09/03/2016 – Lots to celebrate!

I believe we can now claim to be north of the ITCZ as the puffy white clouds, bright sunshine, stable winds in both strength and direction interspersed with only the odd, very brief, very light shower will testify. This is much more like Caribbean weather! We sailed really well all day and night, with help from the current carrying us towards our destination, and reached the approximate halfway point at 0745 on Tuesday. Since 1004 Thursday we had sailed 850 nM towards our waypoint, in fact we had probably sailed 10 nM more as I didn’t set up the waypoint until noon. At about 1530 we finally left Brazilian waters and entered French Territorial Waters, 50nM off the coast of French Guiana. It seems strange to pass so close to another country and not visit! As I write this at 0800 Wednesday we have about 35 nM until we leave French Guiana and enter the waters belonging to Surinam. The fourth and final reason to celebrate was our record breaking day’s run to midnight of 202 nM. Strictly speaking this wasn’t confirmed when we had dinner, we just knew we were continuing to sail really fast. This is only the second time we have ever managed that average speed, the first time was on Leg 1 of the rally in January 2014. On that occasion there was very little helpful current, just an awful lot of wind, two full genoas and wind instruments which lied about the wind strength! How do we celebrate? Reaching the halfway mark usually gets rewarded with a fillet steak and chips dinner, last night was no exception! I served it with the last of the asparagus and green beans. There was one slight disappointment. Just as the SSB net ended and I was well into preparing dinner John’s fishing rod started whizzing out. Initially he had some success winding it in then the fish fought back. After nearly an hour the fish managed to escape by breaking the short wire holding the hook to the lure! It was probably too big for us to cope with but it would have been nice to try. In an attempt to reel it in we had dumped the main and loosened the genoa to slow us down by a couple of knots but to no avail, the fish did not want to be landed. If anyone is interested, our track on Yellowbrick should be easy to sort out from the rest of the fleet as we have sailed a little closer to the coast than all the others. This has paid off as we have had more current here as predicted on Weather 4D which John downloaded before we left Fortaleza. The rest of the fleet were following WRI’s recommended route to find maximum current. Our track isn’t actually that far away from the others, only about 40 miles. Now it’s a race to the finish on this last competitive leg of the rally. As I write this we have about 655 nM to go so a Sunday arrival looks promising. NB If you are reading this on Starblazer’s website see the link on the World Cruising Club website if you are not aware of this tracker. More tomorrow. Joyce

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