Thursday at sea

The problem for the next few days is how not to get engulfed in a high in front of us. We trundled along happily through the night dead downwind , but by dawn the wind was down to 10 knots and there followed much examining of tea leaves and grib files to work out what to do. Our preferred route is in fact still dead downwind to get around the top of the high ,which is a bit of a problem as in light airs and at least two different swells that could be rolly , rattly and slow! Just in the nick of time the wind popped up to 13 knots and backed just sufficiently for us to lay our course under kite with the wind 20 degrees off the stern . A few knots less and we would have to sail higher angles , a few knots more and the seas would begin to build making the kite hard work for the autopilot , so it is just about perfect , although without our net jib we would have had a load of spinnaker wraps by now. It also suggests we are about the right distance north of the high which is good news.
The only fly in the ointment are the creaks in the steering system. I examine it thoroughly every day and it LOOKS as solid as a rock , but still seems to have a sound from the pedestal from time to time. If there is a problem , there is nothing I can do about it until it shows itself , and if there is not , there is nothing to worry about , but nonetheless it is slightly reducing the pleasure of an otherwise beautiful day.
There appears to be plenty of life in this bit of ocean . Yesterday we sailed past two very large fin whales that appeared to be sleeping on the surface , and every few hours , day and night we are visited by families of spotted dolphins. We seem to have left the tropic birds behind and are now mainly accompanied by various kinds of petrels flitting over the waves. The clear skies and warm moist SW wind provide a clear contrast between day and night. Last night we broke out the woolly hats for the first time since August , whereas today we are back in shorts and sunhats.
Tomorrow should see us 1/3 of the way there , and we have a whole packet of crisps with which to celebrate ( oh yes , we live well on Festina!) , with another for 2/3rds and a Christmas pudding for half way . No wonder we have our foot down as we pass 35 30 N 55 50 W. All well.

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