Nearly There - So Much for an Easy Leg
16 January 2013 | South Atlantic Ocean - 75 miles from St Helena
We should arrive at St Helena tomorrow morning, but this trip has been a bit frustrating and we're feeling a bit cheated. Everything pointed to longed-for straightforward sailing, but it has actually been a bit more challenging with the latter part of the crossing characterised by light winds with lots of squalls. So, for example, yesterday morning we put the parasail up (poled out) so we could at least make some progress downwind with all of 8 knots of wind, only to be taking it down again 2 hours later in the midst of a sudden squall at 25 knots (Laurel and Hardy antics trying to get the frickin thing down and not doing a Dorothy). An hour later and all is still again, the white sails are cracking so we talk ourselves into putting it up again - ARGGH!! Hard work for two tired people, especially with one not at his best having contracted a nasty cold in Cape Town. This pattern has also delayed the time of arrival in St Helena, so we will be there on the day that the locals are putting on the do for us.
However for the past 24 hours things have been lovely, really easy light wind sailing and we have, at last, caught up on our sleep - so all again is well with the world. Lets hope the weather behaves for our last night tonight. I sometimes think these ocean crossings are a bit like how my mother described going into labour. A challenging experience, but after a joyful arrival you completely forget how painful it was - until the next time...
For the first time this trip we are close to a few other boats, so its nice seeing their lights at night and catch up on the VHF (Peat Smoke, Anastasia (left 2 days after us), Sophie, Trompeta, Spirit of Alcides, Juba and At Last). Strange how we can be so far apart for over a week, some doing well, some not so, but all ending up close together towards the end.
We have never seen so many squadrons of flying fish as in these waters, it makes cleaning up the deck in the morning a bit messy. We even get a few squid (how they can jump so high is a mystery), I better start thinking about breakfast sushi. This morning we saw our first birds in a while, so I suppose it shows we are heading towards land. There was a really pretty white one with a long tail feather (as you can tell, I am really up on my ornithology, the Gunvor boys must have their head in their hands) that objected very noisily to our big yellow parasail - it kept circling and squawking at it for some time, I guess he's never seen such a thing in his waters before and clearly up to no good.
We are looking forward to St Helena, but not saying goodbye to everyone. Because of our deviation from the ARC route, tomorrow evening will be the last time we will be with the rest of the fleet in one place until probably St Lucia. Its hard to explain to anyone not a part of this trip how close you get to the other boats and how much we are going to miss everybody.