Fleet regathering

last bit of motoring corridor ,have UNICEF off our starboard quarter the whole watch and when reach our start line they cross it just ahead .Punta still motoring 17 miles astern don’t know where they start sailing.Need to maintain 6 1/2 knots to stay ahead , difficult in the light airs.
By the time we are on our next watch , the sunset watch ,0800 to 1200 UTC , we have barely sailed a few miles after stopping motoring.There is very little breeze ,less than 4 knots and within the hour it drops away to less than 1 knot and we are making a boat of 0.7 and sail less than 3 miles.We get excited about an approaching squall but it passes around us.Finally a black cloud descends and brings a brief tropical shower and 15 knots of wind. Finally we are making forward progress at 9 to 10 knots.The rain subsides but fortunately the wind continues .We make ground on UNICEF,who seem to be heading west to join us , and are now further North. More importantly we are travelling at greater than the average allowed motoring speed in the corridor so we are staying ahead of the boats still motoring behind us. Hopefully for a little while at least we have left the light tropical airs behind us.

So towards the end of the doldrums corridor it ends up almost like a race restart.Halong bay has timed things well and has got away.Passing New Ireland on one side and Buka the other we catch Punta Qingdao Zhuhai ,Unicef catches, WTC and Korea still motoring come past us all.
It is all slow going in the light airs .In to that evening the light airs are interrupted by thunderstorms. The wind shifts significantly west. We had caught Korea and as one squall approached we decided to drop our spinnaker. We carry full main and staysail through the storms and later hoisting the yankee. Up on deck the light show is spectacular and the rain a comfort relief from the heat. Next morning we get nice breeze out of the North West and track along between 7.5 to 9 knots. We get significantly further north than the rest of the fleet having now put Korea 20 miles behind us. Our evening watch is a descent back into light airs with the windseeker up.We expect light air till we get to the easterly trades .Hopefully if we stay north of everyone we’ll get them first.

Unicef
Zhuhai

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