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Update, day 94

The miles to go are counting down (1662 as I write this), the latitude of Madiera is behind and I'm now even with Gibraltar so I'm back in Europe everybody! Far from sitting back and watch the miles unfurl behind me I am very busy checking all the boat's systems and making little repairs so I hope I can avoid problems in the last blow. I have been repairing the covers on the reefing lines so they will run smoothly and hold fast when I reduce sail. I was surprised the other day by an intense hissing noise and was alarmed to find the cockpit filling with a mist of oil as the keel fell from its canted position. A high pressure hose in the hydraulic system had failed after the hundreds of thousands of pressure cycles as the keel pulsed on every wave encountered in the previous 25,000 miles. Fortunately I had a spare and was back in action soon afterwards but it serves to illustrate that the machine is tired. The man too, as I am massaging painfully sore muscles in my shoulder and neck in order to maintain the required speed on the winches for these last few days. Offshore sailing is a particularly tough sport for the body because we sleep poorly, eat camping food and our efforts are scheduled by the weather and are totally different hour to hour, day to day. I sometimes laugh at the sports products I have on board that help me recover because it's rare that I can define whether I'm currently "before sport", "after sport" or "during" as it's always a mix and it's hard to get time to warm up or cool down. As a result the muscles suffer and I'm looking forward to a date with a massage therapist and chiropractor when I get back! The weather forecast is still changing a lot and it's hard to know exactly what's waiting for me but the models overall show less ominous red that show 40- to 50 knots of wind than before so I'm happy with the trend towards more reasonable conditions for the coming days. Fingers crossed!

© Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe

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