ARC2012 Diary: Day 13 – Sunday

We watched a film last night that didn’t finish til 1am. Subsequently I didn’t have a shift to do which was nice. The spinnaker pool rattled all night long as I tried to sleep in the sweaty forepeak, which was once my preferred choice of slumber.

I tried to speak to Emma on the sat phone today. The whole ordeal was frustrating and upset Emma as she could hear me but I could only get fragments of her replies. She was having a Christmas dinner with the house. I don’t feel homesick, but if I could teleport myself over for dinner and a glass of mulled wine (and a bath) I would. Shall try again in the week, but in the evening, Will mentions he’s had more success with the Sat phone.

I did a fun but daunting task and listed all the jobs and things need/want to get for Excalibur. Between Oliver and myself we estimated I had just listed out 20k worth of jobs to do. I best get back to work!!!!

We sailed down to 15 degrees latitude before poling out and heading directly west, downwind.

Just as the sun began to set a pod of dolphins came to join us. I attached my goPro camera to a pole, and did my best to keep the pole straight as I pushed it into the sea to get some underwater footage.

These dolphins or porpoises (I’m not sure of the difference) are much bigger than the ones we saw at the start of the trip, infact they’re huge! We sat on the bow and watched as they swam in two’s and threes. They swam gracefully down the waves up to the bow and then over to the other side with the speed of a torpedo. They seem to prefer to cruise, and hang around at the bow. Will has been lying down taking videos on his iPhone, he can almost touch them they’re that close!

After they left it was time to celebrate our half way point. We’ve covered 1700 miles, and have just 1400 left. Ok so it’s not mathematically true, but we’re now back on course and heading west. Oliver’s bottle of Moet is infact Cava (Emma’s perhaps). Right now it’s the finest champagne I’ve ever tasted.

We are treated to a lovely sunset, whilst serenaded by classical music. All very civilised. Conversation revolved around how fortunate we are at this moment, dolphins, sunset, bubbly, classical tranquility, and 3 friends on a boat sailing across an ocean in shorts and t-shirts in December. A lot to be thankful for, well all agree this moment makes up for any low points experienced on the trip.

For dinner Oliver made a traditional Asturian lentil, chorizo and black pudding dish, which was delicious. 13 day old unrefrigerated meat never tasted so good.

It’s 4am now as I write this. I’m on my night shift in shorts and t-shirt under the red glow of my head torch. My favourite time. My main responsibility is to make sure we stay on track and alert Oliver of any significant change in wind speed or direction. Obviously my most important task is to watch out for other boats, and specifically tankers. We haven’t seen another boat since last Sunday. 1 hour left to go, and the only thing I’ll need to avoid is being hit by flying fish, attracted by my head torch.

So far so good.

Plotter says we have 1306 miles to go, we’re all beginning to visualise the finish line in our heads. This time tomorrow we’ll be in the 1200’s, after that, the 1000’s and then we’re into 3 figures! Our next beverage reward will be at 1000 miles, and then 500, though we agreed the moment had to coincide with the predicament we’re in on the day, if we’re down to 500 miles and the wind shifts and we head north instead of west, it will not be a good time to celebrate!

Today however, was champagne sailing, and tonight at 4am is sheer bliss!

It’s nearly the end of my shift. I wish I could capture this view and bring it back home. You’ll ever see so many stars, shooting stars and constellations. If only there was a device that could capture this entire scene. I’m sure in 60 years time you’ll be able to record this on your phone and project this setting as some kind of planetarium hologram, but it won’t ever be the same.

London seems so far away, KFC far away, rum and coke and a bath getting ever closer. 1302 miles to go.

End of shift, time to wake Oliver.


Author: Tim Butler

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