Position: 7,8.77N , 46,55.96W

Speed: 17 knots, Course: 311 deg.

We had been stressed about our lack of speed for long enough. Brasil1 kept putting miles on us and Ericsson was getting closer. Even though we could not see anything on the keel or rudder, we decided the only way to get the possibility that there was something still on there was to stop the boat and send a couple of guys in. A few days ago we hooked a long line that seemed to have all come off but we started talking ourselves into all kinds of possibilities like maybe there is still a piece of monofilament line on there that we can’t see, or that maybe there was some damage to the bottom of the hull that we could not see with the endoscope.

So at 1700 local time, we stopped the boat and Erle Williams and Anthony Merrington went in. The conditions were fairly tame, 13 knots of wind and smooth seas. Putting people in the water is never something to take lightly at sea. We discussed the whole maneuver before hand, set up ropes that hung over the entire length of the boat on each side, and had one crew member dedicated to watching and assisting each swimmer. The whole operation went smoothly. Fortunately or unfortunately, they found nothing.

From the time we headed up into the wind until we had all the sails back up

and sailing at speed on course was a total of five minutes. Since we were doing about 15 knots at the time, that operation cost us about 1.25 miles. Considering that we still have 2500 miles to go, it was worth the cost to have piece of mind.

So why have we been slow? I think we have a weak spot in our sail inventory and we have been sailing right in that spot for the past 30 hours. Basically it is 85-100 true wind angle at 14-17 knots. That should be the area covered by a sail called the R2 and ours just doesn’t seem very fast. Obviously we have been talking about that sail a lot and have some thoughts on how to improve it.

Despite the team swim, we managed to gain a couple of miles on Movistar and Brasil on the lat sked. Ericsson still gained on us as did ABN2 for the first time but it looks like they had more wind behind. We are not on the R2 anymore and we feel like we are going well again.

The forecast for the next 24 hours is for the wind to lift so we will be going from 100 degrees of True-Wind-Angle to 130 degrees of TWA over the next 12 hours. This will require us to change sails a couple of times to “Step” down from a headsail to the right spinnaker.

The conditions tonight are superb. Almost full moon, flat seas, 16 knots of wind, 25 C air temperature and we are reaching along doing 17 knots. Hard to beat that! Life inside the boat is getting better. The sea temp is down another degree to 27.7. We are almost sleeping during the day.

As far as sea life goes, last night we were attacked by flying fish. One center punched Craig Satterthwaite right between the eyes and knocked him down. Another one hit Ian Budgen in the arm. These little rockets fly in the daytime too but they are attracted to the lights on our instruments at night and come flying at the boat. They are very hard headed so they hurt when they hit you, sometimes at speed up to 20 knots.

Dinner is on the boil, literally. No matter how boring it is to eat the same food for two weeks, you are always looking forward to meal time out here. The midnight weather is coming up to so Jules and I will be working on that for an hour or so.

For your enjoyment, I am enclosing some photos from King Neptune’s visit a couple of days ago.

Paul Cayard

Pirates of the Caribbean