Champagne sailing to the finish today - the sun is out, the white horses are running on utterly blue water and we're going fast towards Virtual Mark Brooks and Rottnest Island. Conditions like this are pretty easy on the helm, but provide plenty of the fun factor too, as we surge and surf off the waves. Baby surfs only, not the screaming 20kt plus variety that come with bigger winds and waves, but enough to hint at the high speed hum that starts in the nav station when we're really flying.
Dan and I have had the paper charts and pilotage notes out today for a last study of the final approach, which will almost certainly (never speak in absolutes at sea) can be sailed in the dark. Our two Freo locals, Kate Holling (a.k.a 'Gadget Girl', so called for the utility belt she wears on deck) and Brian Anderson, have been interrogated for their local knowledge. Around the boat, the first bits of arrival prep have begun, and we ate the last of the wraps today. This was some extraordinary stock judgement by our Supply Chain Manager, as the last tuna mayo wrap was eaten by the last person to attend our last (probably our last) lunch. Not a single wrap too many, nor too few.
Last night was the antithesis of this simple, settled sailing. The 2200-0200 watch got a good run, ending with a 2nd placed sched over Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam (more due to the autoscheds zero judgement approach to ranking than reality). They were able to sail the boat, stay dry, watch the stars and enjoy the lightning on display all around but well away from us.
The Milli's came up next, and within an hour were wallowing in light and fickle airs, cold drizzling rain and darkness. We did our best to keep going towards Fremantle, and made the most of an opportunity to play Weeping Angels (use the dark to get alarmingly close to your neighbour, pull a gruesome face, wait for lightning...) All of this came to an abrupt halt when the wind accelerated quickly from nought to thirty and began backing just as quickly. Then came the rain, which burst out of nowhere to hammer us horizontally. Finally, with our fully canvassed boat digging her rails into the water and racing along, came the lightning. The old rule is that every 5 seconds between flash and bang = 1 mile away (source: James Anderson, very reliable), here you couldn't even get one elephant out between the two.
This, the opportunity to witness the full scope of the weather in a matter of hours, is of course one of the great appeals of ocean racing like this. I just wish I'd been wearing a jacket when it started.
All the best from Imagine your Korea, probably for the last time this leg,
Sam, Dan and co.