The forecast promised easing conditions today and we were looking forward to a slower, but steadier Christmas day. In fact it was one of the windiest days so far with a sustained 25knots of wind, gusting to 30+knots. We reduced sail accordingly, three reefs in the main and a small genoa peeking out from the furls. Even with this much reduced sail we shot along at 6+knots.
The plan was to catch a fish for Christmas lunch. At first light the line was out. Our line has had 100% success to date; deployed twice and caught two fish, even though we've only landed one. I'm blaming the conditions for our lack of success today; the seas were big and our speed meant the lure skimmed along the surface most of the time. By mid-day we admitted defeat and moved to plan B - frankfurter stew. Red wine in the sauce helped make the stew surprisingly tasty. Making it was a different matter with lids and ingredients escaping from what I supposed were secure resting places and hurling themselves across the boat.
After lunch conditions moderated, to the extent that we shook out the reefs and ran under full sail, making around 5.5knots.
Then at 18.00 utc Radio Kika took to the airwaves, with a slight delay while we frantically searched for Ellen's mouth organ. It had lodged itself in an inaccessible corner under the chart table. The airwaves buzzed with festive spirit as Free Spirit treated us to a nautical twelve days of Christmas and we responded with Jingle Bells on the mouth-organ, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer on trumpet and a special nautical version of "We Three Kings".
With the calm conditions we treated ourselves to a Christmas DVD. The wine must have added to the feeling of unreality as we flipped between watching the animated movie and watch keeping across the vastness of the Atlantic.
VB: thanks for the Christmas cake it went down a treat.
The wind increased as the sun-set and we're currently hurtling along with double reefed main and much reduced head-sail. The good news is that the latest forecast indicates the trade winds are set to stay for the next few days so we might just make Martinique for New Year.
We recorded our best daily run of 155miles today. It's exciting to sit on the foredeck, feel the power in the sails and listen to the roaring of the bow wave especially as we surf down one of the larger waves.
For those that are struggling with the yesterday's joke, try this:
Why does Father Christmas have 3 gardens? Hoe, Hoe, Hoe!
Position at 15.20 UTC: 14deg 52'N, 50deg 20'W
Daily distance run: 155nm; cumulative distance: 2349:
Engine hours: 0
Distance to go: ~ 613nm
Conditions: NE 20-25 knots, moderate/rough sea, 1013 millibars