Day 20: 9 out of 10

As dawn broke after a sleepless drumming with highest wind at 46.7kn we stared at a strange phenomena; everywhere you looked the sea appeared to be uphill! It seemed we were sailing up a steep incline which messed with the head. With the heat after sunrise the squalls dissipated.

By 0900 the seas were huge but beautiful, organised and perfect long waves of azure with turquoise crests shining in the sun. They gave a smooth ride in 30kn E so we set about with our new arts & crafts project, storm sail or staysail? Not much in it but the staysail is cut lower and may have more power; it was hoiked out of the forward shower, manhandled through the companionway and clipped to lifelines for a kind of drag down the deck. Once out of the bag it was keen to slip over the rail but on went the hanks, grab, hank, grab no you don’t, hank…. I cranked away at the furler and lashed the headsail to prevent the furler unwinding.

Done the deck walk many times so pleased to have a low maintenance alternative with a simple hanked on sail. Up went the tiny stay sail, the sheet barber hauled to the rail via a snatch block, and we settled steady as rock. In a 30-35kn nearby squall we were making 6kn and we were so steady that you wouldn’t even spill a ginger beer laid out as if on a Sunday picnic….then the wind died. Bang, wham, the rolling starts. Our new problem is we need min 28kn wind to keep powered up.

As the moon rose so the sea became a heaving mess and for a couple of hours we were shaking like a jelly. We have had to wait till 23.00 to get the wind back with the squalls. Our target – VEGAS PARTY – hold on were coming! All milestones plotted for arrival 1500 Thurs 19th. Vital sadistics: 566nm to go. Little sleep, stop start, 18-35n E, under staysail only, 0200 hrs now in sustained F9, bonkers.

Galley; deteriorating situation, dry pitta & pate, spaghetti & coriander pesto. More veg sent to the deep.

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