Winds up

After a relatively slow day yesterday, we found the wind strengthen today to about 20 knots. The lumpy seas mean that we will not try our new fixed-up spinnaker pole as it is to be preserved for the more gentle winds of the tropics. This is fine, as Sophie B thanks us for being treated gently and gently skips along even when under genoa and main.

A fresh dorado caught by Harry yesterday meant that we had a delicious lunch of baked dorado accompanied by a lime, garlic and coriander sauce. The judges of master chef may have had a little trouble with the presentation as the bumpy sea put paid to any frills, but the taste was simply awesome.

I remember, now, why I never eat dorado that is not freshly caught from the mid-Atlantic. I’d be sure to be disappointed. The afternoon saw us cross the meridian into the Western Hemisphere, which was an excuse to follow lunch with a little champagne!

The race is hotting up, and we wait to hear the progress of the “faster” boats from our rear, as we make steady progress to Rio with Avanti within 50 miles or so of us. We feel our northerly track will stand us in good stead as we head for the trade winds.

The watch and sleeping routine is now exactly that – routine, and it is easy to enjoy wake up at odd hours for a bit of sailing and chatting one’s fellow crew. Of particular interest have been Petri’s lessons on dark matter, time and the theory of waves and how the ocean is sometimes uphill! Somehow after chatting to him it all makes sense. I think you need hours on the ocean to understand though.


Bent poles, but solid progess

Good afternoon from the deck of Sophie B. Today’s mood is somewhat better as we discover Sophie B’s other assets (other than the ability to sail very fast with a symmetrical spinnaker in front of her).

Petri has been hard at work on the foredeck, drilling and taping the spinnaker pole back together using other bits of less useful equipment as stand-in parts. The pole still looks a bit bent overall, and probably won’t be used except to pole out a genoa, or some very light spinnaker work.

We are currently sailing at 9.3 knots (as I looked up, the speed over ground was exactly that) with an asymmetrical spinnaker hoisted forward. Although designed for closer to the wind sailing and despite the fact that wind is bearing 150 degrees off our port bow, the speed of the boat through the reasonably calm waters of the Atlantic, makes the apparent wind move forward and that sail is flying beautifully. Ok, enough jargon and apologies to those who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

The water is so clear and blue out here, and we have not seen sight of any other signs of people since we saw saw a large  ship on the horizon a few days back, but we have not totally forsaken the comforts of land. Prego rolls for brunch and chili con carne for dinner accompanied by a glass of red is on the menu for today, as we try to finish off our fresh meat before we start scratching below the floor boards for rusty tins of “whatever may be in there with pasta”.

I did spot a fillet and bottle of champagne which are presumably part of our New Year’s Eve fare. I wonder what else the skipper has planned. Here’s to Sophie B entering the new year closest to Rio of all the fleet. Of that there is a good chance.

Cheers, from The Teacher

The yacht Sophie B is a few fresh vegetables short of being ready to set sail for Rio. Remarkably, and even though we only leave port on Monday around noon, we have cleared customs and our passports now say that we have left the country. Preparations have been smooth thanks to the meticulous organisation of Tom and Harry, and the tinkering and handiwork of, the still slightly more Finnish than South African, Petri. Having joined the crew late in the day (in Cape to Rio terms anyway), I can only thank the chaps, Tom and Harry in particular for the countless tasks (on endless lists), many hours and of course incalculable numbers of rands that have gone into making this voyage a reality! It has been an amazing effort spanning a few years.

The current weather is on its way past the Cape and the start on Monday is predicted to be more summery, with the South Easter lending us a hand up the coast. The first start will consist of 5 mono-hulls and a few catamarans following 10 minutes later. We start a week ahead of the faster boats and that will surely give us the opportunity to watch many of them finish as sip on our caipirinhas atop Sugar Loaf.

We look forward to sharing our tales from the waters of the Atlantic. Do keep an eye on the tracker (linked to the RCYC web page) and cheer on the good ship Sophie B as she majestically leads the fleet to Rio!

(Ed: This post does not do justice to the mind-boggling efforts of The Teacher to plan the meals, provision, and pack the boat. As a result, we will be the best-fed crew on the race. Watch for updates on our eating!)