18 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 22 St Lucia!

Last night after several days becalmed, the wind decided to return and we could finally switch the engine off and give it a rest. The poor thing had been going non-stop and had done sterling service. We still have just under ½ tank of fuel left, plus the reserve jerry can, so we can pat ourselves on the back for that. We passed a couple of other boats yesterday who either had no fuel left or chose to be sailing purists and refused to put their engines on, either way, they were not making any real progress. We had to keep our progress rates up as we all have flights to catch this week.

So with the wind on our tail, we had full sails set to port and were bowling along very nicely, reefing down as night fell in case the forecast increase in the wind speed materialised. We finally passed the finish post in Rodney Bay at 08:36:20 this morning to a rapturous welcome from many of the ARC participants who had already checked in. It was a very gratifying experience. We were met in the bay by Elaine, Ed's wife who had hired a water taxi to take her out to meet us. No-one expected this to happen and it was a real surprise. We had several photographs taken by a professional photographer as we neared the bay, it will be great to see the results and might even be a keepsake to have pride of place in the office. We already have received a certificate of congratulation on a successful Atlantic crossing to add to the souvenirs.

17 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 21 14.5N 58W Less than 200 to go

Last night we experienced the best ever sunset - simply spectacular - it seemed to us that the whole sky was aflame, and the red glow spread across the sky as far as the eye could see. As time went on, the colours got redder and deeper and it looked to is as though there was a volcano in the distance and the red clouds were like layers of molten lava across the face of the mountain. It was absolutely awesome.

Also, I don't know whether or not I witnessed the death of a star. I was up on watch between 03:00 and 06:00 and sometime in the period, there was a brilliant flash in the sky over towards the ENE from me. A single point object was glowing red, then yellow, then green, and then it disappeared altogether. The intensity of the light was very strong and that part of the sky was very bright. I'll have to look it up in the news; maybe I saw a moment in stellar history. It all seemed a bit star wars to me.

Our attempts to catch some supper have been fruitless, we managed to get a bite yesterday, quite a large fish leapt out of the water having taken a bite of the lure, but it didn't get hooked. Subsequent attempts to catch anything were to no avail.

We put the ship's clock back an hour last night to bring us in line with St Lucia time (UT-4). We are in the home straight now, the wind is due to return to us today and hopefully will send us on into St Lucia. We have been out of email contact with the world for a few days now, something has gone wrong on my laptop and the port that the modem uses thinks it is already busy. Thankfully, we have been receiving update texts from our friends in the real world that let us know the weather prospects and we have been acting on this info.

For the first time since leaving the canaries, we can see two other yachts on the horizon at the same time. The convergence of the boats on the Martinique passage to the north of St Lucia seems to be everyone's target. We should see more as the day progresses. We have half a tank of fuel left plus the 10 litres I have kept for emergencies in reserve. That should be plenty for the remaining part of the crossing, and there should be no issue here. The extra jerry cans I bought in Las Palmas were definitely a good move and have paid dividends. We have passed other boats that were progressing under sail alone, and not covering any distance. Perhaps their spare fuel quota wasn't great enough. The recommendation was for 5 days of motoring, we allowed for 7-8 in our calculations. Thank goodness we did.

We ate pork (and pork sausage) cassoulet for our dinner last night, just about all our fresh food stocks have gone now, and we are down to tinned products. Not too much of a burden. Fray Bentos night again tonight for our last evening meal aboard. Tomorrow we will hit the restaurants ashore ...

16 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 20 14.5N 56.75W Becalmed with 240 miles to go

Frustrating! We are nearly there and the wind has died on us altogether. It was forecast, but the sight of the Atlantic Ocean as smooth as a millpond is somewhat unexpected. I was on the 6-9am watch this morning, and the sun hadn't risen by the time I was on duty. The atmosphere was positively ethereal. There was a mist hanging over the water, another yacht was forward on the horizon, with its tricolour masthead light twinkling through the gloom, the water was dead calm, and I was totally at peace with the world.

Then the sun came up, and I was treated to the most magnificent sunrise, a mackerel sky overhead that has since disappeared as the sun has warmed up the skies. The clouds have all but disappeared from overhead and the temperatures are rising. It is going to be a hot day. We have put 40 litres of diesel into the tank from jerry cans, which leaves us with 10 litres in reserve and a tank that is three-quarters full. Enough fuel to motor for 2.5 days. Hopefully that will be enough to sustain our progress towards Rodney Bay and hopefully the winds will pick up to allow us to turn off the engine and sail again.

