Friday 2 pm
We are still alone in this race. At least we cannot be said to be following the herd and have not sighted a boat of any description in 48 hours. That is not because we are ahead of the pack, but partly because we picked a different route. Some racers are more than 500 m ahead of us (Francesco tells us that the flying boat in questions is one of the fastest mono-hulls in the world), but we believe we are somewhere(?) in the mix in our own division. Our companions have again been a dolphin pod that put on a magnificent display, far out-pacing the boat. As we have moved SW to warmer latitudes, we have been visited by flying fish, who unfortunately pay a high price when they land on the boat. They are edible, but need to be cooked very soon after they hit the deck. No fresh fish from the rod as yet, although the one that got away was of course enormous.
Winds touching 30kts accompanied by big waves that propelled Far Out at up to 17kts have given way to gentle breezes and a much calmer boat and swimming costumes instead of wet weather gear and beanies. There is no longer the distinct sensation of living inside a washing machine. Much of yesterday was spent with the jib set opposite the main- a butterfly rig, which is of course called “farfalla” on board. The new rig allowed a westward shift of 20 degrees and this morning we tacked to get on a pretty direct course for St Lucia. The breeze is decent but much lighter winds are forecast. We have now travelled over 1100 miles, approx 800 of them in the right direction.
We have all settled into a rhythm of sorts. This includes the same jokes, wash times and eating habits. We are sensitive to each other’s foibles and everyone skates around them with growing ease. Captain Pasquale says he considers the human element before the technical when choosing crew. No harsh words have been exchanged except when one of the amateurs is at the helm and shifts off course. Not so easy when the waves are 4m high and the wind is shifting, but we are all learning.
Food takes on huge significance and ours has been delicious. We are still feasting on melons, avocados and persimmon from Las Palmas. Breakfast divides into the notionally healthy porridge and fruit brigade and the die-hards who have a few cigarettes (on deck thank god) washed down with coffee, toasted cheese and ham. We’ve learned that you can do a terrific toasted sarnie in a frying pan. The die-hards don’t believe in shirts, hats or sun-cream either.
Lunch is around 3.30 and usually pasta, so far with broccoli, or ragout (never called Bolognese by any Italian) and sensational ravioli filled with pear and ricotta. The brown rice might stay in the locker. Supper has included chicken curry, octopus and zucchini. Week 2 is unlikely to feature much of this as the fresh stuff runs out. Spare a thought for the hard-core racers living on powdered foods and vitamins.
There are also a few different camps on the hygiene front….some on board believe that not washing means they smell less. Others take the view that this may work in the Amazon but not in the Atlantic, especially when the hatches have to be sealed. Onboard medical challenges have been minor and limited to the odd bumps, strains and grazes. One needed a pain killer injected and this was done with great competence.
4pm – an eventful couple of hours. We caught what seems to be one of the mackerel family… perhaps mackerel on steroids. A fourth aborted attempt was made to raise the Genneker. This was then abandoned and another type of Genneker (cruising chute version) raised in its place. It looks magnificent and immediately increased our speed by 2kts or some 20% plus. It carries risk and huge vigilance is needed to prevent it twisting or going into the water. It will have to come down at dusk. It’s just as well Fabrizio is also a PE instructor, given the immense effort required to hold the sail in place while it was winched.
…….. only 1840 nm to go.