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[ THE WIRE ] Skipper’s Report

16th January 2017
Time: 1810z
Position: 18°59.1N 024°27.7W
COG: 200°T
SOG: 6-8kts
Wind: NE 4
Swell: NE 4-6ft
Sky: 6/8 cumulus
Weather: Good

After days of toying with the idea, considering, reconsidering, and a mindset fast bordering indecision, we finally threw the spinnaker up at the lunchtime watch change. When I say threw it up, it was more like we threw it out of the bag, uncontained by the conventional wool method, and then failed miserably to hoist it up to the top of the mast in good time. What then ensued was a long slog on the winches to slowly drag it the rest of the way up the mast. Lesson learnt, and we’re back to wooling spinnakers.

It’s been a slightly fickle afternoon of working it for good progress, as the wind has been varying greatly in strength, and the swell continuing to deliver a rolling motion to disrupt the sails as the boat pitches from end to end. We will see how the rest of the evening goes, and decide whether or not to keep it up throughout the night. Nothing like a night of spinnaker sailing in a big swell to push your luck…

Now, it may seem like we are rather definitively heading for Cape Verde, rather than Antigua. There is, however, a plan in play here. Shortly after departing, our weather routing team at WRI got in touch to suggest that a direct route to Antigua was going to offer significantly more days with insufficient wind to sail efficiently, than taking a more southerly route towards the Cape Verde Islands and then making the turn for the Caribbean. This is what we are doing.

The waypoint in our navigation system is set several hundred miles to the NW of Cape Verde, but I’m pretty sure most of the team are trying to push the course where possible and slowly creep down on the islands themselves. I’m obviously trying to discourage this, but as I can’t personally helm the boat 24/7, it does rather seem that our course is taking us that way. I imagine we will have made the turn West before reaching there, but there’s a chance we’ll see an island in the distance.

Without the usual access to the internet and news, the discussion as to who is winning, or in fact has won by now, this years Vendee Globe is rife and many unsubstantiated guesses being pedalled. I am still routing for the British hope in Alex Thompson, who has hung on tightly throughout despite an early set back in a damaged boat. The British/French battle for first is bringing out the best in Anglo/Franco rivalries onboard.

I think, we’re about to a get a brilliant sunset directly behind the spinnaker. If there was ever a reason to leave it up into the night then there it is.

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