Today sees us pass an important milestone (not literally, it'd sink) – we're covered 1436 miles so far (as at 13.00 UTC) and the chart plotter tells us that there are 1443 to go. So, we'll have a little half-way celebration later.
Having hoisted the Parasailor yesterday at 13.30, it's still up and powering us along nicely in a rather more gentle breeze than we're used to. Flying such a big sail at night brings some challenges, particularly if we saw some rain squalls on radar and had to bring it down in a hurry, so we changed our watch-keeping regime to have two people on deck at all time. Graham and Di did the 8.00 - midnight and 04.00 – 08.00 watches, Fergus and Rich the midnight – 04.00 and then were back on deck at 8.00. It was a goodnight's sailing with only a couple of rain squalls that we managed to avoid and the Parasailor behaved admirably in up to 22 knots of wind. As the night wore on, the wind veered to come from the SSE so, after days of making our way south we found ourselves going very slightly north again. However a big adjustment of the sail settings meant we moved onto a beam reach (with the wind coming perpendicular to the boat, from the port side) and we made a better direction and kept up 6-7 knot speeds. The sail is brilliant – really easy to control and we're getting more confident with it all the time. Work on the foredeck to hoist and lower the sail, move the spinnaker pole etc, is rehearsed before hand and a 'mast-man' coordinates the work on the deck with the handling of lines in the cockpit so that there are no foul-ups. We're pleased to say the last few manoeuvres have been pretty slick and faultless.
Looking at the forecasts, unfortunately it seems that the wind hole ahead of us is bigger and slower moving than we hoped so we don't think we'll be able to dodge it (without turning due south for a 2 day detour); the 'Yanmar Spinnaker' (diesel engine) may be called into action tomorrow just to get us through the calms. There is also a lot of rain and thunder predicted so it looks as thought Maunie will have a fresh water rinse to get rid of all the salt on her decks. In the meantime, though, Rich is on the helm, wringing every ounce of speed from the boat and getting an excellent 6.3 knots in only 12 knots of wind. Pretty good for a heavy boat like Maunie and a credit to the crew who are all pushing the boat as hard as we can.
Finally, Rich passed a personal milestone of his own yesterday, completing 'mother watch' (cleaning and cooking in a lurching boat) without feeling ill. The combination of pills and some amazing anti-seasickness glasses seems to be doing the trick.