Last night, after sailing over 2500 miles from Las Palmas, we ended up less than 1 nautical mile from the East Martinique mid-Atlantic weather buoy. We knew it was in our vicinity, but with all the hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean, we ended up having to keep a sharp eye out for the yellow lights that would indicate its presence. It seems a bit like parking in a multi-storey car park where there is only one other car on the same floor, and you somehow end up reversing into it. Things like this never cease to amaze me.

15 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 19 15N 54.3W Less than 400 miles to go!

A funny peculiar day yesterday - no wind, and what there was came from the west which meant we were heading straight into it. No real use from the sails, although we tried the new patented "Witting Wonderset", which basically utilises the foresail in the same way that we would use the main sail to enhance the use of the engine, trap whatever breeze might be available, and sneak a couple of extra tenths of a knot onto our speed. I spent the best part of 2 hours on my watch tweaking and twiddling the sails to get the best I could out of her in the vain hope of preserving our fuel a bit. No real success, the wind was being its usual fickle self and swinging either side of dead ahead. 

On the fuel front, as we have been somewhat becalmed and are likely to be so for another day at least, we are having to use the engine. We need to keep our revs down to 1200rpm to maximise our consumption rates per mile achieved. We currently have 3/8 of our fuel tank remaining plus 95 litres in jerry cans. Hopefully this will allow us to motor all the way in if necessary, but we are ever hopeful that mother nature will send us some trade winds to see us the final miles under sail. It is so frustrating that we are this close and the weather holds us up for an extra day or so. On the upside, it means we have a gentle roll to the boat instead of being thrown around inside the perpetual washing machine that has been our home for the past 3 weeks. We might even get some decent sleep.

Email has been playing up for days now, Mailasail apparently have some problems (courtesy of Bardeau, another boat fairly close by who wrote in their own blog) and so we are somewhat incommunicado. This blog will carry on regardless and will be uploaded to www.afloatonaboat.com as soon as we get the opportunity in St Lucia. In the meantime, life aboard goes on as smoothly as ever. The food stocks are beginning to look a bit sparse in some areas - breakfast cereals are mostly gone, a few weetabix and bran flakes left to start the day. Fruit juices are still plentiful, tinned products are still in abundance, so we won't go hungry. We might just have to eat some odd things at strange times of the day. However, we still only have a few days left before we get to our destination, and we know from prior experience that there is a good size supermarket in Rodney Bay to replenish our stores. Plenty of drinking water left too.

14 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 18 15.1N 53.4W less than 450 miles to go!

Yesterday was a great sailing day until tea-time when we suddenly lost the wind.  We knew light winds were forecast but expected them in another 36 hours and could really have done with another 200 miles or so under wind power.  So we now have the dilemma about using the engine and our fuel reserves.  To the best of our calculations we have 180 litres of fuel left, which should equate to 90 hours of motoring at low revs.  And with just under 500 miles left when the wind failed, we needed 100 hours of fuel if we were to motor all the way.  So, it was a very close and a tough decision as to when we should / should not use the engine.  The consensus yesterday evening was that we would look to sail through the night on wind power alone but we abandoned that when our speed dropped to less than 2 knots.  So now we're motor-sailing on low revs and achieving 3.5 knots through the water, over 4 knots speed over ground (because of the current).

One "feature" of last night was the meteor shower in the Castor and Pollux area of the night sky.  And what a night sky: billions of stars on show with no light pollution to affect them and myriad shooting stars.  Something to keep us occupied in a night when nothing much else was happening.

We broke into the Fray Bentos meat pies for dinner yesterday.  Paul had sampled one once before but for the rest of us it was a new culinary adventure, probably better than we anticipated and it certainly filled a hole.  That said, Paul and my appetites are reducing as the weather gets warmer, although we haven't noticed a similar trend in Phil & Ed!

Our ETA given the light airs is now Monday maybe even Tuesday, although we are hopeful of regaining wind over the weekend.  And then it will be back into party mode after 3 "dry" weeks.  We were all discussing this today and agree that none of us has missed alcohol .... sailing is a good detox indeed.

13 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 17 15.5N 51.5W 560 miles to go

Sitting in the cockpit we are discussing films and the actors who played them. Ice cold in Alex is the topic of conversation, probably prompted by the dream of a cool beer waiting for us in ST Lucia. Now we have moved on to the (British) Empire and what role if we had been around at the time, that we would like to have had. Interesting how the thoughts flow.

We are making good progress today, the winds are favourable, the sun is shining, a few cumulus clouds scatter the skies, and we are in good spirits.

