Leg 3 Day 7 - 7th December

I had a full night's sleep last night – part of the perk of doing mother watch – although I didn't sleep all the night as I was too chuffing cold!  I had gone to bed with the thought that I would reattach the third layer to my Ocean Sleepwear Sleeping bag (they are truly marvelous) but having looked everywhere in my locker space by head-torch I couldn't find where I had stashed it – so had to go to bed and think warm thoughts.  It was only as I readjusted my pillow that I found my extra layer stashed under my pillow!  By then it was too late to get up again so I put the job off.  Big mistake! I can't honestly say I was freezing but lying awake for several hours thinking “I'm not really quite warm enough” wasn't a good use of several hours either!

So today, with the temperature another couple of degrees colder, and the sight of my own breath in the air, I struggled out of my now seemingly toasty warm sleeping bag, and into my not one, not two or even three but four layers of thermal base layers and fleece tops, followed by my fusion mid-layer jacket and finished off by an ever-increasingly long struggle into my full Oilies. The jacket was all clever neoprene seals, designed to keep the water out, but which were also excellent at ensuring that my head, once in, would never see the light of day again. End result was near panic attacks with wildly thrashing arm and head movements every time I got dressed and un-dressed, which according to my fellow crew mates, who were now booking seats to watch this ritual made me look like an 'Octopus on drugs'. It also meant I was a tad dehydrated. So reluctant was I to go to the loo and have to dis-robe any more times than absolutely necessary that my normal 10 cups of tea a day was more than halved!

We were now fully in the Southern Ocean at more than 41º south and still heading south east. We'd picked up the back end of a low and were riding just in front of a high pressure ridge – hoping to keep just ahead of the body of the high pressure system. We were reaching with our Yankee No3 and 2 reefs in the main and still had maintained average speeds of over 10 knots and had clocked up our highest 24 hour mileage so far in the race of 249 miles. It's hard to keep some form of feeling of racing against the other boats really – they are so far ahead and in completely different weather systems. We are finding that Christmas is an easier target. Based on the assumed 8.5 knot average we're due in on Christmas Eve so every time we eek out more speed and a faster average that brings us closer to an arrival day of 23rd. 
By now we've sailed over 1,000 miles since leaving Cape Town and those of us that have been on-board since Hull, have sailed over 10,000 miles. We're almost as far away from home as we will be on this voyage and are sailing down further into the most inhospitable Ocean we are likely to face. I have to remind myself of these facts sometimes as when you're out here doing this it can almost seem like just another day of sailing!  The routine keeps you ticking over and the while some of the night-watches seem to drag by, conversely the days and weeks fly by. 

So another day in the Southern Ocean passes by for the crew of Hull & Humber. We haven't quite got the hugely enormous swells (they're just plain enormous) or the big-surf downwind sailing we were expecting but there is time yet for that to come. In the meantime it's still bloomin' cold (you need almost as many layers below decks as you do above) and sailing in the S.O. is still thrilling and not to be taken lightly. I haven't quite started utilising my 'ice-berg watching' skills- as honed earlier this year in the Solent - but it's feeling cold enough to consider that an appropriate action!