As predicted we're now in motorboat mode. We had some gentle sailing for a few hours yesterday afternoon but the wind evaporated and we've been at slow engine speed ever since. Still the sea is calm so we aren't lurching about uncomfortably and the stars were superbly bright last night (the moon is just a tiny crescent, from the bottom, so looks like a Cheshire Cat grin).
Rich cooked the last of our fresh steak last night in a delicious Italian beef stew and we sat in the pilothouse watching War Horse on the laptop whilst Constance the electronic autopilot kept us pointing towards Saint Lucia.
Today has dawned hot and sunny so we stopped the engine and the three chaps jumped over the side for a swim. Wow, really warm water! We were surprised to find dozens of little rubbery Klingons adhered to the hull around the stern where obviously the half wet, half dry environment suits them, whatever they are. So Graham cleaned them off and also washed the grey diesel exhaust residue from the transom then joined Fergus and Rich for swimming around the nearly stationary boat (we did have a long floating safety line trailing behind!). It was a great feeling, though an odd perspective on the boat that's been our home for the past three weeks, and we tried not to think about the 5000m of water below us.
Since then we've been motoring steadily towards our goal. The good news is that we've been watching our fuel consumption very carefully and are pretty sure that we'll be able to motor the whole way if that's what it takes. As we write (188.00 UTC on Saturday) we have 215 miles to run so we'll get to Rodney bay in the early hours of Monday morning. Fergus' family have already arrived there so for their sake and to avoid finding our way into the marina in the dark we'll probably slow up a little to try to get there round dawn (we'll probably stop for another swim!).
Whilst we're getting excited at the prospect of landfall, we are feeling really sorry for Peter, Heidi and Hendrick in Stormvogel. This unlucky boat has been beset by another problem; Peter let us know about 3 days ago but we didn't broadcast it. He has now informed the ARC organisers so his misfortune is now common knowledge.
In the Force 9 gale that stuck us, Stormvogel also got hit with full mainsail up and the engine running (they had no wind). Next minute they had an out-of-control sleigh ride with accidental gybes and all sorts of difficulties. All the halyards (to hoist and lower sails) are at the mast, unlike Maunie where they are led back to the safety of the cockpit, and they had a nightmare getting the main down. The mainsheet (the rope controlling the mainsail at the end of the boom) wrapped around the steering binnacle, tearing out the compass, plotter, engine controls and autopilot controls. Worse still they got a rope round the propeller and their son Hendrick was injured by the flailing sheet. The engine was still running so it appears that it has trashed the brand new gearbox; Peter dived over the side and cleared the rope from the propellerwhen the weather calmed but the gearbox won't turn. Hence they are sitting in no wind, waiting for it to fill in to sail in later next week. We'll wait for them in Rodney Bay - I think they are going to need lots of support (and beer).
So it's a shame that the ARC is ending in not such a fine way but it has nevertheless been an amazing experience. We'll confirm our ETA in tomorrow's and will post lots of photos when we have shore-based wifi. Meanwhile, we have another 8lb Mahi Mahi to cook for supper.