On 27 June the day’s run was 132% miles. At 9 p.m. I turned in early; the wind was backing and I expected to be called out soon. At 11 p.m. I woke and lay listening to Gipsy Moth riding madly through the night. It was rough going, but also it was intensely exhilarating, and I lay for some time pondering whether I should let her carry on. I thought that the mast, sails and gear could stand the strain, but Miranda was the weak link I feared for. Finally I dragged myself out of my blankets and climbed into the cockpit. Gipsy Moth was on a reach under yankee and full main, with a Force 6 wind on the beam. She was rushing into the dark with apparently acres of white water from the bow waves tearing past. I reckoned that we were doing
10 knots, faster than we had ever sailed before. Occasional combers rolled the boat over on to her beam, or slewed her stern or bows round. Regretfully, I lowered the big jib, and reefed two rolls of the mainsail. Still, Gipsy Moth was going faster than she had done before on the voyage. It was a rough night, but when I woke at 6.30 in the morning I found the sun streaming into the cabin out of a clear sky.
At noon that day Gipsy Moth had sailed 159% miles in the previous twenty-four hours. If only she could have had a fresh breeze all the time since the end of that gale! But day after day brought hours of calm, and hours of light airs. The daily distances sailed showed how well Gipsy Moth was going; one day she logged 132 miles, in spite of four hours calm and five hours of light airs. On three days after the gale she sailed more than 130 miles a day, and only on four days out of the thirteen sailed less than 100 miles. To have Gipsy Moth sailing well and under full control by Miranda in a zephyr gave me just as much pleasure as having her going well in a gale. Once in the middle of the night I woke up to find her becalmed. As I lay I pondered why the sails were asleep instead of flapping, and why the boom was not creaking as it swung to and fro. I went up into the cockpit and the first thing I noticed was a reflection of the planet Jupiter in the sea, something I have never seen before offshore. The sea could not have been calmer. To my surprise Gipsy Moth was ghosting along at 1% knots in the right direction, with Miranda in control. It seemed hardly believable; I suspected that the log was reading wrongly, and out of curiosity I popped up again an hour later. I found that Gipsy Moth had sailed 2% miles during the hour.
New York Map Geographical Photo Gallery
One day the wind pressed me out of the Labrador current into the Gulf Stream. This set Gipsy Moth back 18 miles, the Gulf Stream averaging three-quarters of a knot. It was unfortunate from a racing sailor’s point of view, but from a personal viewpoint it was wonderful – a perfect fine day, with pale blue sky and deep blue sea sparkling in the sun. Now and then Gipsy Moth sailed through a lane of dark yellow seaweed from the Sargasso Sea. I thought that here was the occasion to change for dinner, to put on my green velvet smoking jacket which I had hopefully carried from England hanging in the clothes locker, and to sit down to a royal feast of grapefruit; cold salmon, with fresh potatoes and onions; ginger nuts and Danish blue cheese (a speciality de la maison); almonds and raisins; coffee. But it was not to be. When the time came for dinner, I was too tired. All through this voyage I had been racing much harder than in 1960, changing the sails more often, and trimming them more frequently. Preparing my daily reports, making contact with London, and transmitting, used up about an hour a day, navigation filled up to two hours, and the antics necessary to charge the batteries used up between half an hour and three hours a day. Usually it was so late at night before I could sit down to my third meal that I wanted to drop down asleep immediately afterwards, with restless dreams to follow. When I cut down to two major meals a day I felt much fitter for it.
At 6 a.m. on 1 July (ship’s time was now the same as New York time, five hours earlier than British Summer Time) I had been thirty days out from Plymouth. I was still 340 miles short of New York.
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