ARC Diary

Crew member Nick wrote a diary during our Atlantic crossing with ARC 2014. 20 days, 2961Nm, 6.2kn avg.. Broke the freezer, port engine, generator and a toilet. Bought too many apples, potatoes, bananas, tuna, wine, tinned stuff. Ran out of eggs.

Day 1
After a delay of 24 hours we finally get the go ahead from arc control that we are off. A tearful farewell to Kaye and we are raring to go.
Not quite the sendoff we would have got yesterday when all the locals came to wave us off and got a soaking for their trouble. but the band played some jolly tunes, the anti petroleum protesters were enthusiastic and the few who took time out to of a Monday morning to wave and cheer were much appreciated.
We were at the back of the pack when we crossed the line but with 2700 nautical miles to go we were not in a hurry.
The swell was around ten feet and a sharp reminder I hadn’t taken my seasickness tablets at breakfast. the boat was soon steady doing eight knots on a twenty knot wind with a reef.
We set a course close to the southern tip of Gran Canaria and thought we were well on way to overtake many fellow cruisers…it’s not a race but you cannot help the competitive streak rising to the surface.
Many of the boats do this crossing year after year and as we reached the tip we realized the reason for going further out is to miss the doldrums in the Lee of the island.
Catamarans are not great in light airs and a few hours were lost hunting the breeze before we decided to resort to engines. The upside was the dolphins leaping out of the water in front of us.
This solved another problem with the lack of power in the batteries as they are not charging as they should. The boat has all manner of means for recharging yet as now we cannot assertain why they are not.
The watches commenced with Simon and nick 12pm,4 pm 8,12 and the grave yard shift at 4 am to watch the sun rise with a morning visit from some teenage dolphins riding our bow before being called by mom for some fishing. john and Luciano take the shifts in between.
Sleep is in fits and starts in between shifts, a boat in high seas is a noisy place, with waves  crashing between the hulls and various creaks and groans. Going to the loo and having a shower whilst standing in a cement mixer gives you an idea.
Cooking can be challenging, catching your spuds before you peel them and balancing boiling pans that create their own waves are only two of numerous krypton factor like competitions. As for finding all the food on board under floors, beds and stowage spaces I haven’t yet found all ingredients to complete a meal..where the hell are the canned veg Kaye?
Anyway, writing this under the stars at the end of another not uneventful day, more of which next time.

Nick

Day 2
A fine sail, weather settling nicely, out of sight of land now for the next two weeks.
Around lunchtime we decided we needed to reef the main. as we were dropping it a line got caught at the top of the mast. The next five hours were very entertaining as we tried to free it. Nothing for it but for Simon to don the harness and climb the mast. Easy enough, all you have to do is is climb a forty foot mast in a big swell with nothing but thin wires to hang onto. the top of the mast swings alternately laterally and horizontally ten feet or so as we buck the waves with head to wind.
Simon describes it, trying to grip a smooth aluminium pole with all extremities including jamming his head between the shrouds whilst looking for somewhere to wedge his gentleman equipment then letting go with one hand to tie a bowline whilst not wanting to let go of the contents of his underwear.
It was seriously scary watching as he was flailing in mid air and crashing into the rigging. He is now a fully paid up member of the swingers club.
The rigging got caught again and the honour fell to John to go aloft. Not as high as the now exhausted Simon, but he scampered up like a howler monkey. job done, and a lot of lost leeway, but thankfully we sorted the problem before we encounter one of the infamous squalls in this region.
Crew are all a bit frazzled after the events, but we are working as a team and the next few hours of sailing is on calmer seas.  Dropping winds in the evening means a brief spell of motor sailing which heats the water for a well earned shower.

