Location - 300 miles West of Nouadhibou, Mauretania

At least this time I can sort of tell you where we are. Right children, out with your Atlas, or perhaps now every three-year-old uses Google? Probably. Anyway, have a look at the west coast of Africa. Find the Canary Islands and then travel south and you should come across Mauretania, and hopefully the well-known port of Nouadhibou.

Well I think it’s a port, perhaps someone can tell us? I’m not even sure if it is a port, or what they do there; have I spelt it correctly? Are they fisherman, how big is it? How about a task for Andy’s children when you get back from school? Ben and Jamie and friends George and Alex – what we need to know is all about Nouadhibou, location 21 North and 17 West. Answers to julian@northernchild.com please!

You cannot possibly do an Atlantic crossing without dolphins, and I am pleased to report that we are visited often by these silent, intelligent creatures. Sometimes they are in small groups of two or three, more often they appear in hundreds, leaping out of the waves as they head towards us full of mischief and joy. They effortlessly match our speed and course, seemingly taking pleasure from our company, and then in a whim they dart off to another bit of the ocean – bored with our slow progress. Thanks to Conny for the dolphin pictures.

The crew are sailing the boat pretty well, watch in and watch out (that’s praise coming from me!). The routine never falters and with five on deck we have 3 or 4 crew working continuously – steering, trimming the spinnaker and winding winches; we do not set and forget the spinnaker, it requires constant attention. During the day the watches operate a rotation system of 30 minutes per job and then at night if it is hard going the time is reduced to 20 minutes. We have been running a spinnaker since Monday morning, which is working towards some sort of Northern Child record for time spent sailing continuously under spinnaker. For this trip we have taken two: the big American which is used for light winds and downwind and the newer, smaller asymmetric which we use in heavier winds or when the wind comes forward.

As the wind is always changing we end up swapping between the spinnakers at least twice a day, which involves most of the crew. Once the old one is down in the cockpit, the woolling begins. In order that the spinnaker gets to the top of the mast without any problems, we tie the sail at one-metre intervals; thanks to Sylvia and Margaret for hunting down the wool for us in Las Palmas. It is all getting used!

Ahh! The smell coming out of the galley is amazing! It’s only lunchtime but we are going to be spoilt yet again. If I can just run through last night’s dinner? Melon with Parma ham to start; Thai chicken curry and rice; to finish apple tart and cream. Okay, so I don’t really need to say anymore, do I?!

Continuing our crew profiles, the picture today is of Jon K in the galley, quite a nice picture I think? John is 47 and is a Company Director in another life. The passion of his life is Tracie and their children Abigail (aged 16) and Jessica (aged 14) and…. his new boat! Jon has been sailing for years, is a Coastal skipper and has chartered in the UK, the Med and the Caribbean. Jon has had a great deal of fun specifying his new boat, a swing keel Southerly 35 which is to be delivered in March and will be kept in Hamble Point Marina, our home base in the summer.

We have had an amazing 24 hours’ run under spinnaker and have covered 180 miles under sail. Again this hasn’t been towards St Lucia, our actual miles made good towards St Lucia will be much less, but we are working our way down towards the trade winds belt, or at least where I hope to find it! The next 24 hours will be critical: if we can keep out of the calms and maintain good boat speed, then we should be in reach of the winds which will launch us onto phase two of my Cunning Plan!

A bientot
Julian, Northern Child