Four days into the race finds Liverpool Clipper making the best of light winds 9/7/06

Five o’clock this morning saw one of the sights the Atlantic is most renowned for – an absolutely stunning sunrise, briefly accompanied by a pair of leaping porpoises. It’s hard to realise just how polluted the air must be on land until you get right away from it in mid-ocean – the horizon was a straight line bisecting the sun without a trace of haze. As for the porpoises, they were some of the first wildlife we had seen barring a couple of basking shark in the aquamarine water to seaward of
Long Island.

The comfortable 10-15 knot northerly breeze of the last two days has now dropped to around six knots and backed a little, leaving us reaching slowly under spinnaker and struggling to keep the sails filled in the light Atlantic swell. Fortunately the forecast assures us that the lack of progress should be shortlived – within 24 hours the breeze is predicted to fill in from the south-west to give us a welcome lift towards Jersey. Certainly a few cirrus clouds in the early morning gave the impression that the sailing may pick up soon.

Meanwhile, the rest of the life of the boat goes on. Following the inviolable law of Murphy which states that ships in mid-ocean have a magnetic attraction, we’ve just had to take minor action to avoid a tanker vessel, who to his credit also took action to avoid us.

Today’s mothers Mini and Tomo managed a superb breakfast of BLT sandwiches, and we’re just getting ready to start the daytime chores that go with keeping the boat safe and comfortable – cleaning and minor repairs.

The watermaker sprang into action yesterday, so starboard watch will also be allowed showers – I hope it doesn’t cause too much of a rift with port, who need to wait until tomorrow.

The watch system on boardLiverpoolis relatively simple – over two 12 hour periods starting at 0900 and 2100 local time, the daylight hours are split into three four-hour watches and the night hours into four three-hour watches. Once into the routine six hours sleep is enough with some topping up in the daytime, and the odd number of watches avoids one watch being woken every night at 0300. Every 24 hours, each crewmember, with their opposite number in the other watch, is assigned to a duty – cleaning, nav, engineering or mother. Yesterday I was detailed to do the navigation work for my watch.

Log readings are taken once per watch, and although most of the navigation is carried out on SeaPro, at midday and midnight local time a plot is made on the paper chart. Added to this, each boat is required to report its position, the distance run in the last 12 hours, and the great circle distance to the finish line, twice a day at 0000 and 1200UTC. ForLiverpoolthis is a big task – as lead boat it’s our job to collate all that information and disseminate it to the Clipper office and the rest of the fleet. The fleet is now quite widely distributed, so getting all the information calls for a lengthy series of SSB calls, SSB relay calls and ultimately email. Last night was worth it though -Liverpoolhad one of the best runs and is now closest to Jersey.

The wind has filled in slightly now, so perhaps we can hold that lead. Meanwhile, it’s ‘make and mend’ forLiverpool- I’m off to help saw hanks off the Number One yankee and lash new ones on.