After a fast night of close reaching, dawn broke with a cloudy sky. Now September and further South & West, it is quite noticeable how much later the sun breaks out over the horizon. The sea is warmer that daytime we're rapidly discarding layers, and not even fully clothed up during the night and early hours of the morning.
Now we're on our way as fast as possible to Inishtearaght Island.
There's lots of rocks off the coast here to worry the navigators, some of them just below the surface on a direct course between waypoints.
Glad we're doing this part in the daytime. This is our Western-most point of the race, with only the Southern-most point of the compass left to cross before heading back to Cowes.
Inching every last bit of speed from Playing Around has seen us make 15 sail changes in the last 24hrs, starting with Asail, to #1, to #2 back again and so on. Yes, it is tiring for the crew, but it is certainly making a difference as we close down the miles on our competitors. The wind has varied from 5 up to 20kts, and as I write back down to 7kts.
The offshore course down the Irish coast has paid off a bit of our debt, and then it will be all to play for in the Irish Sea and back up the channel.
The last 24hrs will see us dissolve the watch system, everyone on deck to squeeze out every little advantage we can. Tactics and navigation will be hot on the agenda, as we try to interpret the wind and tidal changes of the last few hundred miles whilst we keep the boat moving fast as we can. Even now we are thinking through our strategy and options for the last two big legs, across the Irish Sea and down the Channel.
Readers of the blog will know we no longer have a #3 jib, a sail ideally suited for upwind sailing in 15-25kts. We're compromising using the #2 with a reef for up to 22kts which so far has been quite effective. Above that we'll be changing to the #4, though we recognise that will hamper our performance a little which we will have to make up by better sailing.
The weather today is yet again wonderful. The sun just breaking out from the clouds, and we've had very little rain, most of which was around Muckle Flugga as we crossed a frontal system. Last night the Green Watch spotted a seal coming up to play in the waves, no doubt curious as to what we were doing here.
The daily cycle continues, sailing, food, sleep. Less of the boat maintenance thank goodness in the last 24hrs! Some crew bought books, but due to the washing machine spin mode and with so much else to do, no-one has yet opened a book, other than one with tides charts in it.
Discussion centres on little other than how to go faster.
Gotta go, changing sails again