At last! We've made it past Mark Fastnet and are now moving well. Having spent the whole of this race around Ireland so far close hauled (never easy for a Clipper 70 and certainly not Nasdaq's strength), we've finally been able to ease the sheets on a reach east towards Scilly.
This means that we are moving faster, in the direction we want to go, and it means that life below is now merely on an angle rather than near-vertical. Now we just have to focus on helming and trimming to make up mils on the fleet who pulled away whilst we were still slogging upwind.
As I said to the crew during the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race back in December, once you're into the last 1,000nm of any Ocean Race, somehow the miles seem to run down much faster. That now seems true with only 350nm left to the end of our circumnavigation in Liverpool. In just a couple of days the adventure will be over, the Clipper Race bubble will burst, and we'll have to reacclimatise ourselves to the outside world.
No more living in watches by the tyranny of 6-hourly fleet position updates, no more struggling into wet clothes at the start of a watch or a wet bunk at the end, no more numbing cold or stupefying heat, no more gobbling food from plastic bowls before it gets cold and/or covered in seawater. But more importantly, no more of the fantastic camaraderie amongst this special group of people. No more shared sense of achievement at obstacles overcome, no more of the support and laughs we get from each other that no one at home will really understand, and no more partying with the rest of the fleet at stopovers.
In case that all seems a bit deep and wistful, I wonder how many Nasducks have been found today? So pleased the effort of Nasdaq's ninja crew to secrete the little guys around the fleet are being appreciated. There just might be a bottle of rum for the first boat to tell us where all three were hidden ...