While off watch at 0300, I had a knock on the door as Ollie was concerned about an AIS indicator and enormous radar reflection apparently coming our way. He had rightly scrolled the data and established that the Sofia Express, bound for New York would pass us 1 mile away but its track was seemingly towards AWOL, 1 mile astern. The AIS data lists lots of useful information like speed, draft beam and length and this is usually quoted in feet. The size of the Sofia Express was such that its length was quoted in fractions of a mile! I was concerned because AWOL does not transmit an AIS signal and its radar signature is not very strong, had they been seen? A call to their bridge established that the Sofia Express had indeed seen AWOL and was tracking them. So, a reassuring outcome and a precaution well taken.

It seems that AWOL has fixed her auto pilot by re-installing the old unit and she has miraculously started steering in a straight line. Cliff is still keen for us to stay close though as the old one had been replaced because it was struggling and, as we are ‘cracking on’ to try to beat the storm, he may need some more diesel if we continue to motor.

No news from Mailasail so it’s plug in, send and receive, unplug until I have some assurances.

Ollie Writes:-

Well, I’m still alive.

And I just took over the watch from Barry, and he was very much alive too.

If the skipper emerges from his bunk at 4am then yacht Hejira still has a full complement of crew.

Why should this need confirmation?

Well, tonight we each cooked a Fray Bentos pie for dinner, and the newest one was 15 months out of date.

Both my commanding officers were adamant there’d be nothing wrong with them, and that the rust on the tins would just add a little extra flavour.

We’re on something of a deadline now; we need to get into Horta by Monday lunchtime – apparently there’s a fat storm headed our way.

As a result we’re likely to be running the engine over the next couple of days.

Though that didn’t stop us shaking out the Parasailor this afternoon.

It’s the Skipper’s absolute favourite toy, even above his Fisher-Price sextant.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with all the different types of sails, the Parasailor is technically known as a ‘bloody big one.’

And for the yachting cognoscenti, here’s some more advanced details…

The Parasailor goes out the front of the boat and it has lots of ropes attached to it.

Like many other types of sail, there needs to be some wind for it to work properly – otherwise it doesn’t.

The Parasailor works best when the wind is coming from behind you, and the most effective way to determine that is by plucking a handful of grass and throwing it into the air.

The Parasailor comes in an enormous lycra condom that you have to unravel.

Sorry to get technical, but as you can probably tell – being onboard with such seasoned seamen as Barry and the Skipper has had an effect and I’m quickly learning the finer points of sailing.

Tomorrow I’m planning to hold forth on the difference between the mast that points upwards and the small dangly mast that points backwards.