Three Digit Countdown to Gibraltar
Position: 30 Degrees 49 North 021 Degrees 02 West
Miles to Go: 917!
The countdown is really on now. Our instruments it the cockpit can only show three figures for a distance to a waypoint so when the numbers ticked over from 999 nautical miles remaining to Gibraltar and started counting down I was so happy it was as if we had already arrived. While I know that we are getting closer to the end of the race there are no physical signs of our immenent arrival on terra firma, aside from the food bags becoming frighteningly empty
The wind blows and shifts its direction without mercy, the stars are still stunningly beautiful in the crystal clear sky and we are still surrounded by the big blue sea as we have been for months. Thus the excitement about having a rapidly reducing number representing the miles to go!
As we have been alone almost all of the race, and nursing the boat for most of it, the fact that this is a race has sometimes felt as distant as our competitors. While the top 5 boats are cooling down on the dock in Barcelona, the final competition is heating up for us. The race organizers have set the 21st of April as the prize giving and we’re going to do everything we can to not miss the party. We are out of the prizes and a long way from the flash bulbs that greated the winners but Nandor and I, and the Spirit of Hungary, have been through so much together that the biggest prize will be just making it back home.
However, in an exciting “will they or won’t they” plot twist, yesterday we announced that we currently have two broken keel bolts (out of eight). We fixed the first one that broke in New Zealand but had another break when we were in the midst of a southern ocean storm with 1000 miles to go to the Cape Horn. Since then we have been taking it easy by reefing early and choosing a routing that minimized stress on the boat. Inspite of our gently gently approach another bolt failed on Saturday, leaving us in a rather precarious position. We are unlikely to lose the keel completely because there are still a lot of significant bits of metal holding it in but it has put us on edge for the final miles. By keeping the keel fully canted we are also helping to reduce the load on the bolts as the hydraulic ram pushes the axle of the keel into the bottom of the boat. It’s not a run for the podium but I can assure you it will be exciting until the finish line!