Thursday night presented the very harshest conditions yet. After breaking the yankee and tearing the staysail, the wind continued to pick up until it was 30 knots gusting 40 kts with a deep swell. The skies were pitch black and moonless as squall after squall hit us presenting challenging conditions at the helm.
At around 3am, we spotted a cargo ship just after we emerged from yet another squall and realising that the vessel was less than 6 miles away and bearing straight down on us, our captain Emily picked up the radio and said: “San Fernando, San Fernando, we are the sailing vessels 6 miles in front of you on a collision course with limited manoeuvrability, as we have just one sail at the moment, are you able to avoid us?”. Just another night on Sea Dragon crossing the Atlantic Ocean with her rookie crew.
Finally today the storms have passed. At long last the experience we were waiting for arrived; a nice and sunny day here in the Atlantic with a pleasant warm wind coming astern. As the forecast had predicted the wind veered to give us a steady breeze across our beam.
With good conditions, it was time to get the Yankee jib sheet fixed and our jib flying once more. We sent our ‘human koala’, Shanley, to scale the forestay to rethread the yankee jib sheet with the support of Emily and Caterina.
Later in the afternoon we have shared our ‘Me Search’ analysis of our body burden analysis, analysis of our blood serum for toxic compounds. Our body burden results give a picture of the bioacculmulative and persistent organic pollutants that have built up in our bodies over our lifetime. There were a few surprises in there. Emily had a high level of PBDE (brominated flame retardants), Shanley had high PFOS & PFOA (fluorinated compounds commonly found in fabric treatments, non stick, teflon, goretex fabric and emitted by these industries in their wastewater), and Sue had high PCB and chlorinated pesticide compounds. We will be doing a more thorough analysis of our results in the context of the wider Safe Planet study with Dr Anna Karrman when we get to Martinique. And as with every other day so far we spotted floating plastic debris and recorded it in the Marine debris tracker.
As we finished our session we witnessed a glorious sunset. After the five days of high winds, rains and strenuous conditions aboard, we reflected that everything happens for a reason and the experience has broken down barriers bringing us closer together. Now the mission begins.