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Monday, November 23, 2009

Almost back to where we started

0630/23rd position 2822 00644 trip 143 and 1327nm to Cape Town. Closing on the half way point at 36 k in the marathon.

Still hooning - genoa poled out, pointing at CT, averaging about 6kts. Soft spot due later today and much bigger one tomorrow. Dec 5th arrival still on the cards. Will depend on the behaviour of the high behind the one we're about to enter. Big to-do list for Cape Town.

Lots of birds following us - I have so many floaters in my eyes these days that looking at the horizon or trying to focus on a bird is a bit like reading newsprint - takes time and concentration, so a bit of jizzery later.

We should cross 5 degrees west tomorrow so we will have completed the huge arc to the west to get around West Africa and the South Atlantic weather systems and be back due south of where we started. We shall celebrate - if you're reading this Gordy, I'll blip your mobile with the satphone. The journey will start to become very different from here. There ain't no 'Beam me up Scotty!' once you get down into the southern ocean below Africa.

Wimping along

I'm a wimp when it comes to flying kites out here - potential for big and unnecessary stress on the rig if things go pearshaped and all the other complications of bits of string everywhere. But Pete was persuasive and we've had our racing assymetric kite up for the last 3 hours and we are hooning - trying really hard to stay in a line of wind that I think will die with a line of cloud to the west of us. Last time we flew it was from the Fastnet Rock back past The Lizard in the Fastnet where it picked us up about 100 places (luck as well, of course, with a massive wind change as we rounded Pantaenius)- so, Mr Shilland, a good little engine and just right for these conditions. Still more or less on target for Dec 5th arrival with 1436 miles to go. Kevvo is driving - I'm watching him because there is still some swell and if a big one catches the stern, it throws us sideways and gives poor Kevvo a completely false apparent wind which gives him the hiccups.

Later - since I started writing this, I've been hand steering for a couple of hours because it's too much for the electric autopilot as well. The wind is strengthening and I think freeing us and we may have to drop the kite soon. I saw our first Portuguese Man 'o War (Bluebottle for the Australians) quite a big one, deep blue sac with crenellated fringe on the top edge and half moon curve so they drift with the prevailing wind. And a white bird settled on the water - unusual as most of them here are brown or black - orange beak, white head, black slashes around the eyes, grey flecks on top of the body and wings and two long straight white tail feathers - hard to judge their length but at least as long as the body. Not in the albatross book but somebody will know what it is.

Later still - we dropped it in time for a relaxed meeting with the Grindy - was building a nice fat quarter wave so time to douse and get the boat upright again - lost perhaps half a knot but the knuckles no longer grey.

Norm - thanks! Wish we had one of those machines.