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Day 12 – The final day, and goodbyes.

By Sharon Ferris-Choat

11.5nm West of Horta Harbour Marina at 0627 UTC, still dark but the sun rise is not far away. Warmer now than in the middle of the night. Barometer going up as well.

  • TWD 313°
  • TWS 13.5 kn
  • COG 107°
  • SOG 7.3 kn
  • Sea State 1-2m

Depth has gone from 2000m to 200m with these amazing under water mountains. On the chart they look like volcanos.

Contour lines of our chart as we approach Horta 2000m to 200m

Last night we had a fun night with squalls fill of lighting, heavy downpours of rain and sudden wind increase under dark long clouds that shifted the wind direction. We played this to our advantage by gybing into the favorable tack with the closest course to our way point off the SW corner of Faial Island, with its welcoming lights and high hills.

One squall last night went from 18 knots to 36 knots in seconds. We felt the cold air rush at our faces and then the blast of wind that got us easing sails quickly and putting hoods on to keep the pouring rain on the outside of our wet weather gear.

Sarah Evans our nipper at 18.4 (Don’t forget the .4 Sharon!) was driving and she has worked really hard on this trip to learn as much as possible, always looking for feedback and asking smart self assessment and advancement questions. Her driving in this squall was a huge success story for Maiden.

Maiden is giving girls like Sarah the opportunity to drive in big waves in a racing system that simply gives her hours to practice. Girls don’t normally get that opportunity. Sarah drove like a pro, she was confident in her ability that she was in control and she was, she had a team beside her trimming (basically letting everything off) at the right moments.

On the leeward side of the bow and under the boom was a water/wind show being reflected in the navigation lights that was like watching water ballet with the whistle of the wind in the rigging as the natural music of drama to top off this very dark cloud in a moonless night. Of course our mates the waves were there surfing us down the waves at max speed.

All the girls have improved over this trip. I was on opposite watches to Hadley and Lungi so I didn’t see them much but we will have a debrief about what worked on this leg for individuals and what worked as a team and what didn’t, how can we improve for the next leg and what are our objectives with learning etc. We will also switch the watches around to put different pairs together and learn new skills off other team members.

When we get to the dock we will clear customs, showers hopefully and we need to dry Maiden and ourselves out. Everything is damp, starting with the heavy rain the day before departure, fog on leaving Camden and a rough and windy few days, we are all damp. Everything will be stripped down and cleaned, hopefully we will have drying weather.

We will arrange the work list and set in motion the priority jobs, have a few days rest to enjoy Faial Island and then get Maiden ready to depart for Dakar next week.

We say bye for now to Henriette, which is sad. It has been a pleasure to sail with her as a watch buddy and see her grow – now that’s a lady who has questions and has made me think sometimes how I get the answers, because I just go off gut feeling of what’s happening or more important what is about to happen and what we need to be prepared for. Henriette didn’t see the practical side, she’s an highly intelligent woman who knows the theory inside and out and wanted more feeling to see the answers before theory books told her what to do. She found some of those answers and has translated them into her own Danish way and put the learning into real life sailing skills.

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