First, excuse me for several typo's in my last post. I blame it on the angle of my stomach while typing!
The wind finally settled down yesterday evening to a respectable 15 Knots from the west and the seas were smoother at only 1.5 meters. After taking the the 5:30 pm Drifters' Net check-ins, we ate grilled aged cheddar sandwiches with salad and looked forward to a good sleep. Chris spotted a light just ahead of us to port and on the off-chance that it may be our friends on "Off Tempo", I put out a call on VHF 16. A surprised reply came from Terry of Off Tempo. However, they were 8nm to our east and a few behind, so the light ahead remained a mystery. Their autopilot had broken down but the wind vane was doing her duty. We offered to lend them Frankenpilot (our spare autopilot, assembled from the remains of other deceased autopilots), but they told us they were used to hand steering from previous passages and probably would not need it. Hopefully, there will be enough wind ahead to use the wind vane anyway.
Later on, as we were shaking out the third reef from the main, I heard another woman's voice on the VHF and jumped into the cabin just as she finished giving out her position. I asked her to repeat her info. It was the German yacht "Victoria" and they were only a mile off our starboard beam. Mystery solved! Thankfully on a clear night we could all avoid running into each other, but it would have been very difficult during the previous few days.
Our double reefed main and full jib allowed us to continue sailing during the night at 5.5-6 Knots. My initial resolve to not disturb Chris while he was sleeping did not last long as I saw sheet lightning ahead. Should I change course to port which looked clearer? Would there be squalls associated with the lightning? I hate lightning! Chris had a look and told me to relax - "It's very far and we are moving at a slow 5 Knots". There were also a few expletives which I cannot print ;) I stored our hand-held GPS and VHF in the oven in case of a strike and was afraid every time I stepped into the cockpit to tweak the wind vane. I used to live in southern Ontario and had listened to some horror stories from the terrific lightning storms over there during the summers. Curling up in the corner of the dinette settee I chanted a relaxing meditation in my head for the rest of my shift.
On the other hand, I spent my next shift,from 2am till 5am, almost entirely in the cockpit, gazing at the millions of stars above and the roll and sweep of sea below. It was also the best position to monitor the wind and adjust the windvane as required.
Our 3pm position today was 22 47S 178 05E. Our 24 hour run was 135nm with 122nm made good. We are 3 days away from landfall.