ARC Rally, Day 3

On our third day at sea we broke one curse and acquired another.
Tuesday afternoon saw beautiful and relaxed spinnaker sailing with winds in the mid teens gradually easing into the evening. We made some good progress towards our waypoint near the Cape Verde Islands while gathering weather information about a rather nasty trough making its way across the Atlantic Ocean and offering up adverse winds as far as 15 degrees north latitude.
The sky was cloudless and the horizon clear-ideal conditions for the elusive green flash. As the sun dropped toward the horizon we played some Café del Mar music, opened a bottle of Spanish rose and the crew lined up on the starboard rail, cameras poised, waiting for an encore of last evening’s performance. Conditions couldn’t have been better, or could they. The sun dropped and there was nada, nothing after.
At least we had Merima’s excellent dinner of beef in gravy, chunky mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and sautéed baby peppers to console us.
By midnight, the wind was down to less than five knots and the sails would no longer stay full, slatting in the gently rolling seas. Charles’ attempt to “hot up” got Moonshadow moving along at 1-2 knots, but put us on a course to Senegal-on the opposite side of the Atlantic from St. Lucia. Sailing on the opposite board would have steered us into the teeth of an oncoming gale. Nobody wanted to say the “m” word but with no good options and heavy hearts, we doused the kite, sheeted in the main and started the motor. We have been motor sailing directly to our waypoint since 0025 this morning and the weather forecasts suggest we may be cursed with light air for the next 2-3 days.
Sea life typically encountered on a blue water passage is slowly beginning to appear. We’re starting to see the occasional sea bird or two. Charles spotted the first flying fish of the passage and on his watch was visited by a pod of dolphins who came by for a quick hello and a surf in our bow wake.
I spotted a pod of dolphins heading north this morning just before a spectacular red sunrise but they were not so sociable with humans.
Later in the morning we hooked and landed a 12 pound mahi-mahi (a.k.a. dolphin fish or dorado). This was the first mahi-mahi, let alone decent fish, we’ve caught on our line since the Indian Ocean, finally breaking the Mediterranean fishing curse we’ve carried for the last four summers. We’re all looking forward to a fresh (and free) seafood meal.
With the Yanmar doing most of the work, there’s not been much for the MooCrew to do but gaze out across the mill pond of a sea, catching an occasional glimpse of another ARC boat, read, sleep, eat or listen to the daily ARC radio schedule. Today’s “sked” was quite entertaining, with everyone in the ARC complaining about the weather (but nobody doing anything about it), a trivia quiz, sharing stories of cooling off with a swim in the ocean and techniques for success at fishing.
Some diehards have yet to turn on the engine, hoping to make the passage under wind power alone. For them it looks like it will be a very long and frustrating passage. I say “first one to the club drinks more.”
It is the skipper’s birthday today, so rumor has it that there may be a party on board tonight. Drop on by if you are in the neighborhood.

Our noon position today was 20 deg. 59 min. north by 20 deg. 39 min. west and we’ve set the ship’s clocks to the Cape Verde time zone at GMT -1 hour. Our noon to noon run was 182 miles.
Cheers, George, Merima, Charles, Graham and Kurt

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