The whales visited us again yesterday, as did the dolphins, small ones by comparison with the European breed. All we have left to get under our belts if for Ed and Phil to see the 'Green Flash' phenomenon. It does exist, Debra and I have seen it more than once, but they are somewhat elusive, particularly on this trip.

The stars were out in abundance last night, I even saw the Southern Cross, and the false Southern Cross side by side low in the sky just before dawn. For some reason I get really excited when I see this constellation, and I had to make sure all the crew saw it (Ed had to be roused from his slumbers, but I think it was appreciated in the end).

Nearing the 500 miles to go mark (we have all stated the time this evening when we cross this threshold), the numbers of boats around us should increase and we will have to be more vigilant especially at night time. It will be strange to see other boats again in close proximity. Nearly there!

12 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 16 15.4N 49.1W

We were all pleased to see daybreak this morning after a rather challenging night.  Despite nothing in the weather forecasts, a tropical storm materialised early evening and we had to pull together as a team to ride it out.  Sails were reduced to a minimum - just a scrap of the foresail flown and no main at all - as Paul, Phil & Ed battled to keep Jay Jay on course.  The auto-helm just couldn't cope with the savage conditions as torrential rain, 50 knot winds and rough seas resulted in us being blown sideways some 45 degrees off course.  We were relentlessly pitched from side to side until the engine was put on and we were able to take back control of the boat, engage the auto-helm and revert to the approximate direction we wanted to sail.  

It was a night when we closed all hatches and the companion way as we sheltered down below, with us all taking turns to check the horizon every 15 minutes or so.  Drenched, exhausted and apprehensive we waited to see how long the storm would continue and how Jay Jay would fair.  Finally, at about 5am this morning, the conditions began to abate and the morning has developed into a pleasant sailing day, if a little rolly, and Jay Jay suffered no damage - a great boat!  

So a rather dramatic end to a day which had started out very well, with fair winds and calm-ish seas.  A family of whales kept us entertained for quite some time, chasing the boat, swimming underneath us and alongside not much more than a metre away - a real privilege for us all.  However, cloud cover started to build up at lunchtime followed by pouring rain in the afternoon which flattened the sea and visually was rather bizarre .... almost like looking out over sand dunes.

This morning we have not much more than 700 miles to go to reach St Lucia and we have spotted another sail on the horizon as we all start to converge on our destination.

11 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 15 16.1N 46.3W 840 miles to go

I am sitting here in the cockpit with the washing hanging all around me drying in the breeze. It looks something reminiscent of Widow Twankey's laundry without the presence of Aladdin and his magic lamp. However, back to the news. Last night we had lightning flashes all around us. I noticed it ahead of us as night fell and kept an eye on its progress. After a while it seemed apparent that the storm might be moving away from us, but just to be on the safe side, I thought about turning south to avoid it. It was at that moment that the next flash lit up the sky from the south. Nope. we weren't going that way. Then more flashes from the east (directly behind us) moving in our direction. It didn't look good for us. We placed all our precious electrical items (iPads, iPhone, my phone, PC, Sat Phone, hand-held VHF all into the microwave in the event of a strike on the boat, in which case the microwave should act like a faraday cage and save the contents from harm.

Eventually, the lightning stopped, and the squalls hit instead, so we ended up having a very rocky ride through the night. I don't think anyone slept much if at all. Dawn broke with more squalls, but since then the weather has improved and the wind is blowing us along at a steady 6 knots.

Another flying fish hit the deck when Debra was handing over the watch to Ed. She wouldn't touch it, so Ed dispatched it over the side back to safety. That brings the total so far to 5.

I have come to the conclusion that no matter how experienced a sailor you are, you never stop learning. I am just getting to know some of the foibles that the boat has, how she handles best under different conditions, which tack is better for sailing, how the whisker pole is deployed efficiently, how many revs to run the engine at, and so on. Jay Jay is a very sound, well equipped boat that I have no doubt will take us wherever we want to go. She handles responsively without being skittish, and feels stable regardless of the wind speed, all we have to do is make sure that the amount of canvas exposed to the elements is correct, and in this matter we are getting progressively better. Long may it continue.

The food supplies are lasting well, and we have yet to sample the delights of the Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies that we have on our scheduled menu. The water tanks are full, the fuel supply is plentiful, and we are looking forward to landfall in St Lucia.

10 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 14 16.3N 44.2W

Another day of motoring and communication issues but, I'm pleased to report that the day did end on a higher note when the wind returned and we could turn the engine off.  Add to that some limited communication capabilities; then we all ended the day feeling more positive despite the rain!

