Race 6 – Day 5 Saturday February 6th

We are still sailing hard today – flying along in fact! We are still in first place but with Cape Breton hot on our heels. The rest of the fleet are further west and heading north while we too are going north but also trying to get a bit further east. All the weather forecasts predict that the wind will swing round to the east, which will then help us go north and make it tougher on the boats with a lot of easting still to make. So in theory, if the forecasters are right we are still in a very strong position. However, as we all know...that's an awfully big “If”!

But that's enough sailing talk – I can take no credit for our progress today other than the fact I have helped to keep our hardy crew fed and watered, as today has been my mother-watch. All I know about the sailing up on deck, is that we tacked at least 4 times. I know that, as it's the number of times I had to quickly grab tins, the jug of milk and my freshly baked bread to stop them from hurling (with potentially disastrous results) from one side of the galley to the other as the tack went through and the old low side became the new high side! My partner in crime (or grime as I term it) is Kevin who was on the Cork Clipper and who is now sailing with Hull & Humber to Qingdao.  As soon as we realise that we drink tea the same way and both agree that it's hard to beat a good Gin and Tonic (only Bombay Sapphire will do) we know we'll get on just fine.

There's not much room to move in the galley and with two people working in there, while the boat is heeled over at a 45 degree angle, there's no room for shyness – you are constantly bumping into each other, ducking under the other persons arms and when everything is sliding around violently, you have to work together as one person to get things done. One hand is used to either grab something that is about to tip, spill or slide and the other hand is getting on with the cooking, washing up etc. At least today the boat isn't slamming as violently on the waves as it was doing yesterday.  We thank our lucky stars for that but the day is still hard enough.

As well as making bread (for tomorrow's breakfast – which I have to say turned out rather splendidly) we also ventured into the land of Rainbow Cookie mix. It's nice to come up with some freshly baked treat for the crew and I normally make a cake but today I thought we should give the rainbow cookie mix a go.  How hard can it be?: Empty contents of pack into a bowl, and add an egg and 60g of butter – easy peasy! Except we don't have butter on board (no fridge, so it would melt and go off) and no eggs either (too hard to keep without breaking). We do however, have an egg substitute powder, which with 2 tablespoons of water, apparently equals one egg! A couple of 'glugs' of oil and the same of milk in place of the butter and 17 minutes later, hey presto – 15 perfect Rainbow cookies!  Except they weren't perfect at all and certainly not cooked after 17 minutes. Or after 40 minutes! (maybe my 'glugs' were too big?)

The great thing about being on a boat with limited supplies, is that people's expectations are pretty low.  So come tea time, the sorry mix of some very crisp around the edge cookies and some really still quite gooey ones, were presented and duly scoffed with appreciation as though Millie had baked them herself!

At supper time we are just about to serve up Cottage pie to the troops on deck when Piers the Skipper apologetically tells me they have to tack. It's never ideal as you have to try and keep the dinner from spoiling – but more importantly you have to keep the dinner in the pans as the tack goes through and away from the floor, sides of the yacht and anywhere else it's not supposed to be but has a habit of ending up. It's not so bad when you've been warned – you can prepare. It's when the on-watch forget to tell the galley that the boat is about to change tack that really causes the problems. That's never a pretty site afterwards! I'm very grateful that hasn't happened today.

Eventually we get to serve supper to the crew. Sometimes the ingredients don't seem to match what the end dish is supposed to be on the victualling plan. I try to get round this today by creating a “cottage” in each bowl – mash for the thatched roof, tinned beef and onion with some tinned mix veg thrown in, for the cottage and a cunningly devised front door made out of a crouton – with a peanut for the door handle. I thought it was genius!  Most of the crew however thought is was supposed to be some sort of Island and were confused by the crouton surf board! Ah well, at least I tried!

So at 9.30 pm having been on the go since 6.30 this morning I'm finally done for the day. The washing up is done, (despite Piers politely refusing our request to tack in order to make life easier for ourselves) the flasks are full of hot water, so the night watches can have hot drinks easily and the tuck boxes have been replenished. It's a long day but also rewarding and it helps to break up the routine of the watches. The best thing about it is I now get a full night's sleep. Nine whole hours in my bunk...which is where I'm heading right now!