ARC competitors Will and Jill Bridges with more tales from the Atlantic aboard the Moody 42 Alchemy

ARC competitors Will and Jill Bridges with more tales from the Atlantic aboard the Moody 42 Alchemy.

Day 8

There is much more wind today – enough to keep the spinnaker very happy for hours on end. However, we have to keep a constant eye on the spinnaker pole, which has developed a mind of its own. The ships clocks were put back one hour at midday. Another two fish caught in the space of an hour and, we thought we would never say it, but we are getting a bit bored with mahi mahi.

The attempts to entice a good-sized tuna continue – using a range of different lures. We passed our first 1,000 miles mark in the afternoon and celebrated with a glass of wine with supper. It was fish again of course. The wind dropped during the night and we barely ghosted along with the main and genoa poled out. We are pursuing our original plan of making as much south as possible before turning west – albeit with occasional crises of confidence! The watch system which was cunningly devised by Matthew, is working very well but everyone if feeling a bit sleep deprived and much snoozing is going on during the day. Earplugs are definitely a good idea especially with the noise from sails and boom in light airs.

Day 9

It is becoming very hot as we track further south and long debates have ensued about the bimini – shall we/shant we? It will certainly have to go up in the middle of the day but the trouble is that it reduces sail visibility from the cockpit in a major way. Another mahi mahi caught but we let it go as the pork fillet had defrosted. Now if it had been a tuna, it would have been a different story.

We are still pursuing the cause of the failed tricolour – Will thinks he has tracked it down to a corroded connector at the base of the mast. Easterly winds of 12-16 knots kept the old spinnaker (nick-named the J-cloth ) happy and the crew relaxed ’til the winds increased in the early evening and – whoops – another spectacular hourglass wrap . Winds increased further so moved to conservative wing on wing rig at midnight.

Day 10

Hot, hot, hot today with good 15-20kts of wind and a big swell – could this be the long awaited trades kicking in? Caught three small Tuna in two hours – much excitement but the first two got away. The third one was transformed into the best ever sashumi. Then we hooked a big mahi mahi – a whopping 10 kg – which tested the slaughtering skills of Matt and Gretchen. We are all mystified about where the time goes on this yacht – little momentum occuring in various projects such as learning the stars, knitting, reading and writing. We seem to be doing a great deal of talking though. The forecast is for a decrease in winds and if this is so, we must scrub the decks thoroughly. We have also discovered that you cannot have too many t-shirts and pairs of shorts – some items are becoming decidedly not nice to know! Although we have a small and effective PowerSurvivor water maker it is, like all water makers, amp greedy. We are therefore being cautious with our water consumption. Clothes washing is a surprisingly heavy drain on the water tank.

Day 11

We had stronger winds overnight giving us good boat speed and some surfing down the waves. The phosphorescence was awesome. Crew in great form with much discussion about what will constitute our half way mark. Matt is making some mysterious calculations which are proving difficult for some of us to follow – based on log readings and projections. It seems that the sun might be getting to our brains!

Fish soup for lunch and an executive decision that we have definitely overdosed on mahi mahi (dorado) for the time being – and are still reading up on how to catch the good-sized Tuna (or any size will do actually). This has been an excellent sailing day, sustained through the night but we have experienced our first rain – just a light shower. The nights are becoming very dark now and the moon did not make an appearance until the small hours.

Day 12

This has been another great sailing day with the spinnaker doing us proud and we are now definitely facing west. The cloud cover is growing and we have had occasional spots of rain, but not enough to clean the topsides the easy way. Definitely no fishing today. We designated this half way day – passing one version at 11am and another 4 pm. We opened a bottle of Champagne to celebrate and ate the last of the ‘fresh’ meat – roast lamb and roast potatoes followed by Will’s trifle, which was a triumph. Everyone is in great spirits.

The wind dropped after dark, making for challenging and slow and noisy down wind sailing with flogging main and flighty kite.

Day 13

A very sultry day and the crew feeling a bit lethargic – a good thunderstorm would clear the air, but it does not seem very prudent to wish for one in the middle of the Atlantic.

Light winds continue and we decided to swim off the back of the boat with rope and fender safety line in place. It was a fabulous experience. The water was silky and warm and the magnificent colour of the water has to be seen to be believed – a type of transluscent blue that has no name. Showers for everyone after the swim and then Will continuing his bid for domestic god status, made his first ever bread. We are all relishing the perfect environment and complete lack of pollution – we have seen nothing at all in the water since leaving GC except one plastic bag (sadly when there was another (non ARC) yacht ahead of us) and no sign of any aircraft. Some of the crew claim to have identified a new ‘star’ which they have seen each clear night which has some kind of green and red light effects – and no they are not hallucinating and they say it is still there if we turn our mast head lights off!

Day 14

Everyday has been memorable so far but today has been unforgettable. We hit our first squall and got very wet but reduced sail and experienced no problems. Several squalls later we now have a new squall ‘uniform’ of swimming shorts/suits and foulie tops.

Throughout the day we have been treated to a procession of wild life. The sea seems to have been full of every different kind of fish – all leaping out of the water. There have been huge shoals of Flying Fish skimming over the waves and many birds. One took shelter in our saloon during the strongest squall when we had gusts of up to 33 knots. Gretchen rescued him and sent him on his way.

The jewel in the crown was a large pod of whales swimming around the boat for half an hour. It was mesmerising. More mundanely, the new snatchblock from the top of the halyard fell down with a clunk – luckily not hitting anyone en route – and definitely a design fault that needs to be rectified. Very appropriately, the ship’ s clocks went back another hour today – this was a day that we did not want to end.