White Ocean Racing

May 22 - Steve's blog Number 11.

Days of contrast.

Well, what a difference a day makes as they say. Yesterday was simply glorious, bright sunshine and light winds - downwind for most of the day, and this morning here we are pounding upwind at around 9 knots into the Gulf Stream, which reduces our speed over the ground by nearly a knot and makes for a short sea like you get in the English Channel.

Yesterday evening I got prepared for a slog upwind, and made sure we had plenty of diesel in the little tank that the engine draws from an a daily basis and topped up the water in the jerry can at the sink that the tap pumps from, as carrying 25 litre jerry cans full of water on deck is a bit dodgy, and you do tend to pour more over the inside of the boat than you get in the can when the boat is bouncing around! A chap who owns a well known yard in France that a lot of these boats got to be worked on came down to this boat when I had jut bought it. He came on board, scrubbed his feet on the deck and announced very theatrically "This deck will kill you!" What he really meant was a lot of the non slip has worn away and it can be pretty treacherous up there, particularly if you are lugging jerry cans and sails around at large angles of heel! I have not repainted it because if you don't do a really good job you finish up with something that looks like woodchip wallpaper in some places and smooth in others which would look appalling on such a large flat area! I am just careful and so far it hasn't tried to kill me!

In the light winds of yesterday I went to the low side of the boat at the bow, where here are no ripples on the water because of the windshadow of the hull, and you could see that the sea was just like soup - millions of shrimpy things of varying sizes, krill I suppose, and small jellyfish, jut small forms of life as far as you could see in the clear deep blue water. At night when they get washed on deck these things flash a luminescent green colour as they lie in the nooks and crannies and in the ropes before the next wave washes them back into the sea.

I did manage to catch the sun too across my back. It is OK, but I do know it's there this morning! I felt I'd had enough sun at a point yesterday afternoon, but then left my shirt off whilst I had a shave which was a mammoth undertaking that I tackled, you've guessed it, in the cockpit with my back to the sun and my shirt still off! I only have myself to blame!

Not much chance of sunburn today, you need oilskins to be on deck. I am hoping that we can just nip inside the Western end of the ice gate, we are just and just making it on this tack with nothing to spare. It would be the final twist of the knife to have to tack again to get round it. Cross your finger, and if anyone you know has a direct line to Percy the Wind God as David Beckett calls him, perhaps you'd give him a nudge and ask him to do us a favour for once!

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