furl the jib - we have to raise and lower it with no other ability to reef it should we need to shorten sail. Just a minor inconvenience with but a few days left to go.
We all enjoyed a meal of Atlantic meatballs on rice last night before watching an episode of "West Wing" before the kids went to bed. Actually I stayed up on deck on watch with Tyler who fell asleep in my arms as we sang to Cat Stephens et al on the iPod.
The previous evening (Thursday) all except Grandad Pete enjoyed a swim off the back of the boat in the warm Atlantic Ocean, followed by a fresh water shower, also off the back of the boat. Then we were treated to a magnificent BBQ steak dinner cooked by Grandad Pete.
Jesse cooked a lovely chocolate cake for morning tea which followed the delicious banana cake he, Zoe and Helen cooked the day before. I think we'll have all put on some pounds as we struggle to demolish the food and drink stores now that the race has turned out to be quicker than we provisioned for.