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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

3rd January 2017
Time: 1800
Position: 35°04.8N 011°17.0W
COG: 140°T
SOG: 6-7kts
Wind: SSW 5-6
Swell: S 8ft
Sky: 1/8
Weather: Good. Squalls now behind us, much more steady wind and angles.

The sun is out, the spray is down, and the boat keeps on trucking. We’re still running with a fairly reduced sail plan. The sea state is still significant enough and wind gusting high into the 20s that it’s enough for now. Down below has slowly been getting back to habitable, with the bilges given a good going through to remove all the water taken in through the deck or main companionway over the last few days. The galley has a semblance of order to it once again, and I imagine the monster of the un-bagged staysail still encompassing the entire forepeak of the boat will be flying above deck again soon. The crew are much enjoying some easier helming conditions, and sunnies are on, with only the occasional spray across the deck to contend with clothing-wise.

I finally managed to send through my backlog of updates and reports to Ben and the team at WRI about our progress, and to reassure them that we were handling the heavier weather well. Due to the lack of email ability, I gave Ben a call on the sat phone yesterday from the back of the boat – the only place I could get signal. I wish he could have seen the other end of that conversation. I had the phone tucked right inside the hood and collar of my foul weather kit, the antenna sticking out the front, 35kts of wind on my right, and constant water pouring down and around me. A very funny juxtaposition to where he was I’m sure. Not many 14-foot waves in Texas.

I am painfully aware that Las Palmas lies SW of our current position, and we are heading very much SE. This is because the wind is doing what wind always does when you actually want to get somewhere, and coming from exactly where we want to go, SSW. We have been hard on the wind for the over 3 days now trying to keep this angle the slightest possible, which makes living, sleeping, and working onboard very challenging. Seb was found earlier shaking his head, lamenting how difficult it could be to move barely 6 feet down below. There is, however, a plan afoot. Weather Routing International have forecast that as of midnight tonight the wind is meant to back to a more SE’ly direction. This will allow us to tack, and even with a minimal backing, make Las Palmas on the other tack. Best-case scenario, the wind backs as much as it’s meant to, so we can even ease off the sails, and make good speed with a slightly more civilized boat. We chucked in a cheeky tack earlier on when we were teased with a SE wind shift for half an hour, and the angles worked out. We’re all looking forward to a night of headsail changes and reefing evolutions, as we steadily canvas up the boat again as the breeze eases. The storm staysail is finally down after a solid 48 hours up bringing some colour to the foredeck. You’d think it would have made us more noticeable to the large tanker that effectively refused to give way to us earlier. I like to think my icy and unimpressed response on the radio made my feelings on his statement clear, but I don’t think he cared much.

That’s the plan for now, until it doesn’t work out, and I come up with a new one tomorrow. Until then…

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