What a difference 2 days make..Christmas Eve we had snow on the deck, enough for a snowball fight across the cockpit. I remember taking my big drysuit gloves off for a few minutes to do a fiddly job on deck, and then having to warm my hands over the open flame of the stove for several more minutes..it was that cold - with the air temp of 3C, the wind speed and the 100% wetness, the heat loss was really fast..it was an archtypical Southern Ocean weather, big wind and waves, downwind blasting..
In contrast, today we are wearing shorts and T Shirts, and drying all our sleeping bags and foul weather gear out on the netting, and showering (bucketing to be more accurate) for the first time in nearly a month.. There is blazing sunshine and we are trickling downwind in 8 knots of wind far offshore of Brasil..
To get from one scenario to the other, we had a really fast Christmas Day, reaching with Solent and one reef on the outer reaches of the depression that took us past Cape Horn..we had big waves from behind that we surfed on, hitting 43 knots at times, in just 21knots of wind..it was fantastic sailing, very safe for the boat, as the waves were too spaced apart to nosedive into, and we had relatively small and bulletproof sails up..
Now we are getting round one high pressure to our West before we tackle the main high that is off to our NE. We have just gybed onto starboard around this first high.
The swells from that Southern Ocean low are behind us again after that gybe, so it's pretty smooth, and Florent is going up the mast for another rig check. Fingers crossed its all ok. We have done about 15,000 miles since his last check, in about this place..
I was looking at the wall chart that I have been marking our daily position on, and it looks like we have crossed our track from Day 8 to 9. So we have now completed a circumnavigation of the Antarctic continent, and of the Southern Ocean. In just 25 days! It's all been fast except for those 2 very pedestrian days in the Pacific Ocean.
The boat has just been brilliant, and the crew fantastic - it's been a dream run around the bottom of the planet. We had everything that you could want, big wind, big seas, squalls, icebergs, growlers, records tumbling, fog, cold, albatross, even some snow..the only thing missing, especially for the first timers, was a view of Cape Horn. On my part, I don't mind at all missing the Cape, it was still the perfect ride - on the world's fastest boat, and sailing in the deep south, like in those famous Whitbread/Volvo stories..
As it took us 8.5 days to get here, if we took the same time to get back to Ushant, we would be done in 43 days- if only it were so simple! It's going to take us much longer to return, with at least 2 days light airs around these high pressures, then it's upwind in the NE Tradewinds with a big loop to make around the Azores, so there are lots more miles than on the way down, and slower miles, so there is still all to play for, and we need to keep the boat in top shape..