Red watch came on 2200 - 0200hrs
Conditions have calmed. Unfortunately the poor visibility renders helming a mind numbing numbers game. Very frustrating as this often involves sailing blind to a number on the compass'.
Blue watch came on 0200 - 0600hrs
A message has come through from Steve's brother Pete Hacking wishing us well. He attaches a really nice poem.. We read it out in the dark. This is attached at the end of the blog.
This was the hardest watch so far to get up for. It really feels like we are on the final leg now.
The watch changes as we are 10 miles south of Plymouth. Conditions were 'as yesterday but with the lights out'.
Its 0215 and I look across through the dark and mist to Plymouth and think happily of my adult sons Tom and Joe. We tack and sail away towards Cowes, en direction St Malo!
These 'two till six' stints are hard for all of us. Gary makes unprintable observations on the time of night. Those little people in my head, constantly remind me to go back to sleep. Brett greets with a, 'you a'right mayte?' In his deep aussie drawl. Gareth observes we may not have to do this shift again, I sense a doubt.
The legal antidote to these morning blues, Gareth's staple diet, is a cup of coffee and can of red bull. Two sugars in the coffee please. You don't get this on the NHS.
Our night vision is really well tuned and even on this starless misty night we spot trawlers so much better than in those early days.
The gas is running low, this is serious as it drives the kettle, our Achilles heel. Retirement is briefly considered..
It is so silent, just the wind and the wave as the boat cuts its way through the water. There is even the risk of nodding off on the helm.
In the darkness the water glows behind the boat and shoals of fish give themselves away by creating sharp flashes as they disturb the water.
Earlier we had a kind message wishing us good luck from a chap in Michigan in the states. This was a real boost as he has been reading our barmy blog. His sister is on the boat British Soldier. This prompted some discussion as to why no ladies were racing with us? A brief look at each other and the question seemed to answer itself.
As the very faint lightness of the dawn starts to provide a reference point in the east, I find myself wondering how many pockets a yachtsman needs. The answer explains why anything important like a head torch or knife can easily get lost for days.
The wind shifts, giving us a sailing line for Start Point. We tack again on our erratic journey and set the course to round the Point before the tide turns..
The wind is building. This race will now turn on the quality of risk decisions based on uncertain information and luck. Gareth relies on the former, repeatedly visiting our options within the context of tidal gates and wind shifts.
Red watch returned 0600 - 1200hrs.
I Must Go Down to the Sea -
By John Masefield
I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume,
and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the sea again,
to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device