Another beautiful day, but still lacking wind

The news from the good ship Northern Child is that it is another very beautiful day down here. We have calm seas and beautiful blue skies with a mixture of cloud and sunshine, luckily not as hot as yesterday.

What we are lacking would seem to be vital – wind. Okay, we have seen this developing and we are still moving – just – but we had hoped to maybe get round the southern edge of it. However, last night Poseidon flicked the switch and decided to turn off the wind in our part of the ocean. We know there is wind around, for instance there seems to be plenty of it behind us, but that isn’t any good for where we are, or more importantly for where we are trying to go. Looking at our data files it seems like the worst is still to come – in two days time we will be faced by massive calms all the way from 10 north up to 25 north, right across our route. Mind you, that’s if we can find a route though to even get that far! At the moment I am trying to work out how to get past this, but I have to admit that I am fresh out of ‘cunning plans’ so maybe we will look at something much more interesting.

Like food.

On passage nothing assumes as much importance as eating, and on board we endeavour to do our best. With us this year is Celia who joined Northern Child in July in the UK and who sailed with us down to the Mediterranean and then to Las Palmas. Celia was teaching in London and then Rutland when she figured there had to be more to life so went travelling and sailing; this year she made the decision to try it full time as a career. Having gained her Yachtmaster ticket, Celia ended up on Northern Child, and very glad we are to have her. Obviously her motivation is to sail a beautiful boat around the Atlantic and to learn as much as possible whilst doing it. At the same time she keeps us well fed and watered and the ARC has been a major challenge of organisation and shopping – did I say shopping? We know that women love to shop!

Every single item of food and drink that came on board was all itemized and written down in a stowage plan, with the idea in mind that we knew we had every ingredient necessary for every meal during the entire trip. Having worked out her menus we then ordered portions of meat for each meal, which were bagged, vacuum sealed and frozen. This huge amount of meat was then transferred to our freezer, which easily swallowed it. Being a boat, (where everything always fails constantly!) and recognising what a disaster it would be if the freezer broke down, we have two totally separate freezer systems – of course, we have never actually had a problem, but you never know!

Twice a day, Celia enters the sauna, sometimes known as the galley, and conjures up man-sized portions of great food for us all. Difficult to pick a favourite so far but her curry a couple of days ago was sensational, and I am always up for a good risotto. It will be absolutely impossible to lose weight on this trip, I promise you. In exchange for eating so well, the watches have to wash up – a good compromise I feel. Some of your husbands/boyfriends will end up much more domesticated on their return, just don’t let them slip back into old habits!

Wouter’s watch on deck of Jenny, Mel, Jon K and Alex are having tremendous fun at the moment. Just after dawn this morning a large yacht motored past us with no sails up, refusing to answer our radio call – very antisocial, considering it is the first yacht we have seen for days! However, about 20 minutes ago we caught a gust of wind in our spinnaker and we are now creeping up behind him again – what fun! They don’t have a spinnaker up yet, but maybe when they see us it might kick them into life again. Update: we have now managed to pull them back onto our port beam and are passing them!

I think we have to take heart from the fact that we have led our class for 9 days so far and if we hadn’t run out of wind, we would still be in contention. No worries. What is now our big concern is whether we have to motor or not – at the moment our ETA into St Lucia is this year, but only just! Obviously we will be trying to bring this ETA down a little…. We have covered 108 miles in the last 24 hours, quite nicely towards St Lucia, and we have 1501 miles still to go. Having covered 1438 so far, this puts us nearly at the halfway point across the Atlantic.

A Bientot, Julian