The bearded wonders are starting to feel the pinch of European weather as it's oilies on and only 90 miles to go - but will the owner be there to greet them?

Date: 10.06.03 UTC: 1100 Pstn: N 38.08, W 030.31 Track: 085 Wind: WSW 10-15kn Wx: Squalls Cloud: 100% Bar:1017mb Air temp: 20C Sea temp: 19.8C 24hr run: 171nm Current SOG: 7.0kn Distance to go: 90nm

‘This is getting stupid’ was skipper B1’s first comment after crawling out of his pit from an extended siesta, ‘I’m bloody freezing’. The temperature has, in fact, only just dropped to around 22 deg C, but he’s been lounging in the Caribbean so long he’s forgotten all about cold. Fortunately, before I left I ordered full three-part ocean suits for all of us for the duration of the two-part trip as an ideal opportunity to trial the gear through as many different climate changes as possible. The fact that Stewart had his thermals and mid-layer fleeces on just a few days out from Antigua, is rather an extreme test, but his suit will definitely be well worn by the time he reaches the UK. The rest of us succumbed last night, when the N Atlantic weather started to deteriorate due to a fast moving low just to the N of us. This has made it quite chilly, and certainly very damp, so now we’re all togged up – just what B1 will do when he reaches the Western Approaches in a few weeks I don’t know, I think I’d better leave him my thermals as well. Well last night was another one of those bouncy ol’ nights again. B3 finally reached total sleep depravation levels and had to crash out – even before his delicious supper of warmed beans & frankfurters – or was he trying to tell me something? Maybe the Jerk sauce is no longer a novelty. Things started to calm down a bit by my 0300 watch, but unfortunately the rain also set in at that moment and the wind changed direction also, necessitating a gybe – just what you want to do when you’ve just woken up, haven’t yet got your harness on the right way round and your eyes are still stuck together. Dawn came soon, although the sky lightened only a little. Bs 1 and 2 sat like kids splashing in puddles with their wellies on – determined to try every pocket, zip, adjuster and Velcro pad on the Ocean suits. We are testing Musto, Henri-Lloyd, D Gill, Helli-Hansen and XM Ocean suits over the entire 3,000nm trip from Antigua to Lymington – the results of which will be published in a future issue of YW. Finally, with a roar not dissimilar to a bear awaking from deep winter hibernation, B3 awakes and starts dancing around the cabin demanding food. Where’s my supper – what do you mean you ate without me – couldn’t you wait? Er, Ross, supper was yesterday. He looked slightly subdued when I offered him yesterday’s reheated beans and a lump of suet with Marmite on (thanks to the semi-dismantled state of the bread maker, and the fact that Stewie tipped most of the yeast down the bilges, today’s bread rather resembles a depleted Uranium bunker buster). Anyway, today is end of term day, so who cares. With only 90 miles to go and enough diesel to motor into Horta at 7kn, we should hopefully be completing this first leg of bringing Firefly home to Horta by midnight tonight. And if Andrew Bray isn’t standing on the quay with a crate of cold beers when we arrive – I’ll confine him to The Hole until he screams for mercy!

Ed’s note. Not only will I be standing on the quayside to catch their lines and ply them with beer and red wine, I also managed to get to the supermarket before it closed as today is a national holiday and stock up on enough food for a slap up midnight feast.