With the wind dropping and moving round to the west, it was not the best situation for sailing but we had to stick with it as our aggregate diesel stocks were still marginal with nearly 900 miles to Horta. So we sailed and periodically when the faster AWOL threatened to overhaul us, we jogged the engine for a while to pull away so that we were in the requisite position in front when night fell so our lights could be followed while Cliff snatched some sleep.
We recorded our worst 24 hours mileage to date at 109 but, even at this pace, we should be in Horta in time to despatch Ollie to Lisbon to rendezvous with his girlfriend Gini and to welcome his replacement Peter.
It is sort of understandable to find flying fish on deck because – they fly – and with the swells towering above us, they only need to innocently take flight out of the side of a swell straight onto Hejira’s deck. It is less understandable (although I have experienced it before) to find squid on deck and quite sizeable specimens and not just in the scuppers but on the aft deck by the traveller, nearly in the cockpit. They must have arrived during the gale when the decks were swept by the odd errant wave. Unfortunately, insufficient squid for a meal.
I have tried again with the ‘all singing and dancing’ Filotecnica Salmoiraghi sextant but I really can’t get on with it. However my plastic EBBCO sextant (Ollie calls it the Fisher Price or ‘My First Sextant’) is perfect. I pick it up, I have a rough idea of the suns declination so I approximately set the scale, point it, adjust it, sing out the reading for the time to be noted, do it a few more times and the exercise is completed within a few minutes. Now, the results are certainly not as accurate as the three decimal place, millimetre accuracy of the GPS but that is not the point. It is to demonstrate the ability to take sun (or other celestial) sights and calculate a position therefrom and even with the ‘Fisher Price’, that is what I am doing and we have an approximate fix. GPS is now so ubiquitous (it is even a feature on my phone and my camera) that it is taken for granted and antiquated though the old celestial navigation practices may appear to be, they work and have a validity should aliens take out all the satellites or America decides to hold the world to ransom.
It had become clear when using the bin in the galley that something needed to be done about the smell. So, out with the Dyson and a vacuum storage bag and ‘Bob’s your uncle’, compacted smelly rubbish hermetically sealed and residing in a lazarette locker – we have a fragrant yacht again.
We have enjoyed regular Emails from Bob and Stephen who crewed on the Europe to the Caribbean legs and we think secretly ‘wish they were here’. They mostly advise the current crew how to deal with their curmudgeonly skippers various idiosyncrasies and always make us laugh. Bob sent us a mail yesterday saying he had seen a birthday card with the following exhortation – ‘Carpe the f**k out of this diem’ – we were in fits.
Well, this morning we all predicted a certain kind of day.
Plodding along on a flat sea, with little wind and a dark grey sky – we agreed…
“Let’s take the opportunity to have a shower, cook a more indulgent dinner and watch a long film.”
The indulgent dinner was to be paella and the film was to be Waterloo with Orson Wells.
However not long after breakfast, the sun burnt through the drizzly gloom, and we had yet another sunny day.
Thus Waterloo returned to the DVD locker and we adopted the familiar routine of reading on the aft deck and jotting down numbers for the skipper whenever he decided to play with his Fisher-Price sextant.
In hindsight we should’ve diced up the suicide squid and added them to the paella.
But before anyone had thought of that, we repatriated them with a fling – no doubt they became something else’s dinner.
That realisation prompted us to try acquiring extra paella ingredients with the rod and tackle.
It’s the first attempt at fishing we’ve had on this passage.
And – start as you mean to continue – we didn’t catch a sausage.
So the paella became something of a Ready Steady Cook affair featuring carrots and pulled pork alongside the usual prawns.
It was unconventional, but I’m happy to say – tasty.
Though I fear I may’ve jumped ahead of myself; I almost forgot to mention the dolphins.
A small pod paid us a visit in the early afternoon, and played around the bow for about 10 minutes.
I more than lived-up to my boyhood training of “Always Be Prepared” when I switched on my GoPro to film them…and after five seconds it ran out of battery.
Oh well, maybe next time.
I must remember to put that GoPro on charge when I finish my watch actually.