Groundhog Day

Have I mentioned that it is cold, wet, grey and windy? We are now well into our third week across the Pacific and are well versed in getting out of bed at 30 degrees, clutching on below and navigating round the saloon with its wet cushions and wet people and making our way on deck via the heads which have a wet floor constantly due to the waves that crash over deck, on occasion, cascading down the companion way and straight through the curtain into the heads, soaking either the floor or the person who is in there! Our only variation has been which tack we’ve been on, wind angle dependant, we’ve tacked once in the last week – not quite like racing round the cans! Our other form of exercise has come from changing from reef 2 to reef 3 in accordance with wind strength, sometimes this can be up to 4 times a watch and sometimes not for days. At the moment we have a generous sail plan (more leany – oh joy!) as we are chasing down New York in a bid to overtake them in the next 12 hours. This leg really is a game of patience and determination as mother nature is not offering much in the way of inspiration currently.

The North Pacific is just one vast grey featureless ocean at the moment (and possibly all the time, but I’ll never know as I have no intention of coming back!) with the exception of the thick purple line that lay vertically on our navigation computer. The international date line. Now it took me a bit of time to apply myself to really get my head around this line (plenty of time for that as we play the patience game on deck!). But, more importantly, it gave the crew something to look forward to and celebrate. As the time approached we counted down the nautical miles and minutes to yesterday. Sadly no purple line appeared on the horizon, there was no puff of smoke or pink sparkles but there was a tremendous sense of progress as we crossed it. Groundhog day, we were now in yesterday and instead of being ahead in time from the rest of the world we are now well behind having gained a day. I was lucky, my watch were on deck as we crossed meaning that when we came off watch for lunch we were able to have a small glass of wine (one bottle between 6!) to celebrate before falling into our bunks.

Our next milestone is dropping below 2000 miles to go. We are currently at 2065 and are making great progress due to the strong winds. Our average speed so far this race has been consistently faster than any other which also helps keep you motivated to trim, trim, trim and hold on tight through each wave of water and cold night watch (which is where I should be now!). We are doing well this race in comparison to our usual performance. We’re in 6th and it’s looking good for 5th, fingers crossed. The Purple Beastie likes upwind racing (beware any aspiring participants, Clipper would suggest that this is a downwind race, not so for us this year, upwind and heeled over all the way!) and has been doing a sterling job for us. She also prefers the other tack to the one we have been on for the last few days but with the next wind shift we’ll get there so come on 5th and even perhaps 4th!

Oh, and if all else fails we could always pick a different, closer, destination – turn left for Alaska or right for Hawaii; now let me think about that one…

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