Nick
26:02.35N 19:29.45W

Day 3
As dawn breaks on watch, the dolphins return and give a great bow riding display. Sat on the front trampoline I am inches from them. They seem to take great delight in the wash between the hulls and when on the point of the bow their tails almost touch.
No great dramas today, but after congratulating myself on overcoming the effects of sea sickness a choppier sea returned with a twist in it that made balance difficult and the return of that hot ,sickly feeling that requires I pop another pil. Off watch it was hard to get a couple of hours sleep due to the waves slamming into the hull as if we had hit a rhino.
After two moonless nights there is a welcome return of a sliver akin to the Cheshire Cats smile.
It has been so dark you cannot see the horizon, only complete inky blackness. All you can see are the nearby white horses breaking on the boat. It goes without saying the stars are amazing when the cloud lifts. Its quite cold now (3AM) and the thermals would have been a good idea, didn’t expect that being as we are on the same latitude as the Sahara desert.

Day 4
Woke to the sound of spinning reels…we have caught something! Simon had just gone to bed after what seems the longest shift, the Dawn watch. He leaps into action man mode strapping on his rod harness, ooh err. The drag on the line is very strong as we trundle forward, but eventually he reels in a five pound Dorado, a beautiful yellow colour which had put up a good but losing fight. Instantly filleted and prepared I would like to say eaten straight away but no one is up for it at eight in the morning.

We are still having electric power issues and spent the morning eliminating various causes of our inability to keep the batteries fully charged. we are unable to run much equipment when using the auto pilot as it is working so hard.
It’s getting a bit tedious trying to get about the boat in such constantly rough seas. it may be a good Pilate’s workout, but diving from one hand hold to another on a boat not particularly kitted out for this sort of weather results in lots of bruises.
We are making good headway now, about 190 miles a day although we are being dragged too far south by the tides. The boat is happy somewhere between a beam and broad reach keeping up a steady eight to nine knots today. We are towards the back of the pack due to our rigging issues losing us about sixty miles but as the winds sweep behind us we are going to unleash our secret weapon.

Day 5
Went through the Tropic of Cancer today.
A seabird (a Shearwater?) flew into the sail this morning, it probably spends months hundreds of miles from land. You could see in its face ‘who put that there?’ It was fine and carried on its lonely journey.
There was a low point this morning when one engine wouldn’t start..this meant our only source of power was the remaining engine as the solar panels, the generator, the hydro generator and the second engine were inoperable.
We decided we will probably have to divert 500 miles to Cape Verde for repairs. After some messing with the engine to no avail, Greg tried putting the throttles in reverse and discovered it had caught in gear… It started first time, disaster averted.
This still did didn’t account for the generator and hydro generator still not working. Greg and Simon start to delve around in the forward locker and…success! A breaker panel was discovered that had failed, now we have power.
All this ‘snagging’ would normally have been done, however the boat has not really been put under the stresses of a voyage like this before  and some of the equipment had never been used.
Hopefully we can now spend more time fine tuning our so far poor progress, but we still appear to be ahead of the Aussies in a similar boat. W must be ahead at the end.

Day 6
Watch crews have a day off! Greg does not do the watches but is always ‘on’ if needed and in charge of course, weather watch and the general duties of skipper, but today he is putting in a twelve hour shift at the helm.
The watches are demanding as you are grabbing sleep at all times in the day and night. Typically one sits below an hour trying to rest and in charge of the kettle whilst the other is on the helm. We hardly ever all get together at one time.
Steering manually is difficult its a big boat. The auto helm is constantly fighting to keep us on course and the chart plotter is much like a satnav but with more data.
We eat in shifts although no one is eating much, more grazing throughout the day. I am chief cook, Luchi is a dab hand on lunch.his sandwiches are the best. I have had three small beers over the last five days,Claire,you will be proud of us, but I might need smaller clothes for the first few weeks home.
It’s very cloudy today, sucking all the blue colour out of the sea but we are managing 8 knots in the now all familiar big swell. I am informed we are lying about 97th out of 200,which considering our delays at the start makes us very happy.
We are taking part in scientific research with around a hundred other boats collecting sea samples every three days to see the effect of dissolved old plastics on the ocean for Ocean conservation. org. A great way to get samples over a wide area.
The trip is as demanding as I envisaged, I hadn’t factored in the constant poor weather so the tan isn’t improving.

