At 14.00, a most remarkable thing happened. The wind picked up to a nice F3/4, Just in front of the beam and with full sail, on a flat sea, in cloud free sunshine, WE SAILED !

This blissful situation turned into a lively romp as the wind built, cracking along at 6-7 knots. This was surprisingly (given experiences up to now) sustained until 23.15 as we approached the Cape at the ‘heel’.  The wind then dropped away and it was on with the engine – supplied from the second tank.

There was more proof that there are tides and currents in the Med as we experienced a 1 ½ knot adverse current at the Cape. 1 ½ miles from the Cape, the wind built again (quite usual around headlands) to F6/7 and keeping a good lookout, there was nothing showing on AIS and no visible navigation lights against the lights ashore. Imagine my surprise when a powerful spotlight was shone out of the blackness directly at Hejira from about 30 metres off the beam! This was a frightening experience and very telling in the context of my mission.

Dawn found Hejira motoring into a light wind with one reef left in the main from the overnight shenanigans. We had, at least turned North and Venice showed as 415 miles away as the crow flies.

Washing the smalls

A good drying day

Rigging the washing machine to deal with a build-up of dirty clothes got me thinking. It’s warm, I am in the middle of nowhere, I am on my own so there is no one to offend or disgust, why bother with clothes at all? Clothes only create washing – no clothes, no washing!

I have to say that being ‘fabric free’ is fabulously liberating and enjoyable.  I can now quite understand the appeal of naturism, it is a revelation, I could very well be a convert.

The only downside is that it does rather highlight the aspects of our bodies that we would rather keep hidden. The bulges and wobbly bits which have gradually built up over the years and that we have tended to ignore and disguise with a judicious choice of garments. What better motivation to address the matter – I only had breakfast and a banana yesterday !

I do think, however, that it would be prudent to be vigilant in this relentless sunshine as large (?) parts of my body are not used to exposure and sun burned ‘bits’ could be inconvenient and probably very painful. Photos to follow – only joking !

I understand that you really don’t want that image remaining in your heads so to help you replace anything unpleasant, I have attached a nice picture of a dolphin – from a previous Hejira cruise of course.

A nice picture of a dolphin from a previous Hejira cruise. It was taken by the late Terry Oakley RIP. Very fondly remembered crew member.

To say that my relationship with the Iridium satellite system had been ‘troubled’ would be a gross understatement. To receive a bill for over £6K for data apparently consumed in one afternoon (I had apparently forgotten to reinstate a firewall) on my return Atlantic crossing was definitely one of the lowest of the lows. So it was that I had approached re-connection for this challenge with a great deal of caution. Prompted by my experience, the providers, Mailasail, now offer a cut off limit and I would only consider re-connection with such a precaution written into the contract. I didn’t expect to be using much data as I would only enable the system when out of mobile phone range so that is on crossings and between remote headlands. I saw the new WhatsApp function as being useful as indeed it is. Billing periods are in calendar months so the limit relates to the consumption over a month. You can imagine how I felt to receive yesterday (the 9th) the following Email into my ‘Mailasail’ address from the billing company:-

Auto suspend limit of 120Mins based on voice used has been reached, service suspension is now pending’.

Firstly, I had not made any phone calls, as far as I was concerned, this facility was for emergency use only. Yes I had sent and received WhatsApp messages but this was meant to be cheap and the only Email I sent was to Mailasail asking them what the hell was going on! I didn’t expect to get any response on a Sunday afternoon so imagine my surprise when an Email popped straight back from the very helpful Helle saying:-

I have had a look on the portal, and the information there right now is that you have used just over 8MB data which on plan 0/0/128 should give a bill of approximately  $112 + VAT.

There is no sign on portal of voice usage, but I think Iridium have had an outage, so all this information is not 100% in stone.

This was of some comfort and it was followed at 10.30 that evening by :-

We have heard back from Iridium – they confirm no usage of voice on your SIM and no planned suspension, so please regard this as an error for now. Apologies for the inconvenience.’

Now, to get this response from Mailasail on a Sunday evening when the issues actually lie with Iridium I think is pretty outstanding and I thank Helle for putting my mind at rest so promptly.