Firefly 7 December 2001: The tragic news of Sir Peter Blake’s death was transmitted to the fleet by net controllers today and I have suggested that a minute’s silence be held tomorrow
Firefly 7 December 2001
17° 48 N 45° 35 W
Distance to St Lucia 915 miles
The tragic news of Sir Peter Blake’s death was transmitted to the fleet by net controllers today and I have suggested that a minute’s silence be held tomorrow before the radio scheds in respect of the memory of the world’s greatest yachtsman, Whitbread winner, twice America’s Cup winner and holder of the Jules Verne being just a very few of this great man’s achievements. Yachting World will be looking back over his life in the February issue.
Compared to such monumental news the trivia of sailing a small boat across a wide ocean seems irrelevant. But Peter lived for sailing and would wish us all to continue to enjoy what we are now doing in the ARC.
On board Firefly spirits are high as we crossed the 1,000-mile to go barrier last night. The wind has picked up and at last has a stronger northerly component so we are now sailing just high of the direct route at over 7 knots in 13 – 18 knots breezes. Conjecture is starting as to when we might arrive. So far the engine has only been used for charging and our tank is still over 75% full.
We are reserving this in case we are becalmed near the finish and need to motor to meet the twin deadlines of Duncan’s wife arriving to start a two week charter and my family arriving for a week’s pre-Christmas break on 16 December. As that gives us 9 days to cover 900 miles, with our worst day’s run at 130 nm and best of 186 nm I’m hopeful to make it on time.
Yesterday Firefly really proved her worth as a light, easily-driven boat, the speed rarely dropping below 4 knots with the apparent wind speed only a couple of knots higher. We heard several boats declaring that they were motoring so maybe they had even less wind than us. During the night, however, the breeze filled in and here we are again enjoying fast sailing, though this time without the large, disorganised seas we endured last week.
This morning one of those large, grey, rain squall clouds appeared and sat firmly on our quarter. I looked around to see Stewart disappearing forward to the heads clutching his book and Duncan rushing round below closing hatches leaving me to get wet in the cockpit. I left the autopilot to the job, put up the canvas hatch cover and listened as the rain hammered on deck, washing away a good week’s worth of salt.
The last laugh, though, was on Stewart. In his rush below to stay dry he had left his cabin hatches open and once again has a soaked bed.
Best kit of the day: one of those window-cleaning wipers. It lives in the shower and a quick wipe down of bulkheads after showering stops the build up of smelly, soapy residue. It is also excellent for drying off cockpit seats after a wash down.