We have had numerous (well 6 actually) Emails concerning the lack of blogs over the weekend. Well, they have been done but the bottleneck has been my scheme to try to avoid the eye watering satellite bills I experienced on the crossing last year. Instead of posting the blogs from sea myself, I agreed a scheme with my old firm to post them on my behalf so I only send the one Email. This has worked (almost) seamlessly until this weekend when, of course, people go home and have lives and the blogs have been stuck on the server, hopefully for despatch this morning. Best laid plans and all that! So they will be like buses, you wait for ages then three come along all at once.
After the big winds and seas we motored in very light winds with a large but diminishing swell left over from the gale. I invested in a long term weather forecast and discussed the situation with my crew and AWOL. The dilemma is that with their shortage of fuel, they need to ‘chase the wind’ to make sure they get within range of the Azores. While they think they might have affected a repair to their auto steering, they are reluctant to try it in the big swells which were probably responsible for the failure in the first place. Steering is easier in the wind and the ‘trial’ will be delayed until the seas are calmer and they are motoring. So they would still like to be able to steer by our light when necessary while also having us close by in case they need to take some of our fuel. This would be straight forward if it were not for the fact that AWOL is faster than us under sail and we can only then stay in front of her by running our engine while sailing – not pleasant or ideal. Then when the wind dies away as it is predicted to do and we have to run our engines, AWOL is keen to run at a slower, more economical speed for the best fuel consumption. They have advocated routing further north in the belief that there is more wind there so we are trying to keep in touch through the night while we have wind and try to make the best of it. While we are within VHF range, we should be able to rendezvous if we become detached so we are both optimising our speed while we can.
We are coming to the end of our fresh produce and Ollie concocted a huge omelette for dinner containing potato, onions and bacon. It was really excellent and his expertise and willingness in the galley has been a very welcome feature of his presence.
After persistently heading us and slowing our progress, the current has finally turned in our favour. We have picked up our speed and should pass the halfway stage in the early hours of tomorrow morning, not the best timing for our planned celebration.
Well the ocean’s flattened off rather nicely, and the sun has reappeared – with its hat firmly on.
The only problem is, there’s very little wind.
But if you don’t mind a bit of engine noise, there’s been almost nothing to complain about today.
You’ll be pleased to read that I set about fourteen alarms on three different devices tonight.
And thus I managed to make it to my watch on time.
Before turning in for my early-evening snooze, I looked Barry dead in the eye and said:
“Listen, if for some reason I sleep through my alarm again, just do whatever it takes to wake me; and that includes a bucket of seawater hurled at my face if necessary!”
No doubt with this in mind Barry gave my cabin door a very light knock, just as I was putting my life jacket on at exactly midnight.
So I immediately flung the door open.
“I thought I told you never to come near my f**king cabin!”
In other news, there’s no headier mix than alcohol and firearms.
That’s why around mid-afternoon, after swilling a can of beer, the skipper suggested we have a little shooting competition with the beer cans and an air pistol.
The rules were simple, one person stands at the bow with a can, broken in two so it will sink in time and chucks it into the drink about ten feet from the hull.
The shooter stands amidships and empties his magazine at the can – trying to register as many hits as possible.
The third person stands astern and keeps score.
Now, you may hear some slanderous talk from the skipper claiming Barry and I both failed to get any hits.
Well let me tell you, I reckon Barry and I got at least one.
And while the skipper was the unarguable winner, he was claiming a farcically high score for himself.
So please take his account with a pinch of salt water.
Speaking of the skipper, he’s started having more luck with his Fisher-Price sextant.
But I’m sure he’ll elaborate on that for you.
(An explanation of what might be seen as flagrantly throwing litter into the sea. When we are more than 100 miles offshore, off the continental shelf and actually in 5000 metres of depth, it is agreed practice to discard bottles and cans into the sea where they sink and probably offer some refuge for small creatures from predators. We would not dream of throwing plastic or non degradable waste into the sea and this is stored for safe disposal ashore on arrival.)