June 2, 2016 - Caribbean Sea

Race 11 day 4. We are sailing in what feels to me like my home away from home waters. I have spent many a happy day cruising in the Caribbean. Somehow the water seems bluer here. Certainly there is more luminescence in the water as compared to the Pacific side of this leg of the Race, particularly noticeable during the night shifts, which have been moonless recently (waning, and late rising). We are getting more wind than was predicted, so our strategy of heading slightly to the west side of the race course to avoid the giant light air wind shadow of Haiti did not  quite pan out, as there was good wind across the whole course. But much as expected, the fleet is converging on a virtual race course mark NE of the passage between Cuba and Haiti. We are in the middle of it. We have been working diligently to keep the boat moving fast. Trim trim trim.  We are going at about 8 - 10 knots in 15 - 20 knots of wind, sometimes less, sometimes more. We have occasionally reefed and dropped the Yankee in anticipation of squalls, but these have not amounted to much. Yesterday, the watch from noon to 6pm seemed interminable. I have never experienced that before. It's not as though I as not engaged in the sailing. I checked and directed sail trim on the quarter hour for the first hour, then played the traveller in gusts for an hour (spilling wind from the main sail so the helmer could keep the boat going in a straight line), then I was the grinder for the traveller for an hour (used the winch to grind the traveller back up to center after each gust), then helmed for an hour, then was in the pit to respond to sail trim calls (and provide refreshments and snacks to the crew) for the final hour. As back up, I didn't have other duties. Others on the watch agreed the time was moving slowly. I believe that the time goes faster when there are other boats around that you can see and judge your performance against. Because of the wind direction as compared to our target direction, there was no need to tack, so no planning and teamwork excitement there. Also, we were sailing upwind, resulting in a dramatic constant heel to the boat, making moving around the boat and every task much more difficult and time consuming, requiring full attention. As well, we are still settling into our watch routines, and getting over initial sea sickness. There has been lots of sweating with resulting dehydration (headaches, fatigue, drowsiness). All of this combined to make a long somewhat tedious watch. All of that has changed now. We arose for our morning watch to find boats all around us. With the "new" unexpected wind, and efforts to challenge and cover other boats, we have done a number of tacks. During what turned out to be a brief period of lighter air, we swabbed the decks in the early morning sun. Later on, we saw Jamaica in the distance - seeing land always peaks our interest. The watch passed pleasantly and quickly, consummated in what is now our traditional "happy hour". After a hearty meal of pork and beans with smashed potatoes, Matt gave us an update,  we chatted about plans for arrival in NYC, and then it was "happy fun time". Today we chatted about some of our favorite sayings.  There was mention of:

- always walk on the sunny side of the street

- silence is golden (this almost stopped discussion dead!)

- you only regret what you didn't do

- live each day like it was your last (or should it be like it was your first?)

- don't eat yellow snow

- don't skate to where the puck was, rather to where it is going

- and some "Jordy" sayings that I couldn't quite catch

Elaine, appropriately and quite typically wearing a T-shirt that said "inspire inspire inspire" (that tells you a lot about Elaine), explained that the word "impossible" has the words "possible" and "I'm" in it, so never think that something is impossible. This motley crew of all colors and stripes has accomplished a podium position in the last race. Can we do it again? Don't say it's impossible!