08/03/2016- Monday, a mixed day.

The night was not particularly windy but that all changed at about 0615 when a vicious squall hit us, as I mentioned yesterday. I wrongly described our depowering of the mainsail as ‘scandalising’; my editor let it go but then explained to me that scandalising depowers the mainsail by lifting the boom up high with the topping lift thus making the sail baggy. The best performance is achieved by controlling the curve of the sail, by the use of a boom strut or kicking strap and the main sheet and halyard, some racing boats have an extra line called a Cunningham to pull down one part of the sail to flatten it. We are lazy cruisers and do not alter the boom strut, aka vang, very often but rely on the mainsheet and its traveller. The day improved towards the afternoon, at least in terms of squall activity, but the wind remained fairly stable until it built during the evening. I was amazed to find our day’s run was the best yet, 186 nM, aided by a strong current which the rest of the fleet seem to have missed! I have high hopes for another record for Tuesday as we maintained an average close to 9 knots all night. John believes the weather is magically programmed to wake him up 30 minutes into a 3 hour off watch. For a change 0600 passed without problems, it was the 2300-0200 watch which was disturbed this time. The strong winds have led to rougher seas and, every now and then, we hit a wave quite hard. The nights have been particularly dark with no moon until a tiny sliver has risen at about dawn; in fact this morning was a ‘no moon’ day. Even light cloud cover obscures the stars which do illuminate the sky quite well when there is no cloud. To be honest even if I could see the waves I almost certainly wouldn’t take avoiding action because they are not a dangerous size or coming from a dangerous direction. About 20 minutes after John fell asleep we hit a wave, water cascaded onto the deck and found its way into the saloon hatch which was closed but not latched down. John woke up as the relatively cold water cascaded onto him! Fortunately the only things which got wet were him, his waterproof shorts, the sheet bag and the cushion covers. As you can tell, not a lot happened yesterday as we sat in the cockpit, eyeing the skies for the next squall. Most missed us. Showering and cooking became a challenge as the wind came further forward during the afternoon changing our beam reach to a beat. Hopefully the wind will veer a little to make life more pleasant. Peter on Exody has described these not as squalls but as weather systems as some last for hours. This morning we had bright sunshine at times, we’ll have to wait to see if we can say the clouds and squalls are behind us. If it is due to the ITCZ, maybe we are now far enough north, only time will tell. More tomorrow. Joyce

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