Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Yesterday was everything the Trade wind zone should be. The winds were steady, from a good angle, no squalls, the clouds were fluffy white cotton wool cumulus, the sea was sparkling blue, the sun shone, and we carried on crashing forward.
But so has Andrea Mura at no 3, in fact he has crashed a quite bit harder than me so has opened up a good lead between us.We are all pushing hard, and you look at the wake and the sails, and wonder at how it all holds together propelling 12 tons of boat, sails and stores at the speed it does.
I am sure the other classes had their excitement, but between second and fifth in the Rhum class there's everything to race for now amongst what one might call the Corinthians. We may be slower but we have time to get acclimatised, the poor skippers in the Ultime Class would have arrived in Guadeloupe without the time to get a proper sun tan in preparation for the tropics!
And its got really hot in the sun now. The cabin roasts when the engine has to be used for generating power and it is a question of seeking shade on deck somewhere. Opening the forward hatch does create a through draft which removes the hot air more quickly, and the small amount of spray that gets in to the sail locker is easily pumped out and a small price to pay for the convenience.
Last evening, for the first time in eight years, the engine control box started to play up. Gone are the days when you had a thermometer to tell the temperature, or Tachometer the rpm, or an oil pressure gauge, nowadays it is all electronics. The trouble is that when one part of that electronic box starts to play up, you are never sure whether there is a fault with the engine or with the electronic box. It's just something else to keep an eye on, another piece of insecurity.
I have now emptied 17 gallons of diesel into the day tank for battery charging since I left the berth in Saint Malo.This leaves 17 plus the contents of the tank. It looks as if running about 3 hours a day for charging is costing about 1 1/4 gallons a day, or about 5 litres in metric measurements! The solar panels are not as successful as I had hoped. I have not seen a reading higher than 4 amps from them.
I always get given a fruit cake for these races. It's a tradition going back to the Golden Globe in 1968 when Aunt Aileen made me one that sat in a sealed tin for 7 months until I rounded Cape Horn on the 17th January 1969. The tradition continues, this time made by daughter Sara and Grandaughter Florence. An excellent cake, started at tea last evening, but perhaps a bit more Brandy in the next one please!