Robin Knox-Johnston slots into Tropical mode coping with heat and big squalls just off the Equator 20/11/06

Time and date0900 Monday 20 November 2006
PositionLatitude 14 09.2S Longitude 029 26.1W
Course175 degrees
Speed9.6 kts
Miles to go to Fremantle7,460 miles
Average speed in last 24 hours9.93 knots
Distance travelled in last 24 hours238.2

The seas began to ease yesterday so we were able to put up a bit more sail and push on without the incessant pounding. The day was squall free as well, which made life easier, but as the sun set the clouds darkened and thickened and small squalls began to arrive and kept coming all through the night which is tiring.

I am working what we used to call Tropical routine. Starting early in the day when it is cool, and then knocking off towards midday when it becomes too hot, but not working on deck unless I have to once the sun is up. The problem is that in order to send in this diary each day I have to run the Volvo engine as that has the alternators to charge the batteries. Naturally it gets pretty hot, and the heat in the cabin becomes unbearable. The boat is close-hauled and apart from occasional checks, does not need much from me at the moment. The decks are too wet with spray to allow the other deck hatches to be opened and provide a slight draft below.

Afternoons are spent sheltering from the sun and reading or dozing I did not bring a lot of books which may have been a mistake as its nice to have a distraction however I do have two volumes of poetry.

If Saga Insurance’s performance is measured against the two new boats behind, we have been sailing a quarter of a knot faster than Unai (Basurko on ‘Pakea’ and half a knot faster than the only 50 footer (‘A Southern Man) in the fleet over the last 36 hours. This will change as we run out of the stronger winds first, in the next day. Still, that is pleasing as both those boats are new and specially built for this race whereas at nine years old Saga Insurance is the oldest boat in the race, but she was a bit ahead of her time when built. RKJ”