Julian Sincock with the latest news from the ARC aboard the Swan 51 Northern Child 30/11/06

Log No.5 Northern Child
DateThursday 30 November 2006
Position21.59N 23.28W

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream! You might gather from this that the wind died on us last night! We were doing fine until the sun dropped, when exactly at the same time, the wind died as well.

The problem out here on the Atlantic is that although the wind dropped the sea didn’t. As well as quite a large swell from the north-west we had had a pretty choppy sea running, which resulted in the boat being rocked from side to side and the sails flogging away on each roll. It wasn’t until this morning that the sea calmed down enough for us to at least have the sails full all the time.

Full being a relative term – during the 0-God-Awful-o’clock watch, the wind had died away to 4 knots and still with the spinnaker up, we only managed 2 knots over the ground, with our record low of .6 of a knot! Mind you, a marked improvement on our first night off Gran Canaria where we went backwards! In order to try and make some headway and bring the apparent wind speed up, we altered course to the south overnight, hoping to find more wind in the morning.

This morning dawn came up bright and sunny, the first great dawn of the trip. One of the nice things about sailing in these latitudes is that sunsets and sunrises are spectacular. We have a great moon at the moment and half the night was spent in beautiful moonlight under a carpet of stars. An added bonus is that the weather is nice enough to keep the decks dry at night, so night watches are a lot more pleasant than in Northern European waters. We now have enough wind to get Northern Child back up to around 5 knots of boat speed.

With this log today is aphoto (above)of the Starboard watch, with Richard the watch leader on the helm. Richard is 26, a single lawyer from London who has been sailing since he was 11 years old. Over the last few years his sailing has been mostly with the RORC/JOG fleet and as well as Cork and Cowes Weeks he has completed the last two Fastnet Races.

Standing in front of the Helm is Dave E, our senior crew member at 65 who hails from British Columbia. He is self employed and has been sailing for over 40 years mostly club racing. David keeps a San Juan 21 on Lake Osoyoos (I think!) which is Indian for ‘Where the Waters Narrow’. Javier, with the mug of good old English Tea, is 48 and comes from Santander in Northern Spain. Javier has been sailing for five or six years in his local waters and has spent a week in the Greek Islands. He learnt sailing terms in his native Spanish, so his watch are all trying to teach him such useful terms as Pole Topping Lift in English! Birthday Boy Ian is 53 and a Consultant. He has been sailing for 20 years and he currently owns a Beneteau Oceanis 423 which he keeps in Alcudia, and he takes advantage of Easyjet to fly down to the boat five or six times a year. Last but not least in this watch is Brendan from the Good ol’ US of A. Brendan is 42, comes from the Windy City, Chicago, and is an Economist. Brendan has been sailing for 20 years, mostly on beach cats, and a couple of years ago bought himself a 36ft PDQ catamaran which he sails on Lake Michegan. He seems to have adapted to a monohull very easily!

We have had a quiet 24 hours with little wind, but it has been very pleasant! Currently we have bright sunshine, the wind is blowing 10 knots out of the north-east and we have our big blue and white running kite up, making good 5.4 knots towards the south-west. According to a friend of ours, John from Guadaloupe, there is a near hurricane heading across the Atlantic, so we are happy to be down here and finally out of the cloud. It is amazing how the weather systems of the North Atlantic all interlink – the weather systems you are getting in Northern Europe still affect the wind direction and swell we are getting down here off Africa. Awesome Mother Nature.

We have sailed 107 nautical miles in the last 24 hours, mostly in a south-westerly direction and are hopeful for the wind to pick up again later this evening or tomorrow morning. We are now 360 miles due west of the closest point of the west African coastline. We aren’t complaining about the light winds: This time last year one of our watches managed four miles backwards in six hours under spinnaker, headsail, spinnaker – still a record!

A bientot,