Team Eleutheria celebrate Thanksgiving Day in style on day five of the ARC

Date24 November 2005

PositionNorth Atlantic – Lat. 21.22. 40 N, Long. 19.32.00 W

Thanksgiving Day in the States and we have much to be grateful for. Last evening, the wind shifted and built out of the east. We stayed in the 7-knot range with occasional bursts of 8 knots with a fairly consistent wind that hit as high as 23 knots. It may not sound like much, but after four days of intermittent light and variable winds, the boat felt like a Le Mans racing car.

This morning the wind died and backed once again behind us and since we decided the forego the spinnaker class for this race, we’re a bit stuck at only a few knots of progress in such uninspiring conditions unless we crank up the engine.

Meantime, it was a day of wildlife. First, some type of exhausted tern (we presume avian flu hasn’t made it into the Atlantic yet) ended up in the cockpit at 0100. We nursed it back to health and it flew off about an hour later, no doubt after hearing our crewmen Stompy’s offhand comment about how quickly he could field dress the bird for use with our Thanksgiving feast.

Later this morning, a pod of 10 dolphins swam off our bow for about an hour and shortly thereafter a number of long-finned pilot whales were breaching about 200 metres away. Finally, we got our first hit on the fishing line, but alas our imagined 200-kilo Bluefin tuna escaped before we could set the hook.

We just heard that the low-pressure system we’ve been following just got upgraded and designated as this year’s 25th tropical storm, aka ‘Delta’. We’ve got another day to pull up some GRIB weather files with the sat phone and watch which way it moves before we make a final decision about pulling into Cape Verde or heading straight across.

As of this morning the center of this mess was about 1150 nautical miles south-west from the Azores with tropical storm winds extending out 350 miles from the depression’s centre, and the ARC racers in the really big boats that headed north-west out of the Canaries may be in for nasty drubbing with projected sustained winds up to 65 knots with higher gusts.

Much further south and a long way from harm’s way, we’re celebrating this American holiday with a mid-day brunch suitable for pre-stretching our stomachs in anticipation for this evening’s orgy of gluttony on succulent braised turkey, melon prosciutto, Ahi tuna ceviche, wild rice ala creme, garlic beans on a bed of organic field greens, roasted garlic and asiago potato gratin, a savory cranberry orange chutney, petit pomme d’miel with fresh ground nutmeg and cinnamon, complimented by several bottles of the Spanish Rojo Cota de Imaz 1999, as suggested by our favorite waitress from the tapas bar in Las Palmas, as well as a credible Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

The feast will likely leave us staring listlessly into the star-field sky, despondent from a possible micro-economy shortage of cigarettes, all with a background serenade on the boat’s sound system of an eclectic melange of traditional Applachian cello fare with Split Lip Rayfield and St Germain rounding out the mix.

We invited the crew of the British HR 40 Blonde Moment, but even after arduously labouring to make table name cards for its crew, we have yet to receive a definitive acceptance to our offer. Something about the present distance between our two vessels inclines us to believe our graciousness to this worthy competitor will be declined?