Nick
22:03.01N 28:31.01W

Day 7
We found a fish in the folds of the sail today. So far the sail has caught one more thing than Simon. To be fair to the sail it is not trying as hard as Simon, to be fair to Simon he hasn’t been using his enticing lure since the Dorado, which John cooked expertly and was delicious.
There are a lot of flying fish around here but our dolphin friends seem to have deserted us. The sea is calmer now, the wind is very skittish, a bit like Windermere sailing and it makes for a frustrating dawn watch with sails flogging in the rolling sea.
It’s much easier to get around the boat in this kind of swell so hopefully our bruised hips will get a chance to heal.
We are hunting down Wiki, a similar boat some ten miles in front. Our progress is good as the wind has picked up and expect to catch them in the next few hours. It is suggested we moon as we glide by.
We had a great day off yesterday and I am told we have another one tomorrow. We normally pass in the gangway as each shift changes over, so everyone is either on their way to bed or on their way to watch which means apart from mid afternoon no one is socialising. I don’t think any of us are at our best at change over and we all assume a look of the hungover, chance would be a fine thing.
Considering we are all strangers, we are getting on famously, Luchi has a great sense of humour not unlike our own and has fitted in well despite having to learn terms in English like ‘reef’ or ‘halyard’.
STOP PRESS
DRAMA AT SEA
We get a call from Wiki, asking if we have a fuel filter for their boat their engine won’t start. It’s the same model and yes, we had the required part. What are the chances of that a thousand miles from land?
We arranged to meet ten miles in front of us and were greeted by the Danes with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Simon deployed a floating line with a dry bag and fender attached with the parts and they grabbed it as we passed. Deep respect for John’s helming as we were pretty close on a rolling sea now effectively tied to their boat as they retrieved the parts.
All went well and they shouted across there will be a bottle of wine for us in St Lucia, I requested dinner.
We are all sat on deck congratulating ourselves on a job well done listening to Reggae with a beer as the sun goes to bed.

Nick
21:11.3N 31:33.5W

Guest Post
Been an eventful and busy day. Started off with our first visitor on board, found a flying fish on the foredeck.
Then spent a couple of hours faffing about with our downwind rig in the afternoon. Twin headsails poled out. Looks quite impressive, not giving us the best boat speed at the moment, but at least in the right direction, still we lost a few places overnight.
Saw another ARC yacht just ahead on the AIS system and Greg gave them a shout on the VHF turned out to be another Lagoon 450, Wiki who were having a problem with one of their engines, probably fuel. Unfortunately they had bought the wrong fuel filters for the boat and were in a bit of a dilemma. Ripples II sprung into action (woke up) and off to the rescue. Simon had some spare filters tucked away in the forward locker which were offered up and gratefully accepted.
Then came the interesting part as an hour later we came alongside to pass them over.
Fair bit of preparation before hand as we had packed the filters in a waterproof bag attached to a fender and then a floating line. With Greg supervising, me on the helm, Simon and Nick on the line and Luciano as Film Director, we passed upwind of them and then in front as the line drifted down. Bag promptly picked up by Wiki and our line retrieved. Job done and much self praise on our part. Will get our fender and bag back in St. Lucia, lots of speculation as to what may be inside !

