With advice to slow down in order to avoid the worst of a storm, we thought we would make the most of the fact three boats were in close company so decided to have our own Christmas Party. After 50 days of racing 24/7, continually trying to go as fast as possible and to get ahead of other boats, we called a truce, down sails, slowed down, and rendezvoused in the middle of nowhere.
Some 400 miles south of Tasmania, we exchanged gifts, and in my case sang some Christmas carols. I also gave Alan a memory Stick with over 100 movies and a cigar for which he was ecstatic.
On receipt he bellowed back “That will be the first cigar I’ve ever smoked,” As the youngest in the race he has to start sometime! Though he’ll be disappointed all the movies I gave him are respectable not the pornographic ones I told him to expect.
Our most unusual rendezvous under the banner of the Southern Ocean Residents Association was akin to the seen at the trenches in the First World War. Where we have sudden piece from passing storms this past three weeks in the Indian Ocean, 100 years ago the soldiers stopped shooting for a temporary peace in no mans land, met, shook hands, exchanged gifts, before going back into battle with each other.
Anyway I dispatched a small bottle of whiskey and a lucky leprechaun, but alas the throw was a foot short and despite gallant efforts from Eric it was lost to the Ocean.
All three of us had no headsails, and reefed mainsails, and for 36 hours we were going very slowly – to avoid sailing into a massive deep low pressure building south of New Zealand where the winds are set to reach 70 knots and the seas up to 10 metres.
It has been a deeply emotional and moving day. Here on the ocean alone, I’m really appreciative of the gifts from family and friends and the many Christmas greetings sent online.
This support is invaluable for the next phase as we make for the Pacific Ocean and the much anticipated rounded of Cape Horn. It’s a massive stretch of barren water ahead as we dive south again as we had to come up close to pass Australia, if you consider 400 miles close.
With the mast track now damaged at the first spreader it will be impossible to reef further or take the main down. Looks like there will be some interesting heavy weather sailing ahead. Meanwhile we still work on resolving computer issues.
Of course the Indian Ocean Residents Association now merged with the Atlantic Ocean Residents Association and we look forward to meeting our colleagues in the Pacific. With that in mind the Christmas Day presidential address was a very civilized affair with messages of peace, love and harmony.
To top it all off we encountered a school of dolphins. Not the normal ones we’re used to in Western Europe as they have a white stipe, but they look the same otherwise. As I stood on the bow of the boat they ducked and dived while I talked to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if tthey comprehended my incomprehensible conversation – they were clearly conscious of life on deck.