Boom boom boom. Let me hear you say whale... WHALE!
So 60 hours of motoring came and 60 hours of motoring went. By yesterday morning, we were committed to ending our motoring in a position to the east of the Doldrums Corridor. After receiving the latest weather forecast at 0800 UTC, we thought about heading back towards the west, but, after a quick calculation, we accepted that a further 80nm motor would jeopardize our fuel reserves. It is important to have enough fuel for life on board, including battery charging, water making and, should we need it - motoring to a safe haven. How does the saying go again? In order to finish first… first you have to conserve your diesel???
So here we are. Long term, the forecast is for a south-east wind so fingers, toes and halyards crossed that we will be able to avoid tacking our way out of here. It has been a slow evening of sailing but a beautiful evening. We had a gang of Mahi Mahi swimming alongside us. Their colours were beautiful with vivid blues, greens and yellow. It was amazing to see them alive for a change. A few of us also saw a shark. John.D and Geoff are steering by the stars for now and we are all on squall watch.
So, progress has been sloooow. For us, the next 40nm will be very important. We are desperately trying to get into an area of stronger wind. To the north, we had no wind and the swell from the storm made sailing impossible. Good sailing wind from the tropical storm moved away faster than we had hoped when we had only sailed 40nm into the corridor. There was the option to hang around for an unknown amount of time and wait for wind but this was a gamble.
So we decided to motor south. As it turned out, the yachts to the north were able to sail directly south for a very long way - at speed. It will not be long before Zhuhai and WTC Logistics are on the horizon. Our current speed of 3 knots is just not enough to get away from Captain sweaty pants (see skipper blogs). In fact, you would probably walk around the supermarket at more than 3 knots. This is tricky business and light wind sailing is tough. But, if there is one thing I am certain of: This is going to be a great race! We are so lucky to be out here. The challenge is real and I for one am definitely learning loads. At the moment I am learning how hard to push the crew and how hard we can push the equipment. Ultimately, the challenge this year for Mike Miller (AQP- First Mate) and I will be to find a sustainable equilibrium between safety, seamanship and racing hard.
I am extremely grateful for the support of Mike. Mike is an absolute power house, a great teacher, genuine, an incredible organiser, and massively humble. His attributes have not gone unnoticed however as he has his own worldwide fan club! If you see a gent in port, wearing a pith helmet and rugby shorts, leading by example and making even the hardest tasks fun then it is probably Mike.
The main event of yesterday was Mikey's birthday with cards, cakes, candles, hats and a really fun atmosphere. Mikey even got out of cleaning the heads (toilets) thanks to a kind crew member. In fact Unicef is looking very clean tonight. We had a deep clean whilst the boat was flat and tackled a few of the projects on our lists. Hopefully there will now be less bailing of bilges and smelly sink juice.
Today we are closer to Punta Del Este than we are to London! There are still many more miles of racing ahead of us. The last month has been amazing and I cannot wait for all of the adventures that are to come.
South - here we go,
Ian and Mike.