No rest for the crew aboard Northern Child. Julian Sincock reports from the ARC 10/12/06

Daily Log No 15 Northern Child
b> Sunday 10 December 2006
Position14.44N 55.28W

That serves me right? no sooner had I finished typing the paragraph in yesterday’s log (see photo) hoping that the wind would hold steady for us, than the wind changed. We had a squall come through with driving rain and 30 knot winds which meant that we ended up having to put a reef in the mainsail (we made it smaller) and haul the no.1 back on deck; and we could only head in a north-westerly direction, away from St Lucia. After the squall had passed through the sun reappeared and the wind died right away. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that the wind strengthened and we were back onto our original course – Oh well, that’s sailing.

I was chatting yesterday afternoon with Dave E, who explained his mood. Although keen to arrive and see St Lucia, his feelings are tempered by sadness that the voyage is nearing its end and the adventure he has been anticipating so long is almost over. Better that than wishing we had already arrived. I think a lot of us feel the same way.

Mind you, we aren’t that close – looking at the distance to go at dawn this morning we still have 350 miles left to run, an equivalent distance to sailing across the Bay of Biscay from South Brittany to La Coruna in northern Spain! The difference being that we are set up with nice trade winds on our stern so we are able to cover good distances every day, instead of having to beat into cold, grey seas.

It’s Dave A’s birthday today, although as I write this he is asleep as he is off watch. We will cover birthday celebrations tomorrow. I know that Kitty has a few surprises lined up in the galley for him!

All night we have been making good speed with our two headsails flying out the front of the boat. The wind steadily picked up in the dark hours until just before dawn it was blowing up to 30 knots and the watch on deck decided to take down the bigger of the two headsails, the no.1. With Henri driving, it was an amazingly slick manoeuvre; Dave A on halyard, Dave C on the bow backed up by Richard, Luis and myself to wrestle the sail down on deck and Al to ease the guy.

It sounds an easy operation, but what you have to remember is that it is dark, we are sailing at 8 or 9 knots in quite big seas with spray and water all over the foredeck, and a big headsail is flogging around in 30 knots of breeze, trying to rip its way out of our hands again. But fun, and very well executed. Of course, almost immediately the sail is down on deck the wind has also died down a touch. No, I’m wrong, it’s back up again.

Having an eye on the weather and anticipating an arrival into St Lucia of Monday night into Tuesday morning, we can see from the forecasts a slackening in the wind beginning tomorrow, Monday, continuing forward into the week. What this means is that boats that have already arrived in Rodney Bay will gain an advantage as the whole of the rest of the fleet still left out at sea will slow down!

Let’s hope that we just manage to sneak in with some nice winds! It is difficult to estimate our arrival, because a 5 -10 knot decrease in the wind would make the difference between arrival at midnight Monday and midday Tuesday – we will have to wait and see.

Our 24-hour run has been affected by our little adventure with the squall yesterday afternoon, and we have sailed a very reasonable 194 miles towards St Lucia. We have now sailed 2,528 miles from Las Palmas and have 320 miles still to run to the northern tip of St Lucia. Everyone is well on board and the atmosphere is great.

A bientot,