Moderate winds and easy sailing are welcome as the Liverpool crew repair last night's damage 12/7/06

Last night could not have been more different from yesterday’s crisis – the remains of the swell from the previous night was gradually dying away, the cloud and poor visibility following the front had passed and the north Atlantic was once again a place of clear skies, sunsets and leaping dolphins. The wind slowly backed from the north-west, causing a midnight gybe, and since then we have been making an ever improving course as the wind settled and built to the predicted south-westerly Force 5.

The boat is a quiet hive of activity at present – apart from sailing and the ongoing tasks of cooking, cleaning and catching up on shortened sleep, the night-time hours were punctuated by the buzz of the sewing machine as Vicki Wyn Griffith and Andy Perry mended the slight damage caused to the spinnaker, and the hull currently echoes to the sound of the hacksaw as Dave Keene and Joe Caddick attempt repairs on the broken spinnaker pole. After much discussion we’ve settled on a way to carry out the work with the available materials and good progress has been made, so hopefully by the end of the day we should be back in business with two poles.

Ground was inevitably lost by yesterday’s problems, andVictorianearly halved our lead from 19 to 10 miles in the 12 hours following, but unfortunately for us that lead has continued to diminish and at the last reckoning placed us only two miles ahead.Victoriahas taken a route about 30 miles further north thanLiverpooland may be experiencing better wind at present, but it’s impossible to tell at this stage which will be the better tactical choice. The top three boats are stillLiverpool,VictoriaandNew York, but there are signs of battles lower down the fleet, withGlasgowhaving jumped three places in 24 hours from tenth to seventh atCardiff’s expense. Rumours of a Chinese gybe may also account forJersey’s drop in position from sixth to eighth.

The boat is very much settled into a routine by now – the rota assigns me to cleaning duties today so I’ll be making a round of the heads and saloon later, while my starboard watch partner Vince has already cleaned the heads once today and will take care of the sleeping accommodation. Routine and teamwork seems to be what keeps the crew going on ocean passages. Getting up at three in the morning is to no-one’s taste, but each watch is interdependent on the other’s sense of responsibility. On deck, jobs are shared turn-and-about, so that everyone contributes to the running of the boat.

Liverpoolis currently about 150 miles ESE of the southern tip of Newfoundland and incidentally 230 miles due north of the wreck ofTitanic, so we’re keeping a wary eye open and making regular radar checks for icebergs despite the time of year – the Clipper 68’s all have watertight crash compartments in the bow but we have no wish to put ours to the test. Meanwhile, we have passed two milestones in the past 24 hours – midnight last night left us with exactly 2,000 miles left to run by the shortest route, and yesterday afternoon we moved the clocks forward an hour, curtailing the two afternoon watches to three and a half hours each. With four more hours to lose in ten days, timezones should fall thick and fast now as the Great Circle route takes us on a more easterly course, and now that land is well and truly left behind we should really feel some progress towards home.