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Sheryl and Paul Shard on board their Humphreys designed Southerly 49 ‘DISTANT SHORES II’ send us news as they finish the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers

“Aboard SY Distant Shores II

15 30.1N  055 43.1W

As I write this we are just over 300 miles from St. Lucia so should be arriving in about 2 days. As we approach the Finish Line boats are converging so we for the last couple of days have had a boat or two in sight at all times. This morning we are in a huddle of several boats and everyone has been chatting on VHF radio and taking photos of each other’s boats. The closest boat is the Swedish yacht Loupan, an Arcona 430, which is less than a mile away. It’s a racing boat but they lost their mainsail 2 days ago which really slowed them down.

The last few days have been a bit discouraging for everyone – lots of squalls and flukey winds which is tiring, especially if you’re expecting lovely sunny tradewind conditions. It’s been quite an unusually rough crossing this year. All the boats around us have experienced a lot of breakages – self-steering gear is major so crews are hand-steering, generators and watermakers are broken, all kinds of rigging from one mast down (or so someone reported on the radio) to goose-neck/boom breakages, lots of shredded sails. We however have not had any major problems (knock on wood) aside from a little chafe on the mainsail where it brushes the shrouds and one genoa sheet at the pole end which we replaced with a spare sheet in good time as we have been keeping an eye on such things.

We have not been racing, just cruising, so are sailing very conservatively allowing us to film our own experience and that of the boats around us. For most of the voyage we have had the genoa poled out and partially furled, and the main out and prevented with one or two reefs in it as conditions dictate. Early in the rally we had the jib poled out since winds were stronger. This is a very secure rig for a short-handed crew. There are 3 of us aboard. It’s been a real pleasure to have our friend, Matt Heron, aboard to share watches. Matt is a keen sailor and always cheerful. We’re all just taking things as they come and enjoying the ride.With the swing keel we can sail the boat like a dinghy raising the keel up for better downwind performance. Today we have the full genoa poled out to starboard, the jib out to port and a reefed main prevented out to port which is giving us a respectable speed in the ENE winds of 20 kts. Our Southerly 49 sailboat has such lovely sea motion. She just slices through the seas. Thanks to yacht designer, Rob Humphreys and the crew at Northshore Yachts!”

All of us at Humphreys yacht design send Sheryl and Paul our best wishes for a warm and sunny Christmas in the Caribbean.