Day 8: 16 November 2016
Dawn on our eighth day at sea arrived with moody skies threatening of rain or squalls. We were warned that the likelihood of encountering squalls would increase as we sailed westward. The squalls can come with loads of rain and strong, shifty winds, or no wind at all. As this particular rain cloud approached from behind, we quickly rolled in the genoa in preparation for shifty, gusty winds. Fortunately, we only encountered a few moments of rain and no change in wind speed or direction.
The rain was enough to wash the salt spray off the decks and wake the young crew at sunrise. The early start to the day was not wasted; the goal was to get all homework tasks accomplished before lunch so that we could have an important celebration in the afternoon —- Half Way There!
The crew (kids and adults alike) worked on decorations for the Half Way There party. We made a sign (“Yay, 1/2 Way”), decorations for our hair, and pom-pom shakers. As the important distance milestone approached, we gathered in the cockpit to enjoy ginger beer and lime mocktails and to make some noise!
Just at the instant of crossing the magic halfway line, a fish hit our lure and we went into panic mode! Get the kids harnessed in a place to watch the landing; get the gloves; get the gaff! By the time we were organized enough to start hauling in the 50 m fishing line, the fish got away. We pulled the lure in to find that two of the three hooks had been straightened by the load of the fish fighting against the boat. We would have loved to catch a fish, but not TOO big a fish!
After sorting our the mayhem, we returned to the cockpit to celebrate getting that much closer to Barbados with a lot of cheers, all captured on a very memorable video!
During the afternoon, another White Ibis landed on the boat. It found a quiet corner with no wind in the lee of the dodger, and decided to take a rest. It joined us all evening and all night; pooping on the decks fairly regularly.
We celebrated getting half way to Barbados with a dinner feast of (canned) Indian food, steamy rice, warm naan bread, and chilled mango chutney. It was certainly a feast to remember.
We also celebrated that we had been a “carbon neutral” boat for the past 72 hours. The solar panels and hydro-generator had provided enough power for past three days to supply all of our power requirements on the boat, including running the navigation instruments, the autopilot, the refrigerator, the lights, and the numerous mobile phones and tablets. We also have a wind generator. However, when running before light tailwinds, the apparent wind over the deck is too low to provide much power from the wind generator.
As night approached, the winds lightened to about 10 knots and we slid silently through the water towards Barbados. Over the SSB net, we heard that many boats were reporting less than 5 knots of wind, so we were very thankful for our 10 knots. However, shortly after midnight, the wind dropped for us and we, reluctantly, started the motor to top off the batteries and keep forward speed to help improve the motion of the boat. Our total run for the day was 120 miles.