Thurs 5th  - Race 3 Day 10 - Bonfire Night
We took the decision to drop the spinnaker and run with a poled out head sail from yesterday evening. It was a gamble as Cork are hot on our heels and Singapore not far behind them. If they run with their Heavyweight spinnaker all night they could really chase us down.
At the midnight scheds Cork had taken 9 miles from us and we were worried that by the morning they might be in the lead but by the time the midday scheds came in we were still holding them off.

It was another good night, although colder. We seem to be adding a layer every night and wooly hats and fleecy snoods are the order of the day. It was also pretty wet, the rain was persistent and made sitting on deck a chore. Our bunks that used to be hot, sweaty places of airless and sleepless torture in the previous leg, have now become warm, cosy, hibernation havens.  Oh, how I look forward to getting into my sleeping bag at the end of the watch!
The helming is increasingly challenging and strenuous. Having read books by global solo sailors Ellen MacArthur and Emma Richards, where they talk about helming for six hours solid – I now appreciate what a test of strength and endurance that must have been. We do half-hour stints on the helm – and while I'm always eager to do a few minutes more – the conditions at the moment mean that it is a real upper body workout! I'll soon have arms like Popeye at this rate!

The rain today had a definite icy feel about it. It looked and felt a bit sleety! It's funny how it's taken us all by surprise.  We knew it would get colder but none of us expected such a dramatic change from the trip to Rio.  It's almost like we arrived in one season and left in another!

We had some more Dolphin visitors  – which was great for the guys who had joined us in Rio.  These majestic aquatic creatures danced and leapt out of the increasingly wild sea which in turn, appeared to feed their frenzy. It was another reminder that actually it is we who are the visitors!
I managed to get a few good shots of them as I was on my way up with the camera to try and capture the size of the waves on video. They are by far the biggest I have seen or sailed on yet.

The shots just don't do them justice though.  It's quite something to be on the helm, feeling a huge wave pick the boat up behind and before you know it you're surfing on the shoulders of a massively powerful force of water.  You then dip into the trough and the sky disappears from in front of you and is replaced by the towering backside of the wave you just rode. It's pretty exciting stuff and I giggle nervously through my grin. I still can't quite believe I'm at the helm of this amazing yacht, in waves this big, in the South Atlantic Ocean!  It's not at all scary – just awe-inspiring.  Piers puts this into perspective by saying that the waves 600 miles further south are between 9 and 12 metres opposed to the ones we're now riding which are a mere 4 – 5 metres high. I'm still feeling pretty pleased with myself though.  I've done quite a few scary and adventurous things in my life previously but this has to be the tops.  I can't begin to understand what this must feel like for Bex – one of the Hull Ambassadors on this leg – who is just 18.  She's quiet and modest – not the type to say ‘boo to a goose’ and yet she takes her turn on the helm with a quiet enthusiasm and handles the boat across the ocean with confidence and skill.  When she goes home she'll be picking back up with her course to become a nursery nurse.  For me that seems the more scary of the two situations but she will undoubtedly have taken many life lessons and much confidence from this trip – and if nothing else will have many exciting tales to tell her young wards in the future!

As I type this below decks, I can hear a shout of “Big wave” from up on deck.  They've all been pretty darn big for the last few days so this one must be humungous! The shout is pretty quickly followed by a swoosh of water and a scream as the on-deck crew get drenched. I have a feeling this is about to become part our regular routine. I shiver as I consider that this is nothing compared to the cold, wet and windy conditions promised on leg five from Qingdao.  I push that to the back of my mind for now and enjoy these mountainous waves. After all we're still in the lead......just!

PS  For those of you who are wondering...we did discuss a having a Bonfire – and while the consequences of that would almost certainly lead to us setting off flares which would be very much like fireworks - our survival instincts kicked in and we decide that this was one tradition we couldn't uphold on the boat!