298 miles to go. Many of the boats at the back end of the fleet are becalmed, and some are taking advantage of the conditions to…go for a swim! Now that would feel good right now to us. But as we’re close reaching at nine to ten knots towards the finish we’ve decided to wait until we’re anchored for a dip.
We had pleasant sailing last night, with nary a peep from the engine. Winds were mostly on the beam, around nine to twelve knots, and we were close reaching with the mizzen blade at 10 to 11 knots most of the evening. A few squalls livened things up and got boat speed up a notch,but they were all short-lived.
We’ve listened to all the usual weather sources on SSB, downloaded our faxes, and of course consulted our SetSail-MaxSea routing software. Everything agrees-which makes us nervous-that the wind will stay out of the east at 10 to 14 knots.
In order to better our record of last year we need to average a little over 9.5 knots-which ought to be easy, unless the wind drops. Right now our speed over the ground is just 8.75 with a knot and a quarter of current against us (which we’ve been fighting for the last 30 hours-it is not fair). Needless to say, we’ll be doing a lot of sail trimming as the wind shifts back and forth.
One of the things we really like about SetSail-MaxSea is how easy it is to rearrange the computer screen for different situations. Above is the way we are currently using the program on Beowulf. There are three sections of chart shown; in the upper left is a close in detail which we use to watch our track as the wind shifts push us up and down. The large chart shows the entire area between where we are and the finish, and the small piece (bottom right) is the finish line detail. The large white area bottom left is the polar curve window, which helps us with sail trim.
Left: The finish line is specified as latitude 18 degrees 29 minutes off Virgin Gorda. So, using the SetSail MaxSea plotting tools we’ve put the line in, with flags of course at each end. Keep in mind that you can start an operation in one window and finish in another. So, if we want to measure the distance and bearing from our position in the upper left detail window, to the finish line detail, you just click in the first window, and then the second.