Author, Johnny Braveheart

Day 8
After a trying night shift with sails flogging noisily in the light airs, the Trade Winds and seas have now settled meaning it is time to deploy the secret weapon.
We have two fore sails which are poled out each side of the of the bow. This rig is more suitable to the conditions than a cruising spinnaker as it will withstand gusts over thirty knots which is not uncommon. We can keep running on the same tack twenty four hours a day now the wind is right behind us.
As the new sail was unfurled I got all poetic and said it is being kissed by the lips of the wind for the first time. The crew told me to shut up, or words to that effect.
We now look like an arrow heading straight for the heart of Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
It is such a smooth passage  now that we feel we are hardly moving after the crashing and banging on the hull over the last week. I look forward to a peaceful sleep later.
Later….well, the good news is that our heading is true to our plotted course as we could possibly hope for. The wind is right behind us and its a beautiful day with calm waters. The bad news is our secret weapon is firing blancs.
We are getting only 5 or 6 knots out of the 12 knot wind. We are hoping for stronger winds as when it gusts the nose picks up and we start to get good speed. After our diversion to deliver parts, Wiki shot off and left for the South. Their secret weapon is a Parasailer, like a parachute shaped spinnaker, an eight grand bit of kit, but very efficient in these conditions.
A school of Whales came close to us this afternoon, not close enough for the Attenborough shot, but we spent half an hour watching their blow spouts.
We have had another relaxing day with Greg doing the helm, meaning we all caught up some much needed sleep.
The boat caught another flying fish today, Simons expensive fishing gear has not yet managed to produce another dinner,but we live in hope.

Nick

Day 9
Good news, after waiting for days for our green bananas to ripen, they are now looking edible. The problem is they have all ripened at once. Sixty odd of ‘em, Caribbean cottage pie for tea, mince and banana, with potato, cheese and banana topping, mmmm.
Good progress overnight as the wind is in the low twenties, we are reaching over ten knots on the surf down the three meter swell. because of our angle it is relatively comfortable, although if I had been faced with seas like this on day one, I might have jumped ship.Truth is, I really like the motion, the feeling of isolation and the comarardery (Emma, you can pull me up on that one as I don’t have a spell checker). The sickness goes after three days although I haven’t actually had to rush to the side, it’s not pleasant doing certain tasks below, especially cleaning the heads. We are expected to arrive on the twelfth if we continue at this rate, the racing boats arrive today or tomorrow.
Bit of drama around midnight as one of the fleet was right behind us on the same course and showing no avoiding tactics. We called him on the radio a few times to no avail, so we sent an alarm to him. This prompted a response, we suspect he was asleep at the wheel.
Great curry for dinner, a joint effort with Luchi, he works wonders with Basmati rice. We now only have enough food left for three or four months, then we will have to start on all the corned beef. We are eating like kings, but for the after midnight shifts where I survive on coffee and Marathons (I refuse to bow to commercial pressure and call them Snickers)
Just glanced up from writing this to see we were on course to run over 20 feet of stray fishing net attached to a bunch of yellow floats, just goes to show you have to be alert at all times.
I mentioned to John that there are a lot of waves cunningly desguised as Whales when….up popped a Whale! Not 2 meters from our port beam blowing its Crilly breath on us, about 3 meters long, blue and white underneath. It continued with us for ten minutes riding the waves and circling the boat. Everyday we have something different. Spent a lot of time on the helm today, it’s very hot now and the stats say we had a good day yesterday making up two positions in the race…sorry, cruise.
Happily contemplating more sun cream for my knees when BANG! A
Block and shackle flew off the foresail.
Another two or three hours lost on repairs, eventually back on course thank god, as the alternative was we had to change course and I would have missed my flight home.

Nick
20:06.4N 36:04W

Day 10
Really? Day ten?
we are pretty much at the half way stage today, hope you are enjoying my daily blog. After the concerns for the rig yesterday we seem to be OK with everything flying as it should.  The wind overnight and this morning is a steady 15 knots. Not as much as we would like as if we get twenty we will save a days passage. The boat pretty much is sailing itself now, pushing us along at seven knots. I only adjusted course once in the wee small hours by a degree or two but was dead on my feet by 4am when I greatfully fell on my bed. It was that feeling you get when you know you should pull over as your eyelids droop. It didn’t help that we lost an hour crossing a time zone, ships time is now two hours behind UK.
Sat on the very comfortable foredeck in lovely sunshine eating my morning banana, I swear to god I am turning yellow I’ve had so many. The dolphins returned briefly as we had not seen any for days. They weren’t as entertaining as the ones further east as they were crap bow wave riders, they didn’t get the concept at all,  they need swimming lessons from the Spanish ones.
Leopard has set a new record for the crossing of eight and a bit days, which has prompted us to hoist our spinnaker at last.it is the first outing for it and we have been waitingfor this calmer sea to try it as if we get it wrong they get in an unholy mess.
So, we eventually unfurl the cruising shute out of its condom like sack and a beautiful lilac sail bursts open, this is gonna be good….except it’s not. We got no more speed than we had before and a poorer course, so back in the condom it goes and that’s another pounds worth of sweat expended for nought.
The wind has been dying all day, and early evening we have resorted to diesel power. My pina colada is perhaps half a day further away than I expected this morning.

