Caylie Jeffery with the latest ARC log from Sigma 38 Steamy Windows 4/11/06

Log date3 December 2006
PositionN 19 27, W 29 22

Three days ago… St Andrew’s Day celebrations!

November 30 was St Andrew’s day – that’s the Scottish National Day, for those who may not know, and luckily for us, we have a Scot on board! Carol is from Edinburgh, and came well prepared to celebrate in true Scottish form! For breakfast, she made us all porridge, stirred with a particular Scottish porridge-stirring tool called a spurtle (we affectionately call it Myrtle).

Great start to our hugely hectic day of sunning and reading… Then she taught us some Scottish swear words (eg Jings?) and got onto the radio net chat to speak the brogue – nobody spoke back, which means one of two things – they either didn’t hear her, or they didn’t understand her!

We certainly didna! Then we played the Proclaimers, and changed the words to ‘and I would sail 3,000 miles, and I would sail 3,000 more, just to be the sailing boat who lands in first place on your shore!’
Last but not least, we had Haggis (from a tin) for dinner, with mashed tatties and a medley of root veges to make up for no neeps.

Unfortunately, we all took turns reading the ingredients on the tin, and now we know what’s in haggis. Oh well, it still tastes good, and all I will say about the ingredients is that they also contained pure Scottish water. No further comment.

Oh, and did I mention the wee dram of whiskey? Thanks to one of our sponsors, we were each able to sample some of the good stuff!

The following couple of days were lovely sailing – 15knots of wind from behind, and calm seas meant we had a cruising speed of 5-6 knots. We were on a 3-hour on, 9-hour off watch pattern, which gave us all good solid nights in our bunks. Brittany (Steers), our autohelm, has been managing beautifully, so we read, did art work and relaxed in the sun. The most stressful thing to happen was when the spinnaker decided it wanted to be a roller furler for a change- hours sorting that one out!

Unfortunately, however, the weather has changed. For the last 36 hours, we have had 25 knot winds, 9-12 foot seas and Brittany is unable to cope. So, we are now doing double-handed shifts of three hours each, taking 30 minute turns to helm. It’s very hard on the arms and shoulders, but we are all coping well. No sign of let up though, so we get rest when we can. We have not seen any boats for 3 days now, and miss them greatly. We look forward to the ARC radio net every day, just to hear familiar voices and to know they are somewhere nearby. This adventure has been quite nerve wracking for us all, particularly with the big waves, and we feel quite alone out here at times.

We have reached the one third mark now, and about to clock 1000NM, so with Steamy doing speeds of 7-8 knots now, we are happy to be reaching the halfway part so quickly. We heard today that one of the ARC boats was dismasted, about 300NM west of us, which has also unsettled us- fortunately, all seven crew are safe and sound, with help arriving imminently.

From the galleries the flying fish have arrived! Two of them made their way down the companionway stairs into the torch bag and scared the daylights out of those of us off watch as we had no idea what the noise was… until the smell hit us! My stomach is still not coping with the rolly swell, so this was not a welcome odour! To watch them skate across the water like hummingbirds is something else though.

Some friends from the yacht Roxi (ARC boat) caught up with Black Arrow (ARC boat), and had a mid-Atlantic cocktail with them – yes, they did amazing feats in calm conditions by jumping from one boat to the other, having a drink and a few olives, before being dropped back onto their boat again. This is what sailors do when there’s no wind!

I will retreat now, to my dry crackers and to face the thought of cooking for the hungry wolves. More in a few days.