We've now less than a thousand miles to go to St Lucia.  And with favourable winds forecast for the next few days we hope to make good progress towards our goal.

I spent a very useful hour last night plotting the position of all the fleet into an Excel graph so we've finally been able to see our position relative to everyone else.  We've been surprised how many yachts are considerably further north than we are, albeit further west, but providing my plotting is accurate, then we don't seem to be doing too badly.  That said, our primary aim is to make the passage as comfortable and safe as possible and so we aren't pushing Jay Jay to her limits.

Thanks to everyone following our progress and sending us texts - it's great to receive them - and apologies for not replying to them but please do keep them coming! 

9 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 13 16.5N 41.7W

Yesterday proved to be an utter pig of a day. We had no wind, and the engine had to be running all day, the weather was particularly hot and our PC decided it wasn't going to talk to anybody via email. I spent most of the day wrestling with the damn computer, aided admirably by Debra and Ed who tried their best to help me get it working again. This morning on my watch between 00:00 and 03:00 I carried on the fight, and finally this morning we had a breakthrough and managed to connect, send and receive mails again.

Things are looking positive, as I type this we have 1116 nm to go to ST Lucia, a nice current pushing us along at 1 knot, and the forecast is that we will have reasonable winds to sail again this afternoon.

The nights have been pretty amazing on watch, as we get deeper into the tropics, the phosphorescence in the water is increasing, and the trail of sparkles in the wake of the boat are magical. Nature is so clever. It is mesmerising. The stars were out in force last night too, we managed a couple of star sights and this will enable us to do an accurate position fix to complement the sun run sun and meridian sights. All good stuff.

Debra has been catching up on Spooks season one on the DVD TV, I am getting my Game of Thrones fix (although I have just finished the latest book and need to get to St Lucia asap to download the next one). Ed has been concentrating on astro navigation, and Phil has been honing his sailing skills in between keeping his diary posted and regaling us with his singing. All in all one happy crew, well fed, well watered and working together as a team, especially in the face of adversity when things go wrong and I can do with the support to fix them, moral and practical. Jay Jay rules!

8 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 12 16.6N 39.6W

We lost the wind yesterday and still nothing much today. Pretty much along the lines of the forecast, so we have had to resort to using the engine for propulsion. The good thing about this is that we have charged up the batteries properly, and the watermaker has been doing its stuff, and we have full tanks again. That will please everyone on board, as in these temperatures, a refreshing (albeit quick) shower is well received before turning into our pits.

Last night when Ed was on watch, he was hit in the back of the head in the dark. It turned out to be a flying fish, which would technically have landed on the deck had it not ricocheted off Ed's head back into the water. That offishially brings the fish count to 3 for the sweepstake.

Phil turned his and to cooking last night - a delicious sweet and sour pork dish which we will probably repeat tonight to use up the rest of the pork that we removed from the freezer.

We passed two yachts yesterday which crossed our stern in the course of the day and night. There was even a freighter on the horizon moving southwards. After seeing nothing for days, it was nice to know we are not all alone on the seas. As we move closer to St Lucia, I imagine we will be seeing far more boats as we all converge on our destination.

Ed and I have been shooting sights with the sextant, and so far we have been very accurate. My last reported difference of 11 miles was grossly exaggerated -- we were actually 1 mile from our actual GPS position. Class will out! Sun run sun today has been plotted, noonsight to follow and we will then do our dead reckoning for our position. The sextant has never been so busy.

7 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 11 17N 37W

Yesterday was a lovely day - sun shining, gentle breezes coming from exactly the right angle to deploy the gennaker for the first time. Flying this sail gained us an extra couple of knots - all good for helping us reach our target arrival date.  And added to that, the watermaker is fully functional so we were all able to indulge in a shower.  Luxury indeed.

Of course there has to be some crisis requiring solving and yesterday it was the generator.  Turns out it was simply low on oil - being new, it presumably has burnt more than usual.  Anyway, it is now back on line charging the batteries - crisis averted.

Jay Jay afloat is proving to be a gastronomic delight - fresh bread every day, home-cooked dinners and even desserts as and when.  Today, Debra made some chocolate brownies which have gone down very well with the crew. The fresh provisions will soon be coming to an end so we will be raiding the tinned supplies ... I think Ed & Phil are looking forward to cracking open the Fray Bentos meat pies.  Debra's not so sure!!