Nick
14:41.7N 33:31.0W

Day 11
We crawled through the night on engine at only 4 knots. The sea turtles flip a fin in salute as they speed past. Still no sign of the increase in wind we were promised in the forecast. It makes for a long night aboard the Purple Prison Boat.
Might not have mentioned Simon’s passion for the colour purple. Well, lilac actually. The sail covers, spinnaker, our team shirts, cushions and his underwear flying on washing line all are of this hue. After initially going along with this to humour him as the shirts are of a really good quality of imported American fishing shirts (I know, I didn’t realise such things existed either) I am now rather fond of the colour. We certainly stood out at the various functions we attended in Gran Canaria. Perhaps we will get our picture in the yachting world magazine (a guilty desire like the one people have to be in Lancashire Life)
I have never,never seen stars like the ones last night, saw four shooting stars in the hours before dawn.
Wish I could report exciting sailing, but still no wind, we are power sailing at six knots in the right direction and hear there are good winds some eighty miles south but we still await their arrival here. sea state is the calmest we have seen so far and the sun is out, there are worse places to be becalmed in December.

Nick
18:47.6N 40:50.6W

Day 12
We encountered our first serious squalls tonight, just as I came on my watch. I spent hours glued to the radar screen watching the ebb and flow of these nebulous cloud formations. They manifest themselves on radar like an angry scar, the air takes on that thundery feeling prior to a storm. We reduced the sails and got ready for a soaking. Having little experience with radar, it is fascinating to watch. As I write, we are keeping just behind the worst of it as it moves off to our port bow. Later..it all passed us by without incident, squalls bring with them very high winds from undetermined direction so I am a little disappointed not to have experienced the phenomenon but we still have a long way to go.
We are still power sailing, for three days now 24\7, we use each engine alternately and have estimated using three liters of fuel an hour, so our 800 liters of fuel should last until the promised winds kick in. If not it’s going to be a long last few days under sail only.
We are not likely to be there for next Fridays ‘jump up’ , something I experienced last time in St Lucia, where they close a street and have a big party with street food and dancing, but we may still get there for the Saturday.
Had a lazy day today with last shift at 4 am yesterday and not on ’till midnight tonight.
Nothing much more to report as I write, we just have to keep hoping for better sailing.

Day 13
In the immortal words of Rod Stewart, we are sailing! 8am we hauled up the main as wind shift and increase means a nice broad reach rather than the frankly boring straight downwind. Spirits are noticeably lifted. About 850 miles to go now, should be there late Friday or Saturday if we keep this wind as the boat is very happy on this beam reach.
Spent the midnight watch tip toeing through a number of squalls that appeared to be ready to ambush the unwary. Spent the shift with the dulcet tones of Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood.
The perishable foods are doing what it says on the tin…perishing. Bananas on their last legs, foil wrapped carrots are as black as coal on the ends, but bizarrely firm and good to go in the middle. Made a great lamb stew, mash and cabbage last night if I say so myself. Really enjoying the cooking now the seas have calmed. We only have one meal a day, mainly stews or curry the rest of the day is spent grazing. Many thanks to Wendy for the sea going recipes and suggesting the toastie maker. Simon started up the bread maker again and, using the correct flour produced a loaf that will have Mr Warburton beating a path to his door to be master baker.

