We seem, finally, to have found the weather promised in the brochure! Yesterday we sailed all day and night with goose-winged white sails, effortlessly making around 7 knots with Winnie firmly in control of the steering; what's more we had sunshine! The transformation of life on board was dramatic – we were able to open hatches and get some fresh air through the boat (she'd become pretty damp below decks), finally dry our washing on deck and generally relax. Crew members spent the time in different ways: Fergus is writing a novel, Rich caught up on lost sleep, Di reorganised things in the cabin and Graham took the forward sea toilet apart to replace a broken valve. Cruising is often described as boat maintenance in exotic places but he was successful and we now have both heads operational again.
Today it's really sunny and warm so, after an excellent cooked breakfast / brunch we hoisted the Parasailor and are currently making 7 knots, with 470 miles to go. Perfect! If we maintained this kind of speed we'd reach St Lucia on Sunday morning but the weather forecast is still telling us that we'll pretty much completely run out of wind on Friday night or Saturday morning. So we'll just concentrate on making the most of the available wind whilst we have it (so will probably fly the Parasailor overnight if it looks as though there aren't any rain squalls in the offing).
We have enough diesel aboard for about 350 miles of motoring at economical speed (about 5 knots) but we don't want to use it if we can help it; it'll be an interesting team decision as to what to do if we do become becalmed. Running the engine for 2 days isn't an attractive prospect but, equally rolling in a swell with the sails slatting is no fun either. We're all quietly hoping we'll find a magic seam of breeze to keep us moving.
The photo was taken by Fergus about a week ago – the last time we flew the Parasailor in the sun. He climbed the mast to check the rigging and to fit a spare spinnaker halyard. He's a keen climber so it makes a real difference compared to us normal yachties going aloft. We tend to cling, limpet-like to the mast, whilst climbers put their confidence in the climbing harness and and safety line so can use their hands to complete the task much more quickly. It's certainly not easy being up the mast of a moving yacht as the smallest roll can see the masthead moving through 15-20 feet so it was pretty impressive that Fergus managed to get some great photos from up there.