It seems when you write a blog you need a catchy intro line, or at least if you are a skipper you do, having been reading some of their recent submissions.
As is usually the case, when inspiration is needed it's nowhere to be found. So the best I can do for tonight is... 'Good Evening'.
It's currently 0130 local time and I've just come down below from a beautiful evening sail. The moon is almost full and shinning directly overhead, it's so bright that we've almost kept our sunglasses on. It makes sailing a lot more pleasant and easier when there is some light to see by. The downside is the stars are drowned out and the wonder that is phosphorescence can't be seen.
The last couple of days have been very tactical with lots of deliberation and discussion on which will be the best route to take. There have been two key sections of the course (aka the ocean) to navigate: the Cape Verde Islands and the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ or more commonly the Doldrums).
Both of these have the ability to make or break the race for us, or any of the other yachts for that matter. Our position in the current standings puts a different flavour on the decisions to those faced by the front runners, making things even more complex and intriguing for the viewers! You'll be able to see by the Race Viewer, that we have taken a calculated gamble on the islands and gone a different route to most of the other yachts. This decision came from considerable number crunching and analysis of all the options. The wise council (that is anyone nearby the navigation station when someone is looking at the problem) was consulted and the final decision made by all the crew during a happy hour. It's important for us as a group to own our approach and for everyone to be involved in the decisions. As for the Doldrums, they've been getting just as much attention, however I can't let you in on our plans just yet.
The need for information to feed our analysis and the desire to see how things have played out have use eagerly sitting at the computer 5 times a day. Once when the weather update arrives in the morning, this is the only source of weather information anyone in the fleet is allowed and we all get the same data.
The other 4 times are the official schedules, where we get to find out where the other boats are. Once they do arrive another flurry of analysis and speculation occurs.
As we've been progressing further south each day, the changes in latitude have been apparent. The most significant change to date has been the gradual increase in temperature. Our last few days in Brest had a distinctive autumnal feel about them, with a crispness to the morning air and bracing freshness to the breeze. These are now a long distant memory, with the oppressive heat and humidity of the tropics our current existence. Initially the increase in temperature was welcome, as we have been able to shed some layers and are now living in just shorts and shirts all day round. In the last day or two things have progressed beyond that to where the conditions have become unpleasant, particularly below decks. Now a luxury yacht PSP Logistics is not, so the air conditioning option was not ticked on the order form. (She makes up for this in many other ways). There is little airflow below decks, a side effect of the design to keep the boat dry in wet weather. So putting 12 or more people in the space the size of your average living room, along with an oven and stove to cook and you can guess the effect. The major impact of the heat is making our precious sleep hard to come by, especially during the day (remember the yacht runs 24 hours a day, so we end up sleeping (or trying to) at all times of the day). Being a resourceful bunch, we've come up with a solution to this problem... Sleep on the deck instead. It's currently working well with several bodies strewn across the foredeck. It should be amusing the first time we get a squall with some rain in it ;-)
Aside from the great sailing there were a couple of highlights for the crew today. The first was a shower, of sorts. As part of ensuring we are ready to deal with any situation that might arise on-board, the fire fighting system was tested today. Once the serious part was done, the aft part of the deck more resembled poolside at a resort in Bali than a sailing yacht as most of the crew donned swimwear in anticipation of being hosed down. With some delight in his eyes, Nigel ensure he was holding the hose at the appropriate time and everyone got a cool reprieve from the heat. The second highlight was during supper, where the days mothers (cooks) Ursula and Tristan managed to find enough ingredients to make not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 loaves of fresh bread.
There were more options than you could poke a stick at, including a delectable fruit and nut loaf. This proved to be a very popular option, much more so than the rehydrated pre packed alternative.
All in all, everything is going smoothly here on PSP Logistics. We're eagerly anticipating the next section of the race and seeing how our tactics will play out.