Day 14
One of our engines would not start today. A quick belt on the starting motor with a hammer and it turned over purring like a Bentley.
In hindsight, our decision to go for downwind through the night was a mistake and we lost quite a bit of headway as the wind shifted. We are doing better now we are back on a broad reach.
The dolphins returned today, a pod of about a dozen, always a delight to watch. We see hundreds of flying fish every day, some really impressive flyers, bouncing off the wave tops for extra distance. Some of the smaller ones with less aviation experience only make it a few yards before gravity pushes them down with an inglorious plop, while the ‘top guns’ can make a hundred yards or so,fishy wings shimmering blue in the sun.
Two weeks now without sight of land. Life outside our little community of five seems a long time ago. Every two days Greg will put In a twelve hour watch to give us a break from snatching the couple of hours of sleep we manage after our four hour rolling watches. There is always someone asleep every hour of every day except on ‘day off’. There has been talk of forming a union for better working conditions, but fear of the cruel masters means no one will volunteer as shop steward.
Time for dinner, will be checking the ships biscuits for weavels.

Nick

Guest Post
Hi There. My name is Luciano, I am Brazilian, 40 yo, married with 3 children. I was forced to write a couple of lines by Simon, otherwise, I would not receive my daily  food and water portion, and the worse, wouldn’t be allowed to get out of my cage to see the sun light… just kidding.. I am having a great time in this wonderful and comfortable boat. However, I have to tell you that at the begging I was a kind of scared as seas were rough, seasick, crew stressed and working timetable (the famous Night Watch!!). However, over the time, things were settled and I’m enjoying pretty much… but the question is (my wife also wants to know), why am I here? To answer it, just came up 3 words in my mind: Learn, challenge and experience. I have some previous experience in sailing, but nothing compared to what I am living in the last weeks… therefore, the learning piece is pretty much accomplished. That said, if there is one thing that I appreciate in life is to embrace new challenges, especially if they are out of my comfort zone. I wold say that Sailing across the Atlantic, definitely corresponds very well for my challenge expectation. Last, but not least, to have this experience. I can answer it with a question: why not? Life is short and the world is too big… the sooner we experience new things and live our lives, the better. I am sure I will cross Ripples2 somewhere soon sailing my own boat with my family…

Luciano

Day 15
The bananas finally crawled to the edge and threw themselves in..it’s probably for the best, the alternative to bananacide was a gooey pulpit.
A bit muggy today but high temperatures (sorry, stormy Britain) lots of weed about in clumps which I am informed hail from the Sargasso sea not that far to the south.
Not much to report this lunchtime, we are on the home stretch now, after days of not picking up any boats for company on radar they are starting to converge on a similar course to us.
Less than 700 miles to go, a good wind and 2000 feet of water under our hulls, I don’t think we are going to run aground today.
Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again..well, I regret buying apples, oranges and bloody bananas in industrial quantities. I regret not putting the lid on my ridiculously expensive shower gel which all leaked away on day two. I regret having to share a cabin with ‘Spooner’ Rigby ( only kidding John)  I want chips. But that’s about it, it has been a fantastic experience so far.
Attempted bread making again today. If Conroy can consistently produce a masterpiece surely it’s not that difficult. Disaster, another Bailey failure. In my defence the scales won’t work in rough seas m’lud. Had to eat humble pie (I wasn’t going to eat the dogs dinner in the bread machine) and get a lesson..here’s hoping the new one I have put in comes out…

Nick

Day 16
Squally in the night, we and to put the main sail down quickly in a
black moonless night. The main is always reluctant to drop and the
winches have to work really hard when rising or lowering it, a job for
the riggers when we get there. it’s a difficult operation at night
requiring being clipped on in bucking seas but all went smoothly enough.
More electrical problems with the generator, but Simon’s touch got it
going again. You realize how much we rely on electricity when you don’t
have it.
I have just realized over the past few days it’s been,’Simon did this’
or ‘Simon did that’.. Truth is ‘ Simon’s done not very much’ we had to
draw him a map up to the helm as it is that long since he has steered
the boat. He has watched a lot of the recent blockbusters in his cabin,
or at least we think that’s what he is doing in there. On hearing this
honest truth I have been asked to leave the boat NOW! ( my position is
16degrees north,51west)..send help.
Success with the bread maker! I managed to produce something akin to the
master bakers effort and rewarded myself with a great bacon butty.
Thirty two degrees today and humid, too hot to sit out for long even
with the breeze. I can feel your tears of sympathy coming all across the ocean.
Nick

