We are well and truly on our way now. Invest Africa, heading southwest, is ripping along at 10-12 knots and we have covered over 300 miles since race start. Trimming the kite is the challenge now as it needs constant attention and total communication between trimmer, grinder and helm.
We rotate jobs about every 30 minutes because concentration is total. Each hour a detailed log is made which also includes checks on the day tank, pumping the grey tanks and checking the main bilges, which more often than not require some sponging to remove small amounts of water.
Our next horizon is Cape Finisterre and then comes the big decision on whether to go east or west of Madeira, with similar decisions to be made around the Canaries.
Below decks we have settled back into watches – Thunder and Lightning – and the 'Mothers' are producing some amazing dishes. Simon was the star yesterday – his co-mother had succumbed to sea sickness and so single handedly, and always at a fairly severe heel, he conjured up a delicious couscous dish for lunch and then shepherd's pie with perfectly mashed potato for supper. Fresh baked bread is a feature of the Clipper Race and is simply delicious, warm straight from the oven. Young Ed has come into his own as a master baker and even produced brownies for tea.
We are all beginning to get used to life on a bouncy heel. Everything must be stowed carefully, if not it will go flying. Trying to remember in which pocket, bag or locker gloves, hats and glasses have been stowed is a permanent problem. Writing this blog on the crew laptop requires a leg braced on the galley to stop sliding off the saloon seat.
Even though we haven't yet reached the 20 latitudes which is where the whalers used to congregate. We have seen our first whales!. Two swam past mid morning and were identified as possible sperm whales, what a fantastic sight, fortunately the Helm, Trimmer and Grinder, the most important tasks didn't lose concentration and we kept up our 10 knot average speed.
Late morning a small hole was identified in the spinnaker so this was efficiently replaced by the code two spinnaker and the hole repaired by Andy and Graham and re-woolled mainly by Julie and Neeraj. Woolling is a technique of wrapping the spinnaker up by tying short lengths of wool around the sail to make a long sausage shape, which is then hoisted to the top of the mast before it billows out providing the superb forward drive.
A watch is never dull and this afternoon mast monkey Natalia was sent to the end of the bow sprit to clear the tack line which had got caught around it. As novice kite trimmers, we are all learning on the job, with some consequent mistakes. Today we achieved an hour-glass wrap but with careful handling by Rich it untangled itself. To help prevent twists round the staysail stays we have now raised an anti-wrap net, which looks like an elongated cargo net which hangs between mast and staysail stay.
Onward and south are our constant goal with decisions to be made at the next way point north of Madeira
So bye for now, Didi and Peter