Thursday 24 March – twelve days since we departed Las Perlas, thirteen from Panama City. Cloudy skies still, a cloud spotters paradise for all sorts of cloud can be seen and the shapes are fantastic. A few spots of rain just after 7am but only sufficient to wet the deck were heralds of what was to come. Plans are made to be broken; confused seas, a sure sign that there is some weather somewhere kicking up contrary swells, forced us to make a course alteration more westward yesterday evening in order for the off watch to get some sleep. Being small sharp swells that weather must be not too far off and they joggle the whole body awake when they meet the underlying north westerly heading ocean swell at the boat.
Down below has become a sweltering sweatshop as the risk of water over the deck has risen steeply requiring all the hatches be closed. Despite the dodgers, sprayhood and lines of fuel cans on the sidedecks, salt water is still finding its way into the cockpit.
This morning looks like a grey day in the English Channel after a gale; all ragged lowering clouds and confused seas with the odd bit of blue sky peeping through. The only difference is the temperature and humidity, Its 30 on deck, 28 below. Sometime overnight Temptress crossed latitude 100W, 110W will be approximately halfway. And the good news is that with the overnight winds today’s noon to noon looks like being our best for this trip so far and a bit of a record breaker for Temptress, possibly our best ever over the ground 24 hour run, well actually 25 hours as the clocks went back yesterday afternoon. Certainly it must be close to our amazing run under spinnaker up the Channel from L’Aberwrach home to the Solent in the summer of 2002.
Fresh food stocks are beginning to run low – the fruit particularly so with just a couple of mangoes, a pineapple and some apples and bananas left. There are a few packs of frozen meat in the icebox along with two blocks of spinach, a handful of carrots, four or five small cabbages, two courgettes and three red peppers. Cheese and butter and UHT milk are still plentiful with reasonable shelf lives til at least July. Once the veg and meat have gone it is tinned or jarred food, onions and potatoes, pulses, beans and soya. Fish has helped eke out the meat supplies but our sub-one star freezer is not recommended for long term storage. Today;s catch was a tiny bonito with eyes bigger than its stomach as it was hardly longer than twice our large Rapala lure! No idea how it would have swallowed a victim that big but it’ll make a small tasty meal for two though.
It turned out that all that cloud was the precursor for some tropical downpours. Like buses after none for a month three successive torrential downpours rolled through during the morning. For the first the skipper donned his waterproof jacket and I though recently showered, decided swimwear was more appropriate. It was a real relief to feel cool, to be soaked with rain not sweat. The crew were refreshed but busy; the first rain brought F5-6 gusting 7, as Temptress was already reefed down she took it in her stride.
In classic frontal system mode the wind backed into the east as it arrived (this is the southern hemisphere so winds round lows are the other way) requiring a series of adjustments to the trim of the sails. We took out cloths and wiped over the cockpit and the stern steps taking advantage of the fresh water to give Temptress a good wash down. A second lighter rainfall arrived before the wind had time to veer to the south east again. Then after a brief dry period, long enough for the decks to dry a third heavy downpour rolled over us. Kevin stripped off and took a bar of soap up to the shrouds, time for a skipper wash!
The cloud remained for the afternoon which made it pleasantly cool though humid. The wind finally arrived back in the south east but was much lighter and the swell caused by what the Miami Hurricane Centre’s E Pacific text forecast termed a ‘monsoon trough’ in the ITZC was worse than ever. We shook out the third reef,unfurled more gennie and spent an uneventful rest of the day apart from another minor repair to the bilge pump wiring which explain why it had once again stopped functioning. And the skipper cooked a delicious risotto verde topped with fried bonito for supper.
All well onboard and feeling chipper after today’s great noon to noon mileage!
Noon to noon: through the water146nm Over the ground 193nm (!!!) Noon position: 03 35.39S 102 00.94W