ARC Rally, Day 8

We have been blessed/cursed with light winds on this passage-until yesterday afternoon. As we approached a slow moving front, the winds gradually increased to the 14-16 knot range from the south-southwest. Just the direction we wanted to be heading. We were on a tight reach throughout the evening, trying to hold on to every inch of southing we could make, in hopes of eventually reaching the trade winds.
Merima finally had to pull out one of her pre-cooked meals, an excellent Penang chicken curry she had prepared in Las Palmas and then put in the freezer in the event of a rough start to the passage. The spicy food made us all glow and at one point George confused his napkin with his roti, and wiped the sweat off his brow with the bread. Now that is an authentic curry!
Pounding into the seas, we scared up a few flying fish. Merima had a scare on her watch as one hit the wind screen with a thud, then went down the side deck and fluttered along the toe rail.
The barometer was dropping rapidly, losing a hectopascal every two hours. Winds were gusting in the low 20’s and we all lamented that this was not the downwind/tradewind passage advertised in the brochure.
At 0300 I awoke to a sudden acceleration of wind and heel just as Charles came down to get me. A squall was upon us. We battened down and hand steered. Winds got up to the mid 20’s, rain was heavy and seas confused.
This seemed a lot like a frontal passage so we decided to tack on it and head south. The wind lifted us nicely on the other board for awhile, but it was a sucker lift that soon backed around again. Another more violent squall came through giving us 30 knot winds, more rain and breaking the main autopilot. We decided to carry on and get in some southing to get away from the headwinds up north. The barometer was climbing fast.
Winds moderated to the 9-11 knot range and we continued on a southerly course, hoping to have breeze to get us down to latitude 14 north.
The boat settled down enough for us to enjoy a cooked breakfast and rinse all the salt and human debris out of the cockpit. By mid day we were enjoying a sunny day and nice sailing in fair winds once again.
Our noon position was 16˚ 32’ north by 31˚ 23’ west and we had just over 1700 miles to run to St. Lucia. Our noon to noon run was 151 miles.

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