At the moment Scarlet is being helped along by an 0.5 knot per hour of the North Atlantic current. The currents in the North Atlantic move around in a large clockwise wheel. Starting at 12 o'clock is the North Atlantic current, at 3 o'clock the Portugal Current, next the Canaries current and at 6 o'clock the North Equatorial current.

Moving around to 8 o'clock the Antilles Current and finally the Gulf Stream. This giant wheel is powered by the Azores High pressure area at the centre where winds blow in a clockwise direction.

After leaving Newport, Rhode Island, our route took us south-east down to the warm Gulf Stream where we benefitted by up to 4 knots of current at times, achieving an all time record run for Scarlet of 276 miles in a day.

South of Newfoundland we met the cold Labrador current running down the East side of Newfoundland. This current brigs icebergs down from the Arctic. In summer, icebergs calve off the Arctic ice sheet and are carried down to the south by the Labrador current. The Race Committee set an "Ice Gate" at 41 degrees 30 minutes North to keep the racing fleet clear of possible ice bergs. It was in this area that the Titanic hit an iceberg. The Canadian Ice Service produces an excellent daily map of the locations and number of icebergs.

The cold Labrador current meets the warm Gulf Stream at the Grand Banks area south of Newfoundland and this area is famous for dense fog. We experienced a sudden drop in temperature and very reduced visibility as we passed through this part of the Labrador current.

The Polar Jet Stream circulates the globe at high latitudes and marks the boundary between the colder Arctic air and warmer mid-latitude air. Lows pressure areas are born along this boundary and spin eastwards bringing the UK its changeable weather. We have experienced several Lows passing over us. We route to stay in the southern half of the Lows to have SW, S and NW winds.

Scarlet uses a software routing package to work out our optimum routing for the next 24 hours. Into the package we plug wind strength and direction from GRIB ( Gridded Binary) files, current strength and direction and the "polars" of Scarlet Oyster. The "polars" are data about Scarlet and her sails, performance characteristics etc. The software package takes in all this data and produces a recommended course to sail.

Simon Moffat

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