Sun
I wrote about the heat previously, and temperatures reached their hottest yet this morning. Chewie and I started on the winch maintenance, which turned out to be a very uncomfortable job as not only was the deck too hot to sit on without something underneath our posteriors, but also picking up and handling the various winch parts (all metal and many coated in black against the rust) required pieces of kitchen towel to insulate against the heat. The winch grease was almost liquid in the heat and went everywhere – at least we know all the winch parts are very well lubricated now!

We also had a bit of excitement when Steve, who was helming, suddenly keeled over from the heat. Chewie was there in a flash while I grabbed the wheel and Steve was fine after a sit down in the shade with lots of water and rehydration salts. But his impression of a tree being felled (he is very very tall) was certainly impressive.
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Wendo was relaying the sports results at our daily meeting later on and realised the score on the boat is now
SUN 2 (Steve and Nugget) : YORKSHIREMEN 0.
Apparently the round yellow disk in the sky doesn’t get as far North as Yorkshire so the Aussies are providing sun education…

Swimming
Since we have missed our slot today for refuelling, we had time to burn this afternoon, so all four boats in our group decided to stop, drop the mainsails and let the crew off for a swim (it may have had something to do with how much we all smell, even with our fresh rainwater shower yesterday!). We hooked up the scramble net to the back of the boat as a ladder (when you are in the water the deck of the boat is very high up!), and pretty much everyone went in for a dip. Some were more adventurous than others and James entertained us with various dives off the A-frame, while Chewie and Wendo had another go at getting more fishing net off the prop.
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Nugget was worried about how cold the ocean would be (see previously comment about Yorkshiremen and the sun), but eventually went in to the water, and wondered what all the fuss was about – it was tepid. From the deck the water was calm with a slight swell, but when you are in it you realise how big those swells actually are, and how much current and wave action can quickly carry you away from the boat. It’s a salutary lesson about the power of the sea, when you are not immured on a 70-foot yacht.

Even in the midst of the fun (watching all the girls try to keep their bikini bottoms from falling off while climbing up the scramble net, for example, or dive bombing Nugget), I couldn’t help thinking a little about what it must be like to be in the sea when the water is not a balmy temperature and the waves are not calm and regular. Even with a life jacket on you are very much at the mercy of the waves, and if you’re not careful the boat can go from being right next to you one minute to beyond swimming distance the next. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for Sarah Young, washed overboard in the stormy, cold seas of the North Pacific, with huge swells and constant spray from all directions.
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It was a truly chilling thought in the middle of a tropical day.

Storms
Given that we are not in the tropics it was not surprising that this evening saw the arrival of some truly spectacular storm clouds. I came up on deck around sunset, and the sky looked as though it was divided neatly in two – behind us the sun was setting, with lots of fluffy pink and gold clouds and fantastic, fluorescent colours. In front of us was 50 Shades of Grey, minus the bad writing, with two huge thunderheads, one of either side of us, sheet lightning, forked lightning and torrential downpours.
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We battoned everything down, pulled on waterproofs and waited in the pitch black for the squalls to hit. And waited. And waited. And got a few drops of rain and a couple of gusts of cooler air. Eventually it was clear that we had managed to thread our way between the two squalls and spent the rest of the watch overtaking PSP and Visit Seattle (under tow) and coming up on station with Mission Impossible. We are currently about 10 miles from the entrance to the bay, with another 20 miles to reach our destination in Costa Rica.

Wendo tells us that we will have a couple of hours in the town while the refuelling happens (hooray!), so we are all thinking about what we want to eat (fresh fruit, fresh fish, cold beer and ice cream for me – not necessarily in that order, or together for that matter!), and what we will need to stock up on to get us to Panama. Frankie is voting for mangoes and pineapple, and buying pizzas for lunch. I think seriously good coffee (it’s Costa Rica after all!!!) is top of my priority list.

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Guest Blog by Valerie Saint-Pierre

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