Day 17
Squalls all night and woken by heavy rain. Serves me right for bragging about the heat yesterday. 8.30am and it’s starting to clear. Big seas as a result but bearable as we are running with the flow. It’s sometimes a bit disconcerting when a huge roller approaches from the rear taller than the bridge which is a good three meters above the sea.
Good spag bol again last night, cant wait for a change from mince or stews in general when we arrive (400 miles to go) Luciano is an able cooking assistant, he is Jonnie to my Fanny (that last sentance will be straight over the heads of younger readers)
The boat caught another flying fish overnight, Simon has thrown his rods overboard in a petulant strop as the fishing competition is all but won by a lump of fiberglass.
10pm, a frustrating days motor sailing again, we just haven’t got the winds promised by the forecasts. Crew have had their moments of frustration spilling over to a little fracas or two, all sorted out over dinner. To expect five complete strangers with strong personalities to be constant buddies is ambitious, but we have all got on great in general.
The winds have now shifted and progress is better and in the right direction.

Nick

Day 18
2.30am, beautiful starry evening making good progress when up pops a tanker on our AIS screen, which identifies any vessels within 15 miles or so of us. I spent a nervous half hour watching him bear down on us at 19 knots with the computer calculating he would miss us by either 50 meters or up to a mile. He was bound for Singapore, I was bound for the loo if he got any closer. it ended up changing course slightly and passed behind us about half a mile off our starboard bow. Container ships are massive at such close quarters and the thoughts go through your head is the guy on watch actually watching, as if he hit us he probably wouldn’t even feel the bump.
Another lovely day, steel drums on the iPod to get us in the mood for what will surely be a Saturday morning arrival. We have coaxed our 30 ton floating home through all kinds of conditions, and although she doesn’t like the light winds so much, I think she can now sense the end is near.
Crew in good spirits, 240 miles to go, looking forward to the first of many rum punches.f

Nick

Day 19
Less than 90 miles to go! At the 6 knots we are going to arrive about 9am tomorrow. Ironically this is probably the best sailing day we have had and we have been told to SLOW DOWN!
Ideally we want to arrive in the light in the morning as we have to go around the top of st Lucia and cross the line under sail, sailing into the wind.
We think it is apt that we are arriving exactly 512 years to the day in 1502 that Columbus first stepped ashore here. Saturday is a public holiday and I guess there will be lots of celebrations.
This has been one of my most memorable experiences, but man, it’s a long way. Would I do it again? Not this year! It has given me an incite into ocean sailing that is a bug I might not be able to let go. We have had some severe weather, not the worst imaginable, but pretty scary at times and unless you see how a boat performs in gale force winds you don’t appreciate just how sea worthy they are. But it would have to be a fairly big boat, forty foot plus for me to venture out into oceans alone.
Ripples 2 has never put a foot wrong whilst being battered from all sides by wind and waves, some nights in my cabin I have thought the hull was ripping off the boat as the fiberglass  flexed under the strain, and the noise of the waves slamming into the sides only a few centimeters from your head when lying in the dark will not be forgotten in a hurry. The constant lack of sleep and need to be alert at stupid o’clock in the morning I guess does nothing to sell the experience to others.
But that is not the whole story. I have been fortunate to share this experience with a great crew, we have worked hard for each other, we have laughed, I have learnt a lot, especially about night sailing and chart work.
The ocean is beautiful, the changing weather, dawn, sunset, squalls,flat seas and huge waves, the dolphins and flying fish the one Whale that decided to woo the boat (the boat declined the offer, I wonder if it would have said no to a humpback?)
All in all I guess I have been a lucky boy, and yes, I would do it all again if I could do it with good people like Simon, John ,Luciano and Greg.

Nick

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