Team Azure suffers with Black Monday syndrome. Alec Lochore reports from the ARC

Position N 16 29 77 W 33 04 30

Date Wednesday 30 December, 1200 GMT

Black Monday – we are not sure what is going on regarding the stockmarket at the moment (or indeed a number of other important things such as who won the Hennessy on Saturday, what the cricket score is, and who won the last of the autumn rugby internationals) but we had our own black Monday on the 28 November where we travelled only a very little distance in 24 hours – indeed for one 12-hour stretch we travelled a whopping 16 miles!

This really dampened the spirits on board as we had thought we might make land on Thursday evening next week but now we are looking at Friday night/Saturday morning. The wind has picked up now and we are travelling at 7 kts but the sea is quite lumpy and we are rolling about quite a bit which makes cooking difficult and means that we have to hold onto our beers at all times which only serves to raise the temperature!

Last night we had a nasty moment when at 0015 the spinnaker go well and truly wrapped around the inner forestay. It was an all hands on deck situation again and after 15 minutes we couldn’t budge it so the only option was for someone to go up. Charlie was this man and, in a very lumps sea in the pitch black, we hoisted him to the top of the mast while we tried to follow his instructions on deck. In all Charlie was 60ft up the mast for more than 90 minutes and has a full spectrum of black and blue bruises to prove it. We were successful and the spinnaker came down with no damage so ‘all’s well that ends well’, but we don’t want anything like that again thanks.

Some news that did lift spirits was that on Monday at 1200 we were in 4th place in the racing division and 50th overall – this latter position we understand had slipped 30 places by Tuesday as non racers put their engines on – however, credit to our skipper for choosing so far what would appear to be a good course.

The temperature has been very hot again over the past couple of days and there are a few slightly lobster like features on display! One good thing to come out of the calm on Monday was Hugo’s suggestion that since we were infact not moving could we jump of the boat and have a swim, so in the middle of the Atlantic we dived in for a swim. Two things arise from this: 1. remember no diving at the shallow end – well it was about 5,000 metres at both ends so no need to worry there, and 2. try convincing anyone that they are not about to be mauled to death by a shark within ten seconds of jumping in – it was at times rather a pathetic scene, dive in and swim like hell to the steps!

Other news – we have heard that Richard Matthews boat Oystercatcher XXV has been dismasted and had to go to the Cape Verde Islands and that another yacht no. 166 Caliso has a cracked keel box, is taking in water and has requested evacuation – they are nearly 300 miles from us so we cannot help but the Marine Safety Agency are apparently on the case. We hope both the best for satisfactory resolutions to the problems

Little else note worthy – no more fish – tried a bit more baking but have yet to sample? on we push. We are not yet half way but are half way through our provisions – let’s hope for some good wind.

Until December

Safe passage

Alec Lochore