We were joined by a family of whales early afternoon which stayed around for over 30 minutes.  I think they were as curious about us as we were about them,  Maybe the red gennaker caught their eye ... assuming they can recognise colour ... but interestingly as soon we took it down when a squall looked as though it was heading our way, the whales headed off.

We're now well over 1300 miles from Las Palmas and so are nearing our half-way mark ... to be celebrated with a rum cocktail, probably our only alcoholic drink for the passage.   It's surprising how quickly the time is passing : We had great plans about how to occupy our time ... poetry and story hour, learning Polish from Ed, writing etc etc.   As yet we've engaged in little of these activities but none of us are bored.  Probably we have all just relaxed into the experience, who knows?

6 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 10 17.6N 34.32W

We had problems with the watermaker yesterday - having run it for an hour, the high pressure in the system ruptured a feed pipe. Undaunted, I cut the pipe and reconnected it to the system and restarted. two minutes later, it split in another place. Not good. The pipes were simply not up to the task intended. What were we to do? We need the watermaker to maintain some degree of comfort, so we looked around the boat for some alternatives that we could bastardise. We found a high pressure hose as an overflow pipe coming from the calorifier, thankfully grossly over-engineered by Jeanneau (bless their little cotton socks). So, we cut a small length to replace the broken one and reinforced it with a water pipe on the inside. Connected it up again and set the watermaker working again. The next pipe to go was the next in line, only this time it was a long length. We cut as much of the overflow pipe as we dared and replaced it with the non-pressure pipe so that the overflow facility would still work unabated, then tried to stretch the cut length to fit the system. Thankfully, it just reached, and after connecting everything together again it now works properly. I rewarded myself with the well needed shower that would have been forfeit if the solution had not worked. We have enough bottled water to last us the crossing, but we would have been somewhat smelly as a crew when not able to clean ourselves from time to time.

The anenometer is playing up, and we have air in the water system which means that the water pump keeps running when it should cut out, but these are jobs for today. The good thing is that the crew have not mutinied yet, the cat hasn't been let out of the bag, and floggings have not needed to commence. Long may it continue.

Progress across the pond is going according to expectation, everything and everyone aboard is covered in salt crystals but we salty sea-dogs are all having a great time!

5 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 9 18N 33W

Another cloudy morning but the sun is trying to put in an appearance and it is still very mild. Fortunately the sea state has calmed a little with the wind and so it's making for a more comfortable, if slower, passage. The forecast for the next few days is for diminishing winds so we may well be flying the gennaker within a short time. Currently bowling along at around 6.5 knots with the foresail poled out so not complaining! The whisker pole has been in permanent use since we left the Canaries and is proving its worth. 

We've been able to overcome the low battery situation by some judicial power management. The basic problem was the draw for the fridge and so now we are just running the freezer and switching on the fridge whenever the generator is running. So, we'll be able to get to St Lucia and sort out the fridge requirements there. We will still need to supplement the charging capability with some solar panels to give us the comfort factor as we are at anchor during our stay in the islands. 

Phil has made the bread today - we are trying to see whether anyone else aboard has the magic Ed touch as far as creating delicious bread rolls for our lunch. I failed miserably yesterday and managed to cause severe concussion to the fish around the boat when we threw it away. The pear crumble we made yesterday because the fruit had started to go soft will be consumed at lunchtime today with some custard for good measure - can't waste good food. 

Still no luck on the fishing front. Something took the trace and the lure today and left me with a bare fishing line on the end. I'll get one yet! 

4 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 8 18.5N 29.4W

Cloudy today, but still nice and warm in the tropics. Sun-dried tomato and olive bread is baking in the oven, we are preparing a pear crumble and cottage pie for our dinner this evening, and we are bowling along quite nicely in the breeze. Close to 1800 miles left to go now. 

We had our first flying fish land on the deck last night, and yesterday afternoon, we passed some flotsam nearby - a fishing net (or part of one) with a turtle trapped inside it, and another pushing it along presumably trying to help its dead friend. People should be more responsible with their detritus. 

We managed to get some astro navigation done last night - taking sights on Sirius and Procyon which when reduced gave our position as only 11 nautical miles away from our GPS reading. Not bad considering the sights were taken from a pitching deck in sea swells topping 10 feet. Maybe some more sights tonight if the skies are clear. 

Sleep deprivation is something of an issue - it is not that we don't have enough free time, but that our sleep patterns are so disrupted that when we get the chance to sleep, the body isn't ready. This does mean that we have been swapping watches around a bit to allow those who are particularly tired to try and get the valuable sleep they need. It must be incredibly hard on the two handers in the fleet. 

