Mel: Weather Disaster
Well here we are sat on the para anchor again! we had a lovely day yesterday, progress was a bit slow, but was still progress, and a momentous happening occurred - I washed my hair for the first time since race start! Annie washed hers too and we felt amazing, not sure we really looked it but with no mirrors on board who cares! What little wind there had been died in the evening making progress very slow but the scenery was stunning, sea was like grey silk and the moon the brightest it has been, I could see it reflecting of fish swimming alongside. We both had a couple of quiet watches and then when I came on at 4am the wind was beginning to fill back in from the South. I tried to get the autopilot to cope with it, bit difficult on my own to row from the bow position and mess around with the autopilot at the stroke position! I spent a fruitless 2 hours trying to make some SW ish progress and went steadily NW instead. When Annie came on watch she rowed while I tried again with the autopilot - to no avail whatsoever - the wind was coming from exactly where we were heading and although only 10 - 15 knots that's enough to stop us. The autopilot couldn't cope so we tried foot steering, hand steering, Annie rowing with one blade only and me coxing by trying to look at the GPS and stars and nothing worked - after another 5 hours of determined effort on our part Explore wasn't having it, she simply wouldn't go S, she would only go N or NW if we fought her, so sadly it was time to put the para anchor out again. We are both very proud of the fact that not once during this 5 hour extremely frustrating battle was a cross word exchanged - team work!
We knew this weather (a huge low) was on the way so it wasn't a surprise, we had been advised to go S to try and avoid it, we had tried to put as much s as possible in our course over the last few days, but it was hard work and after several concerted efforts we decided to stop fighting conditions and head W. It looks like the whole fleet has been affected anyway so I don't think it would have gained us too much - but we won't know until the low passes and we're all on our way again. THe wind is going to be SW until Fri and then move more N, we will definitely have a go at bashing on as soon as it goes N, even if we can go straight S - we are moving at 0.8 knots on the para anchor so we need to make those miles back! I think because our boat is so light compared to some of the others that we are far more prone to drifting on anchor - but we still wouldn't swap her for the world! The low won't totally pass until Tuesday though so we've got a few days to stick it out - but as long as the whole fleet is in the same position we're not too worried. We will eat, sleep, relax, try and mend sore hands and feet and be ready to fly out of the blocks as soon as we can make some progress.
But what do you do for 5 days on a 25 ft boat with less living space than a double bed?!! Annie's tidied up the deck and been topping up her tan, vaguely comfortable leaning against the liferaft and only getting marginally wet, I've been keeping track of our competitors, we've eaten loads already, we've exhausted the only trivia game on board so will have to come up with another use for it and tonight we're having a rave! My sister gave us some presents for emergency situations and we thought 5 days on anchor warranted opening one - and it was some glo sticks - yippee! Thanks H, they're fantastic, going to be cutting some shapes with them later!
Anyway, I'm off to eat again, more updates from Explore, the now cruise liner, tmrw
If anyone has any ideas of games that Annie & Mel can play during this down-time - send them a message via their satellite communications here