Friday, 28 November 2014

ARC 2014 Day Three

After a night of rolling downwind, the wind has backed to the North today, allowing us to stow the spinnaker pole and broad reach across the Atlantic in 20 knots of wind at 9 knots of boatspeed, reaching 11 knots in the gusts.   Our decision to head south yesterday was a good one as we avoided the wind hole that others endured.  Broad reaching is one of the great points of sail as we lean on the mainsail for stability while the genoa gives us drive, making for fast progress. 

On deck, Juno feels steady and controlled but down below it’s a different story.On starboard tack we can open the fridge without the contents rolling out but in the cabins it is a wild ride. We have lee cloths to stop us rolling out of our bunks but that leaves plenty of scope to be thrown around as we ride the Atlantic waves.  The best position is to lie in the soft embrace of the lee cloth but nevertheless it take some getting used to and in my case this motion induces wild dreams and a very broken sleep. 

The watch system is working really well with three hours on watch followed by six hours off, and each of Fatty, Paul and Kerry take it in turn to be Mother watch. My excuse for not taking a turn in the galley is that I am on permanent standby, available to be woken at any time of night to help out.  My jobs also include weather forecasting, routing, running the water maker, generator and generally looking after the systems on board. However I think that Mother watch is much harder, with the huge responsibility of making breakfast, lunch and dinner interspersed with occasional snacks and drinks. Mother also cleans the galley and tidies up around the boat interior generally.

Paul has taken on the job, inter alia, of radio operator on Juno, participating in the ARC radio net on SSB, our long-range radio.  Every day at 1300 our group holds a roll call, chaired by the Net Controller of the day, when all boats are requested to report their position.  This involves sitting through a long sequence of calls with each boat called upon in turn to give its position which is then relayed by email to the ARC Rally Control.  This roll call is a ritual that goes back to the early days of the ARC before boats had email and satellite communications and is largely redundant in the modern era but for me there remains a certain romance in hearing the international voices of other sailors, calling in from all parts of the ocean,above the background crackle of radio static, reminiscent of the BBC world service when we lived in India.

Life on board Juno has been very good today with blue sky and bright sunshine. Fatty was on mother watch yesterday and a true goddess in the galley, manufacturing delicacies such as freshly baked apple cake for tea and chicken casserole with sauté potatoes for supper.  Having never been a chocolate fan before she has turned me into an addict with a crunchy square of caramel from the fridge served after meals and I find myself eyeing the chocolate box greedily whenever I am allowed a glimpse into the exoticinterior of the fridge. The boys who were on the last ARC would not recognise the scenes on board with rarities such as freshly made yoghurt, salads and home soup regularly appearing in the cockpit. 

A low-pressure system north of the Canary Islands is bringing a moderate northerly air-flow over our position and so unusually, we are sailing due west on a beam reach. We expect to escape the clutches of this low by the weekend and come under the gentle influence of the trade winds which have blown from the East from time immemorial carrying ships and yachts across the Oceans to the New World.Having had supper, we are now settling down for the night with Kerry washing up after a cracking Mother watch, Paul writing emails and Fatty in her bunk getting some sleep before her watch at midnight.  The wind is blowing quite steadily now from the north at around 18 knots so I have changed down a gear, setting our jib and a reefed mainsail for the night, but still making 9 knots on 260 degrees magnetic, which takes us on the greater circle route towards St Lucia.

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