Captain's Log, Stardate:

12/03/2001

The ARC Crossing Part 4

Here's the lastest:

1200 miles to go!

Hello from the middle of the North Atlantic! We passed the midway point yesterday (Sunday) morning and, as I look at the gps today, we have exactly 1200 NM to go out of an original total of ~2800. (A nautical mile is 1.15 times a statute mile and is used at sea because it represents 1 minute of latitude. Hence, 1 degree of arc on the earth's surface is 60 nautical miles or 69 statute miles, for whatever all that is worth. Even Europeans use the NM--grudgingly I suspect--rather than the kilometer because it makes more sense.) We have averaged 8.6 kts for the first 1,600 miles. Since this is our 8th day at sea, I suppose, we can expect to make landfall roughly on December 9 or 10 IF nothing else happens to change that.

The water temperature is over 80 degrees and about the same for the air. We all wear our swimsuits the whole day now. Winds are 15-25 kts out of the east and, since we are moving at 7-9 kts away from it, we only feel around 12 kts coming over the transom into the cockpit and saloon, just a nice gentle breeze. Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular at sea and I will never grow tired of the royal blue of the ocean, juxtaposed with the much lighter blue of the sky. The 8 foot waves, breaking as they see fit causing foam as white as snow the crests of which are often translucent. Occasionally, a fish can be seen silhouetted in the crest. Perhaps the clouds have no better color or shape here than on land . . . but there are so many more of them! They stretch randomly as far as the eye can see from horizon to horizon, in every direction.

I usually prefer moonless nights but now I am convinced that, while at sea anyway, the moon adds a magic of its own. We have the silver pathways always showing the way to the moon, the varying shades of the clouds from the moonlight, not to mention our own moonlit sails reminding us all how lucky we are to be here.

In spite of all that, we probably all agree the fishing is the best of all. We have been eating fresh fish everyday. One of us could be reading, another messing with the gps, a third checking the rigging, a fourth radioing our noon position to the ARC people, it doesn't really matter. Our ears are tuned to the sound of the reel suddenly spewing out line. We all converge on the starboard side stern rail to set the hook, start reeling in (if possible), break out the safety harness, gaff hook, seawater wash-down hose, filet knife, and the spray bottle of anesthesia, all at the same time. We have found that a 20 pound fish flopping around in the cockpit holding a sharp pointed object in its teeth poses one of the larger safety hazards at sea. So, just as a cruise ship steward welcomes a guest aboard with a rum drink, we now administer atomized hard liquor to the fish's gills immediately upon its arrival on deck. I think if more fish knew this in advance, they wouldn't struggle so hard to stay in the water. There is evidence, however, that word of our hospitality has reached the flying fish community. Every morning, we will find one or two on deck and last night, one especially eager individual flew right into the cockpit, flapping its wings and tail until Eric threw it overboard. My suggestion that he hold the fish as one would hold a paper glider and sail it off--wings a flapping--to see if it could keep going, came too late.

In the last seven days, we've seen two ships and one other sailboat. This, even though 243 sailing yachts all left Las Palmas at exactly 1 p.m. on Sunday and all are heading for exactly the same destination. Just as it surprised us what we wouldn't be seeing, it surprised us too what we have seen, BIRDS. We are equidistant (1200 NM) from Cape Verde Islands and St. Lucia, the nearest land at this point. These birds must, I suppose, either sleep while they fly (using involuntary muscles like we breath) or settle into the water like a gull. That leaves open, of course, the question of what they drink.

Will send another email if something exciting happens and, unfortunately for you, even if it doesn't.

Hope all is well with you and your family.

Lee, Eric, Ron, and Layne