The sea is still both insanely blue, and hot (33 degrees in the puddle yesterday afternoon). The flying fish are still flying and committing suicide on the deck each night. The daily routines of sailing and watch-keeping, meal preparation, boat cleaning are all familiar to all of us. To a degree.
Two of us are incapable of keeping track of boat time (one hour behind UTC, and UTC), leading to the others being woken an hour earlier than required for their watches. On coming down to wake the next watch, Petri finds both Ollie and Tom getting dressed and prepped for duty. “It’s like a railway station down there, ” he remarks drolly to Harry.
Harry has been trying to hone his celestial navigation skills. He is inordinately proud of having got his estimate of longitude correct to within a few miles, until it is pointed out that all that requires is the ability to tell the time (OK, so half the boat struggles with that) and to perform simple mental arithmetic.
On the matter of latitude, things are not nearly so peachy. But if this was still the Cape to Uruguay, we’d surely be in the lead. At least on paper.
Today is our last day out of contact with civilisation. Tomorrow we skirt around the area on the chart “ATBA – Area to be Avoided”. One wishes hand-drawn dragons and sea monsters on the chart but, no, this is the focal point of Brazilian oil-drilling efforts. I’m curious to see it. Others have described a rather dystopian scene of the rigs burning excess gas in the dark.
By Thursday, we should make landfall at Cabo Frio, before we start the most challenging part of the race – the part between there and Rio. In this section winds are notoriously light and fickle. Boats have been known to become becalmed for days literally in sight of the finish line. We consult our weather predictions with the same desperate desire as those in the past who believed soothsayers and auguries.
And we are really missing our spinnaker pole. Petri has fashioned a third out of the remnants of the two previous breakages, and while excellent for poleing out the foresail headed dead downwind, as we have been now for days – why do the forecasts lie? – it is now over a meter shorter than it was when we left Cape Town. Too short to fly a spinnaker, sadly.
So we continue to lose ground to Avanti (they are going to beat us by around 180 miles, or 7-8 miles per day. Some of that is due to our spinnaker problems (but all credit to them for sailing an excellent race – I suspect we would have been beaten by them regardless) and trying to fend off the two boats, JML Rotary Scout and Bolero, snapping at our heels… We are close to the end but the hard sailing may be yet to come.
And our arrival, hopefully on Thursday evening or Friday morning, will be timed perfectly: our stock of beer runs out on Thursday afternoon. Rio had better have a large supply of cold ones.