...and it's a beautiful day at sea

It’s 06h00 local (ships) time. We’ve just done another peel, from our lightest kite to one heavier. Last night we peeled three times during my watch, and had headsails up and down that many times. Today was a long, hot day. The wind has been light, not quite as light as yesterday, but light enough to make it frustrating at times. The swells have taken on a long, lazy motion, the sea breathing slowly beneath us, not exerting itself in the heat. The whole atmosphere aboard has changed. Whereas before trimming, helming, grinding, even eating and sleeping, were done at an urgent pace, we’re all more lethargic now. Maybe it’s the sun, but the delay to what a few days ago seemed our imminent arrival has certainly had an effect too. With such good progress earlier on, the last two days have really dragged by and keeping the boat going fast has been much more of an effort. It’s paying off, we’re still lying first, but the crew is looking forward to the respite from Spirit’s daily racing routine that St Lucia will bring.

Just had a big gust. Spirit heeled sharply, her rounding up checked by an ease of the mainsheet and some heavy wheel action. That peel was well timed then… we were close to the limit of our light spinnaker.

From a non-racing perspective, today was a gorgeous day. The kind of day you hope for when crossing an ocean at you leisure. The swell was comfortable, the breeze was gentle, the sun shone beautifully from a cloudless sky. We doused ourselves under buckets of sea water and then rinsed off with fresh water from a solar shower, filling it just before use so it didn’t heat up. The off watch lay on deck reading, moving around first to stay in the sun, then later following the shade. I read all through my off watch, almost finishing my battered and water-swollen copy of The Cider House Rules. It was new a week ago. We all ate a casual lunch in the cockpit together – or as together as the 8 plates among 16 of us would allow. We ate oranges and threw the skins over the side. Usually, we eat in shifts down below, out of the way of the action on deck. We even had some music going, a first on this trip. It had an immediately positive effect on our somewhat flagging spirits, and made the job of trimming and helming less of a chore too – not easy in the light conditions. While it’s great to go fast, today reminded me that we also go to sea just to relax and escape from other pressures. Not a winner’s attitude probably, but it was the first time since leaving Las Palmas that I took some time out to just stare out at the beautiful undulating blue. Sleep and comfort are not the only sacrifices you have to make for speed.

Picture shows Al ‘sleeping’