Speaking of the fleet, we haven't seen another soul on the horizon for days now. We know from the position reports that we have other boats in our vicinity, but nothing seen as yet. We will keep looking. 

Tried fishing for the first time yesterday - a fish took the lure in moments but the trace clamp parted and I lost it. I did see a decent sized fish jump out of the water close to where the hook was, but it got away. There will be others.

3 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 7 20N 27W

It was a trying day yesterday, the swells were throwing us all about inside the boat again - quite relentless, but on the positive side, we made some good progress to the west. We now have less than 2000 miles to go to St Lucia so our first milestone has been passed. We are sufficiently south to avoid the bad weather front that exists around 25N and hopefully it will be plain sailing from here. We are steering due west which should take us straight to St Lucia. If the winds keep us going in the same direction then I will be very happy.

An interesting meal last night: We were going to have sausages, mash, cabbage and gravy. We put the sausages into the oven to cook, got everything else cooked to coincide with the sausages, mashed the potatoes, buttered the cabbage, went to get the sausages out and they were raw! An impromptu change to the menu was needed as the sausages were put into the oven again, this time with the gas on, and bubble and squeak made a fine impression on the crew.

Shoals of flying fish are present today, the first time we have seen them in numbers. We have all made an estimate of the number of fish that land on Jay Jay overnight between here and our destination.

On another topic, we have a dry boat for the crossing. We have noticed that the process of detoxification is not without its side effects. A bad taste in the mouth along with a niggling headache obviously shows that the body is cleansing itself of the noxious substances. Maybe when we get to St Lucia the appeal of a rum cocktail will have diminished somewhat ...

We have been experiencing a drain on the battery supply which appears to be the fridge. We will have to get it checked out when we reach St Lucia, but it has made me realise that I was somewhat naive with my power planning. We should have invested in some solar panels to supplement the wind generator which although it is working, is not working as well as expected because the wind is coming from behind us, and our own speed through the water reduces the effectiveness of the wind strength in turning the blades. We also may need to replace the battery bank with fresh batteries that hold their charge better. We will see.

2 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 6 20N 24W

The good sailing winds continue for us and we're making decent progress. Having received the GRIB files yesterday, which indicated an inverted trough to the NW of the Cape Verde Islands, we decided to head south to minimise the impact of this weather system. Being now at 20N we have reverted to a more westerly course, next stop St Lucia., I have to confess that all the crew are hoping the seas will calm slightly - trying to cook is proving problematic at the moment with food flying around the galley, All the nicely prepared stir-fry veg ended up on the floor under the navigator's table on Friday; the freshly baked bread in the washing-up water Saturday lunchtime and the BBQ sauce also in the sink last night. I'm hoping we've learnt our lesson now! 

Phil has now rejoined the watch/helming rota and it's made a big difference to the rest of the crew who were all feeling a bit jaded, We take our hats off to those yachts with only two crew on board.  

Yesterday afternoon Paul noticed a fin moving through the water about 75m behind us, He's convinced it was neither a dolphin or whale and was obviously a big creature judging by the area of turquoise water surrounding the fin. He can only conclude it was a shark, and a very big one at that. 

Time for lunch now .... bread just out of the oven.

1 Dec 2012

[Captains Blog] Day 5 22N 22W

The sun is shining and we have good winds for sailing. The washing machine effect of the swell continues unabated, but I guess this is something we will just have to adjust to while ever the winds are behind us. We are bowling along at a steady 7 knots which feels good. 

Phil has improved considerably over the past 24 hours and appears to be over his sea sickness. He is eating normally, albeit slowly, drinking lots of water and getting more involved in the daily activities too. We won't let him cook for a while yet as we don't want to swet him back at all. His time will come towards the end of the passage. 

Debra has been a stalwart - organising the boat, feeding the crew, and generally being a busy bee. She is an invaluable member of the crew who has pulled more than her weight. She has a tendency to bump into things, and yesterday even managed a forward roll in the saloon when a wave hit us and threw us sideways when she was sweeping the floor. Plenty of bruises mark these events on her arms and legs. 

Ed seems to be enjoying himself too. Especially as we have clear skies today and the sextant has been aired taking some sun-run-sun sights this morning and hopefully a noon sight and even some stars tonight. 

We (Phil and I) saw 2 pilot whales at sundown last night. We called to Ed and Debra to come and see them, but Ed was sleeping and Debra busy in the galley, so they missed out. Maybe next time.