2nd October
Well it's got us again. We're so close to the scoring gate now and the wind has died and we're going nowhere fast. However it's big Mike's Birthday today. A youthful 53 years old and the team have gone all out to make it as special as possible. Fresh coffee has been brewed for breakfast, and Vic and Al have been working overnight and into the early hours making fresh bread 'sausage rolls' - using up some spare tins of hotdog sausages, and a fantastic looking chocolate cake – from a packet mix, which just about works by substituting the required eggs (which we don't have) with some additional cooking oil. There are Happy Birthday candles on the cake, and balloons and bunting up in the saloon area – it all looks very jolly.  Mike (or Tiny Tim as I call him... he's 6 foot 9 inches tall!) is touched by the effort and declares that while he's not one for keep-sakes that he will keep the card we all signed, for some years to come.

It's absolutely 'Scorchio' and the day passes in a haze of drinking juice, eating the extra special “Birthday meals” the mothers have prepared, reading and taking your turn on the helm while willing the wind to pick up.  Our boat song is Daft Punks “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” which we chose because it's a great motto for us – however at the moment it perhaps should be “Eating, Drinking, Reading, Sleeping”!  None of us feel like racing sailors right now, but as Piers points out dealing with the times when we have little or no wind is all part of the experience. If we were on a cruise we'd just turn on the engine and motor towards more wind. But we're not.  We're in a sailing race and this is all part of the challenge – not just of our skills as sailors but also a test of character, determination, focus and perhaps more importantly tolerance. Perhaps there's a sign that a few lessons have already been learned on that front as a much more harmonious feel has been restored to the boat today. Or maybe it's just the promise of Chocolate birthday cake that is making everyone behave!

We hear the news that Australia have crossed the scoring gate first, that Finland and Cork have ignored it and are flying down the coast of Africa going for the overall race win.  Qingdao now also look like they could get to the scoring gate before us. We're gutted but pragmatic. We'll still pick up at least one point  - or maybe two and there's still a long, long way to Rio.  We left La Rochelle in last place and within 2 days were well in the lead.  That changed, so it can change again. We're Hull and Humber and will be back with a vengeance.  In the meantime and until the wind comes, at 4pm when everyone is up we crank on the stereo and have a little party atmosphere to round off Mike's special day. The cake is consumed eagerly – only after Jeremy has made us all pose - with the bossiness of a seasoned wedding photographer - for the daily blog photo for the Clipper website and after supper Mike produces the miniature bottle of Benromach whiskey I'd given him as part of his  Birthday loot earlier, which gets passed round all eighteen of us. Luckily for him most people decline and our first crew birthday at sea draws to a close.  In true Gentleman's Club fashion some of the boys round off the celebrations with coffee and a cigar at the stern of the boat, while I get ready for night watch, thinking about that scoring gate and muttering that we need to pull our collective socks up!!!