The winds have died, the sea is calm, and the skies are sunny and bright
It’s Monday and I guess that you are all back at your desks at work – please spare a thought though for us all out here where the winds have died down and it is getting hot, I mean really hot. We are now down at 15 degrees north of the Equator, which is only 900 miles away to our south, the sea is calm and very blue and the sun is beating down on us out of a clear sky. Not quite the rhyme of the Ancient Marina but almost – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, if you haven’t read it, you should try.
I was on deck yesterday evening as the sunset and the stars came out, an absolutely breathtaking scene. With no background light anywhere around within hundreds of miles the clarity of the night sky is awesome. A new moon popped out over a bank of cloud on the western horizon at about eight pm, bathing us in light and illuminating a flickering silvery path ahead for us to sail down – this moon will continue to build as we go west and will get higher in the sky each night, making the night watches a lot nicer for the crew on deck.
Today’s photo is of Mick, on watch with Guy, Murat, JD and Andy. Our senior crewmember, I think the photo is entirely in keeping with his role and we have caught him looking suitably nautical – I am sure that the younger generations might call his look ‘designer stubble’, but I am sure that Mick would prefer ‘Mariner’. Mick is the other half of the Mel ‘n’ Mick double act who met us in May in Horta in the Azores and sailed the 1,500 miles back to the UK via France with us.
Mick is from Warwickshire in England and is the retired chairman/managing director of the largest design consultancy in Europe – we will remember him most for one of his best known products, the Stanley knife. In the 80’s Mick entered seven consecutive Scottish Islands Peaks races, where you sail between Islands and then run up 3,000 peaks – the Pitons in St Lucia should be easy then! Six of his grandchildren are following these logs and his wife Margaret not only bade him goodbye in Las Palmas but will also be in St Lucia to welcome him in.
This years’ ARC has been dominated by the weather patterns out in the Atlantic disrupting the trade wind belt and today is no exception. Lurking just out to our west and all the way north up to the latitude of the Canaries is a huge trough barring our way. Predominantly an area of light and variable winds our next task is to sail through, or preferably round, this area of adverse sailing conditions. If you are following our position on our tracker link from our home page – www.northernchild.com – or on the World Cruising Website , you will see that we have kept heading south overnight in an attempt to skirt around the worst of the trough. However, it seems to be expanding its area of influence as we go and I am not sure if we will be able to avoid it. We will definitely slow down, in fact there has been a major softening in the wind already overnight, and I fear that we are going to slow down to a snail’s pace for a couple of days: only time will tell!
We are now firmly in flying fish territory – they are much larger than you think and do actually fly across the surface of the sea, sometimes for a long distance, 100 metres or so. The reason they fly is that they are escaping other predators, normally dolphin and tuna. They often land on board at night hence why Guy managed to get hit by one whilst trimming the spinnaker in the dark! We haven’t tried eating one yet as we thought we might wait until we reach the area of calms to do some proper fishing for dorado or tuna, big enough to feed a hungry crew: I am not sure if we have any fisherman on board but we will keep you posted.
We have had distinctly lighter winds overnight but are pleased to have kept moving and have sailed 172 miles in the last 24 hours. I am now concerned about our future progress and tomorrow’s log may well show that we have made little progress. As we all sail into the area of calms two things will happen:
1. The boats behind us will float down on the remains of the north easterly breeze and in effect catch us up; 2. Any boat that does not want to hang around waiting for wind will motor – a lot already have and more will do so. You will not see this indicated in the positions on the web, so don’t be too disheartened for us when boats overtake us in the next 48 hours!
I assure you that we will keep trying hard to sail the boat. But as the watch on deck have just commented: where would you rather be, here or at work? It’s a no-brainer.
A bientot, Julian