399 miles and counting
399 miles and countingReport Abuse
Sunday 6 December – 17.00 GMT (14.00 boat time, yes we’ve changed yet another hour on boat time)
16.22N 54.26W – 399 nm to go – 7.3 knots
Get those cold rum punches ready! An after-dark arrival in St Lucia Tuesday/Wednesday night is looking likely, unless we can sustain a sleigh ride progress for the next couple of days (in which case we will all need double strength rum punches to recover!)
We are still in squall territory, with nights and early mornings most likely to throw one up. Red watch endeared itself to skipper last night by rolling back the bimini which provides weather protection above the helmsman, to engage in a spot of star gazing under a clear sky. Boogie on the next watch had not spotted this when a powerful squall dumped the equivalent of a bucket of fresh water through the open bimini roof! Squalls are our latest novelty, so we make no excuses for chattering about them. The big ones are quite exhilarating, but difficult to control and very disorientating at night. The rain is sudden and torrential, the wind increases and the direction varies unpredictably, forcing the helmsman to make swift compensating changes. There is a big temptation to oversteer, putting the boat into a skid, rocking violently from side to side, careering seemingly out of control. It is good to experience these squalls as they are very characteristic of this route, but they are a big challenge. We are beginning to recognise approaching squalls, and this is made easier with the use of radar which picks up the intense rainfall while still many miles off. We reduce sail, close the hatches and await the inevitable (it rarely seems possible to steer a course to avoid them).
We gybed the boat this afternoon putting the boat on a direct course for St Lucia. This could be the last manoeuvre until we round Pigeon Island into Rodney Bay. We now have both sails out on the same side but, being the north side, there is little shade on deck. The coolest place is usually “the gin and tonic” seat at the back of the boat perched above the helmsman under the binimi with a clear view forward. This is perhaps the most popular spot on board, even without the gin and tonic.
The rest of our news has to do with sticky bed sheets, the last piece of fresh meat, reducing supplies of sun screen, compensated for by the amazing seascape. What will be our first indication of land – a band of clouds over an island, an increase in sea birds, yachts converging from other directions? We shall see all too soon!