Saturday, July 07, 2007

NF to IRE - Day 5

The day started out with decent wind speeds but the direction continued to be dead behind us or at a poor angle requiring frequent jibes in order to stay on course. So progress, although improved, remained painfully slow. Trying to keep out spirits up, the captain made hot water so we all took our first showers of the passage - one hand cleans while the other hand is busy clenching a hand-rail to minimize bruising that inevitably occurs when showering underway. By mid-day the winds decreased so we changed from the 135% jib to a reaching spinnaker. At least by now we were on a great circle course towards the Fastnet, a famous large rock with a lighthouse on top that resides in the Atlantic Ocean off the south coast of Ireland. We also had the ongoing thrill of visiting dolphin pods, many of which seemed extra happy, often leaping out of the water. Gradually the winds climbed and the direction became more favorable allowing us to finally make 8+kts averages by late day and throughout the night. At midnight the winds had climbed over 20kt so we replaced the spinnaker with the 100% jib. By 1am the winds gusted over 30kts so we put a reef in the main. We did some fun "surfing" with speeds as high as 11+ kts thanks to a favorable .5 to 3kt current. However, as is common, Mother Nature's gift of wind has required trade-offs. The clear skies have been replaced by thick clouds with rain and the sea state is building. These higher wind speeds are expected to hold for the next few days as a storm passes to our north. Only 1300nm to go...

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