ARC Rally, Day 6

Nothing can break a spell of boredom at sea like the arrival of new breeze. After motor sailing all morning, the wind finally picked up to the 5-6 knot range-just enough for us to sail. Everyone perked up as we killed the engine and set the spinnaker, even though our speed dropped nearly in half to around 5 knots. We’d rather listen to the water gently lapping on the hull for two or three days instead of listening to the diesel clatter for one.
We continue to be plagued with light winds in the single digit range, with the occasional gust nudging into the low teens. Having a crew of small boat sailors on board is a blessing in this situation, as they will work tirelessly, tweaking this or that, or hand steering in order to squeeze an extra tenth of a knot or two out of the fickle breeze.
If the breeze has been light, so has the sea state, which helps us to sail closer to wind speed. Wind waves are almost nil, but we’ve had a large ground swell of 3 to 4 meters lumbering in from the northwest, courtesy of a large weather system that is passing by us on its way to the Azores. While it is quite awesome to watch, the motion of these large and well-spaced waves is almost undetectable to us and at night when we can’t see it, it is as if it has disappeared.
The crew enjoyed a tasty dinner of Merima’s one-pot beef stroganoff. The boys will be bringing that recipe home with them.
Kurt got a startle on his watch between midnight and 0200 when a flying fish landed on the deck just forward of the open dodger wind screen. Graham claims he screamed like a girl and cowered back on to the bridge deck. Kurt will be teased about that one for awhile.
The breeze held nicely through the night but began to get light and shifty during the early morning hours making it a challenge to keep the spinnaker full. Eventually it veered about 45 degrees from east to southeast. At first light all hands were called on deck to take off the spinnaker and go on to a reach with main, jib and staysail. We’ve been sailing close to the wind all day in an attempt to put more southing in ahead of another trough coming by the middle of next week with headwinds forecast down to latitude 14 north.
Early in the morning we noticed a sea turn hovering around the boat, making a few bugled attempts to land on the deck. We’re guessing it was a bit tired or disoriented and looking to rest or hitch a ride for awhile. The last I saw of it, it had landed and perched on the VHF aerial on the stern antenna farm.
Otherwise, it has been a relaxing day and the crew has had time to do some reading and to catch up on their rest.
Moonshadow’s position at noon local time was 18˚ 20’ north by 24˚ 57’ west. The day’s run from noon to noon was 146 miles. As of 1300 hours this afternoon we have logged 1000 nautical miles since departing Las Palmas. We’re now counting down the distance to St. Lucia, which is less than 2000 miles nearly due west from us.
Cheers, George, Merima, Charles, Graham and Kurt

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