Leg 4 Race 6 - 3rd Feb, Day 2

Night watch last night was good. I've always enjoyed night sailing under the stars and while as night fell there were quite a few clouds around, they soon cleared to reveal the wonderful starry skies that we'd all come to know and love. The winds, while still light, were fairly steady and we held to our course well, all the time trying to pinch as tight into the wind as we could. Dotted all around us on the horizon we could see the masthead lights of nearly all the other Clipper yachts and those we couldn't see by eye were near enough for us to pick up their position via the AIS (Automatic identification system) in the Nav station.  We were still holding a good position in the fleet around first or second but were keeping a close eye on the other boats, making sure they weren't getting much better speeds by being slightly further north or south.

About midnight Australia appeared to our south and tacked so they crossed directly behind us heading north. We could see by Finland's nav lights that they immediately followed suit but we held onto our chosen route believing that long term we'd have better winds and a more favourable current. The final hour of night watch was a struggle for us all. We'd been up for 20 hours with a only a short snooze in the middle, so were all desperately trying to stop our heads from nodding. Finally 2am came and our hot, sweaty bunks called us. Despite the heat, sleep was pretty much assured.

This morning we arrived on deck to find the fleet had drifted further apart and we could only spy California on the horizon about 3 miles to the south of us.  Most of the rest of the fleet had gone north and frustratingly we once again found ourselves in a light-wind situation. The other boats to the north appeared to have slightly better breeze but there was nothing we could do other than make the most of what we had.
When there's little wind the boat tends to sit flat in the water which is not it's most efficient sailing angle – a bit of a heel over is a good thing – apparently! So most of my watch today was spent lugging sails from one side of below decks to the other depending on which tack we were on and whether or not we wanted the weight on the low side (in light winds) or the high side (because the wind had picked up and our heel was now too much to be efficient). All very technical but the upshot of it meant that most of today was spent either hauling sails around building arm muscles like Popeye, or spent sitting on the rail gazing at the sea as it passed by.  With little else to do I spent the time trying to make up some exercise regime that could be done while sitting, constricted by guardrail and safety line. The best we could come up with was some sort of can-can style leg lifts which, having then done the Moulin Rouge style routine (obviously), became a bit dull.

Our most recent scheds show that we are now 7th. Piers is still confident that going further east will pay off over time. I have a feeling that there will be much 'sitting on the rail' this race, so the challenge is on to come up with a myriad of activities that can be done in this position!