Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Half way point reached

At 10.00utc Monday we passed our half way point, 1476 nautical miles to go and distance covered 1479 nautical miles. We celebrated by opening a box of chocolates we'd bought for Christmas and bottle of wine. Unfortunately half the box had melted, which we ate trying to guess the chocolate from the constituent parts. We're saving the unmelted portion for Christmas, which no doubt they will have melted by then. Before we left, we decided that we wouldn't touch our wine and beer stash on the way across - its hard enough making your way across the rolling deck to the mast to reef the main when sober. A couple of glasses of wine therefore had a more powerful effect then usual and trips out of the cockpit were tackled with great caution.

Sunday/Monday night we must have sailed through a shoal of flying fish as the deck was littered with bodies in the morning. You hear flapping periodically but they tend to slip under things and can prove difficult to find on a dark night. Winds were fairly light from midnight onwards and at times the sails were flogging in the swell.

During the Monday/Tuesday evening the winds increased to around 15-20knots with gusts up-to 30-35knots. It feels as though we might have finally found the trades, although with the wind direction varying from the N through to E and the strength varying, a large proportion of the day and night have been spent altering course and changing or reefing and unreefing sails. At one stage during a squall in the night we were making 9.5knots, before we managed to reduce sail and bring Kika back under control.

Up until now we've been sending emails via a station in Belgium. However as we move W it becomes harder to get a good connection with Belgium and we've been experimenting with stations in Nova Scotia (Canada), Florida and Panama. The end result is that it takes us longer to find a station and frequency that works. I'm sure the propagation will improve the further W we head.

Position at 14.20 UTC(local noon):15deg 29 N 35deg 51 W
Daily distance run: 105nm; cumulative distance: 1511:
Engine hours: 5
Distance to go: ~ 1453nm
Conditions: NE 15 knots, moderate sea, 1011 millibars

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