ARC Rally, Day 2

Monday afternoon kept the crew busy trying to keep the boat moving. As the breeze went down into single digits, our first move was to change up to our #1 spinnaker, a huge 1.5 oz. MPS (multi-purpose spinnaker).
The wind became very shifty and then went well forward from northeast to southeast. We were hoping to stay in a nice patch of forecast breeze running about 100 miles off the coast of Africa so didn’t want to get too far west just yet. The crew was trying all sorts of tricks to keep the speed up; adjusting spinnaker pole height and angle, trying the addition of the staysail, playing with sheeting angles, hand steering up and down, etc. in attempt to wring every tenth of a knot of boat speed out of what breeze we had.
When we had it as good as it would get, we took a break for beers at sunset and were rewarded with a magnificent green flash as the sun dipped below the horizon. The “flash” in the green flash actually looked a bit off color on a horizon reddened by the West Sahara dust suspended in the atmosphere. No worries; a green flash is always cool and it was a first for a couple of the crew.
Our snacktician Merima has definitely gotten both her sea and cooking legs. She served up a beautiful smoked salmon and shrimp risotto accompanied by a salad of baby lettuce leaves and a nice bottle of dry white Spanish wine. Dinner was a just reward for a not-so-hard day of messing about on the boat.
The breeze picked up again later in the evening and backed to the northeast. We squared the spinnaker pole and started chewing up the juice. By 2200 hours we had 15, gusting 20 and were getting surfs in the mid to high 11 knot range. This breeze carried on through noon Tuesday so we were making good progress towards our waypoint northwest of the Cape Verde Islands, where we hope the wind Gods will bless us with some decent trade winds.
After spending most of yesterday afternoon under cloud cover, the skies totally cleared last night in time for the rise of a full moon. The moon dipped below the horizon to starboard after the sun rose to port. What a way to enjoy one’s morning coffee!
The ride has been reasonably comfortable so most of us are getting plenty of sleep and enjoying our off-watch time reading, sleeping, chatting and listening to music.
Interestingly, even though we’ve covered nearly 400 miles since the start line, we usually have anywhere from one to five ARC boats in sight at any given time. Are we all going the right way by diving south, or getting it wrong? The next few days will be telling as grib files forecast lighter winds ahead.
Our fishing curse from the Med has carried over to the Atlantic. We’ve had no luck fishing yet, and not seen one dolphin of flying fish. Maybe this should be called the Sahara Sea.
The skies today are clear and the sailing continues to be superb. We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn early this morning and the mercury is rising. The only thing we need is for the wind to continue.
Our noon position on Tuesday 23 November was 23 deg. 04 min. north by 18 deg. 23 min. west. Our day’s run from noon Monday was 188 nautical miles.
Cheers, George, Merima, Charles, Graham and Kurt

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