Extracting Hejira from her cosy berth was tight with only a foot or so to spare as we turned to leave the harbour, but we managed it with aplomb, grateful that we had squeezed in and spent 3 relatively calm nights inside.
The start within the harbour was curious as the course was dead to windward (usual) but with only a couple of tacks possible before the dead upwind narrow Town Cut and channel out to sea – we had misgivings. I think the organisers wanted the spectacle of all the yachts under sail but with the inevitable motoring through the cut and channel with flogging sails, there seemed little point and in our opinion, good seamanship favoured motoring across the start line, staying out of trouble with good visibility and raising sail once clear of the channel.
It involved less than half an hour of engine use and we felt it justified the compromise.
The wind was from the NE so this favoured a tack south until it veered and the starboard tack became more favourable, increasingly so as the wind continued to veer so that as I write this on my watch, we are only 20 degrees north of the rhumb line. The steady F3/4 has meant that we have carried full sail all night, speeding along at around 7 knots with the Watt & Sea hydrogenerator making up for much of the power used by the instruments, radar, fridges and auto pilot. Although we are experiencing an adverse current for the time being, as we track north and east, we should pick up a favourable current nearly all the way to the Azores.
Ollie made a last minute visit to the supermarket this morning and we dined well with his ‘one pan’ roast chicken dish which we will finish today – excellent.
Well it’s all been very easy, and very enjoyable so far.
We had no problems getting out of the cramped marina.
And despite the skipper’s immodesty above, I think ‘managed it with aplomb’ is the apposite phrase.
Having left Bermuda for good, the word was passed to raise the main sail.
I attempted to look valuable in front of my two commanding officers by manning the halyard.
But instead of displaying value, I simply showed them that I was stricken with the ‘Shidas touch’.
The Shidas touch is the polar opposite of the Midas touch; that means instead of gold, everything you touch ‘turns to shit’.
It became clear that the main halyard was tangled up with the topping lift at the summit of the mast.
“Not your fault Ollie; just bad luck.”
I later confirmed my Shidas touchery by screwing on everyone’s coffee lids the wrong way round.
The rest of the day passed under steady sail and I tried to play to my strengths, by steering clear of the cockpit all together and cooking dinner instead.
I’ve done this dozens of times before and only once set the yacht on fire.
And I had a very peaceful moonlit night watch from midnight to 4am.
I haven’t managed to balls up anything this morning.
But it seems the Shidas touch may be infectious since, the skipper has been wrestling with his sextant since I arose.
He can’t to get it to work and is getting more and more exasperated.
Now, as you can imagine, the skipper has a dog’s-danglies sextant, replete in a mahogany box and mounted in the presidential suite.
However, he’s having so much trouble with it that he’s reverted to using his spare one.
While the other is all polished brass and engraving – his spare looks like some sort of plastic Fisher-Price model. And perversely he seems to be having more luck with that.
I’m sure he’ll elaborate on the merits of ‘My First Sextant’ versus his posh antique one in the next blog.
So I’ll leave that as a very enticing cliff-hanger.
Keep tuning in folks.