Spirit still leads the fleet as the crew's thoughts turn to St Lucia and rum cocktails

We’ve had a good day from both a navigational and culinary perspective. We’re making excellent progress towards St Lucia with a sweet following breeze and a flat sea, and lunch today was unanimously voted as our best ever. Chris prepared for us an excellent pasta salad with peppers, onion, chorizo and walnuts. He even made croutons. If I was more cynical I would guess he’s buttering us up for another round of rehydrated chicken and curried rice, but as our ETA St Lucia looks we have the luxury of being a bit more imaginative with our limited food supplies.

Position wise, we’re still lying first. Not sure what the latest results look like on the ARC website, but despite Steamy Windows’ record breaking 68 knot average over 24 hours a few days ago, they somehow have still not past us! But we’re not resting on our laurels and it’s hardly a case of just pointing the bow at St Lucia and hanging on. Trimming continues night and day. Sitting at the nav station I’m directly under the mainsheet winch and it’s spinning regularly as I write this. A few feet away the kite sheet and grinder is making even more of a racket. We’ve also been peeling kites and changing staysails regularly as we heat up or run deeper to skirt around or take advantage of the latest weather features. And it looks like it could get a lot more challenging over the next few days. The ARC fleet received a special weather advisory a little while ago advising us of a large area of squally rain that we may pass through, with possible gusts of up to 80 knots! That’s a little more than any of us have seen in squalls before and we’ll be keeping a sharp eye open for the bothersome thunderers.

The heat is becoming quite stifling below. Designed for outrageous southern ocean conditions, Spirit favours water integrity over ventilation, so there are no opening hatches on deck except for the companionway and an emergency hatch fore and aft above two of the three watertight compartments. Fortunately the companionway is huge to facilitate dragging sails up and down, and this, together with a few round ‘inspection ports’ with cowls over them, provides all the fresh air below. Needless to say, a visitor to Spirit right now would be unlikely to describe conditions below as fresh. Much of the off watch choose to loll about like reptiles on deck during the day, enjoying the sun, the odd bit of cooling spray, and a book. It was suggested we tear out the pages as we read them and chuck them over the side to save weight. At night, we’re sprawled on the pipe cots like casualties of war in a field hospital.

There’s not much more to say really. It was another beautiful day of sailing. Spirit’s going like the thoroughbred she is, and her devoted crew just want to get her across the finish line in Rodney Bay as soon as possible. With some boats still over 2,000 miles from St Lucia, we’re beginning to count the days to our first rum cocktails, fresh water showers, real food and more rum cocktails. Probably in that order.