Good winds but rough seas make life interesting aboard ARC yacht Northern Child. Julian Sincock reports 3/12/06

Daily Log No.8 Northern Child
Date Sunday 3 December 2006
Position 19.53N 32.06W

We have had a fantastic 24 hours sailing and have sailed our furthest 24-hour distance of the trip so far. The wind has remained constant for us out of the east at roughly 20 knots and we have revelled in the constant trade winds.

An east or north-east wind in this region at this time of year is called a ‘Trade Wind’ because in the old days of square rigged sailing ships the Captains of the vessels would be looking to sail downwind, or away from the wind, because they only set square sails that operated efficiently downwind.
They were trading cargoes out to the Caribbean, hence the term ‘Trade winds’. One of the most amazing feats of Columbus’ voyaging wasn’t only that he found the Trade winds, but that he used them on subsequent voyages. Today we are voyaging down in these same latitudes at this time of year to try and find and use those same winds; this year they now seem to have set in nice and steady for us.

The only problem is that as the winds go up, so does the sea, which makes living on board less comfortable. In case you think that your friends or loved ones on board were having an easy time out here, let me run a scenario past you. Say you were on watch from 1800 to 2200 hours, the sea was running quite high and you were having to work hard, both steering and changing sails. You then go down for four hours rest at 2200 hours, but at the same time the sea builds up on the beam and so you are thrown around in your bunk the whole time you are trying to sleep. You finally get some shut eye at 0130, only to have the watch on deck wake you up 10 minutes later for your next shift from 0200 to 0600 – that’s what happened last night! Oh well, anything worth doing is not necessarily easy.

I have been mulling over a question that I thought you might like to share with me – why are the crew here? What is it that made them arrange a month or so away from friends or family, not an easy thing to do anyway, and made them want to cross an ocean on a small sailing boat? Everyone had different answers, but through them ran a similar thread. Here is a selection of answers: Dave C – eight years ago I knew someone else who was doing it, I became inquisitive and realised that I would like to know how I would cope for so long at sea in the same circumstances.

Ian – I love exploring and traveling and also felt that I needed to do something that challenged me and got me out of my comfort zone. This trip provides for both of these needs in spades!

Dave A – I have had the idea in my mind for the last 5 years and decided to do it to celebrate my birthday. I wanted the personal challenge of a long crossing and the excitement of arrival.

Al – I have read about the ARC for years and have wanted to take part in a big international event. It is the culmination of all my years of sailing and marks a downsizing in my life as I move into retirement – the years go by pretty quickly.

Henri (18 years old) – it was an opportunity and I had to take it – it’s a challenge, a buzz.

The common theme that comes through is that it is a personal challenge for people, and I think also an element of Everest – Because it’s there.

We have sailed 197 miles towards St Lucia in the last 24 hours and with a similar wind are hoping for more of the same over the next 24.

A bientot,
Julian – from-a-not-very-stable-chart-table!