Day 9, what a fantastic day! We finally hit out halfway mark: 1100nm(1980km) complete! Most cruisers have something planned for this event. We did not. From my side it was a mix of not sure if we’d make it this far, and/or feeling I’d jinx it. Luckily for us, Helena from SV Freedom heard about this and prepared a present for us to open. What an amazing present that was! Gift after thoughtful gift, full of love and encouraging words! Just amazing. Let’s see, we had a champagne bottle (oh yeah, it was the real thing; no cheap sparkling wine!), some facial masks for a treat-yo-self moment, cookies and candy. And every single one had an individual wrap and message. I can only remember a handful of times I put this much effort into a gift and Helena just did it for the sake of being nice. Amazing! It put a huge smile on our faces as we fought back the tears! The rest of the day went very well. The weather was great! A lot of sunshine and calm seas, and constant winds. That meant we had a sailing strategy, and after setting the boat to it, had all the time in for us. It was an amazing feeling. It felt like we were on holiday! And no, what we’re doing now is not holidaying at all! We took the time to prepare a special dinner, work on getting rid of the tan lines, listening to music and generally lounge around! As I said, incredible!! At the end of such a nice day we had to deal with a few changes to the weather, our sails and all the frustration it brings. The wind started to come almost from East, which means downwind sailing. We do not do downwind sailing! Unless there is a decent amount of wind to keep the sails full (we’re talking 18kt apparent) its really hard to sail Saetta downwind. The genoa is about 130% of thick cloth, so it’s quite heavy. When we’re sailing downwind and a wave hits us, the rolly motion of the boat is enough to deflate the sail, and when the boat uprights itself, there is a huge bang of the sail inflating. This puts way too much effort on the rig and sail. Most rigs fail not due to too much stress but due to shock. So I try to avoid it at all costs. We sometime sail with the genoa on a spinnaker pole. This works well, but it’s not without issues. In our case, it takes us about 20min to set the pole. And another 20 to reset it, if we jybe, because of the babystay is in the way! T hat and the fact the dinghy is on deck, makes the operation a little risky, especially on rolly seas. After the pole is set and secure rolling out the sail is fairly benign. We add some dinema cover to the jib sheet that goes through the pole. This way it helps to avoid chaffing issues. For me, the biggest drawbacks of this system is when the wind increases and/or changes direction, the sail becomes too exposed for my taste, and we take too long to bring the pole down. And if we go through a squall, even in a heavily reefed polled out genoa, I feel there will be too much force on the pole. So we love the system but feel it has its application, like in lighter airs. However, if it gets too light the sail will flap on the pole too. So the only thing we can do is to flatten it as much as possible by keeping the pole back and reefing the sail. In our case that’s just over 2 reefs. Of course the speed goes to crap! But at least the boat remains afloat with the mast on! The start of day 10 was a bit sad. First there was no sunshine; clouds everywhere! Then came the game of choosing the sail strategy, implement it, evaluate, and correct if needed. I know this is what sailing is about, but I don’t like this type.. it’s too racy for me! I like to sit and enjoy the scenery, not to have to adjust things all the time. After days of little wind, it seems between today and tomorrow the winds will increase, at least for a few days. Maybe we can pick up the pace! We’ve fell way behind! We started with an average of just under 6kt and are not barely above 4kt! :/ Time to prepare dinner! If you want to check where we are, head to Sailing Saetta Saskia & Miguel

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