It may be slow but it's extremely beautiful sailing
Well, that is how it feels anyway – in the middle of nowhere. This is one crazily big bit of Ocean and when you have little wind and are going slowly, it feels even bigger. The problem seems to be that we are used to speed: driving down the motorway to Heathrow at 70, mach 2.2 care of Easyjet to Gran Canaria, even faster with Miguel the raving lunatic in his clapped out old Mercedes taxi on the dual carriageway from the airport to the marina and then…
Bob. Bob. Bob. So maybe one of our Bear naming entries was right – we should have called The Admiral, Bobby! Too late to change now. Mind you, it might be slow, but it is also extremely beautiful sailing. Waves? What are they? Just day after day of calm water, moderate amounts of sunshine and spinnaker sailing. Apart from changing from one type of spinnaker to another we have now been flying spinnakers non-stop for 48 hours. It’s been quite a steep learning curve, and we are now masters of light winds anyway. It will be a different matter when the breeze gets up. Note that I said when and not if.
But that is the question, the ONLY question that troubles us at the moment – when will the wind get up. No time soon is my guess as we have a couple of weather systems sitting between the Caribbean and us that are not allowing the trade Winds to develop as normal. Our course is now angled down to the Cape Verdes as we hope to miss the majority of the calms out to the West. This seems like a sensible strategy, except that we are adding another couple of hundred miles onto our course, which then means we have to sail all of those extra miles as well. We have managed to avoid the dreaded motor so far: in fact it is a pretty good motivator to keep trying to sail the boat in all conditions.
Tuesday (25 November) was Mel’s birthday and as you can see from the photo Celia produced a homemade Birthday cake made with bananas – our limited supply is turning yellow at an alarming rate and it seemed a good way to go as Mel doesn’t like chocolate – what? Is it possible that someone doesn’t like chocolate? Not in the skippers world it isn’t!
We followed this up with a bottle of champagne and the opening of Birthday cards and drawings. A big thank you from Mel to the emails that came in for him wishing him well. As you can see, he didn’t suffer! Mel is originally from South Wales but moved with his wife Sylvia to Bruges 12 years ago. He is a Coastal Skipper and is part of the Mick and Mel double act: they both sailed with me on board Northern Child in June from the Azores to the United Kingdom, were with their wives Sylvia and Margaret in Las Palmas and will again be met in St Lucia by them for a little après sail holiday on the beach.
Guy was volunteered, by myself, to be one of our two watch leaders at the start of the trip. He has sailed with us over the last 5 years quite extensively both cruising and racing including a Fastnet campaign and seemed an ideal choice – both Guy and Wouter know how not only to sail Northern Child, but also how to deal with me – which is much more difficult! Guy is 42, does something terribly important and confusing for CISCO (I did ask, but it sort of flew way over my head) and is married to Nicki; they have two children, Annabel (aged 10) and Rex (Aged 3), who came out and visited us in Las Palmas. Again they will travel to St Lucia to meet Guy after the trip.
Wednesday 26 November
Today we are having a fabulous days sailing in flat seas, sunshine and light winds of about 15 knots, just enough to get us sailing along nicely under our big American and to lift our spirits. Since dawn we have had a great battle with another yacht sailing along under spinnaker two and a half miles ahead of us. Following the same course, we have managed to pull a little out of him in the last half hour but it is going to be a long fight to the finish! It is great for the watch on deck to have a target to sail at as it is the first boat we have seen since Monday. Monday? I think so, if today is Wednesday then it was definitely Monday, but as today could be anything, I am not so sure. It doesn’t really matter on board, as one day is exactly the same as the next, the watch routine continues regardless. We will keep you up to date on the enemy, I mean our new friends, slip of the keyboard.
Overall we have had a slow 24 hours sailing – 134 miles covered and even slower progress towards St Lucia. But we are powered up under spinnaker, Wouters watch on deck is trimming like mad to catch the boat ahead and all is well, more than well, fine and dandy. You can follow our progress on our tracker here and you can see our track relative to other ARC Yachts at www.worldcuising.com . Have fun, a bientot, Julian